What the English-language Wikipedia articlle does not mention, however, is, how far foreign traders went to get even more wood :
The exhibition tells us that traders received protests against removing so much of this special wood that this island (and a few others) are nowadays almost totally depleted from it.
The firms decided to do something against it. Against these protests.
They decided to perform an genocide.
What they in fact did, was, to collect Malaria mosquitos.
Erromango already had Malaria, and its inhabitants were used to it.
But these foreigners did collect mosquitoes which had a much stronger form of Malaria in glass containers, and set them free on the island of Erromango.
These mosquitoes were meant to eradicate the whole population, so that the foreigners could harvest as much wood as possible. And that's why Erromango is nowadays almost depleted of the special woods, the exhibition text says, although they didn't fully succeed of it.
Performing such a genocide out of greed or because of other reasons is not the first time that illnesses were used as a tool. There have been reports of foreign americans giving infected cloth to american natives : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History…#North_America
The Native American population was devastated after contact with the Old World due to the introduction of several fatal infectious diseases, notably smallpox. These diseases can be traced to Eurasia where people had long lived with them and developed some immunological ability to survive their presence. Without similarly long ancestral exposure, indigenous Americans were immunologically naive and therefore extremely vulnerable.
There are two documented instances of attempted germ warfare by the British against North American Indian adversaries during Pontiac's Rebellion (1763–66). In the first, during a parley at Fort Pitt on June 24, 1763, Captain Simeon Ecuyer gave representatives of the besieging Delawares two blankets and a handkerchief that had been exposed to smallpox, hoping to spread the disease to the Natives in order to end the siege. William Trent, the militia commander, left records that clearly indicated that the purpose of giving the blankets was "to Convey the Smallpox to the Indians."
Well, it remains that one of the main reasons why "the white man" was so much succcessful is his aggressiveness : Opponents are eradicated until they are no more. And the europe-based "white man" has been the most aggressive one among all other cultures. This can not only be seen via Oceania, but also via the north of America, but also in other parts of the world as well, notable the south of America, where the Conquistadores simply decided that the natives were not human, and withthis reasoning giving them the perfect reason to wipe them out and hold them as slaves, meanwhile taking all of their land and belongings. In north-east Asia, russia-based people did a similar thing with the natives there. There was one documentary I have seen which reported one Russian trader who used natives as simple tools - to show how powerful his gun was, de directed 10 natives to stand one behind the others and shot through them - this "test" was to show how powerful this gun was and how far it could shoot through.
I believe that this is even the basis of Nazi thinking : That the more aggressive peoples are, the more likely they are going to be dominant - like what the Nazis indeed did during their reign of terror : Eradicate everyone whom they considered "weaker". The world wars the Nazis provoked were meant to eradicate peoples in order to take their lands. In the end, only 1 of all peoples should have been left - dominating everything else.
That they didn't succeed in the end was interpreted by Hitler that the Germans were weak instead and therefore had no reason to be left on the earth - and that's how the "policy of the scorched earth" came to be : All Germans had to be eradicated because they were considerably weaker than the rest of the world. This was his last consequence.
This is the red thread going through human history : People act out of greed, and decide to take what others have.
"The means justify the results" is their motto, and they act accordingly to that, on Erromango as well.
— “ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)