Called Tanna Tommies, Kanakas or black boys, the South Sea Islanders were brought to Australian shores in their tens of thousands where they lived and worked under terrible conditions - conditions not dissimilar to those of the notorious African slavers.

Once in Australia they were regularly treated with cruelty and intense racial hatred, subjected to a needlessly harsh discipline, forced to eat appalling food and to drink water often contaminated by animal urine.

Yet these same people were instrumental in turning the fledgling Australian sugar industry into a vital commodity which now earns Australia millions of dollars in foreign exports.

Today, few remember or care where that prosperity originally came from - the blood, the tears, the pain of a race of people who were brutally used and then, amost as brutally, discarded.

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