"Mutineer" island isn't looking forward to start of the New Year.
ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., January 5, 2000The handful of descendants of
mutineers on remote Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean arenít
enthusiastic about the arrival of the new century.
The reason? With Year 2000's arrival they will be facing economic
hardship that could hasten the day they may have to abandon their island
Since 1790, when sailors who mutinied against Captain William Bligh on
H.M.S. Bounty began using Pitcairn as a hideout from British justice, the
tiny island, located half-way between Panama and New Zealand, has been
inhabited. Now, some of the islanders fear that large cost of living
increases coming with the new year will force them to leave.
Island and government reports reaching the Pitcairn Islands Study Center
on the campus of Pacific Union College here note that the cost of
electricity for the islandís 50 inhabitants will more than double, and
freight costs for supplies will become almost prohibitive as the new year
It all comes about, say British government officials, because the islandís
subsidy fund, based on the sale of Pitcairn stamps, is running dry.
In the past the fund has provided helpful subsidies for a number of high-cost needs like utilities, travel to New
Zealand for medical card and the ever-increasing cost of bringing supplies
to the island.
Officials say that the island fund is expected to run dry in three years.
Cost of living help for the islandís poorest will then have to come from other
British government sources. Pitcairn is the worldís smallest British
Although there are plans to provide all-weather surfacing to Pitcairnís
main road, and to construct a STOL (short take-off and landing) airstrip on
the island, some islanders donít see how they will be able to survive the
more-than-double electrical rate hike, and paying the full cost of supply
transportation that is coming.
The electrical rate hike may doom a budding industry in dehydrated island
fruits and island-produced honey. Some Pitcairners have ordered propane
heaters in hope of controling cooking costs, but the enormous cost of
shipping of supplies to the island is seen as an almost insurmountable
Government officials respond to the problem by stating that those most in
need will still get some subsidy help, but the islanders wonder how such
need will be determined since all on the island live near or below what is
considered the ďpoverty levelĒ of the civilized world.
The control of land on Pitcairn, long held by individuals, most of whom
are direct descendants of the Bounty mutineers, also is slated for future
government control. The reason given for this change in island life is that
the government will be better able to care for the upkeep of absentee
landlord properties, a number of former residents who continue to hold title
to land on the island having moved abroad.
Pitcairn Islands Study Center, 1 Angwin
Ave., Angwin, CA, USA. Herbert Ford, 707-965-6625, 707-965-2047, Fax: 707-965-6504,
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://library.puc.edu/pitcairn