Tahitians divided the day into the periods of daylight (ao) and darkness (pō). There was also a concept of irrational fear called mehameha, translated as uncanny feelings. The healers, familiar with herbal remedies, were called ta'ata rā'au or ta'ata rapa'au. In the 19th century Tahitians added the European medicine to their practice. The most famous Tahitian healer Tiurai, of ari'i, died aged 83 during the influenza outbreak on Tahiti in 1918.
When British Captain Samuel Wallis "discovered" Tahiti on 18 June 1767, the natives were eager to trade, especially in iron nails unknown to them. Philibert Commerçon (1727–1773) in his The Tahitian Savage to the French wrote: "They have a fruit instead of bread. Their other foods are equally simple". Commerçon also described the practice of public sex, which he said Tahitians engaged in while being cheered on by applause and musical instruments. In the marital relationships Tahitians closely approached the situation where all women were the wives of men and the wife of every man was also the wife of his friend. Louis Antoine de Bougainville described a scene, where a young girl came on board, placed herself upon the quarter deck and carelessly dropt the cloth. Charles Darwin also wrote on Tahitians during the voyage on the Beagle: "There is a mildness in the expression of their countenances, which at once banishes the idea of a savage; and an intelligence, which shows they are advancing in civilization".
The European ships however brought such diseases for which Tahitians had little or no immunity, such as dysentery, smallpox, scarlet fever, typhoid fever and tuberculosis. As a result of these changes by 1797 the population of Tahiti decreased to 16,000 from estimated 40,000 in 1767, when the first European ship HMS Dolphin touched on the island. The 1881 census enumerated about 5,960 native Tahitians. The recovery continued in spite of a few more epidemics.
Wiki: Pitcairn Islands:
The entire population is Seventh-day Adventist. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is not a state religion, as no laws concerning its establishment were passed by the local government. A successful Seventh-day Adventist mission in the 1890s was important in shaping Pitcairn society. In recent years, the church has declined, and as of 2000, eight of the then forty islanders attended services regularly, but most attend church on special occasions. From Friday at sunset until Saturday at sunset, Pitcairners observe a day of rest in observance of the Sabbath, or as a mark of respect for observant Adventists.
The church was built in 1954 and is run by the Church board and resident pastor, who usually serves a two-year term. The Sabbath School meets at 10 am on Saturday mornings, and is followed by Divine Service an hour later. On Tuesday evenings, there is another service in the form of a prayer meeting....
The once-strict moral codes, which prohibited dancing, public displays of affection, smoking, and consumption of alcohol, have been relaxed. Islanders and visitors no longer require a six-month licence to purchase, import, and consume alcohol. There is now one licensed café and bar on the island, and the government store sells alcohol and cigarettes.
Sexual assault trials of 2004
In 2004, charges were laid against seven men living on Pitcairn and six living abroad. This accounted for nearly a third of the male population. After extensive trials, most of the men were convicted, some with multiple counts of sexual encounters with children. On 25 October 2004, six men were convicted, including Steve Christian, the island's mayor at the time. After the six men lost their final appeal, the British government set up a prison on the island at Bob's Valley. The men began serving their sentences in late 2006. By 2010, all had served their sentences or been granted home detention status.
An "entry clearance application" must be made for any child under the age of 16, prior to visiting Pitcairn, while adults visiting the island for periods of less than 14 days are not required to complete any application or visa request prior to arrival.
As of July 2014, the total resident population of the Pitcairn Islands was 56, including the six temporary residents: an administrator, a doctor and a police officer and their spouses. However, the actual permanent resident population was only 49 Pitcairners spread across 23 households. It is, however, rare for all 49 residents to be on-island at the same time; it is common for several residents to be off-island for varying lengths of time visiting family, for medical reasons, or to attend international conferences. As of November 2013 for instance, seven residents were off-island. A diaspora survey projected that by 2045, if nothing were done, only three people of working age would be left on the island, with the rest being very old. In addition, the survey revealed that residents who had left the island over the past decades showed little interest in coming back. Of the hundreds of emigrants contacted, only 33 were willing to participate in the survey and just three expressed a desire to return.
As of 2014, the labour force consisted of 31 able-bodied persons: 17 males and 14 females between 18 and 64 years of age. Of the 31, just seven are younger than 40, but 18 are over the age of 50. Most of the men undertake the more strenuous physical tasks on the island such as crewing the longboats, cargo handling, and the operation and maintenance of physical assets. Longboat crew retirement age is 58. There were then 12 men aged between 18 and 58 residing on Pitcairn. Each longboat requires a minimum crew of three; of the four longboat coxswains, two were in their late 50s.
The Pitcairn government's attempts to attract migrants have been unsuccessful. Since 2013, some 700 make inquiries each year, but so far, not a single formal settlement application has been received. The migrants are prohibited from taking local jobs or claiming benefits for a certain length of time, even those with children. The migrants are expected to have at least NZ$ 30 000 per person in savings and are expected to build their own house at average cost of NZ$ 140 000. It is also possible to bring off-island builders at an additional cost of between NZ$ 23 000 and NZ$ 28 000. The average annual cost of living on the island is NZ$ 9464. There is, however, no assurance of the migrant's right to remain on Pitcairn; after their first two years, the council must review and reapprove the migrant's status. The migrants are also required to take part in the unpaid public work to keep the island in order: maintain the island's numerous roads and paths, build roads, navigate the island longboats, clean public toilets etc. There are also restrictions on bringing children under the age of 16 to the island.
Freight from Tauranga to Pitcairn on the MV Claymore II (Pitcairn Island's dedicated passenger and cargo ship chartered by the Pitcairn government) is charged at NZ$ 350/m³ for Pitcairners and NZ$ 1000/m³ for all other freight. Additionally, Pitcairners are charged NZ$ 3000 for a one-way trip; others are charged NZ$ 5000.
In 2014, the 2014 government's Pitcairn Islands Economic Report stated that "[no one] will migrate to Pitcairn Islands for economic reasons as there are limited government jobs, a lack of private sector employment, as well as considerable competition for the tourism dollar". The Pitcairners take tourists in turns to accommodate those few tourists who occasionally visit the island.
I decided a nice place for me to live would be in Burnt Pine, on Norfolk Island. As an Australian citizen, I have residency rights there already. This remote island has a moderate subtropical climate all year. Pine trees and large fern trees! And the town sits 330 feet above sea level - I don't think the seas will ever rise that much. However, the town has only has about 130 people. Even so, it has a cafe, bowling alley and cars. James Michener, and the Thorne Birds author, both lived there. Helen Reddy has a house there. I should ask her if I could live in that house. In return, I would civilise her.