27 Sep 2011

Vanuatu chiefs to visit historic blackbirding sites in Queensland

7:44 am on 27 September 2011

A delegation of chiefs from Vanuatu's six provinces will go to Australia next month to visit historic sites linked to the blackbirding trade.

Thirty thousand people from Vanuatu were among thousands from Pacific Island countries kidnapped or tricked in the late 1800s into working as labourers on plantations in Queensland.

Sally Round reports.

"An organiser of the visit, Chief David Fandanumata, says they'll go to a prison housing the skeleton of a chief from Tanna, still bearing the chains he was shackled in when he died. The warrior, Chief Koumira Nakaweiai was involved in a revolt against the traders. Last week chiefs handed over tokens of thanks to Vanuatu's Minister of Justice Ralph Regenvanu for research into blackbirding which has enabled labourers' descendants to find their relatives in Vanuatu. The Minister is expected to take part in next month's Queensland and Canberra trip, along with Finance Minister Moana Carcasses and a delegation of MPs."