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Few people know that the Australian sugar industry was founded on the sweat of men and women enticed or kidnapped from the islands of the South Pacific. This trading in human traffic was known as 'blackbirding'. Between 1863 and 1904 about 60,000 islanders were transported to the colony of Queensland, where they toiled to create the sugar plantations. Then, after the introduction of the White Australia policy in 1901, most were deported. Descendants of these people form a unique community - the only substantial black migrant group in Australia. South Sea Islanders were officially recognised as a distinct ethnic community by the government in 1994.


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The great migration to the uninhabited Pacific Islands may have started from South China many thousands of years ago.

Small bands of people with basic rafts crossed the seas to what is now Indonesia and eventually began living on the island of Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

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New Guinea is the second largest island in the world, second to Greenland.

The first European contact with the coastal people was made by the Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses in 1526-27.

He named the island Ilhas dos Papuas - Island of the Fuzzy Hairs. The word 'Papua' is derived from a Malay word describing the frizzy Melanesian hair. 'New Guinea' was the name coined by the Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez who in 1545 noted the resemblance of the people to those he had earlier seen along the Guinea coast of Africa.

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The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago of around 170 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The population of Tonga was estimated at 112,422 in 2005 and is spread across 36 of its 170 islands. Most people live on the main island, Tongatapu. Settlement in Australia by Tongans is a fairly recent migration trend. According to 1996 census data the Tongan population in Australia is just over 9,000.

The image shows Melbourne-based singing siblings Linda and Vika Bull, two of Australia's most popular performers, whose mother is Tongan and father is Australian. Linda and Vika explore the rich diversity of their cultural heritage through their songs and creative life.

Learn more about Tonga at

For Digital Resources on Tonga click here
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In 1946, Bikinians evacuated their island home to make way for US bomb testing.

Over fifty years later, the people of Bikini Atoll remain scattered throughout the Marshall Islands and the world.

The money they have received from the United States government as compensation is not adequate to fund a full radiological clean up of the entire atoll and allow them to return home.

For Digital Resources on Bikini Atoll click here
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The recent forced relocation of people of the Carteret Islands by the Papua New Guinean government makes them the first climate change refugees in the region.

It was widely reported in November 2005 that these small islands had progressively become uninhabitable, with an estimate of their total submersion by 2015. The islanders are no longer able to grow food, as the soil has become saturated with salt from rising ocean waters and storm surges.

These people are being relocated 4 hours by boat to the island of Bougainville.

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