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Empty Cradles

 
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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 10:15 pm    Post subject: Empty Cradles  Reply with quote

From: castor-boy
Sent: 5/30/2008 4:38 PM
This book is my read of the month and maybe the quarter.
Empty Cradles by Margaret Humphreys shows how she became a researcher and detective, fighting bureaucrats who will not admit mistakes and fighting governments who refuse to act until shamed into it.
It is the story of the child migrants who were transported (there is no other word for it) from the UK to Commonwealth countries before & after World War Two.
The estimate is that 150,000 children were affected - the last as recently as 1967.
Their parents thought the children were in care only for a short time until they could find a proper home for them. Meanwhile the adoption agencies & bureaucrats told the children they were orphans and sent them abroad.
The scandal was uncovered by Margaret, when as a social worker, she investigated the case of a woman who claimed that at the age of four, she had been put on a boat to Australia by the British government.
Margaret recounts how she became drawn into the lives of some of these innocent & unwilling exiles, and how it became her mission to reunite them with their families.
Two TV films were made and shown in the UK and Australia but I don't recall them being shown in NZ which had its share of the child migrants.
It was Reginald Hill's preface to his novel The Stranger House which persuaded me to read Empty Cradles.
He says he was so touched and inspired by the migrants' scandal that he just had to write something.

From: † KiwiCaro1
Sent: 5/30/2008 4:57 PM
Hi Castor,
I remember when that research by Margaret Humphreys reached the media here. †It was the subject of an article in one of the women's magazines (I suppose the Woman's Weekly but not sure) - serious subject for them to tackle these days really. †
I suppose the real shock of this story wasn't that the kids were taken away - after all that was for their own safety in part at least - but the lies that were told about it, and the way parents were kept uninformed.
I suppose from the point of view of the authorities they saw these children without proper parents. †
And probably in the article I mentioned there were (at least) two of these migrant children who were interviewed - one had a wonderful time in NZ and loved it all; the other was virtually kept as a slave labourer and felt very resentful.
I haven't read her book though I think it is in our library. †
Cheers, Caro.


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to think that the apology given in their parliament on November 16th by the Australian Prime Minister http://stuff.co.nz/world/europe/3...ies-for-children-sent-to-colonies (the word centuries on line 5 should be decades) was a result of the scandal being discovered by the social worker Margaret Humphreys. She was awarded a national honour by the Australian government some years ago so maybe she can look forward to another award when the UK Premier makes his apology in the New Year (Iím assuming that Mrs Humphreys hasnít already been honoured in the UK).

If I may generalise from the particular, it is encouraging to those of us who believe in the power of words that though the reading of novels may not be a major hobby of the ochlocracy, a newspaper campaign exposing an injustice will get spectacular results.


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read Empty Cradles, which I thought of when I heard about this apology. I'm really not sure about such political moves - I certainly think the recent British ones have been stupid & useless, how can you apologise for something you didn't cause,  and which everyone now accepts is wrong? - but some of the people involved seem to have valued it, so it is hard to question that aspect.

On the whole I think it is important to say that you don't take responsibility: as a female of working class origins, I can't imagine I'd ever have had the power to do anything in the past but be exploited, or come to an early death, so why should I take anyone else's rap? I think it's worth stating these kind of things - I bet most of my ancestors were powerless and overworked and had no say in anything. I hate those generalisations that are based in ignorance e.g. someone like Kathy Lette saying that British men are emotionally stunted because they all went public school. What??!! This applies to a minute percentage (public school, I mean) and is a silly version of the British male that shows how limited her experience & perception is. Like the Hollywood version of Brits who all have butlers and live in castles. Similarly that all French women are  stuck-up & stylish, wear designer frocks, quaff Champagne and live in chateaux.  Does't really help any acknowledgement that far more live in horrible blocks of flats and wear Uniqlo fleeces. And work in the French equivalent of B & Q.

Sorry, getting off subject, tired and emotional tonight, obviously...Crying or Very sad


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The child migrants in NZ who have been interviewed are just relieved that a government has acknowledged that mistakes were made in the past.

As to apologies in general our govenment makes an apology each time money and land is handed over to Maoris. It is a constant theme in the media whereby the non-Maori population are told that their forebears who came in the 19th century are resposible for the poverty of some Maori today.


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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Castorboy wrote:
The child migrants in NZ who have been interviewed are just relieved that a government has acknowledged that mistakes were made in the past.

As to apologies in general our govenment makes an apology each time money and land is handed over to Maoris. It is a constant theme in the media whereby the non-Maori population are told that their forebears who came in the 19th century are resposible for the poverty of some Maori today.


It is really difficult, isn't it? While there's no question that we have different values, it seems uninformed to assume that everyone nowadays in a (slightly) more privileged position always was so, or their ancestors were, and thus the responsibility is handed down. It just seems better to say that as a society today we wouldn't do or condone that kind of action. Though that's rubbish too, in fact, if you examine then parts of society we - or more likely global multi-nationals, or governments on our behalf - still quite explicitly mistreat, exploit and deny; they're usually just different sections from the historical victims. New victims. But as for blame...are the British anti-war protesters to be blamed for not managing to stop Blair going into Iraq?



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