28 Jul 2011

Academic tracing Pacific war babies fathered by US World War Two soldiers

3:30 pm on 28 July 2011

History researchers at New Zealand's Otago University are appealing to Pacific Island families who think they may be related to American veterans of World War Two.

Professor Judith Bennett is leading a team which is helping trace the several hundred offspring of American soldiers stationed in the Pacific between 1942 and 1945.

She says the team's work hopes to fill an important gap in the history of the Pacific by forming a collection of stories from children whose fathers were soldiers.

She says each story so far has been unique and she is hoping to build up a series of narratives.

"How did this affect their lives? How did this affect particularly their own children. The grandchildren of that American are often the ones most interested in finding out about this ancestor. Possibly because they're a bit more, you know, they're not as close to it as their mother was."

Professor Bennett says there has been great participation so far from those in the Cook Islands, Kiribati and Solomon Islands.

But she is particularly keen to hear from families in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji who can contact her through the Otago University website.