Early Polynesian

EARLY POLYNESIAN

            Tihoti - Seen left is of Tahitian / Cook Island descent, a local tatau artisan, sculptor, artist.

About 1000 years ago – 750AD to approx 1450AD Polynesians inhabited a settlement on Norfolk Island.  Confusion sometimes arises because the European settlements on the island are referred to as the First, Second and Third Settlements.  As far back as 1788 -1814 many artefacts were found as documented in the journal of Philip Gidley King, during his time as Commandant.  This evidence was in the form of canoe wreckage, carvings, implements, vegetation and a marae site.  It has not been possible to determine the origin of the peoples.  In 1995 however, an archaeological excavation * was conducted, confirming the presence of the Polynesians in the Emily Bay area.  Prior to that, the whole period had been to a certain extent discounted.

It is thought that Polynesia landed Norfolk Island and made use of the land to feed, fish, forage and in that respect it could still be debated that ‘settled’ is not perhaps the correct term.  It may be that Norfolk was the seasonal destination for those Polynesians who still sought feasting offshore from their permanent homes.  It may have been a favourite fishing place or summertime campsite – because of the temperate climate and perhaps close proximity. For example - if in the case that the visitors were Maori an adventurous canoe trip Nor-westerly to a more agreeable climate and terrain seems very feasible.  Was it the lure of an untouched unchallenged land and sea -  a chance to enjoy the bounty of Norfolk or perhaps a convenient break in a long sea journey between pacific islands? The fact that to date no human remains from this period have ever come to light may indicate that the people came and went without making permanent habitation on Norfolk.


*All the artefacts were catalogued and examined by academic experts. The organic material (e.g. flakes of obsidian - volcanic glass that is not found on Norfolk Island) was radiocarbon dated and compared with other Polynesian material, finally establishing that there were Polynesian people here. No skeletal remains were found.

 

1st Settlement:

1788 - 1814 Lieutenant Philip Gidley King arrived in HMS Supply on 6th march 1788 to establish the settlement with 22 people including 15 convicts.  They landed at Sydney Bay (Kingston).  The island was abandoned in February 1814.

2nd Settlement:

1825 - 1856 Captain R Turton re-occupied the island in June 1825 as a settlement for the "worst felons".  This settlement period was renowned for the number of convict uprisings, deaths and harsh treatments inflicted by some of the commandants.   The settlement closed in 1855 with only a skeleton population staying until 1856 to hand over the island to the Pitcairners.

3rd Settlement:

8th June 1856 - 194 Pitcairn Islanders arrived to form the first free settlement on Norfolk Island.  The Pitcairners are descendants of the Bounty mutineers.   It is the descendants of these first free settlers who are today the Islanders of Norfolk Island.

First Settlement. – excerpt from Hunter journal - Accordingly an arrangement took place, and on the 26th of February, I received an order to prepare the Sirius for sea, and to embark the lieutenant-governor, with one company of marines, and the officers, baggage, and also 186 convicts; in all, 221 persons; with such a proportion of the remaining provisions and other stores, as the settlement at that time could furnish; and I was directed to land them upon Norfolk Island: Lieutenant Ball, commander of his Majesty's armed tender Supply, was ordered under my command, and he also embarked a company of marines, and twenty convicts.
 

 

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