Tom Christian, Descendant of Bounty Mutineer, Dies at 77

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Oceania on 2013-08-24 23:02Z by Steven

Tom Christian, Descendant of Bounty Mutineer, Dies at 77

The New York Times

Margalit Fox

Tom Christian, known as the Voice of Pitcairn for his half-century-long role in keeping his tiny South Pacific island, famed as the refuge of the Bounty mutineers, connected to the world, died at his home there on July 7. Mr. Christian, Pitcairn’s chief radio officer and a great-great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian, the mutiny’s leader, was 77.

With his death, Pitcairn’s permanent population stands at 51.

The cause was complications of a recent stroke, his daughter Jacqueline Christian said.

Though Mr. Christian was the world’s best-known contemporary Pitcairner, word of his death — reported in the July issue of The Pitcairn Miscellany, the island’s monthly newsletter — reached a broad audience only this week, when it appeared in newspapers in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

“It takes awhile for news to get out,” Ms. Christian said by telephone from Pitcairn on Thursday…

…Britain’s only remaining territory in the Pacific, the Pitcairn archipelago lies roughly equidistant between Peru and New Zealand, about 3,300 miles from each. It comprises four small islands: Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno. Only Pitcairn Island, named for the sailor who sighted it from a British ship in 1767, is inhabited.

Pitcairn, settled by the mutineers and their Tahitian consorts in 1790, is a rocky speck of about two square miles. (Manhattan, by comparison, is about 24 square miles.) Most of its inhabitants are descended from the mutineers and the Tahitian women they brought with them

…Though Pitcairn today has some trappings of 21st-century technology — electricity 14 hours a day and a country code, .pn, on the Internet — it still maintains a striking degree of isolation. The island has no airstrip: it can be reached by flying to Tahiti and taking a once-a-week plane from there to Mangareva Island, in the Gambier Islands, followed by a two- to three-day sea voyage.

There are no automobiles on Pitcairn, and the island’s rocks and cliffs bear names redolent of long-ago tragedies: “Where Dan Fall,” “Where Minnie Off,” “Oh Dear.”…

Read the entire obituary here.

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