Fiji v Tonga

May 17th, 2011 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

The “rescue” of Lieutenant-Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara by is fascinating, as are the demands of the Commodore that he be returned. You would think he would be glad to have a dissident out of the country.

Mara is the son of the founding Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. He was very close to the Commodore and it is not known what has led to him to be charged with sedition, which led to him fleeing.

What I find most interesting is the suggestion that Mara was helped to flee by his brother-in-law Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Nailatikau is the current Pesident of and nominally Commander-in-Chief. Is it possible the President could move against the Commodore?

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45 Responses to “Fiji v Tonga”

  1. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Mara is a bad bastard… but hes our bad bastard.

    And the king of Tonag has more balls than Key and Gillard combined (not even going to spectulate which of those two has the bigger nuts).

    Good to see that at least one other nation isn’t going to let Fiji push them around.

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  2. KH (695 comments) says:

    Why are we not surprised ??
    When anyplace is taken over by a bunch of ‘know it alls’ who ignore the rule of law, it’s only a matter of time before the implosion takes place.
    Somebody should sail up there and offer them a treaty containing rule of law and protection of individual rights. Would be the best thing that ever happened to them. Mind you — they won’t be grateful.

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  3. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Tell us how that works out for you KH.

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  4. KH (695 comments) says:

    #Murray at 10.45
    I don’t think it will go very well at all.

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  5. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    What amuses me are the media’s efforts to try to talk this up and dramatise it.

    Neither country is able to sustain military action against the other. Gunboats at dawn? Bofors exhanges as the sun climbs over the yardarm? Hardly.

    Until I looked up the googlemaps, I had no idea that Fiji had so many small islands, and islets, spread so far from Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

    We’re not told how Lt-Col Mara got to the island he was taken off. Perhaps he was exiled there.

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  6. MT_Tinman (3,204 comments) says:

    Mara might be your bastard Murray.

    You’re welcome to him.

    Personally I’d rather see the good Commodore finish what he started.

    [DPF: if only he would. But can you name any concrete steps he has taken towards democratic elections?]

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  7. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Good you MT, go have a cuddlefest with your miltary dictator, just don’t say anything that might upset him or you’ll be invited to drop by the barracks for a fucking hiding.

    you might think its a good way to govern but I’m against it.

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  8. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    FWIW: Tongan involvement in Fijian politics is nothing new and dates back centuries. A Tongan presence in Fiji and their support for one particular Fijian chief in an on-going civil (intertribal) war was a major reason for the British to be invited to ‘aquire’ the Fiji group in the 19th Century – to kick the Tongan’s out and re-establish Fiji for the Fijians. Essentially, what we are seeing is the same story, and just the latest ‘twist’.

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  9. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    Komata, you’re correct there.

    Mr Mara (from Lau Island) is a descendant of Tongan Prince, Ma’afu who went to Lau Island in Fiji to conquer it in 1845 and established a unified administration. Ma’afu called himself the Tui Lau, or King of Lau. I heard that the predominant language in the Lau Island today is still Tongan language (with an accent). I believe that this is the major reason behind extricating Mr Mara from Fiji, because of his blood line link to the current King of Tonga.

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  10. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Personally I’d rather see the good Commodore finish what he started.

    He has no mandate to finish anything. The people have never voted for him, and his refusal to allow free elections suggest he knows his revolution would be chucked out on its ear if the people here allowed to have their say.

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  11. david (2,557 comments) says:

    So in essence the Fijians have been on the back foot wrt control of their own land for a few generations now. Firstly having to get British assistance to protect against the Tongans and then passing draconian racist laws to protect against Indian land ownership.

    Does that make them a pushover, ignorant, too lazy or too greedy to ensure tenure in their own backyard without having to resort to artificial means preventing a takeover? Or did they get to where we are going just a hell of a lot quicker?

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  12. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    FF

    All of which confirms the old British adage about ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, although having friends in (very) high places can also be useful. . .

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  13. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    FWIW: Tongan involvement in Fijian politics is nothing new and dates back centuries. A Tongan presence in Fiji and their support for one particular Fijian chief in an on-going civil (intertribal) war was a major reason for the British to be invited to ‘aquire’ the Fiji group in the 19th Century – to kick the Tongan’s out and re-establish Fiji for the Fijians. Essentially, what we are seeing is the same story, and just the latest ‘twist’.

    Close, but replace Tonga with the good ol USA (in particular their Navy) and your on the mark. Google “John Brown Williams”, the original US consul to Fiji and what happened to his store and the reaction of the US by sending their Navy to extract compensation for his losses.

    Oh, and being financially in the poo didn’t help either.

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  14. MT_Tinman (3,204 comments) says:

    Murray, my information, based on information given to me by residents of Fiji, is that the good Commodore is attempting to ensure that ALL Fijians have the right to say what they like, not just what a small group of blood relatives want them to.

    I haven’t studied his methods (nor care that much, I don’t frequent Fiji) but his aims are admirable.

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  15. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    david

    Re: ‘So in essence the Fijians have been on the back foot wrt control of their own land for a few generations now’

    Sort-of. The British tried to get teh Fijians to act as low-paid labour for the sugar cane plantations, but it didn’t work – the locals seeeing little point in working hard when they could achieve what THEY wanted by doing less. (no disrespect meant to anyone BTW). The British then imported Indian labour for the same purpose and to make it sweet for the Fijian’s made a deal with the local chiefs that ensured that they leased their land to the Sugar company, for 99 years (an incredibly long time in the 19th Century) and in return got a reasonable and on-going (almost perpetual) rental for the use of their lands (and shared at least some of that amongst their tribe) while the Indians did all the work. An entirely equitable arangement for both the Britsh and Fijians.

    The problem arose when the Indians, having made some money by very hard work, entered into a sub-leasing arrangement with the Sugar Co’s (latterly the Colonial Sugar Refining Co Ltd or CSR), and became major lease holders and suppliers to CSR – which suited CSR well as it didn’t have to worry about supply. The Fijian’s got their rental, CSR its sugar cane supply and the Indians, still working very hard, more money. They in turn acquitred even morer leases, and suppply increased.

    There was however a minor problem – the 99-year leases!

    These expired in the late 1980’s and were up for renewal (exact date unrecalled). The Fijian chiefs, finding that the value they were receiving for their monthly rents was now insignificant, demanded a ‘renegotiation’ of the leases to fix a new rental. They became too greedy in their demands, at a time when world sugar prices were not high and costs had increased, and the Indians effectively said ‘Up Yours’ and stopped production. In retaliation, the Chiefs, believing that two could play a similar game, retaliated by refusing to negotiate and by kicking the Indians off the leases, making them displaced persons. Because they were by now ‘Fijian’s’ by birth and couldn’t return to India from whence their grandparents had come, many Indo-Fijian’s came to NZ and OZ – they had nowhere else to go; you may recall the big influx in the late ’80’s and mid-90’s.

    The fact that Indians by-now outnumberd Fijians and also were the merchants and bankers/money lenders (and were not averse to the practice of ursery in respect of the Fijians) on the Islands was also a factor – jealousy, envy and an acuter shortage of money has always been a great reason for persecution , and Fiji was /is no exception.

    Fiji lost big-time; no Indians who could cut and transport the cane, no sugar cane industry to provide income, an indigenous group who didn’t WANT to work on the fields and who were used to having the monthly rental turn up on cue and for no effort on theitr part, and (because of the departure of many of the Indians) the removal of a skilled artisan-class who could operate ‘things mechanical’, ‘keep the books’ and stock and run the shops. There was also the creation of a new underclass – displaced Indians who had nowhere to go, who couldn’t get work, because teh Fijian’s resented them, and were forced to somehow ‘get by’ (they still exist – and in some numbers – we just don’t hear about them; they aren’t as ‘glamourous’ for teh aid agencies as the local indigenous).

    So, as I said at the beginning (answer to your statement ‘ So in essence the Fijians have been on the back foot wrt control of their own land for a few generations now’), the answer is ‘sort of’ – it’s ever so slightly complicated.

    Hope this helps.

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  16. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Thanks for that Komata, I suppose it proves one aspect of human nature that is common generally around the world and that is a population will follow the path of least resistance towards todays goals regardless of the long term (often predictable) outcome. Some notable exceptions I know but “generally” is my out as a qualifier.

    Has some connections with the root problems in our welfare based society I think.

    PS I am glad someone else has a finger sequencing problem when typing “the”.

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  17. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    david

    Thanks – glad it makes sense, shame about the TEH though (so much for spell checks. . . )

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  18. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    I did like Mara’s comment about Commodore Bananarama.

    He [Bananarama] is morally and intellectually bankrupt.

    Take that, bitch!

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  19. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Tripewryter: I wouldn’t be so quick to discount possible military action. I believe (someone will correct me if I’m wrong) Fiji has the largest standing army in the south pacific other than Australia and NZ. Back in 1987 when Rabuka overthrow Dr Timoci Bavadra, the latter called for military assistance from New Zealand. It was refused by the Lange government on the grounds – doubtless correct – that there would be a blood bath if New Zealand tried to intervene. I understand that the government of the day was also by no means certain we would prevail over the well trained and experienced Fijians.

    As others above have noted, there is long standing resentment by some elements in Fiji arising from Tonga’s domination of the eastern party of the country into at least the early 19th century. As Bill Hodge said on Nat Rad this morning, many in Tonga will be gleefully amused at what has happened. While different races may all be “Pasifika” down here, and happily dance and sing at the yearly festival, its a different story in their home countries.

    For the sake of my friends and rellies in Tonga I hope to the deity I am completely wrong… but it would certainly be feasible for Fiji to insert a team of commandoes to try and take Ratu Tevita back by force. While Tonga has a small standing army of its own – and as has been demonstrated, a navy which knows what its doing – most of the armed forces are out of the country.

    Bananarama is humiliated by what has happened. One can only hope he is not crazy enough to send off a war party, but anyone who rules it out completely knows little about relationships in the Pacific…in my view.

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  20. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    Fiji has a disproportionally large army, it being an important source of foreign exchange and employment in UN peacekeeping missions. However it has limited ability to deploy it so Tonga is probably safe.

    Unless those nice Chinese offered a bit of help in exchange for, I dont know, a small base on one of those unimportant islands. But that’ll never happen, cause Fiji’s a democracy!

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  21. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Yes, I hope you are right Greg…but I tend to think its unlikely to happen because of the obvious divisions within the military Ratu Tevita’s …ah…relocation has shown, not because of the lack of ability to deploy. They have an airline; some sort of Entebbe raid would not be out of the question, although there would undoubtedly be a blood bath if they tried that route. They’d get in OK, but getting out would be a different story….

    The Chinese? Now there’s a whole different worry..They are not rebuilding Nuku’alofa with loan money which is unlikely to be repaid without some quid pro quo in mind….and the Port of Refuge in Vava’u just happens to be a large deepwater harbour smack in the middle of the south pacific…

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  22. Mick Mac (1,091 comments) says:

    Fijians should do what the cook islands have done.
    No one but cook islanders can actually own the land and they give 99yr leases.
    hey maybe we should do that?

    vote labour/greens to nationalise the land in foreign hands :-)

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  23. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Fijians should do what the cook islands have done.
    No one but cook islanders can actually own the land and they give 99yr leases.
    hey maybe we should do that?

    Then they would have a hell of a problem with the properties that are currently owned by and others being marketed to foreigners in Denerau.

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  24. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    yes, the leasehold land system in the Cooks works well..Hotel chains wont invest in a 30 year lease…

    Anyone know what the land market in Fiji is like just now??

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  25. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    What I didn’t understand in Mara’s YouTube speech was his diatribe against the Fijian Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, as the ‘power behind the throne’.

    I find it hard to believe that Bainimarama has become a puppet of Sayed-Khaiyum. He has never struck me as being the type to be pushed around – least of all by someone he actually appointed. My gut feeling is there’s something else going on there.

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  26. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Although Tonga was heavily involved in Fijian affairs in the 19th century, and Tongans fought alongside Fijian factions in the civil wars of the period, the British intervention in Fiji was not prompted by a desire to rescue Fiji from Tongans. The request for British intervention came from King Cakobau, who was closely allied with the Tongans, and the ‘King of Lau’ was given an official position by the British. Cakobau was being challenged by white settlers, who had established vast cotton and sugar plantations on the islands in the 1860s and ’70s. Many of these settlers were refugees from Confederate America, and they used slave labour to work their land. They even imported the Ku Kux Klan to Fiji. Faced with growing violence from white settlers, and calls by the Klan for the US to annex Fiji, Cakobau turned to the British as a lesser evil.

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  27. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    ‘his diatribe against the Fijian Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, as the ‘power behind the throne’.’

    Because he’s kicked against a lot of the old indigenous Fijian elite, including parts of the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist church, Bainimarama has had to look around for allies amongst other groups. He’s found support from Fiji’s Muslim community, and also from its Catholic community. These groups have traditionally been marginalised by the Methodist establishment. Bainimarama’s very warm relations with the Catholic community were reflected by the Pope’s decision to receive him when he travelled to Rome.

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  28. CharlieBrown (1,014 comments) says:

    “[DPF: if only he would. But can you name any concrete steps he has taken towards democratic elections?]”

    Anecdotal evidence I have heard and read from people that do business in Fiji is the amount of bribery and corruption has decreased dramatically since “democracy” was ousted. Why is the west so quick to criticise what Frank started when the “democracy” he ousted consisted of complete racism (eg, Fijian Indians are allocated seats in parliament, and last thing I heard is they can’t buy land) and pardons of treasonous murderers such as George Speight.

    Would John Key, Phil Gough, Julia Gillard have criticised Frank Bainarama if it was the 1930’s and Fiji was Germany instead?

    And why do our mps bleet on about democracy when they are so quick to shun overwhelming results from referendums? Our mps actually don’t believe in democracy, they actually only believe in elections.

    As the nazi’s proved, our form of Democracy isn’t always good and at times it needs to be kept in check via undemocratic means.

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  29. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    To David Garrett:

    I had to go out yesterday and didn’t get home until well into the evening. So I’ve just seen your reply, and I am kicking myself a bit because this is a day over.

    I don’t doubt the prowess or bravery of either country’s army. I’ve know old Kiwi soldiers who were always in awe of the Fijians.

    My point yesterday was the both countries would have to use their small, patrol boat navies to mount and sustain operations against each other over distances of many hundreds of miles, which would be a big enough undertaking for bigger countries with bigger ships. They would need fuel for that, and ammunition, and the ability to maintain the ships for that. All that takes money.

    Neither country has an air force.

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  30. Dave Mann (1,224 comments) says:

    I have really enjoyed reading this thread. The commenters all seem to have a good knowledge about this area of the Pacific’s current and historical situation and it is refreshing to read cogent opinions well thought-out rather than the more usual descent into left/right name calling and raving.

    Thanks guys.

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  31. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Cakobau was being challenged by white settlers, who had established vast cotton and sugar plantations on the islands in the 1860s and ’70s.

    No he wasn’t – why would he run to England to save Fiji from ‘white settlers’ who were in Fiji with his blessing.

    Many of these settlers were refugees from Confederate America, and they used slave labour to work their land.

    No they were not, the cotton growers were mainly from Australia, and they enlisted Labour from India and Melanasia – and unlike slaves they were at least paid – a pittance maybe, but paid.

    They even imported the Ku Kux Klan to Fiji. Faced with growing violence from white settlers, and calls by the Klan for the US to annex Fiji, Cakobau turned to the British as a lesser evil.

    The US was threatening Fiji to extract compensation form them for acts against the US Consul to Fiji. The KKK had nothing to do with it.

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  32. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    Ratu Mara wants to re-establish the (his) chiefs supremacy following the ancestral rights of his father Ratu Kamisese Mara.

    Bainimarama’s original intention was to cut out the corruption then abound in Fiji emanating from the top level, where by the chiefs were everything in Fiji and nobody stood against what they dictated.

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  33. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Bevan you need to read Gerald Horne’s The White Pacific, which was published in 2007 and was researched in American archives full of information on the Confederate diaspora and the Fijian KKK. Horne has a whole chapter on the KKK, during which he notes how it was winning the support not only of American but of British and Australian settlers. Cakobau didn’t invite most of the white settlers in – many were invaders. They also used slave labour. The appropriation of land and labour understandably triggered armed conflict and as this got out of control the Klan clamoured for American intervention and Cakobau decided on the Brits.

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  34. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Bevan you need to read Gerald Horne’s The White Pacific, which was published in 2007 and was researched in American archives full of information on the Confederate diaspora and the Fijian KKK.

    Ah, the typical left wing response: “go away and read this obscure book I’m quoting”. Scott, I know you are hoping it works as obviously by the time I’ve read the book, the debate will be over. But unfortunately historical facts do not gel with your assertion.

    Funny, of all the historical research Ive read about Fiji, Ive never come across anything regarding Confederate Americas infiltration of Fiji, in fact the only mention of the Confederacy relates that the American Civil War around time between when the US was threatening Fiji for compensation and Fiji willingly approaching the UK meaning cotton prices were up attracting AUSTRALIAN cotton growers to the islands.

    Cakobau didn’t invite most of the white settlers in – many were invaders. They also used slave labour.

    I’m afraid I must demand a source for this – and one that does not require 6 months of research to check if your telling porkies or not please.

    All historical evidence I’ve seen is that all the labourers Melanesian or Indian were not slaves.

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  35. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Paranoia alert! I’m not in the habit of trying to shut down debates by making claims that are impossible to verify – where’s the fun in that? Bevan, Gerald Horne is hardly an obscure figure, and his book has been widely reviewed, not only in the academic press (cf the Journal of the Polynesian Society) but in the popular media. If you don’t want to read Horne’s book you could always check out Kiwi Robert Nichole’s brand-new book Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, which covers a lot of the same territory.

    But the Confederate connection with Fiji was known before Horne’s book appeared, and not only by scholars. Have you heard of Bully Hayes and James Proctor, two of the most notorious American slave traders to knock about Fiji in the middle decades of the nineteenth century? Proctor was a one-legged veteran of the Confederate war who comamnded a number of blackbirding vessels so as to procure slaves for Confederate plantations. Both he and Bully Hayes became perverse folk heroes in the 19th century. There’s a good account of the utterly amoral Proctor in Deryck Scarr’s essay ‘Recruits and Recruiters: a portrait of the labour trade’, which was published in Pacific Islands Portraits by AW Reed in 1973. Scarr has another essay in the same book called ‘Cakobau and Ma’afu: contenders for pre-eminence in Fiji’, which gives a lot of evidence of the chaos caused by white settlers in the ’60s and ’70s.

    In The White Pacific, Horne calls Proctor ‘the epitome of the Confederate Diaspora’, and talks about how he would ‘ride to the rescue to bail out settlers who were seizing land and stocking it with de facto slaves from Fiji instead of abroad.’ (pg 77) In his chapter called ‘The KKK in the Pacific’ Horne details how the organisation came to dominate the White Residents Political Association set up to represent all settler groups in Fiji. Horne notes that the US Consul on Fiji CW Drury played a major role in the activities of the Klan-controlled Association, which talked of the need for a racial war to get rid of the natives and demanded US annexation of Fiji (pg 80). Horne quotes a number of primary sources to prove that there was demand after demand for US annexation. He quotes AB Leefe, a former lieutenant in the British Imperial army who was living on Fiji, as writing that “Petition after petition is being signed to the government of the United States from men of all shades of opinion and nationality to take these islands”. (pg 84)

    ‘All historical evidence I’ve seen is that all the labourers Melanesian or Indian were not slaves.’

    I’m interested in your sources, because I’ve been studying this subject for months as part of a book and (possibly) film project. There is no doubt at all that many Melanesians and Polynesians were taken as slaves to work in places like Peru, Queensland, and Fiji in the nineteenth century. The evidence for forced abductions is overwhelming, and was the cause of several pieces of legislation, including Britain’s 1872 Kidnapping Act. On the other hand there were Melanesians, and later Indians, who signed on willingly for work, knowing what it entailed. Some fought to stay in Queensland when the Aussies tried to deport them in 1905, and we have Wendell Sailor and Mal Meninga to thank for that.
    I blogged about this stuff last week:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2011/05/white-headhunters.html (the second half of the post takes up the subject of blackbirding)

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  36. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    PS Bevan, if you’re interestd in the history of blackbirding, you should come with me and some mates to the island of ‘Eua in July:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2010/01/island-of-exiles.html

    I’ll be doing interviews and a mate will hopefully be shooting footage as part of efforts to tell part of the story of the descendants of the inhabitants of two islands which were raided by New Zealand-based pirates in 1863. The Kiwis sold half the native people of ‘Ata Island, who were tricked on board the pirate ship with the promise of trade, to Peruvian slavers (we know this because one of the pirates eventually refused to work on a slave boat, was dumped at Apia, and later wrote about what his boss had been doing). ‘Ata was deemed too dangerous to inhabit after the slave raid, so the island’s surviving residents headed north to ‘Eua. Tragically not one ‘Atan seems to have made it home from Peru.

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  37. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Paranoia alert! I’m not in the habit of trying to shut down debates by making claims that are impossible to verify – where’s the fun in that?

    I didn’t state impossible, I implied time consuming. As in this debate would be long finished before I could read the book and verify the authors sources.

    I’m interested in your sources, because I’ve been studying this subject for months as part of a book and (possibly) film project.

    Try visiting the actual country, visiting their museums. Hell, maybe you should start with Google. hell even Wikipedia has more reliable sources than the blog post you have linked.

    I blogged about this stuff last week:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2011/05/white-headhunters.html (the second half of the post takes up the subject of blackbirding)

    Not exactly referenced material is it?

    BTW, Blackbirding is recruitment through trickery – not slavery, you’re confusing the two terms. While you could argue, they were paid slave wages they were not defined as slaves.

    Seriously, you’d think the stuff your writing would at least be on the Internets greatest encyclopedia, but there doesnt seem to be a single there regarding Confederate America or Slave Labour on the Colonial Fifi and History of Fiji pages… Puzzling, wonder why?

    PS Bevan, if you’re interestd in the history of blackbirding, you should come with me and some mates to the island of ‘Eua in July:

    Sure, but only once you learn the difference between slavery and blackbirding.

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  38. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    Scott, interesting that you mentioned ‘Ata Island, because from what I learnt about it, slave traders used to stop at ‘Ata back in those days to kidnap or trick some of the local population into their boats & taking them for slave trade in Peru.

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  39. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Yep, Falafulu, the ‘Atans got blackbirded back in 1863 by James McGrath’s ship the Grecian. A very sad event which is well remembered on ‘Eua Island, where the descendants of the ‘Atan survivors live.

    Bevan, you seem to want to be disagreeable for the sake of it. If you look at the definitive book, the universally acclaimed book, on Polynesian blackbirding, HE Maude’s Slavers in Paradise, you’ll see that he uses blackbirding to describe recruitment via a variety of means – trickery, abduction, and recruitment for indenturement. And if you look at the work of Horne you’ll see him using blackbirding to describe outright slavery as well as indenturement. And Clive Moore’s classic works on the ‘Kanaka’ community of Mackay likewise use blackbirding to cover a variety of forms of recruitment. The word blackbirding actually has its origins in the far north of Australia, where it described the abduction of Aboriginal Australians by whites who made them to dive for shells. You are the only one who insists that blackbirding shouldn’t be used to describe those abducted by force and made to work as slaves.

    I can’t help you with wikipedia not mentioning slave labour in Fiji but, as I say, have a look at Nichole and Horne’s books, or the essay Scarr wrote back in the ’70s for the AW Reed book on the Pacific. Scarr gives an actual breakdown of the numbers of blackbirder ships going to different parts of the Pacific. He also has some interesting things to say about the contrast between Queensland and Fiji, as destinations for labourers from Melanesia – Fiji was a lot dicier, and the death rate was much higher. Angus Ross talks about New Zealand’s connections to the Fiji trade in his 1964 book on New Zealand’s nineteenth century involvement in the Pacific.

    You can also use that marvellous online resource Papers Past by googling blackbirding and slavey in the South Seas, or somesuch. You’ll get a vast number of bites – there was loads of discussion of the phenomenon in 19th century papers, especially after Bishop Patteson spoke out against it.

    I don’t reference quick blog posts in the way I reference my academic essays and books, but I indicated that my quotes were from Moresby’s 1876 book and from Yonge’s collection of Patteson’s letters and journals. Both books can be read in the Special Collections section of the Auckland uni library. There are numerous biographies of Patteson which make clear how hard he fought against the slave trade in the Pacific.

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  40. Bobbie black (507 comments) says:

    Another corrupt dictatorship on the way out…no biggie.

    America has spoken, via pumpkin thighs.

    Actually, though I was a big supporter of David Lange, it is nice to see John Key and National making a big effort to strengthen relations with the UK and USA recently.

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  41. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Scott, you seem to have moved on from the KKK & Confederate American infiltration of Fiji (why is that I wonder?) which was originally your main point and now are focusing solely on the practise of Blackbirding (not under taken by yanks, but by Australian based cotton growers) – which I am not arguing about. I’m just disagreeing that blackbirding is identical to Slavery. They are two different things, both contemptible – but one far more disgusting than the other.

    Maybe you should take time to read someones post before trying to feel superior, helps to not go off half cocked.

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  42. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    I think I’ll pass on any book written by Gerald Horne if you don’t mind Mr Hamilton, he doesnt exactly sound like an unbiased writer:

    http://www.angelfire.com/planet/big60/WhitePacific.html

    No wonder you love him though:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Horne

    “He specialises in illuminating previously obscure or misrepresented struggles of humanity for social justice, in particular communist struggles and struggles against imperialism, colonialism, fascism and racism.”

    “Gerald Horne is an uncomprisingly committed Marxist …”

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  43. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Bevan that last comment shows the wrong attitude towards scholarly debate. A bloke’s politics don’t prevent him doing research – indeed, they’re a necessary prerequisite to research. We all have points of view and scholars need hypotheses to test. I mentioned Henry Maude, whose work on blackbirding has been superbly useful for me and others – he was, for many decades, one of the men who ran the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony. He was in other words a high-ranking imperialist! Does that mean an anti-imperialist like me shouldn’t read him? Of course not! I wrote about this sort of question at: http://books.scoop.co.nz/2010/02/24/in-defence-of-brainwashing/

    Blackbirding is a term which scholars and the peoples of the Pacific alike seem to use for 19th century labour recruitment – whether forced or otherwise. There is, I agree, a distinction between indenturement and slavery, although this can blur at times. Clive Moore makes some really interesting points at the end of his book on Kanaka Mackay – he says that the popular belief amongst Kanaka/South Sea Islander Mackay inhabitants that their ancestors *all* left for Queensland unwillingly (some certainly did; some didn’t) is actually not in the community’s interest.

    Yanks were indeed involved in blacbkbirding – I’d say the appalling serial rapist Bully Hayes was the most famous blackbirder of all! He was always being threatened with legal action, but his connection with high-ranking figures in the US government seeems to have protected him. Proctor the one-legged Confederate was another infamous blackbirder – see Scarr’s essay on him – and Ben Pease, who apparently liked to call himself ‘the last of the buccaneers’, was another well-known American blackbirder. It was Pease who owned the ship ‘Water Lily’, which was involved in the beheading of Melanesians on the Florida Islands which I mentioned in the post I made last week and linked to upthread. That atrocity, which was motivated by the desire to trade heads with pagan Melanesian chiefs in exchange for tortoise-shells and/or slaves, occurred under the eyes of the staff of Coley Patteson, the Anglican Bishop of Melanesia, and so ended up being investigated and described by an Aussie inquiry. Pease was actually the first man to be licensed to blackbird Melanesians for the Fijian plantations – he began bringing loads over in the mid-60s.

    James Proctor, blackbirder, Confederate veteran, plantation owners and KKK member, is a major figure in Fijian history in the wild years of the early ’70s, and I’m not sure how you can imagine Horne could have made him and his activities up. There’s an essay in the AW Reed anthology I mentioned earlier called ‘Evanescent Ascendancy: the Planter Community in Fiji’ by John Young which might be worth reading. Young spends some time on the way the white planters tried to create de facto ethno-states through Fiji in the 1870s, by collecting their own taxes and making their own laws and driving black people to the margins. Young also deals with the American settlers George Burt and Achilles Underworod, owners of land and men in Fiji in the late 1860s. Young describes how Burt was cruel to his slaves, and how they rose up against him, escaped from his rule, and took shelter in the lands of Fijian tribes hostile to white colonisation. When he recapured his slaves Burt ‘stung their backs with nettles, stuffed their mouths with hot peppers, and gagged them’. When they found it impossible to procure new labour in Fiji, and generally found Fijians hostile, Burt and Underwood began to lobby the US government to annex Fiji. They worked with the same racist Residents Association Horne gives space to, and Burt actually went to the US to try to persuade politicians there to seize Fiji. Underwood was eventually killed by blackbirder labourers who turned on him. I don’t find that the tone or conclusions of Young’s essay differ greatly from Horne’s massively-referenced chapter on Fiji in The White Pacific. There have been some interesting criticisms of Horne’s book, and I could see some myself, reading through it, but they are dued not to him being a ragining pinko but due to his having spent so long in US archives that he hasn’t kept up with some recent trends in both the scholarship and the popular culture of the Pacific (there are some giveaways, like the way he goes on about ‘Maoris’). I think the Honolulu Times had a crack at him over his portrayal of the US seizure of that country, too. But of course the essence of scholarship is dissnesion and debate…If you’re in Auckland and want to have a beer and talk about all this – there aren’t many of us palangi interested in the subject! – my e mail is shamresearch@yahoo.co.nz

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  44. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    I know this thread is dead, but because it ended with a debate between Bevan and me about whether or not New Zealanders and other Europeans practiced slavery in the nineteenth century Pacific, I thought it might be worth putting a link to this post, which records some of my recent research into the role of Kiwis in taking Melanesians and Polynesians from their islands, often against their will, and forcing them to work in very hard conditions for incredibly low pay rates in Queensland, Fiji, and – on at least one occasion – the North Island:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-zealands-slaving-history.html
    As you can see, the New Zealand Herald, the first Bishop of Melanesia, and the many members of the NZ government thought the blackbirding trade led to slavery, or something very close to slavery. I agree.

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  45. Luca (1 comment) says:

    ahahahahhahah Do you know that Ovini Bokini and Commodore Bananarama are daily moked by a very famous italian website? Mainly cause of the ridiculous name of Ovini (in italian Sheeps) Bokini (Blowjobs)…

    http://www1.ilmortodelmese.com/

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