Culture of Norfolk

Norfolk Island

The dynamics of the original people have dictated the culture and traditions of the Island.  Melding of two cultures brings countless examples of the way things were done historically - from the Tahitian and English cultures.  Ritual and method of everyday life would leach into correct ways and attributes of the people, even now inhabiting Norfolk Island life.  It may be the food, the way and manner in which special days are celebrated, religion, dress, language, humour, leisure pastimes, or views and judgements.  These are all “coloured” by the past and an idea of the “correct” way to do things.  Words of a local man remind me still, that liars and thieves were the worst of the worst – both these actions being considered the ultimate sin.  The island community still have doors to houses without locks.  Misplaced items may well sit for days in a public place – without being touched, awaiting the owners return to retrieve them, as in “if it isn’t yours then don’t touch it! “.

We respect the passing of our locals by lowering the flags flying on the island to half mast.   It is also customary for local women to create beautiful wreaths for the burial and likely as not bake a pie or dish to take to the grieving family.  These age old customs are born of a close community that often in times of scarcity have banded together and necessity being the mother of invention have put their hands to creating, (from almost nothing)  when required to do so.  I think it is also safe to say that a strong work ethic is still alive and well on Norfolk Island.  When you have had to build a community from scratch as did the Pitcairners, it is hard to break old habits and so even today you must work to make your way in the community.  Whether it is ethically or morally found to be expedient to work hard I am not sure, but for the most, the island is hard working and fun loving in equal parts.  Keeping a clean house is also a strong characteristic of the island. (Perhaps it’s origin being “cleanliness is next to godliness.)

  • Humour
  • Nicknames
  • Whale bird egg harvesting
  • Bamboo-pole fishing
  • Weaving
  • Dancing
  • Music making - singing
  • Pitcairn anthem
  • Flags to half-mast for those passed
  • Finger waving in cars
  • Food - generosity and hospitality
  • Handed down recipes unique to island
  • Bounty day, Foundation day, Thanksgiving
  • Norfolk language – more freely spoken at home
  • Norfolk language – taught to children by parents and grandparents
  • Wreath making
  • Strong work ethic
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