American Samoa

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American Samoa is the only area south of the Equator controlled by the USA, not counting the Antarctic.
 The above is the flag of American Samoa and Pag Pago (pro Pango Pango) is the capital, which is located on the island of Tutuila.

The US had been interested in this part of Samoa from as early as 1839 and when Germany & Great Britain were expanding their influence in the Pacific the US  wanted to block Germany who had taken control of W. Samoa in 1899.

In 1871 the US signed a treaty with the local chieftain for an exclusive use of the harbour, which was one of the deepest in the Pacific. The US wanted to create a coaling station for their steamers. It was also in an area of one of the best whaling areas in the world.

In April 1900 the US flag was raised over Tutuila, which is the name of the island, to stop Germany from expanding their influence, because they had already claimed W. Samoa.

My visit to American Samoa was in 1987, which had been arranged by our W. Samoa agent because TNT Skypak wanted an agency in Pago Pago.

Samoa Air

We flew to American Samoa from Western Samoa, at that time Samoa was called Western Samoa, the name did not change until 1997 when the country became just Samoa.

Some of the passengers on our flight were weighed before being allowed to board, and some of us were not.
As you see the aircraft was small, so every kilo was counted and the Western Samoans are known for their size.
The flight from Apia to Pago Pago was not long, about forty-five minutes, but it was still an international flight. Our baggage was stowed behind the last passenger.
We flew at our maximum height, which was 4,500 feet (about 1370 mtrs) above sea level, and there is a lot of sea to be seen in that 45 minutes.

Our Samoan agent and I acted as OBCs (on board couriers) carrying documents from Australia, New Zealand and Samoa. Our new man in Pago Pago was an accountant who already had three businesses as well as being a public accountant, so he now had to learn the international courier industry jargon, because we were carrying his first consignments.

We landed at Tafuna Airport (airline code PPG), which is about seven miles (11 km) from the city.
The road to the city wound round the base of the mountain, which only allowed one lane of traffic in each direction. The road was very crowded and narrow so trying to pass the vehicle in front was not recommended. The journey took us over half an hour and the humidity was off the scale, plus the vehicle was not air-conditioned so within minutes of leaving the airport we were dripping with perspiration.
My first impression of American Samoa was not positive due to the very poor maintenance of such an important road between the airport and the city.
In 1987 the population of Tutuila Island was about 36,000.

2-Rainmaker (2)

The hotel that our Samoan agent had booked looked very inviting, the Rainmaker Hotel, which used to be called the Pacific’s Intercontinental Hotel.

poolside1

The above is from an early advert for the hotel – it was not as attractive when I visited, but it was the only hotel on the island! 

The hotel began life in 1965 and was refurbished after a US fighter plane crashed into it in 1980. The accident cost the lives of six servicemen and two tourists.

1200px-RAINMAKER_HOTEL,_PAGO_PAGO,_AMERICAN_SAMOA  A shot of the hotel when closed.

After a nice cold shower, I was given a tour of the town by our new agent. It was interesting, but my over whelming memory is the smell of fish. It did not matter where you were I could smell fish. Pago Pago housed the fourth largest tuna processing works in the world. 
The canning of fish and pet food, with the processing of fish bones and skin into fish meal did not help the atmosphere of the island.

Pan Am

In 1946 Pan American Airlines started a service from the US to Sydney via Pago Pago using a DC4.

DC7

In 1956 Pan Am updated to a DC7 

DC3

In 1959 Polynesian Airlines (Apia based) began a service between W. Samoa and American Samoa using a DC3.

This is how the rich and famous arrived at Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia.

Once again, even though the fish smell was strong I still found joy visiting places that I had read about, so of course I had to follow in Somerset Maugham’s footsteps as I had read Rain, which he wrote while in American Samoa.

Somerset Maugham - CopySomerset Maugham 1874 – 1965

Somerset Maugham was visiting the Pacific Islands in 1916. His ship Sonoma arrived in Pago Pago where he left the ship and took up residence in a guesthouse.

1920px-SADIE_THOMPSON_BUILDING This is the guest house were Somerset Maughan and his companion stayed for six weeks while he wrote the outline of a short story called Miss Thompson.

He used some of the passengers on the Sonoma as models for character in his story. There was a single lady travelling on her own, who became Miss Sadie Thompson in Maughan’s book. 

Sometime later when he was finalising his story from notes, while staying at a Hollywood hotel, he met an American playwright who was roaming around the hotel one night because he could not sleep. His name was John Colton and Maugham thought he would offer his new story to Colton to read, and perhaps it would help him to sleep.

The following morning Colton wanted to buy the story and turn it in to a play. Somerset Maugham agreed, but Colton did not have enough money to buy the rights, so Maughan offered his hand and said we split any profits 50 – 50 and John Colton agreed. 

While in America Somerset Maughan was also trying to find someone to buy his story. A magazine called The Smart Set bought the story.

220px-Smart-Set-April-1921-FC

It was published in 1921, which opened a new avenue for Maughan’s work.

Later when Miss Thompson was to be included in a book of Somerset Maughan’s short stories the title was changed to Rain

It was as Rain that the play ran in New York for 608 performances between November 1922 and May 1924.

In 1928 it was made into a silent film with Gloria Swanson in the lead part.

Gloria

In 1932 it was Joan Crawford who had the lead part in a film called ‘Rain’.

Later it was June HavocJune_Havocwho played Sadie Thompson

and in 1953 Miss Sadie Thompson was played by

Sadie

Rita Hayworth

Blue Pacific Blues

Click on the link for a little bit of the film and Rita Hayworth singing . . or you might give a round of applause to Jo Ann Geer, who did all of Rita Hayworth’s singing.

RitaThe guesthouse (now renamed) where Somerset Maughan stayed in 1916 has become so famous that they have a sign outside.

sign

On the first picture of the guest house, you will see a yellow sign, I cropped it out for clarity. 

Now back to the Rainmaker Hotel – and the surrounds – the ‘mountain’ that dominates Pag Pago is the cause of the high amount of rain that drenches the town, so even though the mountain is called Mt Pioa it is more commonly known as the Rainmaker Mountain, hence the name of the hotel.
Pago Pago harbour has the highest rainfall of any harbour in the world.

The Rainmaker Hotel had 250 rooms and was THE place to stay, with famous guests such as Marlon Brando, William Holden etc who were on their way to Aggie Grey’s in Apia.

failed

The Rainmaker Hotel fell into disrepair and became derelict, and was demolished in 2015

BUT . . . there is always but . . . 

sadie_thompson_inn.jpg (2)

Sadie Thomason Inn flourished

and

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Sadie’s by the Sea flourishes

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I wonder what Somerset Maughan would have thought of Sadie’s today,
but sex sells, because Sadie Thomason was a deported prostitute from Hawaii, which is why she was on the Sonoma.

Tusitala part two

1986

In 1926 Aggie married Charles Grey

When one reads the history of Samoa, particularly through the 1800s to the mid-1900s the list of characters that flowed in and around Apia, the capital of Samoa, would keep a Hollywood producer in work for years.

Aggie grew up across the road from the International Hotel and one day, when she was a child, she saw carpenters dismantling the wooden building very carefully. This strange happening was mentioned to her father who told Aggie and her sisters that a Mr Hetherington had bought the building and planned to rebuild it on the bank of the Vaisigano river.

The International Hotel was rebuilt exactly as it was originally in 1870.

There was a character known locally as ‘Obliging Bob’ for his good manners and how he managed the International Hotel.

Robert Easthope (aka Obliging Bob) was born in England (Cumberland) in 1848.
At an early age he picked life at sea as his career and ended up in Samoa in 1894. By February 1896 he was managing a hotel called Club Hotel followed by The Tivoli and then the International, which was the most popular at that time.

Tivoli

His nick name came about because he was well mannered, and nothing was too much trouble. He would use his own boats to ferry his guests to their ship, which would be moored in the harbour before sailing.

When he died in 1932 at 84 years old, he was the oldest British resident in Samoa.
Billy Hughes, the slave trader used to drink in the International Hotel before it moved to its present location. When I visited this hotel Billy Hughes would have recognised the outside, nothing had changed.

 

AG 1989

On my second trip to Apia, I stayed at Aggie Grey’s again and it had changed somewhat. This time I was not shown to the fale as I expected, but taken upstairs to the ‘new’ extension, which was airconditioned and overlooked the sea. It was a pleasant hotel room, but not as ‘Samoan’ as the fale. The above picture is the ‘new’ hotel.

A little bit more about Aggie Grey – when she was a child she watched the International Hotel be rebuilt, but little did she know of her future connection with this hotel. 

Charlie and Aggie were great entertainers, but there was a problem, Charlie was a gambler, and they had three children, plus Aggie’s four children from her first marriage. Her entrepreneur skills showed early because when she was in her early twenties, she opened the Cosmopolitan Club. 

Later in 1933 she borrowed £200 to buy the old British Club, which was renamed ‘Aggies’ through which she sold illegal alcohol because the New Zealand Government, who controlled Western Samoa, declared the island to be ‘dry’.  The ‘dryness’ included Europeans as well as the local islanders. The Europeans were not happy.

The British Club had been the old International Hotel. 

To get around the problem of ‘dryness’ the NZ Government authorised the medical officer in Samoa to issue ‘points’ to the Europeans and depending on your position in society and rank, you were allocated ‘points’ on a monthly basis. Technically the points were for the use of alcohol for medical purposes. This system went on until after 1960!

beer

Today Samoa has its own brewery bought from Germany.

In 1942 the Americans arrived due to the war in the Pacific and Maggie opened a snack bar selling coffee and burgers from a location next to the current hotel, and she also operated a sandwich cart around the streets. Things were picking up – but in 1943 her husband Charlie, died. She was now on her own with children to feed, so had to come up with an income.
She moved the business in to the old British Club, which was now called Aggies, and Aggie Grey’s was born.

From this location besides the food, they also sold ‘bush gin’ which was a palm toddy at $2 a bottle.
The toddy was created from the coconut palm tree and a local would climb thirty feet (nine meters) up the palm tree to tap into the sap, and allow it to drip in to a glass jar.

Barley-Water-Benefits-For-Skin-Hair-Health

The tree sap looked like barley water.   

The liquid had a fizzy tang to it . . . 

Wiley

There was an unfortunate incident due to ‘bush gin.’ The Admiral Wiley Pictured above) was anchored in the harbour and unloading stores. The Captain went ashore for a few glasses of bush gin, which caused him to become unsteady.
It was dark and the only way the captain could return to his ship was via a native boat, but the instructions were that native boats were not allowed near military ships. The watch keeping sailor on the ship could not believe that the person in the native craft was his captain.
After a long argument the sailor allowed the captain to board and the Captain went to his cabin.
The captain still full of bush gin, was as mad as anything at the idea of being refused to board his own ship, so he left his cabin and started firing his pistols at the sailor. The sailor had no choice but to return fire and killed his Captain.

The First Mate was told to take command and to be prepare for sailing. The problem was that the First Mate worked in haberdashery before he had joined the navy and had taken a six week crash course in commanding a merchant ship – he was incapable of taking the ship to sea, so the ship had to wait for a competent merchant seaman officer to arrive and take the ship to sea.

During the time that the Americans were located in Samoa they had to place military police outside Aggie Grey’s premises because officers would arrive in jeeps but when they wished to drive back to their ship or barracks, they would find that the jeep had been stacked on rocks because the wheels were missing, the petrol had been syphoned and parts of the engine were missing.
The local Samoan society believed that everything that they owned was available for anyone to use, so it was not theft but a cultural problem for the Americans.   

The war was over and James A Mitchener a naval historical officer wrote

Tales of the south pacific

This edition was published in 1947

Michener became friendly with Aggie, and I believe that she contributed her ideas during the editing process.
I must admit that reading his book while wandering around the South Pacific added to the experience for me.
One might say that James A. Mitchener became the Tusitala of the 20th Century Pacific Islands.

James-Michener

   James A. Mitchener 1907 -1997

In 1952 ‘Return to Paradise’ a Mitchener story was turned in to a film and Gary Cooper played the lead role. The American crew stayed at Aggies and at the Casino run by Aggie’s sister, there were a total of fifty Americans, but in every other aspect the US film company used local Samoans and the dancing girls (Samoan dancing) were trained under Aggie. 

roberta-haynes

Roberta Haynes 1927 – 2019

Aggie also directed and trained Roberta Haynes in her dance sequences. 

Roberta Haynes’ ashes were taken back to Samoa by her son and interred at a chapel at the Return to Paradise resort in 2019.

If you wish to see a short piece of the film click below.

Return to Paradise

In addition to Gary Cooper 1901-1961 gary-cooper-2  who was awarded three Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and a number of other awards,

  Aggie Grey’s hotel has been visited by

Dorothy Lamour 1914 – 1996,  dorothy-lamour-6 She received a citation from the US Government for selling $300 million worth of War Bonds during WW2. She was known as the ‘Bond Bombshell’. 

 

Marlon Brando 1925-2004,  marlon-brando Two Academy Awards, Three BAFTAs, Two Golden Globes.

 

Raymond Burr 1917-1993, raymond-burrTwo Emmy awards & and a stamp issue by Canadian Postthumb_raymond-burr-canada-stamp

 

Robert Morley 1908-1992, Robert Morley  CBE, but he declined a Knighthood

 

William Holden 1918-1981  WILLIAMHolden Academy award winner

to name a few.

The above were film actors, who became famous due to their ability to entertain, even though they did not have Facebook, Tick Tock, , Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube nor did they Twitter on & on . . . but they were good at their job and entertained us.

When Gary Cooper was seriously ill and close to death amongst the huge number of well-wisher’s cards & letters there was a telegrams from Queen Elizabeth and the Pope, and a phone call from President John F. Kennedy, Gary Cooper was famous, they even used his name in this song. 

Putting on the Ritz

In 1971 Aggie was ‘stamped’ with success (please excuse the pun)

stamp

Aggie

Aggie died in 1988 at 91 years of age.

Her son took over the running of the company and in 2013 Aggie Grey’s hotel was sold to Chinese investors for US$50 million and is now operated by the Sheraton Hotel Group. Aggie Grey’s Hotel is now known as the Sheraton Samoa with a subtitle ‘Aggie Grey’. 

Hotel sold

The hotel was rebuilt after major damage during the cyclone in 2012 when the Vaisigano River (which I have mentioned earlier) flooded the hotel up to the third floor (American) or second floor if you are British.

Sheraton

The hotel re-opened for business in July 2016

Tusitala part one

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My next stop was to visit our agent in Apia, Western Samoa.

Western Samoa consists of two main islands and several smaller islands.
The island called Upolu is the main island where the capital Apia is located and Faleolo airport and the airline code for this airport is APW, if you plan to visit.

map_of_samoa (2)

The distance from Faleolo airport to Apia is about 40 km (25 miles) and the trip took about 40 minutes.

Our agent was the Union Maritime Services and the agency generated about six or more courier shipments a day, which for a trading company on a small island was a lot – our agent was also the agent for cruise companies, bus tours and other shipping agencies, so generating outbound courier traffic was not a problem.

Our agent booked me in to Aggie Grey’s Hotel, which was a joy for me having read about this lady.

1986The entrance to Aggie Grey’s Hotel when I arrived.

I was allocated a fale and I knew what a fale was, and wondered how private it would be  . . 

samoan-fale-in-amanave

The above is a fale – or house without walls – but I need not have worried because I was shown to a fale near the pool at Aggie Grey’s.

Fale

The fale that I was allocated looked something like this, it had a bed that was on a raised area, like a stage, above the rest of the floor and I looked down on the sitting area.

river

I later found out that because the hotel was located alongside the Vaisigano River, which had a tendance to flood in heavy rain – hence the raised bedded area.

My fale had an air-conditioning unit above the sitting area, a little noisy, but I soon got used to the sound, which was preferable to the humidity at night.   

When I stepped out of my fale I had this to look forward to . . 

pool

The dining room was tropical with a difference compared to other Pacific Islands that I’d visited – in Aggies a huge amount of tropical fruit was available.
Large ceiling fans kept the dining area cool, and I was never bothered with flies or insects.

apwsi-walkway-2809-hor-clsc-Copy
As I walked along the pathway to the dining room bananas hanging from the support poles were available – I could help myself as I walked – the bananas were not very large just over a mouthful, but they had a very pleasant taste.

Musa-Ice-Cream-HARDY-BANANA-PLANT-Tasty-Fruit

From memory they were called apple bananas.

The above picture is how the walkway looks today, but not all that different than in 1987. 

In the evening being a lone travel, I always have a book with me but instead of being shown to a single table I was ushered to a table with four or five others and introduced by the head waiter.
It turned out that we were all lone travellers wondering around the Pacific Islands on behalf of our companies, and later in my trip I did meet some of my dining companions in other locations.

At the end of the meal a bottle of port was placed in the middle of the table with the compliments of Aggie’s Hotel, a nice gesture that helped the chat amongst strangers.

A little about Aggie – her father was an English man, William J. Swann, who was born in England in 1859 and while he was a boy his family moved to New Zealand. At seventeen he was sent back to England to study medicine. He was home sick but bright, and passed his exams to become a chemist, like his father.

The Swann family moved to Fiji in 1867 where William concentrated on tropical diseases and later became a ship’s apothecary that traded around the Pacific islands. After some years he gave up the sea and decided to settle in Apia in Samoa and opened a business as a chemist. 

In 1891 Swann courted and married Pele the daughter of a local chief. The wedding was a great time for feasting and celebration. 

At the wedding was an honoured guest of the bridegroom, Robert Louis Stevenson, who had arrived in Apia in December 1889 and loved the place so much that he bought land just outside Apia, which became Vailima estate.

R L Stev

Robert Louis Stevenson 

R.L Stevenson became known in Samoa as Tusitala, which means ‘writer of stories’ in Samoan. 
1890.Vailima.Samoa_

Robert Louis Stevenson’s house Vailima in 1890 – he died 3rd December 1894.

Swann and Stevenson became very good friends, and they would often dine at a particular Chinese ‘shanty’ restaurant near the water’s edge. This place was owned by Kai Sue who used to talk about his time with Bully Hayes who was a well-known ‘black birder’ and shady character.
Bully Hayes had Shanghaied Kai Sue because he needed a cook aboard his schooner. Hayes kept Kai Sue on his ship for over two years.   

220px-Only_known_photograph_of_William_Henry_Bully_Hayes

The above picture is of “Bully” Hayes aka William Henry Hayes and is dated 1863 – it is believed that another ship’s cook in 1877, after being threatened by Bully Hayes, shot him and threw him overboard. Nobody was concerned about his death.
If anyone is interested in ‘Blackbirding’& ‘Bully’ check out a book called ‘Cannibal Cargoes’ by Hector Holthouse.

Back to the Swann’s children – their first child was Maggie, who was born in 1893, their second child was Agnes Genevieve born in October 1897, and their third child, Mary was born 1899. 

Protestant-Church-Apia

In 1917 Aggie married Gordon Hay-Mackenzie, a New Zealander who was the manager for the Union Steam Ship Company in Samoa.

They had three services on their wedding day – a church service at the Protestant church, a service so that they were married under New Zealand law, and finally a service so as to be married under Samoan law.

As you see the church is quite famous and has adorned a stamp for 50 sene, which means 50 cents.
A Samoan Tala (ST) or dollar at today’s rate of ST 1 = about $0.50 AUD 0r $0.36 USD.
In 1918, during the global flu epidemic, Aggie boarded the Talune for the voyage back to Apia after visiting New Zealand.

eight_col_Talune S.S Talune

The passengers onboard feared the disease as did Aggie, but she became ill during the voyage and nearly died.
Once the passengers left the ship in Apia the flu spread far and wide. The Samoans did not have resistance to this disease and thousands died. Fortunately, Aggie survived. 

To put it in perspective, during the flu epidemic in 1918, Europe lost 1.1 % of their population, but in Samoa 90% of the population were affected and 30% of adult men, 22% of adult women, and 10% of children died.

Robert-Logan-reading-proclamation-of-occupation-in-Samoa-August-30-1914

Colonel Robert Logan

Colonel Robert Logan was the New Zealand Administrator for Samoa having held the position since the outbreak of war in 1914.
He did not have enough people to help bury the dead from the epidemic.
Many were cremated, but the Samoan Islanders were not keen on this so the Colonel gathered Solomon Islanders and Germans who were still in Samoa after WWI to dig a large pit to bury the dead.
The Solomon Islanders were then told to find the dead and to place the bodies in the pit.
To sweeten the unpleasantness for the Solomon islanders the Colonel gave each worker two ‘nobblers’ of whisky, which is about 10 fluid ounces or just under a half of today’s standard bottle of whisky!  

They had just about filled one pit and had found a Chinese man in a fale stretched out, so they picked him up and placed him in the pit.
The Solomon Islanders began to scatter lime across the bodies when the Chinese man came back to life (he had been asleep) and ran off.
The islanders chased the man shouting that the doctor had said he was dead, so he must be dead, so stop running so that we can bury you properly.

Thankfully due to the ‘nobblers’ they soon tired of chasing the ‘dead’ Chinese man.   

In 1925 Aggie’s husband Gordon Hay-Mackenzie became ill with tuberculosis and went to New Zealand in the hope of a cure, unfortunately he died soon after arriving in New Zealand.

Age 12 cropAggie in 1912 

 

 

 

In the footsteps of Capt. Cook & Bligh.

HMS_BOUNTY_II_with_Full_Sails

1960 reconstruction of HMS Bounty

Being in charge of the our Pacific agent network, I had to visit Tahiti of course . . well, someone had to do this difficult task!

Tahiti was originally called Otaheite, and once again it is thought the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the islands in 1606, but others consider it was the Spanish.
In 1767 the British arrived and in 1768 it was the turn of the French.
In 1769 Captain Cook arrived to observe the transit of Venus, and in 1788 Captain Bligh arrived in the Bounty.
Capt. Bligh’s orders were to take breadfruit from Tahiti to be transplanted in the West Indies to feed the plantation slaves.

Transplanting_of_the_bread-fruit_trees_from_Otaheite,_1796,_UMKC

Painting by Thomas Gosse of Captain Bligh transplanting breadfruit.

breadfruit-variety

Breadfruit

Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward Groupe of islands of the Society Islands and now the citizens of the islands are considered French citizens.

Soc Is

Our agent booked me in to a hotel near the capital, which is called Pape’ete (Papeete ). It was a very nice hotel, and the views were spectacular.

room2

room

Two views depending on whether you looked right or left or just right ahead. I took the above two from the hotel.

As you see the sand was a different colour than the normal yellow sand, because the island was formed by a volcano. The dark sand had the same consistency as yellow sand, and you did not get any dirtier than you do on a ‘yellow’ beach. 

black sand Tahiti also has black sand beaches.

Woodland SF

View from my room area.

office

The following morning, I was picked up from my hotel and taken to our agent’s office.
He was also the agent for Blue Star, Nedlloyd Shipping, China Nav. Co, Mitsue OSK Shipping, Nippon Yusen, Holland America Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Crystal Cruises, BHP, American Bureau of Shipping and a few that I cannot make out on the list on the left side of the main door. At least the company that I represented stood out on the right side of the main door.

Downtown

Downtown Papeete in 1991

Our agent was the perfect host, as soon as business was over, he took me to Le Retro in the heart of Papeete for coffee and a chat about life away from the office. I checked on the restaurant and it is still going strong thirty years later.

agent
Our agent is the gentleman in the centre, near the pillar.

There are experiences that stick in one’s mind for ever. During my stay in Tahiti, I was taken to a restaurant a short drive from Papeete . It was a fish restaurant called Restaurant Bar du Musee Gauguin – the restaurant is right on the water and outside one can see fish swimming in pens – all raw fish scraps are fed to these fish and they grow quite large before being added to the menu. The restaurant has been in business since 1968.

restaurant The above is the restaurant and you can just see the pens for the live fish – the food was excellent and ambiance just right with a cool breeze flowing through the restaurant creating a perfect tropical lunch. 

On my return to my hotel, I received an invitation from the hotel to attend a beachside evening dinner …. the hotel gave its guests the choice of dinner in the hotel or on the beach with a show.

Dance

Three guesses which one I picked . . 

Dance2

I was impressed with the way the dancers moved, it was if they had ball bearings for Hips . .click for an example of what I mean. The beat of the drums and the warm evening was a real pleasure to watch the skill of the dancers.

TH

Unlike Captain Bligh (Trever Howard) I was not asked to join the dancers. 

fire

The show was not all dancing, they had a fire ‘eater’ as well.

beach

Daylight after the beach show – you can see the stage and the foot lights. 

The following day would be my last day in Tahiti so our agent took me for a sightseeing tour of the island and later asked if I would like to have a look around the Wind Song, because he was the agent for Windstar Cruises and the Wind Song was in port. 

WindSong I jumped at the idea of having a look around MSY Wind Song 
MSY = Motor Sailing Yacht.

ws

She was larger than I expected.

ws01

and the controls on the bridge were very impressive. The sails were all computer controlled for hauling and changing the angle to catch the best of the wind.

morgenster_rigging

Perhaps the climbing of a mast would no longer be required.

The Wind Song was launched in 1987, but in 2002 she had a fire in the engine room, which required the passengers to take to the lifeboats at 3.15 one morning.
At 5.00 am they heard an explosion from the forward area of the ship and the captain order all of the crew to the lifeboats.

1280px-Windsong_fire

If you wish to read an eyewitness account of the evacuation (with pictures) click on this link. https://sites.google.com/site/windsongfire

The French navy towed the Wind Song to Papeete, but the damage to the ship was so bad that they realised that repairing the ship was greater than the ship’s value, plus the cost of towing her overseas to be scrapped was also too expensive.

In January 2003 on the orders of the President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia the Wind Song was towed to a spot between Tahiti and the island of Moorea and scuttled, and she is still there today at a depth of 9,843 feet (3,000 mtrs or 1640 fathoms).

The ship was owned by Holland America Cruise Line, which in turn is owned by Carnival Corporation.

The following day I flew back to Sydney with a promise to myself to return one day with Maureen. After all she likes fish restaurants.

Farewell

My final photograph as I left for the airport.

18,953 flying hours . .

52151

Eventually I was back at Funafuti airport waiting for the plane to Suva, which is the capital of Fiji.
Large international airlines use Nadi, but as my aircraft would be a propeller aircraft our destination would be Suva.

The airline that was supposed to fly us (fourteen passengers) failed to arrive, so a substitute had to be found –

A couple of things went through my mind when I saw the aircraft, such as Biggles & Indiana Jones.

Jones

The aircraft was built in 1956, 31 years before I was asked to board for a long flight over water to Fiji.
In 1957 this aircraft was flying for the Luftwaffe of West Germany, supposedly flying Chancellor Conrad Adenauer within West Germany.  

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The above photograph is thanks to Robin Walker 

In 1963 it was returned to the UK, and in 1964 was sold to Portugal to operate in Portuguese Guinea as part of their national airline. 

cr-gat

From Portuguese Guinea it was sold in 1970 to Connellan Airways of Alice Springs in Australia. It was registered to Connair after a company name change.

VH-CLW

In 1976 the aircrafts went to Kendell Airlines of Australia . . .

VH-CLW2

In 1980 it was leased to Executive Air Services of Australia

VH-CLW3

and in 1981 it was sold to Air Tungaru of Kiribati

VH-CLW4

and later, in 1984, sold to Sunflower Airlines of Fiji – the aircraft was named Belo Vula (White Heron) by Sunflower Airlines.
By this time the aircraft had flown for 18,953 hours and I was wondering if it was perhaps just a little too tired for the next leg of the journey.

sunflower

My chariot to Fiji.

The passengers seating was seven down the port side and seven down the starboard side with a small aisle in the middle. The crew consisted of a pilot and a co-pilot.
Forget the idea of any cabin crew, and the rear toilet was out of bounds due to access to the cubical being blocked by cargo and passenger bags.
The above picture shows the aircraft at Suva airport in Fiji, not the grass strip in Funafuti.

Once all on board we taxied out to the end of the grass runway. The door between the two pilots on the ‘flight deck’ and the passengers would not close and banged and banged as we trundled along the runway in the hope of gaining enough speed to lift off the ground. At last I felt the plane rise in to the clear blue sky.

The distance to Suva was 915 miles and our top speed was around 183 mph according to the manufacturer in 1956 . . . so we had five hours in hope that nothing would go wrong.

The noise of the engines killed all hope of conversation across the aisle, so I watched the pilots manhandling the joystick to keep the aircraft level in a slow climb. We never did get too high, and I found it fascinating to watch the ocean waves break the surface of the ocean not all that far below.
I believe the maximum height for this aircraft to fly at was 9000 feet when it was new- a normal jet flies at 36,000 feet, and I doubt that we reached our maximum 9000 feet on the way to Fiji.
The view below was something one did not normally see unless you were coming into land over water. The breaking waves accompanied us all the way to Fiji.

Two hours in to the flight the co-pilot came out of the flight deck and shouted that it is lunch time, and bends down to pull a cardboard box from under the seat of the first passenger. He then walks slowly down the aisle and hands to each passenger either a coca cola or a lemonade. None of the passengers were offered a choice.
I was handed a lemonade and was about to open it when the passenger across the aisle spoke to the co-pilot stating that he didn’t like coca cola. Immediately my lemonade was whisked from my grasp and replaced with a coca cola – the guy across aisle received my lemonade.

The co-pilot returned to the front of the plane and brought out another box from under the first seat on the other side of the aircraft. This was our lunch – plastic wrapped sandwiches – and he was not going to get into a conversation about likes or dislikes, because the sandwiches came through the air and the passenger who he was aiming at was expected to catch his lunch.

It was fortunate that we were only given one small drink because there was no way we could have climbed over the cargo to get to the lavatory.

In 1995 Sunflower Airlines became Sun Air & then Pacific Sun Airlines, and in the same year the aircraft was sold to Heron Airlines of Australia.

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Once in Australia it never flew again, and I found the above photograph of Belo Vula (White Heron) at Bankstown Airport not too far from where I live.
Later it was donated to the Australian Aviation Museum of Bankstown who later donated it to the Central Australian Aviation Museum in Alice Spring. The aircraft did not fly there but went on the back of a truck.
The above picture was taken in 2004.

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After two years of restoration the aircraft is a now a museum piece in the hanger from where she flew when owned by Connellan Airways of Alice Springs.
She is in the colours of Connair of the 1970’s.

The above photograph is from the web site of the Central Australian Aviation Museum in Alice Spring.

I wonder if Harrison Ford picked up a few ideas from a certain airline . . . fortunately we did not require a life raft.

Indiana . . . .

Ellice Island

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Ellice Is. gained independence from the UK on the 1st of October 1978 and anew country called Tuvalu was born.  Tuvalu means ‘eight standing together’ meaning the eight island & atolls that make up the country. There are nine islands, but at the time of independence, only eight islands were inhabited.

Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, the population of the island when I visited in 1987 was about 8,500, and the land mass of all of the islands is 26 sq Km (10 sq miles). They are a member of the Commonwealth and recognise Queen Elizabeth as the Queen of Tuvalu.

They do not have a military only a police force and a maritime surveillance vessel.
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    Guardian-class HMTSS Te Mataili II (Her/ His Majesty’s Tuvaluan State Ship) for search and rescue, a gift from Australia in 2019.

Funafuti is an atoll, and the capital of Tuvalu, and of the population 2000 of the 8500 live on this atoll. The country is not as wealthy as Kiribati.

I flew from Tarawa to Funafuti with Airline of the Marshall Island.

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I took the above picture after I left the aircraft after a three-and-a-half hour flight from Tarawa.
The aircraft is a HS748, which first flew in June 1960!
It was a memorable flight because as we approached Funafuti to land the door between the flight deck and the passengers flew open. From my seat I was able to watch a very low island come clearer.
It was then that I realised that we were going to land on a grass strip, which at the time was being used as a football pitch by two teams and a large number of spectators.
As we got closer, I saw one of the players pick up the ball and run to the touchline to watch us land.

The aircraft came to a halt near a concrete structure – the arrival terminus.

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Local people milled around on both sides of the ‘security area’, some helping to unload the cargo from the plane, others had just come to see what was happening as part of the day’s entertainment. The sun was hot and nobody moved at any great pace – I was on island time, and I should relax.003

I was the only passenger to leave the aircraft, so I had the undivided attention of everyone.
An officer, in traditional island dress of sandals, and lungi tied at the waist, and a uniform shirt stood waiting at one side of a concrete table with a stamp and an ink pad. I was welcomed to Tuvalu and my passport was stamped.

Customs asked if I had anything to declare – I said No and was waved through the concrete area to a grass patch outside the open walled government building.

I anticipated that my business would not take more than a few hours, but due to flight schedules I was going to be ‘island bound’ over the weekend. I’d arrived on a Saturday and booked my onward ticket to Fiji for Monday.
I looked around for an airline employee to confirm my onward flight and found a young lady in a island skirt and an airline type blouse. I asked her if I could confirm my flight for Monday – she looked at me and asked if I was Woodland, the business man from Sydney?
I confirmed that I was, and she then told me that as I was the only person who wished to go to Fiji on Monday, they were not going to bring a plane in just for me – I was told to come back on Wednesday!

Tuvalu did not have a taxi service, so I started to walk to the hotel, which fortunately was only a couple of minutes from the ‘airport’.

vl2bThe Vaiaku Lagi Hotel, was government run and the only hotel on the island so I checked-in and was given a room overlooking the lagoon; it was air-conditioned!

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I doubt that this view would have changed much – this the view is across the lagoon from my room.

Later I found out that most of the rooms did not have air-conditioning, which would be a problem for Europeans.
The only other guest was a Japanese merchant seaman waiting for his ship to return. He’d been put ashore for medical treatment.
He couldn’t speak English, and most of my Japanese, picked up during my time on the Japanese coast, had faded into history. He did teach me how to play Othello and I liked it so much that I bought the game for my children on my return to Sydney.

Othello

The person I was to meet was on another island and would not be back until the following morning.

After unpacking my few things I made my way to the bar and asked the barman, who was also the  check-in / doorman / waiter and I am not sure what else, what type of cold beer did the hotel stock. ‘We have Fosters’ was the reply – ‘What other kind of beer?’ I asked not being a great fan of Fosters beer.jpg – ‘We have Fosters’ was his reply at which point he opened the door of a very large walk-in fridge behind the counter, allowing me to see that the fridge was stacked high with cartons of Fosters beer and nothing else. ‘I’ll have a Fosters!’ I said with a smile on my face.
‘Supply ship just unloaded the other day, plenty of Fosters’ was his comment while pouring the glass of cold beer. At times like this, Foster’s was the nectar of the Gods.

In the evening I decided to stay in the hotel for my evening meal. The hotel didn’t have a menu, the Japanese and I were asked what we would like to eat.

I asked what the choice was and was told fish or meat. I asked if the fish was fresh and was told that it had arrived in the morning, so I chose the fish. The meat on offer was a mixture of chicken (locally grown) and meat from Australia, which was expensive.

I asked for salad with the fish and was told that they didn’t have any, just vegetables – so I ordered the vegetables which, when they arrived turned out to be from a tin – I was hoping in such a lush climate to have fresh vegetables. Let’s say it was a disappointment.
I asked if they had any cold white wine to go with the fish – ‘We have Fosters’ was the reply.

Later in the evening while listening to the radio in the bar, I heard the news, and included in the news was the fact that a businessman from Sydney had arrived that afternoon. Was this my fifteen minutes of fame, or was the radio station hard up to fill broadcasting time?

I completed my business the following morning and decided after lunch to have a look around Funafuti.

Knowing that there wouldn’t be any aircraft landing between Saturday afternoon and Wednesday and noticing that the immigration and customs posted had been abandoned, I walked across the football pitch, come runway, to the other side of the island. I passed huts inside a fenced area and wondered what this area was because the gate was wide open.

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It was later when I found out that the gated area was the local prison. The above picture is a recent photograph. I did ask why the gate was open and was told – ‘Where are the prisoners going to escape to?’. . .

On reaching the water’s edge (the opposite side of the island from the lagoon) I watched Pacific Ocean rollers charging towards the little island and smashing their way on to huge man-made blocks, which dissipated their energy. I was grateful for the blocks, because the highest point on the island was only 4.5 mtrs (15 feet) above sea level.

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Everything shut down late Saturday and the only entertainment for me was sitting in the hotel bar with a book and the occasional game of Othello. Trying to get through to Sydney by phone, to keep them informed of my movements, helped pass the time. The fact that they had no idea that I was not lying on a beach in a fancy beach side resort somewhere in the tropics, didn’t help matters.

Sunday was a drag but there was a small distraction when the flight that I had arrived on transited Funafuti (the airline code being FUN!) on its way back to the Marshall Islands. The travel shop was open as was the basket shop for transit passengers . . . . I borrowed an umbrella due to the heavy rain any distraction was valuable.
Monday arrived and the post office opened at 10.00 am because I was interested in stamps, and at that time I collected stamps from certain Pacific Islands. It turned out that philatelists are one of the best contributors to the Tuvaluan economy, along with cash sent home by Tuvaluan seaman working on foreign ships.
The next thing I did was join the Tuvaluan library, and I think I might still be a member

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The enforced rest can be a strain knowing that all your plans have been shot to pieces and communication with the outside world was difficult.
E-mailing was still in the future, as was the mobile phone.

But overall I enjoyed my enforced rest in Tuvalu, because it was completely different place than anywhere else that I had visited.

Tarawa

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Two days after Pearl Harbour the Japanese attacked and captured Tarawa in December 1941.

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The island became a fortress, buildings were knocked down and all the palm trees removed. The local population became slaves and were forced to create bunkers, an airstrip and concrete structures with metal spikes concreted into the coral reefs around the atoll, all fishing boats were destroyed along with any other form of boat or canoe etc .
Once everything was completed the local population were forced to leave the atoll and they had to walk up to 25 miles across coral reefs to the northern area of the atoll.
During my trip to Tarawa in the 1980’s I saw eight-inch guns still point out to sea. I was told (not by locals) that the guns had been removed from Singapore, after the fall of that island, and transported to the Pacific to defend Tarawa. Later I read that the Imperial War Museum in London stated that Singapore didn’t have any eight inch guns for the Japanese to capture, so they couldn’t have been transferred to Tarawa from Singapore.
They were in fact manufactured in Britain for a contract to supply eight inch and twelve inch guns to the Japanese navy for the Japan – Russian war of 1904-1905.
The Tarawa defensive guns appear to have been part of this contract.

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The Japanese airstrip when I visited Tarawa. The trees had returned, but the actual landing strip was causing problems for even the grass to grow.

Tarawa was the most heavily defended atoll that the Americans would attack in WW2.
The Americans had to estimate how many troops were defending the atoll. The best guess was about 3100 men, which was reasonably accurate, considering that they were unable to send in reconnaissance units to obtain a more accurate number. The Americans realised from aerial photographs, that the Japanese built their latrines over water, in multi-holed wooden buildings. By counting the number of latrines, they worked out the relationship between the number of backsides to a latrine and estimated 3100 troops!

The Japanese commander (Admiral Shibazaki) said that the Americans could not take Tarawa with a million men in a hundred years.
With 100 pillboxes, concrete bunkers, anti-aircraft guns, coral shallow reefs ring with barbed wire and mines plus entrenched machine guns manned by 4500 Japanese troops, it is not surprising that the Japanese commander made such a comment.

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Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazaki (9th April 1894-20 November 1943)  

When the Americans arrived off Tarawa and sent off the first wave of troops there were problems – the tide was lower than expected and some of the landing craft and amphibious tanks became stuck on coral reefs within range of the Japanese’s guns. Some of the invading troops left the ‘security’ of the landing craft and waded hundreds of yards to the beach under constant fire from the Japanese. 

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As I walked along the shoreline, I could see the remains of landing craft and aircraft at low tide. It was during the 20th to the 23rd of November 1943 that the Battle of Tarawa was fought between the Americans and the Japanese.

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I walked out to the remains and looking back at the beach and thought  is it any wonder the Americans lost so many. On the third day of the battle the tide was higher, which allowed destroyers to get close in and pinpoint the enemy.

The battle lasted 76 hours and in the final hours the Japanese launched a banzai attack. When the battle finished of the 4500 Japanese defenders only 17 remained alive.

The Americans lost more than 1113 dead and 2290 wounded of their 18,000 attacking force in the three day-battle.
They lost nearly as many killed-in-action during the three days of the battle for Tarawa, as they lost in six months when taking Guadalcanal Island. 

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Inside a Japanese pillbox near the beach.

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Japanese HQ

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The above pictures show the Japanese HQ building with shell and machine gun damage, which when I visited was being used a simple squash court.

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What the area looked like on the 24th of November 1943, the day after the battle.
I walked along the same beach 44 years later – Tarawa Atoll (the area in question) is 3.2 km (2 miles) long and the narrow bit is 730 mts (800 yards) at the widest point.  
The link below is a six-minute piece of colour film of the landing.

The landing





Gilbert Islands

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In 1788 Thomas Gilbert was the Captain of the Charlotte, which had sailed to Australia as part of the first fleet carrying convicts.
After discharging his convict passengers Captain Gilbert sailed for China and passed through a group of islands that we now know as The Gilbert Islands.
He made sketches of the islands and named Tarawa (marked with green above), Mathew Island after the owner of his ship. He also named the large lagoon Charlotte Bay after his ship. Fortunately his sketches have survived.

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The lagoon . . .a beautiful spot.


He did obtain a cargo for the East India Company and sailed back to England.

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South of Nauru you can see an island called Kiribati, which is the new name for Gilbert Island. Kiribati (pro Ki-ri-bass), which is how they pronounced Gilbert in their own language (Gilbertese). 

Kiribati consists of a thirty-three islands with a land mass of 803 sq km (310 sq miles) but spread across 5,180,000 sq km (2million square miles) of ocean. Tarawa, the atoll where I landed, is 208 km (80 miles) north of the Equator, which was home to about 2000 people, or one third of the total population of Kiribati.
Of this total, about 300 were Europeans mainly British, Australian & Kiwis mostly employed as ‘advisors’.
The people were big in to ‘Manyana’, but done very politely.  

The height of the land above the sea was about 2.5 mtrs (8 feet), fortunately the weather was fine.   

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Tarawa airport 001

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Tarawa arrival Hall was quiet . . . 

The flight from Nauru was not a long flight but when I stepped out of the aircraft the heat hit me. Above is the passenger terminal and arrival hall, where I was met by our agent Kenton, who was the British Government advisor to the Kiribati Co-Op Wholesale Society, thankfully shortened to KCWS, but known locally as K-C.
He took me to a hotel in Batio, (pro Bay-she-oh), which is the capital on the main atoll of Tarawa.

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My hotel is the green building.

Room

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After the empty suite in Nauru my room in Batio was small . . . . the white door with the red knob was the bathroom door.

I switched on the air-conditioning unit in the hope that it would cool the place down – the agent and I had agreed that he would show me around in the morning – he said that it would be cooler. I only hoped that I would not fade away with heat stroke in the meantime.

I tried to cool off in the shower, but the water pressure was not all the at good, so I sat in the bar, which was the coolest place in the hotel. At that time, they did not have their own beer but imported Australian beer, I did not care as long as it was cold.

Reception 001

The drinks were cold, and the people were friendly, and the tuna fish was fresh.
During one conversation when ordering a beer I did ask about the strange patterns on the wooden floor. Apparently, they were ‘argument’ patterns – a few beers and a wrong word and it was fight time with bottles and knives.

They did not have TV and the radio only broadcast for three hours a day.

I went to bed early.

Next morning at breakfast I picked up the menu – it was the same one from the previous evening. I realised that the menu was not for choosing anything, but to read and be aware of what you might not receive, because the food was reliant on what had arrived from Australia or New Zealand in the last week or so. The one thing that was super fresh was the fish, all locally caught, but most other foods came from overseas.

I commented to the young lady who wanted to know what I wanted for breakfast, that the pattern had changed on the floorboards. She shrugged and said, ‘They fight’, and then asked what I would like for breakfast as if the blood stains were normal, which I suppose they were.

I asked for black coffee, toast, and marmalade.
‘Marmalade is Off’ she said.
‘What kind of jam do you have’, I asked.
‘We have jam jam and we have marmalade jam.’
‘I would like toast and marmalade jam, please.’
‘OK’ she said, everything was very proper and it was hard to keep a straight face.

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Kenton arrived on time and I was given the Cook’s tour of the atoll.

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It was a mixture of traditional and modern, but interesting and as English is the national language I could ask as many questions as I liked.

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Near the old WW2 airstrip, I was shown a local cemetery. The depth of the soil is very shallow and to mark a grave they would use old beer bottles.
beer bottlesAbove is a closeup of one of the graves. office

KC imported basic foods and general items, mainly by sea, and then they would supply the various shop who were members of the Co-Operative.  

I knew that our agent would not survive on our traffic alone – it was just a sideline for him – but it was a pleasure to see our company name SKYPAK displayed prominently, and he wanted more stickers & signs.
The people in the above picture worked for KC.

The main problem that I had was communicating with Kiribati from Sydney – Kiribati was not linked via ISD so if I wished to speak to Kenton I had to go through an operator. . . which sometimes was very time consuming. 

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The flag of Kiribati

The flag of Kiribati is red in the upper half with a gold frigate flying over a gold rising sun, and the lower half is blue with three horizontal wavy white stripes to represent the ocean and the three island groups, Gilbert, Phoenix and Line Islands.
The 17 rays of the sun represent the 16 Gilbert Islands and Banaba Island, which used to be called Ocean Island.

Next stop Ellice Is. now called Tuvalu = Eight standing together . . . 

 

Nauru

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The red symbol is Nauru

Air Nauru

My next trip was to review our delivery agency in Nauru and two other Pacific Islands.

To get to the other two islands I had to travel via Nauru, which under normal circumstances would not be a problem except that the Air Nauru service from Australia to Nauru was ‘intermittent’.
One of the problems being that if the President of Nauru wished to visit another country he would ‘borrow’ an Air Nauru aircraft, which was a problem for the airline because they only had three B737/200’s with the capacity to fly to Australia. Allowing for maintenance and the service to Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney the removal of an aircraft to satisfy the President created a huge problem.
In 1983 they had two B727s and five B737/200’s so Air Nauru at that time, had enough seating capacity to carry 10% of the total population of Nauru.
The size of the population at the time was about 8000, living on an island that is 21 sq km (eight square miles).

Nauru-map

The country of Nauru became the 187th member of the UN in 1999 and is the smallest island nation in the world and the third smallest country, after the Vatican & Monaco. Nauru is also in the Commonwealth.

The country has been inhabited for about 3000 years, the people arriving from Polynesia and Micronesia.

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There are three main cultural areas in the Pacific – Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia.  

Nauru’s first contact with Europeans was in 1798 when the British whaling vessel Hunter called at the island and the captain of the Hunter was so impressed with the natives and the island that he named the island Pleasant Island. The island retained this name for ninety years until the Germans arrived and annexed the island in 1888.

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The flag of Nauru and the star has twelve points represent the original 12 tribes who lived on Pleasant Island.

The island was incorporated into German New Guinea and renamed Nawodo or Onawero. The island was a lush paradise at the time.

During a visit to the island by a cargo ship in 1896, the cargo officer found a strange looking rock that he thought was petrified wood. He picked up the rock and took it back to Sydney and used it as a door stop.

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The actual door stop

In 1899 Albert Ellis, who worked for the phosphate division of the same
company as the cargo officer, was visiting the Sydney office and saw the door stop and commented that it was phosphate, but the cargo officer insisted that it was wood.

Some weeks later Albert Ellis tested the ‘wooden’ rock and found that it was high grade phosphate. The discovery generated great interest and a company called Pacific Phosphate was created.

In 1906 the right to mine was obtained and after WW1 the right to mine was obtained by the British Phosphate Commission, which was created by the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

During WW1 Australia captured Nauru from Germany and mechanized the mining. 

The Japanese captured the island in WW2 and at the end of WW2 the UN put the island under trustee of the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

In 1968 Nauru gained independence and by 1968 one third of Nauru had been stripped mined.
The mining of phosphate by 1975 made the Nauruan people extraordinarily rich and only the people of Saudi Arabia were richer. The Royalties Trust for the Nauru people was worth over one Billion USD.
The government did not levy income tax, education was free, as was the health care and most people worked for the government – immigrants worked the mines.

The profits from the mining went into a trust fund for the people and they did invest profitably at times. In 1988 the Trust bought 600 acres (2.4 sq km) of land near Portland, Oregon and sold allotments to the locals to build their homes, once 75% of the allotments had been sold the homeowners took over control.

In 1977 Nauru Trust built Nauru House in Melbourne, 52 floors and 183 mtrs (600 feet) tall.

800px-Nauru_house     Nauru House, or 80 Collins Street Melbourne, which is still owned by the people of Nauru. It was the tallest building in Melbourne at the time, but only for a year.

When I arrived in Nauru in the 1980’s I was met by our agent who had booked me in to the best hotel, or so he said, and I had a suite.

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It was called Menen Hotel and at the time I think it was the only hotel, so the agent was not lying.

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The above two pictures are off the internet and were taken recently, but I do not see any change than when I was there 35 years ago – the pool is still empty.

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Part of my suite – the shirt over the stool is mine and the stools are at the bar.

st02The bar was dry as a bone, and you can just see the bedroom on the right.

During the night I was woken by a strange sound as if someone were scratching on the main door of the suite.
I went to investigate only to find large crabs in the hallway and a couple were scratching at my door trying to get in . . . I kicked them back from the door and saw quite a few ‘walking’ down the corridor. I shut the suite door quickly and tried to get back to sleep-crabs are not my favourite idea of a pet or as a meal. Continue reading “Nauru”