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Ben Boyd National Park In NSW To Be Renamed Due To Links To Slavery

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Ben Boyd National Park In NSW To Be Renamed Due To Links To Slavery

The New South Wales government has announced it will rename Ben Boyd National Park on the state's far south coast after concerns from Indigenous communities over Boyd's history.

The park is named after a Scottish landowner who was involved in the practice of 'blackbirding', which involved deceiving or kidnapping Pacific Islanders to force them into unpaid or poorly paid labour.

In the early 19th century Boyd took people from the islands of what is now Vanuatu and New Caledonia to work on his pastoral stations in New South Wales.

This was later referred to as the 'blackbirding trade' and is believed to have been started by Boyd.

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The park will be renamed in the local First Nations language following a push from South Sea Islanders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Ben Boyd National Park. Credit: National Parks NSW
Ben Boyd National Park. Credit: National Parks NSW

The new name for the park will reflect traditional language and be decided through discussions with local Elders, Aboriginal community representatives, Australian South Sea Islander representatives and Bega Valley Shire Council, according to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, who commissioned an independent report into the colonial landowner's background, said the time had come to acknowledge the history of Boyd.

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"Ben Boyd was a slave trader who took people from Pacific Islands to work as forced labour. It didn't live up to the standards of that time let alone ours. Working with local indigenous groups, we will rename the National Park," Kean said on Twitter.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service tapped independent historian Dr Mark Dunn last year following concerns over the history of Boyd and his relationship with 'blackbirding'.

Part of finalising the report involved consultation with local Elders, Aboriginal community representatives and Australian South Sea Islander representatives as well as Port Jackson and Bega Valley Shire Council.

The Historical Analysis and Evaluation Report confirmed Benjamin Boyd's involvement in 'blackbirding', which, even at the time, was viewed by many as a form of slavery.

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NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has said the remaining process has no time limit and consultations 'will not be rushed'.

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Featured Image Credit: NSW National Parks

Topics: News, Australia

Hannah Blackiston
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