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French Polynesia, protest movements

Justin Corfield

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Oceania » Australasia

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics colonialism, ecology, rebellion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405197953.2009.00595.x


French Polynesia in the Pacific consists of 118 islands which form five archipelagos. It has been occupied by France since 1842, becoming an overseas territory of France in 1946, with its own territorial assembly. Its population is 78 percent Polynesian, 12 percent Chinese, with 6 percent being local French settlers and their families, and 4 percent being French from metropolitan France. Although a Protestant missionary, George Pritchard, asked the Tahitian Queen Pomare IV in 1837 whether she wanted to make French Polynesia a protectorate of the British crown, it was the French who took the islands. The French Admiral Abel Dupetit-Thouars arrived in Tahiti in 1842 when Pritchard, by then the British consul, and Queen Pomare were briefly absent. When Queen Pomare returned she was forced to agree to the proclamation of the French protectorate over Tahiti on September 9, 1842. Queen Pomare soon realized that the French had come to take over the country and took refuge on a British ship, the HMS Basilisk , which was in Papeete harbor as the Tahitian people rose up against the French. The first major engagement between the French and the Tahitians was in March 1844 at Taravao. In April of that year the French governor, Armand-Joseph Bruat, and French marines fought with 400 Tahitians on Mahena beach. Some 102 Tahitians were killed, and the remainder retreated to the hills, continuing ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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