Pacific Union College HomePitcairn Islands Study Center Home
Study Center Bligh & Bounty Pitcairn Island Norfolk Island PUC Library

The Study Center  

Center Resources  


Bligh & Bounty  

Pitcairn Island  

Maps of Pitcairn  
Philately & Post Office  
Population & Census  
Education & Religion  
Photo Tour  
Pitcairn Sea Tales  
Pitcairn Crafts  

Contact Pitcairn  

Group of Islands  


Pitcairn & PUC  

Norfolk Island  

Study Center Home

Center Store  

Pitcairn Crafts  

Contact Us  

Site Map  


History of Government and Laws, Part 14

“The Development of the System of Government and Laws of Pitcairn Island From 1791 to 1971"
Printed in and taken from Laws of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Rev. Ed., 1971
By Donald McLoughlin, B.A., LL.B.

Back to Index

To Part 15

Social Security

One of the problems that has beset the Pitcairn community has been the cure and maintenance of aged and sick people. In such a rugged little community as Pitcairn with its people dependent on their physical skills for their livelihood the care of the aged and the sick can at times pose a considerable burden on their relatives. Whilst provision was made in Part VIII of the Justice Ordinance to compel relatives of such persons to maintain them, there was for many years an informal pensions scheme in operation under which small pensions were paid out of public funds to long term residents who were unable to support themselves. On the 2nd of September, 1790, this scheme was given formal validity and expanded by the enactment of the Pensions (Aged and Infirm Persons) Ordinance(88).

This provides for the payment at such rates as the Governor may from time to time determine to all persons over the age of sixty-five years who are resident on Pitcairn Island and have resided there for not less than five years during the preceding twenty years and have resided continuously on Pitcairn during the year preceding the grant of the pension. Residents of Pitcairn Island not qualifying under that provision may qualify for a pension after three years continuous residence on Pitcairn. Provision is also made for the Governor to extend the grant of a pension to include persons whom he is satisfied are incapable by reason of mental or physical incapacity to maintain themselves. Pensions granted under that Ordinance are to be reduced in the event of the pensioner holding any public office but are in addition to any pension granted in respect of service in any such office. The current rate of pensions under this Ordinance is $9.24 per month.

The End of an Epoch

On the 30th of September, 1970, a new Order in Council was made by Her Majesty the Queen which was to again affect the destinies of the little Colony on Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands. This was the Pitcairn Order 197- which from the date upon which it took effect, namely the 10th of October, 1970, effected the transfer of the administrative headquarters for the Colony from Suva to Wellington, New Zealand, consequent upon the attainment of independence by the former Colony of Fiji, with effect from the same date. Under that Order Her Majesty appointed the British High Commissioner in New Zealand, Sir Arthur Galsworthy, K.C.M.G., to be the new Governor of the Colony of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands. So the break was made in Pitcairn’s relationship with Fiji which had existed continuously from the 3rd of May, 1898, when Pitcairn Island was first brought under the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific.

The South Pacific Office in Suva which had been responsible for the administration of Pitcairn affairs was disbanded and a new office established in Auckland, New Zealand with Mr. E. Dymond, C.B.E., the Counsellor in Charge of the Auckland Office of the British High Commission assuming the functions of Commissioner for Pitcairn, assisted by Mr. F. E. M. Warner, M.B.E., I.S.O., who transferred from the old South Pacific Office in Suva for that purpose. To give full legal effect to the change and particularly to reflect the cessation of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Fiji over the Colony of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands the Judicature Ordinance, 1961, was repealed and replaced by the Judicature Ordinance, 1970(89), making provision for a Supreme Court for the Islands consisting of such judge or judges as the Governor may from time to time appoint and such other officers as he may consider necessary for the administration of justice and the due execution of the powers and authorities of the Court. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was made co-extensive with that of the High Court of Justice in England in both civil and criminal matters. The mode of trial before the Court is by a judge alone with powers to sit with not less than two nor more than four assessors if the judge considers it expedient and practicable to do so. In the event of the judge sitting with assessors he is required to record the opinions of the assessors but is not bound to conform to them.

The Subordinate Court was also re-established and provision made for the Governor to appoint a Magistrate to preside over it, which Magistrate may or may not be a legally qualified person. The Subordinate Court has the same jurisdiction in criminal matters as may from time to time be vested in Magistrates Courts in England and the same jurisdiction in civil matters as may from time to time be vested in County Courts in England, with power on the part of the Governor to extend such criminal or civil jurisdiction to such extent as he considers necessary or advisable to meet the circumstances of any particular case, including any original jurisdiction or powers vested in the Supreme Court. An appeal lies to the Supreme Court from any judgment, sentence or order of the Subordinate Court. Other Ordinances were enacted at the same time to reflect amendments required to be made to other Pitcairn Ordinances as the result of these changes.

To Part 15

Back to Index


(88) Pensions (Aged and Infirm Persons) Ordinance, Chapter 1 of the Revised Edition.

(89) The Judicature Ordinance, Chapter 2 of the Revised Edition.

To Part 15

Back to Index

Back to Index