The Stolen Island

The Stolen Island

Searching for ‘Ata

‘What had happened to the stolen islanders? Had any survived slavery?’

One day in 1863 a strange ship stopped at ‘Ata, a tiny island in the wild seas between Tonga and New Zealand, and sailed away with one hundred and forty-four men, women and children. The ‘Atans were never heard from again, and in Tonga their fate became the subject of legends and superstitions.

Uncovering the tragedy of ‘Ata takes Scott Hamilton on a journey to the kava circles and caves of Tonga and back to the streets of Auckland. The Stolen Island is a twenty-first century true sea story revealing slavers, mutinies, castaways, pirates and a cruel streak in Pacific history that is often overlooked but not forgotten.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Nov 2016
Pages: 112
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9780947518110
DOI: 10.7810/9780947518110

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'The History on Paper and the History in People’s Mouths', Michael O’Leary, Landfall Review Online, 1 August 2017.

'Decimation of a Tongan Island by Slaver's Trickery', Michael Horowitz, Pacific Journalism Review, 22.2 (2016), pp.205-206.

'The revolutionary live email interview conducted by Steve Braunias: part 4 of the strange story of the lost island of ‘Ata', Scott Hamilton interviewed by Steve Braunias, The Spinoff, 2 March 2017.

'The long nightmare of imperialism: part 3 of the strange story of Tonga’s lost island of ‘Ata', Leilani Tamu, The Spinoff, 1 March 2017.

'A masterpiece of Pacific story-telling: Part 2 of the strange story of Tonga’s lost island of ‘Ata', Michael Field, The Spinoff, 28 February 2017.

'They have six fingers on their hands': Part 1 of the strange story of Tonga's lost island of 'Ata', Scott Hamilton (extract from The Stolen Island), The Spinoff, 27 February 2017

'Book Review: The Stolen Island,' Sarah Hayward, The Reader: The Booksellers New Zealand Blog, 16 February 2017

'Best Books I Never Wrote: Scott Hamilton,', 21 January 2017

''Sometimes, the silence screams': Bruce Munro on New Zealand's slaving history',' Scott Hamilton, 23 January 2017

'Chained to a sorry trade,' Bruce Munro, Otago Daily Times, 23 January 2017

'Document confirms a slaver's character,' Bruce Munro, Otago Daily Times, 23 January 2017

'Blackbirding: New Zealand's shameful role in the Pacific Islands slave trade' Sally Blundell, 8 January 2017

'Story of lost Tongans in Peru broadens the history of Blackbirding', Bindi Bryce, ABC, 29 December 2016

Scott Hamilton on RDU 98.5 FM, 21 December 2016

Dale Husband, 'Scott Hamilton: No Longer Blinded to the Dark Stuff in out History', e-Tangata, 18 December 2016

'Sold into slavery', Bruce Munro, Otago Daily Times, 14 December 2016 

Scott Hamilton talks to Graeme Hill, RadioLIVE, 11 December 2016

Michael Horowitz, 'Pacific Slavers', Scoop Review of Books, 9 December 2016

'New Zealand and the Pacific slave trade' News Source, Samoa Planet, 29 November 2016 

'New book tells story of slave raiders who took Tongans to South America' Philip Cass, New Zealand Kaniva Pacific, 29 November 2016 

'Hifoaki Tohi Hono Kaiha'asi 'a e Kakai 'o e Motu ko 'Ata', Nepituno: Tonga Online News, 28 November 2016

'New Zealand and the Pacific slave trade' Sunday Morning, Radio New Zealand, 27 November 2016 


'Hamilton’s kinetic capsule sweeps like a tornado siphoning Lapita settlement, Dutch exploration, South American slavery, Down Under servitude, infectious disease, Kiwi justice, Tongan gossip, and the adventure travel of an intrepid Spaniard. Yet at the end of the day ‘tis ‘Ata that remains – a rocky isle, now uninhabited, with its 18th century ruins glimmering in the subtropical sun, as your Airbus hurtles you to bustling Auckland.' Michael Horowitz, Scoop Review of Books, 9 December 2016