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'One of one': Walker a proud Pitcairn product

Based off numbers alone you'd think playing over 200 NRL games and representing Australia and New South Wales would make Dylan Walker the most notable descendent of the Pitcairn Islands, which at last count had a population of 47.

In this case however he is no chance of ever matching the fame afforded to Fletcher Christian, the English sailor to whom he is a ninth generation relation of and whose lead role in the Mutiny on the HMS Bounty, and subsequent settlement in the Pitcairn Islands, is etched in history.

Christian, whose acts of rebellion in 1789 have been portrayed in mainstream films by actors such as Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson, is Walker's 6x great-grandfather on the side of his mum Judy, who was born in the Pitcairn Islands before moving to New Zealand as a child. 

As Walker proudly tells, that line of ancestry to the tiny group of islands located about halfway between New Zealand and Peru in the South Pacific, makes him "one of one" in the NRL right now.  

“It's something I've always been proud of,” Walker said ahead of NRL Multicultural Round kicking off this Thursday. 

“I don't really get to talk about it too much; people ask about it and I tell them what it (the Pitcairn Islands) is and they don't understand.

"It's something I only really talk about with my mum."

Pitcairn Island is situated in the Pacific Ocean around 2,100kms southeast of Tahiti. Credit: RSPB via
Pitcairn Island is situated in the Pacific Ocean around 2,100kms southeast of Tahiti. Credit: RSPB via

While he’s never visited the islands, as a child Walker would celebrate Bounty Day – which commemorates the burning of the HMS Bounty by the mutineers in 1790 – and was taught the history by Judy. 

In more recent times he’s connected with family from Pitcairn and has plans to visit one day, once his footy career is over and children Leo and Tatum are older.

I've got a good opportunity now where I've been able to meet some cousins and people from my Pitcairn family line and it's pretty cool to talk about where you come from.

Dylan Walker

“I'd love to go there one day and see how it goes. It's definitely on my bucket list.

"Right now I've got a three-year-old and five-year-old, so that would be a little bit too hard and I'm not sure how that would go having them on a boat for a long trip.

“But it's something I've always wanted to do and something I think I will do one day.”

Unsurprisingly given the population, sport isn’t big in the Pitcairn Islands and right now they are the only pacific community member that is not a member of the Pacific Games Council.

But nonetheless Walker said rugby league appears to be a keen interest among locals, with those still living on the island having always shown support for him in his career.

Welcome to Multicultural Round 2024!

That was especially evident when he made his debut for New South Wales back in 2016, despite Queensland being the more supported state on the island. 

While Walker is the only known player of Pitcairn Islands descent playing right now, former Kiwis captain Roy Christian is one from the past and, like Walker, is a direct relation to Fletcher Christian. 

"My mum used to get emails from people that live on the island and they'd say how much they love rugby league, so it's nice to know that I'm doing them proud," Walker said. 

“As far as I know I'm the only one – I think if there was another one I'd probably know and have a connection with that person – so I’m one of one and I’m flying the flag.”

This Friday when the Warriors play the Raiders in Christchurch, Walker will also be representing his Māori lineage on his father's side, which has become more of a focal point in his life since being part of the NRL All Stars and moving to New Zealand at the end of 2022. 

Walker, who through his father is a descendant of Ngāti Kahungunu, has represented the Māori All Stars on four occasions.
Walker, who through his father is a descendant of Ngāti Kahungunu, has represented the Māori All Stars on four occasions. ©NRL Photos

The 29-year-old utility said he is relishing the opportunity to see Leo and Tatum learn the Māori language at school, something he didn't have the chance to do himself given he grew up in Australia. 

"I've got lots of brothers and sisters and they all lived in New Zealand, but I'm the only one that never lived here and I'm finally getting to do so now," Walker said. 

“Playing in the All Stars and coming back here to play now has allowed me to reconnect with it further. It's pretty special given I have two young kids at the moment who go to school and get to learn Māori.

“Before they eat now they'll bless their food in Māori which is pretty cool. So most nights we'll do that with them and it's great to see."

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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