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How to Create a Sustainable Future for Pitcairn Island

Updated on May 14, 2015

The idea of setting up home on free land on Pitcairn Island in the Pacific Ocean has attracted considerable interest from people around the world, but the problems associated with migrating to Pitcairn currently far outweigh the benefits.

The UK Government's strategy of offering 'free land' (and a new life) to people who move to Pitcairn Island is not attractive enough to be successful.

Despite having an estimated 700 enquiries a year since announcing free land for new permanent residents, by 17 February 2015, only one application had been lodged. It is highly unlikely that statistic has changed between February and now.

To create a sustainable future for Pitcairn Island, I believe the UK Government needs to dramatically change its strategy.

They are advertising 'free land' if you become a permanent resident on this Pacific island ... but the deal offered could be much better with a few important changes.
They are advertising 'free land' if you become a permanent resident on this Pacific island ... but the deal offered could be much better with a few important changes. | Source

Potential for sustainability

Pitcairn Island offers more than just tourism

Watching videos made to promote Pitcairn Island as a tourist destination, it is easy to see how Pitcairn's climate and soils could sustainably support a community.

Gardens and basic farming would provide plenty of food. The island has unharnessed natural resources that would support a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

In the past, Pitcairn Island's population peaked at over 200. With the right attitude, modern appliances and technology (including solar power), it is reasonable to expect the island could accommodate 200 people or more and be sustainable.

New Pitcairners interested in creating a new life on a tropical island would see Pitcairn Island offers more than just tourism, and work to help their community reach its full potential.

Current problems with Pitcairn Island

Financial problems: -

  • In 2004 Pitcairn Island was formally deemed incapable of 'self-funding'.
  • The British Government subsidises 90% of the island's total costs.

Social problems: -

  • In the same year (2004), eight men including the island's former mayor were convicted of child sex offences and housed in a jail built by the British Government ... before being released to serve out their sentences under 'house arrest' on the island.
  • The current population on Pitcairn Island is less than 40 residents, plus 12 'administrators'.
  • There is only one general store on the island, open for one hour, three times a week. Food supplies are delivered from New Zealand every three months.
  • The population of Pitcairn Island (with their historical links to key players in 'Mutiny on the Bounty') fail to see that tourism is not enough to keep their economy 'afloat'.

Each of these current problems urgently need to be addressed if Pitcairn Island is to become self-supporting and sustainable.

Here's the first (vital) step if the UK Government wants to achieve a sustainable future for Pitcairn Island: -

Evict the current residents on Pitcairn Island

To have any chance of reviving Pitcairn Island socially and economically, the current Pitcairn residents should be evicted.

They have failed to support themselves and their lifestyle for over a decade.

If the British Government has been subsidising 90% of their total costs (said to be over 1 million pounds per year - with a current population of less than 40 residents), that's bad business.

They've tried. They've failed. Time to move the current residents out.

Pay them the value of their houses if that's considered appropriate - but bear in mind they are likely to expect welfare housing and support after relocation.

From a financial perspective, there would be huge savings if supporting 40 people close to food supplies, services and resources - compared to supporting those same 40 people on remote Pitcairn Island where the logistics of remote living must be accommodated.

While many of the current Pitcairn residents are descendents of the historic settlers, they are not indigenous people like the aboriginals in Australia, or the indigenous people of the Americas.

Indigenous Australians have land rights, but Pitcairn's residents have no native rights to their land. Nobody expects the Australian Government to give land rights to descendants of Governor Macquarie or other settlers who arrived by boat.

Get rid of the pedophiles

Of course evicting residents also means evicting the convicted paedophiles currently under house arrest on the island.

They could be placed in prison on a mainland (New Zealand or United Kingdom.)

The main reason for allowing Pitcairn's prisoners the freedom of house arrest on the island is due to the need for longboats to make the link between large boats off-shore and the island. Each longboat requires a crew of three - including the highly-skilled role of longboat coxwain.

Womenfolk and children were physically incapable of rowing the longboat, so they needed the strength and participation of the men.

After they've been moved to a new location on a mainland, women and children will be able to catch a bus or train - and therefore no longer reliant on longboats to bring food and other supplies to their homes.

Getting rid of the pedophiles will make Pitcairn Island a far more attractive proposition for new residents wishing to set up home on the island.

Would you like a sustainable lifestyle on a remote Pacific island?

If Pitcairn Island had no pedophiles, and could sustain a friendly population (with ways to make money, and minimal living expenses), would you consider living there?

See results

Attract a new population of residents to Pitcairn

Invite honest, adventurous newcomers with a passion for market gardening and sustainable living to apply to join the new Pitcairn community.

Tell them is is safe to bring their children; the pedophiles are gone!

Subject every potential Pitcairn migrant to a safety check to ensure children on the island are safe. Australia has a 'Safe to Work with Children' check before adults are allowed to work with children.

Pitcairn could create a similar protocol; 'Safe to Live Around Children' check into their history.

To attract a new population of residents to Pitcairn Island, the UK Government should welcome people of different nationalities and cultures, and encourage them to tell their homelands about Pitcairn's new status as a safe and sustainable haven.

Pitcairn needs a diverse Skills Base

The current criteria for selecting new residents for Pitcairn is unreasonably focused on people with money in the bank. It is expected that an applicant will have sufficient savings to pay their way for at least a few years - with no hope of obtaining employment on the island.

To create a sustainable future for the island, I believe the focus of the UK Government should shift to attracting migrants with skills that promise sustainability - even if the Government has to invest money in the early years to help them get established in their new home.

Pitcairn's new population would ideally bring a diverse range of new skills to the island.

Bonus points should be given to applications from anyone who can provide any of the following skills: -

  • Market gardener
  • Farmer looking to downsize - and go organic!
  • Butcher - able to prepare fresh meats
  • Chef - capable of producing culinary delights from fresh produce
  • Mechanic with rural experience - Lawn mowers, tractors etc need fixing!
  • Building experience
  • Plumbing experience
  • Stone mason - all those rocks at the bottom of cliffs could be used in buildings and other structures
  • Doctor wanting a lifestyle change, perhaps in semi-retirement
  • Midwife
  • Nurse
  • Computer / IT person - able to keep islanders connected to the internet
  • Musicians / music teachers - lots of them. Keyboard, guitar, drums, brass, strings etc.
  • Teachers - or parents with home-schooling experience
  • Dance teacher - or dancers willing to teach
  • Potters - to make implements for daily use, as well as souvenirs to sell to tourists
  • People who spin wool, knit, crochet etc.
  • A vet with a passion for island-living would be a joy!!
  • Concreter - capable of constructing concrete water tanks
  • Artist
  • Herbalist
  • Singer, songwriter
  • Videographer
  • Writer -this community needs to blog, create marketing materials, compile training manuals etc.
  • Management guru - someone needs to organize things.
  • Accountant / book-keeper
  • Bee keeper
  • Engineer
  • Scientist
  • Carpenter
  • Astrologer - there's so much even an amateur astrologist could share
  • Gymnast
  • Bar manager
  • Home-brewing experience
  • Architect - who has always wanted to be a 'town planner' of sorts.
  • Grandma and grandpa figures - Still fit and healthy, plus mature and knowledgeable.
  • Families with children of any age.

The ideal applicants would be multi-skilled. It is not hard to find adventurous people in the world who possess more than one of these skills and criteria.

How to create a sustainable future for Pitcairn Island?

The idea of setting up home on Pitcairn Island and becoming an active part of a community building a sustainable future holds appeal for me.

I filled an entire notebook with ideas and sketches, and lists of what I believe the UK government should provide to attract new residents. My knowledge of permaculture, passive solar home design, and familiarity with solar technology for powering a vast array of appliances, pumps and vehicles fits well with the climate and geography of Pitcairn Island.

I believe it is absolutely possible to create a sustainable future for Pitcairn Island, but to do so, the current population should be relocated. Without that vital first step being agreed upon, I doubt much can be achieved.

Who dreams of visiting Pitcairn Island?

© 2015 Alex Finn


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    • LongTimeMother profile image


      4 years ago from Australia

      I quite like the idea of an international mix of off-gridders with a sense of adventure. There's a bunch of hubbers I'd enjoy having as neighbors. lol.

      Voted up and sharing. :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      So interesting, I was just reading all about Pitcarin earlier and I agree there are so many ways to make it a more pleasant destination. I don't know how well the eviction of locals would be received. Great article.


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