Thursday, 15 October 2009

Pitcairn Island

You heard of a small island named after a fifteen-year-old sailor, logged then lost in the Pacific. It was just what you needed. The British would be coming after the ship. It would be the gallows for all of you; mutineers faced no reprieve. It took four months to find Pitcairn, 350 km from its position in your charts.

You burned The Bounty and tried to settle, but fights broke out; unending cycles of murder and revenge over women and land, until there was just you, John Adams, with ten Tahitian women and their mutineers’ children.

You found God and the British pardoned you. As your numbers rose the island’s soils diminished. You petitioned for help. In 1829 a ship took you to Tahiti but their ways were different and the children lacked immunity. Ten died and you sailed for home.

By 1856 your numbers had risen to 194, and again you asked for help. You were offered Norfolk Island, larger and uninhabited, off the coast of Australia. Most managed to settle; this time only 43 came back.

Again the population rose. By the 1930s it reached 223. Then the war came and changed everything. Today many of the young leave, looking for an easier life.