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How "Blackbirding" Changed The Pacific Forever

Registration Types


  • Fri 16 Aug 2024, 12:00pm–1:00pm


All Ages

Listed by

Seonaid Harvey

During the mid 19th & then the 20th centuries the practice of "blackbirding", or modern day slavery, was widespread and had a devastating impact on the population and morale of many Pacific Islands. Many left their island land, coerced, tricked and bullied to never return. This kidnapping of peaceful islanders was prolific and not very complicated. Violence and murder were more than common. Some islands such as Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the Gilbert & Ellice Islands (modern day Kiribati & Tuvalu), Niue, the Solomons Islands, Fiji, New Hebrides (Vanuatu) and ‘Ata in Tonga all suffered significant losses of young men in particular.

The guano or phosphate mines in Peru were a popular destination as well as the Queensland sugar cane fields, the cotton plantations at Atimaono in Tahiti and the pearl, gold and farming industries in Australia. Learn about some of the worst blackbirders in the Pacific region and what lives they led to make blackbirding their new “profession”: Bully Hayes, Thomas McGrath, Daniel Blackett, Ben Boyd, Ben Pease & Albert Ross Hovell.

About the speaker:
Originally from Sydney, Allegra Marshall has travelled extensively in the Pacific Islands and is a 35-year part-time resident of French Polynesia. For nearly a decade, Allegra has been immersed in extensive research focusing on Pacific connections from the 1790s onwards. Commencing in July 2022, Allegra is currently Tahiti’s first and only Cemetery Tour Guide, covering six cemeteries to date. Using her vast knowledge and bilingual expertise, Allegra has rapidly become a Polynesian subject matter expert and assists others in finding their genealogical gaps. She is often called upon as a guide and reference for historical documentation.

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Allegra Marshall is also a speaker at the Auckland Family History Expo 9-11 August. Her topic will be "Missionaries in the Pacific – their impact & achievements".

For more information, please see Auckland Family History Expo | Tāmaki Huinga Tātai Kōrero -

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