The Written Truth

Australian South Sea Islanders

Heritage maps from the John Oxley Library show the world as it was depicted in the early 1860s through the early 1900s when South Sea Islanders arrived by vessel from nearby islands to work as indentured labourers in Queensland.  Over time the maps change, the spelling of names, the addition of islands and more.  Information about the practice of indentured labour can be realised today from the monographs written by missionaries at the time.  These volatile missives extoled the virtues of missionary work in the Melanesian Islands while condemning the practice of indentured servitude in Queensland as “slave labour” to the world.  Further historical truths are revealed with the passage of monumental government policies: the White Australia Act and the Pacific Islanders Labourers Act, both of 1901.  A Royal Commission was formed in 1906 to provide an humane review about the ordered mandatory deportation of Islanders, following the 1901 acts that forbade Islanders to be employed in Queensland.