A National Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of Blackbirding will take place in Vanuatu on July 28, 2013. Blackbirding is the recruitment through kidnapping to work as laborers. Between the years 1853 to 1906, over 30,000 ni-Vanuatu and Solomon Islanders were shipped to Queensland and other parts of Australia to work as slaves and indentured laborers in the agricultural sectors of the then-British colony.
Map of the areas affected by Blackbirding
Here is the Press Release:
Friday, June 7th, 2013
VANUATU GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
Commemoration of 150th Anniversary of Blackbirding to be part of 2013 Independence Anniversary program
This year 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the period of “blackbirding”, the trade of over 30,000 ni-Vanuatu and Solomon Islanders to Queensland and other parts of Australia to work as slaves and indentured laborers in the agricultural sectors of the then-British colony. The blackbirding era lasted from 1853 until 1906.
In Australia, this 150th anniversary is being commemorated by a number of events in a number of cities beginning in June and running until November.
The Council of Ministers has now decided that this important anniversary will also be commemorated in Vanuatu, and the Prime Minister has requested that the 33rd Independence Anniversary Organizing allocate one day of the 2013 Independence Anniversary program to the “National Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of Blackbirding”, as follows:
1. the official commemoration date shall be Sunday the 28th July ; 2.the Government will allocate a special additional budget of 1,000,000 vatu towards this special commemoration day ; 3.there shall be a special sub-committee created to organize this day, which shall be chaired by the Vanuatu Indigenous Descendants Association (VIDA) and co- chaired by the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) ; 4.a special church service and a special forum shall be organized as part of the activities of this day ; 5.the Interim National Body for Australian South Sea Islanders (based in Australia) shall be consulted about the program for this day, as many of the Australian South Sea Islander community (descendants of ni-Vanuatu) will be returning to Vanuatu to take part in this commemoration day.
The Vanuatu Indigenous Descendants Association (VIDA) is the body established by the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs in 2011 to deal with and advise the Council on matters relating to the historic blackbirding era and relationships with the Australian South Sea Islander community.