Project Canterbury

My Last Voyage

By Cecil Wilson

From Southern Cross Log, Sydney, Vol. XVII, No. 195 (August 15, 1911), 208-210; No. 196 (Sept. 12, 1911), 224-226; No. 197 (Oct. 12, 1911), 237-242; No. 198 (Nov. 16, 1911), 252-255; No. 199 (Dec. 16, 1911), 263-267; and No. 200 (Jan. 12, 1912), 270-274.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2010

[208] My Last Voyage.

AS I have been asked to write an account of my last voyage round the islands of my diocese, I must try to do so, although it brings back to my mind a great deal that was very painful, for a last voyage, when one knows that it is one's last, must needs be a sad one, However, it was a full and very interesting voyage. I wish I had the power to make it as interesting to those who merely read what I write, who know the islands by name perhaps, but to whom the names are little more than names, and tell nothing of the nature of the islands, and give no picture of them to those who have not seen them. They know perhaps that, some are large, and some small; some mountainous, and some raised but a foot or two above the sea; some lying within a few miles of each other, and some separated by two hundred miles of sea; some in [208/209] groups, and some lying a hundred and twenty miles from anywhere else.

The ship is a very different one from that in which I made my first voyage in 1894. Passing from the English liner to the fast flier to New Zealand, and on to the little barkentine, which was then our Southern Cross, it was a shock to see that her full speed under steam was only four miles an hour; and to find that islands like Vanikolo and Utupua, which lay up wind, she could not visit at all. The smells were atrocious, for bilge water had found its way into the cracks of the cement-ballast, and lay in a terribly safe place under the water-tanks where no pump could reach it. The missionaries in those days were giants, and small things like appalling smells they refused to notice, or, when their attention was called to them, said they did not exist. We put trap-doors between the little saloon and the lower deck to keep them down, but the draught from below burst them open as the ship sank in the trough of the waves, and even the giants sometimes realized then that there was somewhat of an odour about the ship.

The meals were a little difficult for a new-comer to eat. Very yellow curry in a tin dish for breakfast; a tin of meat turned out into a dish and eaten cold for dinner; and sardines or five o'clock tea, seems to me, as I look back, to have been the meals for every day of the week. We had no notion when we should arrive at the island that we were making for, and as we were always in a great hurry, the Bishop's work was done sometimes quite late at night, often in a tropical rain-shower, when we seemed to wade up a river to the church, and one only found out on a subsequent visit that the supposed river was really the path.

We were nearly wrecked off Lakona on my first voyage. The wind, which had been from the south-east, when I went ashore for a Confirmation, turned to the north-west and blew in terrific gusts, and the ship when I reached her again was tailing in towards the reef, and was barely holding on with two anchors down. It was about six p.m. then, and the engineer always needed four hours to get up steam. But this time he happily succeeded in getting it up in two hours, and between two gusts of wind we steamed up to our anchors, when the surf was already boiling on the reef under our counter, and forty natives were running up and down the deck, looking for the best place to jump into the sea to swim ashore. We got up our anchors as we moved along, and only just cleared the point of land which had shut us in. My first voyage was thus nearly my last one. With a lower topsail set, we were fifty miles away to the northward next morning.

[210] Then when the work in the islands was done, and we had with shouts and cheers hoisted up the boat for the last time, we had to beat our way back to Norfolk Island, taking generally ten days to run from the New Hebrides, a distance we do now in four. On one occasion we took, I remember, five days to do the last ninety miles.

Well, we are better off now, and are thankful indeed to be so. We have a beautiful little ship, a steamer, twice the size of the barkentine. There are no special smells; curry not more than once or twice a week; and we arrive at the places where the work is to be done at the best time of the day to do it. We pass by no islands; Vanikolo and Utupua and outlying islands are visited, and have their schools. A voyage on the ship rests a man who needs a holiday, but cannot get one, and cheers him, too.

The number of our Missionaries was very small in those days. Dr. Comins had the three large islands of Mala, San Cristoval (each a hundred miles long), and Ulawa as his district, and Archdeacon Cullwick had all the Banks Group to himself. A third priest had all the three New Hebrides islands that lie in our diocese. There were no ladies' stations at all. On this voyage there were eleven of us going down, and three of them ladies.

The great event of 1911 was to be a Conference of the whole Mission at Bunana, a little island off Florida, where Mr. and Miss Wilson teach in a Central School. And so, besides putting down boys returning from Norfolk Island, our business was to pick up missionaries throughout the diocese and carry them to the Conference. There were seventeen of us by the time we arrived there, all that could leave their work having been got together, the only absentees being the permanent staff and Mr. Drummond at Norfolk Island and the two Santa Cruz men, Mr. Blencowe and the Rev. G. F. Bury, who were obliged to stay in their district owing to troubles there.

[224] NOTHING of note happened to us until we had finished our work in the southern islands of the New Hebrides, Banks and Torres groups. At Utupua we heard that our head teacher in Santa Cruz, a San Cristoval boy named Ben Mononai, had been killed. On our arrival there we found that he had been wounded with a poisoned arrow by a party of four men who attacked the Mission station in Graciosa Bay, and that he had had tetanus, and been at the point of death, but had recovered. He looked wretchedly ill, and he had another attack of tetanus on the night on which he slept on board. We were told that those who had shot him would certainly come again, and would probably burn down the station. It was for this reason that Mr. Blencowe and Mr. Bury decided to stay.

On the first of May, as we lay off Mr. Matthews', the trader's station in the bay, we came in for a hurricane, or something very [224/225] much like one. The wind came with terrific force and threatened to throw us ashore. Captain Sinker moved the ship to a little safer distance from the land, and, dropped both his anchors, and so we held on as it were with both hands, for nearly twenty-four hours. One squall of extra force snapped the painter of one of our boats alongside the ship and carried it away. Mr. Blencowe went after this and recovered it. But meanwhile the trader's ketch had dragged her anchor and was going fast on to the reef. The mate went to her rescue in our motor-launch, and just succeeded in dragging her off. Then the ketch's boat went adrift, and this also had to be recovered. It was an exciting time and we were not sorry when the gale blew itself out. But the sea was so big that we could have landed nowhere outside the Bay, and so we decided to put the Mission party ashore at Namu and to clear out for the Solomons.

We succeeded in putting them ashore, but when we were outside on the open sea the ship threw herself down, first on one side and then on the other, and made very little movement in the direction that we wished to go. The waves and swell came from various directions, and the crockery on the ship was suffering; other Mission property seemed likely soon to do so, so we decided to turn round and have a quiet night in the Bay and continue our voyage next morning, when the sea had gone down.

We worked our way through the Solomons and arrived at Florida as we had arranged, on May 16, a month and four days after leaving Norfolk Island.

Our first duty was to report ourselves to His Majesty's representative, Mr. Woodford, the Resident Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Protectorate, and I had the opportunity of presenting our new men to him.

On my first voyage in 1894 there were, I think, at most six white men outside the Mission living in this eastern part of the Solomons; there may have been as many more in the western part. There was no Government except such as the occasional visit of a British war-ship could give us. We were nominally under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Fiji; but he very rarely visited these far-off islands. The British flag had just been hoisted, on some of them. Bugotu was still German, and remained so until, with Choiseul, the Germans gave it to Britain in exchange for Samoa. There were no other Missions and the Melanesian Mission was still depending on its "black net" of native teachers, and withdrew its "white corks" to Norfolk Island for nearly half the year. Mr. Woodford told me that there are now 500 white people in the Solomons. The value of imports last year was over £100,000, and of exports £90,000. The Government has a [225/226] revenue of £14,000 a year, and traders and planters alike are prosperous. The value of liquor imported last year was only £800 for spirits and £600 for-beer. There had been no cases of kidnapping reported, and no great quantity of ammunition had been sold, although the inducements to do so must be great.

[237] THERE is no Queensland Kanaka traffic now to drain the islands of their young men, but 4000 "boys" are engaged on the local plantations. The natives are now getting good prices for their copra, and ivory nuts, and are, in some places, compared with past days, fairly rolling in wealth.

[238] Besides ourselves, there are now other Missions; Roman Catholics, with eighteen priests and brothers, and fourteen ladies; Miss Young's Mission, working chiefly on Mala; and Wesleyans in New Georgia and the Western Solomons.

Before pratique has been granted to us we are permitted to call at any island in the Solomon Protectorate except Guadalcanar and Florida, which lie close to the Government Residency at Tulagi. After reporting ourselves, we are allowed to go anywhere we like; but before leaving the Solomons we must return to Tulagi for a clearance, and may then visit all the islands as we go south. This is a great concession on the part of the Government, and we greatly appreciate it.

On leaving Tulagi we put down the priest-in-charge of Florida, who had just returned from England after furlough, at his station at Halavo; and then called at Buñana to see Mr. and Miss Wilson, and to make final arrangements for the Mission Conference to be held on their island in a fortnight's time. I dedicated the Buñana Church at this time. Then we gathered up the Ordination candidates, Mr. Andrews, Mr. Moir, and Mr. Sprott, Ellison Gito and Hugo Toke, placing the white men with Mr. Hopkins at Hongo for examination and retreat, and the natives with Mr. Durrad for a quiet week on Buñana. This done, we were free to go on with our work in Guadalcanar, Savo and Bugotu.

The Mission's plantation at Maravovo we found had grown considerably. Clifford Buffett, a young Norfolk Islander, is in charge of this work, and he has some sixty acres of land cleared and planted with about 3000 coconut trees. The local natives do not avail themselves as they should of the opportunity of getting work near their homes, and of earning as much money as they would on a distant plantation. But men from a distance in Guadalcanar are glad to come, and from Bugotu also, attracted perhaps by Mr. Andrews, whom they know well.

We could do very little work on the Guadalcanar coast. It is the island where the Southern Cross always shows herself at her worst, the northern side of the island, facing Florida, being uncharted and dangerous (the Moresby ran aground on an uncharted rock not long ago); and the southern coast beyond Cape Hunter being fully exposed to the south-easterly swell, and without a harbour or shelter for any vessel for a stretch of sixty miles. It is in such places as these that the Archdeacon's new ketch will be most useful, and will take up the work which the larger vessel cannot do. The Roman Mission is pressing us hard on this southern coast of Guadalcanar. There was not a missionary or a teacher on the island on my first voyage, and now there is scarcely a village along its coasts without its school, and some unfortunately have two, one Anglican and the other Roman.

[239] It was now that we thoroughly inspected our land at Maravovo to see if there was no good site on it for the Solomon Islands Hospital. Buñana had shown itself to be too small, and its soil too unfertile, to support a Central School and Hospital as well. It had been intended to build the Hospital there, but the School had come first, and that therefore must have the preference. I was almost sure that there was a hill on the Maravovo estate that would do for our purpose, although it would not have the advantage of being quite as central as Buñana. We now found that there was one. It was the old place of departed spirits of the natives called Hautambu, and to it Mr. Andrews and C. Buffett had cleared a road, so that we were able to inspect it fairly thoroughly.

It seemed to us the very place we required. The hill was about eighty feet high, with enough space on the top for a large building; a gradual incline up from the shore, and near the foot of it a stream in which patients on recovery would be able to wash, as Melanesians after sickness always love to do. The coconut plantation divides Hautambu from Maravovo, and since sweet potatoes are always planted on land cleared for planting, there are already thirty acres of this food ready to hand. Fresh vegetables will therefore be abundant, and a paddock for cows could easily be fenced off. The only drawback to the site is that for two or three months in the year the landing is not good. However, a road and a bridge over the stream leading to Maravovo could easily be made, and patients could in bad weather generally be landed there. Dr. Marshall was pleased with the situation, and when the Conference met it decided that the Hospital should be built as soon as possible on Hautambu.

I held a Confirmation on Savo Island, where we had no schools at all on my first voyage, and was glad to hear that the custom of throwing the dead to the sharks had been abandoned altogether.

In order to be back in time for the Ordination, we were obliged to hurry over our work in Bugotu. As there had been no priest there since February, we were to give Holy Communion in as many villages as possible, and there were waiting for me a few people to be confirmed. The distances to be covered were great, so we gained time by blowing the ship's whistle at 4 a. m. each morning, and waking up the villagers and ourselves. We were ashore before five, and whilst it was still dark we gave them the Holy Sacrament. They were wonderful services: the "many lights," the eager desire for the Bread of Life, the crowd of people filling the church to the doors, carried one's mind back to the upper chamber at Troas, when the disciples came together to break bread, and S. Paul preached to them. I have never known people who so valued Holy Communion as these Bugotu Christians [239/240] do. There were one hundred and twelve of them communicated on Ascension Day at 5 o'clock, and three penitent excommunicates wrote to me in great distress because they could not come. The Church is very real thing here.

I was glad to hear an excellent report, too, from the planters about them. They said that they were "great Church boys," always leaving the plantation on Saturdays in order to go to service and school on Sunday. They were as honest as the day, and the only thing to be said against them was their wanting to shake hands with their masters so often.

I bought Kumaigola Island before I left, and then we travelled eighty miles to Kaipito, where Dr. Welchman died. I confirmed and baptized overnight, and at 5 o'clock next morning married a young couple, and communicated eighty-three people. It was a pity to be obliged to do all this work in such a short time; but it was beneficial in that it made me decide that, after the Ordination, Bugotu should have a priest; that Mr. Andrews, whom they ask for, should come at all costs to Mr. Bourne's assistance.

We paid Russell Island (Laumbe), forty-five miles away, a flying visit, and I dedicated the new church there, and then we made for Maravovo again in Guadalcanar, forty miles further on.

Here we found that Mr. Steward had settled up satisfactorily a difficulty with the people about the land on which the village stands; and had also bought a large piece adjoining it. This we needed for the Guadalcanar Central School. Then we made for Buñana (Florida), again anchoring off the island on May 27th.

There was much to make us thankful. In the first place, there were no less than eighteen of us gathered together, and we had never mustered in such strength before. Then there was the little island, the property of the Mission, with an excellent school, and over twenty little Solomon Islanders in it, all clean, healthy, and understanding us when we spoke in proper, and not pidgin, English. Then in the channel between Buñana and the main island of Gela was the Southern Cross, which was to be the home of most of us during the Conference. And there was also, anchored close to the shore, the new ketch, the Selwyn, built for us in Auckland, and just arrived after an eighteen days' trip from that place under the mastership of Captain Blue.

On Saturday night I gave my charge to the five ordinands in S. Bartholomew's Church, Buñana, and on Sunday morning I ordained them. It was like creating knights on the battle-field, to ordain men there in the little leaf-church, built on an island which used to be the resort of spirits and ghosts, and not of men, save when they went there to offer sacrifice. It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of the Solomon Islands.

[241] On the next day Archdeacon Uthwatt and Mr. Bourne arrived by steamer from Sydney. On the morrow we had a Quiet Day altogether, and then for three days the first Conference of the whole Mission sat.

We certainly got through a vast, amount of work: in the time, and that because, although no time limit was set, no one delivered himself at great length. Speeches were all short; the papers which were read were longer, but they were much to the point. No one was allowed to vote who had not been with us for two years, and every resolution had to be carried by a three-fifths majority. We had decided not to discuss the great question of last year, whether we should move the school at Norfolk Island to the Islands; but the Conference carried, I think unanimously, Mr. Fox's motion limiting the number of boys at Norfolk Island to sixty, and permitting only those who had passed through Central Schools to go there at all.

We could not come to a decision as to what language should be used in all the Central Schools. The Conference threw out English by nine votes to six, but refrained from establishing Mota as the lingua franca. For the sites of the Central Schools I chose, in addition to Buñana, Pamua in San Cristoval, Maravovo in Guadalcanar, and some place in Bugotu. As it was thought well that there should be schools of this kind for senior and junior boys in each of the three divisions in the diocese, one must be opened also in Santa Cruz. The Banks and New Hebrides division has its Central School already at Sanlañ. There will be then six Central Schools in the Islands, four of which will be in the Solomons. In these all the little boys will be educated, and the best of them will finish their schooling at S. Barnabas, Norfolk Island.

That is the new scheme as worked out by the Conference; but it must be remembered it was a Conference, and not a Synod, and the Bishop (who, until there shall be a Synod for the diocese, will continue to bear all the responsibility for all that is done) will be free to act as he himself thinks best. He will through this Conference know the mind of the Mission on a great many subjects, but his hands will not be tied at all if he sees a more excellent way. If, however, the Bishop shall approve of any resolution, it will be binding upon the whole Mission.

On Friday night our work was done, and we sang the Te Deum before the Altar in the little Church as a solemn act of praise. It had been a wonderful week for us all, and we had much to be thankful for. The Mission will not meet again in the same way for three years, for it was decided that the Conference should be triennial only, owing to the difficulty of bringing the members together and the loss of time incurred. And each [241/242] conference of the staff is to be preceded by one of the native clergy and senior teachers.

The next day some of us tried to forget debates and resolutions in a cricket match between the Southern Cross and Gavutu. We had a good game, but were beaten by five runs.

And now we were to set our faces once more towards Norfolk Island. We left Mr. Steward and Dr. Marshall at Halavo, where old Alfred Lobu, the native priest of Florida, lives; Mr. and Miss Wilson at Buñana; and after a short visit to Guadalcanar to dedicate a church for Mr. Moir and his people, we ran round Florida to Siota, and landed Mr. Sprott. He had had charge of this side of Florida during the past six months, and had thoroughly cleared our property at Siota of weeds, and the place looked very well indeed. A large part of the swamp, which so taxed the energies of Archdeacon Comins and Dr. Welchman, during the six years that we had a Central School here, before it was finally closed on grounds of unhealthiness, has largely dried up, and the part of it which was filled in looks as if it would now grow crops.

The labours of those two brave men at Siota have borne much fruit in the Solomons, and many boys trained there are now some of our best teachers. But it is a pathetic spot. The little cemetery, with stone wall around and many graves within, amongst them Mrs. We1chman and the eleven little boys who died during the fatal dysentery epidemic, recall memories of bitter suffering and heroic endeavour, and apparently frustrated labours. We learnt valuable lessons at Siota, and gained the experience which afterwards made Welchman's school at Bugotu such a success, and is now guiding Mr. Wilson in the establishment of Buñana School on the best lines.

From Florida we crossed to North Mala, Mr. Hopkins' district, to pay the teachers, hold Confirmations, and induct Mr. Simmonds, who had lately arrived from S. Boniface, Warminster. For a wonder in this district, there were no wars or rumours of wars. On my first visit we had no work going on in the district at all. In 1899 I issued an appeal for a man to come and help us here, and in 1900 the Rev. A. I. Hopkins came. Since that time he has devoted himself to this wild island, and has built up a little native church there, but it has been seldom indeed that his days have been days of peace. Last year a sick man was shot in cold blood on the Mission-house verandah by a man who boasts that he has slain his hundred men. He is a professional murderer, and there are many others of the same profession.

[252] THE Church is strong nevertheless in N. Mala. Returned natives from Queensland and Fiji have done excellent work, equal to that of boys trained at Norfolk Island. I was much touched by the penitence of one returned Fiji man who would not be confirmed until he had been absolved for a sin be had committed since his baptism. It was hard indeed to leave them. At Nore Fou, the head station, as they shook hands with me to say goodbye, I found in each one's hand a bangle or bead ornament, or some other little gift to carry away with me in memory of them.

We came next to South Mala to land Mr. W. H. Sage at Roapu in Roas Bay. He has built a very fine native house for himself amongst a people who have not responded to his splendid efforts as they should have done. A few years ago they built the stone walls of a church, but it remained walls only until Mr. Sage put an iron roof on it, and seated it. A lady in New Zealand sent a handsome reredos, and now the church is a beautiful one, and very well kept. On the beach I found a small round enclosure full of yams and coconuts, and the fence around them hung with inlaid bowls, bangles, red cane girdles, bracelets, and other things. All were parting gifts for me from the people, and were as unexpected as welcome.

At the next village, Eulu, we had a great day. Here was a church to dedicate, a large one like the last, and built and finished entirely by the people themselves. They begged us to spend the whole day with them, and they certainly deserved it, so we did. [252/253] As we approached the village, Andrew Dora, the teacher, asked us to wait a moment. When we were allowed to proceed a man with a spear raised over his head met us, looking very ferocious. He said nothing, and looked threatening, but I think was offering himself as our protector, for he turned round and assumed a very threatening attitude towards imaginary enemies in the Church compound. Following our fierce guide, we jumped over the fence, and after us came, one by one, other men with spears, pointing them now at our guide, and then wheeling round to face enemies behind. All was done to a stately measure, in perfect time, and absolute silence, a very beautiful war-dance as the opening ceremony for the dedication of the church. It must be remembered that these were Christians who were dancing, and I expect they were symbolizing the driving out of spiritual foes.

I dedicated the church immediately afterwards with the more usual ceremonies, and then confirmed six people, who had purposely missed being confirmed last year because of a quarrel amongst themselves. They had been preparing for Confirmation for three years.

[254] Andrew Dora made a great speech afterwards, striding up and down furiously in the midst of us, narrating in loud tones all that the Church had done for the people. He was extremely eloquent, as all natives are. When he had finished the people came to me to shake hands and say goodbye. They too had each a bangle, or nose-ornament, or some little present of the kind. They cheered me up by their kindness, and, I think, love.

Then, after a pause, other dances were executed, one a bird-dance with feather-like clubs in the men's hands; and another a dance round a big deep pudding-bowl, into which the eight dancers thrust their stirring poles in time with their song. There was a band also which sat on the ground and played the panpipes. Altogether we had a delightful day, and loved the natives more than ever for it.

In Ulawa, where we were early on June 10, there was some trouble, as just now there often is there. We held an enquiry, and were able to put matters right again. We kept S. Barnabas' Day, my Consecration Day, at Ugi. and I enjoyed the quiet, giving me time to think over my blessings since that morning seventeen years ago when in faith I took that great step in the dark which made me the "head of the heathen" in these islands. More than I wished for or asked for I have been given--long years of work, and health at the end of it. And how changed the islands are since then! During the week we were engaged at the Conference at Bungana no less than eight steamers, two men-o'-war, five trading steamers, and the Southern Cross,anchored at Tulagi and Gavutu. In 1894 a man-o'-war visited the group, and I think a steamer from Sydney called every three months, but even that visit could not be depended upon. We had no schools then on Guadalcanar, Savo, Ugi, Russell Island, Nukapu, Utupua, Vanikolo, Duff Islands, Tikopia, Hiu, and Toga. Then Archdeacon Comins was our only missionary in San Cristoval, Ulawa and Mala, whereas now we have five for these islands. Guadalcanar had none, and has now three. Florida had one, and has now four. But yet even now we have not nearly enough men, and our weakness in women is simply deplorable.

It was no easy matter to say good-bye to Heuru, the best village in San Cristoval. The good folk gave me a parting present of yams and other things, and of course I also found something for them. Passing up the coast we came to Pamua, Mr. Wilson's old station, which had been untenanted for a long time, Mr. Drew, its proper occupant, being in England seeking Deacon's Orders. This was one of the four places which I had, with the approval of the Conference, chosen for Central Schools in the Solomons, at which all small boys were henceforth to be [254/255] trained before they were sent to the senior schools at Norfolk Island. The Rev. C. E. Fox, whose many years of work at Norfolk Island had eminently fitted him to take charge of a school of his own, was, with Mr. Crawshaw's help, to found a school here for the eastern islands of the Solomons, including South Mala, Ulawa, and San Cristoval. I inducted and left him on June 12. His first business will be to clear thoroughly the coconut plantation, and make gardens, and then when food is grown the boys will begin to come to him.

We could not leave the island at once, as late at night a party of men arrived in a canoe from Fagani to ask me to go and say good-bye to their village, and dedicate their church. I did not like to refuse, and so next morning we retraced our steps a little, and landed at Fagani. The church was not finished, and I could not dedicate it, but so far as it has gone it is a most wonderful building, small and of native work, but very good, and exquisitively painted inside with a kind of Venetian mosaic pattern. The designs are original, and show great artistic power.

My last touch of the Solomon Islands was at Rumatari, where I inducted Samuel Ipo, to replace Simon Qalges, the Banks Island Deacon, who being lame, and his boat rotten, I felt was being wasted here. He will join Mr. Fox and help to make Pamua a really strong centre. I took then my leave of the Solomons, knowing that I shall long for them every day of my life, for those who have once known the charm of the islands can never escape from it; but whatever my regrets may have been, they were tempered by the knowledge that my leaving meant for the Solomons another Bishop coming, who would do justice to these islands, as I had never myself been able to do.

[263] AND so we entered once more the Sea of Growls, as from early days of the Mission the sea between the Solomons and Santa Cruz has been called. It was called so .because the wind is nearly always dead ahead, and the sea big, and in a sailing-ship the 240 miles' run took generally eight days of beating and thrashing to accomplish. In this present ship we generally do it in 30 hours. On this voyage we crossed it at a rate of eight and a half knots an hour, and arriving off Tinekula earlier than we had expected, spent the night moving up and down its lee. I never had seen this volcano so active. Streams of molten lava were running down one of its sides from almost the summit to the sea. It was no surprise later on therefore to see the volcano at Ambrym in the New Hebrides pouring out lava, and shooting great red stones high in the air.

We were very anxious about Santa Cruz. Messrs. Lever's new steamer, Kolumbangra, had brought us news that the Mission party had been driven out of Namu station, and a teacher killed. When then on June 15 we arrived off the little islands in the Reefs called Nupani, where we had arranged to find Mr. Blencowe and Mr. Bury, we were prepared for bad news. We could see the blue and white Mission flag in the hands of a native on the beach but could see no boat or white men. In going in to look for them I nearly capsized our boat, a wave catching us as we approached the fringing reef, and carrying the boat along on its face at a great pace, its head down, and its stern high in the air, until I had to choose between being thrown out or letting go the steering-oar. I chose the latter course, and the boat first offered her broadside to the wave, and then her head, and we came out almost where we went in, and none at all the worse. Our next attempt was more successful, and we got across the reefs; as we approached the shore Blencowe and Bury came rowing round the point of the island. The tide was running out, and there was but time to cross the reef again before it ran dry. Then we heard the news which we had been anxiously waiting for. For three nights after we had dropped them at Namu in Graciosa Bay, about thirty men from Otivi village had attacked them. They had tried to burn down the new church and schoolhouse.

Our men had been obliged to defend themselves, at first by firing their shot-guns over their assailants' beads, and at last with a shot or two right at them. There was no one killed, but if the mission party had stayed on there would have been probably the [263/264] next time, and so Mr. Blencowe decided to clear out all his followers, and cross over to Te Motu Island. He had as much as he could do to keep the people there from burning Otivi down, so great was their indignation when they heard of the attack. The absurd side of the whole affair was that it all arose about a cat. It belonged to Ben Mononai, the head teacher, a powerful San Cristoval boy, and the chief of Otivi had stolen it. When Ben went to his village to hold a service, he saw his lost cat in a house in the village, and picked it up and carried it home. It was on this account that Ben had been shot, and nearly killed, in April; and that now, because Ben had escaped, the mission station was attacked. The sad side of the story is that two of the Motalava boys who had come as boat's crew, took fright and tried to get to a place of greater safety in a canoe, and were lost.

Nupani has promised to accept a teacher next year. From this to the next island, Nukapu, so famous in this Mission's history, is about twenty miles. The tide was very low when we reached it, and the encircling reef as dry as it was forty years ago, when on September 20 Bishop Patteson went ashore, and was killed. To land on this island we had, as he did, first to walk across the reef, and leaving the boat there to paddle across the wide lagoon in a canoe. A couple of strong, young natives made little of the journey, and very soon landed us opposite the new church which they wished me to dedicate. It stands about two hundred yards from the memorial cross, and close to the shore. It is well built, nicely decorated, and the floor covered with mats. On the previous Sunday (S. Barnabas' Day) Mr. Bury had baptized eight of the people, and amongst them the sister of Bishop Patteson's murderer. The whole of the people are now either baptized, or catechumens, or hearers.

Another twenty miles and we come to Pileni. Here the Church is very active. The ghost-houses have all been destroyed, and every baptized person regards it as a duty to be a worker. Thus, when we left the island, I found that we had picked up thirty-seven new passengers, most of them being men with wives and families going off to other islands to teach.

We landed three teachers on June 16 on Netepa, in the Duff Group. It was a windy morning, and we had a rough pull ashore. As we drew near we saw that a school-house had been built on the islet on which the people live, facing the larger island, which mosquitoes, they say, make uninhabitable. Cyprian Matoa, of Pileni, came here only last year, but he has stuck so well to his work that a good many of the people can already read a little. He has five classes, and now that the new teachers have arrived the whole island will come to be taught. The ghost-houses already look in a very dilapidated condition, and seem to be [264/265] chiefly a shelter for pigs, and a place to throw rubbish into. There is constant communication by sailing-canoes between Taumako (as the Duff Group is named) and the Reef Islands, sixty-seven miles away, and so Pileni men are no strangers here, and were very welcome as teachers. As happened last year, a small boy asked us to take him with us to school, and we were glad to do so when his friends had consented.

We left Taumako at ten in the morning, and were in Graciosa Bay, 100 miles away, soon after dark. The new inter-island steamer of Messrs. Levers was at anchor off Mr. Matthew's trading station, with about sixty Reef Island boys on board, just recruited for work on the plantations in the Solomons.

On the following morning I dedicated a new church at Taape village, where two Merelava boys were teaching. One of them had unfortunately fallen very sick, but the other was happy amongst his rather wild parishioners, and stuck to his post. Thence we went to Te Motu to spend Sunday, the ship going on to the anchorage in the big bay.

There were twelve communicants on Sunday morning, mostly teachers, but three Cruzian women with veils over their heads also attended. After breakfast a long school was held, and then followed Matins, when over eighty people were present, the women as before with cloths over their heads. The service was in Mota, the lessons being read slowly and translated into Santa Cruz, sentence by sentence. I gave a short sermon, which of course was interpreted also.

Immediately after service teachers went up to the next village to hold a service in one of the gamal. A piece of land had lately been bought by the head-teacher, Ben Mouonai, and with his teacher's pay he was having a new school erected for the people of three villages to attend. Each of the six chiefs of these villages thought it incumbent on him to make a feast for the new school, all of which Ben had the privilege of paying for. I was obliged to leave at midday in order to get back to the ship before dark, and on the way I called in at Nibe village to see the new church which Simon and Wilson, two San Cristoval boys, had encouraged the people to build. It was altogether most cheering to see the new life in the Church of Santa Cruz. Leaving some of the Pileni teachers here to help in the work, we said good-bye to the missionaries and people and made for Utupua.

The Southern Cross lies outside the great fringing reef there, and in the boat under sail we run ashore, a distance of about three miles. On June 19 the wind was strong, and we took only three hours to go in and visit Ben Teilo's village, and William Kesa's, and to return. Here also we put down new teachers. I said good-bye to the people, and went on to Vanikolo, which it took us [265/266] over four hours to reach, although it is but twenty-seven miles away, owing to the strength of the wind. Here we landed the last of our Pileni teachers. Next year some of them promise to go still further afield, to Tikopia and Cherry Island, both of which are Polynesian, like themselves.

The wind moderated in the night, but a big head sea kept us back, and we did not reach Tikopia until two o'clock on the following day. More canoes than ever came off full of long-haired giants to greet us. The ship was crowded with them long before she had anchored. All doors have to be closed here, because Tikopians are great thieves, and the unregenerate amongst them walk off with everything they can lay hands on. The second engineer saw his over-alls disappear, but was fortunate enough to recover them.

The great news here was that Ellison, one of the teachers, a Mota1ava widower, had married a Tikopian girl. It is not uncommon here for the girls to propose marriage to the young men; but if the man declines the proposal the girl out of shame destroys herself. We found that Ellison had been proposed to, and had not liked to say "No" under the circumstances. The girl's sister had scolded her, and tried to drive her away, but she had thrown her arms round Ellison's neck. The sister, seeing that the case was hopeless, had then slapped her and pinched her, and drawn some blood; and this, said Ellison, constituted a marriage in Tikopia. The old chief Taumako consented to the union, but before agreeing to it Ellison had consulted the other teachers. They urged him to refuse to be forced thus into marriage, but he reminded them she would kill herself if he refused. On this they yielded, and married them. He seemed only fairly happy about it, but his friends think that the two will get on well together. I was obliged to give him some goods to pay for his unwelcome bride, and for some land to live on, since the custom here is for the bachelors to be fed by anyone and everyone, and for married people to shift for themselves. Poor Ellison seems therefore to have lost a good deal and gained very little by his marriage.

It was a pretty sight to see the lame Motalava teacher, Ernest, bid farewell to the great chief Taumako. Approaching him on hands and knees, he bent his head before him; when the old man lifted up his face to his own and kissed him. The Motalava men are very happy here, Melanesians though they are, and so of a different race from Tikopians; and are always ready to stay for two years at a time, being treated as one of the family of one of the chief men.

There are two schools on Tikopia, and new school-houses have been built for both this year. I appointed Kavarua, the [266/267] brightest of our scholars, a teacher. He is the first of the island to be enrolled on the teachers' list.

[270] IN the night of June 21 we ran across from Tikopia to Torres Islands, a distance of 125 miles, passing out of the British Protectorate into the sphere ruled over by the British and French Governments conjointly. The whole atmosphere seems changed here, as well as the Government. The white man is predominant, and the island native is no longer the free, happy child of nature that we have met in the Solomons and Santa Cruz. There are over 800 [270/271] Frenchmen and over 300 Britishers on what are called the New Hebrides, a name which covers not only those islands, but the Banks and Torres as well. On December 2, 1907, a Condominium was proclaimed for the government of these islands, and we welcomed it, believing that the lawlessness of past days would give way to order and justice to the natives. But everyone knows how greatly we have been disappointed. By almost general consent, things are worse than ever. Grog is still sold quite openly everywhere to the people, and they complain that they and their wives are being kidnapped. We report outrages and breaches of the law to the two Governments, but nothing is done. The reason given is that there is no ship available to collect the witnesses needed for the trial of offenders. Vila is the seat of Government, and the hillsides there are covered with the palatial residences of officials. But the arm of the law is shortened, and it does not reach Opa, Maewo, Raga, and other islands, still less the Banks and Torres. Indeed, it allows grog to be sold to natives in Vila itself, or at any rate does not prevent it.

So when we come to the islands we find little to cheer us. Here things are far worse than they were on my first voyage. The people are fewer in number, and sadder. In the Torres there are so few people that it is very seldom that a trader calls at all. If he does so he generally carries away some of the women. The men follow them sooner or later. In Raga Mr. Drummond says [271/272] that so many of the people have gone away that the few that remain cannot maintain their villages and schools, and life is so dull for them that they welcome a chance of going too.

At Hiu, the southern most of the Torres Islands, I dedicated a well-built stone church, erected by the Motalava teachers. The people gave us a boatload of cocoanuts as their church offering. On Coronation Day we were at Tegua. Mr. Durrad and I walked across the island for a Confirmation. That evening we anchored at the next island, Loh, and held a farewell service. On the following morning we visited Toga, and once more Durrad and I tramped across the island, this time to see a young white woman who had married a native of this island in Queensland, and was now living as best she could in the bush here.

The Torres group finished, we entered the Banks, and found, as we almost always do, a north-westerly gale blowing. We spent a night in the crater of Ureparapara, and then headed for Mota, but the wind was so strong that we decided to save our coal, and made for Vureas for Sunday in hopes that the wind would go down. We found that a very fine little stone church had been built for Mr. Adams' school at Sanlañ by the natives of the neighbourhood. The hurricane which had caught us at Santa Cruz on May 1 had blown down the old wooden church, and in six weeks the people had built one more worthy of the place. Old and young, men and women, sage aristocrats and the faithful had combined, and freely given their labour and materials. The total cost of the church to the Mission was £4. The boys of the Central School number thirty-six just now, and all of them looked extremely well and happy, quite a credit to Mr. and Mrs. Adams, who have the care of them.

Only last year the Church seemed dead around Vureas, The people were absorbed in suqe business, and the churches were almost empty. It was possible that by forbidding suqe to the Church we might lose all our people. However, it has not been so. New life has come already. The people once more attend the services. At Wasaga, where the teacher had been removed and the church closed, the chief begged for a new teacher. This and the building of the church at Sanlañ all show that the Church will gain strength the more we can suppress the old heathen customs which have led the people astray.

Mota, too, was much brighter than last year. The people had kept their promise, and had given up suqe for this year at any rate. Miss Hawkes was leaving the island after a stay of twelve months, and she said she had had much encouragement there. If she had had none before, the sorrow expressed by the people at her departure must have been worth much to her. One [272/273] of them told me that "Miss Hawkes was as good as a man," high praise for a Melanesian to give.

We had to break the news at Motalava of the death of their two boys at Santa Cruz. But they were already in trouble, a French surveyor having just pegged out the claim of Messrs. Ballande, a firm in New Caledonia, to 3000 acres of their island, including the villages of Pun, Beklog, and Wale. The land claimed stretches right across the saddle of the island. The purchase must date back twenty-five or thirty years, and the present generation knows nothing about it. Like all other white men's claims to land, the documents concerning it must now lie in Vila from August this year until July, 1912, and should no one dispute it a title to the property will probably be given to the claimants by the Land Court. Who will be there to defend the claim of the natives to their inheritance? If advocates for the natives are not appointed at once, their lands will go the same way that they themselves are going.

It blew so hard on June 26 that we could not visit Gaua or Merig, and so we made straight for Merelava. Here, too, there was trouble, an Opa trader having persuaded some of the people to sell him one of their girls; at Maewo also, owing to a trader having given drink to a man, and carried him off intoxicated, together with two small boys. Mr. Ixer, a trader at Opa, said that a woman had been kidnapped from his station; that he had reported the case, but had received no answer from the Government. Last year be gave a passage to Vila to an Opa man whose wife had been carried off one night. He brought the man to the British Commissioner, but he was obliged to return home without her. The case had passed beyond the Commissioner's powers if the abductor was a French subject, as he probably was.

In Raga it was the same, for on the previous Sunday night a white man and three of his native crew had entered a house in Lamalaga village, where our Ladies' Mission station is, and had seized a native and tried to carry him off. A neighbour had come to his rescue and saved him, driving off his assailants with the loss to them of one gun and three oars. It was further reported that one of our teachers, Gilbert Tarimule, had been seized, to take the place of one who said his time had expired, escaped. The master of the ship kept Gilbert until, on Miss Hardacre's advice, the escaped boy returned to the vessel.

And so my last voyage ended in sorrow. The natives are worse off in the south than they were before, but it is none of our fault. Indeed, our own and the Presbyterian Missionaries seem to be the natives' only friends. At Vila I called once more upon the British Commissioner, and found him sympathetic and anxious to protect the people, but the difficulties under a double [273/274] rule, British and French, seem quite insuperable until pressure is brought from without, and public opinion in England and Australia is thoroughly aroused on the New Hebrides question.

On July 6 we reached Norfolk Island, and on the following Sunday I ordained Mr. Turner priest. My last days at S. Barnabas might have been very sad ones, but I was not allowed by the Missionaries or the Norfolk Islanders to be downhearted. I celebrated for the last time in the chapel on July 16th, and on the 19th all the boys and girls, the staff, and numbers of Norfolkers came to the shore to say good-bye.


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