Sunday, August 26, 2012

Social Issues on Pitcairn Island

Questions Answered about Social Issues

When you speak of the ‘two main families’, can you elaborate on that?  Which are the two families that are considered to be the ‘main’ families?

The Christian family and the Warren-Peu family both have five children each.  There are also the Browns and the Youngs and others.  Many people are inter-related.


Is there an airstrip on Pitcairn Island?

No there is no airstrip. It is such a long way from anywhere else.

A helicopter came on ship once and took aerial photos. The idea of building an airstrip has been explored from time to time. There is enough land but whether it would be suitable or not is not a question I can answer.


Are traditional arts and crafts alive and well on Pitcairn?

Wooden curio carving is alive and well. Models of the ‘Bounty’, longboats, turtles and fish, a vase with a hand wrapped around it and the fascinating ‘trick boxes’ with their secret opening are all popular.  Islanders sell wooden carved items to cruise ship passengers plus many have a website that they sell from, posting the items out to the worldwide customers.  Carving is a very time consuming process.

Weaving is still taking place. Some of the older women weave frequently.  Stripping the traditional pandanus fronds of their prickly edges is a bit of a mission. The strips can be dyed to give colour to the woven baskets. Nylon plastic strips are also used for practical baskets which get used for groceries, vegetables and fishing.

Paintings done on the large skeleton hattie leaves are sold to tourists.


Do the islanders prepare any kind of traditional hangi for special occasions?

No we have not seen this type of Polynesian cooking in evidence.

Do the islanders have any type of traditional Polynesian dancing?
No this aspect of the culture has not been kept alive.


Do many people go to church?

In 2012 the church services were usually attended by approximately 20 people most Saturdays. Half of these are from the Professional Team which changes each year.  The main service starts at 11:00 am.  There is a class for children before the service and there is also a bible study for adults pre-service too.

Are the Seventh Day Adventist beliefs well adhered to on Pitcairn?

The first thing that strikes you on Pitcairn is that the weekend here revolves around Friday and Saturday. Saturday is the 'Sabbath'. Sunday is a business day with the shop, finance office, library, post office and warehouse open. This takes a bit of getting used to.  Saturday is usually a quieter day. Traditional beliefs of the SDA church are not really adhered to by the majority.  Alcohol is sold at the shop and also cigarettes. Meat including bacon and pork is eaten. At the public dinners someone will open the meal with a simple prayer. I would say that Christian beliefs are important to many of the older generation.


Can you listen to any radio station?  If so, which one? From where?
There is a local channel. With an appropriate radio you can get overseas channels e.g. BBC.

Is there anywhere you can eat out on Pitcairn Island?

We eat out at Christians Cafe when it is open from time to time on a Friday night.  When the supply ship is here or when there are visitors on the island the cafe will be open.  It costs $12 for a huge meal which is simple e.g. a full plate of crumbed fish, chicken, lasagne, roast, hamburger and chips, salad vegetables etc. They have a small bar there and drinks are a reasonable price too.

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