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Australian South Sea Islanders 1867-1908

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How to use the indexes

Since producing the index most if not all of the records listed have been digitised. To locate any corresponding digital images simply enter the Item ID from the index into the catalogue, ArchivesSearch.

Explanatory notes

  • the index has been alphabetically arranged by name
  • check all possible spelling variants as many names have been spelt phonetically in the original record
  • all given names are written or abbreviated as they appear in the original record
  • ? or … indicate difficulty in interpreting the handwriting
    - or a blank cell indicates that there is no information recorded in the original
  • please note that the majority of names have been capitalised
  • when searching for names please be aware that many individuals had their names changed by Government Agents and Recruiters [no references to the former family or tribal name may be found], spellings may be phonetic or anglicised.

Locating records on microfilm

  • Entries which have the Page/Ref as a word not a page number or year; the word reference is an abbreviation / full name of the Plantation owner or Labour hirer with whom individuals were contracted, e.g. BARBEL = Conrad Barbeler; CLAYT = Clayton; CRAN = Thomas CRAN.
  • Documents are arranged in alpha groupings of the Plantation owner or Labour hirer therefore you will find CRAN follows CORNWELL, e.g. CLARKE, CLAYTON, CORNWELL, CRAN etc.
  • Patience is required to locate a single document as they are not alphabetically arranged within each plantation owners group.

Costs and ordering

Since producing the index, most if not all of the records listed have been digitised. Therefore, prior to ordering a record enter the Item ID into the catalogue, ArchivesSearch, to locate any corresponding digital images. Copies of the digital images can be downloaded free of charge.

To order copies of a reference from this index, complete an index order form (PDF, 67KB). Include the name of the person, number or page number (where relevant), date, Item ID, microfilm number and the index part in which the reference is located (if relevant).

Refer to the Index category 1 charge on our Copying charges page for the cost per reference.

If you require further information, please contact us.


This index was compiled from a wide variety of sources including Immigration Department records, Inspectors of Pacific Islanders across Queensland, the Crown Solicitor’s Office and the Chief Secretary’s Department.

South Sea Islanders were first brought to Queensland for work in the cotton fields. However, by 1868 South Sea Islanders were mainly recruited to work on sugar plantations. They played a significant role in the development of this industry but also contributed to the development of farming, grazing and the maritime industry.

The first South Sea Islanders to arrive in Queensland were brought in the ‘Don Juan’ which arrived in the Brisbane River in August 1863. Between the years 1863 and 1904 an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 South Sea Islanders had entered Queensland. Recruited mainly from the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) and the Solomon Islands, the contribution of these South Sea Island labourers to the economic development of Queensland was an important one.

Rapid growth in recruitment numbers and the reports of abuse and kidnapping (“blackbirding”) by certain recruiters led to the introduction of the Polynesian Labourers Act of 1868. Soon after, the government introduced further legislation and amendments to legislation that aimed at specifying conditions of recruitment, indenture, deportation, repatriation etc.

Records held in the Queensland State Archives collection referring to South Sea Islanders include: recruitment, transportation and arrival in Queensland; registers of agreement; list of Pacific Island labourers; employment; payment and wages; education; legal issues; health and medical; deportation and repatriation; those who remained in Queensland after 1906; miscellaneous records and maps.

Please refer to the resource guide Australian South Sea Islander records (PDF, 117KB) for additional information.

List of sources

The Australian South Sea Islanders index was compiled from the following records held within Queensland State Archives' collection:

  • Log books written by the Government Agents accompanying the recruiting vessels Ceara Heath and Lizzie [QSA Item ID 7866, Legal papers, c1/1/1884-c31/12/1884]
  • List of Pacific Island Labourers [QSA Item ID 18598, Register - Pacific Islanders, c1/12/1865-c31/1/1904]
  • Register of Pacific Islanders [QSA Item ID 18681, Register - Pacific Islanders, c1/1/1870-c31/12/1903]
  • Register of rations issued to immigrants, Maryborough [QSA Item ID 18418, Register - government relief, 18/11/1875-c31/8/1882]
  • Records of wages paid to Pacific Islanders [QSA Series ID 7752, Ledgers, Pacific Islanders' Wages, 3/2/1896-10/1/1907]
  • Register of Pacific Islander ships' arrivals at Maryborough [QSA Item ID 18829, Register - ships, Pacific Islanders',  passage, 9/3/1869-26/3/1877]
  • Registers of Pacific Islanders, agreements with employers, and plantations where employed [QSA Series ID 13184, Registers of Agreements, c1/6/1877-c31/10/1903]
  • Queensland government agreement forms setting out conditions of employment of Pacific Island labourers [QSA Series ID 13175, Memoranda of Agreements re Employment of Pacific Islanders, c1/1/1877-c31/12/1906]
  • Register of Pacific Islander labourers exempt from the provision of clauses 3, 4, and 10 of the "Pacific Island Labourers Act 1880 Amendment Act 1884" [QSA Item ID 18836, Register - Pacific Islanders, 7/5/1884-c31/12/1885]
  • Receipts for return passages of Polynesian (Pacific Island) labourers [QSA Item ID 18854, Receipts - cash, 3/1/1890-c31/5/1904]
  • Book of copies (on stubs) of telegrams sent by the Inspector of Pacific Islanders, Maryborough (also as Assistant Immigration Agent, Maryborough) [QSA Item ID 18871, Correspondence - outwards, 12/3/1901-1/5/1902]
  • Memoranda (on stubs) sent by the Inspector of Pacific Islanders, Maryborough and as Assistant Immigration Agent, Maryborough [QSA Series ID 13196, Books of Memoranda Sent, 31/7/1899-1/6/1908, excluding Item ID 18858]
  • Register of re-agreements [QSA Item ID 18847, Register - Pacific Islanders, 6/3/1893-1/2/1905]
  • Ledger, Pacific Islanders' wages [QSA Item ID 18838, Ledger, 2/2/1885-26/11/1907]
  • Inspector of Pacific Islanders, Maryborough bank account [QSA Series ID 13182, Cash Books, Queensland National Bank Account, 6/1/1886-7/10/1907]
  • Cash book, Pacific Islanders' wages [QSA Item ID 18842, Cash Book, 2/2/1885-26/11/1907]
  • Register of agreements [QSA Item ID 18876, Register - Pacific Islanders, c1/1/1894-c31/12/1905]
  • Ledger, Pacific Islanders' Wages [QSA Item ID 18873, Ledger, c1/2/1891-c30/6/1907]
  • Cash book, Pacific Islanders' Wages [QSA Item ID 18875, Cash Book, c1/10/1890-c31/5/1902]
  • Ledger, Pacific Islanders' wages [QSA Item ID 18877, Ledger, 12/12/1884-c31/12/1907]
  • Register of agreements [QSA Item ID 18827, Register - Pacific Islanders, c1/4/1884-c31/8/1897]
  • Cash book, Pacific Islanders' wages [QSA Item ID 18881, Cash Book, 3/7/1885-30/7/1908].

Last updated 30 September 2016
Page 8 from the Register of Pacific Islander ships' arrivals at Maryborough
View larger image  
Page 8 from the Register of Pacific Islander ships' arrivals at Maryborough (Queensland State Archives Item ID 18829, Register - ships, Pacific Islanders' passage)​

 Indexes available under Open Data initiative


The index to Australian South Sea Islanders 1867 to 1908 is also available through the Queensland Government’s Open Data initiative. The Open Data index is in .csv format.

The content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence.