Prominent Pitcairners - Part 4, Ben Christian, BEM

Ben Christian stamp strip
On the 6th January 1921 Benjamin Norman Christian was born on Pitcairn Island to parents Thornton and Edith Christian. He was one of three sons, brother to Vincent Young and Cairn Christian who both chose to live their lives in Wellington New Zealand. Benjamin (affectionately known as Ben) met and fell in love with one of the local ladies, Irma Doreen Warren, eventually marrying her in 1953 and going on to have three children, Julie Christian (1953-2014), Dennis Christian (1955) and Marlene Arthur (nee Christian, born 1960)
Ben Christian
Ben lived the majority of his life on Pitcairn with Irma and son Dennis where he worked as the Island Secretary and Secretary to the Pitcairn Island Council from 1962 – 1986. He was hardworking and committed to his job so in 1968 he was seconded to the British South Pacific office in Suva, Fiji, for several months to train and improve his skills in administration. Aside from this he only left the island for medical reasons and for travelling to visit daughters Julie (NZ) and Marlene (Sydney, Australia) and to visit friends around the world. His children and five grandchildren meant the world to him, as did his carving for which he was well known. He was a gentle, kind and deeply religious man serving as a model Elder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church for many years.

Kenneth Bain wrote the following tribute (abbrev.) -
"I first met him on Pitcairn in 1968. Not quite on Pitcairn. A short tubby man climbed up the ship's ladder and bounded over the gunwale. He was barefooted. His denims were faded, there was a long knife in his waist-belt and he wore a woollen skull cap with a pompom. He took this off as he reached the bridge. 'Welcome,' Ben always said to the captain. 'Welcome to Pitkern (the Pitcairners' pronunciation of their island home), and thank you f'r comin'.'
Ben Christian datestampIsolated though their island home may have been, Ben and Irma kept contact with the outside world through ham radio links. The Island Secretary's inward mail from a rare ship-day call was never less than eccentric. I looked through Ben's files on one occasion. A women's club in Maine wanted a Pitcairner to discuss the proposition that 'the saga of Pitcairn offers the world the way to a meaningful life'; a retired police officer from Chicago offered to command the Pitcairn land and seagoing forces for a modest supplement to his pension; and a 1970 Cadillac would be shipped freight- free to the road-less island in return for a monopoly franchise for the sale of Pitcairn Island carvings in the United States. A university in New Zealand indicated that 50 members of its Department of Linguistics wished to undertake an on-the-spot study of the Pitcairn language and its people; and a Brazilian student of anthropology sought to cohabit with any Pitcairn woman for the purpose of a thesis on the sex habits of island communities.
'Not much here to worry about,' said Ben, as he resumed his interrupted wood-carving. 'We jus' have to see that Pitkern goes on being Pitkern - for the sake of all the people.' ".

After retiring in 1986, Ben received a message from the then Governor, Mr T.D.O’Leary congratulating him on being the recipient of BEM for services to the community. The medal was presented to him at the Pitcairn Island Office in Auckland in 1987.

Ben died on Pitcairn Island, September 25th 1992

Ben Christian FDC

Prominent Pitcairners - Part 4, Ben Christian, BEM
Please Note: All prices are in New Zealand Dollars
Stamp strip
First Day Cover with stamp strip
Full Sheet of 6 strips

Technical Details

Denise Durkin, Wellington, New Zealand

Pitcairn Stamps
proudly brought
to you by:
Bounty Post
Printer: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand
Process: Offset Litho
Stamp size: 37.5 mm x 36.95 mm
Format: Four stamps in strip with central tab
Perforation Gauge: 14.40 x 14.62
Denominations: $1.00, $1.50, $2.10 and $2.80
Paper: 103gsm Tullis Russell Yellow/Green phosphor stamp paper
Period of Sale:
24 June 2015 for a period of 2 years

Acknowledgement:   Photographic reference kindly supplied by Marlene Arthur, Dennis Christian, Tony Probst and Mary Pavicich