Haasts Bluff Native Settlement began as a government ration depot in 1941. In 1942 missionaries from the Hermannsburg Mission, also known as the Finke River Mission, began to provide welfare services to the Aboriginal residents. Although no school or dormitories were established at Haast's Bluff, missionaries resided there and it operated as an outpost of the Hermannsburg Mission. In 1958 the settlement closed and residents were moved to a new settlement at Papunya.
Haasts Bluff Native Settlement, 280 miles northwest of Alice Springs was established in February 1941 as a government ration depot. It initially provided rations for elderly, sick and infirm Aboriginal people. From 1942, as part of an agreement with the government, missionaries from the Lutheran Mission at Hermannsburg, also known as Finke River Mission, were subsidised to provide welfare services at the settlement. They erected a number of permanent and temporary buildings at the settlement, both for mission staff and Aboriginal people.
The missionaries planned to establish a school at the settlement and in 1949 approached the government for financial assistance to erect a building and pay teaching staff. At this time the government rejected the request. It was concerned that the lack of drinkable and useable water at the settlement would prevent it from being viable on a long term basis.
Haast's Bluff became an outpost of the Hermannsburg Mission and along with Areyonga Native Settlement, the three were often referred to collectively as the Finke River Mission.
Over 400 people resided at the Haasts Bluff Settlement during its years of operation, including a large number of children. Without a school on the site, some of the children travelled many kilometres to the Hermannsburg Mission to attend school.
By the mid-1950s it appears that missionaries resided at the settlement. However no school or dormitories for children were established. In 1958, due to continued problems with obtaining drinkable water, the population of Haasts Bluff was moved to a newly established settlement called Papunya.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Northern Territory: Protectors /Administration / Welfare Branch reports', in To remove and protect: laws that changed Aboriginal lives, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2010, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/northern-territory; NAA, A431, 1950/1020, Lutheran Missions - The Finke River Mission (1) Hermannsburg (2) Haasts Bluff (3) Areyonga. Part 2, 1935 - 1953; Northern Territory Administration Annual Reports for 1953/54, 1956/57 and 1958/59.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 10 February 2011, Last modified: 1 November 2017