Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

South Sea Islanders

13 September 1871
South Sea Island indentured labourers clearing scrub at Farnborough in 1895
National Library of Australia (Wikimedia)

From the 1860s, the demand for labour on the sugar cane plantations of Fiji and Queensland, Australia, resulted in blackbirding the shores in the region. Tens of thousands men inhabiting the smaller Pacific islands were recruited through tricks or kidnapped to work as indentured labourers. On 13 September 1871, an unknown number of Buka islanders recruited for service in Fiji were massacred on board the Australian vessel Carl. Disturbances had broken out in the hold, the islanders had armed themselves with poles. The captain then gave orders to shoot his unwilling passengers. Recently, descendants of the victims of the blackbirding trade have called upon the Australian government to apologise for these practices.

Tracey Banivanua-Mar, Violence and Colonial Dialogue. The Australian-Pacific Indentured Labor Trade (2007)