Report to the Melanesian Mission Finance Board of the Financial Arrangements in Connection with the Chaplaincy on Norfolk Island.
By H. A. Hawkins.
No place: no publisher, 1928.
Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, Anglican Church of Melanesia
It will be within the recollection of members of the Board that I was asked to visit Canberra and Norfolk Island by the Melanesian Mission Trust Board in connection with matters affecting the Board’s property on Norfolk Island. Whilst on the Island I also went into the subject of the financial arrangements in connection with the Chaplain. This I did as a member of the Finance Board.
I arrived at Norfolk Island on November 29th , from Sydney. I stayed on the Island until December 22nd, when I left for Auckland on the Mauri Pomare, reaching Auckland on the night of the 24th.
On Sunday, December 2nd, I instituted the Rev. John Lawrence Greer as Chaplain on the Island in the place of the Rev. Mr. Berry, resigned.
I had two meetings with the Vestry, and amongst several other matters, went into the matter of the support of the Chaplain and transport for him. I also addressed a large meeting of Church people in Rawson Hall when I spoke as vigorously as I could on the same subject. With the Vestry and at the public meeting I also dealt with matters that concern the Trust Board, to whom I am rendering a report on the items affecting the Board, and I also dealt with several matters as Commissary of the Bishop of Melanesia, to whom also I am sending a separate report, to which I am attaching a copy of this report and my report to the Trust Board.
As I was in possession of the latest figures from the Office of the Finance Board, I was able to point out how unsatisfactory the present arrangement is, which makes the Board responsible for the stipend, irrespective of what may be sent in from the Island. I pointed out that what one might have prophesied has come to pass, namely, that as the Chaplain would receive his stipend no matter how small might be the amount sent in, this amount had been steadily decreasing since the new arrangement was entered into. I further pointed out that our Board viewed very jealously every pound spent on the Island in excess of the amount received from the Island, as this meant a pound filched from the work amongst the heathen in the Northern part of the Diocese. I further pointed out that the people of the Island in the past and in the present, had a close personal interest in the work in the North, as so many of them had laboured there, and were labouring there now, and several of them had died in the work. Finally I urged them to do all they could to help the labours of the missionaries in the North, and of their own people there, and that this could best be done by seeing that none of the Board’s money was spent on the Island, where they could very well support their own Chaplain, and possibly have something over to send for the work in the North.
I am led to believe, from many from many remarks made to me at the meetings of the Vestry, and after the public meeting, that the main difficulty has been [1/2] that the late Chaplain alone dealt with the finances. The Vestry and the people profess to have been in complete ignorance of the arrangements made with our Board. This I think very likely, as they did not know what the Stipend amounted to, nor that we were allowing £50 p.a. for house allowance. Unfortunately, the position has not been improved by the fact that the late Chaplain had had such differences with some of the people that they were no longer going to Church, and in one large household at least they had their services in the house, the head of the house taking the service.
However, with the advent of Mr. Greer, these troubles are being forgotten, and knowing Mr. Greer as I do, and Mrs. Greer, I can confidently foretell a period of harmony and steady advance on all sides, should his health allow him to stay on the Island.
The people all expressed great gratitude that things had been explained so fully, and professed to feel rather ashamed that they had come so far short in their duty financially.
TRANSPORT FOR THE CHAPLAIN.
The time has arrived when the Chaplain must have a small motor car. Mr. Greer is a keen visitor, and I pointed out to the Vestry and people that now they had a Chaplain who was really anxious to visit them, and as now there are over 50 miles of road to be traversed on the Island, it was essential that a car should be provided to make it possible for him to visit them all regularly, which, they had informed me, was one of the weaknesses of the work for sometime back.
In going into the finances of the Vestry I found that they have in hand an amount, built up of surpluses over many years before the present arrangement began, of something over £100. I suggested that this money was really the property of the Finance Board, as the arrangement with the Board was that all moneys were to be sent in to the Board. However, I was informed by the Vestry that Bishop Steward had said that this money might be kept by them. I then tried to discover if the money had been collected for any particular purpose. The Vestry were uncertain, but in going over the Balance sheets for many years past, and from enquiry from members of past Vestries, I discovered that it had no Trust attaching to it, but was at the disposal of the Vestry. In the end I was able to get the Vestry to move that this be used for the purchase of a small second hand car by the Vestry for the use of the Chaplain, and carefully explained the whole position to the people at the public meeting, where it seemed to meet with the approval of the meeting. It is probable that a car will go down by the next boat from Auckland.
HOUSE FOR THE CHAPLAIN.
Previous to the Rev. Mr. Martin becoming Chaplain of the Island, and during the first part of his duty there, the Chaplain had a residence at Kingston, the property of the Government, which the Vestry had spent a good deal of money on at different times. In Mr. Martin’s time he [2/3] went to reside in another house further up the Island, and, following on a difference between the then Administrator and Mr. Martin on some other matter, the Administrator resumed possession of the Building on behalf of the Government on the score that it was not being used by the Church. Thus it came about that there was no residence for the Chaplain when Mr. Barry was appointed, nor for Mr. Greer at present, and thus the necessity of the £50 grant we now make in lieu of a house.
I have made a suggestion to the Trust Board that a residence for the Chaplain should be erected on Block 144 of the Board’s property there, which cannot block cannot be sold, but must be used by the Mission. The Chaplain is a member of the Mission staff, and I think that if the Chaplain resides on it it will be used by the Mission, and thus fulfil the Trust, and prevent its reversion to the Crown. As to the financing of the erection of the house it may be possible for the two Boards to deal with the matter in such a way that would make it beneficial to both, to the Finance Board in having to provide less than the £50 p.a. and to the Trust Board in ensuring its continued possession of the Block. I have suggested in my Report to the Trust Board that such a combined action might be possible and profitable. I hope, by the time this Report comes before the Board, that I shall be in possession of facts about a building that may form a basis of discussion.
(Signed) H. A. HAWKINS