The sign hangs outside Duncan Sanderson’s ramshackle tent embassy in Norfolk Island’s World Heritage–listed Kingston district, alongside many other proclamations of defiance, most of them in Standard English.
“Norfolk Island under siege,” reads one.
“Our future, our choice,” announces another.
But it’s that first slogan, presented in the Norf’k patois, that conveys Sanderson’s protest most effectively to the passing tourists, precisely because of their struggle to comprehend it.
From 1979, Norfolk Island, measuring 35 square kilometres and located around 1500 kilometres east of Sydney, exercised something like independence. As Australia’s only non-mainland self-governing territory, it chose its own legislative assembly, selected by the island’s 1700 inhabitants according to a distinctive voting system in...