Duff Islands

The Duff Islands ( other name: Taumako Islands, older cards also Wilson 's Islands ) are a group of eleven small islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which are geographically part of the Santa Cruz Islands. They belong politically to the island nation of the Solomon Islands and lie in the southernmost province of Temotu.


The archipelago consists of the following islands:

  • Taumako with the minor islands Tahua in the southwest and in the southeast Tohua
  • The Bass Islands at the southern end of the island chain: Lua, Kaa and Loreva
  • Iceland's treasurer at the northern end: Tuleki ( Anula ), Elingi ( Obelisk Iceland ), Te Ako, Lakao and Ulaka

Geographically also the westernmost of Lakao submarine Hallie Jackson Reef is often considered one of the Duff Islands, although it clearly is at a distance of 45 km off the island chain, and not rising above the sea surface.

The islands have a combined land area of ​​14 km ². They are of volcanic origin, composed primarily of basaltic rocks and rise steeply from the sea. The surrounding coral reef is well developed, suggesting a geologically very young age. Main island and the largest of the group is Taumako, an inside covered with rainforest island with steep cliffs up to 400 m from the sea rises.

According to the definition of the International Hydrographic Organization, the Duff Islands form the northeastern boundary of the Coral Sea.


The 439 inhabitants ( 1999) belong to the Melanesian ethnic group and speak Vaeakau - Taumako (alternatively Pileni, Pilheni called ), a Polynesian dialect, which is also still in use on the adjacent Reef Islands.

Most inhabitants of the Duff Islands live on Tahua one point to another within the fringing reef, low Motu 160 meters off the southwest coast of Taumako. As you can see historical reports, the sandy islet is completely built over centuries. The reason for this unusual form of settlement in the South Pacific is likely to be sought in the better climatic conditions and escape from mosquitoes.

Another small village, Kahula is located on the southeastern coast of Taumako. In the 1970s, lived a family on the Treasurers Islands, in a small village on the south coast of Lakao.


The Duff Islands were in the early first millennium BC, probably already inhabited by 900, of the Lapita people. The findings characteristic Lapita ceramics demonstrate the close connection between the Reef Islands and the Duff Islands, so they were probably driven as part of the same migration wave. A later wave of settlement of the Melanesians and Polynesians with a third AD 1400 AD followed. The islands are a so-called Polynesian enclave, a remote, populated by Polynesians area outside of the Polynesian triangle. Anuta and Tikopia of traditions suggest that the Polynesians who first conquered these two islands, and from there the Duff Islands.

The residents of the Duff Islands were - and still are today - known as masterful manufacturer of large, ocean-going canoes and thus undertook daring trade missions. The larger and more densely wooded islands in the group provided the best starting materials for boat building. It is historically proven that it is a functioning trade network between the Santa Cruz Islands Utupua, Vanicoro, has given the Reef and Duff Islands. The anthropologist William Davenport of the University of Pennsylvania postulated the following scenario: Large double-hulled canoes were built on Taumako. In this ocean-going boats were loaded small canoes and merchandise, such as pigs and sago flour, and so sailed to the neighboring islands. There the charge including the large canoes were sold and the team paddled to the dug-out canoes back to Taumako. In the legends of the neighboring islands the inhabitants of the Duff Islands enjoy even today great reputation as a shipbuilder, long-distance traders and bold sailors.

The Solomon Islands were discovered in 1568 during the first Mendaña expedition to the Pacific to Europe. 1595 returned the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra, with four ships back and died on 18 October 1595 Nendo, the largest of the Santa Cruz Islands. Whether he and the Duff Islands saw one of the two trips, is not beyond doubt to be clarified. The created based on the results of the two expeditions, early maps do not allow unambiguous assignment.

Probably already the Spaniard Pedro Fernández de Quirós discovered the Duff Islands in the year 1606. His vice commander Luiz Vaez de Torres reported in a letter to King Philip of Spain:

" About 60 leagues [ approximately 330 km] before we reached Santa Cruz [ Nendo ] we found a small island of 6 leagues [ 33 km ], very high, with very good soundings around and other small islands nearby, under the protection of the ships anchored. "

Torres did expose two boats and it came to a peaceful contact with the islanders. The team was even able to chat in its settlement, and residents provided the Europeans with water and wood. Torres writes that the chief had called the island " Taumaco ".

According to another source, the discoverer of the Duff Islands James Wilson, captain of the mission ship Duff the London Missionary Society (London Missionary Society), the 1797 on the way from Australia was to Tahiti, there to establish the Anglican Mission. Wilson was the first person recorded the exact position of the Duff Islands. On September 25, 1797 at 08.00 clock in the morning, Wilson saw a "group of ten or eleven islands, three of them of considerable size " As the ship approached the following day the largest of which ( Taumako ), it came with an encounter several islanders who approach rowed in five canoes. Although the team of Duff brought from a boat, but ended up not.

HMS Basilisk under the command of John Moresby ran the Duff Islands on 31 July 1872. Moresby ended up with two boats. On which of the eleven islands is not exactly named, according to the description it must have been Taumako with the inhabited island Tahua. Although the armed islanders sought to prevent the landing of the first stranger with threatening gestures, she could with the handing over of gifts finally agree friendly and the British sailors were allowed to enter the only village Moresby. According to the description of Moresby fortified with coral blocks and palisades settlement lay on a flat, sandy motu, the main island behind it, however, was completely inaccessible and densely forested. The residents had several 15 to 20 meters long and richly decorated double-hulled canoes. The Europeans were gifted with boiled breadfruit and taro and very friendly adopted.


The remote and underdeveloped within the Solomon Islands do not offer any tourist infrastructure and do not have a port, airport, no electricity and no paved roads. The inhabitants live mainly from fishing and subsistence agriculture.