l/· I 1 I

5 downloads 0 Views 5MB Size Report
( ~J elbourne 1g;o), 4i; C. Mullard, Ab· on . mes m Aus/ralra ... Court Award of 1919 and the State of Queensland's Sugar Cultivation Act of. 1913 attempted to ...







l /· I 1I

f~ I~:L,

* Australia's Pacific Islanders 1906-1977LING




rid Austr alia of its Pacific Island gover nmen t passed legislation intend ed to of 1901 provid ed for the closure Act rers Labou Island Pacific The immig rants. esian labou rers for Queen sland Melan tured inden ting of the system of recrui i ation of the great major ity repatr the and sugar planta tions after 31 March 1904, 1906. of Island ers in Austra lia by 31 Decem ber this fervou r for ;t white Austra lia, Altho ugh many thousa nds were depon ed in 1 and a small nucleu s of marri ed ned, remai esians betwe en 1,500 and 2,ooo Melan

ose coAustralian Pacific Jsland co mmuni t y wh person • Our thanks must be given to the used herein came from no one ation inform The e. possibl project this operati on made of j\Jackay Our special thanks go to the Islanders or group but man y too numero us to name. in particu lar to the friends hip , imerest , and assistance and and Ayr j Home HiJJ for their s. Henawa y, Dan, Sabbo and Fa tnowna familie to Pacific Islanders. referen ce to Melane sian s o r Islanders is hh Archive figures, 1 Fo r the sake of clarity any Peter Corris. citing Commo n wea not to Australia's Torres Strait Islanders: tion were still in deporta from ion granted exempt sta tes th at 1.654 Islanders who had been 6 left between 1910 and J9L:J. P. Corris · "\\'hite Aus 14 Austra'lia in D ec. 19og. and that a funh er Histori cal Studies. d', Pacific Islanders from Qu eenslan in Austra lia tralia " in Action: The Repa triation of 243. The number who acnraJJy stayed on ), 19i:! ( XV , d Zealan New nnd lia Austra deporta tion some Melanesians no t exempt ed from is diffi cu h to estimate precisely because down. ed ati on had quieten situ the until years few a for bush and hid in th e hills


men have produ ced the presen t couple s from this group of predo minan tly single forgot ten people. Studies of alia-a Austr in unity comm esian Melan immig rant 2 but it is the Melan esian comm uru ty made been have nts the Pacific Island migra focus of this article . of thi s centur y, hither to neglected, whid1 is the the staple labou r force for Between 1863 and 1906 Pacific Island ers were h of tropic al agricu lture, branc this to ing adjust In ry. indust sugar the Queen sland workers for the success an esi Melan their on relied rs Queensland 's sugar plante tl1e sugar towns were of ation popul the of tl1 eir planta tion ventur es. Almost half era. \ Vitho ut the Island ers' contion planta tl1e of peak the at rs slande I Pacific indus try, .the develo pmen t of north tribut i on to tl1e establ ishme nt of the sugar slower r ate. a at ded procee Queen sland would surely have ering role of the Pacific Island A concre te form of appre ciatio n of the pione ment to recogl'lize and assist govern alian Austr the for be would rs sugar worke on is. anom alous. They are positi t presen whose dants, th eir Ansu· alian- born descen recent immig rant group s s toward ed direct not includ ed in the efforts curren tly n) in Austra lia. Nor as meno pheno (large ly a Europ ean and post-i'\lorld W ar Two benefits (such as in mic econo sociothe for le eligib they non-in di genes are gines and T orres Abori to lable avai g) housin and health , lega l aid, educa tion I slande rs face as Pacific the les obstac and Strait I slanders. 3 Yet in the proble ms in comm on v,;tJ1 indige nous black much have they lia, Austra white a in blacks the Island ers are the m ajor black group s. In sugar towns like Macka y and Ayr, orjsm usu ally meted out to antag al raci of group , and h ave taken the brunt Melan esians have suffered tl1e h Abori gi nes in other areas. Nevertheless, thoug being Austr alia's 'invisible' from and ion minat discri racial dual from indivi Abori ginals, been subjec ted to the black comm unity, they have not, as have tl1e es.• reserv unent r acism of such total institu tions as goven dants of Pacific I sland migra nts descen born alianAustr of er numb nt prese The tes range at betwe en eight and 30 has yet to be precisely know n and estima to reality. The 5 the lower of tl1e two figures no doubt bei ng closer mou sand, 6 Since 1974 we have inter1967. in first hi storia n to contac t them was Peter Corris free situati ons. They reside mainl y viewed ma ny dozens of Island ers in forma l and a lesser exten t in lngha m, Rockto and ill H Home j Ayr and in Mackay, Bowe n

ion ion. A Hisl ory• of Solomo n L abour Migrat 2 See P. Corris, Passage, Port and Plan/a/ Scour~e". R acial respons es towards ack Bl "The · rs, Saunde K. 9i3); ' Exploit a· I 8jO·I9I 4 (Melbo urne E,·ans, K. Saunde rs, K. Cronin , Exclusi on, Melane sians in colonia l Queenslan d ', in R. colonia l Queenslan d (Sydney '9i5)· but areas li on and Exterm ination. Race Relatio ns in these in ce assistan rs ha ve receive d some .3 As shown later the Pacific Islande or T orres SLrait Islanders. To , only through categoriza tion as Aborig ines ippman L of such institut ionalize d racism, see L. Ab· 4 For a discuss ion of the effects ines ( ~J elbourne 1g;o), 4i; C. Mull ard , Aborig the and ra/ia Ausl y. Countr A chie, •e Our ing. Black and lia ' 9i4). 4i·S; W. Stanne r, Aft
Lippman , op. cit. , 59·




paren ts of their special needs. Most of their educ ation which does not meet any they nor those who have er neith and ation educ al form of with have had the mini mum high value on educ ation : they argue acqu ired furth er educ ation place a d be a woul it oyers empl white of dices preju some justif icatio n that in view of the left throu gh schools. In the past child ren wasted effort to push their child ren gove rnme nt educatoday ugh altho and y, famil their ort school early to help supp ling the r for them to conti nue their schoo tion gran ts make it financially easie ding atten ers sland I the of Most lacki ng. drive to acl1ieve good results is still l and indu strial courses ercia comm in led enrol are ls schoo Quee nslan d secondary ed an e 10); and where they have enter term inati ng in the junio r year (grad ly attai n usual not do they 12), e (grad r acad emic strea m and comp leted senio ution s. matr icula tion stand ard for tertia ry instit gst of difficult and truan t stude nts amon Prop ortio nally there is a high er rate altho ugh not, it exist do ers teacll by ation imin the Islan ders. Prob lems over discr have by paren ts. Some paren ts appe ar to woul d seem, to tJ1e exten t claim ed in lly, astica schol ve achie ld offspring shou unrea listic expe ctatio ns of what tJ1eir study) of their home for s ition cond e ssibl impo as view of the restri ction s (such oor influence: Mela nesia n boys prefe r outd back grou nds. Peer pressure is anotJ1er and ying marr to ard forw look girls jobs and 'man ly' work to indoor white colla r conPacific Islan ders have the desire to raisin g a family. How e,·er, wher e adult available, for exam ple in the waiv ing is ance assist tinue their educ ation special er tertia ry instit ution s. 16 Inter est in furth of form al entra nce requi reme nts to educa al speci these of taken be can needs to be kindl ed so that adva ntage studi es tiona l benefits. ders social inter actio n betw een tJ1e ·Islan the Outs ide work ing hour s there is little tJ1at in ' 'class and race of e cong ruenc and white Aust ralian s. Ther e is a level. omic -econ socio fall with in the same great majo rity of Pacific Islan ders unity princ ipall y withi n the Islan der comm Prim ary relat ionsh ips are form ed Torr es and es rigin (Abo ps grou black r othe and but occasionally witJ1 mem bers of as family celeb ratio ns or berea veme nts Strai t Islan ders). Social activities such and parti cipan ts will rtant impo very as ded regar are comm unit y gathe rings e of d these functions. In contr ast the rang trave l relati vely long distances to atten only rally gene is and ed limit very is s social conta cts \,-ith white Aust ralian izaers do not join such volun tary organ throu gh clJUrch activities: Pacific I sland ties and cultu ral group s, socie rical histo ns, ciatio Asso ens tions as Pare nts and Citiz benefit woul d not be welcome, or woul d not prob ably because tJ1ey feel that they do there ever, How ns. izatio organ le class from beng involved in sucll white midd e between the black and bridg a as act who men' inal 'marg seem to be certa in ct in both worlds. 16 whit e comm uniti es and comm and respe ples of separ atism in leisure activities. Spon and relig ion prov ide two exam ing prowess of Pacific Islan ders as sport the d haile have s ician polit Loca l white

Unive rsity of ional entry, attend ed the James Cookacilic Island ers nOne Pacific Island woma n, on pr01·is studies. Some part·P her in l sfu succes been has and in 19;6 Queen l'\onh es in the soulh. universiLi ing sland attend are Society', l\J. Reay (ed.), Abto what? Comm ents on the White 162. An 16 ] . Wilso n, 'A ssimil ation ginal Comm unitit J (Sydne y ' .964), Abori of Study the in s ective ose While collar JOb origin -. ,\'ou•. Persp is a Mackay Solomon Island er wh man nal ed margi involv a ly such active of also le examp white comm unity and who is t. es a great deal of contac t with the requir in the Island er comm unity of the distric



n,17 s in tJ1e eyes of the gene ral popu latio an achie veme nt whic h raises their statu inent prom a of name ay is awar ded in the and one coveted footb all troph y in Mack tJJe ltane ously with tJJis cama rader ie on Islan der man. 18 How ever, exist ing simu All black . skills ing sport n nesia Mela of playi ng fields is a diffe rent expre ssion their seem to have been used to reinf orce teams, altho ugh less popu lar today, , organized sport serves unity comm white the in as and, sense of ethni c ident ity; to exten d social ties for botJ1 sexes. tJ1e ariza tion amon gst white Aust ralian s, Despite the incre asing trend to secul ry centu 19th tJ1e In . tians pract ising Chris great majo rity of Pacific Islan ders are cond ucted by the were d nslan Quee in ants migr n missions for tJ1e Mela nesia nal clmrcl1es and also by tJ1e unde nomi natio Churcl1 of Engl and and Presb yteri an most the on, missi latter This g. nce Youn Quee nslan d Kana ka Miss ion of Flore of tJJe on Islan ds with the repat riatio n successful, trans ferre d to the Solom d tJJe established perio this In ry. centu this of e Islan ders in tJJe first decad retai n nslan d missions but did · not for long churcl1es also closed down their Quee who ns nesia Mela the of most 30s 1920s and tJJeir Islan der cong regat ions. In the Islan ders into tJJe inent prom wed follo d nslan Quee had rema ined in north their de19 Adve ntist churc hes and tJJey and Assembly of God and SeventJ1 Day that the seem d woul It still. hes churc scendants are stron g mem bers of these l and costa Pente tJ1e of ty d of Chris tiani more perso nal and unqu estio ning bran in religion. The needs ders' Islan tJ1e of more ies Fund amen talist faitJu satisf ns can in whic h these Aust ralia n Melanesia Chur ch has also prov ided a spher e Day tJ1 Seven der Islan are there exam ple, assert themselves. In some centres, for the Islan der mem bers and by ly large ized organ and run Adve ntist cllurches to welcomed. In their selecti,·e response inter feren ce from whit e clergy is not merely been not have tJJey that n show have Euro pean relig ion, the Melanesi ans their adop ted coun try. the passive recip ients of tJJe cultu re of ral traits , trans ferre d to tJ1e colony with cultu n nesia l\fela Furth ermo re certa in ts. still prese nt amongst their descendan are the origi nal Pacific Islan d migr ants, dy alrea have ties ip kinsh of gth stren the Recip rocit y along trad ition al lines and nt in the older gene ratio n; prese still is skill rial orato t ificen been described. Magn forced by capacity to speak fluently and weakness in litera cy is coun terba lance fully when amon gst their own people. ral surviYals, and one whid1 we have But tJ1e most outst andi ng of these cultu the sphe re of magical beliefs and h·es invo here, elsew discussed more fully pract ice of magic and sorcery and in f belie practices.2 o It seems that the as tJJe 1940s, at least in north late as was retai ned in Quee nslan d and that pracsorcery were being perfo rmed . The Quee nsland, acts of magi c and and the rites were unity comm the of men old the tition ers were gene rally ction uctiv e (such as love magic and prote carri ed out for purp oses both prod opme nt ) and E. D. alian Minister for North ern Df\·el 17 Addresses by R . Patter son (Austr First Conve ntion of the Austr alian South Sea Island ers the to y) Casey (State Memb er for Macka Unite d Counc il. 9 May '975· 55· IS T he DaJ!y Mercu ry , 4 Aug. 19;6, an Anglican lay preach er y Solomon Island er was origi nall y to Se\'enth Day Adven tism 19 E.g .. a well -respe cted Macka in the 1920s he conve rted but gh, Farlei of town tion religio n. at the old planta ers (not only Angli cans) to chang e theirsland: the retent ion and also persu aded many other Island s in 1'\orth Queen nesian ·:Mela , Moore R. C. and 20 See P. M. Merce r XI (19;6), 66·88. practi ces', journ al of Pacific HistoT)•, of indige nous religio us and magic al G




illness). The fun ctio n of h as magic for dea th and ish wrongdoers in the magic) and dest ruct ive (suc pun to s to hav e been prin cipa lly the m alev olen t magic seem old men but the olde r e thes with out died ery' com mun ity. Such 'lega l sorc in the efficacy of such magical practi ces and are eves gen erat ion toda y still beli y livi ng patt erns. Thu s by such beliefs in thei r dail in som e ways still infl uen ced tect ion against e\·il spirits r hom es are said to be pro plan ts gro wn aro und Isla nde as creek beds are avo ided at nig ht because the and cert ain localities such sigh ted there. Some of the sian s hav e repu tedl y been maj orit y are scornful of gho sts of deceased Mel ane the orb ed these beliefs but the trad itio nal you nge r gen erat ion hav e abs erst itio ns' and it seems that gra ndp aren ts' 'sup on. d asse thei r par ents ' andolde p be not will ple r peo kno wle dge of the tral ia sou ght but sian s who rem aine d in Aus in this cen tury those Mel ane whi ch wou ld hav e secured them a futu re in ce assistan were refu sed the financial l employees. 2 I Em bitt ered ors and not merely seasona t half cen tury played a tl1e sug ar ind ustr y as cult ivat nex the for nde rs with drew and s by tl1eir trea tme nt, the Isla Eur ope ans . Yet in tl1e 1970 a con tine nt dom inat ed by to gro up poli tica lly d qui et una ssum ing role in nee tl1e feel to an beg of peo ple even this conservative gro up Cou ncil (ASSIUC) was Sou th Sea lsla nde r Uni ted dva ntag ed min orit y in and in 1974 the Aus tral ian disa a as for tl1e Isla nde r peo ple ion gnit reco seek to up. ed gro form tica l atte ntio n to this Aus tral ia and to brin g poli war ene ss on tl1e par t of e, an alm ost com plet e una stag this at The re was, igno ranc e whid1 coveran up, gro tence of tl1is ethn ic whi te Aus tral ia of the exis way to correct.22 Hitl 1en o, in the 70s has gon e some age in the nati ona l med ia s in orga niza tion s inte nde d rgie ene r thei ed end had exp both the poli ticiz ed Pacific Isla nde rs 2 S But , desp ite mar riag e link s with blacks. selves them r side prim aril y for indi gen ous con rs nde it Isla nde rs, the Pacific Isla Stra , tl1e res eed Tor Ind and gs. nes upin rigi gro k Abo blac e iden tific atio n with oth er 'Mu ddie s' (To rres the to be sep arat e and feel littl with ght fou y nall itio hav e trad 'Ka nak as' (Pacific Isla nde rs) een the diff eren t black any tenu ous alliance betw Stra it Islanders). Moreover, in rece nt years, wit11 ely has bro ken dow n complet pos itio ns in Abo rigi nal com mun itie s in Aus tral ia ve cuti exe from rs )lde Isla Abo rigi nes exp elli ng Pacific the ban dwa gon ' in ord er the Isla nde rs of 'ge ttin g on org aniz atio ns and accusing k Aus tral ians . Thu s, a blac ous efits gra nted to indi gen exc lude d in its title to sha re in the fina ncial ben ntly TSI SU)24 esta blis hed rece nt Pacific Isla nde rs blac k Stu den ts' Uni on (NA eme mov ent stud ian tral in the Aus Pacific Isla nde rs and with EARLY

ng d in Aust ralia were leasi

ders who staye unde r the Euro pean s· cent ury man y of the Islan 21 In Ihe early 20thEuro ofte n work ing assig nme nts ure and the Islan ders and ers fann pean land from tal expe ndit

ased capi hills ide cane perio d , wou ld not the indu stry mea nt incre nam es. Mec hani zatio n of prov ided loan s to the new Malt ese senl ers in this who s, bank the way. that this in feel assis t them ed Cou ncil was reSout h Sea Islan ders Unit eren ce of the Aus trali an Aust ralia ' prog ramm es was on the Islan ders 22 E.g. the first conf ch's "Pea h's Peac Bill ralia n Melanes>ans, pon ed natio nally ; one of , '9i5) ; and the trips to the islands by som e Aust The AuswriLLen up by the press. been have ("Islanders', ABC tel evision a, own Fatn Noel h Band Fait'975 nceMay - l er and for insta an, 17 trali for the ncil Cou ATS I (Fed eral t for man y years in FCA prom inen ! ereswas h Band Stra it Islan ders). Fait es Torr 23 E.g. and rigin Abo Adv ance men t of ders Stud ent Unio n. rigin al and Torr es Stra it Islan 24 The Nati onal Abo



ineq uali ties and lack of ous blacks seeking to redress baNe bee n igno red by indi gen ralia.2~ Aust opp ortu niti es for blac ks in k poli tica l gro ups prot and reje ctio n by oth er blac Neglect by the gov ern men ASSIUC's mai n aims, rs. nde org aniz atio n of Pacific Isla an for ulus stim t11e ent Pacific Isla nd d pres vide t11e n to secure reco gnit ion for to the Abo rigi nes not surprisingly, hav e bee rded awa ce stan assi l for tl1e financia ific Isla nde rs are Pac com mun ity and elig ibil ity the ed, tion As prev iously men and Tor res Stra it Isla nde rs. ernm enta l assistance, yet hav e had to end ure the gov not enti tled to any special hou sing , business oppora whi te world. Benefits in in k blac g bein of terf uge of iden tify ing han di caps sub the ugh tlrro only be secured cipa l in reck onin g tuni ty and edu cati on can prin ol scho a it Islanders. Man y l assistance has ona cati as Abo rigi nes or Tor res Stra edu blac k stud ents elig ible for y the lead ing ilarl Sim the num ber of ind igen ous ins. orig al raci al into thei r actu n win ked at bee has s etie not enq uire d too closely soci sing hou rs in some blac k of !Various will d goo role take n by Pacific Isla nde the on such dec epti on, dep end ent But s. crat e, pareau tinu bur con te -to whi by rant eed and officials, can not be gua Moreover, afte r . ding gov ernm ent dep artm ents spen fare wel al soci vy cutb ack s in ticularly in a peri od of hea rigines, Pacific Islanders inte rma rria ge betw een Abo to sep arat e one gro up a qua rter of a cen tury of any atte mpt by gov ernm ents : for exa mpl e man y and T orres Stra it Isla nde rs cise exer y trar arbi an be ssarily from the othe rs mus t nece ded in t11e Tor res Stra it Heb ride an orig in hav e resi peo ple of Solo mon or New Stra it Isla nde rs. res Tor are now classified as area for jO years or mor e and in Can ber ra in August case ers' and Isl the d ente An ASSIUC dele gati on pres up to inve stig ate tl1e set was ) (IDC tee enta l Com mit al info rma tion from 1975 and an Inte r-D epa rtm istic stat 1er gatl a two-man team to (A ugu st 1977) the situ atio n. The !DC set up ting wri mid-1976 but at the date of ings of the survey may various I slan der gro ups in find the and d lete omp on unc s inve stig atio n still wan ders ate Aus tral ia's Melanesian 26 the pres ent eco nom ic clim ent than ernm gov ral never be pub lish ed. In fede the from iliin g mor e mat eria l will be unli kely to gain any r Pete rsen gave tl1em that ic gro up, and even Pre mie ethn e arat sep a as ion gnit reco the beg inni ng of Aug ust at e, 2 mor ther Fur 7 late 1975. itio n in a Que ens land at a Que ens land level in pos his up took Pacific Isla nde rs futu re needs of all 1977, a Com mis sion er for and s inve stig ate t11e pro blem e. The Jack of cogov ernm ent com mis sion to Stat the and Pacific Isla nde rs in Commissioner's 12 the e Aborigines, Tor res Stra it mak will ies orit and stat e auth the Que ens land of ope rati on betw een fede ral erity sinc the ng exp erie nce , and mon th term of office a tryi l. t11e commission is dou btfu of its gov ernm ent in app oin ting -to have lost muc h and now in 1977 app ears 1974 in an beg in pres enti ng a nt, ASSIUC ifica sign n bee e ha\' ach ieve men ts ng a sense of iden tity orig inal imp etus . Yet its ian gov ernm ent and pro vidi k poli tica l groups. Beuni ted fron t to ilie Aus tral blac e nev er felt wit hin oth er which Pacific Isla nde rs hav ncil, Jan. n of Stud ents Ann ual Cou n Plen ary, Aus trali an Unio 25 Min utes of the Edu catio care. The with ed they mus t be treat '97i · PP 3i·S . !DC sun•ey are publ ishe d, of the govern26 Even if the resu lts of theconf iden ce of the Islanders who were susp iciou s e importantl y, mor the investigatOrs neve r gain ed info nnat i on on their econ omic background and, pera te. ly failed to co-o men t 's reasons for wan ting ts. Man y eith er lied or total gran ial spec the of ipt their illegal rece 1975 · The Aust ralia n , 27 Nov . 27



fore ASSIUC was forme d the Island ers were a non-in digeno us black comm unity spread over a thousa nd miles of coastal settlem ent and lackin g any solida rity excep t that gained throug h family relatio nships and a comm on past as the descend ants of labou rers on 19th centur y Queen sland sugar planta tions. It must be remem bered that Pacific I slanders did not see themselves as 'Mela nesian ' until white ethno centri sm create d this identi ty. 2s While this now provid es a positive self image , it can also conce al the intern al diversity of the I slande r comm unity. Today 's Melanesians have becom e so interr elated by marria ge that they appea r as a unifie d Melan esian comm unity, but althou gh differ entiat ion by partic ular island or even tribal origin has genera lly disapp eared the divisi on betwe en larger group ings of Solom on I slande rs and New Hebri deans still remai ns strong. In outlook, aspirations, orient ations , the Island ers are not united and any gover nmen t action s towards them must recognize this divers ity. This is not to ignore tJ1e cultural simila rities linkin g the variou s Island er settlem ents along tJ1e east Australian coast, but rather -tO recognize that in part this identi ficatio n has been forced upon them by white Austr alia's percep tion of them as one ethnic group : racial discri minat ion has helpe d to produ ce a racial cultur e. The only other occasion when Austr alia's Melan esians united politic ally was in 1904 when a New Hebri dean in Mackay began the Pacific Island ers Association to fight agains t the mass depor tation ordere d under the 1901 Pacific Island Labou rers Act. 29 As with ASSIUC, the Pacific Island ers Association was organize d on Europ ean lines and emplo yed Europ ean metho ds in seeking to achieve its objectives. But ASSIU C is uniqu e as the only politic al organ izatio n opera ting among st Melan esians of cultur ally diverse origin s now living in a technologically advan ced count ry that is not their ancest ral home. Island ers from many differe nt Pacific islands haYe becom e identi fied as one group in Austr alia,so with the unity of tJ1eir 'Kana ka' past outwe ighing the divers ity of their origins. In ASSIUC sophis ticated politic al proced ures sometimes coexist and sometimes conflict witJ1 tradit ion al Melan esian nlue systems. To try to fit anthro polog ical theories of Melan esian autho rity struct ures involYing hered itary chiefs and 'Big Men' to Austr alia's pan-M elanes ian society would proba bly not be a valid exercise. Until consid erably more resear ch ·has been compl eted it would be presu mptuo us to read too much of a traditi onal nature into the contem porary situat ion. 81 Some obvio us Melan esian cultur al traits are, however, clearly apparen t in ASSIUC: for instan ce many older men object to the domin ance of wome n in tJ1e organ izatio n and comp lain th at only males should occupy -the key positions. There also appea r to be inter-i sland group antago nisms being played 2 8 This is also the case with Aborig ines. Cape York ', in D. Tugby (ed .), Aborig J. Von Sturme r, 'Chang ing Aborig inal identity in inal Id entity in Contem porary Austral ian Society (Brisba ne ' 9i3)- 16·1;. 29 Corris. Passage , Po rt and Pla11tat ion, so C. A. Price with E. Baker, 'Origin sl2i·B. of Pacific Isla nd Labour ers in Qu eensla 1904: a researc h note', j ou rna l of Pacific nd 1863· of the diversi ty of the origins of Queens History , XI (1g;6), 1o6·21 , provide s the best analysi s land's Pacific Islande rs. Today' s Pacific Islande origina lly from over jO differen t Pacific rs came Islands. predom inantly Melane sian with Po!Ynesian islands include d . some · 31 The authors o f this article are at present undert aking research into the reaclio n of Solomo n and J'\ew Hebrid ean l slander s to plantat ion society in 1gth century Queensland and the. extent of the retentio n of their indigen ous culture s. The applica bili ty of 19th soc1etal pattern s to the present situatio n is century a matter for future conject ure.



out within ASSlUC, partic ularly among st tJ1e older gener ation of Island ers many of whom claim pure Malai tan, Guada lcanal , Epi , Tanne se, Ambr ym or Aoban descen Thet. suppo rt of certai n of the strong est Island er families quickl y enable d ASSIUC to build up to a nation al organ izatio n, capab le of presen ting submissions to the gover nment and using the contac ts of leadin g I slande rs to act as a pressure group to bring about change. But the same forces which ensure d its rapid grow th have also been instru menta l in its declin e, as traditi onal family loyalties and inter-island alliances have broke n down . The mome ntum of the first few years has dissip ated and ASSIUC's future survival seems doubt ful. Yet this brief politic izatio n has left its mark. The new politic al awareness and the knowledge of the power of a pressure group in relatio n to gover nment and bureau cracy will endur e. Yet witho ut forma l recog nition of their status the I slande rs feel more than ever estran ged from their count ry of birth, and many of the young people have refused to register to vote in a system that they feel does nothin g for them. TOGET HER with this increa sing politic al consciousness and the revival of intere st in the tradit ional skills and customs has come homes, partly promp ted by ASSlU C and partly a re-link ing with their island by privat e Island er initiat ive. Organ ized group s and indivi dual families in the l ast few years have begun to visit relatio ns in the New Hebri des and Solom on I slands from whom they have been separa ted for up to a centur y. Often precise detail s of custom names and village identi ficatio n back in the island s has been forgot ten by Austr alian Island er families, but sufficiently exact memo ries have been kept by some to enable them to re-connect with their relatives. The impac t of realiz ation for the long isolated Melan esians th at they have close relatio ns and even l and 32and cerem onial rights still waitin g for them in the island s is difficu lt to describe. the increasing flow of people betwe en the Pacific I slands and Austra lia, the proble m of conflict betwe en custom ary land ri ghts and mode rn ci ti zenship in Austra lia will have to be faced at gover nmen t level in th e future . After a centur y in Austra lia, the Pacific Island ers are just begin ning to come into their own. P. M. MERCE R AND C. R. MOORE


32 This has been found to be the case b)' Queensland fami1ie s recent!) ' re-estab lishing the ties with Malaita in the Solomo n I slands , and For further inform ation on the lives of on Tongo a in the Ne" · Hebrid es. Pacific Islande rs in contem porary Au stralia ccntrat ing more on the recent retum of , ron· Mercer and C. R. Moore, 'The forgou enQueensland Islande rs 10 their home islands, see P. M. people: Austral ia's immigr ant Melane sians' , Meanjin Quarte rly , forthco ming.