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|Territory of Norfolk Island
|Anthem: God Save the Queen (official)
|Largest city||Burnt Pine|
|-||Chief Minister||David Buffett|
|-||Norfolk Island Act||1979|
|-||Total||34.6 km2 ( 227th)
13.3 sq mi
|Currency|| Australian dollar (
|Time zone||NFT (Norfolk Island Time) ( UTC+11:30)|
|Drives on the||left|
|ISO 3166 code||NF|
Norfolk Island ( / /; Norfuk: Norfuk Ailen) is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia (France), 1,412 kilometres (877 mi) directly east of mainland Evans Head, and about 900 kilometres (560 mi) from Lord Howe Island. The island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, but it enjoys a large degree of self-governance. Together with two neighbouring islands, it forms one of Australia's external territories.
Originally settled by East Polynesians, Norfolk Island was colonised by Britain as part of its settlement in Australia in 1788. It then served as a convict penal settlement until 1794, when it was abandoned until 1856, when permanent residence on the island for civilians began and it was settled from Pitcairn. In 1901, the island became a part of the Commonwealth of Australia which it has remained until this day.
The evergreen Norfolk Island pine is a symbol of the island and thus pictured on its flag (see illustration). Native to the island, the pine is a key export industry for Norfolk Island, being a popular ornamental tree on mainland Australia, where two related species grow, and also in Europe.
Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand or from the North Island of New Zealand. They arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing.
The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution. He named it after Mary Howard, Duchess of Norfolk (c. 1712 - 1773).
Sir John Call argued the advantages of Norfolk Island in that it was uninhabited and that flax grew there. In 1786 the British government included Norfolk Island as an auxiliary settlement, as proposed by John Call, in its plan for colonization of New South Wales. The decision to settle Norfolk Island was taken due to Empress Catherine II of Russia's decision to restrict sales of hemp. Practically all the hemp and flax required by the Royal Navy for cordage and sailcloth was imported from Russia.
When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of 15 convicts and seven free men to take control of Norfolk Island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788.
During the first year of the settlement, which was also called "Sydney" like its parent, more convicts and soldiers were sent to the island from New South Wales.
As early as 1794, Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales Francis Grose suggested its closure as a penal settlement, as it was too remote and difficult for shipping and too costly to maintain. The first group of people left in February 1805, and by 1808 only about 200 remained, forming a small settlement until the remnants were removed in 1813. A small party remained to slaughter stock and destroy all buildings, so that there would be no inducement for anyone, especially from other European powers, to visit and lay claim to the place. From 15 February 1814 to 6 June 1825 the island was abandoned.
In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send "the worst description of convicts". Its remoteness, previously seen as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of recalcitrant male prisoners. The convicts detained have long been assumed be a hardcore of recidivists, or 'doubly-convicted capital respites' - that is, men transported to Australia who committed fresh colonial crimes for which they were sentenced to death, and were spared the gallows on condition of life at Norfolk Island. However, a recent study has demonstrated, utilising a database of 6,458 Norfolk Island convicts, that the reality was somewhat different: more than half were detained at Norfolk Island without ever receiving a colonial conviction, and only 15% had been reprieved from a death sentence. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of convicts sent to Norfolk Island had committed non-violent property sentences, and the average length of detention was three years.
The second penal settlement began to be wound down by the British government after 1847, and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855. The island was abandoned because transportation from the United Kingdom to Van Diemen's Land had ceased in 1853, to be replaced by penal servitude in the UK.
On 8 June 1856, the next settlement began on Norfolk Island. These were the descendants of Tahitians and the HMS Bounty mutineers, along with Fletcher Christian. They resettled from the Pitcairn Islands, which had become too small for their growing population. They left Pitcairn Islands on 3 May 1856 and arrived with 194 persons on 8 June. The Pitcairners occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established traditional farming and whaling industries on the island. Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island's population continued to grow. They accepted additional settlers, who often arrived with whaling fleets.
In 1867, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England was established on the island. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from Norfolk Island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to the population of focus.
After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory. During World War II, the island became a key airbase and refuelling depot between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. Since Norfolk Island fell within New Zealand's area of responsibility it was garrisoned by a New Zealand Army unit known as N Force at a large Army camp which had the capacity to house a 1,500 strong force. N Force relieved a company of the Second Australian Imperial Force. The island proved too remote to come under attack during the war and N Force left the island in February 1944.
In 1979, Norfolk was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government that runs most of the island's affairs. As such, residents of Norfolk Island are not represented in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, making them the only group of residents of an Australian state or territory not represented there.
In 2006, a formal review process took place, in which the Australian government considered revising this model of government. The review was completed on 20 December 2006, when it was decided that there would be no changes in the governance of Norfolk Island.
Financial problems and a reduction in tourism led to Norfolk Island's administration appealing to the Australian federal government for assistance in 2010. As a result islanders will pay income tax for the first time but will be eligible for greater welfare benefits.
Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of the Australian mainland. Norfolk Island is the main island of the island group the territory encompasses and is located at. It has an area of 34.6 km² (13.3 mi²), with no large-scale internal bodies of water and 32 km of coastline. The island's highest point is Mount Bates (319 m above sea level), located in the northwest quadrant of the island. The majority of the terrain is suitable for farming and other agricultural uses. Phillip Island, the second largest island of the territory, is located at , seven kilometres south of the main island.
The coastline of Norfolk Island consists, to varying degrees, of cliff faces. A downward slope exists towards Slaughter Bay and Emily Bay, the site of the original colonial settlement of Kingston. There are no safe harbour facilities on Norfolk Island, with loading jetties existing at Kingston and Cascade Bay. All goods not domestically produced are brought in by ship, usually to Cascade Bay. Emily Bay, protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, is the only safe area for recreational swimming, although surfing waves can be found at Anson and Ball Bays.
The climate is subtropical and mild, with little seasonal differentiation. The island is the eroded remnant of a basaltic volcano active around 2.3 to 3 million years ago, with inland areas now consisting mainly of rolling plains. It forms the highest point on the Norfolk Ridge, part of the submerged continent Zealandia.
The area surrounding Mount Bates is preserved as the Norfolk Island National Park. The park, covering around 10% of the land of the island, contains remnants of the forests which originally covered the island, including stands of subtropical rainforest.
The park also includes the two smaller islands to the south of Norfolk Island, Nepean Island and Phillip Island. The vegetation of Phillip Island was devastated due to the introduction during the penal era of pest animals such as pigs and rabbits, giving it a red-brown colour as viewed from Norfolk; however, pest control and remediation work by park staff has recently brought some improvement to the Phillip Island environment.
The major settlement on Norfolk Island is Burnt Pine, located predominantly along Taylors Road, where the shopping centre, post office, liquor store, telephone exchange and community hall are located. Settlement also exists over much of the island, consisting largely of widely separated homesteads.
Government House, the official residence of the Administrator, is located on Quality Row in what was the penal settlement of Kingston. Other government buildings, including the court, Legislative Assembly and Administration, are also located there. Kingston's role is largely a ceremonial one, however, with most of the economic impetus coming from Burnt Pine.
Norfolk Island has a marine subtropical climate, which is best characterised as mild. The temperature almost never falls below 10 °C (50 °F) or rises above 26 °C (79 °F). The absolute maximum recorded temperature is 28.4 °C (83.1 °F), while the absolute minimum is 6.2 °C (43.2 °F). Average annual precipitation is 1,292.5 millimetres (50.89 in), with most rain falling from April to August. Other months receive significant amounts of precipitation as well.
|Climate data for Norfolk Island|
|Average high °C (°F)||24.5
|Average low °C (°F)||19.1
|Precipitation mm (inches)||87.2
|Avg. precipitation days||12||14||16||17||18||21||22||20||16||14||12||12||194|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||229.4||194.5||201.5||192.0||182.9||153.0||182.9||198.4||210.0||226.3||225.0||241.8||2,437.7|
|Source #1: Hong Kong Observatory,|
Norfolk Island has 174 native plants; 51 of them are endemic. At least 18 of the endemic species are rare or threatened. The Norfolk Island Palm ( Rhopalostylis baueri) and the Smooth Tree-fern ( Cyathea brownii), the tallest tree-fern in the world, are common in the Norfolk Island National Park but rare elsewhere on the island. Before European colonization, most of Norfolk Island was covered with subtropical rain forest, the canopy of which was made of Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) in exposed areas, and the palm Rhopalostylis baueri and tree ferns Cyathea brownii and C. australis in moister protected areas. The understory was thick with lianas and ferns covered the forest floor. Only one small tract (5 km²) of rainforest remains, which was declared as the Norfolk Island National Park in 1986.
This forest has been infested with several introduced plants. The cliffs and steep slopes of Mount Pitt supported a community of shrubs, herbaceous plants, and climbers. A few tracts of clifftop and seashore vegetation have been preserved. The rest of the island has been cleared for pasture and housing. Grazing and introduced weeds currently threaten the native flora, displacing it in some areas. In fact, there are more weed species than native species on Norfolk Island.
As a relatively small and isolated oceanic island, Norfolk has few land birds but a high degree of endemicity among them. Many of the endemic species and subspecies have become extinct as a result of massive clearance of the island’s native vegetation of subtropical rainforest for agriculture, hunting and persecution as agricultural pests. The birds have also suffered from the introduction of mammals such as rats, cats, pigs and goats, as well as from introduced competitors such as Common Blackbirds and Crimson Rosellas.
Extinctions include that of the endemic Norfolk Kākā and Norfolk Ground Dove along with endemic subspecies of pigeon, starling, triller, thrush and boobook owl, though the latter’s genes persist in a hybrid population descended from the last female. Other endemic birds are the White-chested White-eye, which may be extinct, the Norfolk Parakeet, the Norfolk Gerygone, the Slender-billed White-eye and endemic subspecies of the Pacific Robin and Golden Whistler.
The Norfolk Island Group is also home to breeding seabirds. The Providence Petrel was hunted to local extinction by the beginning of the 19th century, but has shown signs of returning to breed on Phillip Island. Other seabirds breeding there include the White-necked Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Australasian Gannet, Red-tailed Tropicbird and Grey Ternlet. The Sooty Tern (known locally as the Whale Bird) has traditionally been subject to seasonal egg harvesting by Norfolk Islanders.
Norfolk Island, with neighbouring Nepean Island, has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area because it supports the entire populations of White-chested and Slender-billed White-eyes, Norfolk Parakeets and Norfolk Gerygones, as well as over 1% of the world populations of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Red-tailed Tropicbirds. Nearby Phillip Island is treated as a separate IBA.
Norfolk Island also has a botanical garden, which is home to a sizeable variety of plant species . However, the island has only one native mammal, Gould's Wattled Bat (Chalinolobus gouldii). It is very rare, and may already be extinct on the island.
The population of Norfolk Island in the 2011 census was 2,302, which has declined since a high of 2,601 in 2001. 1,220 of the 2001 census night population were female, and 1,082 male. 78% of the population on census night were residents, with the remaining 22% visitors. 16% of the population were 14 years and under, 54% were 15 to 64 years and 24% were 65 years and over. The figures show an ageing population, with many people aged 20–34 having moved away from the island.
Most islanders are of either European-only (mostly British) or combined European- Tahitian ancestry, being descendants of the Bounty mutineers as well as more recent arrivals from Australia and New Zealand. About half of the islanders can trace their roots back to Pitcairn Island.
This common heritage has led to a limited number of surnames among the islanders — a limit constraining enough that the island's telephone directory also includes nicknames for many subscribers, such as Cane Toad, Dar Bizziebee, Lettuce Leaf, Goof, Paw Paw, Diddles, Rubber Duck, Carrots and Tarzan.
62% of islanders are Christians. After the death of the first chaplain Rev G.H. Nobbs in 1884, a Methodist church was formed and in 1891 a Seventh-day Adventist led by one of Nobbs' sons. Some unhappiness with G.H. Nobbs, the more organised and formal ritual of the Church of England service arising from the influence of the Melanesian Mission, decline in spirituality, the influence of visiting American whalers, literature sent by Christians overseas impressed by the Pitcairn story, and the adoption of Seventh-day Adventism by the descendants of the mutineers still on Pitcairn, all contributed to these developments. The Roman Catholic Church began work in 1957 and in the late 1990s a group left the former Methodist (then Uniting Church) and formed a charismatic fellowship. In 2011, 34% of the ordinary residents identified as Anglican, 13% as Uniting Church, 12% as Roman Catholic and 3% as Seventh-day Adventist. 9% were from other religions. 24% had no religion, and 7% did not state their religion. Typical ordinary congregations in any church do not exceed 30 local residents as of 2010. The three older denominations have good facilities. Ministers are usually short-term visitors.
Literacy is not recorded officially, but it can be assumed to be roughly at a par with Australia's literacy rate, as islanders attend a school which uses a New South Wales curriculum, before traditionally moving to the mainland for further study.
Islanders speak both English and a creole language known as Norfuk, a blend of 1700s English and Tahitian. The Norfuk language is decreasing in popularity as more tourists travel to the island and more young people leave for work and study reasons; however, there are efforts to keep it alive via dictionaries and the renaming of some tourist attractions to their Norfuk equivalents. In 2004 an act of the Norfolk Island Assembly made it a co-official language of the island. The act is long-titled: "An Act to recognise the Norfolk Island Language (Norf'k) as an official language of Norfolk Island." The "language known as 'Norf'k'" is described as the language "that is spoken by descendants of the first free settlers of Norfolk Island who were descendants of the settlers of Pitcairn Island". The act recognises and protects use of the language but does not require it; in official use, it must be accompanied by an accurate translation into English. 32% of the total population reported speaking a language other than English in the 2011 census, and just under three-quarters of the ordinarily resident population could speak Norfuk.
Emigration is growing as many islanders take advantage of the close ties between Norfolk and Australia and New Zealand. The sole school on the island provides education to Australian Year 12; therefore, any student seeking to complete tertiary study must travel overseas. Additionally, the small economy of the island causes many skilled workers to emigrate as well.
While there was no "indigenous" culture on the island at the time of settlement, the Tahitian influence of the Pitcairn settlers has resulted in some aspects of Polynesian culture being adapted to that of Norfolk, including the hula dance. Local cuisine also shows influences from the same region.
Islanders traditionally spend a lot of time outdoors, with fishing and other aquatic pursuits being common pastimes, an aspect which has become more noticeable as the island becomes more accessible to tourism. Most island families have at least one member involved in primary production in some form.
As all the Pitcairn settlers were related to each other, islanders have historically been informal both to each other and to visitors. The most noticeable aspect of this is the "Norfolk Wave", with drivers waving to each other (ranging from a wave using the entire arm through to a raised index finger from the steering wheel) as they pass.
Religious observance remains an important part of life for some islanders, particularly the older generations, but actual attendance is about 8% of the resident population plus some tourists. In the 2006 census 19.9% had no religion compared with 13.2% in 1996. Businesses are closed on Sundays.
One of the island's residents is the novelist Colleen McCullough, whose works include The Thorn Birds and the Masters of Rome series as well as Morgan's Run, set, in large part, on Norfolk Island.
Helen Reddy also moved to the island for a period but was denied a long term entry permit.
American novelist James A. Michener, who served in the United States Navy during World War II, set one of the chapters of his episodic novel Tales of the South Pacific on Norfolk Island.
The island is one of the few locations outside of North America to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.
Government and politics
Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance. The Norfolk Island Act 1979, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed. The Australian government maintains authority on the island through an Administrator, currently Neil Pope. A Legislative Assembly is elected by popular vote for a term of not more than three years, although legislation passed by the Australian Parliament can extend its laws to the territory at will, including the power to override any laws made by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly consists of nine seats, with electors casting nine equal votes, of which no more than four can be given to any individual candidate. It is a method of voting called a "weighted first past the post system". Four of the members of the Assembly form the Executive Council, which devises policy and acts as an advisory body to the Administrator. The current Chief Minister of Norfolk Island is David Buffett. Other ministers are Minister for Tourism, Industry and Development, Minister for Finance and Attorney-General and Minister for Community Services.
All seats are held by independent candidates. Norfolk Island has yet to embrace party politics. In 2007 a branch of the Australian Labor Party was formed on Norfolk Island, with the aim of reforming the system of government.
Residents of Norfolk Island are entitled to enrol in a mainland Australian division in a state to which they have a connection, or the Division of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, or for the Division of Solomon in the Northern Territory. Enrolment for Norfolk Islanders is not compulsory, but once enrolled they must vote.
In a move that apparently surprised many islanders the Chief Minister of Norfolk Island David Buffett announced on 6 November 2010 that the island would voluntarily surrender its self-governing status in return for a financial bailout from the federal government to cover significant debts.
The island's official capital is Kingston; it is, however, more a centre of government than a sizeable settlement. The largest settlement is at Burnt Pine.
The most important local holiday is Bounty Day, celebrated on 8 June, in memory of the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856.
Local ordinances and acts apply on the island, where most laws are based on the Australian legal system. Australian common law applies when not covered by either Australian or Norfolk Island law. Suffrage is universal at age eighteen.
As a territory of Australia, Norfolk Island does not have diplomatic representation abroad, or within the territory, and is also not a participant in any international organisations, other than sporting organisations.
The flag is three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centred in the slightly wider white band.
The exact status of Norfolk Island is controversial. Despite the island's status as a self-governing territory of Australia administered by the Attorney-General's Department, some islanders claim that it was actually granted independence at the time Queen Victoria granted permission to Pitcairn Islanders to re-settle on the island. These views have been repeatedly rejected by the Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, most recently in 2004, and were also rejected by the High Court of Australia in Berwick Limited v R R Gray Deputy Commissioner of Taxation.
Disagreements over the island's relationship with Australia were put in sharper relief by a 2006 review undertaken by the Australian government. Under the more radical of two models proposed in the review, the island's legislative assembly would have been reduced to the status of a local council. However, in December 2006, citing the "significant disruption" that changes to the governance would impose on the island's economy, the Australian government ended the review leaving the existing governance arrangements unaltered.
Immigration and citizenship
The island is subject to separate immigration controls from the remainder of the nation.
Australian citizens and residents from other parts of the nation do not have automatic right of residence on the island. Australian citizens must carry either a passport or a Document of Identity to travel to Norfolk Island. Citizens of all other nations must carry a passport to travel to Norfolk Island even if arriving from other parts of Australia. Holders of Australian visas who travel to Norfolk Island have departed the Australian Migration Zone. Unless they hold a multiple-entry visa, the visa will have ceased; in which case they will require another visa to re-enter mainland Australia.
Residency on Norfolk Island requires sponsorship by an existing resident of Norfolk Island or a business operating on the island. Temporary residency may also be granted to skilled workers necessary for the island's services (for example, medical, government and teaching staff).
Non-Australian citizens who are permanent residents of Norfolk Island may apply for Australian citizenship after meeting normal residence requirements and are eligible to take up residence in mainland Australia at any time through the use of a Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa. Children born on Norfolk Island are Australian citizens as specified by Australian nationality law.
Non-Australian citizens who are Australian permanent residents should be aware that during their stay on Norfolk Island they are "outside of Australia" for the purposes of the Migration Act. This means that not only will they need a still-valid migrant visa or Resident return visa to return from Norfolk Island to the mainland, but also the time spent in Norfolk Island will not be counted for satisfying the residence requirement for obtaining a Resident return visa in the future. On the other hand, as far as Australian nationality law is concerned, Norfolk Island is a part of Australia, and any time spent by an Australian permanent resident on Norfolk Island apparently would count as time spent in Australia for the purposes of applying for Australian citizenship.
Medicare does not cover Norfolk Island. All visitors to Norfolk Island, including Australians, are recommended to purchase travel insurance. Serious medical conditions are not treated on the island; rather, the patient is flown back to mainland Australia. Air charter transport can cost in the order of A$25,000. This lack of medical facilities has a major impact on the health care of Norfolk Islanders. Many older residents find it impossible to remain on the island when their health falters, many have to leave their homes and live in New Zealand or Australia to get medical care.
Defence and law enforcement
Defence is the responsibility of the Australian Defence Force. There are no active military installations or defence personnel on Norfolk Island. The Administrator may request the assistance of the Australian Defence Force if required.
Civilian law enforcement and community policing is provided by the Australian Federal Police. The normal deployment to the island is one sergeant and two constables. These are augmented by five local Special Members who have police powers but are not AFP employees.
Norfolk Island takes its own censuses, without dependence to those taken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which do not cover the island.
Australia Post sends and receives mail from Norfolk Island with the postcode 2899. However distribution is carried out by the Norfolk Island Postal Service. Consequently, stamps issued by Norfolk cannot be used in Australia, and those issued by Australia Post cannot be used on the island.
Economy and infrastructure
Tourism, the primary economic activity, has steadily increased over the years. As Norfolk Island prohibits the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables, most produce is grown locally. Beef is both produced locally and imported.
The Australian government controls the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) around Norfolk Island and territorial sea claims to three nautical miles (6 km) from the island. The exclusive economic zone provides the islanders with fish, its only major natural resource. Norfolk Island has no direct control over any marine areas but has an agreement with the Commonwealth through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to fish "recreationally" in a small section of the EEZ known locally as "the Box". While there is speculation that the zone may include oil and gas deposits this is not proven. There are no major arable lands or permanent farmlands, though about 25 per cent of the island is a permanent pasture. There is no irrigated land. The island uses the Australian dollar as its currency.
Residents of Norfolk Island do not pay Australian federal taxes, creating a tax haven for locals and visitors alike. Because there is no income tax, the island's legislative assembly raises money through an import duty, fuel levy, medicare levy, GST and local/international phone calls.
As of 2004, 2532 telephone main lines are in use, a mix of analog (2500) and digital (32) circuits. Satellite service is planned. There is one TV station featuring local programming Norfolk TV, plus transmitters for ABC TV, SBS TV, Imparja Television and Southern Cross Television. The Internet country code top-level domain ( ccTLD) is .nf.
There are no railways, waterways, ports or harbours on the island. Loading jetties are located at Kingston and Cascade, but ships cannot get close to either of them. When a supply ship arrives, it is emptied by whaleboats towed by launches, five tonnes at a time. Which jetty is used depends on the prevailing weather on the day. The jetty on the leeward side of the island is often used. If the wind changes significantly during unloading/loading, the ship will move around to the other side. Visitors often gather to watch the activity when a supply ship arrives.
There is one airport, Norfolk Island Airport. There are 80 kilometres (50 mi) of roads on the island (53 km paved, 27 km unpaved); however, local law gives cows the right of way.
On 20 November 2009, a Pel-Air IAI Westwind II aircraft ditched near Norfolk Island after being unable to land in bad weather and not having sufficient fuel to divert to another destination. All six passengers and crew were rescued from the sea.