Problems regarding labour – its supply, efficiency and cost are present to a greater or less degree in every modern community. The Australian colonists have proved themselves to be no exceptions to this general tendency, and it is in connection with such problems that the Kanakas made their transitory appearance in the history of Queensland. The work of these black “boys,” then, forms not only an interesting episode in the history of the colony, but also has been an important economic factor in furthering its development.
Throughout the period of its use in the colony, Kanaka labour formed the subject of much controversy not only in Queensland but also in other parts of Australia and in Great Britain. A subject, torn as this has been by opposing parties in two hemispheres, inevitably suffers the misrepresentation of its every feature, each party naturally exaggerating those facts which tend to support its own ideas and suppressing the others. In consequence, a great amount of misconception has existed everywhere in connection with many aspects of this labour. it is with this knowledge that I have attempted to compile as truthful and unbiased account of the Kanakas and their labour in Queensland as a study of primary sources of information has afforded me.