Between 1908 and 1938, approximately 130 young Anglo-Indian settlers arrived in New Zealand from Dr Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong, India. This website is for descendants of these emigrants and anyone with an interest in the Kalimpong community in New Zealand.

The Nicholls family in the 1950s, from left to right Ruth, Sidney, Sheila and Norah. Photo kindly supplied by Ruth den Boogert.

Book Released

Jane's book on the Kalimpong emigration scheme to New Zealand is now available. Published by Bloomsbury, the title is Race, Tea and Colonial Resettlement. It is available for purchase here.

About Me

My name is Jane McCabe. My grandmother, Lorna Peters, arrived in Dunedin with five others from Dr Graham’s Homes in 1921. Lorna died in 1978 having never spoken about her Indian upbringing. In 2007 I travelled to Kalimpong after the chance discovery of a school photo. There I found information not only about my family but also the wider group of New Zealanders who grew up at Dr Graham’s Homes.

Listen to Jane recount her story to Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme.

About the Project

As a result of the trip to Kalimpong in 2007, I approached the Department of History at the University of Otago. In 2009 I wrote a 400-level dissertation about my family, entitled “Letters from Kalimpong: A Tea Planter’s Journey Towards ‘Home’ with his Anglo-Indian children.”

From there I put forward a proposal to undertake a PhD looking at the wider community of Kalimpong emigrants in New Zealand. I began the PhD in March 2011 under the supervision of Professor Tony Ballantyne and Dr Angela Wanhalla. After meeting many descendants and conducting archival research in New Zealand and India I was awarded the PhD in December 2014. The thesis is available here.

In 2017 I published a book with Bloomsbury based on the thesis. Entitled Race, Tea and Colonial Resettlement: Imperial Families, Interrupted, the book was the culmination of ten years of working on this project, from the time of my original visit to Kalimpong in 2007. The book has been very well received by descendants and historians, and was the winner of the 2017 Ian Wards Prize.

Where is Kalimpong?

Kalimpong is a small town in the Darjeeling district of Northeast India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. It has a population of 40,000 and in the colonial era was known as a ‘hill station’ - a healthy retreat and cooler climate for British families living in India. The population today is mostly Nepali, but comprises many different ethnicities. Many descendants of the Kalimpong emigrants remember their parents speaking fondly of breath-taking views of the Himalayas and being able to see the borders of numerous countries.

Dr Graham's Homes...

...was opened in 1900 by a Scottish Presbyterian missionary, the Rev Dr John Anderson Graham, to provide a home and an education for the mixed-race children of British tea planters and native women. Graham’s plan was to raise the children in a European institution in Kalimpong, and send them to the colonies as young adults. See Dr Graham’s Homes website for more information about the history of the Homes.

The Emigration Scheme

The first two boys were sent to New Zealand in 1907. From 1912 onwards, emigrants were sent in groups of ten to sixteen, chaperoned by teachers from the Homes and met at New Zealand ports by their employers. Most of the emigrants were in their mid to late teens, having spent ten to fifteen years at the Homes. The boys were all placed on farms and the girls worked in families caring for children and performing domestic duties. Please see the People page for a list of the 130 young people who came to New Zealand via Dr Graham’s Homes at Kalimpong.