Tuesday, July 19, 2011

John Kanaka


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I heard, I heard, the old man say,
John Kanaka-naka tu-lai-ay!
Today, today is a holiday,
John Kanaka-naka tu-lai-ay!

Tu-lai-ay, Oh! Tu-lai-ay!
John Kanaka-naka tu-lai-ay!

We'll work tomorrow, but no work today,
We'll work tomorrow, but no work today.

We're bound away for 'Frisco Bay,
We're bound away at the break of day.

We're bound away around Cape Horn,
We wish to Christ we'd never been born!

Oh haul, oh haul, oh haul away,
Oh haul away, an' make yer pay!

Robert Towns (after whom Townsville is named) was instrumental in introducing Pacific Island labourers into Australia as a cheap labour force. The late 19th century saw a Kanaka slave trade develop in the Pacific, including "blackbirders" bringing islanders to Australia to work. The practice was eventually ended following a Royal Commission in 1884, in part because it had become cheaper to import labour from Europe.

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