1989 Initial Research

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Background research prior to departure for Niku I (1989) had been limited to study of published sources and consultation with a few people who had been on Nikumaroro (such as the Smithsonian ornithologist, Roger Clapp). We set out to expand our background knowledge of the island during a week spent in Suva, Fiji while making logistic arrangements. We quickly learned that the records of the Western Pacific High Commission (WPHC), which had overseen the Phoenix Islands in colonial times, had been sent back to London and/or distributed to the former colonies, but the library at the University of the South Pacific yielded a number of useful secondary sources. Notable among these was Sir Harry Luke’s From a South Seas Diary, which includes Sir Harry’s account of his visit to Nikumaroro shortly after Gallagher’s death, and provided a photo of the “Rest House” where Gallagher lived.