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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 - change and continuity, communities, 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


This Digital Resource can be used to achieve the following Outcomes:

P1 describes the interaction between persons, societies, cultures and environments across time
P3 describes cultural diversity and commonality within societies and cultures
P6 differentiates between, and applies, the methodologies of social and cultural research
P7 applies appropriate language and concepts associated with society and culture
P10 communicates information, ideas and issues using appropriate written, oral and graphic forms.

The key concepts to be integrated across The Social and Cultural World such as: COMMUNITY, GROUPS, SOCIALISATION, ACCULTURATION, CHANGE, CONTINIUITY, MICRO WORLD and so forth – fit well with this study.

Teachers have an opportunity to show students an example of qualitative research – i.e. the interview with Anna Naupu and discuss with them the advantages and disadvantages of this research methodology.

Teachers can also show how individuals and groups may go as far as traveling overseas to find out more about their cultural heritage and identity.

Teachers should determine if the actual research should be completed or if the exercise should end with planning /discussion. The classroom activities may be done in groups.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies 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. View the interview and consider:
    1. why the researcher selected this particular research methodology?
    2. the advantages and disadvantages of this method of research in this case?
  2. Using appropriate Society and Culture language and concepts, write down what you found out about Australian South Sea Islanders through the Anna Naupa interview (you may wish to view the clip again, jotting down notes as you go— in order do this successfully).
  3. Through research you are to find out more about the group of Australians described in the interview as Australian South Sea Islanders:
    1. Describe the process of social and cultural research you will embark upon in order to find out more about this group – e.g. “firstly I will clearly define the topic and break it into manageable sections”.
    2. Which research methodologies appropriate for this research topic will you use?
    3. What method/s will you use to communicate your findings to the class?
  4. List five sources of appropriate secondary information that you could use in your research.

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.