Friday, November 27, 2015

Last Saturday afternoon, in a reserve above Headstone, appropriately known as the “Half-Century Reserve”, Ned’s seat was officially unveiled.
 As the cover was removed, celebratory balloons were released out over the sea, and there was much excitement and taking of photos. The gathering included not only friends and local Rotarians, but a contingent of visiting Rotarians including the District Governor and a number of past District Governors. These are people who hold Ned in very high regard for the role he has played in Rotary and in the District to which Norfolk belongs.
The photo below shows Ned “testing out” his seat for comfort.

And this one shows three of the four remaining foundation members who are still active in the local club – Ned, Bill Blucher, and Bernie Christian-Bailey’'.

Ned’s initial experience in Rotary was with the St Ives Club in Sydney. After coming to live on Norfolk Island, he saw the possibilities of forming a local branch. Norfolk Island Rotary held its first meeting on February 16th, 1973, and had its official charter night later in June of that year. The official charter was sponsored jointly by the St Ives Club, and by the St Ives club in Auckland, which was part of the district to which the Norfolk Island Club had been assigned. Ned provided strong guidance to the club in those early years, and went on to fill the role of District Governor in 19 79(???)

After the official ceremony of unveiling Ned’s seat, several of the group moved on to the Leagues Club for some fellowship and refreshments.
In the evening, a wonderful celebration dinner was held at Bounty Lodge.
During the dinner, several people spoke of Ned’s contribution and achievements over his lifetime. Special mention was made of the fact that during WW2, Ned was one of only six people in the whole of the Commonwealth to achieve Officer status before the age of 20. One of the others was the Duke of Edinburgh. There was a visual presentation of snippets and events of Ned’s life, including his schooldays at Grammar, where he excelled in the sporting field.
Ned has been a keen and committed member of the RSL, and Tet Grube spoke of the excellent work Ned has done for Legacy over the years. District Governor Peter Garnett read out a special and personal letter of congratulations from the World President of Rotary International. Later Lindsay Ford presented Ned with not one, but five Paul Harris Awards, one for each ten years of service. He pinned onto Ned’s lapel a badge with three rubies, to complement the five Paul Harris award badges that Ned already deservingly and proudly wears on his jacket.


Thanksgiving is definitely an American tradition that goes back a long way. In the late 1800’s, Norfolk Island was to have a great deal of contact with American people and culture through the visits of American whalers, and their wives, who often stayed on the island for an extended time.
Isaac Robinson was a trader who had settled on the island in the early 1860’s, and married one Hannah Quintal.  Although he was of British stock, he had a fair bit of contact with the American visitors, perhaps because his home was so close to the pier where they came ashore (the present Lions Club.) He eventually held the title of “American Consul”, although no one is sure that this was an official position. Nevertheless he formed strong relationships with the American visitors and settlers, and looked after their interests.
No doubt some of the whalers and their wives, feeling a little homesick, shared stories of their Thanksgiving celebrations back home, and Robinson decided to try the idea here, Back in the states, Thanksgiving coincided with Autumn harvests, but in Norfolk’s milder climate, it was still possible to hold a sort of Harvest Festival in November, which was the island’s late Spring.
The first record of Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island is in an entry in John Buffett’s diary in 1896. A service was held in All Saints. It is said that Robinson actually hoisted an American flag on the occasion, but was taken to task and forced to lower it.

It is probable that Thanksgiving services were also held in the other churches on the island from those early years, because both the Methodists and the Seventh Day Adventist churches were founded under American influences. On Norfolk Island, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday in November, while the United States observes it on the fourth Thursday.
Thanksgiving was to become firmly embedded in the island’s calendar and culture as an important tradition. It would be the one day of the year when most people wanted to go to church, even if they were not regular attenders for the rest of the year.
And so it is to this very day.

Our family always attends the Church of England service at All Saints. The church is transformed with  cornstalks, laden with fully formed cobs, tied alongside each pew. That corn is a story in itself. There is a group of farmers and growers on this island for whom planting the Thanksgiving corn is a most important traditional task, almost a sacred duty. The seed needs to be sown at exactly the right time so that it is ready right on the day, and they rarely get it wrong. However, they have been heard to complain that when there are five Wednesdays in November instead of four, it can throw their timing out.

Along with the corn, there are stalks of sugar cane, magnificent urns of flowers, and the aisles and foyer are filled with piles of fruit, vegetables and baked goods. The setting up is carried out by a loyal band of helpers the day before. It is an activity that is almost as traditional as the Thanksgiving itself. During the afternoon, people arrive with contributions – bunches of bananas, boxes of fruit, sacks of potatoes, the best that Norfolk gardens and farms can produce.
The day itself is very much a family occasion, and many folk really make the effort to get there and enjoy the celebration of our island, its people and its produce. This year, we had a visit from Bishop Rob Forsyth, whose pastoral care we have been enjoying for 15 years. This is his last visit in his official capacity, and he reminds us that he has a great deal to be grateful for, because 7 years ago he had a heart attack while on the island, and believes the prompt and skilled treatment he received here saved his life.

As the Bishop and our Chaplain Rev.David Fell entered the body of the church, they were led by young Liam Christian-Bailey carrying the processional cross. The congregation struck up the Doxology, and everyone was in fine voice. Actually, the order of service and the hymn  remain much the same from year to year, because people seem to like the occasion to remain familiar and traditional.
In his message, Bishop Rob stressed the importance of developing a habit of thankfulness in a world that is sometimes stressful and uncertain. He said that during these difficult times of change on Norfolk Island, we should still be conscious of our blessings and of the goodness of God. The Bishop noted that back in Sydney nowadays, a harvest festival type service would mainly involve donations of tins and packets of groceries. Here we are blessed to be close to the soil and appreciate where God’s provision comes from, and also value the labour of those who have produced it. It is most important, he said, to give thanks for each other.
A special treat during the service was when visiting soprano Lynne Anderson sang “How Great Thou Art” for us, and this was greeted with an enthusiastic applause. Peter Randall played the organ, as did his grandmother Edie Randall for previous generations. In fact, the sense of continuity and tradition was strong. One lady said she could not help thinking about sitting in the same pew with her parents and siblings more than 70 years ago!
At the end of the service, Tom Lloyd led us in the singing of the Pitcairn Anthem.

The Bishop and the Chaplain were led out, and the congregation remained seated while helpers carried the goods and produce to the tables outside, where over the next busy half hour most of it was sold to both visitors and locals. The fat fresh corncobs were especially popular, and the children had fun with the stalks of sugar cane.

The Uniting Church auctions their produce, and our Chaplain decided to take a leaf out of their book when someone donated a beautiful leg of locally-produced lamb! We must find more items for him to auction next year – he did a magnificent job!

What was left was taken to the hospital. The cornstalks were loaded onto the back of the truck, a treat for someone’s cattle, no doubt!

Back in the church, a couple of the menfolk vacuumed the church, and all was restored to normal.Although times have been hard for many on our island, we were overwhelmed by people’s generosity, with their gifts of both produce and cash.
We know the other churches had successful days too. Because the Adventist have their service in the afternoon, many folk took the opportunity of attending two services during the day. Others  had celebratory lunches with friends and family, and made the most of the beautiful weather with picnics and barbecues.
Now that our Food Festival occurs in Thanksgiving week, we are doubly grateful for what our island provides, and for the people who share their skills and talents to bring it to our plates.

Friday, April 10, 2015



In recent years, our community has been very much enhanced by the presence of some Ni-Van (Vanuatan) families living and working among us. Therefore, when Cyclone Pam caused such damage and loss back in those lovely islands recently, many of us here on Norfolk Island felt we wanted to help out.

Some members of the Christian-Bailey family, who count the Vanuatan people among their good friends, decided it would be a good idea to organise a fundraiser. The idea really caught on, and many people in the community expressed interest in participating and helping.

The chosen venue was the front lawn of Bounty Lodge, and what a beautiful setting it turned out to be. Tables and tents were set out among the trees, From 1 p.m. On Sunday afternoon, people began to arrive, both locals and visitors, to be part of a very special experience.

There were raffles. The major one had nine prizes generously donated by local businesses. There was also an Easter Raffle, and a Raffle for a quilt made by Mary C-B.

Throughout the afternoon, entertainment was provided by a number of local entertainers, and even after the planned programme of items was exhausted, there was no shortage of people willing to step up and keep the music going.

There was a special moment when Tet, who acted as the Master of Ceremonies, interviewed Julie Mansen, who was visiting relatives back in their home village near Vila when the Cyclone struck. Julie was able to give us a first hand description of how frightening it was for everyone. Following this, Tet suggested that if sufficient funds were raised, he may be persuaded to sing the song written by Darren Coggan for Tet and Lyn's som Mitch, who died of leutaemai in 1995. In no time at all, $135 was produced and we were treated to something really moving and special.

Lynlee Sanders, local Rotary President, spoke for a while of some of the projects being undertaken by Rotary to enable the people of Vanuatu recover from the Cyclone damage and get back on their feet.

However, the highlight of the afternoon was definitely the wetls (food.) Over both Saturday and Sunday, various "ground ovens" had been put to use cooking succulent pork, beef and chickens, whole fish, and other island foods. Some wonderful salads, vegetable dishes and coconut bread had been produced. The Fish Fryers kept up the supply of fish and plun fritters. And if that was not enough, there was an enormous dish of Tahitian fish (made by John C-B), and a huge pot of delicious curry (cooked by Fasiu Jone).

Our visitors expressed great delight at the opportunity to sample some of our island dishes, and vegetables such as Taro and Cassava. Of special interest were the "tuluk", small parcels of grated cassava with a centre of shredded pork, then wrapped in banana leaf and cooked slowly in the bunia (Ground oven.) They were also able to sample "kava", as well as other drinks from a well-stocked bar. After the main meal, trays of refreshing fruit salad and icecream were brought around by some of the young people.

While the adults relaxed, ate and laughed , and enjoyed the beautiful ambience of the occasion, the mild autumn day and the picturesque setting, the children happily played through the trees, riding biles and scooters, playing hide and seek, and generally enjoying being children living on Norfolk Island!

People were enjoying themselves so much, that it was quite late in the evening before many started heading for home. Everyone had feasted so bounteously that there was not a soul who needed to think about cooking dinner. It had been a magic day.

At this stage, it seems as if we raised almost $7 000. The credit goes not only to those who worked hard and donated goods, but to a very generous Norfolk Island community, always happy to pull together to support those in need. We hope the money can be used to help villages in Vanuatu get back on their feet after suffering such losses.Many people lent a hand for the occasion, but there are some who should have special acknowledgement.

Joanne and Ernie - Contributed Bounty Lodge venue, prepared all the food, donated half a pig

Foodland - Contributed $500 worth of food for Lunch

Jamie Ryves, Scotty Greenwood –Contributed Large quantity of Fish

Dean Fitzpatrick - Contributed Sweet Tatie

James (Speed) Partridge) - Contributed Pigs Head and Other meat

Sam Sheridan – supplied Fish Fry equipment and helped with cooking Fish Fry and meats

Teddy and Farmer Lou’s - Contributed Half a pig.

Fijian Community - Contributed 15 chickens and Cooked Hangi

Vanuatu Community - Contributed Traditional Tuluk

RSL Club - Contributed Alcohol

TET - Master of Ceremonies

John and Margaret Smith - Contributed Vegetables

Pacifica - Contributed Salad mixes

Diddles - Contributed Vegetables

Hotcrust Bakery - Contributed Bread

Mat Bigg - Contributed Vegetables

Charles and Kim C-B - Contributed Kava

David Bigg - Contributed green banana Fritters

Big Al and Pinetrees - Loaned chairs and Tables

Burnt Pine Travel - Contributed Marquees

K.C.I. - Contributed Mobile Refrigerator and Power

Kim Davies - Contributed P.A. System

Norfolk Radio - Contributed Free Radio Advertising

Agnes Hain - Contributed prizes for Children

Raffle Donors

Tropic Bird Art and Craft, Avanti, Hilli Restaurant, Christian Bailey Agencies,

K.C.I. Industries, Dial a Digger, Paradise Resort,

The Valley, Rusty’s Butchery, PawPaw’s, Wild Hi-Hi, Mary Christian-Bailey

The N.I. Vanuatu community, all the unpaid Waitstaff, helpers and local musicians. Many other generous individuals and businesses who have dropped off food, donations and assisted in setting up and clearing up.



Monday, March 16, 2015


Some lovely guests from Wellington, NZ were staying with us this past week. It was lovely to chat with Roger and Margaret Christensen. Roger very kindly wrote this little poetic tribute to Bernie before he left.

Bernie, of Fletcher Christian Apartments

A gentleman, so true, in every way.

One could not wish, in all of Norfolk Island

To find a soul more helpful, day by day.

Bernie, a Fletcher Christian descendant;

Whose temperament, so kind, might hold the key

To why, such drastic action took, his forebear,

In leading famous Bounty Mutiny.

Bernie, a Fletcher Christian reflection,

Would show us true what happened on that day:

It was from concern for crew that Fletcher acted,

To save them all from tyrant Captain Bligh.

Bernie, a Fletcher Christian proponent;

Is rightly proud to call himself that name;

And he is proof the Lord turns curse to blessing,

Thus changes Fletcher's infamy to “FAME”!

This poem is dedicated to Bernie Christian-Bailey

by Roger Douglas Christensen. Written Monday 16/3/15.

In appreciation for your friendship, Christian love, concern and going beyond the call of duty to help out my wife and I.

Bless you indeed.

This is Bernie on the occasion we met with Quentin Bryce(not shown!)
 Conducting a Senior Citizens Bus Tour

At the Fletcher Christian gates

Wednesday, February 18, 2015



On Valentine's Day, Fletcher Christian Apartments reached a significant milestone, celebrating fifty years since the arrival of the first guests on February 14th, 1965.

Back in the early sixties, owner Bernie Christian-Bailey was working for Qantas in Sydney in the Sales department, and often took advantage of the cheap staff fares to travel home to Norfolk Island for the weekend. He realised there was an opportunity to develop an enterprise that would cater for the needs of the modern traveller to the island. At that time, Norfolk had a few guest houses and boarding houses and holiday cottages for long-term rental, many a little dated and tired.
An architect friend in Sydney, Dick Gailey, was commissioned to design a complex of self-catering units, to be built on just over 2 hectares of family land adjacent to the developing commercial district in Burnt Pine. The original plans show a series of blocks of units zig-zagging back down the hillside, with a small complex of boutique shops on the street frontage. Bernie wanted the development to be in an island colonial style, using local materials as far as possible, in order to blend in with environment. It was a pleasant block of land, sloping down to the Cascade Creek, and up the opposite hillside to butt on to Marie Bailey’s property. A fine well was sunk in the valley, and later another very successful bore was sunk on the level area closer to the road.
Early in 1964, work commenced on the first block of four units. Bernie's dad George Bailey took charge of the project, and his team of Norfolkers went about their task with great energy and enthusiasm. People like Charlie Evans and Moray Anderson helped on the job, and it was Moray who skilfully produced the shingles to roof the original building.
Meanwhile, there was landscaping to be undertaken, and it was Bernie's Aunt Edie Randall, who first planted the row of hibiscus along the street frontage, as well as many other trees and shrubs that are still there today.

The first block of units

Karenne Gatehouse recalls that as a young girl, she and her Dad Kik had been out on horseback, and Kik suggested they let their curiosity get the better of them, and call in to see what was going on in Bernie’s new project. Karenne recalls her Dad being somewhat in awe of all the modern streamlined touches and finishes.
Ideas for a name were tossed around, and it was a colleague in Qantas who suggested "Fletcher Christian," a name which would not only reflect Bernie's family heritage, but would give the venture a unique and distinct brand.
Eventually the name appeared on the walls each side of the new cattle stop, this task being carried out by Mr Scotty Neagle, a very artistic gentleman who lived on Norfolk Island for many years.

Scotty Neagle

Bernie had begun to promote the Apartments through Mrs Aileen Dickson, who ran the Norfolk Island Booking Centre in Sydney, one of her assistants being Joe Adams! However, as it turned out, the very first guests were people who had been staying at the Kingfisher Hotel at Anson Bay, and wanted to move closer to town, people with the rather unsurprising name of Smith!
In many ways, it was a courageous venture, and a number of friends and family thought Bernie was taking a big risk. However he knew from experience that Qantas was actively promoting the Norfolk Island market at that time, and that modern travellers were looking for upmarket and self-contained accommodation that offered more convenience, independence and flexibility. Bernie also relied on the fact that even if the "tourist boom" proved short lived, his central location would also be attractive for the traditional visitor coming for a longer term stay.
The prices that were being charged also raised a few eyebrows. The tariff in 1965 was 17 pounds and ten shillings ($35.00)per week!! And you even had to provide your own food!
As it turned out, many of Bernie's guests in those early years were fellow Qantas staff, taking advantage of the cheap staff travel fares, and the discount that Bernie offered.

Guests in the sixties

Grandchildren Sarah(with Digby) and Emily in the same spot

In those early years, there were also a handful of longer-term occupants in the units, including an American lady Mrs Barbara Gandy, and Mrs Sally Kadesh, who eventually restored and lived in no 6 Quality Row.
Until Bernie returned to the island to live in 1967, the units were managed by his cousin Mrs Marie (Leo) McCoy. When he came back here to live, he at first worked for Burns Philp. As the business grew, he took over full-time management of the apartments.
In 1968, the second block of 4 units was built, George Bailey taking charge once again. Then in late 1970, a third block was completed alongside the RSL fence, this time constructed by Borry Evans and his team, using a New Zealand pre-cut kit, but still clad in Norfolk Island pine.
It was around this time that Bernie and Mary were married, and moved into one of the end units that had a connecting door to the new office and transit lounge. It was while they were there that the children began to arrive, and it was necessary to rent elsewhere to accommodate the growing family.

 The Transit Lounge/Office, with the Christian Coat of Arms above the fireplace

In 1974, Bernie and Mary built their house in the grounds. It was designed so that it could easily be turned into two two-bedroom units. As the family grew, it was extended at the rear. For the next 22 years it was to be home for the Christian-Bailey family, including the 5 children Miriam, Charles, John, Peter and Edward. The children remember always being conscious of needing to consider "the guests" if they were being noisy and boisterous. But there were advantages, because it meant that Mum and Dad were always close to home. Great friendships were formed with some of the guests who came to stay regularly.
When the swimming pool was built around 1988, it added a great new dimension to a holiday at Fletcher Christian. Sadly, around the same time, the two old pines at the entrance, which were something of an iconic landmark, had to be removed.
For many years, a very picturesque flock of white fantail pigeons were a feature of the grounds and garden at Fletcher Christian.

 Bernie, Mary, Miriam and Charles 1973

Later there were some peacocks who were much admired as they strutted around, but were not really appreciated for their noisy calling at night during the breeding season, or when they set off down the street early in the morning to see their reflections in the shop windows, leaving their rather messy calling cards.
There have been incidents over the years, like the times when guests tried to turn on taps for washing up when there was a power failure and the pumps weren’t working. They would forget to turn them off, and the units would flood. One of our funniest recollections is of the lady who asked about the green residue that formed in the basin and shower. We explained this was caused by minerals in the well water that flowed through the copper hot water pipes reacting with soap (a common problem on Norfolk.) So she deliberately tested it out on her peroxide blonde hair!
In the days when palm seed fetched a premium price, Bernie and Mary established a large palm plantation on the land behind the units. Of course, the bottom dropped out of that market, and four years ago they applied to the Toon Buffett Trust for a grant to establish native vegetation in the area. Son Peter, who looks after the grounds, was employed on this project, and the new plantings are doing really well.
It is wonderful to look back through the registers and visitor's books and see the names of the thousands who have stayed at Fletcher Christian over the years. They have included a number of well-known figures looking for some quiet privacy and rest. There have been some real characters too. Mostly our guests have appreciated the good Norfolk hospitality and personal service, as well as the very convenient location.

 Another view of the early years. Remember Cec’s hire cars?

Running holiday apartments is a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You never have a break from upgrading, replacing, renovating, and meeting the everchanging expectations of tourists and grading systems. International phone calls and the internet have brought enormous changes, and it is a far cry from the early days when Mervyn Buffett delivered cables on his motorbike, or bookings arrived by letter, requiring the time consuming process of a formal written reply.
So many people have worked for us over the years, in the office, the housekeeping and the grounds.  There are also many of the island's tradesman who have shown enormous loyalty and service in helping keep the maintenance up to scratch, and have been willing to come at very short notice to attend to things like plumbing and electrical problems. There are too many to name, and many have passed on. But if you are one of them, thank you for your part in making Fletcher Christian a great place to stay!

 Bernie relaxes by the newly refurbished pool.

In 1996, Bernie decided to "retire" from active management, and he and Mary moved to the family home at "Devon" up the road. Part of their former house became a Manager's flat, while the rest became a new tourist unit. It is hard to believe that was nearly 19 years ago, because Bernie is still very much involved. Not a day goes by that he does not call at least once, often several times, to check on things, chat with staff or guests, and generally make sure that everything is running smoothly.
As daughter Miriam says, Fletcher Christian" is still Bernie's "baby". He really has been in it for the long haul. His faith and investment in Norfolk Island, made all those years ago, is still very important to him. There have been many hurdles and difficulties, especially in recent times, but it has been extremely satisfying and rewarding to be part of the visitor experience on Norfolk Island, and help promote Norfolk Island as a wonderful destination.

Monday, February 09, 2015


It has been an exciting time in the Church of England lately.

We have just welcomed our first full time Chaplain for several years.
On 26th January, Rev David Fell arrived here with his wife Crystal, and children Wendell(4), Marigold(2) and Ernie (4mths).

David has previously been working as an assistant minister at Manly in Sydney. When he saw an invitation for someone to consider ministry on Norfolk Island, he felt moved to respond. The Fells felt a special connection with the island because Crystal was born just a few months after her parents, Pam and Barry Ledsam, had served a term here at our school.

It was decided that David, who has been serving as a deacon, would be ordained to the priesthood before he took up his duties, and that the Ordination would take place here on Norfolk Island.
The Ordination service took place on Wednesday evening 4th February in St Barnabas’ Chapel.
Acting on behalf of the Archbishop of Sydney was Bishop Rob Forsyth, who has had oversight of Norfolk Island for many years, and with wife Margie has become a great friend of us all.

Also present were a number of former Chaplains who came to the island to support David Fell and to share in the joy of the special occasion. In many ways, the event was quite historic. We do not believe that an actual ordination has taken place on Norfolk Island since the days of the Melanesian Mission. Nor would there have been such a large number of ordained clergy gathered together in the Chapel at one time. On Wednesday there were seven in all, and it was a very moving moment when they all laid their hands on David’s head as they sought God’s blessing.

Here is an old picture of the service of Consecration of the Chapel nearly 135 years ago. We can imagine what a joyful occasion that was too!

During the service, there were several  messages of welcome to the Fells, including one from our Chief minister Lisle Snell. This picture shows Crystal and David in the background.

After the service, everyone gathered in the Parish Centre for a delicious supper, where there was an opportunity to meet David and Crystal, and also to greet all those former chaplains who had come for the occasion. These included Rev Canon Bruce Ballantine-Jones (who had baptised David fell as a baby) and wife Heather, Rev David Lloyd and Olive, Rev Earl Hughes and Julie, and Rev Stan Colefax.

It is important also to mention Rev Canon Stuart Broughton, who has been our Chaplain for the past three months, and is leaving us on 9th February. This is the second time that Stuart has come all the way from England to spend time in the Norfolk Island Parish, and he agreed to stay on for a couple of weeks to help David settle in. We will all be sorry to say goodbye to Stuart.

A lunch at Governor’s last Sunday was a great opportunity for parishioners and friends to welcome the Fells, greet our special visitors, and say goodbye and thank you to Canon Broughton before he leaves us.

Another note of sadness is that Bishop Rob will also retire this year, and this will have been his final official visit to Norfolk Island, However, we are sure we will be welcoming him back in an unofficial capacity in the future. He says the island has a special place in his heart.

Canon Stuart with David Buffett, Bishop Rob and Margie in the foreground, Tom Lloyd in the background.

We would also like to let the community know that in the past couple of weeks we have also welcomed Mitchell Mahaffey, who has been employed by the combined churches of the island to carry out work among the young people of the island, the task that was formerly carried out by Dan Widdowson. Mitchell has planning to make this move, at the invitation of the island’s churches, for many months now, and is enjoying being in the community and getting to know people.

Mitchell and David  be a great team, we are sure. The picture below shows Mitchell chatting to Ralph Holloway and Beryl Evans. Mitchell is obviously keen to get to know the oldies as well as the young people!

Just a few days before the Ordination, we also had another special event in the Chapel. This was a Confirmation service conducted by Bishop Rob Forsyth and Canon Stuart Broughton. The confirmees are Julie Mansen and Phillip McDowell.

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