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Migration to New Caledonia

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Surabaya (Dreamland Library) - It turns out that the Diaspora from Indonesia is quite widespread throughout the world. One of them is in New Caledonia, which we may rarely hear, this is the story.

The first wave of Javanese emigrants consisted of 170 contract laborers, who arrived at Noumea in 1889 AD Forty-two years earlier, Napoleon III had established a French penal colony in New Caledonia.

Most of the prisoners sent here are political prisoners from the Paris Commune. In 1884 AD, the Governor of French New Caledonia, Paul Feillet, abolished immigration and replaced prisoners with Asian immigrant workers, mainly from Japan, Java (Indonesia) and Vietnam, who came to work in mines and plantations.

Initially sent to work in agriculture, in 1,899 AD the Javanese began working in the mining industry, which offered better wages but more difficult conditions. After their contract period ended, some of them returned to Java. But many remained in New Caledonia, a choice that forced their right to repatriation. It's also a choice that requires them to look for a new job.

The second wave of immigration from Java occurred in the years before World War II when the New Caledonian economy faced a chronic labor shortage along with an explosion in nickel and coffee production.

Between 1,933 AD and 1,939 AD more than 7800 Javanese left Java for Noumea. Many of them have signed five-year contracts with their agents.

When they arrived they found work in agriculture and mining, as well as domestic workers. The most interesting contemporary relic of the first and second waves in New Caledonia Indonesia is Tiebaghi, a mining settlement in a remote mountain region near Koumac in the north.

This was the goal for many Indonesian contract workers (both newcomers and local births) between 1896 and 1949. At Tiebaghi, the Javanese worked in the underground chrome mine with Vietnam and Japan. Perhaps because of their small stature, it was considered 'easy' for them to enter the underground tunnel. Now the mining sites and relics of this mining village are being restored by the Association for the Protection of Mining and Heritage of the North Caledonian.

The third wave of emigration, which Djintar Tambunan included, consisted of around 600 Indonesians who came to New Caledonia during the nickel boom between AD 1,967 and 1,972 AD, to work on renewable annual contracts, mainly in the construction industry. In New Caledonia, Javanese (Indonesians) gained a reputation as diligent workers.

According to Tambunan, only a few of those third wave migrants remained in New Caledonia, most of whom moved back to Indonesia and some have died. Those who live in New Caledonia work - and in some cases continue to work - in a variety of industries including engineering, transportation and infrastructure development.

Besides the three waves of migration, there are other 'categories' of migrants. Suminah (who calls herself Evelyne while in France) is an example of Baleh Wong - an Indonesian born in New Caledonia. Then there is Shirly Timan's example of jukuan wong, or someone who was born in Indonesia, but was brought to New Caledonia by a local Indonesian. Often this happens because of marriage.

Individually the "highest" career achievement of Indonesians in New Caledonia was the success of Member of Parliament Rusmaeni Sanmohamat who was elected as the sixth Vice President of New Caledonia.

Extracted and adapted freely from the writings of Pam Allen (Pam.Allen @ teaching Indonesian Language and culture at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. (Inside Indonesia 102: Oct-Dec 2010)

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Source: did you know-you-7000-orang-indonesia-berbahasa-per french-di-suatu-tempat/

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