Fletcher Christians Polynesian Squeeze
The Bounty sailed to Tahiti in 1788 to collect breadfruit saplings. These were to be taken to Jamaica to feed plantation slaves. After sailing more than 10 months, they made a stop in Tahiti, and the rest became cinematic history. Not only was this a beautiful tropical fantasy, there was an overwhelming welcome and hospitality from the Tahitians, There is a combination of elements that made the next step in the mutiny. Captain Bligh was well-known as a cranky old sot, adept at degradation, temper and not good in human resources. The men had been at sea for 10 months, and then they saw TAHITI with Tahitians.
Maimiti was very instrumental in the setting of Captain Bligh adrift, by cozying up to Fletch. Her real name is not known, and she has been called by more descriptive titles. .
MAUATUA – mountain spirit
MI-MITTI – sick, sea or been annoying
MA VATUA – with seasickness or with annoying
MAINMAST – In English, tall and straight like a mast on a ship
The story is that she was the daughter of a Tahitian chief, but due to Christian position as a Master Mate, she probably would have had a similar position in the community. Captain Bligh would have been set up with a Chief’s daughter. Maimiti said to be very tall, which could be physical or referring to her personality or status. She was also a little older which supports that she was willing to settle down with one man, she may have been as old as 35. Fletch called her Isabella after his cousin he had left behind. It is said that Fletch and Isabella the 1st had married and she may have been with child when the Bounty set sail from England to Jamaica.
After the mutiny, Christian and his 24 sailors returned to Tahiti, where sixteen of the men decided to remain. Christian, Maimiti, and the eight sailors, their women, and a handful of Tahitian men searched for a safe haven and settled on Pitcairn on January 23, 1790. The mutineers that stayed on Tahiti were found and taken back to England for trial. The few that escaped to Pitcairn weren’t captured, but the tropical idyllic life escaped them. By 1808 of the eight mutineers seven were dead from murder or suicide and one, John Adams a.k.a. Alexander Smith was left as leader by default. He succeeded to keep the island alive. There are many questions about Fletcher’s death, there is no grave and Adams and Maimiti were unclear about his demise. There are some rumors that he went back to Belle Island in England and his cousin/wife Isabella.
Maimiti is reported to have stayed a devoted wife to Christian until his death. They had three children. Their son, Thursday October the first child born on Pitcairn, and has been found to the ancestor of almost everybody surnamed Christian on Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands, as well as many from Australia and New Zealand. The other two children were Charles and Mary Ann.
In 1841, George Gardner, visited Pitcairn Island, and described Maimiti as the ‘most perfect picture of an old hag I ever saw. At that time she would have been 80 to 90 years old, and still very active. She never seemed to gather any good names or press, it appears that Fletcher was one of the few people who liked her. She died soon after that visit, not at all worried about popularity and bitchy to the very end. I admire that quality.