This year has been marked by a distinct recognition of the claims of the Mission on the various dioceses of Australia. In 1850 the Australasian Board of Missions was formed, and the Church of Australasia thereby pledged to undertake Missions to the Aboriginal tribes of Australia and to the Melanesian Islands. Much assistance has been given to Melanesia from time to time by most of the Australian Dioceses. For several years contributions have been received from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania. But the amount in any one year varied very much, and no regular systematic support was guaranteed. The Mission was mainly supported by friends in England and New Zealand. But the Church in Australia has now promised a regular annual support to the Mission. Large sums have been contributed in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Tasmania, which has regularly supplied contributions for some years, sends again its donation; and the Government of Queensland has given a site on Curtis Island for a branch Melanesian School. The financial prospects of the Mission are very promising.
On the other hand the sickness from which we suffered in 1863, again visited us in the early part of this year, and caused the death of no less than 8 of our scholars: an attack was made unexpectedly at Santa Cruz on the Bishop's boat, and for the first time in the history of the Mission with fatal results. Edwin Nobbs a son of the clergyman of the Pitcairn community at Norfolk Island, and Fisher Young also a native of Pitcairn Island were mortally wounded with arrows. Mr E. Pearce was also severely wounded, but thank God, has entirely recovered. In addition to this very heavy loss, we have to regret the absence this year from among us of five of our old scholars, whom we fully expected to have brought away with [1/2] us, as usual, to spend the summer in New Zealand. In one or two cases there were satisfactory reasons why they should remain, and in only one case is there any real fault to be attributed to an old scholar. Probably these difficulties would have been overcome if we could have spent a day or two in arranging matters; but we had our wounded friends on board, and our first duty (as we thought) was to bring them as soon as possible into colder latitudes and within reach of medical skill.
It is superfluous to say that on all these accounts we have had much sorrow: but the general prospects of the work, as far as we can judge, are not materially injured. We have lost by death two most simple-hearted, concientious, useful members of our small party: we have been disappointed in two of our old scholars, and we are very sorry that the education of three others should be interrupted. But heavy indeed as the loss of Edwin and Fisher is felt to be, and much as we grieve over the absence of our old pupils, yet there is no real cause for overmuch sorrow. The work is not interrupted: the great majority of our old scholars are with us; and we ought to have gained much experience from the events of last voyage in the way both of warning and comfort.
None that witnessed the simple loving humble faith of our dear friends can ever forget it; no pain of body, no thoughts of home and parents and brothers and sisters had any power to disquiet their minds; they had long learned the lesson of self discipline; they had not now to begin to trust in the love of their heavenly Father; they simply, rested in the full assurance, the sure consciousness that God was ordering everything for their good, and this blessed comfort was never withdrawn from them.
The sad disaster at Santa Cruz altered all the plans for our voyage. We returned as soon as we could to the Banks's Islands, picked up our scholars there, and leaving unvisited all the Islands save one of the New Hebrides Group, where in several places old scholars were waiting for us, reached New Zealand in the middle of September.
We have this season only 38 Melanesians at Kohimarama, from the Banks and Solomon Islands, and from one Island of the New Hebrides.
The general work of the school is carried on upon the same plan already described in former reports; the old scholars are becoming more and more useful, more [2/3] able to fill responsible posts. The most trustworthy have their own set of lads under their charge, and are responsible for various departments of work, all under the management of the Rev. L Pritt. It must always be remembered that the training of these lads and young men in all habits of industry, order, punctuality &c is one of our principal objects, inseparable indeed, as we believe, from the ordinary school work, the reading writing &c.
'The Rev. J Palmer has taken the charge of the Printing office: several of the native lads already give much assistance under his teaching.
A translation by Mr Pritt of the Gospel of St Luke has just been printed in the language of Mota Island, and the Acts of the Apostles are being now printed. School lessons also in any languages in which they may be required are furnished by our own press.
School is going on during five hours of the day; industrial work occupies nearly three hours: our meals are taken all together in Hall at 7. 30. a. m. 1. p. m. and 7. p. m.
We are increasing our accomodation to a small extent, not choosing to incur much expense, while our plans are uncertain, and it is possible that a portion or even eventually the whole of the Mission party may be transferred to Curtis Id, or some other suitable place on the E coast of Australia. The wooden dormitories are at present very small; and there is no room which can be used as a hospital without interfering with other arrangements.
The cost of the new Schooner has been defrayed. The Bishop took upon himself the payment of whatever sum was necessary to make up the required amount. As the subscriptions in England came in, the Bishop's brother in England paid these monies, unless some other appropriation of them was specified by the donors, into the Bishop's private account. The last letters from England bring news that with the exception of 25 pounds the whole amount has been repaid. An abstract of the account is given in the Appendix to the Report.
The Mission property at Kohimarama has been leased to Mr George Rust for a term of seven years at a rental of 250 pounds. About 12 acres of land with sea frontage have been reserved by the Mission; and a block of about 60 acres still remains unfenced.
The contributions received during this year in Australia added to our ordinary income enable us not [3/4] only to meet the current expenses of the year, but to invest some money as an augmentation of the endowment of the Mission.
The Accounts printed in the Appendix supply the means of forming a tolerably correct notion of the average annual expenditure. It should be remembered that the amount stated under the various heads of Household Expenses, Meat, Bread, Dairy &c include the cost of the whole establishment, Clergy, Teachers and Scholars alike.
It is scarcely possible to ascertain exactly the expenditure incurred by various members of the Mission on board ship and among the islands. Teachers and scholars are continually coming and going; a few weeks are spent on shore and again the life on board ship is resumed.
We ought not to omit expressing our thankfulness for the large amount of encouragement and assistance that we continue to receive from many quarters. Presents of clothing, and of valuable books have been made during the past year from Australia & England. The stores for consumption on the last voyage were sent by Messrs Towns & Stuart free of all charge from Sydney to Erumanga, where Mr Henry kindly made room for them, till they were picked up by the Southern Cross. Everywhere opportunities were most kindly afforded to the Bishop while travelling in Australia, of making known the character and object of the Mission.
From R. K. Prendergast Esq an old and kind friend of the Mission, we have received a donation of four acres of land near Napier.
Miss Yonge's noble gift of the whole proceeds of the Daisy Chain still increases year by year.
Dr Goldsbro has most kindly volunteered his services gratuitously. It would be difficult to overrate the comfort which his skill and kindness afforded during the time of the last sickness.
Amidst many failures and disappointments we have much reason to be thankful for far greater blessings and mercies received during the past year.