Nation Building, Agent-Generals and Imported Lunatics, New Zealand 1870–1879

  • Jennifer S. Kain
Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series (MHHP)


This chapter examines migration control in 1870s New Zealand, a decade in which Julius Vogel’s designs for modernising the country manifested in the Immigration and Public Works Act. Agent-General Isaac Featherston was charged with recruiting migrants en masse. He faced accusations of facilitating the travel of ‘imported lunatics’ about which he maintained that ‘they were perfectly sane before they left England’. Concurrently, the ineffective Imbecile Passengers Act (IPA) was introduced to target the self-funding ‘half-scamp, half-lunatic’ type. A policy versus practice analysis of the attempts to attract the industrious and repel the insane exposes this as an operational dichotomy.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer S. Kain
    • 1
  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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