Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, 29°05 south and 167°59 east, about 6,200 kilometres west south west of Pitcairn Island.
The island has a land area of 3,455 hectares, a surrounding rugged coastline of high cliffs fringed with the indigenous Norfolk Island pine trees (Araucaria heterophylla). The island’s volcanic history allows for a colourful display of layers of dark lava, separated by beds of turf and rock formed by compacted fine volcanic ash.
Excavations in recent years have confirmed that Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers who arrived in the 14th or 15th century. It is presumed that they originated from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand. Their disappearance as a settlement remains a mystery.
The first known European to sight Norfolk Island was Captain James Cook in HMS Resolution on 10 October 1774. Cook named the island after the Duchess of Norfolk. His party was lucky with the weather and landed at Duncombe Bay.
Four years later the French navigator, Jean-Francois La Perouse, in command of La Bousole and L’Astrolobe was unable to land and sailed off with the observation that Norfolk was fit only ‘for angels & eagles to reside in’.
As a result of Captain Cook’s report that Norfolk Island’s pines would make useful masts for the Royal Navy ships, a special detachment of free settlers and convicts were sent to take possession of Norfolk Island. The initial landing on the island was made by Lieutenant Philip Gidley King on 2 March 1788, with the rest of the party following on the southern side of the island on 6 March. The first British settlement in the Pacific was established. On 28 February 1814 the settlement was abandoned.
The Second Penal Settlement was established from 1825 – 1855. Norfolk Island was occupied as a place to send “the worst description of convicts”. Following reports that reached England of the harsh treatment inflicted on the Norfolk Island prisoners, the British Government decided once again to abandon the island.
On 8 June 1856 the descendants of the HMAV Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives arrived in Norfolk Island from Pitcairn Island. They held a Service of Thanksgiving for their safe arrival in the Commissariat Store building at Kingston. By an Order in Council on 24 June 1856, Norfolk Island was created a “distinct and separate settlement”.
These are our descendants of the Norfolk Islander community of today.