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Photographs supplied by John Huth

The plaque commemorates the Kanakas who presented a bell to the church in 1907 in appreciation of the care given to them by the church congregation.

Pacific Islanders such as Robert Long laboured in their thousands on coffee and sugar plantations in northern Qld in the late 19th century and formed part of a 'trade' in human beings that began in 1863. The trade was fundamentally similar to slave labour, with the major differences being that these people were indentured (contracted to work) for three years and their 'masters' were supposed to return them to their home islands after their period of service.

Long was involved with St John's Anglican Church in Nambour, and the South Sea Island Mission would have provided Pacific Islanders with a support system and a community structure as well as a basic Western education. In the late 19th century the Presbyterian and Anglican churches converted the majority of Islanders to a fairly fundamentalist type of Christianity, but public attitudes were hostile to it and it was largely abandoned after 1901.

The Australian Government began to deport Pacific Islanders in 1904 after the newly established Australian Parliament passed the 'Pacific Island Labourers Act' in 1901. The practice of importing overseas labour had virtually stopped with Federation and recruitment ceased altogether after 1903. With the passing of the Act, the Government could deport any of the remaining 10,000 Islanders and in fact repatriated 7,068 between 1904 and 1908.

Between 1863 and 1904 some 50,000 Kanakas were “blackbirded” from the Polynesian Islands to labour in the Queensland cane fields. Approximately 14,800 of these were located between Bundaberg and Maryborough. They were harshly treated, suffered disease, poorly fed and death rates were 400% higher than white Australian workers. Despite these terrible conditions they helped forge the Australian sugar industry which has since its inception played a major role in the economic development of Australia. 



Address:174 - 176 Currie Street, St John the Baptist Church, Nambour, 4560
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -26.630221
Long: 152.959691
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Culture
Approx. Event Start Date:1907
Approx. Event End Date:1907


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 3rd October, 2009
Front Inscription

In honour of the Kanakas and their families who presented this bell in 1907 to St John the Baptist Church in appreciation of the care given to them by Mr. J. Hilliam and the Congregation

3 - 10 - 2009

Fr. James Hall  Rector

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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