Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The arrival of the South Sea Islanders to Maryborough

I recently attended a planning meeting for the 150th Anniversary of the landing of the Mary Smith in Maryborough. The Mary Smith was  a labour recruiing ship that had travelled to the Pacifc Islands to bring the first group of South Sea Islanders to work on cane and cotton properties on the Fraser Coast.

The is much discussion around the blackbirding trade and whether all SSI were blackbirded or whether there was also legitimate boats that were declared as recruitment ships. So as a part of the ongoing discussion we are currently compiling a list of ships that were docked in Maryborough with indentured labour and blackbirded labour on board. 

There are a couple of interesting definitions that were first discussed.
Definition of a slave ship-A ship transporting slaves, especially one carrying slaves from Africa. 
Definition of a slave - Slave is a person who is legally owned by someone else and has to work for that person
Definition of a kanaka: A Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in Australia, especially in the sugarand cotton plantations of Queensland
Definition of a blackbirder : A person engaged in press-ganging or kidnapping labourers in the south Pacific region for work on the sugar plantations or a ship engaged in this trade.

With these definitions and the discussions fresh we decided to do a little research into the recruitment ships to see if we could in any way discover and cover the ships, where they came from, who owned them and how many they bought into Australia. 

For more information on each ship go to the  Labour Recruitment Ships page and there are links to individual ships on there for your reading. 



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