Somes Prisoners

Somes Island Internment Camp for 'enemy aliens'

Wellington Harbour, New Zealand

Domain name: www.somesprisonersnz.net

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Somes Island photographed from Petone, in the 1920s

Somes Island, now officially named Matiu/Somes Island to include its pre-European name, served as New Zealand's main internment camp for 'enemy aliens' in both the first and second World Wars. The purpose of this website is to allow information on these camps to be available on the Internet.

My own work has been the German-New Zealand community during the First World War, with the main work being in relation to the Somes Island internment camp that was on the island. This internment camp operated between August 1914 and December 1918, at which time it was hastily transferred to Featherston Military Camp, to allow the island to be returned to the Public Health Department.

This emergency response was a result of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (which struck the country and the island in November 1918) and the fear that the large numbers of troops returning from the war might require large-scale quarantining. Fortunately (for the many potential new inmates) this only occurred on a limited scale, albeit that some deaths occurred among those who were quarantined in 1919.

In due course this website will contain a range of lists, details and other pieces of information that people interested in the island's internment camp history often contact me about. However, the following will do to start with in the meantime.

World War One


World War Two


Matters involving both camps


The Human Quarantine Years


New Books





Val Burr, 2007