Project Canterbury

















Translated from Mota


Bishop D.A. Rawcliffe


[Published by Church of Melanesia, Provincial Press, Honiara, BSIP, 1973]




Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2005.

Published online with the permission of the Archbishop of Melanesia and Bishop Derek Rawcliffe.


Introduction: The Life of George Sarawia   ii
The First Melanesian Ordination i  ii

1.   He sees the white men for the first time   1
2.   He sees the white men at prayer   3
3.   The white men come a second time   6
4.   George goes away with the Bishop   7
5.   He begins school at Lifu   10
6.   He goes back home   11
7.   George stays at home for a while   12
8.   He goes away again with the Bishops   14
9.   He goes to school in Auckland, New Zealand   14
10.   George returns to Vanua Lava and the Bishop to Mota   16
11.   Bishop Patteson at Mota   17
12.   They build a schoolroom: George returns with the Bishop   18
13.   George understands the Bishop's instruction   20
14.   George prepares for Baptism   22
15.   George begins to pray   23
16.   The sort of things George saw in New Zealand   24
17.   Bishop Patteson and his friends among the sick   26
18.   George stays again at Norfolk Island & becomes a Deacon   27
19.   Later on George is ordained priest   28



GEORGE Sarawia was born on Vanua Lava in the Banks Islands but spent so much of his life on Mota that he was called and called himself a Mota man. John Coleridge Patteson (not then Bishop) and Bishop G.A. Selwyn called at Vanua Lava in 1857 on the lst. "Southern Cross". George Sarawia was persuaded to come on board. The following year he was persuaded to stay on board and sail with them. Later he became the first Banks Islander to go to Kohimarama in Auckland, New Zealand. Patteson and Pritt learned the Mota language from him. In 1858 he was one of the 12 who made up the winter school at Lifu in the Loyalty islands. He was baptized in 1863 with the others (one of whom was Stephen Taroaniara). In 1864 he was working in the printing shop at Kohimarama and set up and printed the Acts of the Apostles in Mota. Then in 1865 he was confirmed and the following year worked as an assistant teacher to Pritt. In 1867 he left S. Andrew's, Kohimarama, and returned to Mota where he set up a model school and Christian village. Then he continued his training for ordination with the Bishop at Norfolk Island and on December 20th, the Eve of S. Thomas Day, he was made deacon with Charles Bice by Bishop Patteson. He continued teaching on Mota and gradually spread a Christian influence over every part of the Island's life. He was ordained priest in Auckland by Bishop Cowie on S. Barnabas' Day 1873. The first Melanesain to be ordained to each of these orders. He continued teaching at Mota until his death in 1901. 34 years of faithful service! It was said at his death that he had a perfect Christian character which he had modeled on Bishop Patteson and that he had lived a consistently good life never once failing or even appearing to swerve.



HERE is part of a letter Bishop Patteson wrote to his cousin at the time of George's ordination a hundred years ago.

"St. Thomas, Norfolk Island,
December 21, 1868

My dear Cousin, -- I must write you a few lines about our great event of yesterday.

George Sarawia was ordained Deacon in our little chapel, in the presence of fifty-five Melanesians and a few Norfolk Islanders. With him Charles Bice, a very excellent man from St. Augustine's was ordained Deacon also.

But what am I to say of George that you cannot imagine for yourself? It was in the year 1857 that the Bishop and I first saw him at Vanua Lava Island. He has been with us now ten years; I can truly say, that he has never given me any uneasiness. He is not the cleverest of our scholars but no one possesses the confidence of us all in the same degree. True, he is the oldest of the party, he can hardly be less than twenty-six years old, for he had been married a year when first we saw him; but it is his character rather than his age which gives him his position. For a long time he has been our link with the Melanesians themselves whenever there was something to be done by one of themselves rather than by us strangers. Somehow the other scholars get into the way of recognising him as the A.I. of the place, and so also in Mota and the neighbouring islands his character and reputation are well known. The people expect him to be a teacher among them; they all know that he is a person of weight.

The day was warm and fine.

At 7.20 a.m. we had the Morning Service, chanting the 2nd Psalm. I read Isa. xlii. 5-12 for the First Lesson, and 1 Tim. iii. 8-13 the Second, and the Collect in [iii/iv] the Ordination Service before the Prayer of St. Chrysostom. Mr. Codrington, as usual, read the prayers to the end of third Collect, after which we sang our Sunday hymn.

At 11 a.m. we began the Ordination Service. One Epiphany hymn, my short sermon, then Mr. Codrington presented the candidates, speaking Mota for one and English for the other. The whole service was in Mota except that I questioned Bice, and he answered in English, and I used the English words of Ordination in his case. George was questioned and answered in Mota, and then Bice in English, question by question. Mr. Nobbs was here and a few of the people, Mr. Atkin, Mr. Brooke, so we made a goodly little party of seven in our clerical supper.

What our thoughts were you can guess as we ordained the first Melanesian clergyman. How full of thankfulness, of awe, of wonderment, the fulfilment of so much, the pledge of it, if it be God's will, of so much! And not a little anxiety, too ­ yet the words of comfort are many; and it does not need much faith, with so evident a proof of God's Love and Power and Faithfulness before our very eyes, to trust George in His Hands.

The closing stanzas of the Ordination Hymn in the "Christian Year" comforted me as I read them at night; but I had peace and comfort, thank God, all through.

Others, too are pressing on. I could say, with truth, to them in the evening in the Chapel, 'This is the beginning, only the beginning, the first fruit. Many blossoms there are already. I know that God's Spirit is working in the hearts of some of you. Follow that guidance. Pray always that you may be kept in the right way, and that you may be enabled to point it out to others, and to guide them in it.'"


[1] The beginning of the Mission in the Banks Islands,

By George Sarawia


THIS is my story about the beginnings of my travels, how I went for the first time among the white men. When I went with Bishop Selwyn and Bishop Patteson, my countrymen had not yet gone among the white men, but feared them and could not be managed by them; they thought they were not men, but ghosts or spirits.

When I was still a little boy, I had not yet seen a white man or a big ship, but I saw them for the first time the year the bishops first came to us at Vanua Lava, when they dropped anchor at Nawono, which was the harbour where I lived, and which they had just discovered. My being taken by the bishops started like this: they anchored in the evening, and next morning I paddled out to the side of the ship to buy something for myself from them. But when I reached the ship, I saw Bishop Selwyn standing at the side, and I was afraid of him, because he was wearing black clothes, but his face was very white. So I drifted far away from the ship, because I was afraid, but he beckoned to me to climb up on to the ship. But I was still afraid because it was the first time I had seen a white man, so I paddled off, but he still beckoned me (as he could not yet speak the Mota language). But he called me by just beckoning with his hand, but I was still shy; I had not made up my mind to climb on board, but he still called me.

Then Bishop Patteson came too, and both of them went on calling me to come on board, but I was still afraid and I thought to myself, "Those two want me to go to them, but I don't know them yet," for I was still a heathen, but I thought that they were like the people of [1/2] my island, ready to deceive someone in order to kill him. I thought like that because I did not know the bishop. I thought I had better beware lest they deceived me on the ship and killed me, and I was still afraid, but the ship was now close. Then I made up my mind to go to them, so I paddled up to the ship, and Bishop Selwyn threw me a line, and I tied up my canoe with it; then he took my hand and pulled me up on board, so that I should see that they welcomed me kindly. So we three went to the stern and sat down, and they asked me the name of the island, and the names of people. I told them and they wrote them down in a book, but I did not know then what a book was. And I looked at the feet of all the people on the ship, and thought it was really their feet, but it was only leather shoes they were wearing. I said to myself that these men were made partly of clam-shell, and my bones quaked.

Then they wrote down some other words too, the words for you, he, you (plural), we two, I, all of us . . . they wrote down a few words of Mota that day, and we were astonished that they understood so quickly a little Mota and could speak it properly. The ship appeared to me like a village, and I thought that it had not been made by man but perhaps by spirits. And another thing that surprised me about the ship was that although there was a strong current in that place it was not driven ashore, for I did not know that the anchor-chain in the bows was holding the ship firm; I thought the ship was like a man, if it heard someone telling it to go, it would go; if it heard someone telling it to stop, it would stop; and I thought they had just told it to stay still in that place.

Then they let me go because I was frightened on the ship, and I did not buy anything, but paddled ashore. I told the people about those two on the ship, that they were very kind, because they had welcomed me on board and had spoken kindly to me. That was the beginning of my knowledge of them, that they were kind men.

[3] I followed them, and Bishop Selwyn took me back in the boat, and we rowed up to Rav, and the people of that place came to us. I saw again that they were good men because the Bishop gave the people of that place axes without payment. And I made as if to go back to my father, but the bishop kept me in the boat, and we sailed back to the ship; my father went home, but he was worried about me, lest the white men should eat me.

We used to have wrong ideas about the white men; we thought they were some of our own people who had died long ago and had come to life again in the land that they had sailed from.


THERE were six of us who were the first to sleep on the ship when she first anchored at Nawano. The bishop received us and wanted us to sleep aboard, but we did not know it. We were already on board, and when the sun set we said we would go back on shore, but they would not let us; so we were very frightened and could only think that they were going to eat us. These are the names of those of us who were the first to sleep among the white men when they first came ­ Sarawia, Mantanamar, Linglingwar, Raveaka, Qalomana, Tavuntetug.

In those days when the bishops started to welcome us and make friends with us and we with them, because we saw that they were kind, they used to take us into the boat, and fed us well. They made us presents of fruit, fish hooks, calico and biscuits. We did not know what sort of food it was, and would not eat it until we saw the white men eat it, and then we did the same. When we went on board the ship again, they gave us food and meat, and we ate again. The bishops fed us well in those days, and I saw and understood that they were generous and kind, really good people.

[4] They rang a bell for prayers on the ship, but we did not know what it was for, as that was the first time we had heard a bell. But the bishops told us all to go below, we did not know what for, so we started to go down below, myself first behind the bishops. I sat down close to the place where the bishops were standing for prayer, and the six of us sat and gazed at them, wondering what they were doing. We heard them sing a hymn, and looked at one another, very much afraid. We wanted to run away but could not, as we were inside the ship, so we just sat there, frightened, Indeed a great fear possessed me that day as they were praying and I saw them kneel down. Bishop Selwyn read prayers, but I thought he was just talking as I knew nothing about prayer. I looked at him, not knowing that what he was doing was holy and reverent, but I just sat down in the ordinary way. The bishop read on to the end of the prayer and the others replied, "Amen". I was terrified and got up quickly intending to run away, but the bishop turned and saw me standing up ready to run, and drew me back with his hand, so I sat down again, but only squatted with one knee raised ready to run. The bishop read on, and I made to run away again, but he still restrained me. This happened perhaps three or four times, but then he could restrain me no longer, I ran away from them, intending to swim ashore.

You see, my friends, I thought that these two, the leading men on the ship, had perhaps told the others to kill us, and that their "Amen" was a sign of agreement. So I ran out in terror.

When prayers were finished, Bishop Patteson followed me up on deck, and took me down below, and the two of them took me to their cabin astern. And then I saw again how kind and good they were, for they did not treat us with disdain, but put us up on their bunks, and we had a talk together, and then my mind was put at rest.

[5] They told one of the men to bring more bedding for all of us to sleep on, that is, fresh blankets. I saw too how when they went to bed they change their clothes and put on a long white garment, and they knelt down for a long time before going to sleep, and they did the same in the morning, but as I was a heathen I meant nothing to me. And they suggested that one of us should go with them to New Zealand, but we refused, because we were still frightened of white men.

In those days there were still great numbers of people at Vanua Lava and Mota, and we all used to gather together to see the bishops. They used to come ashore to us, just like our own people, they made friends with us, sat down with us at our meetings, and spoke with us. We thought a great deal of them for coming to us. But at that time the people were still heathen and knew nothing of God's way, but those two did not despise us black people, but made friends with us.

They stayed at Nawono about three days and then went away. When the ship sailed away, we did not realise that they had heaved up the anchor, but thought that one of them, probably the captain, had ordered some of them to hoist the sails, and had told the ship to sail out of the harbour. She sailed straight out, and as I did not see anyone holding a steer oar, I thought it was due to the voice of that man with authority, who had told the ship to set sail, and the ship had obeyed him and set sail. I noticed how straight she sailed and I tried to see who it was that was guiding her so straight. Then I saw Bishop Selwyn standing and turning the wheel and the ship sailing straight ahead, and then I understood that this was the steering apparatus.

But at that time we lived like a lot of blind people. If anyone struck and killed someone, or shot him with an arrow, or stole, or lived in adultery, or did anything like this, we did not think that it was wrong, for we did not [5/6] yet know about the good way of life, and did not understand that this sort of conduct is wrong. We lived in enmity, fighting each other, and all the time in fear.

At the time the bishops first came to us, everyone used to go about naked, for we had not yet got any clothing, but no one was ashamed of it. It was the bishops who first gave us clothing.

On the day they left us, I paddled after them, and turned back at Ravenga. They thought I was following them because I wanted to go to New Zealand, but I did not, for I was still afraid of white men.

I have written this little story about the time when Bishop Selwyn and Bishop Patteson first arrived among us, but did not take me away that time, because we were still afraid of white men. So they went away, and the bishop promised that in eight months he would return.


THIS is the story of the second visit of the bishops to us, when they took me away. It was the end of the time they promised when the ship came, and I was at Mota. The bishop sailed to Nawono and anchored there. I followed in my canoe and came up to the ship. Bishop Selwyn called my name and said, "If you had gone to New Zealand, you would have arrived home today." But I said nothing. But I realized that they were good men who would not deceive us, because they had come back at the very time they had promised.

Next morning the bishops sailed on to Lisara to meet us. We were already gathered on the beach, my father and mother, my brothers and some other people who had come to buy things. When we were all together, the bishops sat down with us, and soon the bishop said to me, "Do you [6/7] want to go away with me?" But I replied, "I do not know." He said he would bring me back in four months' time. This was the second time he had invited me; on the first visit he had invited me, but I was still undecided because I saw they were white men, different from us, and some of our people said they were ghosts. That was why I could not make up my mind.

Then they begged me earnestly to go, and I agreed, for they said it was a good thing for me to go with them. They asked my father's permission, and he allowed me to go, but it was with some sorrow, for he was afraid they would take me away for good and I should never come back home.


THERE were five of us who had previously slept on the ship who were to go with the bishop. All the people asked my father why he had allowed me to go, thinking that I might never come back. In the morning when they heaved up the anchor, they rowed out to take us back. We had not gone far, when Bishop Selwyn beckoned to us to come back. The ship was already under way when we rowed back to her. When we reached the ship, he quickly held out his hand, and caught hold of it, and climbed on board, and he sat with his arms round four of us and would not let us go.

The people all tried to get us back, but could not. Our elder brothers, Gispaso and Wutarak, cried to the bishop to let us come back, but he would not. But he told them, "In four months' time we will come back, the bishop promises you." So our two brothers went home, weeping sadly.

When we had passed Nusa, there was a flat calm without any wind, and two of us who had decided to go with the bishop got frightened and jumped overboard, so [7/8] only one other and myself went with the bishop. I had decided to go with them, because they said that they would bring me back in four months' time, and I already knew what sort of men they were, that you could trust what they did and said; if they promised to give a present to anyone, they would give it, just as they had promised about the months they would come back to Nawano, and had kept their promise. I had decided to go because I did not think as I did the first time, but I realized now that they would bring me back.

But listen my friends! I had made up my mind at the beginning to go with the bishops for this reason: I wanted to go myself to the real source of things, and get for myself an axe and a knife, and fish hooks and calico, and plenty of other such things. I thought they were just there to be picked up, and I wanted to get plenty for myself. I did not go for any other reason but only because I had seen lots of these things on the ship, and wanted to go and get plenty for myself. Also I wanted to see where the white people's country was, and what it was like. But I did not realize that the bishop wanted to take me with another end in view, a better one, one which would not end or decay, as material things do.

We went westward to the Solomon Islands, a place we had never heard of, and did not know existed. In the evening they had prayers, and I was with them. I was not afraid this time, as I was that first time at Nawono. On the third day, Bishop Patteson said to me, "Today we shall see land." And not long after we saw and island, and I marvelled in my heart how he knew we were near land; I thought that perhaps he was a spirit, because he could see far away that we were near land.

We arrived first at Ulawa, and put ashore one man there, then we went on to Mala, and put six of their men ashore, and ten at Bauro, and ten at Marau. Then I realised that it was true, these two were good men who would [8/9] take us back home later on. There were many islands there in the west which we knew nothing about, which I was seeing for the first time, but we went no further than Marau, but turned back there.

Another thing I noticed on the ship was the way they ate. I thought they would eat like we do, just taking the food and eating. But I saw on the ship how they put a plate for each person, and put the food on it; then they all came together, stood up, and said something over the food before they ate. Then when they had finished, they stood up again and said something before leaving the table; this I saw every day. We ate in this manner too, but I did not understand why they said something over the food. As they did this every day, I thought that this must be the white man's custom when eating, and that ours was different.

When we turned to come back from those western islands, Bishop Selwyn started to teach us the capital letters, but I thought we were just repeating something without meaning. He started to teach me a, e, i, o, u, and then the whole alphabet. When he taught us those first five letters, I thought that was all. Another day he got out a long board with the 26 letters written on it, and he read them to us. When the bishop first taught me the alphabet I thought it was just a game. True, it was hard for me at first. I remember I just repeated the names of the letters without realising how their shapes differed.

When we reached Lifu, Bishop Selwyn put us ashore there, and returned himself to New Zealand. Bishop Patteson looked after us. All the things I had noticed on board the ship we still continued to do. We still had prayers every day, but I did not know what prayer was, but thought we were just doing something or other; and at meals, still something was said over the food, as on the ship.

[10] His teaching of us at Lifu was the real beginning, and he taught us well. After about a month I could read, but while I was being taught I grieved him, because I said the letters all wrong: he would point to k, and I would say p; he would point to p, and I would call it l. I did the same with all the letters, so that anyone else would have got cross with me and clouted my head. But he did not, his treatment of me was very kind; he always spoke gently to me, but I think it was good for me that the bishop taught me in this way. Some days after school I went to him and said, "Please spell for me whatever words I say." So I said the words and he spelled them and wrote them on a slate for me to copy. In the same way as he treated me gently, so he did with all of us, and we liked him very much.

He looked after us very well at the school, and fed us well; he bought lots of yams, and there was a room full of them, and our clothes were never allowed to stay dirty, but we were always washed. Whatever we asked him for whether it was a fish hook or a fishing line, or fruit, he would not deny us, but would give it to us.


WHILE we stayed at Lifu, we only learned reading but after it all I was not enlightened, my ideas were still the same; I did not understand yet about good and evil ways of life, or that sin brings eternal death. What I say is true, that year the word had not yet affected me or found a home in me that I should listen to it, but it was as if I was still fast asleep and deaf, unable to hear what was said to me, unable to open my eyes to see.

One day the Bishop asked me for the names of the spirits, which one had made the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the world and people and other things. I told him Qat. But he then told me it was God alone who had [10/11] made all things, but I did not believe him. I said to myself that this was just another spirit whom the white people think about, whereas we think about Qat. Truly that is what I thought, but it only went to show that I was still in darkness and did not yet perceive the road that the bishop was pointing out to me.


AFTER three months Bishop Selwyn came back to Lifu as he had promised and took us on board to return to our homes. We called at Anaiteum, Tanna, Erromango, Sandwich (Efate) and Mae. He put down those who belonged to these places and then went on north with us. This was the first time I had seen those places, which were completely unknown to us before. But in the morning I saw Aoba and Maewo, and I asked the bishop what islands they were. He said, "Lepers' Island," and he called Maewo "Aurora," but I did not understand that he was giving Aoba and Maewo different names to those we use. Then I asked where we would go after leaving Aurora. The bishop said, "Merelava." Then I was happy that we had arrived, and I was near my home. And he said to me, "Is the bishop a good man, to bring back Sarawia and Wonpaso?" I said, "Yes, the bishop is very good to bring us back." I realised again that they would not break their word, but whatever they said, they would do it. Just as he had said at Nawono that the bishop promised that after four months he would come back, so now the four months had gone, and he was truly bringing us back; he had carried out his word once again without fail.

Then I understood that he had meant the islands of Aoba and Maewo. The next morning we arrived at Merelava and when the people there saw us two with the white men, they were very astonished and asked whether we two had been cross, and why they had not eaten us.

[12] But we said we had gone with them of our own accord, the bishop had invited us. Then they asked whether the white men were kind or not, whether they had looked after us well or not. We said, "Oh, where will you find men as kind as they are here? They are truly kind, the bishop has looked after us well, and fed us well with vegetables and meat, he has not scolded us or hit us, but always looked after us properly." When they heard this, they let two of their people go with the bishop.

We went on to Nawono and dropped anchor there. When our people saw that they had really brought us back safe and sound, they were very pleased, and said to the bishops, "You two are very good; we understand now that you are very good men; you have brought those two back safely to us, and we now understand truly that your word is to be trusted, with out fail." And I told my father that we had gone with the white men and seen how good they were, and how kind they had been to us, how they had fed us well with vegetables and meat, looked after us well, not scolded us but treated us like their sons and loved us very much. I asked him if he would give us a pig and some food for us to give the bishop to feed the people on the ship with; and he did as I asked him.


WHEN the bishop brought us back for the first time, then men from our village took our places and went to New Zealand with the bishop, because they had seen the present which the bishop had given us, two large axes. After we had passed Nusa on our outward voyage the bishop had shown us the axes, and said, "We are going away and after four months we shall come back, and then I will give you this axe." We stayed for a long time sitting on deck after the bishops had gone below, and I was undecided whether to go below too. But Bishop Selwyn knew we should come back, and he treated us as he would [12/13] treat a little child; he took us down below and explained a lot of things to us, probably to comfort us. All the time the ship was running before the wind and we did not know that it was already far from land. But he knew, and said we would go back on deck, and when we did so, we found we were already at Motalava. What I have just said took place on the first voyage, when I went to Lifu for three months and then came home. I just told the people about how good and kind the bishops were, how they spoke kindly and never scolded anyone nor spoke hastily, but were friendly to everyone one and always spoke gently.

I also told them about the many islands in the world that we did not know about. I had just seen more islands than could be counted. Until now we had known of the existence of only six islands, Maewo, Aoba, Marina, Vava (Torres), Vanikoro and Tikopia. These were the furthermost islands in the world, and there were no more. When we saw ships come sailing and our people went out to them and saw men who were all white, we did not know where these very white people came from. We thought that perhaps they lived on the rim of the sky, because we saw them wearing red clothes, and thought they had made them red with something out of the sun, because the sun is red when it rises and sets; so we thought that those white men lived near the sun and made their clothes red with a liquid they got from the sun. And some people in olden days who had seen ships said they were floating islands, and had the mistaken idea that the white men were not men at all, but spirits or ghosts. And they said that when the bishops took me the first time, they did not take me to New Zealand, because they did not want me to see exactly where they lived, lest I should find out that they were not men but spirits. So some people said.

When I came back from Lifu, I stayed a long time at home, perhaps two or three years. When there was fighting amongst us, I took my part in it, which showed [13/14] that I still dwelt in darkness. And when we killed someone in battle, I did not realise that it was wrong to do so; I thought it was all right. When I returned from Lifu, my ideas and way of life were still the same as before.


THIS is the story of my second voyage with the bishops, when we went to New Zealand. More than twenty of us went from the Banks Islands to New Zealand that time, and because we were many, we picked up some from Lifu and Nengone to help with the teaching. When we reached Norfolk Island, Bishop Selwyn took some of us ashore to sleep one night, and I saw for the first time cattle and horses, and big, stone houses. I marvelled at the houses, and wondered how they had been built. The people there divided us out, so many to each house, and fed us well, and next morning we set out from Norfolk Island to New Zealand. But the wind was against us, and we took a long time on this passage; after about a week we saw land, a great long coastline, which we sailed along for two days until we reached Kohimarama, but without reaching the end of the land to the south. To the west I saw a harbour with many houses and ships; that harbour was full of ships; and we went ashore. Bishop Patteson gave us good lodging in the houses and prepared places for us to sleep on beds off the ground. He put the people from Nengone and Lifu in rooms by themselves. We stayed there with Bishop Patteson and Dudley looking after us, and they looked after us well.


BUT I did not yet understand about Sunday, and when the Bishop handed out some best clothes for us, I thought they were just for ordinary wear, but I discovered they [14/15] were for going to church. We set out for the College (St. John's), and when we arrived, they rang a small bell and we went into church. I saw a woman there sitting at the organ, but I thought it was only a box. When the bell stopped ringing I saw the Bishop and another man belonging to the College come out of a small side room, wearing long white robes. They stood in a place by themselves and read out of a book. Then one of them gave the word and the woman began to play the organ. When I heard the beautiful sound I was astonished at what she was doing. I also noticed the pictures in the windows of that house; there were many of them, and I went on looking at them I thought this was just a different house from ours, because I saw that it was a very beautiful one. But I did not know it was a church, something different from our sleeping and eating houses. Then I remembered that our house at Kohimarama was divided into different rooms; we were allowed to play in the room where we had school, but Bishop Patteson had forbidden us to play in the room where we had prayers. Then I realised that what we were doing was something sacred, but I did not understand it properly.

The Bishop gave us lessons at Kohimarama and looked after us well; he gave us good food, and did not allow us to wear dirty clothes; they were always being washed. I saw that he was doing the same as he had done at Lifu, giving us good food and having our clothes washed all the time and teaching us in school every day.

When we had been there a long time, the Bishop told us to help with the work He gave some of us work in the cook house, cooking and washing the dishes and sweeping the house. On Saturday we cleaned out all the houses and washed the tables. Some of us worked in the gardens, and some of us looked after the cows, and I saw how good it was for the Bishop to give us this sort of work to do. As for him, he just sat in the house reading and writing, not [15/16] thinking much about meals. When the dinner bell went he would come out for the meal, and then go straight back to continue with his reading. I looked at his book, thinking that I could understand by just gazing at it, but it was learned and difficult.

One day we did not hear the bell for school, but came late. He sent us out again and would not let us come to school I was very sorry about this and thought it was not right to treat us like that. Then at midday the Bishop called Wonpaso and me to his house to speak to us about not going to school. We were frightened as we went to him, thinking he would be angry with us. But no, he only spoke gently to us, telling us not to do it again but to be punctual at school and at meals, Yes, he was truly a good man. He just could not get angry with anyone or speak crossly to anyone, but he spoke gently to everyone in the school. If anything was spoiled in the house, a plate or a cup, he never scolded anyone for it, but merely said, "We will buy another one."


WE returned to the islands and I was put down at Vanua Lava, for that was still my home, and the Bishops stayed at Mota. Some days when it was calm I paddled over to Mota in a canoe and stayed with them at Make and had school for three or four days, then went back to Vanua Lava. I kept on doing this, and soon found that I could put together the letters at Mota which I had tried in vain to do at Lifu and in New Zealand. This was a real enlightenment to me. I was astonished at it, for I quickly learned to read some words. The Bishop wrote some words for me, and then he wrote out the Lord's Prayer and I could read it. In that year when Bishop Patteson started work at Mota, there was a population there, but they were very ignorant, living in strife with one [16/17] another, afraid of one another and always fighting; they could not live together in peace. When he came to Mota, he strictly denounced that kind of way of life. He was always going round the villages, telling them to cease this kind of life. Every day he was doing this.

He gathered the children together at Make and taught them there. Some of them he brought from places which were at enmity to the place where he lived. He looked after them and fed them well. He went about all the islands buying food everywhere and bringing it Mota for the children there to eat. He brought some children from other islands to Mota. That year he started to work for the first time in our islands, and brought them from Mae, Gaua, Motalava, Rowa and the Solomon Islands, and taught them at Make. One of them, Stephen Taroaniara, stayed with the Bishop until his death, and suffered death with him.


WHEN Bishop Patteson started teaching at Mota I was still living at Vanua Lava, but I used to come over to Mota some days and I saw some of the things he was doing. He was always going around the villages, talking to the older men about some of their customs which were not good, telling them not to do these things any more. The people there thought he was a good man, because he spoke out strongly against this sort of custom. Some customs he did not speak strongly against, saying that it was for them to judge for themselves about them in future. But the people from Nengone told them they must give up all these customs that very year, the Suqe and the Salagoro, polygamy, and refusing to eat with the women. But the Bishop told them not to speak strongly to them about things connected with their custom, but to speak gently to them about them, so as not to make them angry [17/18] and unwilling to listen to the customs we taught them about. When he spoke like that I thought how well he knew the ways of the heathen, for at that time the people of our islands were very ignorant. They came near to hitting Bishop Patteson at Mota, because Wadrokal carried an uninitiated child into the secret dancing ground. Everybody was angry and asked what they ought to do to that child, to kill him or what? But the Bishop went to see them and talk to them about it, because they were troubled about it. He and Dudley went to see them together. The Bishop stood at the foot of a breadfruit tree, and the people said, "Let us kill them." But Atevwowut ran behind the Bishop and started quickly to cut the breadfruit tree where the Bishop was standing with an axe. He cut round until he came in front of the Bishop. The Bishop said, "What's the matter?" Atevwowut said, "We are going to kill you." The Bishop said, "No, that's no good." And he took the axe from Atevwowut and said, "Come here, and I will talk to you." And they came round and he talked to them. He still spoke to them in a friendly manner and gently; he did not get excited with anyone. Then we understood that he was a good man in his way of life, his words and his deeds, a man whose whole character was loving.


IN that year when he stayed at Mota for the first time he started to instruct the heathen. He did not stay all the time at Mota, but went round continually in his boat, visiting Vanua Lava, Motalava and Ureparapara. He made voyages all the time to visit the islands, despite strong winds and rain. I thought that this man must think a lot of the people of the other islands since he was always visiting them, and from this work of his we understood that he was a really good man, but I did not yet understand the work he was engaged on, that it was the way of love.

[19] At that time I did not go back to New Zealand but stayed about two years at Vanua Lava. We built a schoolroom ­ not a big one ­ and I read the letters to them in it; I did this all the time. Five of them from the school at Lisara were intelligent, and Bishop Patteson took four to New Zealand, Wogale, Leleña, Arwelgan and Lolava.

When those two years were over the Bishop took me again for my third voyage with him. We went first to Marina (Espiritu Santo). When we got there, we rowed ashore; I was with the Bishop in the boat. We rowed to a certain landing place where a large crowd had gathered. He told us in the boat not to come close in, but we were not far from the shore. But he swam ashore to them and sat down with them for a long time. The people crowded round him so that he could not be seen. We thought that the crowd would kill him, but it was not so. Then he swam back to us and we went to another landing place, where he repeated this performance. That year when I was going in the boat with the Bishop he always did this as I saw.

Then we sailed back from Marina to Gaua. We came first to Lakona and rowed ashore at Qetevut, where he followed the same procedure. He went ashore to the people on his own, while we just stayed in the boat. He told us not to come close in, but to wait in deep water. He stayed by himself among a very large crowd of people, armed with bows and arrows, but he was not afraid. Some of them put their hands in his coat pockets and took his handkerchief, but he did not mind. Indeed at that time the people were very heathen and shot at us twice at Lakona and one day chased us well away. Only at some villages did they come to us to trade with the bows and arrows, their spears and clubs. When they did that we came in close, but he went up to them. He was courageous, without fear of the people, and went up to them and bought the things which they brought, and shared out some presents among them. But when we made to row [19/20] back, they shot at us. They did the same to us at Aoba and Ambrym: after trading properly with us they shot at us. At some places they welcomed us well, traded and talked to us properly, and then we rowed back to the ship without any trouble. But at some villages or islands as we rowed back to the ship, it was as if they were chasing us off with a parting shot. Truly, we scarcely got away alive form them on those occasions.

They treated the Bishop like this when I was with him in the boat. I did not yet understand about the Bishop's ways or his work, but I merely thought he was a good man or a great man among us, and that he looked after us and taught us, and if they should harm him, who would look after us and teach us then? But now all those places where they used to shoot at us are living in peace and have schools. It all shows clearly that this work came from God, and he had his workers, and that God's power was in the work.


I WILL now write about my fourth voyage with Bishop Patteson. As he taught me I began to understand the words he said to me. He began to teach us about God the Father, that he is almighty and great, that he created heaven and earth, the sea, the sun, moon and stars, the animals and people and everything, he alone created them; he has pity on all things, he loves them, sustains them, helps them; he is the only true God. In his teaching, the Bishop spoke to me for a long time about God the Father, that he alone created everything, and that he rules over them all and sustains them. He was always asking us questions about it, such as, "Who created all the things that we see?" And we answered, "God." Then he taught us about Jesus the true Son of God, who came down from heaven and took the nature of man, and was born of the [20/21] Virgin Mary. Then he asked us if God ahs a body like men, and we answered, "No, he is a spirit."

That year he gave us work to do, some working in the corn garden, some planting potatoes, some looking after the cattle, some doing the laundry, some cooking. We did not work very hard, but just sufficiently,

When we were at Kohimarama, Bishop Patteson was our leader; there were some more workers there who looked after us in cooking and the various kinds of work; Dudley, who was with Bishop Selwyn and Bishop Patteson when they first took me away, but it was Dudley and Bishop Patteson who began to look after us first at Kohimarama; some others had just come to help, Codrington, Pritt, Palmer, Atkin and Kerr, these are they who helped Bishop Patteson to look after us in the garden work and who taught us in school. Also four Norfolk Islanders helped to teach us; two of them were killed later on by the Santa Cruz people, Edwin Nobbs and Fisher Young.

Those who taught us at Kohimarama provided properly the things we used for work and the things we used for school.

At that time when the Bishop was teaching us, I understood what he was saying to us, and felt it in my heart; I felt this was good and I was very zealous to learn. At that time my understanding and enlightenment were growing, and I perceived some things that I had not seen before. It was as if I had been deaf before, but now my ears had burst open and I could hear what was said.

Before, reading had wearied me, because I did not know how to read, but once I knew how to read, I wanted to do it very much, because in reading one hears words and the thoughts behind the words, and it was pleasant in my heart and in my ears, as if someone was speaking to me and I wanted very much to listen; now [21/22] I understood that if the letters are arranged properly one makes words with them and hears what the word is. Bishop Selwyn started to teach me at sea when I first went with him; he began with the letters a, e, i, o, u; truly, if you have not got these letters, you cannot make words.


WHEN I knew how to read, Bishop Patteson taught me some prayers, and then spoke to me about the Sacrament of Baptism. I heard the Bishop tell me I should receive Baptism, but I shied away in fear from receiving it, as I was not worthy, being a heathen man. I was born of heathen parents and could not receive Baptism, because I heard the Bishop telling me about the work of Jesus; he told me about his birth, how he was born of a pure Virgin, and committed not sin. This made me afraid of being baptised. Another day he was teaching me again about Baptism and I explained to him that I could not be baptised, I knew all about myself that I was not good, I could not receive any holy thing, but he still went on saying that those who belong to Christ and are in him shall have life. He also told me that none of us are good, only Jesus Christ is good; but if you are not good, Jesus Christ will make you good and put you straight; but if you remain far away from him for ever, how can you have life? You cannot get life in the future by your own efforts, but if you dwell in him through Baptism you will have life, for he is Life. When he spoke like that, then I understood what he was talking about.

And concerning uncleanness, the Bishop said that God will wash away that uncleanness when you receive Baptism with the faith that Jesus died for you. When I heard that, it was very good to me and my heart was comforted over this. He spoke gently to me, but indeed his words went home, and when he spoke in this way I [22/23] no longer tried to raise opposition, but I understood that he was teaching me and his words had power. There were five of us men and one woman, six of us in all, whom the Bishop was preparing for Baptism. He taught us well and spoke at length about members of Christ, members of the Church, the members of a house and the members of the body. Now I could understand what he was telling us, yes, the sun had risen and I could see clearly things which were invisible when I was still in darkness. These are the names of those of us who were baptised first when Bishop Selwyn and Bishop Patteson began their work, from among the heathen who did not yet know about God: George Sarawia, Edmund Qaratu, William Qasvar, Henry Tagalan, Charles Wolig, Mary Tuvagmatanur.

Afterwards he made a special class of those of us who had been baptised and taught us in a way suitable to those who have been baptised. Sometimes he spoke to us and I listened, and my mind and my heart were pleased by it, as if I was saying to myself, "It is better than ever now, I have found the true food and the water of life," for I saw in thinking of the years I spent at Lifu and afterwards at Kohimarama, that my way of life and my thoughts were different now from what they were at that time, as I had become more enlightened than I was then. But I now thought, "This is the true food which strengthens me; I stretch out my hand and take it; and I have washed away my uncleanness in pure water, and my heart is happy that I have changed my dirty clothing and put on clean clothes; and I give great thanks to our heavenly Father for having mercy on me and taking me out of darkness into light, and out of a heathen way of life, and for washing me with pure water: how happy I am about it."


BUT I was always thinking about my father and mother, my brothers and all the people of my island who were still heathen, what I could do for them. One day I asked the [23/24] Bishop, "How are we to think about those of our islands who are still heathen?" The Bishop replied, "It is for us to pray to God for them, and it is for him to prepare their hearts that they may be worthy to be able to receive the word of God." And the Bishop wrote down a short prayer for me, and I said it every morning and evening. And indeed I saw that if we pray ardently for the heathen who are as it were prisoners of Satan, God will hear our prayer; truly all things are possible to him who prays in faith to God, and he will give him what he asks for. Herod put Peter in prison, but the Church prayed ardently for him with faith that God would look after him, and God heard his people and saved Peter from the hands of Herod. And we can help those who are still heathen by praying for them, and God can set them free from the hands of Satan.

I went home that year, but I was able to be of some use. I told the people of my village some of the things which Bishop Patteson had taught me, and I told them that Qat was not a true spirit, but a lying spirit. But the true Spirit was he about whom the Bishop taught us, saying that he is one God, and there is no other; he alone created all things, in heaven and on earth, and it is he who looks after them, loves them, pities them, people and animals, birds and fish and plants, and every kind of thing in the world, he alone looks after them because he loves them.


ALL the different kinds of work which I saw done in New Zealand were done in an orderly way; some men were building houses, some were building ships, some were looking after gardens to work for food, some were printing books, some making clothes, some working with metals, some on the roads, some collecting firewood; all these [24/25] things, great and small, were engaged in separately. They were instructed in every kind of work to know and understand it, then they went to work by themselves, because they had now learned it. But there was a single idea about a good way of life. The special work of some was to teach people about this good way of life, that they might live properly according to God's teaching. When I was in New Zealand I saw all these things, big houses, all very high, and very many people; a great many ships too, some of them very big, some were sailing ships, but some just went straight on without any sails; these were called 'steamers'. I was astonished at how this ship could move without sails, but I saw that it was true; these white men had knowledge and were very learned; they could do marvels, the ship of theirs just moved; but it had no sails.

I saw, too, a great crowd coming together on Sundays in a big church, St. Paul's. When the people had all come in the bell stopped ringing, then I saw those who came out, all dressed in white, who stood in a special place. Then one of them began to read, and all the people stood up; he gave out a psalm and they read it; another one read the lesson, another preached, and they sang a hymn. And I thought it was true, it would be very good if some of us could take on in future this work which the Bishop taught us about, and I remembered that day when the Bishops first anchored at Nawono and prayed in the evening, when I was frightened at the prayer and ran away from them. And when I saw those men in Church who were dressed in white, I thought that probably they were the ones who were leaders in this work.

Also when I was at Kohimarama, I saw that it was the Bishop's nature to love everyone, when I saw what he did for the sick children. He did not disdain us black people. They looked after all of us who fell sick that year. It was Bishop Patteson, Pritt, J. Palmer, J. Atkin, and some from Norfolk Island who looked after us when we fell sick at Kohimarama.


THIS is what they did for the sick. They were not ashamed to carry the bucket of waste matter and take it to the sea, they washed out the bucket and brought it back into the sickroom. Then I thought that they were doing what the Bishop had told us in school, that we should love one another and look after each other with love, without despising anyone; we should help the weak. All this they did to those who were sick. Then I thought that it was true, if anyone taught the Law of God and the things that Jesus did and his way of life, he must follow it himself, and humble himself and be quiet and slow to speak; his conduct must be good in the sight of all men; he must speak without cursing; he must visit the sick; all this work must follow the teaching of him who teaches. But if he merely teaches but does not follow it in his life, it is not good, and his work will remain fruitless, people will not listen to his teaching or believe what he says, not will they respect him in his work; But whoever teaches must follow his teaching himself; and people will know him by the work he does, and they will like him for his work, and will listen to him and respect him because when he teaches them he does not speak of his own accord, but speaks to them in the name of Jesus, and his teaching has power. (Matt. 10:1, Mark 3:14-15, 6:7, Luke 9:1)

And this is what I saw Bishop Patteson doing at Kohimarama. When school was over some of us went into the gardens, some to the kitchen, but he went and sat in his house, reading and writing. He wrote sitting down and wrote standing up. When he had been writing standing up, he sat down again, his eyes always on his book, reading and writing. All the white men did that, but I noticed Bishop Patteson especially.


I do not remember how many years I was in New Zealand before I moved to Norfolk Island. When I had stayed in New Zealand for many years and then two years and a half at Norfolk Island, the Bishop took me back to Mota. These eight were the ones who taught us zealously at Norfolk Island: Bishop Patteson, Palmer, Brook, Bice, Codrington, Comins, Atkin, Jackson.

About my ordination while I was at Norfolk Island. Perhaps the Bishop had decided to take me back that year. One day I was sitting in his house with him, asking him about some words in the Gospel, when I heard him say to me, "This is what I think about you. If you go home this year, you will go to stay, you will not come back here again. You will buy that piece of land which we have chosen, you will get timber, and you will go back and build a good house in that place. You will live in that house and look after that place and teach the children who come to you there. And I think I will ordain you deacon, and you will go home and C. Wolig and B. Virsal will help you when we have left you there." But I told the Bishop that I was not clever enough for that work; it was a very serious thing, and I was not worthy of it. But he said, "You know more than they do." So I said I would go back and try to teach them, "but do not ordain me yet." But he went on saying, "This is what I think. I will ordain you and you will live in that place. Then if anyone is ill you will teach him properly about this way. If he is close to death you will baptise him. If a woman has a child which is not strong and it is dying, you will baptise it. And if those already baptised should die, you will bury them. You will do this because we are not there, and it is your duty to do this work. It is not good just to bury someone without prayer, and it is not good for someone to die as a heathen without Baptism. When the Bishop said that, I no longer [27/28] opposed him. Indeed it was clear that when one heard what the Bishop said, it was very solemn and full of authority. Someone might hear him speaking gently, but without fail, it must be as he said.


HE took me back to Mota, but he told me that later on I should return again to Norfolk Island for him to teach me, and if I was fit, I should be ordained priest. But not long after I returned to Mota Bishop Patteson was killed, and I thought that that was the end of what he had told me. I do not remember whether it was two or three year later, Codrington spoke to me again about it, and I did not hold out against him either when he spoke as the Bishop had done. Truly Codrington was good and helped me very much.


[29] Provincial Press,
Church of Melanesia
Honiara, B.S.I.P.

[back cover]

[Logo of Provincial Press]

Published by Church of Melanesia,

Provincial Press, Honiara, B.S.I.P.
15976.600.2.73 [600 copies, February 1973]

Project Canterbury