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Hjelmar Von Dannevill Great War Story

Video file

The video for this story about Hjelmar Von Dannevill screened on Newshub on 22 April 2018.

At the ‘Dissent and the First World War’ conference at Victoria University of Wellington in 2017, AC Productions attended Sally Maclean's seminar on Hjelmar Von Dannevill, the only woman to be interned for any length of time on Somes Island in Wellington Harbour.

Writer Sally Maclean and Jared Davidson, an archivist and curator at Archives New Zealand, are researching and writing about the mysterious Hjelmar Von Dannevill.

Hjelmar had very short hair and wore a suit jacket and tie with a long skirt. She worked as a healer. Although her background was unknown, there was nothing to suggest she was spying. In fact, she was incarcerated for having a relationship with one of her patients.

Because the police interviewed her so often there is an interesting file and photographs of her at Archives New Zealand.

This story reveals attitudes towards people who were ‘different’ in the early 1900s and the harsh War Regulations used against Hjelmar Von Dannevill.


Video: Produced and directed by Anna Cottrell, AC Productions for MediaWorks Newshub. Made with the support of NZ On Air. See full video credits here (pdf)

How to cite this page

Hjelmar Von Dannevill Great War Story, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated