All were released within a couple of years, and – in typically surreal Pitcairn fashion – one of them, Steve Christian’s son, Shawn, is now the mayor. His brother, Randy, another convicted rapist, is also seen as a potential leader.
A child protection system is now in place, and five outside professionals – including a New Zealand police officer and a senior British diplomat – are stationed on the island. Local councillors undergo child safety training. However, some victims, mainly living overseas, are unimpressed by the perks and tax-free lifestyle enjoyed by their assailants.
And while locals have endorsed public statements about putting the past behind them, it remains unclear whether, even now, the men acknowledge their crimes, even while shuddering at Warren’s. Steve Christian has reportedly said: “I know I did some bad things in the past but never anything like that sort of stuff.”
Visitors are warned about the island’s dark history, and some observers suggest old habits might resume were outsiders not present.
Britain’s high commissioner to New Zealand, Jonathan Sinclair, who is Pitcairn’s governor, is more upbeat. “The islanders have realised that the future is challenging, and that they need to pull together and work with us,” he says. “They have an inherent resilience, and a desire to to pull it [the island] round.”