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Palmerston Island.

A Stsange Man's Home,

Houses Bcfr/r fhom Wrecka^.

Palmerston Island ia one of a group of thirteen email islands in the South Pacific, situated on tho outer edge of a large lagoon, enclosed by a coral reef, the lagoon being about 12 miles long, and the same area in width. About 35 years back, a man springing into tho prime of life held an engagement on board of one of tho numerous whalers1 thab frequented tho Bay of Islands, and while his vessel was lying there he became restless with his lot, and longed for fresh fields and pastures new. ' With this object in view he left his vessel, and after various upa and downa reached Tahiti, and there entered into trading relations with some of the traders. Ho started away and eventually reached the group of islands which bears the name mentioned above. He found no signs of natives, or that there had been any there for many a long day, and taking a fancy fco tho place determined to settle down on ib. This was some 32 years ago. William Marstcrs, tho name of this adventurous yotui'; mnn, proceeded back to Tahiti, and made arrangements according to hia preconceived idea. Marryincr a native girl, he loft with porno of her rotations for his new homo, and since that time has resided on (he island, never leaving io except to board vessels visfting there. Although so isolated, ho has soon many strange scenes. Three vessels hnva been wrecked on his domains (be holds a lease of the place from tho Imperial Government), the crew of one of tho vessels being all lost. From the wreckage (one was a timber-laden vessel) he has built several substantial houses. The timber, excepting being cleaned, and in some instances planed, was used just as it came from the wreck. The result is that he has rafters 24 by 24, ridgepoles 12 by 12, uprights 18 by 12 and IS by 24, door posts 24 by 24, while the boarding of the houses and the flooring aro of 12 by 4 and 4 by 3, resting on timbers 18 by 12 and other light pieces of timber. The doorsteps are of 18 by 12 and 20 and 25 feet long. The nails used in the houses are ship's bolts. Yet in spite of these massive timbers his houses are excellently—nay, even neatly—put together, and Mr Marsters's excuse for all this is thab he wished to have only to build houses once, and thab they should lasb oub his lifetime. He is over 75 year& of age, so there is every chance of their doing so. At the time he first settled there were bub a few cocoanub trees on the island bearing frnit, but now all of them are covered, Mr Masters having most industriously planted new trees from time to time, and ab the present day is reaping the benefit of his foresight and industry. A large family has sprung up around the old gentleman, and to the elder of them he has relegated many of the duties that formerly were borne on his own shoulders. At the present time there is a population of thirtytwo souls, and all appear to be happy, healthy and contented on their island home. Fish, especially turtles, are obtainable in abundance, bub neither oranges; bananas, nor many of the tubers thab grow so abundantly in the Cook Group will thrive on Palmerston; consequently, for the main supply of food these isolated colonists are dependent upon outside supplies. Strict laws have been framed by Mr Marsters for the good government of the island, and a judge is appointed from among themselves to settle any disputes. His office turns oub to be an appointment in name only, no trou"bles ever arising to call for interference. The spiritual welfare of his family has not been forgotten. A houne is specially eeb aside as a church, and there every. Sunday, and on stated week days, Mr Marsters conducts religions services. Altogether this strange, bub industrious, handful of colonists, away in the midst of the Southern Pacific, are said to be a model from which many who are seeking new homes mighfa take a few lessons.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS18950112.2.52.3

Bibliographic details

Palmerston Island., Auckland Star, Volume XXVI, Issue 10, 12 January 1895

Word Count
706

Palmerston Island. Auckland Star, Volume XXVI, Issue 10, 12 January 1895

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