Punishment in an Early Colonial Society: The Inglorious History of Wellington Gaol, 1844–1931
In 1844, a replica of the famous Pentonville Prison was built in Wellington, New Zealand, shortly after the commencement of British colonisation. It never matched the size and scope of the London original and was demolished in 1931. However, the existence of this incongruous New Zealand institution raises important sociological issues. First, it will be argued that it had symbolic importance in maintaining settler identity with the homeland. Second, it had a functional importance in terms of the way it represented the ability of the colonial government to subdue any recalcitrant who sought to challenge the authority of British imperial power. Third, its closure came about because of longstanding pressure from local citizens, for whom its presence had become an unwanted stain on the otherwise untainted local landscape, reflecting New Zealand’s transition from a frontier society to a modern society with the sensibilities associated with it.
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