When poet Sam Hunt's musical uncle Horace was imprisoned in Germany during World War I, along with thousands of British men, these "enemy aliens" were at first subjected to tough conditions and tyrannical military rule.
But after pressure from American and Dutch diplomats, conditions eased in the prison camp, dubbed the "Ellerslie of Berlin" by Hunt senior, and the prisoners began to express themselves in the performing arts, sport and growing large vegetable and flower gardens.
Horace Hunt grew up in a musical Auckland family. His father, Leslie Hunt, had been choirmaster and organist at St Mary's church in Parnell and Horace did the same at a church in Wellington.
He and his sister Gertrude performed with the opera singer Rangi Te Pai on her 1906 New Zealand tour.
In 1913, Horace Hunt went to London and later Germany to study music. He was in Berlin, the German capital, when the war began in July-August 1914.
He and other foreigners in Germany were ordered to report regularly to the police. On September 24, he was arrested and interned at Stadtvogtei prison, which held several civilian war prisoners as well as criminals.
The following month, the civilians were shifted to Ruhleben race course on the outskirts of Berlin, where Hunt remained for the rest of the war.
In August 1915, the New Zealand Press Association reported that 13 New Zealand civilians had been interned in Germany. Among those named were Hunt and the former champion sculler Tom Sullivan, who had been expected to coach the German rowing team at the next Olympics.
"Some are having a hard time; would suggest our sending them occasionally food and comforts," New Zealand High Commissioner to London Sir Thomas Mackenzie wrote to the Government.
Hunt told the Herald in a 1920 interview that the internees at Ruhleben were housed in horse stables.
"In the first year at the camp the general attitude of the military was tyrannical towards the prisoners," the Herald wrote.
"The [prisoners] felt that the will was there to do them harm, but that the Germans were restrained by the feeling that the eyes of the world were upon them in respect of the manner in which they treated their prisoners.
"As time went on this hatred and rancour on the part of the Germans seemed to tone down, until finally it almost disappeared."
The Germans gradually permitted the prisoners more and more freedom to organise their own affairs at the Ruhleben which, at its peak, housed more than 4000.
They were a cross section of British-German society. Shops and a post office were set up, and a library, a school, newspapers, football, cricket and tennis clubs, a debating society, musical ensembles and a performing arts group.
Hunt said those who threw themselves into these activities preserved their sanity. Men who didn't were among those who lost their reason.
Extracts from Hunt's letters published in New Zealand papers indicate he was busy with music.
He gave lectures on the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg to accompany a recital at an Arts and Sciences Union musical evening. And he wrote the music for Hinemoa and Hawaiki, a play based on two Māori legends and produced by another Kiwi prisoner, Albert Jones.
The play was performed at the "Ruhleben Theatre" by a necessarily all-male cast dressed in Māori costumes.
Writing of the play in a letter published in the Herald in May 1917, Hunt said it had "certainly succeeded in startling the camp.
"For months afterwards sundry interned [men] could be heard practising Maori cries and exercising their vocal powers on the 'wail'."
After the war, Hunt resumed his career in New Zealand as a pianist, conductor and piano teacher. He settled in the United States in 1925, conducting and teaching. He moved back to New Zealand for two years in the 1940s before returning to the US, and died in San Francisco in 1981, aged 94.
Sam Hunt has no memory of Horace, who came to New Zealand around the time Sam was born, in July 1946. But he does recall his late father Percy speaking about his older brother, including their playing on huge kauri logs floating in the water in Auckland's Freemans Bay, at what is now the reclaimed land of Victoria Park. Percy was 4.
"Percy's earliest memory was at that age doing this and Horace got his leg stuck between two massive kauri logs and broke his leg."
Sam Hunt, who was listening to Rachmaninov before his Herald interview, said his mother had fostered his love of poetry and his father had introduced him to music.
"He loved music … He used to take me to concerts at the [Auckland] Town Hall when I was really young."
Another descendant, Truda Chadwick, an Auckland crossover blues musician, said although she had never met the great-uncle she referred to as "Uncle Horse", he wrote letters to her when she was young.
"He wrote about music, because I always wanted to be a singer. My mother was very fond of him."