The Chairman's Letter
by Tony Williams
As published in the January 2018 magazine
Welcome to another edition of our magazine The Bounty. Once again I must thank Editor David Ransom in assembling some interesting and varied articles which are informative with attractive layout. I do hope that you enjoy them.
At our October meeting, after the AGM, I was privileged to give a talk to the members on a journey I had made from Pitcairn to French Polynesia, Pitcairn’s nearest neighbour.
French Polynesia consists of five island groups – The Society Islands, Austral Islands, Marquesas, Tuamotus and the Gambier Islands (Mangareva in the latter group is the closest to Pitcairn at 350 miles). The whole area is the size of Western Europe. In addition to the interesting Polynesian culture, the main conclusions to be drawn are the high levels of subsidies and support provided by France – the islands are effectively treated as French overseas départements. They benefit from air strips and links to Tahiti, good paved roads, the presence of the gendarmerie, strong French influence and with many islands being quite prosperous from thriving tourism. UK support for Pitcairn remains a challenge in comparison.
For the afternoon session we were treated to another excellent talk and display of items from Austin Meares, this time on the ‘Lure of Islands’. Austin had concentrated on six islands – each very varied – from some close to home Caldy and Lundy, to some much more distant such as Elba (with its Napoleonic theme, which holds much interest for Austin) to Pitcairn, Norfolk and Zanzibar. It was a fascinating presentation of maps, historical records and photographs, demonstrating once again Austin’s impressive attention to detail. The talk was most warmly received by the members.
At the end of the meeting, my thanks go to John Smith for his organising and tenacious role as auctioneer of our ever popular auction of a wide variety of collectibles including stamps, postal covers, books and other memorabilia to raise much needed funds for the Society.
As reported in the monthly Pitcairn Miscellany newsletter, (which I encourage everyone to subscribe to) the Pitcairners have developed their Repopulation Plan website – www.immigration.gov.pn – and are actively seeking new settlers through their advertising campaign. This is much needed as the community of 50 remains at critical mass with now only four children living on the Island. The emphasis on increasing tourism has continued with the recent arrival of a bird watching group, the availability of guided walks leaflets for the Island and plans to develop a whale watching programme. To that end, more regular shipping movements of the Claymore II are planned, and shortly Pitcairn will be installing an upgraded wireless and satellite communications system. This is a confident step for their future and we wish them good luck.
There is no fresh news to report on Norfolk Island as Australia consolidates its control over the Island and we hope that the Island’s cultural links with Pitcairn can be preserved as a result of this process. One consequence for our Society is that the Island stamps are now issued exclusively by Australia Post.
Closer to home, I have mentioned previously our wish to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Society next June, and plans for a Thames River Boat trip and a celebratory lunch are coming together. The provisional date for this is Saturday 2nd June, 2018, and more details will be circulated as soon as possible. Partners are invited, so please note the date for your diary.
In the meantime, with regard to future meetings, we are hoping amongst other things to arrange another joint meeting with the Captain Cook Society.
In closing, may I wish everyone an enjoyable and eventful New Year and whether it be for stamps, books or other memorabilia relating to Pitcairn and Norfolk Island, I wish you continued good collecting. I look forward to seeing many of you at our Spring meeting.