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Britain intends to keep its hands on its strategic Pacific island, Pitcairn.
NBR ONLINE asked British foreign secretary William Hague how long Britain intended to keep Pitcairn within its empire and when it would hand over control to New Zealand.
He replied that there were no plans to change the governance of Pitcairn Island – a hot potato for a succession of British governments.
But he said Britain was very thankful for New Zealand “giving us a helping hand” over administering the island.
Mr Hague made the comments when he visited Christchurch today to help launch the 2013 Great British Car Rally taking place across New Zealand from Sunday, January 17, to Friday, January 22.
Later, an accompanying official jested that on a population basis, Pitcairn Islanders probably received more assistance than most of Britain’s territories.
Pitcairn, adminsitered through Auckland, is possibly best known for a sex abuse scandal revealed in 2005, involving descendants of the mutinuous Bounty crew who sailed to the island in 1790.
Lengthy court proceedings both in New Zealand and on Pitcairn involved a host of New Zealand lawyers and judges was paid for by the British.
(More than ten years ago an ambitious plan by ex-barrister and district court judge Tony Willy and his business pals, to turn Pitcairn into an isolated holiday hideaway, complete with hotel and air strip, sank in the face of islander opposition.)
During his visit to the earthquake-ravaged city, Mr Hague sat in a Javelin Jowett, admired MG cars and joked with their owners.
Mayor Bob Parker and wife Joanna Nicholls Parker were on hand, along with an entourage of owners of British-made cars, in front of the Christchurch Art Galley Te Puna O Waiwhetu.
Other local journalists asked if Britain would contribute to the estimated $30 billion rebuild of Christchurch.
Mr Hague was vague but spoke generally about the expertise of UK firms which might be involved.