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Caroline Perrott and Adoption

Biography

Perrott was a girl of eight when she was kidnapped by Maori near Leppertown in the Taranaki district of New Zealand in 1874, probably in retaliation when her father disturbed a sacred burial ground after being warned not to do so, but also possibly to avenge the kidnapping several years earlier of Ngatau Omahuru (William Fox) by white soldiers and their Maori mercenaries. Weeks of massive searches failed to find her and her mother soon died.

Fifty years later by coincidence, she was spotted and tentatively recognized by a niece, and it was soon confirmed that she was indeed the long-lost Caroline, now named Hera Ngoungou. There had been several occasions in her life as a child and young woman when she had come into contact with Europeans, including once, soon after her abduction, when a man suspected she was the missing girl. As an adult she had regular contact with other Europeans, but they never questioned her ethnic origins, and neither did she. She had grown up as a Maori, had no memory of her European past, could not speak English again until she was a mature woman, and did not know she wasn't a Maori by birth, although she was conscious of looking different from other Maori.

She first lived with a mixed-tribal band of itinerant Maori kauri gum diggers for many years. She was widowed at 18 but remarried when she was about 20, and settled with her second husband, Ngoungou Hikitene, as a farmer in Poroporo. She had one child by her first husband whom she left with the tribe when she remarried, and other children from her second marriage. Her life had been hard, as were the lives of all Maori in the district, but she was content and refused to return to European society except as a visitor.

References

Bentley, Trevor. Paheka Maori: The Extraordinary Story of the Europeans Who Lived as Maori in Early New Zealand. (Auckland: Penguin Books, 1999) Walker, Peter. The Fox Boy: The Story of an Abducted Child. (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2001) "The Story of Queenie." [Includes portrait.] Available at: [1] Epitaph II, foreword by Paul Gittins. (Auckland: Random House New Zealand, 2001)

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