A national park on the south coast of New South Wales is to be renamed because of links to ‘blackbird’ slavery practice.
Ben Boyd National Park, south of Eden, is currently named after a 19th century Scottish colonialist, Benjamin Boyd.
The name of the park has long sparked controversy, especially among the local indigenous community, who demanded that it be changed due to Boyd’s connections to the ‘blackbird’.
Boyd is considered Australia’s first ‘blackbird’, the name given to operators who shipped South Sea islanders to the colonies and paid minimal wages to evade anti-slavery laws.
Noting that the decision to change the name of the park was long overdue, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said today “it’s time to recognize the true story of Ben Boyd and remove his name of the national park.
âIt is clear from the historical analysis of the experts that Ben Boyd’s association with the ‘blackbird’ should in no way be reflected or celebrated in our national parks.
“There are a lot of people from early NSW history who deserve to be remembered and celebrated, but it is clear from this historical analysis that Ben Boyd is not one of them.”
âBy renaming the park, we are not only celebrating ancient Indigenous culture, but also recognizing its importance to Indigenous peoples in recent history. “
Last year, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) responded to calls to rename Ben Boyd National Park by hiring independent historian Dr. Mark Dunn to provide a report on Ben Boyd’s story on the south coast of NSW.
With Dr. Dunn’s report confirming Ben Boyd’s involvement in the “blackbird,” the park’s renaming follows the NPWS park naming policy, that new park names should come from indigenous communities.
The NPWS will now work with Elders and representatives of the Aboriginal community to identify a new name for the park. Consultation on a new name is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Image: Ben Boyd National Park. Credit: Destination NSW.
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