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Annual Report of the Melanesian Mission for 1905

The Southern Cross Log, Vol. XI, No. 131, Sydney, April 14, 1906, pages 1-11.

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



THE past year opened, like many others, with financial problems. Our expenses had increased enormously, owing to our larger staff of clergy, and our new Southern Cross; and the Finance Committee at Headquarters in Auckland had cabled to me that the Mission was in debt for £1800. We were relieved of all anxiety during the early months of the new year, money being sent from England beyond all our expectations, the result of the good work and liberal giving of friends of the Mission at Home. We heard that our income had been raised by no less than £4,361 during 1904, and that as much as £15,864 had been subscribed during the year. Our deficit had been turned into a balance in hand of £1,778, and our income had more than doubled itself since 1894. I need hardly say that we were thankful to Him Who had done so great things for us; and more, that we asked GOD to double our usefulness also, and give us grace to carry the knowledge of Him to all our islands.

Although we have had some losses during the year 1905, there can be no doubt that the Mission has made good progress.

[2] Two valuable members of our Permanent Staff at Norfolk Island left us at the end of the year--Rev. P. T. Williams and Rev. C. E. Fox--and in England the Rev. L. P. Robin, our Organizing Secretary, resigned his position. We have lost also since May the Rev. H. J. Nind's services, through sickness--a temporary loss only, but a serious one.

To put against these losses we have had three new men join us from England--Rev. W. J. Durrad, Rev. F. Bollen, and Mr. F. A. Stapleton Cotton--besides one lady, Miss Florence Coombe. The Rev. A. E. Corner, Mr. Robin's Assistant Organizing Secretary, has succeeded him. Numerically, then, the Mission Staff is a little stronger than it was, but yet our need of more men is more urgent than ever.

In the islands we have had a set back at Tikopia and Nukapu, at both of which places we have had to close the schools. It will be remembered that at the former island we began work about three years ago, two Motolava men with their wives settling amongst the people. Last year these two teachers were given a holiday, for the strain of teaching the noisy Tikopians had tried them severely. Zakeus, the younger one, died on the Southern Cross, on his way back to Tikopia, and Denmet, the leader of the party, was detained at Motalava by his wife's sickness. Meanwhile the teachers who had relieved them were having hard times at Tikopia. The drought which was felt so severely through all the islands last year was here attributed to the school and the teachers. Unfortunately they fell sick, which was also no doubt a bad sign. A third trouble was that they had conscientious scruples about approaching the chief on their hands and knees. They felt that such an attitude on their part was due to GOD, and not to man. It seemed unsafe for them to stay. Already some of the people had put the strongest adherent of the school into a canoe with only two cocoanuts, and told him that he must not return to Tikopia, which, as the island lies 120 miles from anywhere, meant he must die. Happily he found his way to Vanikolo, and escaped. It seemed that a similar fate might soon befall the two young teachers and their wives. They were ready and willing to stay, but it seemed best to me to remove them for a time, and to close the school. There was certainly considerable opposition to it at the time, and it would have become really dangerous as the drought went on, and the people began to feel the pinch of hunger and thirst.

We opened school at Nukapu only in the previous year (1904). Whilst Mr. Drummond was with them during May and June last year, the people were doing well, and everything seemed most promising. Then trouble arose with one of the few men in the little island who opposed them. This man set the heathen of the neighbouring islands against the school, and used all his influence [2/3] to destroy it. The school people consulted among themselves as to what they should do, and decided to kill the man. This they did, the teacher helping them. Of course I was obliged to shut up the school. I hope that it will re-open this year with a new teacher.

These represent our chief losses during the year. Our gains are as follows:--

1. We sent three ladies to the islands, Mrs. O'Ferrall to the Banks, and Miss Kitchen and Miss Hardacre to the Solomons, and began Women's Work amongst the women in the islands. Mrs. O'Ferrall, of course, lived at Vureas with her husband; the other ladies spent seven weeks at Siota, Florida, and when their house was finished at Vunuha, in the Honggo district of the island, they moved into it. A very successful beginning was made. The ladies kept their health, did excellent work in teaching, nursing, and dispensing, and the improvement in the people at the end of their stay was manifest. This year they will return with additional helpers to the islands, to settle down and make a long stay.

2. Two auxiliary training schools, or "Central Stations," were opened during the year, the one on an island off Bugotu, called Lilihigna, famous in past days as a lurking-place for head-hunters on their expeditions; and the other at Vureas, in Vanua Lava, in the Banks Islands. Lilihigna, or All Saints', Bugotu, as it is now called, is already a station of which any Mission might be proud. The little island lies at the South end of Bugotu, a gift of the people to the Mission. On a flat piece of land facing the mainland of Bugotu, and perfectly sheltered from the rough seas which the Southeast trade winds knock up, there have been built a pretty little bamboo church, and about ten other houses for the missionaries, and scholars who are staying with them. The Rev. H. Welchman is in charge, and has Brother Bourne and Mr. Andrews, with Hugo Devi, a first-rate native teacher, to help him. The staff is therefore a strong one, and need be so, for it is from here that we hope to reach the islands beyond Bugotu as far as the British Protectorate extends. In the quiet, well-sheltered little bay on the shore of which the Station is built, lies a new small schooner, the Ruth, a little craft about ten tons, in which the missionaries make their long journeys westward to the "Regions Beyond," viz., New Georgia, Choiseul, and the adjacent islands. About twenty scholars were being taught at All Saints' when we last, in October, visited the Station, and Brother Bourne was away on a two months' voyage in the Ruth. Teachers for a distant island, Vella Lavella, were on board with him; and one boy, with a skin many shades darker than that of our other boys, a native of Vella Lavella, was amongst the scholars, showing that the work in the Western Solomons had really begun.

[4] The other island training school is in the South, in the midst of the Banks Islands, within a few miles of Mota and Motalava. It stands on a long ridge of hill overlooking Vureas Bay, on the Southwest side of Vanua Lava. Mountains of 3000 feet in height stand like sentinels on three sides of it. Here under a great banyan tree nestles the little home of the Rev. W. C. and Mrs. O'Ferrall, with all the native buildings which are needed for a training-school. A large cocoanut plantation, the trees of which are now just beginning to bear, stretches along the ridge, and behind it are the yam gardens. The Rev. Simon Qualges, a native deacon, is at present helping Mr. O'Ferrall here; and there are about 20 boys in residence, seven of them coming from Santa Cruz, and the rest from the Banks and New Hebrides. This station Mr. O'Ferrall has named S. Patrick's, Vureas. The future of these two training schools is full of hope. In importance they rank only second to S. Barnabas', Norfolk Island.

3. Almost all the islands were visited by the Southern Cross, from Raga (Pentecost) in the Hebrides to Bugotu in the Solomons. It is the first year that we have gone regularly from island to island, including the outlying ones, except for Rennell and the Duff Group, leaving out none. The least known to us were: Russell Island (or Laumbe), where a school was begun; Stewart Island (Sikaiana), 100 miles N.E. of Ulawa and as far from Mala; Bellona, 120 miles S.E. of San Cristoval; Gower, 30 miles north of Mala; Santa Anna, near San Cristoval; Utupua (or Tupua), 60 miles S.E. of Santa Cruz; Vanikolo, where we have two schools; and Hiw in the Torres Islands, where a school house has been built recently, but no teacher yet sent.


NEW HEBRIDES 3 Raga, Opa, Maewo.
BANKS 8 Merelava, Merig, Mota, Motalava, Santa Maria (Lakona and Gaua), Rowa, Vanua Lava, Ureparapara.
TORRES 4 Toga, Loh, Tegua, Hiw.
SANTA CRUZ AND REEFS 7 Santa Cruz, Pileni, Nifololi, Nandeli, Nakapu, Matema, Nupani.
SOLOMONS 11 San Cristoval, Santa Anna, Ugi, Ulawa, Mala, Florida, Guadalcanar, Savo, Russell Is., Nagotano, Bugotu.
OUTLYING ISLANDS 6 Tikopia, Vanikolo, Utupua, Belona, Sikaiana, Gower I.
Total visited 39

[5] Of course the number of places called at varied in different islands. On one voyage 133 calls were made, and on the other 145. The Southern Cross in the five months in which she was at sea made therefore 278 calls.

Beyond Bugotu (Solomons) Dr. Welchman's little ship, the Ruth, took up the work, and visited many of the islands. Of this a full report is not yet to hand, but we have the satisfaction of knowing that not many of our islands were missed by one ship or the other last year, and the Mission came far nearer to covering the sphere allotted to it than it ever did before.


From Norfolk Island to the end of the Solomons, the two ends of our diocese, is about 1750 miles, little more than a thirteenth part of the circumference of the globe, and we are trying to stretch twenty white men to cover all that lies between these two points. Our "black net" of 689 native teachers seems attenuated enough when it is stretched such a distance; but what shall we say of the "white corks" which support it?

Archdeacon Comins is at the Norfolk Island end, doing with Mrs. Comins good steady work amongst the descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty, and other settlers.

Eight hundred miles away in the New Hebrides is our first tropical island, Raga (Pentecost), where the Rev. H. N. Drummond is trying to spread himself over an island 30 miles long, with a piece of the next island, Maewo, attached to his district. He has about 6000 people to evangelize, of whom he says 2722 are attending the Mission schools, and 1792 are baptized. A man in the central part of Raga counted up the number of dialects that he himself knew of in that part of the island, and they numbered fourteen. There must he four times as many in the whole island. Translations have been made in the dialect of the northern part, and the rest of the island is gradually learning this. "Pidgin English" also is useful as a means of communication. Raga with one white deacon to minister to it, and that after a vacancy of two years, cannot be said to be properly manned. There are 121 teachers, but as yet no native clergy.

About 17 miles from Raga lies Opa (or Aoba as it is more generally called). Here the Rev. C. C. Godden is trying to evangelize 3000 people scattered about an island nearly thirty miles long. The Mission has built him a house in a bay at the east end, where he holds a school for boys when he is not travelling about the island. He has 34 schools, and 1054 people attending them. The whole tendency of the island is towards peace and quietness. Many villages, [5/6] now heathen, will accept teachers as soon as we can provide them from the Banks Group, or elsewhere. But fighting goes on still in the bush, and keeps many parts of the island disturbed. Probably amongst the heathen cannibalism is still practised, but it is no longer common, or done openly, as it was a few years ago.

Maewo lies three miles north of Raga, and with Merelava, Merig, and Gaua (the weather side of Santa Maria) forms Mr. Palmer's district, the distance from one end of it to the other being about a hundred miles. Long stretches of open sea lie between the different islands, which must be crossed in a whale boat. It is the roughest boating district in our diocese, and can only be worked down the wind, so that Mr. Palmer must begin at Maewo, and work down to Gaua, and cannot possibly return in his boat. He has one very bright spot in his district--Merelava, where the schools and churches alike are well attended; the people are strong in character and cheerful in disposition; Suqe is abolished; and men are ready to leave their home in order to teach their brothers in Gaua. A native priest, William Vaget, baptizes and gives Holy Communion, whilst Mr. Palmer organizes, and watches over his people. In Maewo there is but little life in the Church, and no progress so far as man can judge was made last year. Some heathen in the middle of the island were punished for a murder during the previous year, one of our teachers helping to bring the murderers to justice. Merig is, like Merelava, very satisfactory; and Gaua has had considerable life put into it by the newly-ordained Merelava teacher, Joseph Qea, and some of his friends. Mr. Palmer has two native clergy and 48 teachers to help him. He has 1412 people attending his schools, of whom 938 are baptized.

The northern half of the Banks Islands, consisting of Mota, Motalava, Rowa, Lakona, (lee side of Santa Maria), and Ureparapara are the charge of the Rev. H. V. Adams, whilst the Rev. W. C. O'Ferrall from S. Patrick's, Vureas, looks after Vanua Lava. Mr. Adams was in England on furlough during the year, and we have no statistics of his district. It is the part of Melanesia which has been longest Christian, and where we look for teachers for islands as far north as the Solomons. Motalava supplies missionaries to six or eight other islands, as Mota did in earlier days. Last year, however, it had grown somewhat cold and needed a revival. The native deacon had neglected his duty, and the teachers had followed his example. Mota, under another deacon, had been doing somewhat better than of late years. The suqe law made in 1904 had been well kept. In 1904 the people agreed to spend only one day at a time upon feasts of the suqe, the secret society of this group. It had been found to have completely absorbed their attention; attendance at school and prayers had become extremely irregular, and much moral mischief had also come out of it. Lakona seemed to have [6/7] fallen back, owing to some of the Motalava teachers being away on their holidays. All was well in Rowa, and William Qasvar, the old teacher, came up to Norfolk Island for Ordination. Sickness and death carried off a great number of the Ureparapara people but Motalava boys had settled in the island, and already new spiritual life seemed to be showing itself.

In this district the two white priests have two deacons to help them, and 126 teachers. There are 2116 baptized people.

In the middle of the diocese the thin white line is so thin that it scarcely holds together. For some years there has been no white missionary in the Torres Islands, save for a few weeks in 1904, when the Rev. C. Howard, whose coming the people had expected for two years, and Mr. Andrews landed, but fell sick a week after their arrival, and had to be taken back to Norfolk Island on the up-voyage of the Southern Cross. Mr. Adams had spent six weeks here in 1903, and before that, the Rev. Simon Qalges had been in charge of the district. It is impossible for me to say much of certain knowledge of these three little islands. We believe that there are about 600 people attending the five schools, of whom 409 are baptized. As to the moral and Christian life of the people I could only speak from the reports of the natives, and I think it better, as Mr. Durrad is taking up work there this year, to wait for his account of the people. We have of necessity made an experiment in these islands. In Bishop Montgomery's "Light of Melanesia" he said that, so great was the independence of our natives of the white missionaries, it was conceivable that one of the islands might be left to itself for ten years, and on our return we should find the people faithfully attending to their Christian duties. For six years these Torres Islands have been almost left to themselves, except for the few visits of clergy as they went to work in Santa Cruz or the Solomons. The trial has not been a completely fair one, owing to circumstances which we could not control, but it will be at all events interesting to hear how far the little Church has retrograded, owing to the absence of a white missionary for six years.

In Santa Cruz again the white line is terribly thin. The Rev. H. N. Drummond, who in 1904 had been placed in charge of the Reef Islands to the North of Santa Cruz, was withdrawn last year to take charge of Raga; and the Rev. H. J. Nind, after spending the summer with Mr. Drew in Santa Cruz, completely broke down in health, and in May had to leave his work. In the previous year also Mr. Nind had been seriously ill. Thus poor Santa Cruz was left for the greater part of last year, as well as the year before, without a white missionary, and with only very indifferent native teachers. Here in fact is the weakest part of the whole Mission. There are fifteen Reef Islands, and the islands of Santa Cruz, Utupua, and [7/8] Vanikolo, and only one white man to look after them all, and he on the sick list for most of the year. No wonder that we make no progress in this group. There are but 300 school people here, 127 being baptized, 28 catechumens, and 146 hearers. A Santa Cruz brotherhood of four white men is what is needed for this group; and as these people will not bear transportation, they would need their own training college for teachers. This is a dream of the future, and if it is not realised now by the Church, I fear that it will be by someone else! The sight of Santa Cruz as it is now makes us groan for our want of men. Mr. Nind and Mr. Drew spent twelve days going round the mainland of Santa Cruz, and found every village--all excepting those in Graciosa Bay, which they did not visit--friendly and well-disposed. But the schools we have are weak, poorly taught and scantily attended, and the other villages show, with one exception, no desire for Christianity. Vanikolo has two schools; Utupua has this year been visited for the first time; Nukapu lost its school through its misdoings; Pileni's head teacher, the most able and trusted man we had, came to utter grief, and brought others with him. Poor Santa Cruz!

At a distance of two hundred miles to the westward begin the Solomon Islands, of which all that lie between Santa Anna and the Shortlands, a distance of 450 miles, is under the British Protectorate. This forms by far the larger half of our diocese, and it is only natural that here our white staff should be stronger than elsewhere. But when the size of the islands is considered, it will be seen that even here the white line is a weak one: nine men (our number for this year) to cover all the ground from Santa Anna to Bugotu, and to carry the work beyond that point by ship as far as the Shortlands; for as yet we have no white man living beyond Bugotu. Nine white men for the whole of the Solomons, and it is said that the Roman Catholics, who are at present confining their efforts to Guadalcanar, have exactly that number of "fathers" for that island alone! We have 10,357 school-people in the Solomons, of whom 7,097 are baptized, all the rest of the diocese showing 8,333 school-people, of whom 5,696 are baptized.

Looking at the islands separately, we find the Rev. R. P. Wilson and Mr. F. H. Drew in San Cristoval and Ugi, and occasionally visiting Santa Anna. They have ten school villages in San Cristoval, and four in Ugi, The whole of the N.E. coast of the larger island is under Christian influence, and a beginning has been made in two villages on the West side; this year it is hoped that a beginning will be made at the South end, close to Santa Anna, with the Rev. Simon Qalges as teacher. For eleven years Mr. Wilson has not spared himself in trying to extend the Church in this great island. But it has been a hard, uphill task, and every inch of [8/9] progress has been fought for. Heathenism with its cannibalism and blood-shed has been driven back, and little churches and schools have taken the place of canoe-houses adorned with human heads. In the country behind these there is much fighting, and a few cases of cannibalism are heard of from time to time. In the Christian villages there is peace; but the people are only fairly regular at Services and School; the teachers are not very strong, and the Church grows but slowly. Bushmen are attracted to them by their peaceful character, and swell the number of the villagers without necessarily corning into the Church. There are now nearly 500 people attending School in San Cristoval, and 162 more in Ugi. During the past year Mr. Wilson was kept in Norfolk Island to recover from a serious break-down of health until late in the year, Mr. Drew taking his place in his absence.

Ulawa lies thirty miles to the North of San Cristoval, and is ministered to by the Rev. W. G. Ivens and the Rev. Clement Marau, the latter one of the best of our native clergy. Last year Mr. Ivens was in England, and I spent as long as I could in his district, Ulawa and S. E. Mala. Ulawa is very largely Christian, counting 700 school-people (450 baptized). There is still. however, a strong heathen minority, three large villages remaining obdurate.

Mala has the Rev. A. I. Hopkins working all the northern half, and the Rev. W. G. Ivens the southern. The whole of the coast is visited by these in their boats, or in the Southern Cross. Last year Mr. Hopkins travelled all round the island, a distance of 200 miles, in his boat, and the Southern Cross spent many days on each voyage calling at villages. There are twenty-three school villages on the coast, and the Queensland Kanaka Mission has three more. The tendency now all round the island is to give up the old wild life, in which murder and cannibalism were of very common occurrence, and accept any form of Christianity which is offered. We opened four new schools during the year. Substantial stone churches were being built in three villages at the south-east end, and in this part of the island the bush chiefs showed themselves as anxious to join us as the shore chiefs were in other parts. Three school villages--Saa, Fiu, and Qarea--suffered from the threats and attacks of bush heathen, and were never free from danger. Ngore Fou, at the north end, has been left alone by bush-men since H. M. S. Pylades demonstrated there last year. The Atta Bay heathen, a few miles from Ngore Fou, had made a raid on a part of San Cristoval more than a hundred miles away, and been worsted. They make no sign yet of joining us, but at Uru, a very wild place twenty miles from Ngore Fou, and at Foate, another place of evil repute near Fiu, schools were opened. We have 1,791 school-people in Mala, 1,300 of whom are baptized.

Florida, with its 3,600 Christians, had unfortunately last year no white missionary at all. There are two native clergy. I spent three months there myself, and Dr. Welchman and Mr. Steward gave them Holy Communion at Christmas. My report on this island will found elsewhere.

There were two white missionaries in Guaducanar, the Rev. J. M. Steward and Rev. C. Howard. The former lived at Maravovo, and took charge of the north side of the island, and Savo; whilst the latter lived at Tasiboko, and visited the villages on the south side. In October Mr. Howard moved to Savo, retaining charge of the southern side of Guadalcanar, and Mr. Steward pushed along the northern side of the island. The extent of coast line now occupied by our schools stretches a hundred miles; the western end of the island is as yet untouched by our Mission. I have already stated that the Roman Catholic Mission has, it is said, nine white missionaries working on this island; but up to the present we seem to have quite held our own. We dare not anticipate what would happen if Mr. Steward or Mr. Howard broke down in health. I have been obliged to add Florida to Mr. Steward's charge for this year, giving him the Rev. F. Bollen to assist him. Three important islands, representing three hundred miles of coast line, and thousands of people, with about 4,000 Christians, fall thus to the care of three white men! A little church of kauri pine was built at Maravovo, and dedicated to S. Bartholomew on October l0th. The land at this station was acquired by the Mission from the people at their special request. Mr. Steward, it will be seen, writes cheerfully. His task is an enormous one, and, like Gordon at Khartoum, he scans the horizon anxiously, wondering when help will come.

The end of our "thin white line" for the present is at Bugotu, the eastern end of Ysabel. Here the Rev. Henry Welchman, with Brother Bourne and Mr. Andrews to help him, is ministering to 2,496 school-people (1,258 baptized, and 431 communicants), and pressing on into the western islands beyond. The Wesleyan Mission has obtained a footing before us in that part of the Solomons, but, as in Raga where Roman "fathers" and Plymouth Brethren have settled, and in Guadalcanar where the Romans are strongly represented, so in these western islands of the Solomons, the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England has the greatest interest; and now that she has stretched her line, albeit a thin one, across all the islands which lie between Raga and Bugotu, she hopes to carry it forward to all those which lie beyond. From Norfolk Island to our furthest school in the Solomons is 1600 miles, not in a straight line, but one which bulges to the eastward in the middle, so as to take in Santa Cruz. From the furthest school to the end of the diocese is now but 150 miles. Sixteen hundred miles are being covered by a [10/11] "black net" of 689 teachers, mostly trained at Norfolk Island, and the "white corks" are twenty. To strengthen the white Staff must be the immediate aim of the Melanesian Mission. If every man could keep his health, never go on furlough, and never take a turn at school-work at Norfolk Island, we should still be undermanned in the islands. But sickness, need of change, and visits to Norfolk Island are inevitable. Last year we had never more than fourteen men in the islands at one time, and for the greater part of the year there were only twelve.

I have tried to show the great need of our work. If only I could show the joy of it! More than once young men but lately come to us have said, "I cannot understand why more men do not come out and work here. It is just the work for dozens of men that I know."

Here are fields white indeed unto harvest. But where are the labourers? The language difficulty prevents many men from joining us; but it need not, for anyone of ordinary intelligence can learn at least one Melanesian language, and with only one a great deal can be done. The unhealthiness of the island-life alarms others. But this also can be got over by offering for work in Norfolk Island only, where the climate is one of the best in the world, and where men are just now as much needed as they are in the islands. Here at Norfolk Island, the Head Training School and Headquarters of the Mission, where from 150 to 180 boys are being trained as teachers, our Permanent Staff of white men numbers only two teachers--Archdeacon Cullwick and the Rev. E. S. Wayne. If men fond of reading and teaching would join us for Norfolk Island work only, they would set free the men in the islands who now have to be recalled from time to time, and so indirectly increase the Staff in the islands.

With our great opportunities before us, and our needs of many kinds, we ask most earnestly for Men--clergy, medical men, educated laymen:--"Come over and help us!"

Bishop of Melanesia.

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