Honourable Samuel Manetoali. Photo credit: SIBC.

Honourable Samuel Manetoali. Photo credit: SIBC.

Blackbirding is an important part of Solomon Islands history says the Minister for Culture and Tourism, Samuel Manetoali.

Speaking yesterday to launch the Australian South Sea Islanders Exhibition in Honiara, Minister Manetoali said some Solomon Islanders may have had grandfathers who were taken to Queensland in Australia to work in the sugarcane plantations.

He also shared that his grandfather was one of the Solomon Islanders who was black birded to Queensland during the period.

“This blackbirding history is one of the important histories of Solomon Islands. Maybe most of us or some of us who are here we have our forefathers, maybe grandfathers who have been taken to work in the sugarcane plantations in Queensland. I for one myself my grandfather is one of them who have been in Queensland in the sugar plantation and fortunately he was sent back and he got married and I am one of his grandsons.”

The Tourism and Culture Minister also said blackbirding is a part of the Solomon Islands history that is not well understood and not recognised.

“The National Museum also realises that this particular chapter of our recent history as a nation is not well covered in the National School Curriculum. Hence, there exist very little understanding about the nature and history of Australian South Sea Islanders. So we feel it is our duty to tell the story so as to educate and inform the public particularly school students about the history of our people. As storytellers, the National Museum hopes to contribute to the development and education of society by connecting visitors and creating bonds between generations and to exhibit the part of our recent history that has been poorly understood and properly recognised by many.”

The Australian South Sea Islanders Exhibition is being hosted at the National Art Gallery.

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