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Anna Naupa on Vanuatan heritage

Video clip synopsis – Ni-Vanuatu writer and historian Anna Naupa discusses different views of South Sea Islander labour trade history.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 3min 5sec
Tags - culture, heritage, Pacific region, Vanuatu, see all tags


Anna Naupa on Vanuatan heritage

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Anna Naupa was recorded for the Pacific Stories website produced in 2005.

Anna Naupa is a Ni-Vanuatu writer and historian.

Pacific Stories is a co-production between Film Australia’s National Interest Program and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Presented by Vika and Linda Bull, the project explores the geography, history and culture of the South Pacific.

Curriculum Focus


Geographic knowledge and understanding.

In Level 5 Geography, students investigate the characteristics of the Asia–Pacific region and have the opportunity to

  • Use the location aspects of Sugar Slaves to enhance their geospatial skills of scale, distance and region.
  • Enhance their appreciation of maps as a major tool.
  • Engage in the higher order thinking skills of reasoning and interpretation.
  • Actively engage with a number of key geographical concepts.

Other Links to VELS:

Physical, Personal and Social Learning
Interpersonal Development – working and learning in teams, values as social constructs, resolving conflicts
Personal Learning – ethical considerations, manage own learning
Civic and Citizenship – Concept of democracy, personal identity, knowing rights and responsibilities as a citizen, human rights, social justice. This Digital Resource gives students the opportunity to explore Australia’s role within the neighbouring region and the world.

Interdisciplinary Learning
Opportunities for enhancing

  • Communication skills
  • ICT skills
  • Higher order thinking skills
This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Between 1863 and 1904 about 60,000 Pacific Islanders were transported to Queensland, where they toiled to create the sugar plantations of the far north. Some of these islanders moved there willingly on the promise of income, whilst others were kidnapped from their island homes. Pacific Islanders were ‘recruited’ from various islands including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu (then the New Hebrides) and the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia. This human trafficking is euphemistically known as ‘blackbirding’.

Anna Naupa gives her view of how ni-Vanuatu interact with Queensland South Sea Islanders of Vanuatuan heritage who travel to Vanuatu to retrace their lineage. She explains: ‘Everyone in Vanuatu can give a story about an ancestor who’s been blackbirded or labour-recruited — choose your term.’

Naupa explains how the period when ni-Vanuatu were transported to North Queensland — either voluntarily or against their will — is still fresh in the minds of many in Vanuatu because of oral tradition. There are stories about the kidnapping of labour as well as stories about people who wanted to leave freely. She also speaks about there being both good and bad plantations in Queensland.

Australian South Sea Islander associations help members to connect with distant relations in Vanuatu and every year people travel to Vanuatu to explore their connections. People from Vanuatu visit Australia often as guests of Australian South Sea Islander associations, which promote opportunities for members to learn about their cultural heritage.

According to Naupa, people in Vanuatu are very welcoming to Australian South Sea Islanders who visit Vanuatu to reconnect with their heritage because they are often long lost relatives. She recounts an example from her own family of an eighty year old woman from Queensland who was trying to retrace her heritage before she died and who knew she was from the village of Erromango in Vanuatu.

‘She went down to Erromango trying to find people, and when she met my great
aunts, they cried and cried because she looked exactly like one of their dead sisters. And they had not known that she existed, and she was almost their age too. So you know it’s like piecing together a cultural puzzle for this region, and it’s very touching.’

*Ni-Vanuatu are people of Melanesian background who live in Vanuatu.

Classroom Activities

  1. Discuss with the class if any one has been to/or knows where Vanuatu is located. Using an atlas or world map locate Vanuatu and calculate the distance from Melbourne, the comparative sizes of Vanuatu and Australia and the major geographic differences, for example, landforms, population, vegetation, climate and latitude.
  2. In small groups, use a web search to examine the many websites about Vanuatu, presenting some findings on different geographical aspects (for example, demographic distribution, climate, environmental issues, tourism) to the rest of the class.
  3. Using information from the video clip and your investigations about the major geographic features of Vanuatu in activity 2, what global and environmental challenges do you see facing the region?
  4. Create a travel brochure for potential tourists to Vanuatu.

Further Resources


Go to Pacific Stories Learning for Interactive Compass Map with facts about the Pacific region.

For interview transcripts, books and references for this Digital Resource go to Pacific Stories, choose Sugar Slaves, select INDEX, and go to MORE INFORMATION.