Project Canterbury

[1] Melanesian Mission



Appeal of the English Committee

For a

New Mission Ship

May 1900

The work of this Mission has now been carried on for fifty years with steady and growing success; but its extension, and even its maintenance in its present extent, depends upon the provision of a more suitable Vessel than that at present in use.

The work of visiting the Islands of Melanesia has hitherto been carried on by means of successive sailing ships, which, during the last twenty-six years, have been fitted with small auxiliary steam power. Under the most favourable conditions the present Vessel is only able to steam at a rate of 4 1/2 knots; whilst against any sea or head-weather her steam power is useless.

With the large and annually increasing number of Mission Stations, requiring frequent visitation, it is found no longer possible to make the necessary voyages each year without a vessel having a normal steaming power of, say ten knots at sea. With such a vessel the delays arising from contrary winds, currents, and calms, would no longer be so serious; and the danger attending navigation amongst shoals and coral reefs would be much lessened. [1/2] The cost of such a Ship is estimated at upwards of £15,000.

The English Committee of the Mission, at the request of the Bishop of Melanesia, earnestly beg your generous help in raising the funds necessary to provide the Mission with a Ship suited to the very pressing needs of the present time. This would constitute a practical thankoffering for fifty years of much Blessing on the work of the Church amongst the Islands of the South-Western Pacific Ocean. This is the first general Appeal that has been made for a Ship for this Mission.

In the following pages information is given showing that the work depends upon the use of a Vessel such as the Bishop now finds it necessary to ask for. Many naval officers, who have served on H.M. ships cruising in these seas, and who have had therefore exceptional opportunities of judging the results of the Mission's work, have given their testimony in warm terms to the efficiency of that work in humanizing and civilising, as well as evangelising, one of the wildest races in the World.

I remain,

Yours faithfully,


President of the English Committee of the Melanesian Mission.

Contributions should be sent to the Treasurer for the Ship fund, HENRY GOSCHEN, Esq., 12 Austin Friars, E.C.; and marked "For the Melanesian Ship Fund;" and may be spread over the years 1900-1901.

[3] THE Groups comprised within the Mission's Field are five--New Hebrides, Banks, Torres, Santa Cruz and Solomons.

Twenty-six of these Islands are at present being worked. On them are planted about 180 Mission stations, manned by about 480 Native Teachers. There are about 14,000 baptized Christians--about 12,000 are under instruction; and about 1000 baptized each year.

It is necessary to make three voyages a year from Norfolk Island, through the various Groups, and back to Norfolk Island; taking the Missionaries and Scholars to their various Districts or Homes; convey Stores for the payment of Teachers, and for the use of Missionaries whilst ashore; and collecting new Scholars, and old ones who have been home for a holiday, and bringing them back to Norfolk Island. Two complete voyages are at present made annually from Auckland to the Solomons, the distance traversed being roughly 3500 miles each round trip. The third voyage is from Norfolk Island only, and usually extends only as far as the Banks, or the Torres Group, it having been rarely found possible, so far, to make the last voyage include all the Groups. The whole distance traversed each year is thus about 9000 miles; but this gives but little idea of the work done. And the 170 Stations should all be visited twice, if not oftener, each year. There are only 8 1/2 months available, because the months from December to March inclusive are the season when hurricanes are prevalent in the Islands, and these seas cannot safely be navigated by other than a steamer at such [3/4] times. The time occupied on these voyages in a sailing vessel, with steam of very low power for emergencies only, takes much out of the few months available for the missionary to spend in his District; and this alone, as the work increases, form a strong argument for the employment of a more speedy means of transit.

It will be sufficient to add that, so far from pressing on and opening up new ground, we cannot, with the present vessel, adequately cope with the work now actually in hand. And the need is the more pressing since a large sum will otherwise have to be expended upon repairs necessary to the Ship now in use.

It is absolutely essential to the maintenance of the existing work that we should have a Steamer without delay, and without it we must abandon all hope of widening our borders or lengthening our cords, that is to say, we shall be unable to hold out a helping hand to many places where the Natives are crying out for the Gospel. Opposition in Melanesia is almost a thing of the past. If the Church of England does not occupy the ground, there will be, nay, already are, found others that will.

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