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PM to launch von Luckner biography

13 September 2006

PM to launch von Luckner biography on Motuihe

The Prime Minister, Hon. Helen Clark, will launch a new biography of one of NZ’s most famous prisoners of war on Sunday at the scene of his audacious escape, Motuihe Island.

The story of Q-ship captain Count Felix von Luckner of the Kaiser’s Imperial Navy reads like a classic boy’s own manual, full of battles, life-threatening situations and prison breaks. This pipe-smoking, “sea devil of the Southern seas” sank 86,000 tonnes of shipping, mostly off the South American coast, raising the Jolly Roger alongside the German ensign as he attacked.

Author James Bade has spent his working life exploring German connections to New Zealand and it was only a matter of time before his research turned to von Luckner. His book covers von Luckner's exploits – from his early raiding days in the Pacific and imprisonment on Motuihe to his "propaganda" visit to New Zealand in 1938 and its consequences.

Bade, as well as being Associate Professor of German and Head of the School of European Languages and Literatures at the University of Auckland, is a member of the Motuihe Trust’s heritage committee.

“It’s great to see the Trust broadening its focus now that the island’s ecological restoration programme is underway and begin to interpret some of the island’s cultural and historic stories,” said Auckland Area manager Beau Fraser.

“This public event, in support of Auckland’s Heritage Week Festival, marks one of the first steps in this new direction and the Department is delighted to support their efforts.”

As well as attending the book launch, visitors will be able to join in guided tours of the island.


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