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Frequently asked questions

What is the Australian Research Council?

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). The ARC is a Commonwealth entity established to advise the Australian Government on research matters and to administer a series of grant funding schemes to researchers in Australian universities. This funding is at ‘arms-length’ from the Government as the ARC exists as an independent body (as set out by the Australian Research Council Act 2001). The role of the Government in the ARC grants process is the final signing off of research funds to individual projects. This is undertaken by the Minister for Education. To learn more about the ARC, see:

How did you get funding for this project?

In early 2020, the Australian Research Council (ARC) announced a Special Research Initiative funding scheme focused on ‘Australian Society, History and Culture’. The research team submitted a proposal for a project titled ‘Reimagining Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area as a living heritage site: Addressing cultural injustice for Pitcairn Settler descendants on Norfolk Island’. This application then went through a merit process where it was peer reviewed by a pool of expert assessors (specialists in the broad area of the grant’s focus, e.g. heritage studies) and general assessors (distinguished academics in the broad area of society, history and culture). The reports from these assessors are used to determine a score and then the general assessors convene a meeting to discuss the overall merits of the proposals, after which they make a recommendation of funding to the ARC CEO. The ARC CEO then determines the final recommendations, taking into account the ‘National Interest Statements’ of each application, before making a funding recommendation to the Minister for Education. The Minister then reviews the recommendations and signs off (or not!) before a funding announcement can be made by the ARC. For more information see:  A Selection Outcome Report for this funding scheme can also be found here:

How long does this project run for?

The project has been funded for three years, from April 2021 to April 2024.

Why are you doing this research?

In 2017, Martin Gibbs, Brad Duncan and Robert Varnam published an article in Australian Archaeology titled ‘The free and unfree settlements of Norfolk Island: an overview of archaeological research’. In it, they commented:

It is noteworthy that despite the Pitcairner occupation and use of Kingston extending for well over a century longer than the convict phase and continuing in various forms through to today, this aspect of the island’s heritage currently has limited recognition or visibility in the interpretation of the history or archaeology of the KAVHA area. Despite Norfolk Islanders long being employed as part of the site management structure and continuing to access the site and facilities for recreation and their own commercial tourism ventures, there is a strong sense of alienation. . . . This has been exacerbated by the 2016 return of Norfolk Island to full Australian administrative control, with much of the protest activity focused on Kingston . . . there is increasing interest in the community for documentation of oral history and place heritage as a way of recording and defining relationships with the island. (p. 96)

We therefore wanted to undertake a project which would investigate the extent to which KAVHA reinforces or resists cultural injustices for Pitcairn Settler descendants. Our aim in the project is to activate cultural justice through engaging with the community to co-develop ‘public history’ outcomes (like zines and self-guided heritage walk) that will foreground their own senses of heritage relating to KAVHA.

Reference: Gibbs, M, Duncan, B & Varnam, R 2017, ‘The free and unfree settlements of Norfolk Island: an overview of archaeological research’, Australian Archaeology, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 82–99.

Is this project connected to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the Office of the Administrator or Norfolk Island Regional Council?

No, there are no connections between the research team and these bodies. DITRDC, the Office of the Administrator and NIRC all have an interest in KAVHA and are involved with aspects of its heritage management. Some employees of these bodies may be interviewed for the project in their role as stakeholders in KAVHA. However, the Reimagining KAVHA project is completely independent of any local, state or commonwealth entity operating on Norfolk Island. These entities have not been involved in shaping the project and cannot influence its findings or outcomes, but we hope that this research will have the capacity to influence future work undertaken by DITRDC, the Office of the Administrator and NIRC.

How will you communicate the research findings?

The research team will produce scholarly outputs and public documents. In addition to academic journal articles, we will communicate the research findings on this website and social media (see our Twitter and Instagram feeds), as well as submitting regular updates for publication in The Norfolk Islander. There may be opportunities to present our research on island (e.g. at the Norfolk Island Historical Society) as well as at conferences and workshops elsewhere. All the public outputs – including the zines, the self-guided heritage walk, and the policy report – will be readily available on island and online.

Is this research ethical?

This project has received full ethics approval from the Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee (GU ref: 2020/927). 

Before starting a new project involving human participants (e.g. interviewees), researchers must seek ethical clearance from their institutions. This process involves outlining the background and experience of the researchers, how participants will be found and communicated with, and how information will be collected, stored, analysed and distributed. These applications are reviewed by university ethics committees, who ensure that researchers are conducting research in a way that abides by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. You can find out more about the ethics of this project on the Consent information page.

Who will you be interviewing?

There are three categories of participant we are hoping to speak to for this project: 

(1) heritage and tourism stakeholders in KAVHA including, for example, past and present members of committees responsible for overseeing and contributing to heritage strategy on Norfolk Island (e.g. KAVHA Advisory Board, KAVHA Community Advisory Board, Norfolk Island Regional Council Heritage and Culture Advisory Committee); past and present heritage workers in KAVHA, including Commonwealth employees, NIRC employees, and associated volunteers (e.g. Museums Trust); current operators of tours, including bus drivers and tour guides;

(2) Pitcairn Settler descendants, including members of the Council of Elders, and other societies with interest in Pitcairner heritage and culture, such as Norf’k Ito Kulcha Sullen;

(3) Other community members who are not direct descendants of the Pitcairn Settlers but who have a long history with KAVHA and/or connection to Pitcairner families.

What is a walking interview?

Walking interviews help reveal intimate connections between people and place. This involves a participant guiding the researcher through the areas of KAVHA that the participant deems personally and collectively significant. For participants with limited mobility, this can be done in a vehicle rather than walking.

What is ‘cultural justice’?

Like ‘social justice’, cultural justice focuses on inequalities and power relations. However, cultural justice has a specific concern with cultural expressions (e.g. language, Bounty Day, HEIVA), cultural institutions (e.g. museums, Council of Elders) and cultural identities (e.g. ‘Norfolk Islander’, ‘Pitcairn Settler descendant’). 

In a heritage context, cultural injustices can manifest in instances where particular stories or groups – especially those of marginalised or disenfranchised people – are excluded, erased, silenced, misrepresented or disrespected in heritage interpretation and historical narratives. However, heritage can also provide the means through which these injustices can be resisted and challenged through, for example, reframing these narratives, providing opportunities for more nuanced representations and dialogues, and emphasising collaboration between stakeholders. For a more in-depth discussion of cultural justice, read our free, open access article ‘A cultural justice approach to popular music heritage in deindustrialising cities’ from a previous research project. 

What are ‘zines’?

Zines are self-published, DIY-style booklets made up of text, images and other materials. Zines have a history as tools for activism within various social movements (e.g. Riot grrrl). In the context of this project, by bringing together stories, memories, photographs and reimaginings with other materials collected by the research team (e.g. policy fragments, archival materials, photographs, observations), the zines will act as a ‘community archive’. Visit the Zines page to find out more about how you can contribute. For an example of a zine we have created for a previous research project, see Sounds of Our Town: The Birmingham Edition.

Why Alice Buffett’s written system of Norf’k?

The research team recognises that, being a primarily oral language, there are numerous ways in which words can be written in Norf’k. For this website, and when transcribing interviews, we have opted for Alice Buffett’s system as a way to maintain consistency with other critical heritage studies research currently being undertaken on the island. When we call for contributions to the zine, however, we will accept, and publish, submissions that use other versions of written Norf’k.

Reference: Buffett, AI 1999, Speak Norfolk Today: An Encyclopaedia of the Norfolk Island Language, Himii Publishing Company, Norfolk Island.