October 18, 2010

Teachers For South Africa, by Ellen Ellis

Hanorah Books presents Teachers for South Africa: New Zealand Women at the South African War Concentration Camps, by Ellen Ellis.

Teachers for South Africa

In 1902, after winning coveted teaching contracts, twenty New Zealand women travelled to South Africa and were stationed in schools within the concentration camps created by the British. They were charged with the mission of educating and anglicising Boer children displaced by the military’s ‘scorched earth’ policy. Fighting with the school-book rather than the sword, the teachers exposed not only their pupils, but themselves, to entirely new ways of life.

For the first time, author Ellen Ellis brings together the women’s voices and breathes life into an intriguing area of New Zealand’s history previously overlooked.

Presented in a beautifully designed, full-colour format, this highly-illustrat­ed account draws on previously unpublished archival material consisting of the women’s diaries, albums, postcards, photographs and letters.
With a forward by eminent historian Sandra Coney, Teachers for South Africa introduces us to suffrage women embarking on life-changing adventures. Using their personal accounts, Ellen Ellis chronicles their lives, from experiences teach­ing in New Zealand’s pioneer towns to rollicking adventures on the veld, showing that they were ahead of their time, representatives of the ‘New Woman’ and the future.

This engaging story has broad appeal and will resonate with the large audience for New Zealand social history, war experiences, women’s history, armchair trav­el, education history and community heritage.

Title: Teachers for South Africa: New Zealand Women at the South African War Concentration Camps
Author: Ellen Ellis
Publisher: Hanorah Books (in association with Whitireia Publishing)
Publication date: November 2010
RRP: $45.00
ISBN: 978-1-877192-43-2

From here you can meet Ellen Ellis, find out about sales and distribution, or view our media kit.

December 12, 2010

Ellen Ellis on Radio New Zealand

Ellen was on Sounds Historical tonight! Miss it? You can download the podcast from Radio New Zealand. (She’s in the second hour.)

You might also have heard Ellen being interviewed by Chris Laidlaw last Sunday. She talked to him about New Zealand’s role in the Anglo-Boer war and about the twenty New Zealand teachers. You can download that podcast here.

November 30, 2010

“New Zealand’s Forgotten Teachers Brought to Life”: Ellen Ellis on Newswire.

KAPITI author Ellen Ellis has tracked down 20 women teachers lost from the pages of history 100 years ago when they left New Zealand.

Educating  Boer children in the internment camps of South Africa, was seen as a ticket out of New Zealand for the women.

They grabbed this “chance of a lifetime” from the British government, to spend a year ‘anglicising’ Boer children, and were criticised by some at the time for just wanting a good time.

Their forgotten story has been brought to life by Paekakariki resident Ms Ellis in Teachers for South Africa: New Zealand Women at the South African War Concentration Camps, launched last week at Paper Plus in Coastlands, Paraparaumu.

Read the full story at Newswire

September 17, 2010

Q&A with Ellen Ellis

Photograph of the teachers doing laundry at Merebank Camp.

Some of the teachers 'Washing at Merebank Camp, after conference in Joburg.' Courtesy of Joy Bennett.

Where did you find this story?

In 1993 I was helping Sandra Coney with research for the women’s suffrage centenary publication Standing in the Sunshine. She found a mention of teachers who went to South Africa, and asked me to follow it up. What followed was over a dozen years of research in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Why were these women sent to South Africa?

The teachers were sent at the request of the British government during the last phase of the South African War, after winning coveted teaching contracts following a recruitment campaign which attracted over 200 applicants. They were to educate the children of the ‘Boer’ enemy in the concentration camps, where up to 150,000 people – mainly women and children – were interned. These camps were the product of the British ‘scorched earth’ policy, whereby homes, stock and crops were destroyed in order to deny Boer commandos on the veld access to further supplies.

In what way did these teachers represent the ‘New Woman’ that fought for women’s right to vote in New Zealand?

They belonged to the first New Zealand-born generation of girls to be educated under a free public school system, and were among the first women professionally trained at the new teachers training colleges and the earliest women attending university courses. They were women who left their families to take sole charge of often isolated primary schools and pursue promotion through the teaching profession, and of course, they actively campaigned for parlimentary voting rights for women and cast their votes in 1893 when the suffrage was won.

Where did your research take you?

When I received my Historical Branch grant I bought a new second-hand car and set off for a tour around New Zealand to meet with descendants of the teachers, see for myself any remaining buildings associated with them, and search for any surviving records held in city and local collections. Finally, research took me to the National Archives of South Africa in Pretoria. The owners of the accommodation lodge where I stayed thought me fool-hardy when I hired a car and drove out alone as far as I could, determined to have an experience of the veld so talked about by the teachers.

Did you find yourself forming special attachments to any of the teachers?

I was on first-name terms, even family pet names, with ‘my teachers’, Nettie, Fanny, Undie, Lily, Netta, Mandy. I felt real shock and loss when I discovered in Canterbury Museum records that Nettie Guise had married and died in 1905 after only a few years in South Africa. ‘She died, she died’, I kept muttering to myself and looking around the very quiet reading room. I wanted tell, to share with someone – anyone.

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