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 Pitcairn Islands 100 years ago

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Caro
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PostSubject: Pitcairn Islands 100 years ago   Thu 01 Nov 2012, 23:36

Our daily newspaper has a feature each day of 100 years ago from their archives. I gather this is an old-fashioned style of thing, but the Otago Daily Times is the only New Zealand-owned morning daily left and its circulation is steady, so it can afford to do what it likes, regardless of fashion.

Yesterday’s had a feature on Pitcairn Island in 1912, related by a passenger on the Frankmere which had called. The population was 150, including 67 children under 16. There was a school and a church and the same man was teacher, preacher and medical adviser. Their food was sweet potatoes, a little corn, a few yams, pumpkins and tropical fruits. [Surely they ate fish?]

Governance was by honorary officials of the Internal Committee – the chief magistrate-in-council, two assessors, the chairman and the Government secretary. They were all voted on by anyone over 18 and no canvassing was allowed. Results of the election were known in half an hour. Their duties were to look after the roads, water supply, branding of animals, poultry and goats, and public trading with any ships that called. Law cases with a penalty under £5 are tried by the magistrate but over that two assessors help. Fines can’t be paid because of the lack of money, but people work on the roads. “As the chief magistrate does not keep too close an eye on the offender, the latter simply loafs about the road until fis fine has been exhausted by the influx of time.” A religious ceremony begins and ends the day.

This information was just gained by someone en route somewhere else, so is likely to be rather truncated. And in light of sexual abuse cases in the last decade or so, not as idyllic as it might seem. 150 is less than the size of our local school which goes from Year 1 - 13, and while that allows a family atmosphere and warmth, it also is a little claustrophobic for people confined by their place and for anyone wanting to extend or change their personalities/lifestyle/attitudes, etc.

The population had shrunk to 67 in 2007. Hardly viable really.

http://library.puc.edu/pitcairn/pitcairn/population.shtml (I am a bit surprised the census data should be so freely available.)
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Pitcairn Islands 100 years ago   Fri 02 Nov 2012, 00:02

Strangely reminiscent of the decline and eventual evacuation of Mingulay and Hirta (St Kilda) in its tale of falling numbers.
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PostSubject: Re: Pitcairn Islands 100 years ago   Fri 02 Nov 2012, 04:22

I thought of them too. Not by name, which I had forgotten, though I should be able to remember Mingulay from the lovely song. I did find their story, wherever we read about it (some castle?) very romantic and sad. It's very hard going with tiny populations, even the Chatham Islands off the coast of NZ find it difficult with a population of 600. People (especially teenagers) leave for the bigger opportunities in NZ proper and only go back for holidays. There's really only farming (and that struggles) and fishing.
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