Islanders send out SOS to Sage of Omaha Warren Buffett

Billionaire Buffett asked to revive the poorly performing, and remote, Pitcairn economy

Los Angeles

They call him the Sage of Omaha. But how would Warren Buffett feel about the prospect of being known as the Sage of Adamstown?

Residents of the Pitcairn Islands, one of the world's smallest and most isolated nations, have asked America's best-known investor to cast an expert eye over their increasingly shaky finances.

Mr Buffet has been asked to develop a business plan that will rescue the economy of Pitcairn, a three-square-mile island roughly halfway between New Zealand and Chile, from a severe downturn which has left many of its 60-odd residents living in poverty.

He has been invited to headline the Second International Bounty-Pitcairn Conference in Los Angeles in August. Delegates will include four islanders and a former British commissioner of the Pitcairn government, Leslie Jaques.

Organiser Herbert Ford, director of the Pitcairn Islands Study Center at Pacific Union College in Napa Valley, north of San Francisco, said the invitation was extended because Mr Buffet "has a philanthropic heart". "We believe he will see something special in this invitation to one of the world's richest people to help one of the smallest and poorest places in the world," he told the AFP news agency.

"We are not asking for his money... we're asking for something more valuable, his proven business acumen. With the gift of his business knowledge, we believe the Pitcairners can make a bright future for themselves. It's like rather than giving a hungry man a fish, teaching him how to fish so he'll never be hungry again."

The global downturn has hurt tourist traffic to Pitcairn, which once underpinned roughly 80 percent of its economy. And sales of the island's signature export – a luxury honey sold in Fortnum & Mason and other high-end stores – have also proven vulnerable to consumer purse tightening. Changes in Pacific Ocean sea lanes have also dented the number of commercial ships docking temporarily (and paying landing fees) in Adamstown, the island's capital, while the onward march of the internet has hurt sales of colourful postage stamps which have historically contributed to public finances.

For all the belt-tightening, residents have become well used to hardship during their modern history, which began when Pitcairn was settled in 1789 by mutineers from the British naval ship the Bounty, who had famously set their captain, William Bligh, adrift in the South Pacific.

Life on the small and isolated island can be highly claustrophobic. The population peaked at around 250 in the 1930s, but has since declined as younger residents have emigrated, largely to New Zealand. There are currently only seven children in the community.

Recent years have also seen Pitcairn at the centre of a damaging sex abuse scandal. After a series of trials that began in 2004, a total of nine local men were convicted of dozens of counts of sexually abusing – and in some cases gang-raping – children as young as seven. Six received jail terms. In 2010, the local Mayor, Michael Warren, was charged with possessing child pornography after 1,000 pornographic photos and videos of underage children were found on his two laptops. The case has yet to reach court.

Despite the charges, Mr Warren – a senior figure in the locally-powerful Seventh Day Adventist Church who, like many residents, can trace his ancestry back to the original Bounty mutineers – was convincingly re-elected as Mayor shortly after his arrest.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits