'She imported Tommy Tanna' : an evaluation of media representations of the deportation of Pacific peoples from Australia in New Zealand and British newspapers c. 1880-1910 : a Master's thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Arts in History, Massey University

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The Pacific Island Labour Trade, most commonly called the “Blackbirding Trade” has been extensively studied both in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific. However, little research has been conducted on how New Zealand, British and Fijian newspapers discussed the 1901 Pacific Island Labourers Act, which was enacted by the Australian Government to deport those Pacific Islanders that came over during the “Blackbirding” era. This thesis examines what people were told about the deportation of Pacific Islanders from Queensland, their expulsion from sugar plantations and what happened to them during this time using newspaper articles published during the period under review. It argues that newspaper coverage of the deportations was generally positive because it was seen as a 'solution' on how to deal with non-white labour, an issue which was then topical in a number of colonies in the British Empire. It identifies three key themes in newspaper coverage. First, with regard to economic motivations it argues that to the extent there was criticism of the deportations, it related to concerns that it would compromise the economic development of Australia. These concerns, however, were countered by arguments that white labour could now work in sugar plantations and that improved technology had made Pacific Island labour unnecessary. With regard to humanitarian arguments against the deportations, it identifies a range of opinion among Churches. Some opposed the deportations on the grounds of the harm it may cause deportees, but other Church leaders argued deportees could be safely accommodated and that the deportation process may also aid the Christianisation of the Islands. Finally, it argues with regard to race that the deportations were framed as a desirable measure to uphold the position of white workers and that they were framed as one part of a wider 'coloured labour' issue in the British Empire.