From 1906 to 1925 Quail Island was the site of New Zealand’s leprosy colony. The colony began by accident, as it were, after the discovery of a leprosy sufferer in Christchurch. As further patients arrived from across the country, it grew into a controversial and troubled institution – an embarrassment to the Health Department, an object of pity to a few, a source of fear to many. It was a place that some people wanted to forget, but its stories are worth remembering: among them are stories of remarkable generosity and selflessness, as well as of violence and great suffering.
This fascinating narrative from talented young historian Ben Kingsbury reveals a little-known aspect of New Zealand’s past. Through the tale of the Quail Island colony, the book shines a light on wider society in that period, both in New Zealand and beyond. Elegantly and engagingly written, A Dark Island heralds the arrival of a significant historical voice.