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Old 22-08-14, 15:07   #1
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Red Arrow PhOtOs-Doomed Sex Island-Founded 1767 by Mutineers

The Paradise Island that's Dying of Shame: How a Sex Scandals Poisonous Legacy
-is Destroying the Remote British Isle Founded by the Bounty Mutineers

By Neil Tweedie, Daily Mail UK, 22 August 2014

Each year, on January 23, the inhabitants of Pitcairn, Britain’s smallest colony, burn a model of His Majesty’s Armed Vessel Bounty. The ceremony, accompanied by cheering and singing, commemorates the sinking by fire of the ship in 1790.

Her demise, off the tiny bay that now carries her name, was, deliberate or not, a moment of no return for Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian and the eight seamen who had followed him to that lonely volcanic outcrop, lost in the South Pacific vastness.

Lost, quite literally. Originally sighted by HMS Swallow a few years earlier, in 1767, the island was promptly named after the young officer who spotted it, charted on a map and forgotten.

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Beautiful but doomed: Pitcairn's population is declining after it was rocked by a sex scandal

It was Christian, examining the charts kept by William Bligh, the captain he overthrew, who realised that Pitcairn had been incorrectly positioned 188 miles west of its true location. A perfect place to hide from a vengeful British Royal Navy.

The Bounty mutineers were not alone. Twelve Tahitian women and six Tahitian men accompanied them, together with one child.

They were the vital ingredient in Christian’s plan to recreate the sexually-liberated ‘paradise’ he had enjoyed when the Bounty was moored for six months at Tahiti, and which he had refused to surrender, even to the extent of setting Bligh and 18 loyal crewmen adrift in an open boat.

Pitcairn was Christian’s social experiment. The Tahitian women would provide pleasure and offspring for the Englishmen, while the Tahitian men, effectively slaves, supplied the labour. The result was resentment, jealousy, revolt and murder.

When two Royal Navy men o’war finally arrived at Pitcairn in 1814 only one man, John Adams, was left alive, the rest of the male population having perished in an orgy of self-destruction by the year 1800.

Christian himself, probably mentally unstable, and hardly the hero portrayed in successive films by Clark Gable, Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson, was said to have been shot in the back by a Tahitian man during an uprising, uttering the final words: ‘Oh dear.’

Two centuries on and Fletcher Christian’s grand experiment could be nearing its end. Pitcairn, Britain’s last possession in the Pacific, is dying — slowly but surely.

Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian in The Bounty

I was among a small party of journalists who visited in 2004 to cover the trial resulting from a British police investigation into explosive allegations of child abuse.

Today, the island is being killed by the dark reputation it bears from those days. In the mind of many, it is a place to avoid.
There are now only 49 permanent residents, compared to a peak population of 200 just before World War II.

The Pitkerners, as they style themselves, share their two square miles of sub-tropical land with a few outsiders, sent by London to watch over them.
This tiny population, equipped with its own, almost impenetrable, tongue, a mixture of 18th-century English and Tahitian, depends for its survival on a core of able-bodied adults.
Therein lies its doom. Pitcairn is ageing rapidly.

There are few children, and it is four years since a child was born. So serious is the problem that the colony, abandoned temporarily twice in the 19th century, may soon be returned to nature for good. If not, the British taxpayer will be faced with a steadily escalating bill for a society that cannot maintain itself.

‘I don’t really think there is a future for Pitcairn,’ says Kari Young, a Norwegian woman who fell in love with the Pitcairn dream as a child and moved to the island 40 years ago. ‘It is so sad, it means the end of a people and a community, which has its worth, no matter what someone might say.’

Currently, 31 ‘productive’ people sustain 18 elderly and young dependants. In two years’ time there will be no pre-school children on the island, and in a decade there will be no need for a school or teacher. By 2025, dependants will outnumber the working population 20 to 19, and by 2045 there will, if the trend of depopulation continues, be a mere 23 islanders, three of them of working age.

The islanders, who pay no tax, rely almost exclusively on British aid to sustain them, a once-lucrative trade in Pitcairn postage stamps having declined into insignificance.

The UK spent £2.76 million on Pitcairn last year, about half the money being used for running a quarterly shipping service, the rest on the island’s doctor and surgery, social worker, policeman and resident administrator.
The cash also covers projects such as paving the Hill of Difficulty, the road from Bounty Bay to Adamstown, the island’s only settlement — named after the last surviving mutineer.

Parkin Christian, chief magistrate of Pitcairn Island, holding the rudder band and gudgeon of 'The Bounty',
-the famous British naval vessel on which a mutiny occurred in 1790

While peanuts in Whitehall terms, that annual spending is the equivalent of £56,000 for each man, woman and child on Pitcairn. That figure is expected to climb to £98,000 per head in the not too distant future.

‘This seriously calls into question the sustainability of the island,’ remarks a newly-published Foreign Office report on Pitcairn’s economy and population.

British officialdom dares not speak openly of abandoning the colony — but the report’s conclusions speak for themselves.

But there is, of course, much more to Pitcairn’s woes than geography and demography. Terrible things have happened within its tiny confines;

Generations of girls, aged 12 and younger — sometimes much younger — have been subjected to brutal forms of sexual initiation by men taught to regard such practices as a right.

Such behaviour has, in all likelihood, been occurring since Pitcairn’s foundation, but it was not until the 1990s that Britain, so long neglectful of an imperial remnant, began to take an interest in the island’s sinister lifestyle.

The Pitcairn myth, of mutiny and romance and man against nature, was finally exploded in 2004 when six men, including Stevens ‘Steve’ Christian, a descendant of Fletcher and the island mayor, were convicted of a range of sexual offences including rape, extending back 40 years.

Tried on the island, three of the offenders were jailed and packed off to a newly-built wooden compound titled HM Prison Pitcairn. So short of labour is the island that the defendants, almost half the available workforce, were needed to build it.
The sentences passed by a tribunal of New Zealand judges, sitting as the ‘Supreme Court of Pitcairn’, were derisory in length, intended to draw a line under the affair rather than punish. Pitcairn needed the offenders back in circulation to survive.

They are now exercising influence again. Shawn Christian, son of Steve, who was himself convicted of rape following a second trial of Pitcairn sex offenders held in New Zealand, has assumed his father’s former position and is now island mayor.

Fletcher Christian - the English sailor who led the mutiny against Captain William Bligh on HMS Bounty in 1789

The Foreign Office excuses his appointment thus:

‘Pitcairn is a democratic Overseas Territory and Shawn Christian’s election was the will of the people. The Pitcairn 2010 constitution and Local Government Ordinance does not prohibit the election of someone with a previous conviction.’

The past clings to the island like the lush vegetation crowning its cliffs, vast ramparts created by the up-thrust of an extinct undersea volcano. The Bounty, the remains of which lie on the seabed just outside Bounty Bay, is a pervasive presence. The ship’s bible is an object of veneration and its anchor dominates the tiny main square.

Pitkerners glory in and profit from their status as a historical curiosity. When cruise ships anchor offshore, disgorging wealthy tourists in search of Hollywood romance, the smiles and carvings come out. Islanders earn good money for a carving of the Bounty.

Pitcairn is truly isolated, almost as far from Peru as it is from New Zealand, with nothing to speak of in between. There is no proper harbour and no airstrip, access to the outside being dependent solely upon two ‘longboats’, tough steel vessels used to ferry people and cargo to and from ships riding offshore.

Like many of the jobs on Pitcairn, captaincy of the longboats is a matter of status. Before the 2004 trials, Steve Christian’s clique reserved the most important roles for themselves.

No one would doubt Steve Christian’s skill as a skipper, however. To enter Bounty Bay, a longboat must ride over a dangerous lip of rock at the entrance, catching the swell at the right moment.

He excelled at the job, combining it with his role as supervising engineer and dentist, multi-tasking being essential on Pitcairn.

Outsiders, temporary workers and people brought to the island by marriage, learn quickly that there are two sides to life. Face-to-face confrontation is rare but judgments are made and opinions formed behind closed doors by the island’s in-crowd.

Language is one way of excluding the stranger. Pitkern, a form of pidgin, enjoys its own unique vocabulary. A gun is still a ‘musket’ and a banana is a ‘plan’ (possibly derived from ‘plantain’); ‘I ca wha’ means ‘I don’t know’. ‘Uwas’ is ours.

Mrs Young says that the islanders have learned to be suspicious of the outside world, stubbornly refusing to bend to the ways of others:

‘It is a fact, you can’t tell a Pitkerner anything — or very little,’ she says. ‘They know best. And in some cases, they do know best. Too many people from the outside have tried to teach us new tricks when, in many instances, the Pitkerners’ solution is the best one.
‘Other instances only show our prejudices and xenophobia, but that is how we protect ourselves.’

The Bounty’s mission was the transportation of breadfruit seedlings from Tahiti to the West Indies to establish a cheap food source for slaves. Today, the breadfruit grown from those original seedlings provides a form of sport on Pitcairn in the form of a ‘hunt’.

Two centuries on and Fletcher Christian's grand experiment could be nearing its end.
-Pitcairn, Britain's last possession in the Pacific, is dying - slowly but surely

The quarry is shot from its tree, a keen eye being needed to hit the stem and ensure a clean ‘kill’.
All rather charming — idyllic, even. But this storybook landscape was also the arena for those dark crimes that shamed the island.

‘Wanna ride?’ was a question feared by island girls.
A short journey on a quad bike — the standard form of transport between homes linked by mud tracks — would follow.
The man in question, one of ‘The Boys’, the island ‘elite’, would then have his way in a secluded clearing among banyan trees, confident that he would face no reprisal.

Only occasionally did a parent make a gesture in defence of a daughter. One father is said to have offered an offender a fine carving if he would, please, leave his daughter alone.

Kari Young knows all about abuse on Pitcairn because her husband, Brian, was one of the principle perpetrators, convicted of rape following the second trial in New Zealand.
Remembering the police inquiry into her husband’s past, she says:

‘When it exploded in our faces in 2000, I hated Brian, and he was on the brink of suicide, full of remorse. He took the initiative to attend a course for sex offenders. He moved out of our home and life was hell.
‘There is no doubt that underage sex was common on the island and had been for decades, if not centuries. Violence was not common, though, and we don’t believe all the dramatic incidents described.’

Mrs Young says her husband was a ‘victim’ both of a culture of abuse and a political trial.

Embarrassed by Britain’s long-standing neglect (the island was rarely visited by officials and was allowed to appoint a local policeman vulnerable to pressure) ministers demanded a tough line.

Following the uncovering of Pitcairn’s ‘other culture’, the island was overrun by officialdom. It is now overseen by a permanent Foreign Office representative, a doctor, social worker and (New Zealand) police officer.

Officials are not allowed to bring their children for fear of further incidents.

There are other developments: satellite TV and telephones for a community that once relied on radio to contact the outside world. But the population problem remains.

Britain, charged with maintaining Pitcairn as a going concern, is trying to boost its population to 80 by 2016. But that isn’t going to happen.

The island’s reputation goes before it.

No amount of new communications can make up for physical isolation. When Terry Young, one of those convicted in 2004, fell ill with appendicitis, the only method of evacuation was a yacht calling at the island.
Young died at sea, en route to French Polynesia, home to the nearest airstrip. Such are the risks to an increasingly frail population.

‘I would prefer to be removed to another location, but we are stuck and can’t afford to get established all over again,’ says Mrs Young.

So what would be lost if Pitcairn was abandoned?

‘The language and identity, stories of our past and our heroes,’ she says.

Perhaps so. But whatever history has been forged here, both for good and ill, two centuries after the Bounty burned, the dream of Fletcher Christian’s paradise isle is surely drawing to a close.

The 1984 Trailer for Action Film 'The Bounty' starring Mel Gibson:

FULL MOVIE Can Be Viewed Here;

Bounty Movie

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