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The South Sea Islanders and the Queensland labour trade

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: The South Sea Islanders and the Queensland labour trade
Author(s): Wawn, William T
Date published: 1973
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
'South Sea Islanders and the Queensland Labour Trade' was first published in 1893. It is an exciting first hand account of a trade never free from violence and controversy and at the same time a valuable document on inter-racial contact and race relations. Wawn recruited or repatriated island labourers in every area - the New Hebrides, the Solomons, New Britain, New Ireland, the New Guinea off-shore islands and the Gilberts. He encountered every hazard of the trade from shipwreck to murder and wrote a vivid account of his voyages. But his book is not just an adventure story. It is an important source of information on the Queensland labour trade by a man with keen powers of observation and a ready pen. We need, then, to know something about Wawn himself, the man and his background. This Peter Corris tells us in his well researched introduction. In the course of his inquiry Dr Corris spent some months in Queensland, the Solomons and Fiji, talking with former recruits and their descendants - including those of an important island chief who was well-known to Wawn - and in England investigating Wawn{u2019}s background. The results of his work enhance the value of the book and the reader gains insight into a very human man with human failings, at times irascible and intolerant, who tries to cast the best light on events that are not always so favourably recorded in the logs of his voyages. Whether this book is read as a basic work on the Pacific island labour trade or as an exciting story, it will hold the reader enthralled to the end.


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