Project Canterbury



1849 -1949







Published by






Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia 2007



His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

President of the English Committee

I am most glad to commend this Centenary book of the Melanesian Mission though indeed it is its own best commendation. It is quite admirably done and presents the story of the Melanesian Mission in a most arresting and telling manner; and what a story it is! To read it must not only inspire every reader but also reveal to him in splendid colours the true work of the Church of Christ.

The Church in Melanesia began, continued and ended its first one hundred years with martyrdoms. In its beginning was the martyrdom of Bishop Patteson by those to whom he came with the Gospel of Christ. At its close the martyrs were missionary priests of the Church for which Bishop Patteson had given his life.

This book makes evident how deeply the Church has entered into the life of the Melanesians bringing to it the healing, liberating and creative force of Christ's redemption. Now come fresh problems and fresh opportunities for this generation to meet in the same faith which inspired those who have gone before. Thanksgiving for this great record of the past century demands dedication to carry forward the unceasing witness of the Church and the upbuilding of peoples in the strength of the Christian faith.

Lambeth Palace,
5th March 1949.


WHEN GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN was consecrated as First Bishop of New Zealand in 1841 the Letters Patent of the new See defined its northern limit as thirty-four degrees north of the equator, and so included not only the whole of New Zealand but also the islands now known as Melanesia.

1849 Thus it was that on 1st August, 1849, the small schooner "Undine", of 22 tons burthen and with a crew of four, glided quietly from Auckland harbour bearing Bishop Selwyn towards the untamed and uncharted islands of the Pacific.

In a short voyage the Bishop established friendly contact with many islands and initiated the policy followed for many years. He brought five native boys to be educated in New Zealand--the forerunners of the native teachers and clergy of Melanesia.

Bishop G. A. Selwyn

1851 Subsequent visits, sometimes in the face of native opposition, increased these islands contacts, brought more boys for training to New Zealand, and encouraged Selwyn to establish a mission station at Nengone under the Rev. William Nihill. Here Nihill laboured unceasingly until his sudden death from dysentery in 1855.

1854 Early in 1854 Selwyn returned to London to urge that the growing importance of the Island work demanded it be developed as a separate See. His influence in England was magnetic: he was able to secure approval for the new See, £10,000 was raised for its endowment, and the first "Southern Cross '' was built for the work by enthusiastic subscribers. To this purpose Miss Charlotte M. Yonge devoted the profits of her widely read book "The Daisy Chain".

1855 The most significant event of Selwyn's visit was that on his return he was accompanied by the Rev. John Coleridge Patteson, later to be the First Bishop of Melanesia, and to suffer martyrdom on the island of Nukapu.

Bishop J. C. Patteson,
first Bishop of Melanesia

". . . jungle covered masses . . .

. . . peaceful coral atolls"

1861 For some years more the Islands of Melanesia remained the responsibility of Bishop Selwyn, but the rapid development of the work there emphasised the urgent need for the appointment of a separate Bishop. At last came the consummation of Selwyn's hopes and prayers when in 1861 John Coleridge Patteson was nominated as First Bishop of the Diocese of Melanesia.

"Uncharted reefs . . . "


TO MOST PEOPLE the islands of the Pacific were places of mystery, dread, and yet of enchantment. The few who visited them found them as varied as their inhabitants. In one place were storm-girt mountainous jungle-covered masses, in another were peaceful coral atolls in waters of incredible blues and greens. In still another place a maze of uncharted reefs belied the calm beauty of the peaceful waters.

The islanders themselves varied from the dark uncouth Melanesian type of the New Hebrides to the handsome light-skinned Polynesians of some of the northern islands, At times gay and childlike, but more often victims of fear and suspicion, every other person was for them a potential enemy, and cruelty and treachery had become instinctive.

" . . . Victims of fear and suspicion"

Head hunting and cannibalism were frequent. Ignorance and disease enslaved mind and body alike, yet such religion as these people possessed was woven closely into the fabric of daily life.

At first sight they seemed intractable and unpromising material, but for Selwyn and Patteson they were always men and women for whom Christ had died and to whom He offered the riches of a new life.


BISHOP SELWYN REALISED from the beginning that the Melanesian himself must be the chief missionary to his people, and he likened the future church in Melanesia to "a black fishing net supported by white corks ". His first concern was always the choice and training in New Zealand of suitable native boys to be the future priests and teachers of their own people.

1857 Four years before his consecration, Patteson accompanied Selwyn on his first visit to the islands. Eighty landings were made on sixty-six islands and thirty-three boys were brought away for school.

Language was an immediate problem. Many languages, with numerous dialects, existed in the islands, but only in the spoken word. Few suitable words or ideas could be found to convey the spiritual truths of the Christian faith. Patteson possessed exceptional linguistic gifts. He learned to speak twenty-three island languages with ease and in four months he systematised and prepared for press seventeen languages, besides leaving others in manuscript.

1867 This work was developed and extended by the advent of the Rev. R. H. Codrington, who became the Mission's greatest linguist and anthropologist.

The landing rock, Mota

At this time the little island of Mota, in the Banks Group, came into the picture. Patteson had secured two boys from the island for training in New Zealand, and from them he learned the language which was soon to become the lingua-franca of the Mission. Mota had resolved the babel of tongues into a simple harmony: it had also provided in George Sarawia the boy who was to become Melanesia's first native priest.


TRAVELLING CONTINUOUSLY and visiting the islands of his Diocese, Patteson faced frequent danger and death with amazing calmness and disregard.

1864 Landing at Santa Cruz his party was treacherously attacked and Fisher Young and Edwin Nobbs--two young Norfolk Islanders--were fatally wounded by poisoned arrows. Their deaths were a great grief to Patteson, but also a spur to increased effort for the conversion of these islands. The names of these two young men are the first on the Roll of the Martyrs of Melanesia.

1867 Increasing knowledge of the islands convinced Patteson that his headquarters should be now at Norfolk Island. This move would bring them 600 miles nearer the Diocese to a climate suitable both for Melanesians and Whites. The decision was taken on St. Barnabas' Day, and St. Barnabas' College became the name of the new Mission headquarters. A new chapter in the development of the Mission had begun.

St. Barnabas' College, Norfolk Island

Santa Cruz landing, where Young and Nobbs were fatally wounded

First Landing of Bishop Patteson at Nukapu

These years saw increasing trouble in the islands through "blackbirding". Unscrupulous whites, using guile, or force if need be, were carrying off natives to labour on the sugar plantations of Fiji and Queensland. Their cruelty and treachery engendered hatred and led inevitably to reprisals by the natives. Some areas were faced with the prospect of complete depopulation through the work of these slavers. This trade in human lives was denounced by Patteson with burning words, but without any obvious effect.

1871 On his voyage north Patteson was well aware that he must face the grave risk of retaliation by the natives for the crimes of these other men.

September 20th saw the "Southern Cross'' slowly approaching Nukapu, north of the Santa Cruz group. Accompanied by Joe Atkin, a young New Zealand priest, Stephen Taroaniara, and two other natives, the Bishop rowed ashore, but sensing possible trouble, he decided to land alone. At first his reception seemed friendly, but suddenly he was clubbed from behind while resting in a native hut. His body was wrapped in a mat, placed in a canoe, and a palm leaf with five knots in its fronds laid upon his breast. Five wounds in his body from clubs and arrows also told in symbol that his life had been taken in revenge for five natives kidnapped by a labour vessel. So the body of the martyred Bishop floated across the lagoon bearing "the marks of the Lord Jesus".

Simultaneously natives had attacked the boat party. Taroaniara was transfixed with six arrows and Atkin with another. Despite his wound Atkin returned to secure the body of Patteson and the following morning read the Burial Office as it was sorrowfully committed to the deep. But dreaded tetanus supervened and within a week both he and Taroaniara had joined their beloved Bishop among the noble army of martyrs.

To-day a simple iron cross marks the place of Patteson's death, and on it are a few inspired words--

In Memory of


Missionary Bishop,

whose life was taken by men for
whom he would gladly have
given it.

September 20, 1871.

Bishop Patteson Memorial Cross at Nukapu

The blows that ended Patteson's life resounded throughout the world. They attracted men's attention, as nothing else could, to the Pacific. They awakened the Government of Britain to a sense of responsibility for the evils of the labour traffic, and they aroused the Church to a sense of missionary duty. The death of the Melanesian martyrs had indeed planted the seeds of a living church.

Bishop J. R. Selwyn


THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MISSION was in the hands of Dr. Codrington for the next eight years, and this period saw the fulfilment of plans laid down by Patteson.

1877 The first fruits of the work to create a native ministry was seen in the ordination of George Sarawia to the Priesthood. Active evangelisation in the islands had made great progress, and increasing numbers of native teachers were being trained at Norfolk Island and placed in charge of native schools. Inspired by the heroic memory of Patteson, numbers of men offered themselves for work overseas, and among those who came to Melanesia was the Rev. J. R. Selwyn, son of the founder of the Diocese of Melanesia. Later he was consecrated as Patteson's successor, and no better choice could have been made. By him the "black fishing net" was extended and 1882 saw the first Solomon Island deacon ordained.

1880 The consecration of St. Barnabas' Chapel on Norfolk Island, dedicated to the memory of the martyrs of the Church in the Pacific, closed a memorable year in the Mission's history.

St. Barnabas' Chapel, Norfolk Island

Henry Welchman, M.R.C.S.,

1885 The extending evangelisation increased the number of languages spoken in the Mission and in 1885 Dr. Codrington, "Prince of Philologists", produced his book containing t he grammar of thirty-six Melanesian languages. The Scriptures were translated, at least in part, into many island languages, and Medical work assumed a new importance with the coming of the Rev. Dr. H. P. Welchman.
1888 Priest as well as Doctor, Welchman was instrumental in converting Soga, the most important chief of Bogotu, and with his help succeeded in planting the Christian faith in nearly every village on this island.

1892 III-health compelled Bishop John Selwyn to resign, but his fifteen-years episcopate had shown clearly the pattern of the future development of the Melanesian Church.

Bishop C. Wilson


1894 ALTHOUGH NORFOLK ISLAND was long to remain the nerve centre of the Mission's work, from the coming of Cecil Wilson as Third Bishop, activities developed in the islands themselves with an ever-increasing impetus. The turn of the century saw an expansion of work which demanded not only wise planning and administrative ability on the part of the Bishop, but also great heroism on the part of both white and coloured staffs. Nor were these lacking. From England, Australia and New Zealand came men whose names will ever shine in the history of the Mission, and with them must be honoured the band of women who now began work as residents among women and girls in the islands. 1905 This was an innovation which required courage to introduce, but which has justified itself beyond belief.

The years had seen a succession of ships and to this period belongs "Southern Cross" number five, which was sent out from England and destined to be for thirty years a vital link in the chain of missionary endeavour. To all she became "akanina"--our ship.

' Akanina'--'Southern Cross' number five

Bishop J. C. Wood

The first world war saw much reorganisation and advance under Bishop J. C. Wood. A Training College for teachers and ordinands was established at Maravovo on Guadalcanar; plans for educational development and the eventual adoption of English in place of Mota as the medium of instruction, the increase of the native ministry, and the transfer of the Mission Headquarters to the Solomons were all decided upon.

1919 John Manwaring Steward was elected to succeed Bishop Wood. Having already served seventeen years in the Diocese Steward was able to face his new task fortified by wide practical knowledge. His first charge to his clergy declared his adherence to the principle of Synodical government in the Diocese, in which the native clergy would have the same position in diocesan councils as the white missionary clergy.

1920 The transference at this time of the Mission Headquarters to Siota, on the island of Gela, marked a further phase in the development of the "Mission'' into the "Diocese". There, under Steward's inspiration, was erected the native-built Cathedral of St. Luke, enshrining the relics of Bishop Patteson. Attached to it, as the spiritual centre of the Diocese, was a theological college and a centre for refresher courses for senior teachers. There, too, was held the first Synod of the Diocese.

Bishop J. M. Steward

To cope with the increasing work of the vast Diocese the Rev. F. M. Molyneux was consecrated as assistant Bishop--later to succeed Steward as Diocesan. To him was given responsibility for work in the New Hebrides. In Bishop Steward's episcopate occurred an event of particular interest and significance. This was the formation of an indigenous native Brotherhood through the inspiration and leadership of Ini Kopuria. The full story is told elsewhere, but the Diocese will ever be proud of this real movement of the Spirit which led to such fine pioneer evangelistic work and the opening among the heathen of so many doors formerly closed to the Gospel.

Ini Kopuria

1926 Post-war problems existed in the Pacific, particularly in the north of Melanesia where former German territory had become the Mandated Territory of New Guinea under Australian administration. In 1926 Steward agreed to accept the pastoral oversight of Anglicans in that area and to commence native mission work, on the understanding that the Australian Church would find the men and money required.

Work among the white population began at Rabaul, the administrative capital on New Britain, and later was extended to the goldfield area on the New Guinea mainland. Native mission work was also begun on the south-west coast of New Britain, in the Arawe and Sag-sag districts.

Arawe boy, New Britain

The Native Brotherhood

The Native-built Cathedral of St. Luke


The Native Priesthood

Interior of the Cathedral

When Bishop Steward retired, the seed sown by Selwyn and nurtured by his successors had grown into a living branch of the Catholic Church. There now existed the Diocese of Melanesia, strongly established, with Synodical government in which white and coloured priests met on equal terms. The Catholic faith was taught by its own native teachers, the Catholic sacraments administered to its people by its own native clergy. A native missionary lay Brotherhood had developed and a cathedral, built by native hands out of native materials, was in course of erection. Bibles, Prayer Books, and other literature in numerous native languages were streaming from its own press.

Bishop F. M. Molyneux

1928 The short episcopate of Bishop Molyneux saw more important developments.

1929 The establishment of the Community of the Cross marked an increase in the scope and nature of Women's work, and the foundation of the Hospital of the Epiphany on Malaita, with its dependent Leper Colony of Qaibaita, began an extensive development of medical work in the Diocese.

1930 Mothers' Union branches were established on Malaita and Bugotu, central schools at Maravovo and Pawa were enlarged and the Rev. J. H. Dickinson was consecrated as assistant Bishop.

The Rt. Rev. J. H. Dickinson,
Assistant Bishop

So much was the work developing that "Southern Cross'' number five, now thirty years old, was no longer adequate. In place of this vessel, making two round trips annually from Auckland, a new ship stationed permanently in the islands was felt to be a more efficient means of carrying on essential work.

Hospital of the Epiphany, Fauabu, Malaita
" . . . the foundation of the hospital of the Epiphany on Malaita. . . .

Qaibaita Leper Colony, Malaita

. . and it dependent Leper Colony of Qaibata"

"Mothers' Union branches were established . . .

Mothers' Union Branch in Melanesia

Maravovo Central School, Guadalcanar

. . . Central schools were enlarged."


SUCH PROGRESS was not achieved without cost. It was made possible by the faithful and self-sacrificing service of men and women--both White and Melanesian.

There were those whose lives were broken by sickness and disease, yet who never grudged a moment of the years they had given.

Others there were who through disease or martyrdom gave the utmost a man could give and were content.

A humble cross on a far away island marks the earthly resting-place of more than one faithful servant of Christ. Few fellow countrymen will ever read their names, but in the annals of the Church in Melanesia their names will live for ever.

Charles Christopher Godden--Priest, Missionary, Martyr

Not without cost


"Native Clergy rapidly grew in number . . . increasingly Melanesians were given opportunities of leadership . . . "

Bishop Baddeley and Ordination Group

Group of Sikaiana people--the whole island converted by the Native Brothers

Infant Welfare in the Solomons

Mothercraft training in the New Hebrides

Bishop W. H. Baddeley

1932 WALTER HUBERT BADDELEY was consecrated as Seventh Bishop of Melanesia on St. Andrew's Day 1932 at Auckland.

Few episcopates could have begun less auspiciously. The new "Southern Cross" provided from England, was wrecked on her maiden voyage in November, 1932.

Loaded with stores of all kinds for churches, schools, hospital and staff, her loss must have meant the complete disorganisation of the work of the Diocese, but for the prompt action of the Mission Secretaries in England and New Zealand. Fresh supplies were speedily shipped, and through the widespread public support which followed the news of the disaster, Bishop Baddeley and his staff were able, within only a few months, to welcome an even better ship when "Southern Cross" number seven sailed into Tulagi harbour.

Southern Cross number seven

The momentum of work now increased. Native clergy, teachers, and brothers rapidly grew in numbers, new District schools were opened and medical work extended. Increasingly Melanesians were being given opportunities of leadership, and evangelistic work under their direction was extended to the outlying islands of Sikaiana and Lord Howe.

In particular, work among women and girls developed and the Community of the Cross was strengthened by the admission of the first native women to seek the religious life. Through the Nursing Sisters mothercraft training centres were being developed.

In the Mandated Territory missionary work was winning considerable response, held back only by shortage of white staff.

On all sides the developing evangelistic, educational and medical work were woven together into the texture of sound Christian life by the ceaseless work of the "Southern Cross'' and her smaller sisters.

1938 With the ship permanently in the islands the administrative headquarters of the Diocese were fixed at Taroaniara, near Tulagi, and the New Hebrides, the Solomons and the Mandated Territory were established as separate Archdeaconries.

"One of the smaller sisters of the 'Southern Cross'"

The "Patteson"

Skilled handiwork by pupils of the Sisters' school, Torgil

"practical outside work--Crafts

Girls of Mothercraft training school working in school garden

Ship v. School--without boots!
-- and games

Pupils of the Sisters School, New Hebrides

. . the mixing of different islands and language groups"


FROM THE BEGINNING three strands have been inextricably interwoven in the patter of Christian life created in Melanesia.



Beginning with Selwyn, through the Norfolk Island days, and ever since, education in the Mission has aimed at the enrichment and enlightenment of the native way of life and never at the substitution of an alien culture. Melanesians themselves have been trained and given the opportunity of teaching their own people.

From village schools the way has led to separate central schools for boys and girls. Bookwork has been supplemented by practical outside work, crafts and games, and the mixing of different island and language groups has in itself been a practical lesson in Christian brotherhood.

More advanced education and technical training has been provided at senior central schools for prospective teachers and leaders, and on a higher level still have been the teachers' refresher courses and the theological training for ordinands.

"More advanced education . . .

Staff of All Hallows senior school. Pawa

Practical work in tock reading at Pawa School

. . . with technical training . . .

. . . at senior central schools"

Instruction in lathe work

Torgil Central Girls' School, New Hebrides

"The increasing demand for education led to the development of 'District' Schools, for which the local people assumed full responsibility"

Interior of "District" School

A "District" School, Santa Ysabel

A few specially gifted boys have been sent to Fiji for training as Native Medical Practitioners, or to New Zealand for education at a Public School.

A Fiji-trained Melanesian

The increasing demand for education led to the development of "District'' schools, for whose erection and maintenance the local people assumed full responsibility.

Infant Welfare and Mothercraft training, initiated by the Nursing Sisters and the Community of the Cross have proved a great attraction to the Melanesian girl and have already made a valuable contribution towards a healthier native life.


Proclaiming the Good News has always been the Mission's primary duty, and from earliest days it has sought to make the Melanesian himself the main agent of this work.

Theological training was the main purpose in New Zealand, Norfolk Island and Melanesia itself, with the ideal always before it of building an indigenous church.

Throughout the islands, churches, built and furnished by native craftsmen and adorned with native art, have become the centres of village life, and bear witness that the Christian faith is no alien imposition but an integrated part of Melanesian life.

The native Brotherhood--the "Retatasiu"--the spearpoint of lay evangelism, was itself a spontaneous native development.

Theological College, Maka

"Churches built by native craftsmen . . .

Church of St. Barnabas, Vunuha, Gela

Native reredos and altar, Ugi

. . . adorned with native art . . .

St. Mark's Church, Fouru, Malaita

. . . the centre of village life"

Carved from the solid wood by a village craftsman

"Religious drama . . .
Cast of "The Story of Joseph", Pawa

Organisations . . .

Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, Maravovo

Mothers' Union Rally at Buala

. . . all used to commend the Catholic Faith"

In pastoral work white and native priests have laboured side by side to proclaim the Gospel and minister to the faithful, "in journeyings often . . . in perils by the heathen . . . in perils by the sea".

Fellow priests in Melanesia

Organisations like the Mothers' Union, or the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, dignified ceremonial at the schools and colleges, religious drama, the printed word all these have been used to commend the Catholic faith and to create an intelligent devout Christian community.

Heat, damp, dirt, and ignorance have provided a happy breeding ground for disease in Melanesia, and always the Church has had full scope for her ministry of healing.

There has never been any question of the need, nor the readiness to meet it. Every missionary in Melanesia has perforce devoted much time and care to the treatment of the sick, and the work of its trained Nursing Sisters and Doctors has been one of the glories of the Mission.

Dispensaries at all white stations have been reinforced by central and district hospitals in the south and centre of the Diocese.

The Mission's Leper Colony on Malaita was the first attempt to deal with this scourge in the Solomons.

Out-patients at the Mission Hospital, Fauabu


"There is no question of the need"

"full scope

for the ministry of healing

A "Yaws" baby

In medical work, as in education and evangelism, the training and employment of Melanesian themselves have been to the fore. At first only male dressers could be trained and used at the hospitals, but in recent times the revolutionary step of training native women and girls as nurses has been taken.

Training in hygiene and simple preventive medicine has been widely given, and infant welfare and mothercraft teaching increasingly given with excellent practical results.

Aged 3 years Weight 11 lbs.

Excellent practical results

Doctor, Staff and Probationer Nurses at Fauabu Hospital, Malaita

Nursing Trainees at Fauabu Hospital

"the revolutionary step . . .

A new patient arrives

Graduation Day

. . . of training women and girls"

One of the smaller hospitals of the Diocese

Godden Memorial Hospital, New Hebrides

Treatment at the Leper Colony, Malaita


Transport must ever be a problem in an island Diocese, and since its foundation ships have meant all to Melanesia. Without ships the initiation and development of work in the islands would never have been possible. Without them to-day the maintenance of work in a Diocese nearly 2,000 miles long would be impossible.

Most famous of the Mission's ships have been " Southern Cross '' number five, which bore the burden of the major development of the Diocese, and her present successor, "Southern Cross'' number seven. Both saw active war service and both survived to continue in the more fundamental war of light against darkness.

"Southern Cross'' number seven

By the mission ship the Bishop is carried to all parts of his Diocese for his episcopal work, stores are distributed to the numerous stations, white and native staffs moved to new centres, school children collected and returned home, sick people brought to hospital . . . in fact, an innumerable succession of tasks is carried out. Her visit is welcomed in every corner of the Diocese and all feel that she is truly "akanina"--our ship.

The past--a district Missionary's whaleboat

In early days the work of the "Southern Cross" was supplemented by the district missionaries in their whaleboats, but in recent year these have been replaced by launches and schooners.

Engines have eliminated the uncertainties of sailing, but they cannot ensure a calm sea, and too often they have ills of their own. Yet, with their big sister, the "Southern Cross," they are the moving shuttles which weave the bright pattern of Christian faith and life in Melanesia.

The present--a Mission launch and schooner


John Barge, Priest, martyred by the Japanese in New Britain

THE SOLOMONS WERE INVADED by the Japanese in 1942. The Northern Archdeaconry had already been overrun and its white population almost entirely wiped out. John Barge and Bernard Moore, missionary priests on the south coast of New Britain, had refused to leave their native flock and had both laid down their lives in Japanese hands.

Bernard Moore, Priest
died in Japanese hands in New Britain

1942 In the Solomons Bishop Baddeley and his staff also refused to fly from the enemy. "Carry on, but avoid capture,'' ordered the Bishop, and by retiring to the bush they continued their pastoral work in the face of great privation and constant attempts by the enemy to capture them.

Mrs. Sprott was isolated for nearly a year on the island of Santa Ysabel. Other women of the staff continued their work in the Malaita bush, and the Gospel reached areas formerly deemed inaccessible for years to come. Only when their presence might have become an embarrassment to the widespread activities of the liberating American forces did these women consent to be transferred elsewhere in the Diocese.

Throughout this time the utmost loyalty was shown by the Melanesian people, and not a single white person was betrayed, despite every inducement and threat by the enemy. In the face of great difficulty the native church stood fast, native teachers and clergy carrying on their ministry with exemplary devotion. The Christian character of many natives, their devotion, ability and co-operation were a revelation to the American forces. In place of the treacherous cannibals and head-hunters they had been led to expect they found intelligent Christian men and women, whose faithfulness often shamed them into a fresh witness for Christ in their own lives.

Ex-Maravovo schoolboy awarded U.S. medal of Freedom

"The American forces found . . . intelligent Christian men and women . . .

. . . whose faithfulness often shamed them into a fresh witness for Christ in their own lives."

Allied soldiers confirmed by the Bishop of Melanesia

On the material side the war brought disastrous losses to the Diocese:

On New Britain--all buildings, property and boats, in white and native centres, entirely destroyed.

On Guadalcanar--Maravovo school, Hautabu Mission Press, and Tabalia Brotherhood Headquarters entirely destroyed.

On Gela--new mothercraft centre and other buildings at Siota entirely destroyed and the Cathedral wrecked. Central girls' school and Community Headquarters at Bunana entirely destroyed and all garden land ruined. Mission Headquarters at Taroaniara and all accumulated stores entirely destroyed. New Church of Christ the King at Tulagi entirely destroyed. Two motor launches and a whale-boat sunk.

On Malaita--Fauabu hospital looted of equipment and stores.

In terms of money these losses must be estimated at well over £25,000 and do not include village churches and schools destroyed in great numbers.

But material losses were more than compensated by the spiritual gains and enhanced prestige of the Church. The devotion of Barge and Moore in New Britain, and the courage of the Bishop and his staff in the Solomons created a deep impression. Native clergy, left to their own responsibility for long periods, rose magnificently to the occasion, and mission-trained natives gave faithful and able service to the liberating forces.

The Melanesian had proved his manhood and the Melanesian Church was the stronger for its testing.

Two faithful Melanesian priests


" . . . completely destroyed"

Site of the beautiful school chapel

Remains of large school dining hall


" . . . on the material side the war brought disastrous losses"

Remains of the Mission Press at Hautabu

Bishop Baddeley preaching to American troops in the wrecked cathedral


"The King's business requireth haste"

THE THUNDER OF WAR had scarcely died away before the sound of rebuilding was heard. Phoenix-like, there was arising from the ashes a new Maravovo, a new Siota, a new Buñana, a new Taroaniara.

1947 Under a new priest-doctor a new venture in training saw the first Melanesian woman to qualify as a trained nurse. Fresh impetus was given to the teaching of mothercraft, and increasing numbers of girls were coming forward for training.

Nurse Liñe Esu, the first qualified Melanesian nurse

1948 After a vigorous episcopate of fifteen years, Bishop Baddeley retired, to be succeeded by Sidney Gething Caulton, Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral, Auckland.

The appointment of Dean Caulton as Bishop marks a new phase in the development of the Diocese, since he is the first priest of the Province of New Zealand (to which Province the Diocese of Melanesia belongs) to be appointed Bishop of Melanesia. His previous service in the islands from 1929 to 1931 provides him with particularly valuable contacts with his native clergy, and a wide understanding of the problems facing the Diocese.

Bishop S. G. Caulton

His first visit to the Diocese as Bishop was marked by the profession of the first native Sister in the Community of the Cross, and the re-starting of the native Brotherhood.

A new start at Bunana


"A new Maravovo . . .

"Phoenix-like arises from the ashes . . . "

. . . A new Siota


"A tree is known by its fruits"

"A new Buñana"

THE CENTURY OF THE CHURCH'S WORK in Melanesia has seen a transformation of native life in many ways. Where ignorance, disease, superstition, fear and cruelty once reigned, and depopulation was rife, there is growing up an intelligent, healthy, peaceful, Christian community, steadily increasing in numbers.

Not all native converts are good Christians, and many Melanesians still remain heathen, but there is to be found in Melanesia to-day a Christian society fully worthy of its name.
Healthy Infants Happy Children Peaceful Communities Serene Old Age Enthusiastic Teachers Devoted Clergy Skilled Medical Men

These are the fruits of a century of Christian missionary endeavour.

The wharf at Taroaniara, showing "Patteson", "Gwen", "St. Mary Stafford'' and "Selwyn"


"Healthy Infants"

"Devoted clergy"

Native priest vested for the Eucharist

"Happy Children"

"Peaceful Communities"

"Ministers of the Word and Sacraments"

Native Medical Practitioner
"Skilled medical men"

Native priest and his wife retired after years of service

"Serene old age"


ONCE A BACKWATER remote from world affairs, Melanesia was suddenly drawn by the war into a maelstrom of mechanised life--and death. Now the storm has passed and the backwater is even more quiet and remote.

But life there can never resume its former tempo. Violent contact with the outside has turned the Melanesian's world upside down, and he is facing vast problems of adjustment in his religious, social and economic life.

The "Leading mark" at Taroaniara

The need for the Christian faith as a stable integrating influence in his life is greater than ever; the clamour for education is increasing; the threat of sickness and disease is ever present.

The Melanesian has shown in peace and war that he possesses great potentialities--but he still needs help. The Christian Church has a unique contribution to make towards the stabilising of Melanesian society and the establishment of a fuller life in all its aspects.

The work begun by Selwyn and Patteson, continued by their successors and supported from England, New Zealand and Australia, has been richly blessed. But it is not finished. The Centenary of its inception sees the door still open, and Melanesian society in a state of flux. Your prayers, your alms, your active service overseas are still needed and given generously now, may, under God's guidance, bring about the complete transformation of the Isles that wait ".



The Bishop of Melanesia

This booklet has given you a brief story of the Church in Melanesia during its first hundred years--a story of heroism, sacrifice and devotion that is worthy to take its place in the great record of Christian missionary labours of the past.

The need for courage and wisdom is as great now as it ever was, for as we enter upon our second century we are faced with new problems and opportunities which this new post-war world has created. We must continue to build securely on the foundation which our predecessors so faithfully laid down.

The Melanesian Christian stood up magnificently to the test of war and found in the Christian Faith a loyalty that held firm. Our task at the present time is to help him, through loyalty to that Faith, to play his part in a world that is bringing him more and more to share in our common responsibilities for the welfare of mankind.

By helping us you are helping to create a Christian nation in the Pacific.


 Designed and Printed
in Great Britain


Project Canterbury