The Ashburaton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 1889. NORFOLK ISLAND.
_____ I Those who have read the atory of the famous mutineers by the Bounty and the establishment of John Adams and hie colleagues of the Arcadian settlement of Pitcairn Island, wil] remember that the little islet eventually became too narrow for the numerous descendants of the mutineers, and that the Imperial Go - vernment stepped m to rescue and provide for them a new home on Norfolk Island, situated about midway between the North Cape of Aew Zealand and New Caledonia. Anent this isolated British settlement, the " London Times" famishes the following compilation of an American consular report which will, doubtless, be read with interest : — " Norfolk Island is about five miles long by three broad, with a total area of 8600 acres. It is just outside the tropics, the extremes of temperature are never reached, the climate is most equal, and the thermometer never ranges higher than 84 degrees m summer and never lower than 46 degrees m winter. At one time the island was densely wooded with the native pine (Arauoaria excelsa) and other trees, but now it is covered with open, park-like downs, interbpersed with groups of this pine. It was originally settled m 1788 by a mixed party ot convicts and free persons ; m 1800 these were all taken to Tasmania, and Norfolk Island was converted into a convict settlement pure and simple— a use for which physical conditions and its isolation and monotony seemed peculiarly to fit it. Up to 1856 it was used for the very worst type of convicts from among those m Tas • mania and New South Wales, and dur ing this period it was described as " a bell within a paradise ;" but m that year the famous mutineers of the Bounty, who had increased and multiplied beyond the capacity of Pitcairn Island, were presented with Norfolk Island, and the Tessel which conveyed them 8000 miles across the Pacific to their new home carried away all the convicts, not leaving a human being behind except the Pitcairn Islanders, who numbered 95 m all. They are fast increasing, and do not occupy the convicts 1 ' and soldiers' barracks left behind, but have built for themselves neat wooden tenements all over the island. The two landing places are dangerous m certain states of the weather ; but the people handle tbeir strong, -well-built whale-boats with amazing dexterity. The soil is exceedingly fertile, being composed of a dark chocolate loam, or decomposed basalt. There is a complete absence of frost and almost every temperate and subtropical plant grows m luxuriance. But three plants or weeds are so destructive to all other vegetation that a portion of every year is given by the whole community tp their destruction ; but, m spite of this, they are steadily increasing. These are two Bolanums (the sodomacum and auriculatum) and the Cassia levigata. The men are m great repute as expert whale fishers among the whalers that visit these seas ; besides they hupt the humpbacked whale, which visits the island every year between July and October. In bad weather the fishermen cultivate the farms ;. m suitable weather the farmers become fishermen. All trade is carried on by barter, the island supplying fresh vegetables to passing vessels m exchange for cloths, boat-gear, etc. The island is under the Governor of New South Wales, but is quite independent of that colony. It is administered by a chief magistrate and two councillors elected annually by the people. The lawß are few and primitive — they could be printed on two sheets of foolscap — but they are sufficient; for there is no crime and no lock-up. The only expenditure is £12 for the chief magistrate's salary, £1 for (ho court sweeper, and £1 10s for the signalmaster, and these are met by fines on waifs and strays. The surgeon, chaplain, etc., are paid trifling stipends out of the interest of a fund m Sydney, which began with the sale of 1000 acreß of land to the Melanesian Mission. The whole island is parcelled out into 50 acre lots, held at a peppercorn rent ; the original immigrants received 50 acreß each, and for coma years each married couple received the same grant ; this was reduced to 25 acres, and m 1884 Lord Agustus Loftus refused to make any more grants, on the ground that the land already given had not been properly utilised, tincethen Norfolk Island has had a land question ;. although only 400 out of about 4000 acres granted are under pultivation, the islanders resent the stoppage of tjip grants. The other burning political question is annexation to New South Wales, first proposed about two years ago, but strenuously opposed by the islanders. The import ot liquor, except for medical purposes, is absolutely prohibited 5 there are no customs duties, no taxes, no revenue, and no expenditure, except what the investment already mentioned is able to meet. Tho. imDor"^ iliGlu( ! e Nothing, groceries, and agricultural > l T?^ * he a cx P ortS are oil and wool to $„%**?' and agricultural produce to j.^7 •% 1 donia. Communication is kept up wiiu Auckland by a trading schooner, which ' calls four times a year ; a small Fiji ] tteftmer <?ft!le once a quarter, and tho
mission vessel twice a year. On I December 31, 1887, the population, 41 according to the registrar's returns," was 741, of these 217 being natives and others connected with the Melanesian Mission. The following are Borne further details of the population : — Norfolk Island community, 248 males, 276 females, married couples 78, widows 9, widowers 10 ; above the age of 14, 78 males, 66 females; Melanesian' Mission — whites. 1 4 males, 8 females ; ' blacks, 158 males and 43 females. There were 2000 sheep, 1200 cattle, and 350 horses. The sanitary condition of the island is very good, the death rate being about 9 per 1000 ; there is usually little sickness ; aVid an entire freedom ' from malarial fevers. The climate is salubrious, but during the prevalence of the north and north-east winds it is relaxing. The Church of England Melanesian Mission has its head-quarters on the islands, where it has all the appliances for maintaining alargeestab lißhment. Bishop Patteson established the mission here, with the consent ot the settlers, m 1866 and bought 1000 acres of land for the purpose. The mission vessel, the Southern Cross, makes three voyages a year to all the stations m the New Hebrides, the Banks, Solomon, and other groups ; m November she goes to Auckland to be refitted during the three hurricane months, and again m midwinter (June) to obtain supplies. The mission station is quite isolated from the rest of the community, and stands m its own grounds three miles away from Kington, the capital. The native vegetation of the island isj wholly peculiar; besides the famous Norfolk Island pine already mentioned, there is a tree fern (alsophila excelsa) and a palm (areca Baueri), which, are said to be the handsomest of their kind. There are besides upwards of 30 different kinds of ferns.,'
Permanent link to this item
The Ashburaton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 1889. NORFOLK ISLAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2085, 12 March 1889
The Ashburaton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 1889. NORFOLK ISLAND. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2085, 12 March 1889
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.