VANISHING RAGES –
WHAT OF THE ABORIGINE ?
The death of Tommy Solomon, last of the Miorioris, which is reported
from New Zealand, has added an other to the list of extinct races of the Pacific. Tommy was,a giant of
22 at. He was probably a genial I giant, for the Morioris were reputed
to be a lovable race, willing to serve and without malice, although the Maoris had slain them and plunder- I
ed them for generations. There is a reference to this little-known tribe in the letters of Bishop Selwvyn, who made a thorough tour of his diocese I the whole of New Zealand-in 1818. Visiting the Chatham Islands, he came upon this race of slaves, and was at once captivate, by their I simple and genial ways. He took a i careful census of their names, and i found that they numbered 268; but he adds prophetically, “the very small number of the children and the unmarried state in which they seemed for the. most part to live would lead me to fear that they are rapidly decreasing.”
The fate of the Morioris has been shared by other races as strong or stronger. The Tasmanian aborigines are reputed to have once been about 7000 strong, yet when they were moved to Flinders Island in 1882
war and disease had reduced their numbers to 120. An old woman named Truganini was claimed to be the last of the pure-blooded Tasmanian aborigines, although an other, boasting the familiar name of Fanny Cochrane, disputed the claim. Truganini died 60 years ago. Since then the Anchorite islanders have followed the Tasmanians, and their place has been taken by indentured labourers from the other islands of the Bismarck Archipelago. Allison is another of the diminutive islands of the Pacific, the aborigines of
which have disappeared at. the approach of the white man.
The tragedy of these vanishing races has led anthropologists , into much speculation, although the cause has never been clearly established. Warfare, strange diseases, and the inability to withstand new conditions have been blamed. For. a while the Maoris themselves were in danger of extinction. In 50 years their numbers dwindled to one-third, but since 1901 they- have. become inured to their altered surroundings, and have prospered. But the future of the Australin aborigines is less assured. All the measures which
have been taken to. arrest the decrease in their numbers appear to