To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums


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In November 1943, Mac McKay left Samoa with his wife and four sons, George, Arthur, Peter and Keith, to take up a job that he was told he couldn’t turn down, the newly created position of Secretary of the Department of Island Territories. He was reluctant to leave, even for this top Wellington job. For the internees on Somes Island it was a lucky break.

McKay was pulled into the extensive discussions which took place from mid-1944 in Wellington about the fate of the German Samoans in custody. With the tide of war having turned decisively against Germany and Japan the pressure now grew to have the men repatriated to Samoa – or Germany. Discussion also revolved around whether some should remain permanently in New Zealand. A key decision-making body in this process was the Aliens Appeal Tribunal, headed by a judge of the Court of Appeal. Mac McKay was co-opted as a key advisor.

Credit: McKay Family Collection, photographer Shelburne Studios, New York, 1946.

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