Project Canterbury

Solomon Island Sketches

Serialized in The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, 1898-1901

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

[From The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, Vol. III, No. 35 (March, 1898), pages 4-6 and Vol. IV, No. 37 (May 14, 1898), pages 3-8:]

[4] Solomon Island Sketches.


IT is proposed to give the readers of the SOUTHERN CROSS LOG a series of sketches, illustrating some of the early work of the Melanesian Mission in the Solomon Islands. Most of the first pioneers in the field have passed away, and another generation has taken their place, but their faithful work has borne fruit.

In some of the islands, native clergy now minister to their own people; the second generation of native Christians is coming to the front, and the whole aspect of the work is changed. In others, however, the thick darkness remains; the people blindly refuse to have anything to do with Christianity, and efforts made to persuade them to a different conclusion are unavailing, or are only partially successful. Some of the largest islands have not been approached yet, but there is no reason why the work should not extend there also, if the men and the means of supporting them are forthcoming.

The Solomon Islands have a special interest now, as the southern half of them has recently been placed under the British flag, and measures are being taken by the Imperial Government to establish law and order amongst the wild and lawless people who inhabit them. There is every reason to hope that such measures, if successfully carried out, will tend to open up the islands and facilitate the work of the Mission. Most of the larger islands have been more or less closed to us hitherto, and we have generally had to be content to make friends and begin work with a few coast villages. These are frequently at war with the bush people of the interior. Strife and bloodshed being the order of the day, our message of "Peace and goodwill to men" sounds strange in their ears, and they are loth to listen to it. Split up into factions, under petty chiefs, with no common head, and nothing but the law of might being right to control them, we may well believe that the advent of British rule will be an era in their history, and may become the foundation of their national life. The Mission, however, is not content that they should become law-abiding subjects of Queen Victoria; we are thankful to be on the spot, with some knowledge of the languages and some experience in dealing with these races, and we desire to claim their allegiance to the King of Kings, and to do all in our power to teach them to order their lives in accordance with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[5] The position of these Solomon Islands, and their relation to the rest of our mission field, should be noticed. A study of a map of our field of operations will well repay anyone who desires to understand this. As the map is published with our Island Voyage, the reader may be referred to that. The map is small, and our field of work is large, so it is not easy to bring Norfolk Island into view. Starting from Norfolk Island, some 750 miles of sea have to be crossed before we reach the island of Pentecost, in the New Hebrides, where our work begins. The other New Hebrides islands, south of Pentecost, have long been in the charge of the Presbyterian Mission. Considerable success has attended their labours, though much still remains to be done.

From Pentecost northwards, and to the north-west, the proper field of the Melanesian Mission extends for about 1,000 miles, till we come to New Britain and New Ireland, where the Wesleyan and Roman Catholic Missions are trying to win the natives. There are seven large islands of the Solomon Group, anyone of which is as large as all the rest of our mission field—outside the Solomon Islands—put together. The larger the island, the more difficult, for the most part, we find it to get at the people to influence them for good; and so our chief success in the Solomon Islands has been at the smaller and more central island of Florida. Here, almost the whole population of 4,000 have embraced Christianity. Here the Mission has lately opened its central school of S. Luke's, Siota, where one or more white missionaries are in residence all the year round, and where there are at present 40 scholars, brought from the surrounding islands, to be educated as teachers.

The three large islands of Bougainville, Choiseul, and Ysabel, are in German territory. We have only been able to carry on work in Ysabel, but we are anxious to reach the others as soon as the means for doing so are at our disposal. The German Government recognise the value of our work, and are most willing for us to continue it. The other four larger islands are British. We have been able to make a good start in San Cristoval, and at one end of Mala or Malanta, At Guadalcanar, continual efforts have been made to gain a footing, and at last we hope that the way is clear for a small school at Vaturana. At New Georgia, which seems to be a group of islands, no opening appears as yet, although visited by Bishop Patteson in 1866. From here come the head-hunters who make raids on the other islands of the group, following their favourite pursuit. To check these raids will doubtless be one of the objects of the [5/6] Government; and if this degrading thirst for blood can be stayed, our turn may come, by God's permission, to lead them to the Blood that cleanseth from all sin. The small island of Ulawa, to the eastward, is remarkable as being, like Florida, a successful centre of mission work. From here the voyager, carried along by the prevailing trade wind, easily drops down upon the other islands; and from here we pray that God will, in His own time and way, send forth His all-prevailing Spirit, wafting the Truth of His Salvation from Ulawa to Siota, and from Siota throughout the whole Solomon Group.

Turning to the early records of the Mission—which, unfortunately, are very incomplete—we find that Melanesia, through a geographical mistake, was included in the vast diocese of New Zealand, when George A. Selwyn was appointed its first Bishop, in 1841. For six years he worked hard in New Zealand to bring his diocese into some state of efficiency, and then he turned his attention to Melanesia. One of his biographers tells us: "The way in which he accomplished his first sight of these scattered islands was very characteristic. H.M.S. Dido being at Auckland, he asked leave of the captain to accompany him on his voyage amongst the various groups of islands which gem the Pacific Ocean. This request could not be granted, and the Bishop had to leave the ship with no prospect of his ardent wish to join her as a passenger being accomplished. But when the ship was ready to start, the captain was surprised to see the importunate Bishop appear again, and this time he was successful in his application, for it took the form of a request to occupy the place of the chaplain and naval instructor, who was willing to await at Auckland the return of his vessel. What he saw of the Melanesian islands during this voyage, strengthened his determination to visit them again, should some door be opened by which God would show His willingness that the work should be begun. Accordingly, in the following year (1849), he set off on his first voyage in the little 22-ton schooner Undine, cruising about the islands and trying to open up friendly communication with the natives. His plan was to persuade them to allow him to take some of their children to New Zealand, where they might be civilized and taught the elements of Christianity; while they, in turn, might impart their own language to their teachers. In the winter, the Bishop proposed to return with them to their homes and leave them until the following year, when he would again fetch them if they should be willing to come."

[3] ONE of the party who accompanied the Bishop on that eventful voyage informs us that they penetrated as far as San Cristoval, in the Solomon Group. Here they anchored in a bay on the southern coast and watered, but saw no inhabitants, although a footprint on the soft mud by the side of the stream showed that some were about. They were doubtless too much afraid to show themselves. Natives tell us that in those early days their first thought on seeing a ship was dread that it might be some ghost of terrible proportions come to harm them. In many of the coast villages, the custom was to dispose of the dead by throwing them into the sea: here the sharks soon made short work of them. In this way the sea became the home of ghosts, and disturbances of its physical phenomena were often attributed to their influence. Out of the sea, ghosts might be expected to return from time to time with more or less unfriendly objects in view. The difference between a ship and their own native canoes was so vast that they were quite ready to believe in its supernatural character. In many cases they hid themselves, and watched the vessel from behind rocks and trees, fearing any nearer approach. When the vessel anchored and the boat came ashore, the occupants would be seen to be very human in appearance, and as they produced fish-hooks, beads, strips of coloured calico, and, perhaps, some knives or axes, some native more stout- hearted than his fellows would venture to approach them. Seeing that no harm came to him, others would cast away their fears, and soon the boat would be surrounded by a wondering crowd, all eager to possess some of the treasures the white man brings with him.

This is the usual course of things. Once their cupidity has overcome their fears they become venturesome, and canoes sometimes put off from the shore and follow vessels for miles in the hope of obtaining even a few inches of hoop iron off a cask. Living as they do, altogether in the present, with few wants from day to day beyond the means of defending themselves from their enemies, they scarcely know what spiritual necessities are, and the object of the Mission vessel in approaching them is quire inexplicable. Add to this the fact that their language is utterly strange to the white man, and his to them, and it is no wonder that little progress is made. Remember also that each island has its own separate language, and that about every ten miles on the same island the dialects may be expected to change considerably.

[4] It appears, then, that the Melanesian Mission, in the person of Bishop Selwyn, first approached the Solomon Islands in 1849, but no perceptible progress was made and no boys obtained for training. In 1850, Captain Erskine, of H.M.S. Havannah, was cruising in the islands and obtained some boys, who were handed over to Bishop Selwyn, at Sydney, to be taken to New Zealand and educated. One of these, called Didi, came from the Solomon Islands. We hope to give a short account of him in a future paper. In 1852 it is recorded that the Solomon Islands were visited by the Bishop in the Border Maid, and, as far as possible, San Cristoval and the adjacent islands were explored. There are several harbours and fair anchorages here, some of which had been much frequented by whalers and trading vessels. From these, the natives here had picked up some "pidgeon" English, which made it possible to communicate with them. These vessels brought them calico, hardware, knives and axes of a sort, and above all they introduced the use of tobacco. This speedily became the currency of the islands, and all trading was carried on by this medium. Alas! that it should be necessary to add that on these vessels were certain dissolute men who took the opportunity of free license, and were guilty of immoralities and excesses of which even the natives were ashamed. Thus it was that on the Bishop's early visit to these places he found the people keen to come on board and trade, but he had some difficulty in explaining to them that he had no sympathy with the immoralities to which they had become accustomed, and that nothing of the kind could be allowed on his vessel. Their confidence in white men was altogether shaken, but they could not fail to see that the Bishop was not an ordinary white man. He was liberal in his gifts, and straightforward in his dealings, and, in spite of themselves, they began to trust him. In due course a few boys were obtained, but it is evident they were chiefly moved by a desire to see more of the world, and especially to visit the white man's country. They were taken to New Zealand and instructed, but with very few exceptions they were willing to return home and go back to their heathenism.

When the Rev. R. B. Comins was boating along the coast of San Cristoval, a few years ago, he had occasion to spend the night at a heathen village. The chief had been away on different vessels and had learnt some "pidgeon" English, and he made Mr. Comins welcome. Before retiring to rest in the guest-house of the village, the missionary had prayers with his boat's crew, and the heathen present were asked to retire or be quiet for a time. An evening hymn, answering to "Abide with me," was sung, and [4/5] the chief came forward and tried to join in, and when the party knelt for prayer he seemed impelled to do the same. He was much moved, and tears were in his eyes. The explanation was that he had been one of Bishop Selwyn's boys and had gone with him to New Zealand. There he had begun his education, but, returning home for a holiday, he could not make up his mind to go again, and so he had grown up a heathen, with no desire to be anything else.

On another occasion, Mr. Comins spent a few hours at another heathen village on the same coast, waiting for the wind to moderate that he might continue his journey. This was one of Bishop Selwyn's calling-places, and from here Stephen Taroaniara came, who was killed with Bishop Patteson. Enquiries were made for the old scholars of early days; one was reported to be in the neighbourhood, and a messenger was sent to fetch him. While waiting for him, Mr. Comins rested in the public guesthouse, and there, over his head, he saw hanging up the remains of a human body, which belonged to a feast which had recently been held there. With such associations it could hardly be expected that the old scholar remembered much that had been taught him, and so when he appeared he was keener far to obtain tobacco and fish-hooks than to recall the time when he was a boy at S. John's College.

No list of the boys brought away at that time has come down to us, but a considerable number seem to have volunteered to go for voyages in the Bishop's vessel, without, perhaps, any intention of becoming Christians, or of following it up in any way.

When Mr. Patteson joined the Mission in 1855, there were several San Cristoval boys under training, and, in his first voyage to the islands in 1855, he speaks of arriving at Bauro, when their first disappointment was the non-appearance of Wilham Didimang, an old baptised scholar. A few days later they called on a chief called Iri, who was very well disposed.

Patteson writes thus:—"A visit was paid to Iri's boat-house, which contained three exquisite canoes, beautifully inlaid; then to his house, long, low, and open at the ends. Along the ridge- pole were ranged twenty-seven skulls, not yet blackened with smoke, and bones were scattered outside, for a fight had recently taken place near at hand. In this Golgotha, the Bishop—using his little book of Bauro words—talked to the people, and plainly told them that the Great God hated wars and cruelty, and such ornaments were horrible in his sight. Irii took it all in good part, and five boys willingly accepted an invitation to New Zealand." They arrived safely at S. John's College, but one never [5/6] lived to see San Cristoval again; he was playing one day with a poisoned arrow, and was pricked by it in the arm. As he had no business meddling with the arrow he said nothing about it, but about a fortnight afterwards he died of tetanus.

It is always rather a serious matter when a boy from a heathen village dies anywhere away from home. It does not matter what is the cause of his death, nor how much care has been taken of him in his illness, those he is with are held responsible for his death, and in ordinary cases they are expected to pay large sums of native money to the friends and relatives to avert their ill-will. Failing this a life will probably be taken, if opportunity offers. This should be known, as it explains many of the outrages which have taken place in the Solomon Islands at different times. Labourers have been recruited for Queensland or Fiji, and, dying there, the vessel which brings back news of this is attacked, or a price is put upon a white man's head, and quite another vessel suffers.

It was something to be very thankful for that these San Cristoval people trusted the Mission in spite of losses like this, so that no special vengeance was taken; but handsome presents were made, and everything was done by the Mission to keep on good terms with the people. At the same time it was important that the natives should not look upon the Bishop merely as a purveyor of better fish-hooks, axes, and tobacco than they could get elsewhere. In 1858, Mr. Patteson determined to make a stand for something better. He urged them to build a school- house, where some of the boys who had been away might begin teaching. But this was more than they wanted, and so the proposal was coldly received. They willingly gave their boys, and the boys rejoiced to go away with the vessel, but when they were introduced to school work and necessary discipline they chafed under it, and were not sorry to return home and escape from it.

The first ten years of the work of the Mission in the Solomon Islands was a time of difficulty and disappointment, and but for the strong faith and determined zeal of those first workers it might have been given up as hopeless. And yet it was not all lost time, for a knowledge of the Bauro dialects was obtained, and a few translations made, and experience was gained in gauging the superstitions which had to be overcome in the native mind.

In 1862 the first scholars were obtained from Ysabel, and Patteson tells with great delight "how, at Malata, I picked two lads out of a party of thirty-six in a grand war-canoe, going out [6/7] on a fighting expedition; how, at Florida Island, never before reached by us, one out of some eighty men—young and old—standing all round me on the reef, to my astonishment returned with me to the boat, and, without any opposition from the people, quietly seated himself by my side and came away to the schooner."

The same voyage he called again at Ulawa, for he speaks of two former scholars here who brought their wives all board to go to New Zealand. This is the first record of any female scholars from the Solomon Islands. They do not appear to have taken kindly to life at S. John's College, and when they returned home they relapsed into heathen ways. Their own language was unknown at that time, and they were taught in a dialect which was strange to them, so that they took in very little to any profit.

It was seventeen years after this before a suitable teacher was found, and the first school started at Ulawa. In 1880, Mr. Comins found these two women at home, widowed, and the mothers of families, still heathen, however, but willing to make another start, and put themselves and their children under instruction. Since then the work has prospered under the Rev. Clement Marau, who has now four villages with regular schools, and an increasing number of baptised Christians, and about twenty Communicants. How this has come about is most interesting, and the reader is referred to "The Story of a Melanesian Deacon," published by S.P.C.K., for particulars.

Still more remarkable is the success which it has pleased God to give the Mission at Florida—one of the last islands to be visited by the Mission, and now foremost in schools and church organization. The story of the work there is not without its romance. It was almost wrecked at its inception. The first scholar who went away so willingly with Bishop Patteson, as described above, turned out an utter scoundrel. Fortunately he was followed by other boys who came as scholars, and behaved themselves well, and were of great use in teaching their own people.

But Pathea, who led the way, soon swerved and fell back, and became a greater villain than those who had never approached Christianity. It was he who was proved to be the cause of the massacre of the crew of the trading vessel Lavinia, in 1872, in a deep bay near the present school village of Salesapa. He is still living near there, and only last year (1896) put himself in communication with the Rev. C. W. Browning, with a view to being prepared for Holy Baptism. He is, doubtless, truly penitent, but how strange that he who might have been [7/8] the first baptised scholar there should be almost the last to come in. The story of the work in Florida may be read in "Ten Years in Melanesia," by the Rev. A. Penny. Here are two native clergy, and about 100 teachers, male and female, in charge of about thirty schools, with over 1,000 scholars in regular attendance, besides 2,000 elder people who are under instruction, being built up in the faith. The central position of Florida, and the constant communication between it and the larger islands, makes it specially important.

It is not the object of these sketches to trench upon the province of the present missionaries in charge of districts in the Solomon Islands. The existing state of the work may now be learnt from their contributions to the Island Voyage, which it is hoped has been already perused by our readers, having been published this year as a supplement to the January number of the LOG.

[From The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, Vol. IV, No. 38 (June 15, 1898), pages 1-4:]


NEARLY fifty years ago, in 1848, Bishop Selwyn, of New Zealand, made his first visit to the Melanesian Islands, in H.M.S. "Dido." This was only a preliminary visit, for the next year he started in his own schooner of twenty-two tons, the "Undine," and, navigating her to a great extent himself, he found his way down to the Solomon Islands. All this was new ground to him; and although these islands were visited by whaling ships and trading vessels, most of their coasts were unsurveyed, and few of the harbours and anchorages were known to the outside world.

The Bishop called in on the south coast of San Cristoval; then standing away to the north-west, he sighted the high mountain ranges of Guadalcanar; but time did not permit of further exploration, and so he returned south, and on to New Zealand. He was more than ever impressed with the importance of the work, and could only regret that he had had no opportunity of obtaining a scholar from those parts to be trained at St. John's College, Auckland. The first boy who came into his hands from the Solomon Islands was handed over to him in Sydney, in 1850.

Captain Erskine, of H.M.S. "Havannah," had been through the islands that year, and reported that four Melanesians had joined his vessel, very earnestly desiring to be allowed to stay. He brought them as far as Sydney, and was glad to find that Bishop Selwyn was willing to take them off his hands and educate them. One of these was Didi, from a place called Lidia, near the north-west corner of San Cristoval.

Nothing is known of such a place now. The very name has disappeared; but it was probably a small hamlet of the important village of Ubuna. The other lads handed over at the same time were two from Erromango, and one from Fate, in the southern New Hebrides. On the man-of-war they had been made much of by the sailors, from whom they had picked up a small stock
of English, and this they were very proud to use.

[2] Didi had been nick-named "Meste" by the sailors, and although the Bishop tried to revive his native name, until being baptised he should receive it Christian name, the attempt quite failed, and so as Meste he appears in all notices of Mission work at this time.

A lady in Auckland, who knew him well, writes thus:—"Didimang is a strong-built, thick-set figure, with grave expression; sensible and thoughtful rather than quick. He is described as being anxious to learn, and was soon able to read and write fairly; but all his education was in English. He is said to have been orderly and well-behaved, and showed great affection for the young English lad who taught and looked after him. Talking about heathen days at home, he confessed he had helped to kill a man, and he used to speak of the violence and cruelty he had witnessed continually amongst his own people, all so different from what he saw at St. John's College."

In 1851, Bishop Selwyn started for the islands, hoping to reach as far as the Solomons. This was the first voyage of the "Border Maid," with Bishop Tyrrell on board as a passenger. They had a very eventful time in the New Hebrides, and the voyage to the north had to be given up, so Meste did not reach home, but returned to New Zealand for further training. It was evident that he needed this, for amongst the other things which he was anxious to take home to delight his friends with was a bottle of poison, with which he looked forward to making great havoc amongst the enemies of his tribe. When remonstrated with for this he exclaimed, "Why; they are not white men!"

He seemed to be clear in his mind that in a white man's country, and in dealing with white men, such a thing could not be thought of, but San Cristoval was a very different place, and he was prepared to adapt his code of morals accordingly. His ideas also as to the quality of mercy were much strained, for seeing doses of medicine being made up for a sick person who had been a long time ill, he wanted to know why she was not got rid of, quoting the customs of his own country, where anyone who was old and feeble, and a confirmed invalid, would have a heavy stone tied to him, and he would be consigned to a watery grave. His further stay in New Zealand must have done great things for him in the way of developing his conscience and enlightening his mind, for when he went home, in 1853, he had been baptised by the name of William. On him at that time the hopes of the Mission rested; but, alas! these hopes were not to be fulfilled.

Bishop Selwyn was away in England in 1854 and 1855, and so the voyages to the islands were intermittent, but in 1856 they [2/3] were resumed again, and Mr. Patteson, who had joinedthe Mission, was introduced to what was to be the work of his life. Amongst the notices of his first voyage we find that he arrived at San Cristoval, or Bauro, as it was often called: "At this place there was great disappointment at first in the non-appearance of William Didimang, an old baptized scholar at St. John's; and though he came at last, and dined on board, he had evidently so far fallen away as to be unwilling to meet the Bishop." A few days later the vessel called there again, but Didimang appeared no more. He had returned to native habits, and had made no attempt to teach his own people, and it was evident that in the strong tide of heathenism around him he had been carried away from his steadfastness, and having no fellow Christian to speak a word of warning or of help, he had gone from bad to worse.

The social element is very strong in the Melanesian mind, and he finds it very difficult to be singular and stand alone, or to follow any practices which are not in sympathy with those around him. Thus it is that they are easily led for good or for ill.

Thus it is, also, that the Mission always tries to obtain a small party of scholars from any one place, that embracing Christianity together they may mutually strengthen each other's faith, and present a united front to the great tide of heathenism when it surges against them.

It was felt that even in the case of William Didi, all was not lost, for Bishop Selwyn had through him acquired a considerable knowledge of the Bauro language, and it was moreover established in the native mind that a voyage in the Mission vessel was safe and desirable. But this is not the last we hear of him, for, smitten apparently with remorse, he could not settle at home after the Bishop's visit, but, together with another lad from a neighbouring village, he shipped on board a trading vessel, hoping to find his way back to New Zealand. Here they had a bad time, and changing from one vessel to another actually found their way to China, where his companion died. Eventually, in 1858, he found his way to Auckland, and was received back like the Prodigal of old. "The authorities of the college were at first doubtful as to the habits and language he might impart among his companions, but they did not find that he taught them any harm, although he did not take as much pains to improve himself as he might have done."

Returning home again, in due course, Didi never settled in to work. He found that heathen influences were insuperable, so [3/4] in despair he went away in another vessel, but what was his destination or what became of him never was known. It was a great disappointment to the Mission that he failed as he did; and though other scholars have come from the same place, the result has so far been much the same. Ubuna is still heathen, and we are ever praying that God will open their hearts and remove obstacles, and enable us to claim them for Him.

Before closing this paper it may be mentioned that the knowledge of the Bauro language obtained from William Didi enabled Bishop Selwyn to prepare some prayers for use in the church services, and these, being revised by Mr. Patteson, were printed in 1857, and represent the first edition of a Solomon Island Prayer-book. The Lord's Prayer from that book is given below. We thought it might interest many of our readers to see the first translation ever made into a Solomon Island dialect of the prayer which we all know so well:—

"Ia Imma meu, ewa nei eni aro; doromaia ni atamu; e boi ni mwairaha iamua; haua ni odo amua nei eni ano, onaiia ni haua ni odo amua nei eni aro; Hamai diini tana meu ni mareho ni ngau; Oi haidangi iameu ni taa iameu, onaiia iameu haidangi ni inoni na taa tana meu; oi bun suruia iameu nei eni dora taa; tahungenia iameu maata bania dora taa; Mwairaha iamua, wetewete iamua; mana marewa iamua, orea, orea. Amen."

[From The Southern Cross Log, Vol. IV, No. 39 (July 15, 1898), pages 1-5:]

[1] Solomon Island Sketches—No. 2.


IN our last paper we spoke of William Didi as the first baptised scholar from the Solomon Islands. It will have grieved many of our readers to find, in following his story, that the promise of his earlier years was clouded over, and his sun set in obscurity. It was remarked that one result of his stay in the Mission was that it was established in the Bauro mind that a voyage in the Bishop's vessel was both safe and desirable. Several younger boys from the same place were anxious to follow his example and see some of the wonders of civilisation in New Zealand.

In 1856, Mr. Patteson, on his first voyage to the islands, speaks of being ashore with Iri, a chief, at Maata, at the north-west end of San Cristoval, and after much talk and some scolding, which Iri took in good part, five boys were allowed to come away, but William Didi failed them altogether. It is not easy at this distance of time to be quite sure who these five boys were; but as we hear of no other boys being taken away from San Cristoval at that time, we are led to the conclusion that amongst them were Sumarua and Taroaniara, from Ubuna, a village a few miles round the coast, but in constant communication with Iri's people. These two were companions and friends, and it is believed they joined the Mission together. Sumarua is mentioned in a letter home written by Mr. Patteson, in 1857, as being already at New Zealand. Nothing very special is mentioned about Taroaniara at this time, but following the usual course he would return home for a holiday to see his own people, and his elementary education was proceeded with on his return again to New Zealand.

In 1862 we find Bishop Patteson writing of him that he was getting on steadily, and he hoped soon to be able to admit him to Holy Baptism. For some reason this was delayed, and perhaps wisely, for he seems to have returned home once more and taken to himself [1/2] a heathen wife, by whom his affections were somewhat estranged. In 1861, he got tired of this heathen wife, and pleaded to be allowed to come back to the Mission, but his wife and her infant child were not permitted to accompany him, her friends raising insuperable difficulties about this. Hoping to get the wife another time, he was brought away, and every effort made to make up for lost time, for it was felt there was a great deal of good in the lad, and he was very affectionate and manageable when away from heathen associations. He and Sumarua returned home once more, and in 1866, when Bishop Patteson called for them to bring them away, he was disappointed to find that they failed him. They were persuaded by their relatives to keep out of the Bishop's way. "Poor fellows!" he says, "it is hard for them, no doubt, when they know so little, to make others know at all the good reasons that exist for their going away again with the only persons who can teach them what it is good for them to know; yet it is a great disappointment to us, who perhaps expected too much, when we looked forward to their returning with us again after only six weeks' holiday on their own island."

The Bishop did what he could to win Taroaniara, going ashore and sleeping with him in his hut, to shew his people what confidence he had in him and in them. But all to no purpose; the claims of natural affection were stronger than his duty to the Mission, and so he remained a season at home with his wife and daughter. The next year (1867) he returned with the Bishop, and. landed at Norfolk Island, to which in his absence the headquarters of the Mission had been transferred. Here in the beginning of 1868 he was struck down with typhoid fever, and was some time recovering his strength afterwards. Several deaths had taken place at the Mission, but he had been spared, and this came home to him as a solemn warning. A great change came over him, and we find him taking counsel with the Bishop, thus:—

"Bishop, why is it that now I think as I never thought before? I cannot tell quite what I think. You know I used to be willing to learn, but I was easily led away on my own island; but I think that I shall never wish again to listen to anything but the Word of God. I know I may be wrong, but I think I shall never be inclined to listen to anything said to me by my people to keep me from you and from this teaching. I feel quite different. I like and wish for things I never really used to care for; I don't care for what I used to like and live for. What is it?"

[3] "What do you think it is?"

"I think—but it is so solemn a thought—I think it is the Spirit of God in my heart."

With much thankfulness the Bishop once more revived the question of Baptism, and on July 19th, 1868, admitted him to that rite, when he received the name of Stephen. The Bishop says at this time: "I feel, humanly speaking, quite convinced that he is thoroughly in earnest. His wife and little child are in the islands. 'How foolish of me,' he says, 'not to have listened to you and brought them here at once. Then we could stop here for good.' But he will return with them, all being well, or without them, if anything has happened to them; and I see in him, as I hope and pray, the pioneer for San Cristoval at last."

In the following January he was confirmed, and admitted to Holy Communion on Easter Day, 1869. The Bishop says about this occasion: "Six were there for their first communion, among them honest old Stephen Taroaniara, the first and only communicant of all the Solomon Islands—of all the world west of Mota, or east of any of the Bishop of Labuan's communicants. Think of that! What a blessing! What a thought for praise, and hope, and meditation!"

He returned home again a few months after this, full of zeal and hope. Mr. Atkin gives a touching description of his arrival. "Stephen was not long in finding his little girl Paraiteku. She was soon in his arms. The old fellow just held her up for the Bishop to see, and then turned away with her, and I saw a handkerchief come out privately and brush quickly across his eyes, and in a few minutes he came back to us. The little girl's mother, for whose sake Taroaniara had once refused to return to school, had been carried off by a Marau man." There was no chance of getting her back, so it was decided to let him look around for a nice quiet girl whose friends would allow her to come away to Norfolk Island to be trained for him, and this should be his true wife. He went over to Saa, in Malanta, with Mr. Atkin, and while there he found the object of his search. A young woman called Tori was duly handed over, and early in 1871 they were married at Norfolk Island. His daughter Rosa was also brought to Norfolk Island that she might have all the advantages of a Christian education.

Soon after his marriage he started again with Mr. Atkin for San Cristoval, and then began his last stay amongst his own people. He [3/4] was Mr. Atkin's right-hand man, helping him in every possible way, setting an example of zeal and humility which it was hard to equal. On August 25th the Bishop called at Wano, and took the party on board for Norfolk Island. They went north to the Florida and Ysabel schools first, then east to Santa Cruz, where happened the tragedy which closed the earthly career of Bishop Patteson, the Rev. Jos. Atkin, and Stephen Taroaniara. The story of that sad time has been often told, but it may be necessary to repeat part of it here. They were landing at Nukapu, one of the Santa Cruz Reef Islands, where the Bishop had called before, and was known. The tide was down, and the boat had to wait outside the reef while the Bishop, to save time, went ashore in a native canoe. In the boat were Mr. Atkin, Stephen, and two other natives. They waited patiently outside the reef, talking to some natives, when a shout was heard from the shore, and a man in one of the canoes rose and let fly an arrow. This was followed by a volley from his companions, the boat being about ten yards distant from the canoes. Mr. Atkin was shot in the left shoulder, an arrow had nailed John's hat to his head, and poor Stephen lay in the bottom of the boat with six arrows in his shoulders and chest. They backed out and rowed back to the ship. Here, as they came alongside, Mr. Atkin called out, "We are all hurt." Speedily, however, he was back in the boat, with another crew, to look for his beloved Bishop and ascertain his fate. Stephen was taken on board and attended to by Mr. Brooke, While the arrows were being extracted he called out, "We two, Bishop," meaning that he and the Bishop were sharing the same fate. The Bishop's body was found and brought on board, a speedier and more merciful death having been given him, a club having shattered his skull. Mr. Atkin and Stephen had to pass through fires of suffering before they were both released on the 9th day after they were wounded. The agonies of tetanus came on, and their poor frames were racked by it, until it was felt to be a merciful deliverance when they sank to rest in death. It is said of Stephen that he knew he could not recover, and he spent his time reading his Mota Gospel and Prayer Book, praying and speaking earnestly to the other men on board as long as he was able. He was a tall, large, powerfully-built man, and his struggles were painful to see; but all the ·time he was assiduously nursed by Joseph Wate. On S. Michael's Day these two fellow-workers in the faith, whose hearts longed so to in Bauro for Christ, were committed to the deep at the same time.

[5] In a memorial sermon preached by the Rev. B. T. Dudley, who had known him in the early days when he joined the Mission, this is said about Stephen Taroaniara: "He was one on whom the hopes of all who knew him were fondly centred. For many years past he had lived a consistent Christian life; for some time he had been a useful teacher in the Norfolk Island school; and had it pleased God to spare his life, it was in contemplation of the Bishop to ordain him next Christmas to minister to his own people at San Cristoval."

But this was not to be. God had other plans for His chosen ones. San Cristoval still waits for one of her sons to be found worthy to be called to the sacred ministry of the Church. The Church in San Cristoval is still in its infancy. Heathen superstitions have prevailed for a while, and it is only recently that the power of the Gospel has asserted itself, and the hopes of .those who have the good of San Cristoval at heart have revived. In 1895, Mr. Comins was able to baptize 70 persons, taught at the six different schools on the island, and amongst those added to the Church's fold were several of Stephen Taroaniara's own people, and, last but not least, Sumarua, his early companion and fellow scholar in the Mission, who, after all these years of hesitation, has now decided for Christ, and has received the name of Peter. At the font the same day an infant child of a Christian couple received the honoured name of Stephen Taroaniara, and so the memory of his life and death lives on.

[From The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, Vol. IV, No. 40 (August 15, 1898), pages 1-6; No. 41 (September 15, 1898), pages 1-4:]

[1] Solomon Island Sketches.—No. 3.


IN any record of the work of the Melanesian Mission in the Solomon Islands it can never be forgotten that it pleased God to open up the way in the smaller island of Florida, while it was closed in most of the larger islands; and although Florida was one of the last to be visited and claimed for Christ, it surpassed all others in the readiness with which that claim was recognised. It was in 1862 that the Mission approached Florida, and the first scholar seated himself in the boat and came away. [See "Life of Bishop Patteson," chapt. ix., p.9.] He turned out a grievous disappointment, but others followed who were more satisfactory, and soon the hold obtained by the Mission upon the hearts of the people was strong and abiding. Not a little of this success is bound up with the life and work of the man whose name appears at the head of this paper.

The Florida people in heathen days always had the credit of having a keen eye to business. They occupied a central position, and being great voyagers in their carefully-built canoes, went far and wide on their trading expeditions. They were glad to welcome a white man's vessel for the sake of the trade and treasures it brought within their reach; and when they found that the Bishop was friendly, and treated them liberally, they specially welcomed his visit, trusting him with their boys, and rejoicing in the prospect of his leaving a white Missionary ashore with them. From 1862 to 1866 the Mission vessel made a point of calling in at Boli and trading with the people, thus cementing the friendship which had been formed. Boys were obtained from time to time, and in 1866 Sapibuana was handed over by his friends. He was not a Boli boy, but belonged to the S.E. end of the island, some six or eight miles away, at a place called Gaeta. Here up on the hills his people were in constant war with the Hongo people on the opposite side of a deep bay. It was a relief from this to [1/2] come over to Boli, where there was a powerful chief whom the Hongo people would not meddle with, and Sapi's sister was one of his six wives. Here also was settled an uncle, who was very forward in befriending the Mission and anxious for the Bishop to stay ashore with him. This the Bishop promised to do next year.

Sapi was probably about twelve years old when he joined the Mission, and on the ship he formed a life-long friendship with another boy of his own age, named Wate, who was leaving his home at Saa for the first time. Their destination was Kohimarama, near Auckland, where was spent Sapi's first summer away from home, the last spent by the Mission in those quarters, for in 1867 the whole party removed to Norfolk Island. That year the Bishop redeemed his promise and slept one night ashore at Boli, and left Mr. Brooke there to spend two or three days, while he went on to Ysabel. 1868 was the year when almost the whole school suffered from typhoid fever at Norfolk Island. It does not appear that Sapi was one of the sufferers, but it was a very solemn time for all, with death so near, four of the party having passed away from their midst. A large number of scholars became candidates for baptism, and they showed much earnestness about it. Amongst these were Sapi and his friend Wate, who were respectively baptised Charles and Joseph, on January 25, 1869. Later in the year Charles accompanied Mr. Brooke to Florida, and had a holiday at home. Returning again to Norfolk Island he continued his studies with much diligence, and had the character of being a quiet, studious boy, fonder of his books than of out-door games, and specially fond of music, for which he had a good ear, and he sang and played the harmonium correctly.

In 1870 we find him tenderly nursing a sick Florida boy and closing his eyes in death when all was over; and later on, when the ship started for the islands, it being his turn to stay at Norfolk Island, he was left behind in charge of nine smaller boys who were spending their first summer there. He was also looking forward to being prepared for confirmation the following summer. Mr. Brooke found him of the greatest possible service when he was preparing translations into the Florida language, and his knowledge of the Gaeta dialect as well as that spoken at Boli made his help all-the more valuable. Not that the difference between the dialects was very noticeable, for fortunately for Florida one common language may be said to prevail throughout.

[3] At Easter, 1871, he was confirmed by Bishop Patteson at Norfolk Island; the last service of the kind held by the Bishop, who later in that year received the crown of martyrdom. The voyage to the islands followed the confirmation, when Charles returned home with Mr. Brooke, and came in for a most anxious time there, in consequence of the action of labour vessels recruiting for the plantations in Queensland and Fiji, who had carried off against their will over 50 men from Florida alone. Arrived at Boli, Charles wished to pay a visit to his Gaeta home, together with Simeon, another scholar from that place. To show what our boys returning home have to put up with, it may be mentioned here how Takua, the heathen chief of Boli, Charles' own brother-in-law, thought proper to treat him. Hearing of the proposed visit to Gaeta, and jealous probably lest valuables of various kinds should be carried there, he sent a message to say that Charles' and Simeon's luggage must be transferred to his house or he would send some one to take it by force. Mr. Brooke says: "I was prepared to rebel, but Charles thought it better to submit; so in the most humiliating manner the two boys had at once to take their own property and place it under Takua's roof." Takua expects tribute from every boy who goes to Norfolk Island, and the parents of every boy were compelled to acknowledge his claim. Twice Charles had to pay up to Takua, once for going to Norfolk Island, and then again for breaking the "tapu" which Takua had put upon Mr. Brooke's house. By way of showing that he threw his protection over Mr. Brooke, Takua had "tapued" his premises, so that no one could approach him without permission, and he took care to take a fee from everyone to whom this permission was given. Of course this was only an excuse to enrich himself. Poor Charles was much distressed about all this, and in his vexation of spirit he spoke unadvisedly with his lips, saying, "If you want me to go back to Norfolk Island you must call for me at Gaeta, for I won't tread this place again; and if you can't take me on board there, why, then I'll stay ashore altogether." [ "Mission Life", 1872, p. 85.]

This was a bad beginning for his stay at Gaeta, and we are grieved to have to record that there he was almost carried away by the heathenism of his friends, and his faith in higher things nearly failed him. Thank God he was not quite overwhelmed. He had gone so far, however, that he had to be taken to task by his superiors, and [3/4] the rebellion in his heart all but estranged him from them, and decided him to close his connection with the Mission. Thus far did Satan triumph, and then the grace of God asserted itself and he came round again, and on September 1st we find him once more on the "Southern Cross," bound for Norfolk Island. But alas! a dreadful tragedy was to be accomplished before this was reached. On the 20th, Bishop Patteson landed at the small island of Nukapu, and ashore there "his life was taken by men for whom he would gladly have given it." So runs the inscription on the cross erected there to his memory. When the boat came off from the shore with the wounded, and poor Stephen Taroaniara had been lifted on board, Mr. Atkin had the arrow head drawn out of his own shoulder and called for volunteers to go in the boat in search of the Bishop. Wounded as he was, he was determined to go, as no one else knew properly how to approach the passage in the reef. His own godson, Joe Wate, at once jumped into the boat, and his friend Charles Sapi was soon at his side. It was a dangerous expedition, "bearding the lion in his den," as it were, but God's loving protection was over them, and they came back safely, with the body of the martyred Bishop handed over to them by his murderers.

An event like this could hardly fail to make a deep impression on Charles' mind. The following summer at Norfolk Island was an especially quiet one, and in the solemn heart-searching of that season he was led to see the extent of his failure. He wrote a most touching letter to Mr. Codrington, acknowledging his transgressions in the islands and expressing his repentance and desire for forgiveness. Henceforward he walked more humbly and with greater dependence on the Divine Grace, by which alone all faithful service is done. In those days the scholars were encouraged to make notes of all the teaching they received, which, being examined by the teacher, he could form an ides as to how much they had taken in. A relic has come down to us in the shape of an entry from Charles' diary on January 6, the Epiphany, 1872. This shows what he had gathered from an address in church, to which he had been listening: "This is the great day of the wise men. Jesus was manifested to them, they coming from the East up to Jerusalem, and seeking for the King of the Jews. And to these was Jesus first manifested; and after them to the Romans, and so on until now, when it has reached us. And why was Jesus manifested to the Gentiles? This is why: only the people of Israel knew the way [4/5] of Life which began with Abraham, and God told Abraham that His people should follow that way. But we hitherto did not know it. For this cause Jesus came down that He might save us all, and therefore He was manifested to the Gentiles. To the Gentiles of old was Jesus manifested, and so he is now to us in Baptism and Holy Communion. And they did not go of themselves alone, but God helped the Gentiles that they might believe. In like manner we can do nothing of ourselves, but God helps us by manifesting Himself to us."

Later in this year we find him at Florida again with Mr. Brooke. A wife had been promised him, and he went to claim her and bring her up to Norfolk Island to be trained. They arrived in Florida to find sore trouble about trading and labour vessels. The natives were wild with excitement at the way their friends had been kidnapped before their eyes, and they looked to the Mission vessel, in the absence of a man-o'-war, to punish the offenders. Finding this was out of the question they seemed to have made up their minds to take the law into their own hands. An opportunity occurred when the "Lavinia," trading schooner, was anchored at Tiba for the purpose of collecting beche-de-uier. The captain was away in the boat, and the crew were scattered, some ashore and some on board. They were cruelly massacred, and Pathea, an old scholar at New Zealand, was one of the leaders of the outrage. Musua, Charles Sapi's brother, was one of the murderers, and Charles was very much ashamed of him, and grieved that his people could have committed such atrocities. He spent some time at Gaeta, and denounced everywhere these enormities, even at the risk of losing public favour. In due course he and his affianced wife joined the ship for Norfolk Island.

The next year, 1873, was an important year for Florida, as the first school-house was built at Boli, and Dudly Laukona, a Norfolk Island scholar, was left in charge, to see if he could carry on a permanent school. Hitherto classes had been held while Mr. Brooke stayed at Florida, and these collapsed when he returned to Norfolk Island. Charles also at Gaeta had begun teaching a nice class of lads, who were anxious to learn all they could, but this was in abeyance in his absence.

In 1874 he returned home and continued this good work, and it was astonishing how earnestly they desired to profit by his teaching, soon learning to read better than the most advanced pupils at Boli. [5/6] One of the class, named Vaguru, a nephew of Charles, had so much improved that he tried to keep the class going after Charles left, and took upon himself the instruction of the others. This went on in a desultory way until the beginning of 1877, when Charles Sapi settled at Gaeta and established a regular school. In 1875 he had married Georgina Menengelea, at Norfolk Island, and staying on to help in the school his first child was born there. The Rev. A. Penny had succeeded to the charge of the district, and he speaks of the good work Charles at once set about on his arrival at Gaeta. He says: "His power began to be felt at once; for from the first he set himself against what was wrong with quiet and unflinching determination. Of course he met with bitter and dangerous opposition, but he passed unhurt through all, though the threats of vengeance and plans to kill him might well have daunted a less determined man. The conversion of his brother and his brother's wife, who were baptised in 1878, was the first fruit of his labours." In 1879 Mr. Penny says: "Charles Sapibuana has gathered round him what will, under God's blessing, be eventually a Christian village. Thirty-four converts were presented by him for baptism. The order and discipline of the place, the attendance and behaviour at the services, and the knowledge of the school children show a mixture of perseverance, method, and energy on his part which cannot be too highly commended." His brother also, Philip Musua, baptised last year with his wife, had thrown himself heartily into the school work, and it was not easy now to recognise in him one of the murderers of the crew of the "Lavinia." Not only he, but the whole village, was transformed by the grace of God working in their hearts through the agency of Charles Sapibuana. Year by year the good work grew and prospered, and it gladdened the heart of Bishop Selwyn, on his periodical visits to Florida, to see how Gaeta had changed for the better, and what a centre of missionary influence it was likely to become. The young men whom Sapi trained were all so well taught and had imbibed so much of his spirit that the other villages of Florida might well be supplied with teachers from Gaeta. So well satisfied was the Bishop with what he saw of Sapi's work that he proposed that he should go to Norfolk Island for further instruction, and then he would ordain him to the office of a Deacon in the Church of God.

[1] IN September, 1880, Sapi landed again at Norfolk Island with his wife and child. That Christmas was a memorable one, for the Memorial Chapel to Bishop Patteson was consecrated, and news came from Florida by a passing vessel that an outrage had been committed on the boat's crew of a man-o'-war, and that the Gaeta people were the perpetrators of the massacre. It seemed as if this was impossible, but then it was remembered that Gaeta was a large district, and parts of it were still heathen, and the heathen party were numerous enough to attack a boat's crew upon occasion. Those who would read the details of this unfortunate affair will find them in Mr. Penny's interesting book, "Ten Years in Melanesia." It is not necessary to say [1/2] more here than that the report turned out to be too true, and that the outrage originated with Kalekona, the heathen chief of Gaeta, who, like Takua at Boli, was friendly to the school while clinging to his heathen superstitions. It was a most critical time for the infant church at Gaeta. Although no one from the school had taken part in the massacre, yet in any punishment which was meted out to the offenders it was not possible for a man-o'-war to discriminate between them. The consequence was that the school village was shelled by H.M.S. "Emerald," and the landing party which marched up there would have burnt it to the ground, but they saw the bell and slates and books in the school-house, and outside the plain white cross over the grave of Sapi's first-born. The natives, of course, fled, whether guilty or not.

Sapi was impatient to return home and see what was left of his people and school. By the first voyage in 1881 he accomplished this, and by his firmness and wonderful influence over men he largely helped to a satisfactory settlement of the outrage, several of the perpetrators being handed up to justice, besides gathering together his scattered flock, and calming their hearts, and establishing them in the Faith in which they had been taught. Mr. Penny was absent in England, but Bishop Selwyn looked after the district, and he bears testimony to the splendid way in which Sapi behaved. He speaks of landing at Gaeta and finding everything in working order under Sapi's good management, school and services going on as usual, and all the people back in their homes. The Bishop arranged to spend the Christmas season at Florida, giving the church there the support of his presence at this crisis, and hoping to see a good deal of Sapi, and so prepare him for ordination. Speaking of this time the Bishop says: "The first two classes at Gaeta are far more advanced than in the other schools, and the pleasure of getting away from the mere rudiments of teaching was very great. In the evenings, Sapi used to come to me and read for his ordination, and it was great pleasure going through the Creed and the Ordination service with him."

The "Southern Cross" arrived again about the end of May, 1882, bringing Mr. Penny back, and one of his first duties was to present Charles Sapi for Deacon's Orders on Whit Tuesday. The ordination would have been on the Sunday, but calms prevented the vessel reaching her destination in time, and no steaming could be done as the screw was out of order. The Bishop says: "In the morning we assembled at 7. Mr. Penny gave an address, explaining to the people what [2/3] ordination was, and what the work of the Ministry, and told them of Him who sends men for this work; and then Sapi made his answers and I ordained him, Few, certainly in modern times, have been ordained so completely in the midst of their work, and with the proof of their fitness around them, as he was, For almost everything we saw or heard had their origin, or their adaptation and improvement from him. He had gathered together the people by whom he was surrounded, and had mainly taught them; he had kept them together by his influence and example: he had trained the voices which sang over him as he knelt before the laying on of hands: and he had done this in spite of opposition and even of threats of violence. It was therefore with a glad heart that I committed him to the work of the Ministry."

Soon after Sapi's ordination, and partly caused by the stirring of hearts at that time, the people came to the conclusion to destroy the sacred stones and relics connected with their "Tidalo" worship. Kalekona became a very different man after the narrow escape he had of being executed for his complicity in the "Sandfly" outrage, and he called the other heathen of his party together and proposed to them to banish their "Tidalos" forever. To this they agreed, and charms, relics, and things of all kinds that had been venerated for generations, some of which were only known to be in existence by tradition, being in the keeping of a privileged few, were put into a bag which was thrown into the sea, After this Kalekona and his whole party came up to the school and asked to be taught. The news of what the Gaeta had done spread rapidly through the neighbouring islands, and opinions were freely expressed that the outraged "Tidalos" would punish their deserters with sickness or death; but as no untoward event happened at Gaeta, public opinion turned round and declared that the power (mana) of the new teaching was yery "strong." The downfall of the "Tidalos" is a most interesting page in the history of Florida, and for further particulars we again refer the reader to Mr. Penny's book.

The teaching of Kalekona, and the large party who applied for instruction at the same time, made great demands upon Sapi, and Mr. Penny spent some time at Gaeta, in 1883, assisting him, The work went on steadily, however, and Bishop Selwyn, visiting Florida in 1884, says: "A most bright Confirmation at Gaeta concluded my visit to Florida. I had hoped to have ordained Charles Sapi to the Priesthood, but he begged to wait another year." This was the first confirmation held in the Solomon Islands. Sapi was anxious to go up to Norfolk Island [3/4] for some further instruction before taking Priest's Orders. Another summer was spent carrying on the work, and this was a specially anxious time because Kalekona, the chief of Gaeta, died. In heathen times the death of a chief is signalised by quarrels and bloodshed. The Gaeta people were in danger of being attacked on all sides when they were without a leader or head. The Vuturua people declared their intention of doing this; but the Gaeta people sent word to say that though they were Christians they had not destroyed their weapons, and if they were attacked their enemies would find that they could use them. This had the desired effect. How much this peaceful result was due to Sapi's influence it is hard to say. Siovi, the second Gaeta chief, was invested with a shade more authority, but it was easy to see that Charles S pi was the authority on whom the people relied, though from his modest and unassuming manner no stranger would have perceived it.

Thus began the year 1885, his last year of service on earth for the Master. He was considerably worn by all the strain he had gone through, and was much out of health, so that a stay at Norfolk Island for a change became almost a necessity. The opportunity also of obtaining special instruction and preparation for Priest's Orders was not to be deferred. It should be mentioned that the Rev. J. H. Plant had recently joined the Mission, and he had been appointed to assist Mr. Penny in charge of Florida. He speedily formed a high opinion of Sapi and his work. The great event of the Florida district in 1885 was the conversion of the Hongo people, the enemies of Sapi and the Gaeta villages. By way of heaping coals of fire upon their heads, Sapi had sent them his second teacher at Gaeta to guide them in their first efforts to grasp the Truth. Later on, Tabukoro, the Hongo chief, who was famous through the islands for his insatiable rapacity and recklessness of human life, put himself under instruction, and actually went to Gaeta to sit at Sapi's feet and be taught by him.

In due course the "Southern Cross" called and brought him away, and after an uneventful voyage he landed at Norfolk Island on the 17th Sunday after Trinity. An influenza cold was about at Norfolk Island, and it attacked him. Complications set in, against which care and medicine were of no avail. His constitution was evidently much undermined, for he sank very rapidly, and to the surprise and sorrow of everyone he passed to his rest in the early morning of the 21st Sunday after Trinity, October 25th, 1885.

[From The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, Vol. IV, No. 43 (November 15, 1898), pages 6-9; No. 44 (December 15, 1898), pages 3-5:]

[6] Solomon Island Sketches.—No. 4.


THE island of Ulawa is one of the smaller Solomon Islands, and lies to the eastward of the group, and is usually the first land sighted by the "Southern Cross" after leaving Santa Cruz. Here Bishop Patteson called in the first years of his voyaging in Melanesia, and he made friends with the people and won their confidence in a way peculiarly his own. Ulawa had no harbours or satisfactory anchorages, so that there was little inducement for vessels to call there, and a visit from a vessel at any time was very much prized. Several boys were obtained here for S. John's College, Auckland, and before long we hear of two girls going up there for training. In the decade from 1860 to 1870, quite a number of scholars from Ulawa came under the influence of the Mission, but when they returned home they failed to utilise the knowledge they had gained, for we find no attempt made to begin a school, or to cope in any way with the native superstitions. Subsequent experience has shown that without exception they relapsed into heathenism. There were none of them, baptised, as they did not stay long enough with the Mission to obtain the requisite teaching for this. It must have been a great disappointment to Bishop Patteson and his fellow-workers to see this failure, but still they continued to call in there and hope for the best. The people were always friendly, eager for trade, and new scholars were always forthcoming, ready to go with the Bishop and see the world. In 1870, the Rev. Joseph Atkin, in charge of the Bauro district, visited Ulawa in his boat, and stayed a few days there. He left behind him one of his boat's crew, Jos. Wate, a Mala boy from Saa, who had relations at Ulawa, and wanted to see something of them. The Ulawa people had planned a voyage to Saa in one of their large canoes, and Joe Wate hoped to get home in that way. While waiting for suitable weather for this trip, Joe visited most of the Ulawa villages, and he spent a few days at Matoa with Hoho, who was a connexion of his. Hoho had a son of about 12 years of age, called Waaro, who became very much attached to Joe, and never tired of listening to his stories of the life on the Bishop's ship and at Norfolk Island. Joe saw that the boy would give anything to follow in his steps, but doubted whether his friends would let him go. Finding that this was his heart's desire, he interviewed Hoho and various uncles and grandparents, who seem to have a great deal more to say here about a boy's future than his own father and mother. No boy from Matoa had so far been away, but the Matoa people saw that the Bishop always called in and traded wherever he had boys given him, [6/7] and they determined they would not be left out any longer. Accordingly they promised Joe that if the Bishop came to Matoa he should have Waaro handed over to him. In due course this was carried out. Waaro came alongside in a canoe, paddled by his father and an elder brother, and thus began his life in the Melanesian Mission. But Waaro's friends had yet another reason for being friendly with Bishop Patteson, and desiring to put him under obligation to them. A few weeks before, a cutter had called at Ulawa, seeking "labourers" for the plantations and had taken away 20 natives. These men thought they were going for a short cruise, and found themselves prisoners. They were handcuffed and kept below lest they should escape. The Matoa people had lost heavily by this cutter, and now they wanted to make sure of the Bishop's sympathy and help, hoping he would use force if necessary and get their friends back. The "Labour trade" was then flourishing in some of its worst stages; kidnapping was constantly resorted to when other means failed, and it was hardly surprising that reprisals took place, and terrible outrages occurred, in which the innocent suffered with the guilty at the hands of the indignant natives. The next year Bishop Patteson himself and two of his companions lost their lives at Santa Cruz, through the evil deeds of other white men. Waaro was at Norfolk Island when this occurred. Particulars of his doings for the next year or two are not forthcoming, but he evidently returned home in 1872, and had a severe illness there, from which he slowly recovered. He was absent from the Mission till 1874, when the Report for the year says:—"In the Solomon Islands, besides visits to the homes of our scholars, we renewed acquaintance with two islands with which almost no intercourse had been maintained of late—Ugi and Ulawa- and took away boys from each." Waaro was one of these. He reported that during his stay at home in 1873, a canoe from the main island of Santa Cruz had been blown away and drifted down to Ulawa. There were a number of natives on board, who were killed, but two children were spared. The Ulawa people had never forgiven the Santa Cruz people killing Bishop Patteson and their own missionary, the Rev. T. Atkin, and the Bauro teacher, Stephen Taroaniara; although as a matter of fact this outrage was at Nukapu, one of the Reef Islands lying off Santa Cruz. Waaro continued his studies at Norfolk Island, returning home again for a holiday in 1876. By this time he had grown a tall lad, and his friends thought that he ought to marry and settle down with them. A wife was accordingly provided for him, a young girl named Ahatora, from Suholu, on the opposite side of the island. He had no objection to the wife, but he did object to giving up his connection with Norfolk Island and the Mission, and so after some wrangling he was allowed to bring Ahatora away for training. The consent of her friends does not seem to have been unanimous, for Waaro confessed afterwards that he had to smuggle her into the boat with another girl named Tekunhu, [7/8] who was a great friend of hers, who was running away from a husband whom her friends had made her over to. Teku was supposed to be engaged to Haarara, another scholar at Norfolk Island, and in this way she obtained her passage, but it turned out that she had nothing to do with him, and Haarara in due time married someone else. When the Rev. R. B. Comins joined the Mission in the beginning of 1877, he found Waaro one of the senior boys of his house, and quite the tallest of those under his roof, and yet he was not baptised. He was being prepared for baptism, however, and was admitted to that rite early in 1878. It is customary in Norfolk Island in the case of adult baptisms that the candidate for baptism chooses a sponsor from amongst his friends; and when there is no suitable person of sufficient standing amongst those from his own island, he has to look further afield. Waaro had lived some years in the same house at Norfolk Island with Clement Marau, and a great friendship had arisen between them, although Clement was a Meralava man, in the Banks' Group. So it came about that Waaro secured Clement for his sponsor. He received at the font the name of WaIter. He was not very strong in those days, and was not unfrequently in the doctor's hands. He was patient in his sufferings, and plodding in his work when he got better, but he was never much of a scholar. Up to the last he spoke and wrote Mota very inaccurately, and never had any facility in writing his own language. He was very conscientious in the discharge of his duties; as he understood them. When the Rev. D. Ruddock was lying seriously ill at Norfolk Island at the end of 1879, Waiter nursed him tenderly day and night, and showed that he could be trusted in time of difficulty or danger.

His time at Norfolk Island was now drawing to a close, and it was decided that as his intended wife Ahatora had been baptised, receiving the name of Catherine, they should be married and return home, and try to begin a school at Ulawa, and so win their own people for Christ. The marriage took place on Easter Tuesday, 1880, and in a few days they were on the "Southern Cross" on their way back to Ulawa. Walter had expressed a great wish to evangelise his own people, but he was sensible of his own defects and doubtful of success. He talked the whole matter over with Clement Marau, who, being most anxious that his godson should make a good start at home in the face of special difficulties, volunteered to pay a visit to Ulawa, if the authorities of the Mission were willing. Permission was granted, and this proposal was carried out. On Rogation Sunday, 1880, after morning service on the "Southern Cross," the vessel's head was turned towards the shore at Matoa, but there was too much sea on at the rocks near the village to land there, and the boat had to go round to a sand beach half a mile off. Here, in the pouring rain, Clement, Walter, and party landed, and were accompanied to the village by Mr. Penny and Mr. Comins. Teku, the girl who came away with Waaro's wife, [8/9] had been baptised Emma at Norfolk Island, and had died on the voyage down. She dreaded facing her family and the husband she had run away from, and it is believed that this preyed upon her mind and hastened her death. She had been out of health, and was receiving some medical treatment when the fatal termination occurred, to the surprise of everybody. It is probable that as her friends were altogether heathen, they would have subjected her to the greatest indignities, and given her over to a life of immorality, and have forbidden any respectable person to marry her. In this case her death on board the Mission vessel was a merciful deliverance. Now, on landing, her decease had to be made known to her relatives, and it is one of the painful recollections of that wet Sunday afternoon walk that as each group of natives approached and were informed of her fate, a heathen wail was raised which seemed most hopeless in its character, and sent a depressing chill into the hearts of those who heard it. Walter received a hearty welcome, and for his sake Clement Marau also. The latter speaks of this in his book, which all friends of the Mission should obtain and read. It is called the "Autobiography of a Melanesian Deacon." There was a house here which the people had built for the Rev. J. Still, but he having to leave the Mission, it had been unoccupied for two years or more, and now Walter and party proposed to take possession of it, and use it as a school-house until they built a better one. Unfortunately it had been used as a guest-house for passing visitors, and had been found so useful for this that now they rather demurred at its being resumed for its original purpose. A compromise had to be arrived at, by which the Mission party were accommodated under their own roof, but visitors from other villages were to be provided with lodgings when required. This was not without its advantages, a' crowds of people came to see and hear about the new teaching, which was set forth in this very public manner by teachers who had little or no privacy, and whose lives were scanned by critical eyes on all sides. The Rev. R. B. Comins succeeded Mr. Still in the charge of this district, and made a short stay at Ulawa later in the same year.

[3] MR. COMINS found that Clement and Walter had made a good start, but it was very uphill work. Not knowing the Ulawa language, both Clement and Mr. Comins had to depend entirely on Walter to act as interpreter on all occasions. Mr. Comins relates how one day he had been trying to give a lesson through Walter upon the raising of Jairus' daughter. Turning Mota into Ulawa taxed all Walter's powers, and he got on very badly. At last Mr. Comins said, "Tell them the whole story in your own way," upon which Walter warmed up to the subject, and thoroughly arrested the attention of his hearers with the details of that miracle. They went away, however, with the idea that this was what the new teaching did for everybody now, and so they announced that they would bring all their sick and incurable friends to be made whole at the hands of the Mission party. Walter had to go all over it again and explain that the school teaching did not prevent our bodies from being liable to sickness and death, and that the blessings of the Gospel are spiritual and eternal. Here their interest failed. The whole idea was foreign to them, and Walter had to coin words to express some of the thoughts which he wished to convey—so difficult is it to set forth the spiritual truth in the early stages of mission work amongst people so simple as Melanesians, whose language only concerns itself with bodily wants and occupations.

Both Mr. Comins and Clement returned to Norfolk Island for the summer, leaving Walter to carry on the small school at Ulawa. On their arrival next year it was found that Walter had been ill, and the school had been held irregularly, and only about a dozen children were in attendance. A new school house had been built, however, and in this, with an increased teaching staff, the number of children soon rose to 30 or more. In April, 1881, Walter's son and heir was born, and according to native custom he was expected to name him after some departed ancestor. Walter refused to do this, and waited till Whit Sunday, when was held the first Christian baptism in Ulawa, and the baby was called Clement, after his own godfather and personal friend from Meralava. From this date Clement Marau settled in at Ulawa as senior teacher, and gave Walter what he so much needed, viz., guidance in keeping a school together, and advice how to lay the foundations of an infant Church. The history of the Church in Ulawa is bound up with Clement's name, and Walter gladly worked under him as his second in command. But troubles were looming up before him, over and above the infirmities of a sick body, and the constant opposition of heathen neighbours. [3/4] Strange to say, his own elder brother became a bitter enemy for a time. He was a very passionate man, and was very jealous of his wife. He had seen Walter speaking to her, and immediately concluded that he had a grievance against him. For some time Waiter had to keep out of his way, lest vengeance should be taken, and for some months afterwards his life was a burden to him on this account. Both Clement and Mr. Comins tried to heal the breach, and for a time the brother's anger slumbered, only to break out again on the slightest provocation, At last the Suholu people, on the opposite side of the island, asked if Walter would come there and teach them. As his wife came from there it seemed quite practicable, but now the irascible brother refused to let him go. However, Mr. Comins carried Walter and his family off in the "Southern Cross," and landed them at Suholu the same day. A house was ordered to be built for him, and he was left there to see what he could do. What with ill health and heathen opposition, progress was very slow, but Clement paid him frequent visits and strengthened his hands. In leaving Matoa, Walter sacrificed all his worldly wealth. His gardens, fruit trees, cocoanuts, etc., were all seized by his brother. It might be supposed that this was made up to him by his wife's relations when he went to live amongst them; but it was not so. His wife and her children were provided with the necessary food, but he was a stranger, and had to shift for himself. He had a hard battle to live for a time, but, as he told Mr. Comins, "You put me here, and I would have died before I would have gone away." His faithful, patient, consistent life was not without its influence, and before long he was the mediator in all their quarrels and the mutual friend of all parties. As to school work, he seldom had more than a dozen children to teach, and these attended badly. The elders studiously held aloof. This went on for several years. At last two boys were obtained for Norfolk Island, and their parents professed to have put themselves under Christian instruction, but were clinging all the time, it was found, to many of their old superstitions. Mr. Comins tells of a visit he paid Suholu in May, 1888. He says:—"They are a small party in the school here, and very little seem' to be going on. Walter is not much of a teacher, and does not seem to get hold of the people, many of whom have come to listen to the teaching, but have gone away without being attracted by it. He is an earnest man, and has a most difficult post to fill. One of his best friends here was an old heathen who made him welcome when he first came to Suholu, and who shared his garden with him ever since. Old Koliala was a most kind-hearted man, and it was a great trouble to Walter that he could not attach him to the school. His heathenism appeared to be too deeply grained to be easily effaced. A few months ago he was very ill, and his friends had given him up, and were tired of looking after him. Walter offered to take him into his house to nurse him and see what he could do for him. It was [4/5] not very long, however, before he died there. Walter did his best for him, but he could not say that he had any proof that his heart was changed, or that he died in the faith of Jesus Christ. Great was the indignation of all Koliala's relations, who laid his death at Walter's door, and demanded that he should pay over a considerable sum of native money as a salve for their wounded feelings. They were quite certain that it was his friendship with Walter which had caused Koliala's illness and hastened his death. There was a great gathering at the public meeting-house of the village, and Walter was summoned before the authorities to be judged. It was proposed by some that he should be killed, and an end put to the school and its influence. Walter sent back a. message that his place was at the school, and if anyone wanted him he would find him there; he was not afraid to die, and if they wanted to kill him they must kill him there at his post. Hour after hour passed. It need not be said that it was an anxious time, and Walter took his troubles to God, and put himself entirely in His hands, who is ever mindful of His own. At sunset a few of the dead man's relatives presented themselves at the school-house and took up the body and threw it into the sea to the sharks. This is the usual heathen mode of disposing of the dead in Ulawa. They could not but respect a man who was so fearless and so faithful." He gained the day, and that was a turning point in the history of his school, for soon afterwards several adults joined Walter and asked to be taught. From this time distinct progress was made. Matea, the chief of Suholu, was so much impressed that he became a listener, and eventually settled in as one of the school party. Walter began now to see some fruit of his labours, and zealously set himself to prepare some of his people for baptism, but his health failed him, and he had to come over to Matoa to be nursed by Clement Marau. He paid a short visit to Norfolk Island, and was present at Clement's ordination as Deacon in 1890. He returned to Suholu, but became more and more an invalid, and from that time till he died in August, 1891, his life preached lessons of patience and faith in God to those about him. It is satisfactory to know that he and his brother became friends again, and that the brother put himself under Clement's instruction, and, after a considerable probation to test his fitness, was at length admitted to Holy Baptism. Walter lived to see this; also he rejoiced to see his bosom friend Clement Marau advanced to the Diaconate, and the Church of Christ at Ulawa established firmly, and almost all his relations and friends gathered into it. In summing up the history of his life, we would say:—We have here a man with no accomplishments and few natural gifts, placed in a position of much difficulty and danger, and yet able, by God's grace, to commend the truth of God to others, not with his lips only, but his life.

[From The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, Vol. IV, No. 47 (March 15, 1899), pages 8-11; No. 48 (April 15, 1899), pages 4-6.]

[8] Solomon Island Sketches.—No. 5.


IN previous numbers of the LOG our readers have been introduced to various characters who have figured in the history of Mission work in the Solomon Islands, and the time has now arrived, perhaps, when we may bring in the story of one of our native girls. It is characteristic of native life that women should be under subjection, and should be kept in the background, and so, in the early voyages made by the founders of the Mission, very little was seen of the female sex. The men came forward and made friends with the visitors, and boys were forthcoming for a cruise in the Mission vessel, but it was some time before a woman ventured on board, and the difficulty of taking girls away as scholars was verygreat. After a time, when the number of boys under instruction was considerable, and they were growing up and hoping to become teachers of their own people, it was felt that it would be necessary to provide Christian wives for them, as far as possible. This could only be done by bringing girls away for training. But women in the Islands are [8/9] not free agents, and it is not sufficient that they should be willing to come away for instruction; the more important question is whether their friends will part with them.

When a young man wants a wife he is not expected to do any courting or take any steps on his own behalf. The matter is taken up by his parents and elder relations, who have to put together the requisite amount of native money with which to buy the bride. The amount at their disposal largely influences them in going to market. There are some girls who, being related to chiefs and people of importance, command a high figure. Others, again, have no family advantages, and are therefore marked much lower. Good looks are by no means a leading consideration, although an extremely ugly person, or one afflicted with any bodily infirmity, may suffer depreciation accordingly. The friends of the girl are approached, and often hours are spent in haggling over the price which shall be paid for her. The girl herself usually has very little say in the matter. Not but what if she happens to have any special aversion to the proposed bridegroom her objections may be taken into consideration, but more frequently they are over-ruled. The probability is that she knows very little about the young man, and possibly has never seen him. In this case she can hardly be expected to have any strong feelings one way or the other. Cases occur where the young couple do not take kindly to each other, after all the efforts of their friends to unite them. The money may be paid and a feast made, and the girl handed over to her new friends, but she may then discover that there are reasons why she cannot be happy there, and she will insist on returning home. Sometimes this will be allowed, and the money paid for her will be returned. If the young man is a chief, or his relations are people of importance, they will consider their dignity has been hurt, and will not be content to take this so quietly. They will probably come down upon the girl's friends for compensation in the shape of additional shell money, and it may be that a "tapu"' will be put upon the girl herself, which is of the nature of a curse upon her, and upon anyone who marries her. She will become a proscribed character, and will be handed over to a life of immorality, and no respectable person will have much to do with her. With the possibility of this before her, many a girl who is not altogether satisfied with her new home and the husband provided for her, makes up her mind to accept the situation and make the best of it.

In the year 1874 the "Southern Cross" going her rounds in the Solomon Islands came to Saa, in the Island of Mala, or Malala. Bishop Patteson and his companions had often called here, and friendly relations had been established with the people, and several boys had been taken away for training. Two girls also had been allowed to go up to Norfolk Island, and, although neither had returned, the confidence of the people in the Mission was unbounded. Stephen Taroaniara got a wife here, and she was at Norfolk Island [9/10] when he was killed at Santa Cruz. After this she sickened and died, so her friends never saw her again. The other was Lydia Salo, who was engaged to Joe Wate, and she was in training at Norfolk Island when our story opens. There was a younger sister of hers at Saa, named Kali, who was approaching the age when, according to native ideas, she ought to marry and settle down. An old chief named Wariehu thought she would make a suitable wife for his son Okau, and proceeded to make overtures to her friends. They were in great fear of offending him, and were perhaps flattered at his condescension in the matter, so Kali was told that this was the future awaiting her. She was duly bought and carried off, but settling down was quite another thing. She could not face old Wariehu. He seems to have been very exacting, and his name was rather a terror in his neighbourhood. At this distance of time it is not easy to ascertain what the other causes were which made Kali rebel, but rebel she did. She ran away to her own friends, who constantly took her back to her husband; but all to no purpose, she refused to have anything to do with him. Wariehu was much annoyed, and threatened punishment. At last he decided to throw her over and demand his money back, putting his "tapu" upon her, so that no one else could befriend her, under pain of his displeasure. She took refuge in the house of an uncle who sympathised with her, and he happened to be a friend of the Rev. J. Still, at that time in charge of the district. Joe Wate made a flying visit home, and heard the who1e story, and pitied her very much, and he brought the matter to Mr. Still's notice. Her life was indeed a burden to her. She was proscribed, almost like a leper in the olden time. Every man's hand was against her, and no wrong committed against her was reckoned as such.

In after years, in speaking of this time, tears used to come in her eyes. Her people were all heathen; even her uncle who befriended her and gave her a home knew nothing of Christian principles. Joe Wate had tried in vain to teach the Saa people the great truths of the Gospel, but they were not inclined to give heed to them. It seemed to him, and to Mr. Still also, that the only way to help her was to carry her off to Norfolk Island, and to trust that some day the curse upon her might be forgotten. This was not so easy to manage, as Wariehu and party might disapprove of it. It was carried out at last, however. There were times when it was so rough at the Saa landing place that the boat had to go ashore on the sheltered side of a long point a few miles off. Here the Saa people would come down and meet the boat. Here Kali and her uncle found their way, following by-paths in the bush so as to keep out of Wariehu's sight, and on reaching the boat she was promptly put on board and taken off to the "Southern Cross." The women's cabin of those days was small and cramped, but it was freedom itself to Kali after the bondage in which she lived at Saa lately.

[11] In due course she landed at Norfolk Island, and received a hearty welcome from Lydia at Mr. Palmer's house. She soon settled into the school life, and proved herself an intelligent pupil. The girls at Norfolk Island are taught to read and write and sing and count, and they are well drilled in house work, learning to scrub and cook and make bread, while in the way of needlework they are taught to cut out their husband's clothes as well as their own, and to sew and mend them as required. Kali soon learned to take her share in all this. In due course she was taught to say her private prayers, and then admitted to the public services of the Church, and we find her name on the list of catechumens in 1876. On Septuagesima Sunday of that year she was baptised by the name of Amina. When Mr. Still married at the close of that year, Amina was one of the girls in his house, and she always bore a good character, and seemed specially bright and happy. For a Melanesian, she was fairly good looking, and as she had no husband in view it was whispered that she was inclined to be a bit of a flirt. It is certain that various young men, who were not yet provided with wives, got a little sentimental about her, and if she had been in a marrying way she could doubtless have soon found a husband. Lydia had married Joe Wate and gone home, and Amina's chief friend now was Rosa Paraiteku, the daughter of Stephen Taroaniara, who was engaged to be married to Robert J. Taki, the son of the chief of Wango, in St. Cristoval. In 1878 she went down to Wango with her friend on a visit, in charge of Mr. Still. She did not venture near her own people, however. She returned with Mr. Still to Norfolk Island and continued her training, and, being one of the senior girls, she was most useful in cutting-out and mending clothes, and helping to teach new-corners.

[4] On St. Matthias' Day, 1880, she was confirmed by Bishop Selwyn, at the first confirmation held in the Memorial Chapel to Bishop Patteson. She had by this time begun to be rather delicate in health, and it was feared that she had a weak chest and would never be strong. The next year it was thought best that she should not face another winter at Norfolk Island, and so she went down to the Solomon Islands again. But where was she to land? It was proposed to her that she should see what sort of a welcome the Saa people would give her, but she refused to face them. Old Wariehu was still in power, and although he was friendly to the school, and had sent one of his sons to be educated at Norfolk Island, he was still a heathen, and she felt sure would be unfriendly to her. Mr. Comins had succeeded Mr. Still in charge of the district, and he was puzzled what to do with her. At last she proposed that she should go ashore at Ulawa, where she had a married sister. The sister was willing to receive her, and here she settled in for the rest of her short life. The heathen element was very strong here; her sister never came near the school, although her husband was better disposed, and wished to put himself under instruction. Amina's troubles began as soon as she landed— in fact her landing was disputed by the heathen, some of whom may have known of Wariehu's curse being upon her. When she attempted to get out of the boat and land at the rocks, where the rest of the party received a welcome, she was unceremoniously pushed back, and told she must climb up the face of a rugged and perpendicular coral rook close by. Up this she was dragged by the women folk, who are not allowed to approach the men's landing-place, where the great canoe houses are, within which no woman's foot may tread.

When Amina had settled in here, she seemed to rally a little, and tried to talk to and teach those whom she came in contact with. She endeavoured to impart to the women around her improved methods of managing their children, and she got into great disgrace over Walter Waaro's son and heir, who was born soon after she arrived at Ulawa. She suggested warm water for its ablutions, and proceeded to wash it herself, but this raised quite a storm of abuse. By doing this she defiled herself in the eyes of the heathen, who prepared to boycott her forthwith. Her sister now got tired of her. The box full of things she brought from Norfolk Island contained very little now. She had mostly given the contents away, and there was very little more to be got out of her. Her welcome was worn out, and no one seemed to care to do anything, for her. [4/5] With difficulty Mr. Comins persuaded a near neighbour of his to take her under his roof, and he provided her with food and medicine there. Eventually this neighbour found she required more attention than his family were inclined to give her, so he proceeded to build a little shanty for her at the back of his premises, and covered it with a few cocoanut leaves, where he proposed she should be left to die. Mr. Comins would not allow this, so he curtained off a corner of his own house and took her in there. By doing this Mr. Comins ran the risk of being boycotted, too. The next morning no children appeared at school, and no heathen came near the school premises. He went round and talked to the people, and persuaded them to relent, and after this the children returned to their duties, but none of the elders would enter the house.

Of her last hours, Mr. Comins writes:—"She was very weak, and suffered greatly, and often became impatient and fretful, but she was soothed immediately when reminded of what Christ suffered for her. Her New Testament and her Prayer Book in the Mota language were well thumbed, and full of pencil marks and notes of her own. I found a memorandum in her handwriting of the names of her four godchildren, whom she was in the habit of remembering before God. When she was too weak to read for herself, she often asked me to read to her about Jesus, or to repeat a hymn in which she could join. On the morning on which she died, she was singing, in a low voice, verses of different hymns she had learned. And so, quietly and peacefully, she passed away, and her spirit returned to the God who gave it."

It is the custom in Ulawa amongst the heathen not to bury the dead, but to wrap them in a mat and throw them in the sea to the sharks, which are ever prowling round waiting for such prey. Amina knew this, and dreaded it, and she made Mr. Comins promise that she should be buried near the schoolhouse, with a proper Christian service. He found it was not easy to redeem this promise. As soon as it was known that she was dead, her sister appeared with some female friends, and they declared that they had come to throw her to the sharks. Mr. Comins turned them out of the house, and went to choose a spot where the grave could be dug. He had no land of his own, and he found no one who was willing to have his property desecrated by burying a woman upon it. An hour or two was spent in negotiations, and at last, in consideration of a heavy bribe, one man gave way, and Mr. Comins was able to tell the teachers to get the grave ready. Returning to, the house, he found the door surrounded by angry women, headed by Amina's sister, who were demanding admission. Clement Marau had been left at home ill, and, seeing what was about to happen, he sat himself in the doorway, and prevented the women carrying the body off in Mr. Comin's absence. The latter was able to fulfil his promise at last, and Amina was laid to rest, with the Burial Service read for the first time in Ulawa, There were crowds of natives present, [5/6] but none interfered. The grave was fenced in, and a pile of stones raised over it, and no one ventured near it after dark, lest, as they said, the ghost should be wandering there, restless and unhappy, because the body had not been thrown to the sharks.

We have here the story of one of our scholars, trained at Norfolk Island for a life of usefulness in the Lord's vineyard here, and then translated to her place amongst the Blessed, without being ever stationed as a teacher, or being permitted to influence others for good, except within a very small circle; and yet who can say that her life was fruitless? Ulawa is now the centre of much earnest Christian work. It has its own native clergyman, with a stone church nearly finished, large enough to hold several hundred worshippers. And these worshippers include Amina's sister; who has been baptised by the name of Amy, and each of those other women is rejoicing now in the same Saviour who supported Amina in her weakness, and took her to Himself in His own time and way.

[From The Southern Cross Log, Auckland, Vol. V, No. 60 (April 14, 1900), pages 6-11; Vol. VI, No. 61 (May 15, 1900), pages 7-9.]

[6] Solomon Island Sketches.—No. 6


IN earlier numbers the LOG has contained sketches showing what is known and remembered about various Melanesian scholars of by-gone days who have come under instruction and have profited by the Christian training we have been able to give them. We have introduced our readers to the first baptised Christian, the first lay communicant, and the first native clergyman in the Solomon Islands. We have added also particulars of some of our teachers whose lives and deaths have glorified God. We propose now relating some details about a few native chiefs we have come in contact with, who in their time have helped or hindered the work of our Mission. We shall speak first of a heathen chief, and the name of such a one stands at the head of this paper.

[7] It must be explained at the outset that although passing travellers calling in at the Solomon Islands sometimes talk about the native "kings" they meet with, there is no special state nor anything particularly regal about those who hold the highest place there. As often as not the chief of a village is less clothed and wears fewer ornaments than many of his followers. Further, it must not be supposed that a Solomon Island chief can be compared in power with those we read of as chiefs amongst the Maoris or Fijians, for there is no chiefly caste amongst them by which the person of a chief is sacred and his word law. A man is a chief in the Solomon Islands as long as he can hold his own; and when he cannot do this he must give way to a better man. We may say that, as a rule, rank is not passed on from father to son. The law of inheritence is matriarchal, that is, it goes through the mother. If she is a person of importance her children may come to the front, but after all it depends rather on what her male relations, especially her brothers, are able to do for those she brings into the world. It should be known that here a lad's nearest relation, to whom he looks for advancement in life, is not his own father, but his uncle, his mother's brother. Those who are interested in this subject should not fail to read Dr. Codrington's Melanesian "Anthropology and Folklore," for further information.

Whatever advantages come to a man by birth they are of little value, in heathen islands, unless the individual is a man with some fighting capacity. One who shows any signs of cowardice will soon forfeit the confidence of his tribe, and find himself superseded. Whoever, therefore, aspires to the office of a chief, takes care to obtain a character for courage, and if possible has a long record of human lives which he has taken by fair means or foul. But more important than mere fighting capacity is tact or cunning, by which a man seizes opportunities and brings himself to the front at .any crisis in the history of his people, when he obtains a reputation for the spiritual mana he possesses and overcomes all opposition. Wealth also is an important factor, and a cunning chief takes pains to enrich himself on every possible occasion when he can do so without drawing too much attention to the underhand means he employs. For instance, if a rich man dies he appears on the scene to see that his property is divided fairly, but the probability is that he will secure the lion's share for himself. If it be asked [7/8] what use he makes of his wealth, we answer that he gives handsome presents to his friends and those whose co-operation he wishes to secure, also he puts down money as a price upon the heads of those who stand in his way, with the result that their lives are soon taken, and another source of strength secured to his own position. It falls upon him also to proclaim the greatness of himself and his people by providing monster feasts, to which people far and wide are invited. For these he has to procure any number of pigs, or even human bodies. If he does not see his way to make a raid upon another village to secure these, he offers a price, and the object of his desire is obtained.

Such is the sort of man we expect to meet with on approaching a heathen village for the first time. Having a keen eye to his own advantage, he finds his way down to the boat; and, seeing that we go ashore without any firearms or any protection of that kind, he probably extends to us some sort of a welcome, and. waits to see what we are going to give him by way of a present. We take care to bring with us plenty of knives, fishhooks, beads, or tobacco, and with these we secure his good will. When he has accepted these presents, and has proclaimed his visitors his personal friends, there is not much fear of molestation; and if he can be persuaded to do the honours, and take us up to the village; and introduce us to his wives and family, we feel we have made real progress. It will probably be premature to talk of taking scholars away to Norfolk Island, so we make notes of our visit, and invite our friend off to the ship to return our call, and there he expects and receives fresh presents, by which his indissoluble friendship is secured. In years to come we may find him still a heathen, and clinging to his old superstitions, even when he has allowed us to take boys away as scholars, and these, returning home, have started prosperous schools amongst his people. He will probably be one of the last to be won for Christ. But, thank God, the history of the Mission contains records of not a few who have joined our ranks before it was too late in this world—who, after lives of oppression and wrong, have accepted the Gospel message as little children, and have been born again to that higher life which God bestows on those who seek Him.

[9] To come to the account which we have promised our readers about Oikata, a heathen Mala chief, we regret to say that our sources of information are very incomplete. The writer of this paper made his acquaintance in the year 1877. He found him living at Port Adam, a fairly good harbour near the south-east end of Mala. Of his early life, nothing is known, except that he belonged to a tribe living some miles down the coast, which came and established itself on various small islets in Port Adam. These they fortified with stone walls, and prepared to hold against all-comers. Here he rose to the rank of a chief, and had several wives, and a name for cruelty, treachery, and wrong. It is recorded that at one time he held the second place under an elder chief of some fame; but he was not satisfied with this position, and proceeded to oust his superior. He knew better than to attempt to take his life, so he accomplished his purpose in his own way. The death of some other chief had been announced, and, as usual, opinions were divided as to whose door the cause of his death should be laid. No one is supposed to die a natural death. If a man does not die in war, or by the hand of an assassin, some enemy is said to have caused his death through sorcery. Oikata caused it to be circulated that his superior was at fault, and soon a message to that effect came down the coast from the head sorcerer of the tribe. His life was demanded, and he must die. Oikata talked it over with the elder man, and plainly proved to him that there was no escape out of it, and that it was more noble to take one's own life than to have it taken by someone else. The result was that in due course the wretched man shut himself up in his house and committed suicide. After much mourning for the loss of his friend, Oikata succeeded to the supreme power, and consoled himself with as much of his friend's worldly wealth as he could lay hands on.

The villages where he and his people lived were mere low-lying coral islets, only a few feet above the sea level, and, although not without vegetation, yet had no suitable soil for gardens, or for growing ordinary native food. The consequence was that the sea became their principal source of sustenance. They were bold and skilful fishermen, spending most of their nights spearing fish by torchlight, or laying down extensive nets by which large hauls were secured. They lived on fish, morning, noon, and night, and [9/10] when a visit was paid to their houses it was observed that they reeked of fish, which they were always cooking or drying in them. For ordinary native food they were dependent on what they could buy elsewhere, and their custom was to send three or four women off in a canoe with a stock of fish for sale, which they exchanged at the villages on the mainland for yams, bananas, etc. No one meddled with these women for fear of the vengeance of Oikata and his people, who would have thought no more of raiding and destroying another village than they did of spearing a few fish in the night. The sea was to them further a source of wealth, for there they hunted and destroyed shoals of porpoises, whose teeth were valuable as a currency in all the surrounding islands. This, and abundance of native shell-money, which, if they did not make it themselves, they always obtained from their friends down the coast, gave them a position of wealth and influence, so that they commanded the markets, and were, to all intents and purposes, the financiers of the district. In this way, added to their fighting qualities, they were held in great awe by the tribes around, most of whom were thankful to be on friendly terms with them.

A year or two before we made Oikata's acquaintance, a boat from a vessel, containing a shipwrecked crew, found its way to Port Adam, and tried to land there for food and water. This was a splendid haul for Oikata, and the unfortunate white people soon found their way into his ovens, and for a few days the women in the canoes had something else besides fish for sale.

The occasion of our visit was another haul which Oikata had just made, but this was on a smaller scale. It was the year of Bishop John Selwyn's consecration, and he made a call at Saa, where the Mission had many friends, and there he learnt that two unfortunate Santa Cruz natives had been cast away, and had fallen into Oikata's hands at Port Adam. The Santa Cruzians had taken Bishop Patteson's life, and the Mission vessel had ceased to call there for a time; now there seemed to be an opportunity for Bishop Selwyn, if he could get hold of these men, to befriend them and take them home, and by their means a footing might be obtained on that shore which had cost the Mission so much to approach. Bishop Selwyn went on to Port Adam in his boat, with a party of Saa chiefs, who were on friendly terms [10/11] with Oikata, and when the "Southern Cross" arrived soon after he made a second visit in her, and made strenuous efforts to secure the castaways. The wonder is that they were not cooked and eaten at once; but they had suffered great privations, and were very much out of condition, so they were fattened up for a while. As the result of much haggling, Oikata agreed to allow us to redeem Tefonu, the elder of the two, and we had to pay an exhorbitant price for him; and when he was handed over to us he was covered with sores, which seemed to explain why they had parted with him. We had to be content with this for a time. We took Tefonu away for a cruise, going round some of our other districts, and in due course, with proper food and medical treatment, his sores healed up. After this, we called once more on Oikata, to see if he had changed his mind about the remaining prisoner. It was a sight to be remembered to see him come alongside in his canoe, and watch his look of astonishment at Tefonu's altered appearance. He evidently repented his bargain, and wished to get him once more into his hands. He invited him to go ashore and bring his friend off to the ship, but Tefonu knew where he was safe. The Bishop told Oikata to fetch the man off, but this did not suit him. He was then told that he would not be allowed on board, nor any of his people, nor would any trading, be permitted with the ship unless the other Cruzian was forthcoming. He said nothing, but he looked as if he could have eaten the Bishop and all our party with the greatest satisfaction. We anchored for the night, and he got his friends together and apparently planned to try and attack and take our vessel. He assembled a great number of large canoes, filled with armed men, who kept watch on us, and he sent far and wide for friends to join him in the assault. The next morning the harbour was alive with canoes, and we could see natives crowding down to the shores, and cutting down trees and making rafts on which to come out to us. Things were getting a little critical, but we got up steam and quietly ran out to sea, and it was some time before Oikata saw us again.

[7] THE Bishop had placed the Rev. R. B. Comins in charge of this district, and early in 1884, when he was making a stay at Saa, Oikata appeared, and proceeded to renew his acquaintance. He had come on a visit to Dorawewe, the principal chief there, and found Mr. Comins already established under that chief's protection. It was his policy, therefore, to be friendly. Mr. Comins determined to make use of his opportunity to conciliate him, and a few presents went a long way towards this. Oikata had with him in his party a favourite son, a lad of about twelve, who was much attracted by the pictures Mr. Comins showed him, and by what he saw going on in the small school at Saa. He hung about, listening to the teaching, and eventually sat down and made his first attempt at the alphabet with the others. In due course he confided to Mr. Comins that he wanted to go to Norfolk Island. When Oikata heard of this he was much perplexed, and explained that it was out of the question. Soon after Oikata returned to Port Adam with the boy, and Mr. Comins won his heart by promising not to take the boy until he was willing to let him go. So grateful was he for this, that he invited Mr. Comins to come to Port Adam, and choose any two boys he liked, whom he might take away and train. This was carried out in 1885,
when two boys were handed over, one of whom was an adopted son of Oikata. Fakaia, the boy who had first made friends with Mr. Comins, tried to stow himself away on board, and so give his father the slip, but he was discovered and turned out of the ship. It has ever been the rule of the Mission never to take a boy away without the consent of his friends; and whenever a promise has been made to a native, we have held it as sacred as if made to a white man. We have thus gained the confidence of the natives, and they have learned to look upon us as real friends.

In 1886 there was an outrage upon a labour vessel only five miles from Saa, and excitement amongst the natives ran high. Mr. Comins had just landed at Saa, knowing nothing of this, and the Mission vessel had gone on to Florida. Oikata paddled down to Saa, and warned Mr. Comins, and further cemented the friendship between them.

In 1888, Oikata visited Mr. Comins at Ulawa, when he was staying there. He arrived in a large war canoe, with about 25 followers, but they had come chiefly to trade in native money, and to obtain two or three women for wives to take back to Port Adam. [7/8] There were several large heathen villages, where he was received with open arms, but he preferred to make Matoa his head-quarters, where the school was. He and his people behaved very well, and eventually returned to Mala, having attained the object of their visit. Two things may be mentioned in connection with this visit. One is, that Oikata was very much impressed with the change that Christianity had made there, under God's blessing, through the agency of Clement Marau and his helpers. He asked many questions, and took great interest in all he saw and heard. The other is an incident which is best related in Mr. Comins' own words. He says: "I went one day to take a dip at a bathing pool of fresh water, about a quarter of a mile from the village. It was a secluded place at the head of a glen, where the water ran over a rock, under which one sat and enjoyed a shower-bath. I had nearly finished my ablutions when I happened to look up, and to my astonishment I saw Oikata and about a dozen men staring at me. Some of them began examining my clothes, and wanted to try them on, but Oikata himself, accompanied by his principal fighting man and executioner, descended to the pool, and proceeded to take the greatest interest in my bare, white skin. These two began pinching and taking up folds of my flesh, and examined me much as a farmer does a prize ox he is going to kill. I had reason to believe that Oikata was friendly disposed to me, but in spite of that I began to feel a little uncomfortable. A happy thought seized me: I handed Oikata and his friend my piece of soap, and suggested that they should take the opportunity of having a good wash. This tickled their fancy, and in a trice they were covered with lather, and hard at it, upon which I slipped out and hurried my clothes on and made a hasty retreat to the village. It is not charitable to suppose that Oikata meant me any harm, but, knowing what cannibal tastes he had, I preferred to put temptation out of his way."

The boys from Port Adam who had been to Norfolk Island made two visits home to their friends, and on the second occasion they got the children together and began school with them in a small way, with Oikata's approbation. Some of the seniors also were anxious to know about the new teaching, and before long they applied for a trained teacher of some experience who would settle at Port Adam and look after the people. Mr. Comins placed Luke Masuraa there, and they gave him a hearty welcome, and promised him a wife if he would undertake to make his home there. Luke was some years with them, and married Alice Alite, Oikata's own daughter, after about two years' training at Norfolk Island. He was joined by a volunteer native missionary from Motlav, called Johnson Telegsem, who eventually relieved Luke and married another Port Adam girl, named Lizzie Siakulu, who had also been trained at S. Barnabas'. These teachers found [8/9] some very uphill work, for, although the people were well disposed to them, and to the Mission, they found it very difficult to persuade them to forsake their old superstitions. This difficulty was much increased by the attitude of the surrounding heathen, and especially by the influence of the villages down the coast, where Oikata's people came from. Before any great progress was made Oikata sickened and died. Outwardly, he was a heathen to the last, for however much he was disposed to better things, he made no application to be prepared for baptism, and when heathen influences were strong around him he seemed to cling to them almost as much as ever. We are thankful to think that he had begun to try and grope his way to the light, and if it was a very dim twilight that he attained to, it is not for us to pass judgment on him.

We have added this sketch of a heathen chief to show the sort of difficulties the Melanesian Mission has to face, and to give our readers some idea of the kind of raw material out of which, by the grace of God, saints are made in these uttermost parts of the earth.

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