Category Archives: Pitcairn

Pervis Young’s letter to passengers

Thanks to Ian Wilkinson for sending me scans of this leaflet. It was produced to give to passengers on ships which called at Pitcairn Island, and is signed by Pervis Young. Pervis Ferris Young (1928-2003) was magistrate of Pitcairn Island from 1967 until 1975. He was the son of Andrew Young, Pitcairn’s first radio operator.

Pervis was sketched by the late Jennifer Toombs, stamp designer, for her 1972 South Pacific Commission stamp, where he is shown third from the left. Jennifer spent ten days on Pitcairn in 1966 when Pervis was her mentor and guide.

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Rangitata passenger list and the Bounty Bible

The latest passenger list to be added to this website is for the Rangitata‘s voyage to New Zealand on 24th February, 1950 (you can access this from the drop down “Passenger Lists” menu at the top of this page).

The photograph here shows Nursing Sister, Enid Jones, who made many voyages on the Rangitata from 1946 to 1957. I’m not sure who the man on her left is, but at a guess, he could be Surgeon, J. M. Pinkerton (note the stethoscope in his pocket).

One of the passengers on the 1950 voyage was Adrian Hobbs, assistant secretary to the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. He was collected at Pitcairn Island following his month long visit after delivering the restored bible from HMS Bountyread more.

Rangitiki – night time call at Pitcairn, September 1960

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Ken Sunshine recently contacted me through this Blog asking if I knew where to find the passenger list for the Rangitiki, from London to Wellington, in September 1960. I managed to track it down on familysearch.org (a free website), and in the meantime, Ken also found a different listing on findmypast.co.uk (you will need to be a paid up member to see this listing). Neither of these sites take their information from the printed passenger lists (as this Blog does), but from the official New Zealand Shipping Company listings.

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According to Pitcairn Island as a Port of Call by Herbert Ford, the Rangitiki called at Pitcairn on 26th September on that particular voyage, so I asked Ken for his memories of the event:

pitcairn-029“We did indeed call at Pitcairn. 57 years on it is still a vivid memory.

We dropped anchor about 2 a.m. Out of the darkness canoes appeared, tied up alongside, occupants with their wares clambered up the sides of Rangitiki and set up on the deck. All I remember were bunches of small bananas and carved wood items. We bought two turtles inscribed “Pitcairn Island” and “From Pitcairn Island, made by Sam Young”.

pitcairn-030At 4 a.m. the ‘market’ closed, the visitors returned whence they had come and to the strains of Aloha-Oe disappeared into the blackness.

Most of the passengers slept through the whole event and missed a wonderful experience.”

I did not realise that ships called at Pitcairn in the middle of the night, I assumed they would just pass by. But as shipping has always been an important lifeline for Pitcairn, and in the days before email, with mail being so important, day or night would not matter to the islanders.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken by Tony Probst. It shows Pitcairn Island just before sunrise. Venus can be seen just above the moon. Clicking on the photograph will take you to Tony’s “Smugmug” site where you can see some fabulous photographs of Pitcairn Island. The other photographs show Ken’s Pitcairn turtles, purchased in 1960.

Remuera brings Pitcairners to London (1923)

The following very interesting newspaper story was published in the UK in 1923. I would love to know more about the Chinese shop opened on the island about that time!


Western Daily Press, Bristol, Wednesday August 22, 1923

NO SMOKING OR SHOPPING

VISITORS FROM PITCAIRN TELL STORY OF LIFE ON ISLAND

RemueraTwo of the natives of lonely Pitcairn, in the middle of the Pacific, have just arrived in London on board the s.s. Remuera on what is proving the greatest adventure of their lives. They are Elliott Christian and Skelly Warren, who have taken advantage of an invitation given by Captain Cameron of the Remuera, to go on a voyage into the outside world.

Christian, who is a big man standing over 6ft., is a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian, who founded the community.

“You must not think that Pitcairn Island is an undesirable place,” an interviewer was told by the two travellers yesterday. “It is not true that because there is no drink and no tobacco smoking that the island is a dreary place in which to live.

GLORIOUS REPAST
“Just listen to this: Breakfast consists of porridge, which in Pitcairn slang is a ‘mush,’ yams and pancakes made of yams and grated bananas.

“The second and most important meal of the day can only be described as a glorious repast. A typical menu is chicken, boiled or roasted, vegetables, and three varieties of native beans, salad fruit and baked sweet potatoes, fish and bread. There is nothing dull in that, is there?

“The population of Pitcairn at the last census taken by the ‘king’ of the island, who is nominated annually by popular vote and holds office for one year as resident magistrate, showed a total of 172 people, all of whom are admitted members of the Seventh Day Adventists, a creed which they adopted in 1888.

“Housing arrangements are very complete. There are 25 houses, all built of wood, but very commodious. Each house consists of a living room and a number of bedrooms. The dining room and kitchen are separate, and stand a little way apart from the main dwelling.

“There is also a school and a church. Education is on broad lines. English is taught, and all the islanders read and write well, and, indeed, take such a keen interest in the doings of the world as recorded in the newspapers they obtain from passing ships that not long ago they started a clothing fund on behalf of ‘starving Russia,’ but difficulties of transportation caused that project to be reluctantly abandoned.

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
“Trading with passing ships is an occasion of surpassing interest, but the verb ‘to profiteer’ is not in the vocabulary of the islander. About 200 oranges, 80 bananas, 20 lemons, and 10 limes can be obtained for 18s, but at the same time the Pitcairn Islander will not bargain. He sets his price, and you may take it or leave it.

NO SHOPS
“An enterprising Chinese who opened a shop on the island was given such a hostile reception that he very soon cleared out, and the Pitcairn people are not likely to permit of a repetition of the experiment.

“Our wives are spending all their money on finery and other trash,” they declared.

“Since the opening of the Panama Canal the island has been brought into closer touch with the world, and so up-to-date is it that a wireless receiving set has been installed. Unfortunately, however, at present no one knows how to work it and it will be necessary to impart some technical knowledge before broadcasting concerts will help to enliven the glorious evenings of the Pacific Sea.

“Everything in the way of food is grown on the island, the only things that it is necessary to import are cloth, soap, and kerosene, and in exchange for these things dried bananas, arrowroot, and a species of fungi beloved by the Chinese is exported.

“The only ‘foreigner’ on the island is an American, who, after being shipwrecked, settled down and lived such a happy life among the people that he is now determined to stay there until he dies.”

Rangitata collects Parkin Christian

The complete passenger list, and some of the crew listing, has now been added (click here) for the voyage of the Rangitata from London on 13th April, 1956. Although he was not on the passenger list, Parkin Christian was picked up from Pitcairn Island, en route for Norfolk Island, by this ship.

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Read more about another passenger on this voyage, Sir John Smith-Dodsworth, who settled in New Zealand on arrival in 1956: Obituary