In April 1902, 20 New Zealand women were chosen from 222 applicants to serve as teachers in concentration camps which had been set up for Boer civilians. Eight of the volunteers went to Merebank Camp, the largest concentration camp in Natal. The conditions were less comfortable than they appear in this photograph – the tin town was enclosed with barbed wire fencing and was infected with lice, fleas and mosquitoes. The eight called themselves 'The Octagon', perhaps reflecting their predominantly South Island origins – The Octagon being the hub of central Dunedin.
Using this item
Private collection, Joy Bennett
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