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Number 54 • January 2017

The Chairman's Letter
by Tony Williams

As published in the January 2017 magazine

Welcome to the second edition of our new look magazine The Bounty, replacing the former UK Log.

I am pleased that members have approved our new meeting venue of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge in London Blackfriars and the Autumn meeting was held in their conference room which has a delightful panoramic view of the Thames.

Following the AGM, Jennifer Toombs delighted us with her display of sketches of stamps and artwork, in particular for the celebration of Bounty Day and the evacuation of the Pitcairners to Norfolk Island. As always, Jennifer’s drawings were exquisite and her professional talents are much admired and applauded by our Society.

In the afternoon, Austin Meares showed us his collection of historical photographs, portraits and stamps depicting scenes from the two penal settlements on Norfolk Island. Austin brought them to life with his impressive attention to historical detail and annotations. Austin’s informative presentations are a tribute to the amazing amount of hard work and careful research that goes into them.

At the meeting we also discussed how our plans to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Society in 2018 were progressing. A boat trip from Westminster to Greenwich followed by a special anniversary lunch is a favoured option, but we would always welcome any other ideas from members on how we can mark this memorable occasion.

I am pleased to report on recent promising developments regarding Pitcairn. I reported last time on the impending establishment of the 322,000 square mile Pitcairn Marine Reserve, the largest in the Pacific. The official legal declaration of the Reserve was made in September 2016, and is being supported by effective monitoring and policing through the use of satellite imaging technology and the “Wave Glider” system (as reported in the July 2016 edition of The Bounty) which deters illegal fishing boat activity.

Initiatives to further promote Pitcairn as a tourist destination have continued. A marketing company has been engaged as a representative office to develop tourism from Europe for adventurous travellers seeking a remote and pristine environment with endemic flora and the unique culture and history of Pitcairn. We wish them every success.

Developments on Norfolk Island have been less promising, particularly with the takeover of the Island by Australia and the imposition of direct rule against the majority of the Islanders wishes and their right to self determination.

In November I was able to meet again André Nobbs, the former chief minister of Norfolk Island, and Albert Buffet, President of the Council of Elders of the Island, who were in London to lobby for support for the Islanders. I was also privileged to be invited to Westminster to a meeting where a new All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs for Norfolk Island was set up. The Group is determined to highlight the injustice felt by the Islanders following Australia’s unilateral action and to become the UK’s political voice in support of their cause. An example which is close to us is that the Australian government has disbanded the Norfolk Island Post Office and has ordered that all stocks of the Island stamps be destroyed, which is a particularly worrying development for our Society’s keen philatelists. Other Norfolk Island institutions have also been closed down or marginalised and the Island’s cultural heritage and historical links (particularly to Pitcairn) could be under threat.

On a sad note, we were advised of the death in October of Barbara Kuchau, the Secretary of the USA Pitcairn Islands Study Group. Our President, Jennifer Toombs paid the following tribute in a letter to Vernon Kisling, the President of PISG:

“It was with the greatest sadness and shock that I heard about the passing of Barbara Kuchau last week: and I would, on behalf of our Society, offer our very sincerest condolences to everyone in the PISG. Barbara was a tremendous influence in the PISG, and not only a marvellous fount of knowledge in all matters Pitcairn, but a very warm, generous person too. I had only been emailing her just before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, and was assured that she was not in the direct line of fire; but I wonder if the stress had had a major effect on her. Barbara will indeed be very sorely missed, and her 'Pitcairn Trivia' in the US 'Log' will be much missed as well. Please pass on our sympathy and very good wishes to everyone, we have lost a truly lovely, warm friend.”

May I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year and whether it be for stamps, artifacts or other memorabilia, I wish you continued good collecting. I look forward to seeing many of you at our Spring meeting.