Kalimpong Kids

Between 1908 and 1938, 130 young Anglo-Indians were sent to New Zealand. They were the mixed-race children of British tea-planters and Indian women, raised in a Presbyterian mission school in northeast India and sent as workers to families all over New Zealand.

Separated from their parents and their places of birth, these “Kalimpong Kids” went on to blend in to the local communities and seldom spoke of their Indian heritage.

In this series, historian Jane McCabe discusses the Kalimpong scheme and the journeys of many descendants to uncover their hidden family histories.

Woodburn Cottage group, Kalimpong, c.1916. Lorna Peters standing at right. [McCabe family]
John Graham with pupils at Kalimpong. [Gammie family]

Episode One
Kalimpong Story

Jane shares her personal story of discovery: one photograph led her to visit Kalimpong in 2007 and to uncover not only her grandmother’s mysterious past, but the organised emigration scheme that she was a part of.

Norah: mother of a Kalimpong emigrant. [Gammie family]
Egerton Peters on the plantation in Assam. [McCabe family]
Annie Dinning in the bungalow. [Mary Milne]

Episode Two
What’s In a Name?

In this episode we discuss three photographs and how they help us to better understand the distinct parts that interracial tea plantation families were separated into: tea planters, Indian mothers, and Anglo-Indian children.

Kalimpong women at Wilton’s Bush, Wellington, c.1930. [Mary Milne]
Kalimpong emigrants at the Didsbury residence in Wellington, with John Graham at centre, 1937. [Gammie family]

Episode Three
The Kalimpong Community in NZ

Visible, or invisible? Despite the silence that came to pervade this history, Kalimpong emigrants left a rich visual record of their lives in New Zealand, particularly in the Wellington region.

Jean and John Mackay in Singapore, en route to Owaka. [Jon Earley]
Richard May, ready to serve with the NZEF. [Harrison family]

Episode Four
Photographs and Artifacts in a Hidden History

In this final episode we discuss two photographs that have played a key role in extraordinary stories of discovery – from a rickshaw ride in Singapore, to the remnants of a Kalimpong emigrant’s life retained by a Southland farming family for over a century.