Few people know that Tom Neale was not the only person to live alone on Suwarrow. In the summer of 1965, a 23 year old former art student from London, Michael Swift began nearly a year of life as a hermit on the remote island.
He persuaded New Zealand brothers, John and David Glennie to put him ashore with his possessions after joining the crew of their trimaran, 'Highlight' at Tahiti in July, 1965. He spent the first two months living mostly on uto which is the nutritous kernal of the mature coconut because he didn't know what else was safe to eat. His home was the hut formerly occupied by Tom Neale.
But Swift was an illegal immigrant according to the Cook Islands government because he had no permission to stay on the island. On 2nd December, 1965, John Tariau - then MP for Pukapuka - sailed into Suwarrow lagoon on a mission to tell him so.
Swift told him he'd found peace and contentment on the island and under no circumstances was he returning to Europe. He signed an indemnity paper absolving the government of any responsiblitity to send a vessel to take him off the atoll, and before being left alone again he was presented with supplies and given tips on survival.
He turned up in Rarotonga in April, 1966 and left a few days later for New Zealand. He said he intended to return to Suwarrow, but when he learned in 1970 that Neale was back on the atoll, he went to live on Aitutaki instead. He's reported to have said that Suwarrow wasn't big enough for both of them!