Project Canterbury








given in Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral

Suva, Fiji, on August 28, 1970


The Venerable C. W. Whonsbon-Aston

Archdeacon Emeritus

Vicar of Levuka, Fiji, 1931-34
Priest in Charge, Mukawa, New Guinea, 1934-39
Vicar of Viti Levu West, Fiji, 1939-43
Chaplain in Western Samoa, 1943-58
Archdeacon of Fiji and Vicar of Levuka, 1958-64
Archdeacon of Polynesia, 1963-67
Archdeacon Emeritus, 1967






109 Cambridge Street, Stanmore, N.S.W., 2048, Australia
Printed in Australia by C. C. Merritt Pty. Ltd., Lakemba, N.S.W.
Registered at G.P.O., Sydney, for transmission by post as a book.


Online reproduction by kind permission of the Australian Board of Missions, 2007.


William Floyd, born in Ballycanew, in the parish of Gorey, Wexford Co., Ireland, on July 3rd, 1838, and ordained priest in Melbourne, Australia, in 1870, arrived in Levuka, Fiji, the then prospective turbulent capital of the yet-to-be-proclaimed King Cakobau (pronounced Thakombau), on November 15th, 1870.

He was the pioneer priest of the Anglican Communion in that part of the South Pacific later to be known as the Diocese of Polynesia.

The Centenary Committee recommended that, as a continuing Memorial, a lecture, to be known as the William Floyd Memorial Lecture, should be given annually by some distinguished scholar, resident or passing through Suva.

Though I may not entirely fit that description, I have been honoured by being invited to give the Inaugural Lecture, as one who has equalled the period Floyd spent in the South Seas, and as a successor of Floyd's, both as Vicar of Levuka and as Archdeacon of Fiji, combining those offices at one stage, as did he.

I was about to call this "An Irishman in the Pacific", after rejecting a longer title, but, after reading Andrew Boyd's "Holy War in Belfast" and of reactions in the South, I wondered whether a "pacific Irishman" must be an exception. Floyd was no "pacifist", but he certainly was an exceptional person. Yet, even that needs qualifying, for, as a missionary, he was but one from the Isle of Saints and Missionaries, who had gone to the "uttermost parts of the world".

Browning sings in "Pippa Passes":--

"All service ranks the same with God;--
God's puppets, best and worst,
Are we; there is no first and last."

"God's puppets", all of us; living within the context of history, in what has gone before, in what we have inherited, in what we, in turn, contribute to our own day and age and to the future.

In this sense I want to give Floyd his niche in South Pacific history. The contribution of the Anglican Communion has not been small, though we are not great in numbers. We have voluntarily constricted ourselves by making our greatest contribution to the unity the churches have today, by refusing to encourage or to benefit from other Christian bodies' disunity.

I am grateful to the Reverend John Pinson, of the Pacific Theological College, for the use of some of his research notes, also my good friend, Christopher Legge, of the Chicago Museum of Natural History, who had gathered descriptions of old Levuka from various sources. I also acknowledge the use of R. A. Derrick's "History of Fiji" and of the now century-old "Fiji Times", whose founder was a member of the first church committee in Levuka, likewise Arthur Skevington Wood's "Thomas Haweis--1734-1829".

AUGUST, 1970.



Where should we begin history? Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit scholar and modern thinker, affirmed that our ancestors "less than two centuries ago saw history as no more than a stretch of 6,000 years". Fixing dates in the South Pacific's history seems a hazardous business in these days when archaeological researches appear to have discovered signs of human occupancy a very great deal earlier than the traditional history of today's peoples would suggest.

Probably we should go back to Creation itself and anyone who has seen the real South Pacific in all its sheer beauty must confess a Creator with a Master Mind as a designer. There is so much variety in it all, from the 15,000 feet Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea to the graceful mountains of Moorea in Tahiti and the volcanic "thumbs" of Rarotonga and Fiji, the placid quiet lagoons and coral atolls. In all there is the lavish hand of a Great Designer.

"And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." In that we can all agree and I often wonder had the Creator a twinkle in the One All-Seeing Eye when he saw human beings begin to enter this veritable Garden of Eden, thinking "Now, just what devilment will those folk get up to there?"

What a mess humankind has made over the centuries and is making today, even to the nuclear pollution of only a month or so ago.

Among the amenities he provided was "the sun to rule the day and the moon the night" and that moon certainly had some part in the behaviour patterns of the folk who would live under it.

[5] Rupert Brooke, the young poet, writing somewhere up the Namosi Heights, said, "Fiji in moonlight is like nothing else in this world or the next--and here, where it is high up, the most fantastically-shaped mountains in the world tower around, and the little silver clouds and wisps of mist run bleating up and down the valleys and hillsides like lambs looking for their mother. There is only one thing on earth as beautiful; that is Samoa by moonlight. That's utterly different, merely sheer loveliness".

I have a vivid memory of a fine Sunday evening after church, with crowds walking up and down the beach road, then beginning to stand in silent awe, as the moon moved into total eclipse. As the earth's shadow began its course, the moon took on a strange eerie redness, almost blood-red; totality showed a black disc completely fringed by the blood-red glow. Human laughter and talk had ceased and there was an awesome silence, broken only by the beating of drums and tin-cans in the distance--until the black shadow slowly passed, leaving the ruddy glow slowly to efface itself.

These are the elements that make for superstition and lead to worship.

Who, too, could tell what lurked in the deepest depths of this deepest ocean on this globe, to emerge from time to time and be revered and worshipped as fish-gods?

When I came to Fiji the famed fish-god, the Dakuwaqa, was very much a reality. The Government ship, the Lady Escott, reached Levuka with signs of an encounter with the great fish, while the late Captain Robbie, a well known, tall, and very erect Scot, even to his nineties, told of the sleepy afternoon as his cutter was sailing from his tea estate at Wainunu, under a very light wind, with most of the crew dozing. A great fish, which he described as near 60 feet in length, brown-spotted and mottled on its back, with the head of a shark and the tail of a whale, came up under his ship, almost capsizing it.

The crew, instantly awake and concerned, followed the ancient pattern, pouring a strong libation of kava into the sea, which, it would seem, was just the right idea for placating fish-gods; the monster slowly submerged, the breeze gradually gathered the cutter away, its keel dragging along the monster's back, making the skin pale.

To the Fijian crew this was the "Dakuwaqa"--in the twentieth century; what must have been the effect in the tenth?

(However, in the 1970s it is interesting to note that a wages award to Fijians working on the fishing fleet into Levuka, having due regard to the awe in which the shark is held, are given an extra 10 cents for handling shark fins--the new god is moving in, Mr. Shark--money.)

The South Pacific Ocean, in its pristine freshness, far from the concentration of the populations of the land masses of Europe, Asia and Africa, waited in silence for many centuries before its first migrants seem to have drifted into it. When they came seemed to have been settled by traditional calculations, but these have now been cast aside as a result of archaeological excavations in late years. Where they came from has been theorised about for some years.


The Polynesians

The most favoured theory is that the Polynesians, dwellers in "many islands", characterised by their honey-coloured skin and their long hair, came from Northwest India, down the subcontinent into Indonesia. I was very interested in one of the campfire songs sung by the Ghurkha regiments, where the word for "moon", an unusual word, is the same as in Samoa and (with the "s" turned into "h") in Tonga. These, in turn, were followed by a dark-skinned people we call Melanesian (from the Greek melas). The Polynesians, being snobbish, moved out and became the "Argonauts of the Pacific", sailing east and branching north to Hawaii and south to New Zealand and the Chathams, settling in the "many islands" of the East.

This was a theory held by the late Sir Peter Buck, himself a Polynesian, which he expounded at a welcoming kava ceremony in Samoa. He was immediately rebuked by an old Samoan orator, who felt that other Polynesians might have come from anywhere, so far as he was concerned, but the Samoans were a special product of creation made there on the spot.

The Melanesians sailed across as far as Fiji, where their impingement on the Polynesians gave them a new element in their culture and tribal organization. There emerged a splendid people, many of them giants in stature and not by any means lacking intellectually, given the impetus and opportunity.

Some years ago I sat on Papua's east coast at Cape Vogel with a party of semi-naked, tufty-bearded, balding old men, those who passed on the legends and secrets in their tribal traditions. They pointed out to me a point a few miles away which they called "Gairarabina baibaini karobisi", "The point of the embarkation of the women".

The story behind it was of the dissatisfaction of the women of the area at their husbands' refusal to send them back fresh bush food from the annual hunt, aggravated by their ignoring an ultimatum. The women, carrying out their threat, provisioned a small fleet of canoes and sailed off east, with their children, over the horizon, never to return. It is interesting to note that many words in the Melanesian dialect of Mukawa have almost their exact counterpart in Fiji, "waka" and "waga" for boat, compared with "waqa" in Fijian, "suku" for milk, compared with "suthu" in Fijian and so on. Did the descendants of that brave independent party fetch up finally in these islands of Fiji?

On the intellectual level, I consider King Taufa'ahau, of Tonga, still with us, and without whom Tonga would never have reached its present prosperity, and my dear old friend, the late Ratu Sir Joseva Lala Sukuna, to whom Fiji owes much of its present development, two [6/7] of the greatest men the Pacific has produced, both of them university graduates, both of them visionaries, but with the practical common-sense to make dreams realities.

Whatever their origins, the islanders came, bringing human laughter to silent lagoons, bringing their joys, their inherited and natural skills, their loves, their rivalries, which at times boiled over into bloodlusts, their inherent fears, beliefs and superstitions, their lares et penates.

A great deal of sentimental balderdash has been written suggesting that these migrants, even though they must have come from older civilisations at the outset, had arrival completely free from any disease or malaise, in ruddy good health, and with a sex life just as completely untainted and absolutely idyllic.

Had there been no sickness there would have never developed such a pharmacopoeia as that produced by the islanders' herbalists, whose skills came only from experience.

It is averred by some writers that this state of original perfection and innocence prevailed until the libidinous licentious Europeans came [7/8] along in what is often referred to as "the Fatal Impact". Curiously enough, I find that it is always the early missionaries who are held responsible for this "rape of the innocents". For the life of me, looking over the character and record of the first missionaries, tight-lipped and somewhat fanatical as they appear, writing "SIN" in capital letters and possessing no heart of pity for "sinners"--I cannot feel they could be seen toting rum or Holland's Square Gin; above all I could not see them introducing what we delicately refer to as "social diseases", for few of them appeared that "social".

There were many diseases in the South Pacific long before European contacts. A friend, Dr. Desmond Beckett, a world authority on leprosy, and incidentally a countryman of William Floyd's, told me that, insofar as Fiji is concerned, leprosy has been so long among the people that two ancient terms for it have been used locally over the centuries, while Fijian mythology shows how the gods used leprosy as a sort of "godly discipline", subjecting those who did not toe the line to contact with it.

Filiariasis, or elephantiasis, too, is known in different parts of the Pacific by terms that have been used for ages, "waqaqa" in Fijian, "mumu" in Samoan, and is endemic. Yaws, too, is an ancient tropical disease, so old in Fiji that the term "coka" must have been coined generations ago. I am indebted for this information to Dr. Macu Salato, a senior Fijian medico with much experience.

(I have just come upon Isaac van der Sluis's recently published book on his researches in Tahiti, "Treponematosis in Tahiti", which confirms much of what I have stated here.)

Dr. Hirshman, Director of the World Health Organisation in the South Pacific, is of the opinion that introduced ailments were mainly in the virus category. He felt that tuberculosis was probably already here, but was accelerated. Measles and influenza were epidemic and caused ravages among peoples not attuned to such things.

I have always premised that what could have been termed the "Fatal Impact" from the medical viewpoint could have come more from the South American coast, from the Peruvian slave traders in the Eastern reaches of the South Sea's islands. The island group most decimated was the Marquesas, where the population, said to have been near 30,000 at one time, was estimated to have been 16,000 in 1789, and it has never recovered from the introduced diseases. There can be only about 4,000 inhabitants there today.

On the other hand, on the opposite end of the South Pacific, on Papua's east coast, where I gave medical treatment to hosts of New Guinea people 35 years ago, I do not remember any great incidence of tuberculosis, while two persons, collected by a newly constituted Government medical patrol service, held and taken away to Samarai, suspected of contracting venereal disease, had to be returned with a note to say it was a mistaken diagnosis. We had had no such cases.

What, too, of that idyllic "love-life"? I lived alone for much of my time in primitive New Guinea years ago, with a close contact with my people, for whom I was both their priest and their "medico". They [8/9] had by no means emerged from the "Stone Age". I had there every chance, as a young man, of assessing life "in the raw". There were some variations that would have seemed strange to overseas people, but on the whole there appeared far less emphasis on sex, its disciplines and implications, than appears in many an English, New Zealand or Australian town or village. After reading Malinowski, who wrote of islands right east from where I lived and also mentioned my area, I am often led to feel that the average Pacific Islander is "a man of infinite jest", an inveterate legpuller. The youngest child was familiar with all bodily functions simply as a fact of life and no secrecy left it to the blushing father or uncle haltingly to divulge "the facts of life".

Every race, left in isolation, finds its own level, living its own life, influenced by its people's temperament, their climate, their surroundings. In this context its moral and ethical codes evolve and emerge, pragmatically. The islanders had no unmarried, somewhat frustrated, mysogynist, St. Paul, with an unexplained "thorn in the flesh", to make their rules.

In many ways, discipline was very strict and there was a high degree of modesty, which could be outraged. I came across a vigorous protest made to either the old "Polynesian Gazette" or the "Fiji Times" of several years ago, by the Fijians of Lovoni Valley, on Ovalau, protesting against the mixed bathing in the Bureta River of Europeans from Levuka and the semi-nudity of those Victorian or Edwardian period bathing attire.

There was no life of ease. Life could be a terrific struggle, for if folk did not dig and delve, plant and weed, they would starve; even fish were in short supply according to seasons. Most garden crops could not be stored, while droughts, such as have been experienced of late years, almost meant starvation. I have known my people in New Guinea down to eating the sliced trunk of the banana. There was a constant grind, and women were the expert gardeners. Apart from that they were not just biological specimens for study or dissection, they were very human people with a desire and affection for children, though the families were not very big.

Under these circumstances polygamy became a matter, not of lust, but of expediency. It was kinder to the womenfolk, who were relieved of the heavy garden work during pregnancy, through childbirth and until the child was weaned. The husbands had other duties, too, in the economy of the tribe. No one escaped work.

These conditions hardly obtain today, for communities are not so isolated and there is a money economy, with a Chinese or Indian store on the beach. Christianity demanded a monogamous relationship, making it a condition that a husband or wife could not be baptised into the life of the church until all the other wives had gone (through natural causes, of course) leaving him with but one sole spouse, producing a sort of tontine, the last wife getting both the husband and all Paradise, the others having to put up with Limbo.

[10] A new look is being taken by the churches these days; while monogamy must be the rule of the Christian, the husband and his wives, as converts, are to have a more kindly reception as "all God's children".

It is probably difficult for the convert to understand, for we owe the Psalms to one polygamist, King David, and get spiritual refreshment from the Proverbs and Wisdom of another, King Solomon.

So we have the setting; an isolated world, in blissful ignorance of any other world or existence, living to itself, developing its own philosophies, its codes of behaviour, especially becoming extremely efficient as herbalists for the illnesses some idealists would suggest they did not suffer. They all had "self-government", with very little consideration for human rights. Some of them were "imperialists", for Tonga and Fiji together invaded and overcame the Samoans, an event which even produced a coined Samoan expression for trickery or chicanery, "tongafiti", for the Samoans claim that as the only reason for their defeat. The Tongans, under Ma'afu, invaded Fiji, being prevented from further inroads by the signing of the Deed of Cession, with Ma'afu the second signatory.


"The Fatal Impact"

It was inevitable that this fortress of isolation should one day be penetrated. It was doomed from the time that Balboa looked down on the Pacific from the heights of Panama, when Magellan, followed by Drake, rounded the Horn, when Mendana sailed from Peru. Yet the explorers or adventurers could have had very little effect on the island peoples as a whole, for the expeditions were separated by years and touched at different parts of different groups.

Tasman, who miraculously jumped the Ringolds Reef at the peak of the only high tide that occurred in a cycle of years, discovered Fiji in 1642, but it was another 146 years before Bligh, from the Bounty, passed through.

These visitors became legendary, their white faces with the background of the great billowy whiteness of the ships' sails giving rise to the idea that "the sailing gods from the heavens" could be expected again, the vavalagi, the papalagi, the pa'alagi.

The southeast trade winds and the chase for Moby Dick brought the "sailing gods" or, rather, "lewd fellows of the baser sort", the whalers, masquerading as "gods", and no offering of soul or body could be too great for "gods". The perfect trust of the Tahitians, in the first instance, was sufficient to break down any old disciplines, and the introduction of the fiery liquors of the day was enough to turn worship into bacchanalia. This, if anything, was the "Fatal Impact". News of the scandalous orgies filtered through to London, where already the publication of Captain Cook's Journals was being discussed with special reference to the scientific expedition he had conveyed to Tahiti to view the transit of Venus. Tahiti was "in the news".


Missionary Impact


One who took a keen interest in the Coffee House discussions was an Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Thomas Haweis (rhymes with "hips and haws"), with whom the semi-nakedness, betokening sinful-ness, of the poor benighted savages in the South Seas became almost an obsession. He was determined (and he was a very determined man on most things) that they should be enlightened, at the same time removing the stigma brought upon the white race by the doings in Tahiti.

From his persistency came the interdenominational London Missionary Society (LMS), who were the pioneers in missionary work in the South Seas. Their missionary ship, Duff, taking advantages of the same trade winds, left England for Tahiti on September 24th, 1796.

Haweis was a strange character, commemorated by what Morison, the author of "Founders and Fathers of the London Missionary Society", described as "his sepulchral tablet", which is to be found a few yards inside the east-end door of Bath Abbey, an unadorned slab of marble, that could have graced the old washstands of the day, with the inscription to "The Revd Thomas Haweis, LL.B. and M.D., 57 years Rector of All Saints, Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire; Chaplain and Principal Trustee to the late Countess of Huntingdon and Founder of the Missionary Society". There follows an extraordinary mixture of poetry and doggeral, the last verse of which intrigued me, as it warbles in triumph:

"With smiles he whispered, on the verge of flight,
'I go to glory--Death hath lost its sting.
I view the prospect all before me bright!'
Then blessed his friends--and took immortal wing."

Just like that!!

He had had a good classical training in Truro and moved on to do a medical apprenticeship with a prominent surgeon and apothecary in the same town. However, he decided, after his "conversion", to enter the church, where his career seems to have been a somewhat chequered one. One is never certain just where his loyalties lay, with the Establishment, where his evangelical zeal might have accomplished a new appraisal of religious thought and action, or with Methodism.

His M.D., said to have been bestowed by a Scottish University, is the cause of some speculation "for his name does not appear on the graduate rolls of the four Scottish Universities" (vide Arthur Skevington Wood's "Thomas Haweis-1734-1829").

His acceptance and subsequent involvement in the affairs of the [12/13] advowson of All Saints', Aldwinkle, has some disturbing implications and was the cause of much acrimony. The previous holder lost financially so badly in the deal that he spent some years in a debtors' prison, whereas Haweis seemed to have done particularly well from the transaction. He was wealthy enough in later years to spend most of his time out of his parish, paying curates and locums to carry on, as well as being able to make very substantial contributions to his various interests.

He seemed to find no inconsistency in being at once the Rector of Aldwinkle and, at the same time, chaplain, and later trustee, to a dissenting connexion, led by a wealthy strong-minded member of the aristocracy, the Countess of Huntingdon, who would appear to me to be the rather broad beamed, ample bosomed good soul, the type that made formidable lady colonels of the WAACs in the First World War, who, when she failed in her endeavour to bounce the Archbishop of Canterbury into ordaining all and sundry for the mission fields, decided to start her own church.

Yet Haweis had great enthusiasm, great eloquence, great persistency, with considerable ability and undoubted vision. The London Missionary Society, referred to somewhere as "an essay in church unity a century before its time", Haweis's dream child, was to be an amalgam of the main Christian bodies (but not the Roman Catholics, whose mention seemed anathema to him). Its main function was to preach the Word contained in the Four Gospels, leaving church government and organisation to find its own expression as the future unfolded. Haweis's own idea was that government by bishops was the only solution and the ideal, and he encouraged the use of the Book of Common Prayer.

Haweis made a first attempt to send missionaries, the two chosen having been trained at the Countess of Huntingdon's training centre, but the men demanded episcopal ordination before they would embark on the ship that awaited them. The Archbishop of Canterbury refused, the objection being the men "did not possess degrees".

(A somewhat amusing, though utterly unworthy, description of the raison d'etre for the foundation of the LMS appeared in a series of school readers, published by a well-known publishing house, for use, of all places, in an island group that is an LMS stronghold. It put forward the idea that the whole business was engineered by a certain Mr. John Hardcastle, "a rich merchant of the City of London". He was said also to be "a good, but rather narrow-minded Christian", who "for several years had been puzzled as to how to convert native races to Christianity". It was claimed that he, with other wealthy merchants, apparently saw distinct commercial possibilities in it, the Tahitians allowing themselves to be baptised, abandoning their old customs and buying European clothes "exported by Mr. Hardcastle" in exchange for huge quantities of copra, to be "shipped home to England and sold for a fine profit").

Fortunately for the author's reputation the books were withdrawn, [13/14] though he had merely repeated what other detractors had often claimed. It is of interest to know that, on the contrary, Hardcastle annoyed Haweis exceedingly by his refusal to countenance any move to enter the shipping trade, nor would he have anything to do with establishing a "trade post", dear to the heart of Haweis.

The pioneer missionary party in the first ship, the Duff, was a mixed bag; six carpenters, a brace each of shoemakers, brick-layers, sailors, smiths and weavers, a surgeon, a shopkeeper, a cotton-factor, a draper, a harness-maker, a tin-worker, a butcher, four ministers of religion, and useful enough, maybe, a hatter. They were of all denominations, save Roman Catholics, and were urged to use the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, where possible. Some of them, most of them, felt, without doubt, that this was an extension of the Faith held and taught by the Established Church of England, with the name "London" to emphasise this.

Disillusionment came early for many of them, which could hardly be avoided after a voyage of some months cooped up together on a small ship, to land later into the completely unknown. Theirs is an amazing saga of pluck and perseverance, strengthened by fanatical zeal, of tragedy, of murder, of frustrated living, of love and passion dashing itself on the rocks of evangelical puritanical piety, with, for some, spiritual shipwreck and implacable ostracism by their fellows. It is generally felt that their greatest error of judgment was in misplaced emphases.

Their original essay into missionary endeavour has had its bitter critics, but it must be understood that they were missionary pioneers, with no other body's experience in the South Pacific to guide them, while all they knew of the people they hoped to save and serve had been drawn from travellers' tales of murder and cannibalism, of treachery, of semi-nakedness, of feminine favours for the asking and the reward. They came, particularly, certain they had a mission to redress the wrongs done by their fellow Europeans. Some of them, one could imagine, led somewhat frustrated lives, damning their natural inclinations by complete dedication to an Old Testament version of a God of fierce anger and swift judgment, rather than on an understanding God of the New Testament, who himself had had first-hand experience of human problems, had been faced with the same temptations, and thus was always prepared to give man a "second chance".

They seemed to have an obsession about the relationship of the "body" to all "sin", with the result that the body was destined for the shroud from the moment it drew breath, shrouded to long below the ankles for baptism, dressed from the ears to the lower instep through life, and decently enshrouded in white for the last obsequies. To such people Tahiti must have appeared a very naughty naughty world, while, to the Tahitian, Christianity must have appeared a completely joyless religion.

The South Pacific is full of "do-gooders" today, so we can hardly [14/15] blame these pioneers, in their generation, for insisting on better housing, even though it was of the wrong order at the time, and overdressing. There is little doubt that this would have accelerated T.B.

Their first efforts in Tahiti did not appear very successful. They were, quite naturally, not at all popular with "the sailing gods", whose operations were challenged, and the people, just as naturally, listened to the voice of the "gods" rather than of men. They were forced to withdraw. This, too, was their experience in Tonga. It seemed failure, but one Tahitian, whom they had won, took the Faith to Samoa, where the LMS mission is still often referred to as the "Lotu Tahiti". When I celebrated Holy Communion up the Tukuwaine Valley in Raro-tonga, in the Cook Group, I used to feel the thrill of taking a service on the very spot where another Tahitian had bravely preached the Gospel, as the forerunner of the church there.

John Williams, one of the Pacific's greatest missionaries, belonged to a later wave, broader in vision and understanding. He ranged over a great part of the Pacific Ocean. He is particularly remembered in Rarotonga as a boatbuilder. He landed in Samoa on the island of Savaii in 1830. He was martyred at Erromanga and such remains that could probably have been his were collected and buried under a great chiefly mound near the century-and-more-old church at Apia.

There, too, was Tamate, otherwise James Chalmers, who was martyred in Papua. He was of a newer type. He travelled with the famous buccaneer, Captain Bully Hayes, and expressed a high opinion of him. Mr. H. J. Moors, father of Afioga Afoafouvale Misimoa, former Secretary-General of the South Pacific Commission, writing to apologise for breaking an appointment with Robert Louis Stevenson, gave as the reason that he had met James Chalmers at the hotel in Apia, where they had had some refreshment together. Moors had been greatly impressed by Chalmers, referring to him as "a good mixer".

Probably experience had helped to produce new values. The conservative Samoans never allowed their treasured customs to be abrogated, nor were they deprived of their age-old dances, nor were they encouraged to develop unhealthy housing, nor to be overclothed, save to attend church or some ceremony of great dignity. New tabus there were, of course, that gave the weekly great Feast of the Resurrection, Sunday, the awful solemnity of the old Jewish Sabbath.

Just before I left Samoa I was intrigued to read an advertisement in the Daily Government newsheet:


"This is your great chance to show off your best Aloha for a prize. Aloha Night in the old Polynesia Style. Don't miss this night spot--come and have a grand time, have a ball of fun with the gang that knows how to dish it out and take it on the chin.--So pull your hair down and go-go-go. Mamaia and his band of the land will give you the top-notch music. Don't forget; Friday, 6 December at the Apia Protestant Hall. Your hosts--Apia Protestant Youths Folk Club."

From 1796 to 1957--the swing of the pendulum--and the youngsters [15/16] were as healthy a body of teenagers as you could ever meet, but what would great grandpa have thought?


Close behind the LMS, enkindled by the same evangelical flame, came the Wesleyans, who were the first to evangelise the Fijians and the first to Samoa, following in the latter case the missionary endeavours of a young fellow who had learnt something of the Faith from Tonga. A little later they succumbed to larger forces and the persuasive eloquence of the LMS expatriates, and left the Samoan field. However, their erstwhile followers apparently could not attune themselves to LMS methods and begged their former mentors to return.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church in Samoa has been a sturdy body, the better, without doubt, for being a minority group, on their mettle. It is often a sad spectacle to see any one religious body with a great majority in any country, so that its teaching becomes more a race habit than a real conviction, with all the pitfalls of pride and arrogance, not entirely consistent with the mind and purpose of its Founder.

The Wesleyans moved into the Kingdom of Tonga, which had been evacuated by the LMS after a series of disasters. One when they arrived, they became divided later, and an attempt at union succeeded to some extent, though it produced yet other divisions. The foundations, however, that had been laid were very firm, so that today the Free Wesleyan Church has the status almost of a State Church, the President having the honour of crowning Tonga's monarch.

It was from Tonga that the great expatriate missionaries, Cross and Cargill, came to Fiji and landed at Tubou, Lakemba, on October 12th, 1835, welcomed by the Tui Nayau, on the representations of the King of Tonga. They were not the first missionaries in Fiji for two Tahitians, who had spent some time in Tonga, had already spent five years on Oneata.

(It is really amazing just how many of the indigenous South Sea Islanders pioneered or assisted in the spread of the Gospel throughout the Pacific. Recently the names of nearly 1,000 were laid up in their memorial chapel in the Pacific Theological College in Suva.)

One cannot but admire the great courage of those early Wesleyan missionaries. Commending themselves into the hands of the Higher Power, they faced war-like islanders of fierce aspect and undoubted savagery, savagery that had not been diminished by their contacts with debased Europeans of the Patrick Connell-Charles Savage type.

There was, too, no doubt of the element of sacrifice involved, sealing most definitely the sincerity of their beliefs and mission. To walk through the old cemeteries and churchyards of the Pacific is to give earnest of this. There are pathetic inscriptions on the headstones to young expatriate wives and young children, carried off by maladies arising from conditions that had been far beyond their ken.

[17] While we pay tribute to expatriate missionaries, we must never forget the bravery of many of their converts.

I feel the greatest moment in the history of Fiji was the baptism of King Cakobau, in 1859, with the baptismal name of Ebenezer. This was probably the finest thing he ever did, and one of the bravest pieces of witness ever to be recorded in Fiji. From various sources, both missionary and secular, and from men who knew him and told me of their contacts with King Cakobau, one gauges his great stature, the personal charm, the strength and sincerity, his sense of fun and humour. I have recently been rereading the account given by Williams in his Journal of the King's baptism. The Wesleyan minister, Rev. Mr. Waterhouse, who administered baptism, had reported "The King addressed the assembly. It must have cost him many a struggle to stand up before his court, his ambassadors, and the flower of his people--and confess". He was, without doubt, a great man, and this was the major "breakthrough" that gave Fiji peace.

The early missionaries in the Pacific seem to have followed the pattern set by St. Augustine of Canterbury, who first persuaded royalty to embrace the faith, and the people followed their leader. While the leader himself must have been faced with a great decision, his people would have no great crises of conscience, no great point of decision on spiritual verities, no persecution for their deviation, no family upheavals; they just followed the trend of the moment. It became and continues very much a race habit. Nevertheless, it has produced some splendid characters, while it certainly brought a completely new element into village life.

(Incidentally, I found LMS missionaries, who had been transferred to the Pacific islands from India or China, often nonplussed, for converts in those countries had come through blood and fire, through bitter persecutions, which brought out the depth and intensity of their convictions.)

Wesleyan Methodism, though rigid, together with the LMS, certainly brought peace to a great area of the Pacific, though perhaps not always the full joy of living, though youth is now beginning to have its day. A friend of mine, the late Sir Harry Luke, an ex-Proconsul of Empire, had a great admiration for their work, but only one criticism, "Christianity in the South Seas might have had a brighter influence had it not started out with an ultra-nonconformist conscience". I wonder how debatable that is.


The Society of Mary applied for Papal permission to become a Society dedicated to the relief of the poor of Lyons in France, work initiated by Pere Jean-Claude Colin in 1816. It so caught the imagination of the young men of the city that its increasing numbers called for a wider sphere, and the Society of Mary--the Marist Fathers--was allotted the Province of Oceania, from and including the Solomon Islands in the west to the limits of French Oceania in the east.

[18] In 1836, missionaries were landed at Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, the latter place being destined very soon to give the young Society its first martyr in Polynesia, St. Pierre Chanel.

Missionaries had been landed in the Gambier Islands in French Oceania, soon to spread towards Tahiti, meeting there the ire of the LMS. Some of the Fathers were landed in areas not yet evangelised in Fiji, in 1844, and in Samoa in 1845, finding themselves faced often with a battle on two fronts, one against heathendom and superstition, the other against long range sectarian sniping, which, too, no doubt had its element of superstition in it.

A case in point was that of Fr. Breheret, who became a great friend of Floyd's, who was starved out, by order of his rivals, in the Lau Archipelago, came to Levuka and made his home in a humpy of driftwood under a rocky ledge near Levuka village, where again he had to fight against those Christians whose first concern should have been to preach to the heathen.

But there is a sequel. The Reverend Thomas Williams, another great Wesleyan missionary, who wrote "Fiji and the Fijians", came later to a much happier relationship. The late Professor Henderson, who edited a copy of Williams' book, writes: "Of the earliest Roman Catholic missionaries, Father Breheret would seem to have been the one most powerfully and consistently influenced by this conviction (i.e. the assurance of Divine protection). No duty was menial that was performed in the service of his Master; and no danger unnerved him because of the ever-present sense of his guidance and protection. Ploughing his way through the stormy seas, with the billows thundering on the reef not far away, and the darkness of the night coming on, his companions aboard the little cutter would turn to him with anxious eyes. "Fear not", he was wont to say at such times, "no mischance can befall, not a hair of your head can be injured unless the good Lord permit it." Notwithstanding all their difference of creed, ceremony and discipline, here was the one fundamental conviction that possessed the heart and mind of Roman Catholic and Methodist alike, and should have made them feel they were brothers differing in nothing but opinion" (p. 303)--a Methodist tribute.

The Marist Fathers were mainly from the French Provinces, many of them from small devoted villages, nearer the soil and able to get nearer the hearts and minds of the islanders. Being "religious" and therefore celibate, they were more mobile and, subject to obedience, going where they were told to go. They were content to serve for life and did not worry about furlough. I remember some years ago talking with the late Fr. Villaine, then of Naduri, near Labasa, as he passed through Levuka going on leave. In reply to my question as to when he had his last leave, he proudly replied "Thirty-seven years, four months, five days".

The relations between the French Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church have always been very happy, with no politics to drive a wedge between them. That was always the association [18/19] between the Marists, then mostly French, and the Anglicans in the South Pacific. I have a debt of gratitude to them for their fellowship over the years.

The Sisters of the Third Order of Mary (later known as the Missionary Sisters of Mary) and of the Order of St. Joseph of Cluny, too, have spent long and useful years in the South Pacific far from their homelands, some in teaching, some in nursing the lepers. I have the fondest memories of Sister Sebastian, who spent over 50 years in Fiji, never returning to her homeland.

I have no idea who designed or devised the most extraordinary and inelegant Mother Hubbard garb for women converts, but we used to recognise the Roman Catholic by the high neck and square yoke. Various forms of this strange garment marked all women who had embraced any form of Christianity in the Pacific.

In the matter of clothing, in this twentieth century, with the rapid growth of civilisation, so-called, and its impact on the island groups, coupled with the easy access to trade textiles and the unfortunate gradual loss of the old and tedious art of tapacloth making, the South Seas womenfolk have moved with the times. The modern dress of the Polynesian and Fijian women that has evolved accentuates their natural grace and charm. Where men of chiefly rank or local importance are concerned, they would be shocked at being deprived of shirt, tie, coat and walking stick, status symbols which are worn with great dignity.

The Marist Brothers have done a spectacular piece of work in the Pacific for over eighty years, with complete devotion.

You must be asking, What has the Anglican Church been doing then in the South Seas? I must answer, Not adding to the general confusion.

Some years ago, I led a party of boy scouts in Samoa on a "malaga", (or visit to various villages), to parts of the island of Upolu, which then had no communication by roads. We were the guests, at each village, of the chiefs. At the reception at the first village at Aleipata, while the kava was being prepared, the head chief asked the reason for the "malaga". I replied that it had no missionary intent and, in fact, practically every mission in Samoa was included in the party. My "talking chief" enumerated the number of missions represented, which included a Mormon, two or three Seventh Day Adventists, as well as the orthodox missions, even to a member of an LMS breakaway group. The old orator chosen to make the speech of welcome was just a rough looking old fellow, with little learning, from whom you would hardly have expected anything novel, but his speech was a dramatic one, a speech that gave new meaning to the whole "walkabout". He said, "This is a wonderful day, a day I never thought I would ever see. Years ago we were one people; we had our tribal fights, but they were our business among ourselves, but we were one. Then came the missions---tribes began to be divided, even families became bitterly [19/20] divided. Now for the first time in a hundred years, all these people have come to visit us, as one family, with one father". I had to deny that my visit had any such purpose, but here was the expressed feeling of a not over-educated village orator in an isolated (at that time) Samoan village, and must express what thinking islanders feel.


The main missionary organisation of the Anglican Communion, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, or the SPG, had been in existence for nearly a century before the LMS came into being, and was already active in direct missionary work in other parts of the globe. It had its roots in the reign of William and Mary, in 1701, when it directed its attention to the plight of slaves in the plantations of America and the West Indies, beginning its work among the negroes of New York in 1704. Over its 270 years of existence it has developed missions all over the world and has been a great benefactor to Anglican missions in the Pacific.

Over the years the Anglican Communion has leant backwards in observing what is called the "comity of missions", which has meant that we do not enter, except for some very special reason, any field already evangelised by a recognised Christian body, to be in competition for souls. This has been a great ideal, but we have found it very often a one-sided operation.

The century-and-more-old Australian Board of Missions, an official board of the Anglican Church in Australia, defines the principle, in its minutes of October 23rd, 1922, as follows:--


1. As a general principle, every area should be recognised as lying within or attached to some diocese for the purpose of Episcopal supervision and administration.

2. The principle of Comity of Missions precludes a Church from--

(a) Proselytising among the members of any Church or Communion already existing in the area;

(b) The evangelising of non-Christians in the field already effectively occupied by some other Christian Church.

3. The principle of Comity of Missions permits a Church--

(a) To supply all ministrations required by members of our own Communion in any area;

(b) To receive any individual or congregation that of their own initiative desire admission to its communion.

This principle the Anglican Communion has felt itself fully committed to, and has applied it throughout the Pacific. I remember a crisis faced by Bishop Kempthorne in Nauru, where a very large body asked for membership of the church, through some dissatisfaction with the LMS. After protracted meetings during his stay on the island, he was able to reconcile the parties, and unity prevailed. In Samoa [20/21] I was approached by a delegation who sought information about joining the Anglican Communion. I had seen a leaflet issued by the Unitarians in the United States showing they had already affiliated with that body. My enquiries, as to what they knew of Unitarianism, elicited the happy idea that they had felt it would be good to have some sort of agency in the States as a means of getting American organs or harmoniums. What could one do with folk like that?

Here, in Polynesia, one Roman Catholic and two Protestant missions were already operating. In the case of the latter, the LMS looked upon itself as an inter-denominational body which was an extension of the Church in England, using to a great extent the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Lloyd Osbourne tells of the burial of his stepfather, Robert Louis Stevenson, with the rich flow of the Book of Common Prayer Burial Service. They had, too, clergy of the church in their ranks, though not officially seconded there by the Establishment, notably the Rev. J. B. Stair, whose book "Old Samoa" is a classic, and who was associated with the beginnings of Malua College and the LMS printing press.

Many of the old-style Wesleyans still felt an attachment to their old Mother Church, still partook of the Sacraments she offered and used her formularies. The Holy Communion Service used by the Wesleyan and Methodist missions over the years has been an almost word for word translation of that service from the Book of Common Prayer. How little really should divide us?

The people left completely unattended were the growing numbers of Europeans, many of them Britons and many of them nominal or practising Anglicans, far from any means of worship.

The Rev. C. Stuart Rose, a Presbyterian minister spending a Sunday on a ship in Kadavu, which then had an important Port of Entry for the Group, in 1876, mentions the number of Europeans in the hotel and on the ship, who would have liked to join in Divine worship, but, he says, "The missionary, the Rev. Mr. Wylie (a Methodist) declined to conduct an evening service for the benefit of the whites".

However, the Anglican Communion entered into the South Seas fields as a real missionary body far from any other mission, not in opposition, not another confusing road to eternity, facing dangers and tribulations just as tough, even more primitive, and gathering its own martyrs, in the Solomon Islands, among the Mclanesians. (It is interesting to note that some of the Solomon Islanders among the "blackbirded" labour in Fiji would have no one but Methodist missionaries to go with them back to their homes, on repatriation, and Methodism became one of the competing missions there). Melanesia was the first of the three Anglican dioceses that cover the South Pacific; Melanesia, New Guinea and Polynesia.

When George Augustus Selwyn was consecrated Bishop of New Zealand in 1841, he was the recipient of an interesting note from his friend, Canon Sydney Smith, of St. Paul's, London, whose wit is still [21/22] remembered. It congratulated Selwyn on his selection as Bishop and added a few words of counsel. "First, a Bishop must be given to hospitality, therefore he should always have a serving of small boy in the cupboard and a cold collation of archdeacons on the sideboard". This was an allusion to the error that appeared (it is said) in his Letters Patent in the description of his diocesan boundaries with regard to latitude. This challenged Selwyn to go north, well beyond the limits of the New Zealand islands, to the wild men of the Solomons. The Diocese of Melanesia became the well-born child of the New Zealand Church and quite naturally has been New Zealand's first care. This did not include Fiji, which was outside the longitude indicated. Its first Bishop, John Coleridge Patteson, consecrated in 1861, was destined for martyrdom ten years later at Nukapu in the Santa Cruz Group.

When Australia felt it should have a similar responsibility, it, too, looked north, to New Guinea. The landing of the Rev. Albert MacLaren at Wedau in Bartle Bay on August 10th, 1891, proved the conception of a well-born child of the Australian Church, to be suitably nourished and weaned, to mature as the Diocese of New Guinea in 1898, when Bishop Montague Stone-Wigg was consecrated as its first Bishop.

On the other hand, Polynesia could hardly lay claim to high birth. She was just another Topsy, who, for years, would hang her head, [22/23] scratch patterns in the coral sands with an impressive big toe, and answer (after Harriet Beecher Stowe) to "Do you know who made you?", "Nobody, as I knows on", with a short laugh, "I 'spect I just growed". I am afraid the Diocese of Polynesia was very much "the results of an accident", for years a foundling Cinderella, with few fairy godmothers.

It came into being through a series of freak currents, beginning with the labours of the solitary Irishman, William Floyd, whose centenary we are celebrating, combined with the enthusiasms of the last English Bishop of Honolulu, precipitated by the machinations of a one-time Prime Minister of a South Seas Kingdom, Shirley Waldemar Baker.

When the Diocese of Melanesia was formed from New Zealand, Fiji, which is just east of north and outside the longitude that bounded the Bishop of New Zealand's domain, was not written into the script. Missionary work was already being effectively carried out among the Fijian people, and "Comity of Missions" clearly prevented Anglicans from entering the purely Fijian field. There was, though, a considerable concentration of Europeans in Fiji, many of them Anglicans, completely cut off from the ministrations of their church, who felt the need of spiritual guidance. Bishop Patteson, of Melanesia, seemed to feel he had some say in Fiji, though it was much like Bishop Willis' Honolulu attachment to Samoa and Tonga. Bishop Patteson was on the way to Levuka not primarily with any authority as Ordinary, but to deal with labour matters affecting his own people, when he was murdered.

William Floyd was a lone figure called upon to be the Apostle of the Anglican Faith in a most complicated world. To appreciate the complexities of his task one must perforce take a quick glance at Fijian history up to 1870.


Nineteenth Century Fiji

The brig Eliza, out from Callao, in South America, was wrecked on a reef off Nairai Island in Lomaiviti in 1808. She was a sandalwood trader and carried firearms as well as 40,000 Spanish dollars, no doubt for trading purposes. She had picked up a castaway sailor, Charles Savage, at Nuku'alofa, in Tonga, who claimed to be a survivor of the ill-fated Port-au-Prince, of which Mariner tells.

Savage and others were taken to the east coast of Viti Levu, where Savage considerably aided the fortunes of the chiefs of Rewa and Bau. By 1828, Bau, led by its great chief, Ratu Naulivou, the Vunivalu of Bau, had thus attained to a paramount position in eastern Viti Levu and Lomaiviti. His headquarters was the small fortified island of Bau off the Rewa coast.

Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa, a younger brother, succeeded Naulivou on his death. Tanoa's son, Ratu Sera, realising that a revolt on the island against his father must succeed, joined the rebels, biding his time. At [24/25] the appropriate moment he rose against the usurpers, turned the tables, burned down the rebels' houses and restored his father. Ratu Sera was renamed Ca-ko-bau, meaning "Bau is destroyed". He wielded more power than his father, eventually to succeed him at his death, in 1852. He was invested as Vunivalu of Bau in 1853.

A threat to Cakobau's leadership in Fiji came from the Tongan chief, Ma'afu Ma'afuotu'itoga, a prince of the Tongan royal blood, who landed in Lau in 1848, and within a few years conquered the whole Lau Group, challenging Cakobau's supremacy.


It was John Brown Williams, of Salem, Connecticut, a person it is difficult really to admire, who at this stage gave a boost to history. He seems to have been an opportunist intent on exploiting the untutored Fijian, and proving a poor sport when thwarted. With the idea that, sooner or later, the canal would be dug through Panama, with Fiji gaining in importance on the sea route, he had removed his consular office from Auckland to Fiji.

With a party of young Americans, he "purchased" Nukulau Island, on Suva's outer reef, and Laucala Point on the mainland, for eighty dollars fifty cents, to be paid in muskets and trade goods. He is said to have drawn up the deeds himself, signing them himself and registering them with himself, as American consul. As his young co-owners left, he merely scratched off their names from the instrument--and that was that!

On Nukulau Island, he built his two-storeyed consulate and encouraged Fijians from the village of Suva (which then was located where the Botanical Gardens and Grand Pacific Hotel are at present), from Beqa, from Yanuca and Rewa, to visit him there.

The events that led eventually to the Cession of Fiji to Queen Victoria were touched off, strangely enough, by the Glorious Fourth of July celebrations at Nukulau in 1849, to which Williams had invited many Fijians. To "impress the natives" he had carronades and cannons fired. Unfortunately one cannon burst at the touch-hole, tearing the negro servant gunner's arm off and setting fire to the consulate. The Fijians appear to have done an excellent job of salvage. Williams felt they had carried it too far, though they were merely following old Fijian custom.

He demanded compensation amounting to five thousand and one dollars from Cakobau, who, though Vunivalu of Bau, was by no means in control of the situation, had not been present, nor had he the resources with which to meet such a demand.

Cakobau's natural hesitancy brought further and further demands from Williams, backed with the arrival of a U.S. man-of-war, the John Adams, under Commander Boutwell, who (and I quote from a contemporary, a Williams of another ilk, the Wesleyan missionary, in his "Fiji and the Fijians"), "on his arrival in September, 1855, at once entered heartily into the views and wishes of the Consul. On 28th September, he wrote to Cakobau, saying that he had been sent [25/26] to enquire into and redress the wrongs done in Fiji against Americans and he (Cakobau) must repay wrongs with interest, and ask pardon, as, he says, 'the great chief who has charged me with this mission presides over a country whose resources are inexhaustible, and whose power to punish her enemies is beyond the comprehension of those who have not visited her empire.' He demanded to be paid within twelve months, 30,000 dollars, of which were to be paid '15,000 dollars to John B. Williams, Esq., for the loss of property on the island of Nukulau'--and he concludes the document by saying 'I must urge the authorities of Mbau to act speedily, and not compel me to go after the so-called Tui Viti, or approach nearer Mbau, as my powder is quick and my balls are round' ". Tough talking in those elegant days. What could Cakobau do in the face of such threats?

The international repercussions that followed brought men-of-war from different nations along. Cakobau offered the Americans the whole of Fiji, but that did not suit them. (They seem to be buying it these days at a tremendous advance on Williams' values.)

Great Britain was asked to annex the Group, so Colonel Smythe, of the Royal Artillery, was sent to assess that possibility. Smythe and his wife seemed a perfect "duo". They had great difficulty in getting a ship from Sydney, reaching Levuka eventually from Auckland in the 50-ton ketch, Pegasus, much of it through a great storm. Anyone who has any ideas about the comfort of small boats for so long a voyage could have every sympathy for them. His wife wrote some revelations in her collected letters published in 1864. Everything seemed to have been wrong. She tells of their dismay at the drunken and dissolute crowd that made up Levuka's populace and gives accounts of her sea-voyaging in small ships, with a mixture of stormy weather, cockroaches and some snobbery on her part, all of which must have helped her to make up her husband's mind. In any case, was a Colonel of Artillery the best choice to judge the position?

It is generally thought that all these inconveniences, as well as some indoctrination received in New Zealand, influenced the Colonel's report, which, summed up, suggested that both the rugged mountainous countryside and the Fijians were much too tough to tame, that the Group was well off the soon-to-be beaten tracks, too reefy, and subject to hurricanes, to be of any use, and, strategically, the need for bases in the South Pacific was negligible.

It was a report that would not have displeased the British Foreign Office, for it is a fact of history that Great Britain at no time sought to colonise any part of the South Pacific, save New Caledonia, to which convicts from Port Jackson were escaping, but the French were there first.

King Cakobau was received on board a British warship with full ceremony, entertained and then presented with the British rejection of his offer. To Cakobau it must have been most distressing. Where could he turn? Who could discipline the European element, who had neither law nor order? And he was still being pressed for payment to the States.

[27] Another person who was greatly disturbed was the British Consul, Mr. W. T. Pritchard, a brilliant young fellow, who had handled a very difficult situation with much skill. Colonel Smythe made serious complaints about Pritchard's handling of various matters--and Pritchard, a son of great promise, was discredited.

Pritchard's apologia, "Polynesian Reminiscences", is worth reading. In it he records an incident that was to affect Floyd's relationships on his arrival.

Pritchard shared a house on the Mission Hill, when he was in Levuka, with the captain of the Wesleyan Mission's ships, with whom he would sit and talk on the verandah looking out to sea, in the cool of the evening. He told of taking the draft of a proposed Deed of Cession to England to be "vetted" by the Foreign Minister. He mentioned that the Duke of Newcastle had remarked to him, "What will the Wesleyans say when they see a bishop go around with the Governor, for, where the State goes, the Church must go?"

This was duly reported to the Wesleyan authorities, who could not help but feel that any Anglican cleric coming into the country must be the spearhead of episcopalianism and the Establishment. What else could they think? However, it is interesting to note that the Fijian translation of the Bible ignores bishops in the sense of "episkopos", an overseer, and demotes him to just a "big wise old messenger". It is hoped, if the new translation into Fijian is for general use, this will be corrected.

Cakobau accepted his disappointment with great dignity, but not wholly despairing. However, through it all was the imminent threat to his sovereignty by Ma'afu. During all this time the hub of life in Fiji was Levuka, a small South Seas township, which even today is one of the few places in the Pacific that still retains the atmosphere of the old "South Seas".



Levuka, in 1870, saw life lived furiously. It was said to have had no less than 52 hotels, licensed bars and kava-saloons strung along its one mile beach front. It used to be asserted, and my authority is Miss Constance Gordon-Cumming, in "At Home in Fiji", in 1875, that ships' captains had no need for charts. All they needed to do was to pick up the long line of Holland's square gin bottles that floated out to sea, increasing in number as they neared the port, and they found themselves unerringly right at their anchorage.

Levuka is the oldest settlement in the Group and had drawn together a polyglot mixture of cotton planters, merchants, sailors, labour recruiters, hotel and kava saloon proprietors, lawyers and doctors, missionaries and consuls, the latter wondering to whom they were accredited and what were their powers, not forgetting gun-toting adventurers, who in ecstasy of spirit would burst from the saloons firing shots into the air to the annoyance of the populace and the indignation of the "Fiji Times" readers. The two chief centres seemed to have been Manton's Bar and the Planter's Arms. The latter stood where the present Anglican Church is built. Manton's Bar had preference.

Dr. Litton Forbes, in "Two Years in Fiji", writes of Manton's Hotel:

"Like the Tabard in Chaucer's day, the Mitre at Oxford, or Shepheard's at Cairo, so Manton's Bar in Levuka was the one hotel of the place.

It possessed character, an individuality that placed it above all the other hostelries. It was at once a hotel, a club, and a general rendezvous for all the idle, and some of the busiest, men in Levuka.

If you wanted a man, the first place you would naturally look for him would be at Manton's Bar, and if you did not find him there, you had only to go into the billiard room.

The amount of drinking that went on there, and indeed in Levuka generally, was something pretentious. Although it has fallen to my lot to see some heavy drinking in America and at the gold diggings in Australia, Fiji outdid all my former experiences. Here every man seemed harassed by a perpetual thirst, and drank freely and often."

He goes on to describe the Levuka of Floyd's day:

"Levuka at this time was a small place, but for its size busy and prosperous. It possessed indeed only one street, and that contained but one row of houses.

They were built close to the water's edge--not so close, however, as to leave a narrow strip of shingly beach, which formed the main street. This street extended about a mile in length, north and south, and was of unequal breadth. There were no vehicles, or, indeed, beasts [28/29] of burden of any sort in Fiji in 1871, except for a few horses which had been imported as an experiment and which were not found to answer.

The first vehicle ever seen in Levuka happened, curiously enough, to be a bath-chair, imported from Sydney by a planter who had been unfortunate enough to break his leg.

This machine was left one day standing outside a shop, and King Cakobau, happening at the moment to be passing by, jumped in and insisted on his courtiers wheeling him up and down the beach until he got tired of the amusement.

No amusements of any sort were to be had, except drinking, and gossiping, and billiards. To men not devoted to such pursuits, life at Levuka became, after a while, extremely dull and monotonous."

The 1860's were noted for the great South Seas cotton boom. I am grateful to R. A. Derrick's "A History of Fiji" for the information that in 1870 the European population in Fiji "now numbered fully 2,500, of whom 600 were crowded in the narrow township of Levuka, the others being settled on plantations or trading stations--some in Lau, Bua, or Cakaudrove, but most round the coasts and the river valleys of Viti Levu. The majority of these people were British subjects, indeed men of other nationalities--chiefly Americans--did not number more than 200. Immigrants came by every ship, and during the winter of 1870 there were over four hundred new arrivals: the total increase for the year was 1,035" (p. 195).

Among these, of course, were many adventurers. To quote again: "With many of these there was no pretence of business; in fact, there was not enough legitimate business in the whole group, much less in Levuka, to give employment to half of them. These conditions were aggravated by the fact that extradition treaties were not effective [29/30] in Fiji; and runaway sailors, absconding debtors, and other men wanted by the police, escaped from the colonies to find sanctuary in Levuka". Most serious of all was that there was no settled government either to accept any responsibility or to enforce order.

The year 1870 was a momentous year for much of the world. In that year the Irish Land Act was passed, the Kingdom of Italy annexed Rome and the Papal States, Papal Infallibility was proclaimed, but greatest of all in its effect on distant Fiji was Napoleon Ill's rashness in declaring war on Prussia, ending in the fall of Paris to the Germans--and South Seas cotton, which had a big sale in France at the high price of 4/4d per pound, dropped to l/4d; the cotton boom had burst, ending with bankruptcy for many of Fiji's planters, especially those who had not been wise enough to diversify their crops and enter the copra field. There seemed nowhere for them to go at the time, but Levuka.

The only hope for the whole settlement was some form of settled government, and, as well, with the near completion of the transcontinental railway across the United States, it became as vitally necessary to have the harbour properly surveyed for the ships of a new line that would link San Francisco and Sydney. The survey was carried out by a retired naval officer, Lieutenant George Austin Woods, who came from Auckland for that purpose. Within a matter of months Woods was to become a Kingmaker.

This is the sort of world Floyd was destined to enter. The settlers were not all profligate. Some had, by this time, brought their wives and families to join them. Others had married locally, fathering families that have taken their place splendidly in the life of Fiji. There were men who had a feeling that a touch of religion might soften some of the harsher lights in the community.

There seemed to be no lack of religion about, but none for the whites. A request to the Wesleyan missionaries for some sort of Sunday service was refused on the grounds that the missionaries were there to convert and uplift the native people; the Europeans were there of their own volition, so they could fend for themselves.

I expect by this time we have divided the expatriate community into the "goodies" and the "baddies", and it seems to me, after reading Floyd's letter of commendation from Bishop Perry, of Melbourne, that the major part of the "goodies" came from the Australian State of Victoria.

John Thurston, a remarkable person, English born, who was later to become the fourth Governor of the Colony as Sir John Thurston, chaired a meeting held in October, 1868, at which a committee, consisting of himself, with Messrs. Otty Cudlip, F. W. Hennings, Boehm and Swanston, was set up to explore the means and possibility of securing an Anglican clergyman, as chaplain to the expatriate population. As a result of this and further meetings held in Levuka, an ambassage was to be sent to the Bishop of Melbourne, seeking for such a man.


William Floyd

The Normans, who had come to Levuka from Victoria, must have whispered quietly into the ear of the 32-years-old William Floyd that Fiji badly needed a chaplain, and I feel he must have importuned the Bishop into letting him go out there. I have often wondered just how much he was told about conditions, whether the full story had whetted his fighting spirit, or whether but part of the picture had been painted, leaving it to Floyd to fetch his own pigments.

Whatever the situation, he had been well blooded for a tough assignment, for he had served his diaconate on the Ballarat goldfields, scene not so many years earlier of Australia's "Little Rebellion", the Eureka Stockade.

He was serving a curacy at Holy Trinity Church, Northcote, Melbourne, when he was released for work in Fiji by Bishop Perry. (That he was held in high esteem there is evidenced by a pewter inkwell, figured on a bed of ferns and upheld by the emu and the kangaroo, presented to him "From the grateful parishioners of Holy Trinity, Northcote". It is in the private museum of Mrs. Molly Gell, of Queen Elizabeth Drive, Suva, daughter of Sir Alport Barker and granddaughter of one of the first committee members of the Church in Levuka.)

William Floyd landed in Levuka from the steamer, Auckland, 400 tons, Captain Moore, from Melbourne, via Sydney and Auckland, on Tuesday, November 15th, 1870, bringing with him, like a hermit crab, his small church and small cottage for erection. Let me say that here the "crab" simile finishes, for he never got down to "all fours" (or "sixes") and never sidestepped issues.

When news of his projected arrival was bruited abroad, the Wesleyan missionaries suddenly evinced an interest, previously lacking, in the expatriates, and Floyd was faced with opposition immediately on his arrival.

I must add, though, that Floyd's later despatches to the SPG in London showed a better understanding and a more kindly feeling between himself and the Wesleyans. After all, the Wesleyans, who had done so wonderful a job, had to face the fear that Floyd was but the spearhead of "What will the Wesleyans say when they see a bishop going around with the Governor?"

Normally, dioceses not attached to a Province come under the supervision of the Archbishop of Canterbury, while unattached chaplains are licensed by the Bishop of London. Floyd's licence seemed to have been irregularly signed by the Bishop of Melbourne, who released him to Fiji, Bishop Tyrell of Newcastle, on behalf of Archbishop Barker, Metropolitan of Australia, and Bishop Patteson of Melanesia, [31/32] the latter reluctantly, for he had not met Floyd and was probably suspicious of his churchmanship, originating as it did, in the Church of Ireland. None of these had any jurisdiction in Fiji. Patteson was never destined to meet Floyd, for his martyrdom occurred less than a year after Floyd's arrival in Levuka, but on the score of "churchmanship" he needed to have no fear. I have a note from Mr. Nathaniel Chalmers, a well-known, now retired, lawyer in Fiji, who says of Floyd, "He was what one would call a High Churchman, as he had candles on the altar and at Sacraments (I used to officiate with the incense). Some of the parishioners did not like this nor his friendship with priests and nuns who frequently visited him, especially when sick--but he impressed me more than once with the fact that he was a Catholic, but not a Roman Catholic. However he was essentially an Irishman and his speech had the Irish brogue, and as many of the priests and nuns hailed from Ireland, it was natural they should be friends."

Floyd was born in Ballycanew in the parish of Gorey, in Co. Wexford, Ireland, in 1838, in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Ferns, of apparently very sturdy parents.

I say this advisedly. The Rectory at Enniscorthy is on the lower slope of Vinegar Hill, scene of a noted or notorious battle fought in the 1798 Rebellion. One Saturday evening, the Rector ran me out in the long Irish summer twilight along a country road, between the stone fences and amid the farming scents, homely healthy ones, to Kilcormack, where I met a sweet old soul, a relative of Floyd's, near 80 and on two plumsticks, who told us an interesting story.

[32] It had to do with the '98 Rebellion, when the fighting forces spread over the area. Not all Irish patriots were Roman Catholics; some of the more prominent were Anglicans, members of the Church of Ireland. Smith, O'Brien and Fulton were sent out to Australia and I fancy Robert Emmett, too, was an Anglican. In view of the Floyd sympathy with the cause, Floyd's grandmother was helped along ahead of the fighting. For a few days she moved before the forces, carrying what goods and chattels she could on her head, with Floyd's father, as a child, on her hip, held much of the time with an arm that had been wounded. She survived, but with her arm permanently injured. What a woman--and much of her great spirit must have descended to her grandson.

(According to the Encyclopaedia of Fiji (1907), Floyd's parents were compelled by circumstances to migrate to Victoria. It does not say what the circumstances were, political or domestic, though it would have occurred about the time of the potato famine.)

Mrs. Fred Palmer, once of Levuka, tells me Floyd was small in stature, just under 5 ft. 6 inches, while Fr. Soubeyraft, S.M., now a nonagenarian chaplain in the Home of Compassion, would say to me, "Yes, I knew Floyd. He was a fine looking man and a very good man, a great friend of Fr. Breheret's."

He "received the elements of a classical education at Beaufield Collegiate School, near Enniscorthy, conducted by his uncle, John E. Whitney, M.A. (T.C.D.), with the intention of preparing for the priesthood of the United Church of England and Ireland. Before it was possible for him to matriculate--his family (moved) to Victoria" (Fiji Encyc.).

The family lived at "Emerald Hill", a suburb of Melbourne not clearly identifiable, where there was no Anglican place of worship. This gave him no choice but to attend the local Methodist Church, from which, it is said, he received much encouragement, and in return he tried to help their cause, but with the understanding that his goal was the ministry of the Church of England in Victoria.

"Bishop Perry willingly received him, telling him at the same time that in his diocese he expected the same or at least as high a standard as either Oxford or Cambridge." These conditions apparently complied with, the bishop admitted him to deacon's orders and later ordained him priest in St. John's pro-Cathedral, Latrobe Street, Melbourne.


Beginnings at Levuka

From the "Fiji Times" of November 26th, 1870, we read of the first official meeting with Floyd after his arrival of parishioners and others interested.

Mr. W. Hennings was in the Chair and it was held in the Reading Room of the Mechanics Institute, which stood where today is the dwelling known as "Venice", right opposite Levuka Public Hospital. The Institute was one of the casualties of the 1886 hurricane.

Floyd addressed the gathering as follows:

"It is at least three years since I first conceived the idea of going out as a missionary clergyman to the members of the Church of England living in the Fiji Group. I requested Mrs. Norman, one of my late parishioners, to ask her husband, then living in the Group, if there was an opening for a clergyman, but in consequence of that gentleman's melancholy death, with which you are all acquainted, no answer was received; some 15 months later, Mrs. Fitzgibbon arrived in Melbourne from the islands and made application for a clergyman to the Bishop, grounding her authority for doing so upon the following letter, addressed to her as president of a ladies' committee in connection with a movement for a church:

Levuka, Ovalau, October 1868


We have the honour to inform you that on Thursday last a preliminary meeting has been held for the purpose of taking into consideration what steps should be taken to secure the services of a minister of the Church of England for the population of this Group. One of the resolutions passed was that a committee should be formed with power to add to its number.

Knowing that ladies are always to be found in the foremost mark whenever a great or good cause is to be advocated, we, the present members of the committee, beg you will kindly accept the presidentship of a ladies' committee, which in that case would have to be formed under your exclusive superintendance.

We beg to remain, Madam, your obedient servants

Horace Emberson, F. W. Hennings, John de Boehm, Otty Cudlip.

In common with several others I applied to Mrs. Fitzgibbon: after several interviews she seemed to think I was adapted for the work; at the same time I told her that I was willing to withdraw in favour of one more suited should he offer. My next step was to obtain the sanction of my own Bishop, and, having received it, I formed a committee for the purpose of raising funds to build a parsonage for Levuka, and for defraying all necessary expenses in starting the mission.

[35] Knowing of what importance it would be to the group, as well as myself individually, to be under episcopal discipline, a discussion took place as to who would be the proper person to take that oversight; pending the decision I wrote to Bishop Patteson (as it appeared to me for every possible reason that he as Bishop of Melanesia would most naturally assume, for the present, the supervision of Polynesia) asking for his countenance, and received the following answer: author's note:

(I will not reproduce the whole of the Bishop of Melanesia's letter. I have wondered just what experience the man who invented chess had had of bishops, for in that game they always move "diagonally". Melanesia's letter, beginning with a preamble, passing through eleven enumerated points and finishing with an inconclusive conclusion, suggests he had caught the idea.)

Auckland, New Zealand
June 14th, 1870

My dear Sir,

Your letter reached me on the evening of the 12th, and the mail goes today. I have had so much to do that I can only write a few lines on the subject of your letter.

1st. I am very thankful that there is a prospect of a clergyman of the Church of England being placed in Fiji.

2nd. I am very willing to help in this matter in any way I can.

3rd. But I cannot accept a position which makes me responsible for the acts of a clergyman in those islands unless I understand the relation which I would occupy with reference to any clergyman so situated.

4th. I do not at present understand what that relation would be. You ask for my "countenance" in reference to the movement. If this means that you ask me to approve of the idea of placing a clergyman in the Fiji Islands, I need not say that I am most thankful that such a step should be contemplated; but if you ask me to "countenance" any line of action that may be adopted by a clergyman quite unknown to me, that is a very different thing.

5th. The names on the committee of the Fiji Church Aid Fund are of course a considerable help to me in forming my opinion of the fitness of any clergyman invited to undertake such a work--a work of peculiar difficulty, needing unusual discretion and judgment.

6th. I interpret your act of writing to me to mean that you do not wish to be a clergyman living and working outside of all supervision, without in any sense having any Diocesan.

7th. It is quite impossible to define the relations in which a Missionary Bishop stands with relation to the clergy even of the Mission, much less can they be accurately fixed with regard to a clergyman occupying so anomalous a position as that now contemplated. A missionary of the SPCK or the CMS understands, and his Bishop understands, the position they both occupy. But in this case there can only be such offer and acceptance of advice and direction as circumstances may require, and the character of the two persons may admit.

[36] 8th. I have never visited the Fiji group, my special work lies to the West of it; I have often wished to see and judge for myself of the character and wants of the English settlers.

9th. I am just recovering from a severe illness, which has left, I think, some permanent effects. If you go to Levuka I shall be most willing and glad to correspond with you from time to time. But I am now less able than ever to speak with any certainty as to my power of continually moving about.

10th. I should much like to hear from you in detail about the matter. I wish I could have a good talk with you; a useless wish, I fear, at the present.

11th. I wish to assure you of my entire sympathy as to the idea generally of placing a clergyman of the Church of England in the Fiji Islands; and at the same time I wish to guard against making myself responsible for the course of action which such clergyman (you or any other) may adopt; without my knowledge or sanction in those islands. If you wish me to be your Diocesan, so to say, we must understand more fully what we mean,

I pray God to guide this matter to a good end.

I remain, very truly yours,

J. C. Patteson, Bishop

The Bishop of Melbourne by the same mail received a letter from Bishop Patteson stating that he was willing to recognise me on his (the Bishop of Melbourne's) recommendations. The Fiji Church Aid Committee, however, whilst they heartily approved of this, considered that it would be unadvisable, until such time as the wishes of the Fiji Church of England people could be ascertained. I will therefore call a meeting to be held this day month, for this purpose, which will allow time for the planters at a distance to make known their wishes.

Our appeal for help was heartily responded to, not only in Melbourne but also in Sydney, where a working committee was formed in conjunction with that of Melbourne; I received commendatory letters from the Bishops of Melbourne and Sydney. I will now lay before you the one from the Bishop of Melbourne.

Melbourne, 26.9.70

"The Rev. William Floyd has been employed in the service of the Church of this Diocese for upwards of fifteen years, and was ordained by me both to the office of Deacon and to that of Priest, to the latter on Trinity Sunday last.

Being desirous to supply the want of the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments which is represented as very strongly felt by the members of our Church in the Fiji Islands, he has accepted an invitation to go there; and although unwilling to part with him, I cannot but wish him "God speed" in his Christian enterprise, and heartily commend him to those among whom he will henceforth labour.

As these islands are not within my Diocese, I do not feel myself warranted to give him a formal licence; but I have no hesitation in privately sanctioning the arrangement which he has made for the [36/37] forming of a Church in connection with the Church of England, where so many emigrants from Victoria are now settled; and I have no doubt that Bishop Patteson, to whom the Episcopal oversight of that Church will properly belong, will cordially approve what he has done.

May he approve himself a faithful minister of Christ, and may his labour be not in vain in the Lord."

(Sgd.) C. Melbourne

The Bishop of Sydney and Metropolitan of Australia, Bishop

Frederick Barker, had written:

Bishop's Court, Sydney
September 21st, 1870

To the Members of the Church of England in Fiji,

I recommend the Rev. William Floyd, a clergyman of the Church of England, to those members of the Church who are settled in the group of the Fiji Islands.

Mr. Floyd is one in whom I have every confidence that he will worthily discharge the duties of his sacred office.

(Sgd.) F. Sydney
Bishop of Sydney and Metropolitan of Australia.

Ladies and gentlemen. I have every reason to feel encouraged in my missionary enterprise amongst you. I beg to thank you for the welcome you have given me, and I pray you remember that I will consider it a privilege, at all times, to be ready with my help and sympathy as a pastor, and a friend."

The Rev. William Floyd said that, with the exception of a baptismal font, he had brought with him all the requisites for the various Church rites, marriage included, with the exception of providing the ladies; however in this instance, perhaps an agent might be beneficially provided in the islands.

He also stated that he brought with him collections from St. James, King Street, Sydney, and St. John's, Darlinghurst, Sydney.

Mr. Burt proposed that the following be members of the Church Society Committee: Messrs. F. W. Hennings, O. Cudlip, H. Emberson, D. Brown, G. Grover, Dr. Brower, J. Cave, J. Turner, G. L. Griffiths and the mover.

(It is of interest that some of these families are still represented in Fiji, that the name of Mr. John Thurston is missing, simply because he had settled in Taveuni in May of that year, where he became adviser to the Tui Cakau, accepting responsibility for the education of his son Ratu Lala, sending him to school in Sydney, and that several of these names will appear as members of the King Cakobau Government soon to emerge.)

The "Fiji Times" of October 22nd, 1870, mentioned the Victorian Committee, saying "among the names interested were Sir W. E. Stanwell, the Very Rev. the Dean of Melbourne, His Honour R. W. Pohlman and Mr. Henty".

Floyd had already started his services in the Reading Room and [37/38] it is interesting to note a meeting, recorded in "Fiji Times" of December 10th of that year, at which a Mr. Shoveller was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Reading Room Committee at a salary of 25 pounds per year "and it was agreed to charge five shillings for every meeting and the same amount for holding Divine Service on Sundays". They seemed to see "distinct commercial possibilities" in this new venture, for five shillings at that time would be a considerable amount in today's currency.

After his close, fruitful and very happy associations with the Methodists in Victoria, Floyd was quite naturally disturbed and hurt by the hostility that greeted him from the Wesleyans, with letters of protest sent to the missionary societies, ready to deny the Anglican community the right to worship in their own way.

The church had never any intention whatever of competing with any other religious body. This view was expressed to the Methodist Mission authorities and a clear understanding reached along the lines of "Comity" to clear the air.

This agreement we have sedulously observed; no one has been canvassed or suborned. In fact, the way has been made difficult in most cases. Some years ago I was permitted to receive Ratu Epeli Ganilau, the father of Ratu Penaia, only after I had protested to Bishop Kemp-thorne that four years was a very long probation. He was presented by the Tui Cakau, Ratu Lala, himself an Anglican. The Toganivalu family have always been loyal Anglicans, while the most distinguished of all was the late Ratu Sir Joseva Lala Sukuna. Today we have some excellent Fijian adherents, men and women, in our Communion, several of them giving distinguished service to the community, but they are with us by personal conviction alone--and that is a great asset.

I am dealing with history, not raising old scores, and I am dealing with a man who had to tread a very lonely road, not made easier by such misunderstandings.

In the turmoil of the times, both political and ecclesiastical, Floyd erected his first church, and the authorities immediately called the street "Church Street", as it is today. It was on a rise above a swampy area where stables were built later. The swamp and the stables have given place to the much used Nasau Park.

It is of this church that Miss Gordon-Cumming writes later. It was destroyed in the 1886 hurricane and not re-erected there. The site is now occupied by the fire engine's shed, with great red wide doors, which used to intrigue me, for I felt that some of those turbulent spirits of the 1870's must have looked on a church as some sort of "fire insurance" from everlasting fires. Now, ironically, if you have a fire, there the great red doors, wider than the old church ones, face you, with a legend to say, if you are having fire at your place, just drop round the corner for the man with the key and have him douse an earthly one.


Political Turmoil

It was while this church was in use that political changes came about in the Group and in them Floyd was to become, in some measure, involved. I can deal with the position but briefly.

Derrick, in his "History of Fiji" (p.196), says, "With the rapid increase of the foreign population the need for government became more urgent. A leading article in the 'Fiji Times' of 15th January, 1870, compared the creditable manner in which the natives governed themselves with the lack of control among the Europeans; 'It is not the natives we want the Government for, but ourselves,' the article affirmed; and it went on to urge the need of protection for homes and families. In its next issue the paper suggested that a committee be set up to recommend a suitable form of government. A meeting was held as arranged, and was largely attended. Though the meeting agreed that some form of Government was necessary, there was a difference of opinion about who should be the native head of the administration. The planters of Lau, who were principally German with business interests in Tonga, wanted Ma'afu; the men of Western Fiji preferred Cakobau. On this question, and on the manner in which revenue should be handled, no agreement was reached; and after appointing a committee to draft a constitution, to be submitted to delegates, the meeting broke up."

That meeting was on the 14th April, 1870, when everything from the planters' angle seemed happy enough, but the sudden fall of France and the subsequent fall in cotton values spread dismay among the settlers generally. Many of the planters were men of education, some from the Forces, men of character, faced with bankruptcy in the midst of chaos. Concern for so many from Australia prompted politicians in Australia to urge the United Kingdom to annex the Group, but it was certain that the United Kingdom had no interest in the matter.

With dramatic suddenness a coup d'etat was launched, led by ex-Lieutenant George Austin Woods, the newly arrived marine surveyor. On June 5th, 1871, Cakobau was proclaimed King of Fiji at a ceremony in Levuka. (It is interesting to note that the Premier and Minister of Finance, Mr. Sydney C. Burt, was the mover of the motion that established the Church Committee of which he was a member.)

It had been a well-kept secret. Floyd was au courant with what was happening, had been invited to sit on the dais for the occasion, but refused. He was in full sympathy with the cause, knew the King very well, but felt that, as a newcomer and with strained relations with his Wesleyan brethren, it would be unwise for him to be fully committed at the time. He was able to do a greater service for the King and the realm later.

[40] Woods, never a very popular person, took umbrage at Floyd's decision and from then began a mild persecution, threatening Floyd with a charge of treason, because he flew the Union Jack in the churchyard while the main Sunday services were on, and vilest of all, he prayed for Queen Victoria, as he used the State Prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. Floyd retorted that he certainly prayed for Queen Victoria, his Queen, as he did also for King Cakobau, who certainly needed praying for to be saved from some of his advisors.

Floyd was equally adamant about having nothing to do with the settlers' secret society, the Ku Klux Klan, which he felt was made up of people more anxious to obtain their own ends than to seek the progress of the country.

The country went through a period of instability, with Ma'afu, with powerful allies, ready at any time to seize the leadership. Burt was dismissed and, later, Woods. The one man who could save the realm was John Thurston, but entreaties made to him to join the Government and Cabinet were turned down. He was satisfied to remain on his Taveuni plantation. At last, in desperation, King Cakobau had them charter a brigantine to send the only man, he felt, whose persuasive eloquence could successfully woo Thurston--William Floyd, who went to Taveuni with the Speaker of the House, Mr. Butters, [40/41] and a Privy Councillor, with the endorsement of both Cakobau and Ma'afu. Thurston, at last, agreed to come. The little Anglican parson had saved Fiji in the hour of its greatest need. Thurston, though at one time very much against Cession, became Colonial Secretary under British administration, later to be the fourth Governor.

The Australians, worried about the repayment of their debentures, made fresh overtures to the British Government. Eventually, on March 20th, 1874, King Cakobau, after consulting the other chiefs, announced that he was willing to cede the island group to Queen Victoria.

Cession Day, October 10th, 1874, was a wet, blustery, cold day, with driving rain, letting up just sufficiently to allow for the ceremony of accepting the Cession by Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of New South Wales. Commodore Goodenough, one of the Commissioners concerned, went to church on the Sunday, where, he records, Floyd preached from the text "Behold, how good and joyful it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Ps.133).

A deputation from the Wesleyan Mission waited upon His Excellency Sir Hercules Robinson, to express satisfaction with the Cession, but for which they considered their missionary labours could have received serious injury. They added, "We venture to remind Your Excellency that it is not forty years since missionaries representing the British Wesleyan Church came to Fiji, then in a state of savage heathendom, and that but for the blessing of God upon their labours, there would have been no British Fiji at the present day". These were brave and very true words. Who would ever have denied them the honour of an extraordinary achievement.

His Excellency Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon arrived in HMS Pearl on June 24th, 1878. The Governor had arrived--but no bishop. There was not to be a bishop for many years, while the death of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, of Melanesia, had been a great set-back for Floyd, who was now bereft of any near episcopal guidance or advice.

It was the lack of bishops that caused Anglican clergy, I understand, to withdraw gradually from the LMS, for once one is accustomed to episcopal oversight it is very difficult to find anything to equal it. Here in Floyd's case, it was the lack of bishops in his bailiwick that was the cause of his greatest concern. Bishop Kempthorne told me that it had been hinted to him that, such was the concern of Floyd, especially with regard to confirmation, that he had sought consecration with one of the genus episcopi vagantes.

Bishop Selwyn of Melanesia visited the Diocese in 1882, Bishop Nevill of Dunedin in 1885, Bishop Suter of Nelson, N.Z., in 1886, Bishop Gibson of Gloucester, Bishop Montgomery of Tasmania, father of the Field Marshal, in 1898, Bishop Willis of Honolulu at various times. Bishop Selwyn sent Floyd a deacon, the Rev. Tom Wogale, from Torres Island, to help him, and Bishop Montgomery later sent the Rev. E. H. Thompson, in deacon's orders, on the condition that he should return to Tasmania to be priested. I remember the bearded Thompson as Vicar of St. John the Baptist Church, Hobart, some years.

[42] However, the State did go to church, not just as a convention, but as active participants, even to taking services in the absence of Floyd. Miss Gordon-Cumming, a relative of the Gordons, who stayed with them at Government House, wrote in "At Home in Fiji":--

"At present our parson, Mr. Floyd, is in New Zealand (1876), so all the Governor's staff take it in turns to officiate, two in the morning, and two in the evening. They appear in surplices and take their part well. Last Sunday morning Mr. Le Hunte read prayers and Captain Havelock one of Robertson's sermons. Yesterday morning Captain Havelock read prayers and Mr. Maudslay preached a Kingsley. In the evening Mr. Eyre read and Mr. Le Hunte preached; but I forget his subject, for such a thunderstorm of rain came down on the zinc roof that even his voice was drowned. Mr. Floyd has one of Bishop Patteson's native clergy to assist him in a mission to the foreign labour. But the foreign labour does seem a hopeless field. They are brought here from a multitude of isles, all talking different languages, and only remain three years in the Group so that the small numbers that can be reached, even of those who find situations in Levuka, can scarcely be expected to learn much before they are sent back as 'time expired labour'. Still the church does fill in the afternoons with a strange motley congregation, and doubtless some seeds are carried back to distant isles, which may bear fruit in due season."

All the members of the staff mentioned moved on later to important colonial posts, serving with great distinction.

There was a Sunday, Miss Gordon-Cumming says, when there were no services in the little church and the township seemed quiet, for in the house next door the very young wife of the Attorney-General, Mr. de Ricci, was seriously ill, and died. She was probably the first to be buried in the present Draiba Cemetery, just below the grave of William Floyd.


The Melanesians

All of us have sung, no doubt, with acknowledgments to Percy Montrose, the lilting ballad:--

"In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Dwelt a miner, Fortyniner,
And his daughter, Clementine."

It is strange that the strains of "Clementine" should mingle with those of "Dixie" in discussing the slave trade that brought so many Melanesians from the west to Fiji in the last century, and many of their descendants still live here.

The two events that brought about the trade in black bodies were, first of all, the outbreak of the American Civil War, together with the events that led to it, with the subsequent neglect of the Southern cotton plantations, giving the South Pacific a "cotton boom", bringing so many cotton planters to Levuka and beyond; secondly, the end of the 1849 Californian gold rush--the "fortynines"--which left an amazing bunch of utterly unscrupulous rascals on the western seaboard of the United States, with idle hands, looking for new fields.

They found their outlet in the pernicious "blackbirding", as the slave traffic was dubbed.

[44] Into the bays and inlets of the Solomon Islands (for Malaita men preferably) and the New Hebrides (for men of Tanna) they sailed their crafts, joined in the process by some from Australia, encouraging natives aboard by any subterfuge or pretext, sometimes running canoes down at sea and "rescuing" their occupants, sometimes dropping iron ballast through the thin hulls of canoes alongside. The kidnapped were then brought to Levuka to be released to the cotton planter at a price.

Two happenings brought about the cessation of the trade and established a properly ordered form of recruitment. The first was the case of the brig, Carl, which arrived in Levuka, spick and span, with only 25 labour aboard. The ship had been intercepted by the HMS Rosario, which patrolled, as best it could, to control or curb the trade.

The Lieutenant who boarded the Carl had reported a very clean ship, with few recruits, and the captain of the Rosario had congratulated the captain of the brig for the humanity displayed by him.

It was not until the brig reached Levuka that the conscience-stricken owner, a Melbourne doctor named Murray, "spilled the beans". He said the ship had originally carried 80 "blackboys" below decks, of different tribes and from different areas, among whom a fight developed. The panicky crew had opened the hatches sufficient to allow firearms to be used, firing volley after volley into the crowd below. A few days later, when quiet below suggested the end to the strife, the holds were opened. Fifty-five dead or badly wounded had been thrown to the sharks. Out of twenty-five left, only five had come through unscathed.

The second event was the murder of Bishop Patteson, at Nukapu, in the Santa Cruz Group, while on his way to Levuka to try to deal with the iniquitous business, killed by the very people whose cause he was about to espouse. It is possible that Patteson was more eloquent in his death than in his bodily presence. The whole world was shocked, and the traffic halted. The Civil War in America ended and, with it, the cotton boom; sugar, with copra, became the new economy, Indian labour was brought in, being more efficient than the slow-going Melanesian. The latter were repatriated, so far as this was possible.

The repatriation of a great section of these was complicated by the circumstances of their recruitment. There were some who had been regularly recruited and for whom proper records were available. Even this must be qualified, for some had been recruited from Queensland, after recruitment to that country had been prohibited, and some of these had been "blackbirded".

Many had no means of telling just where they had come from and to have returned them on any beach or to any village that was not their own was to court sudden death. There was also the matrimonial mix-up, for lack of other Melanesian women had meant some intermarriage with Fijian women, who had no desire whatever to be taken away to some strange and apparently ultra-savage land.

These formed a "remnant", of whom the Government seems to have [44/45] "washed its hands". There was, too, the repetition of the old Samaritan state, for the Fijians refused any recognition of the families of the "mixed" marriages; they were landless, homeless, workless, stateless, without real leaders.

The Chief Justice at the time drew Floyd's attention to their plight. This was just what Floyd needed to give him a real missionary interest. He accepted the challenge, and the Solomon Islanders, as we often refer to them, came under the protection of the church, which has been their intermediary with the Government over many years.

In 1880, Bishop John Selwyn of Melanesia, who felt this activity an extension of his work, came over to Fiji and inaugurated the work. Floyd later purchased land above the church site at Onivero and settled the Melanesians there. They have lived in the vicinity ever since. "Missi Floyddi" became a legend that persisted when I arrived twenty-two years after Floyd's death, and many of the old men I knew spoke of him with deep affection and respect.

He had no easy task, for much of the fierce savagery still lurked. I remember Thomas Ravioa, who was Floyd's "houseboy", telling me of the Saturday afternoon when he had to rush from the sports ground below to interrupt Floyd's sermon preparation. A Solomon Islander sprinter had been winning for some weeks and the Fijian runners decided to jostle him in that afternoon's race. Floyd had to rush into the water on the inner-shore reef to rescue the jostler, whose head was being held under water, while someone was looking for a big enough rock to "finish him off".

Floyd's second church, the Church of the Epiphany, bigger and brighter, was built below his second vicarage and the Solomon Islander settlement, at Onivero.

He had a great heart and all of his three vicarages seemed to become public institutions. Mr. Nathaniel Chalmers, now retired legalist, of Deuba, tells me that he and his two brothers, Douglas and Clive, were born in the vicarage, while the "Encyclopaedia of Fiji" (1907) mentions that Floyd had turned over his vicarage for use as a hospital during the great measles epidemic. During a visit abroad, returning through Canada, he found his sister in difficult circumstances, due to an unhappy marriage. Promptly he collected the early-teenage son and brought him to live with him in Fiji, thus establishing the House of Stinson, giving us today the efficient first Minister for Works and Communications. Nat. Chalmers mentions that he stayed whole weeks in the vicarage.


The Indian Mission

Floyd followed up an appeal made by Sir Arthur Gordon, the first Governor, to the Archbishop of Canterbury about the need for missionary effort among the Indian labour force, by going to England to press the matter. He returned to make arrangements to open work among the Indian people in Vanua Levu and Taveuni. After consultation with the Methodists, an understanding was reached that Northern Fiji should be the zone of Anglican work exclusively, with a provision that we would not enter the Fijian field, in accordance with our principle of "Comity". Funds were raised in England and Ireland, and the Rev. H. Lateward, a melancholy fellow, arrived to initiate the work, which has won respect over the years there. Our All Saints' School, for boys, and St. Mary's, for girls, rank with the best in the country.

Nurse-evangelist Sister Betty Slader brings medical help as well as the Gospel to poor Indian families around Suva.


Suva and Rewa

For the first ten years Floyd trod a lonely road, with no assistance, visiting the settlers on the Rewa and walking on to Suva. There were no roads at that time and one traversed slippery tracks.

In 1880 came the Rev. A. Poole, who was admitted to deacon's orders by Bishop Selwyn, to his aid. Poole was stationed on the Rewa and would have a 14-mile walk to Suva to take services during the month. In 1884, the capital was moved to Suva and services were taken in the Court House, until Holy Trinity Church was built on the corner of Macarthur and Butt Sts.

The Rev. J. Francis Jones arrived just in time for the dedication of the new church by Bishop Sutor of Nelson, New Zealand, in 1886. This reverend gentleman must have been a "fast worker". There is an ancient tradition that every possible sacrament should have its place in the new church on the day of its dedication or consecration. Jones was able to add the Sacrament of Matrimony by taking to himself the richest possibility in Suva, Miss Victoria Joske. Jones seemed to absent himself from time to time, the responsibility falling again and again on Floyd. He retired from the post in 1898. Floyd, in his annual report to London, in 1889, had reported that "things were at their lowest ebb" in Suva.


The Church of the Holy Redeemer

Levuka seemed to hold a very high regard for Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, after all it was the farthest flung of this great farflung Empire. No one could have been more loyal than William Floyd. It had become urgently necessary to move the centre of the work in Levuka nearer the centre of the town, and the closing of the Planter's Arms made an excellent site available. At the same time, all Floyd's imperialistic sentiments had been roused to the highest pitch by the world-wide celebration of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, and the Church of the Holy Redeemer, the foundation stone of which was laid by Bishop Willis, then of Honolulu, on Sunday, August 13th, 1899, was built as a memorial to the Jubilee. Her Majesty was apparently gracious enough to present a picture of the Crucifixion, sepia on porcelain, which still hangs in the Church. The artist is not named, but it has a distinct Victorian flavour, the "city walls" behind seem to have been inspired by the battlements of Windsor Castle, and those "vulgar" thieves are given a very subordinate place, according to their rating.

On Sunday, June 19, 1904, Bishop Willis, now from Tonga, consecrated the Church, saying, inter alia: "The consecration of this first stone church for the use of the Anglican Communion, not only in Fiji, but in the Western Pacific, is an event that should be regarded with interest and sympathy by the whole Anglican communion. You have not erected a structure that the first hurricane might sweep away, but one that bears witness that the Anglican Church has, at length, a firm foundation in the Western Pacific."

This church is one of the showpieces of the South Pacific. Its stained glass from Belgium and France is most attractive, especially the Rose Window over the Altar, donated by Floyd as a memorial to his little, but seemingly fearsome, mother, who spent a time with him in Levuka, but found the climate oppressive. Floyd remained a bachelor.

He was a keen gardener, said to have introduced the red frangipani and the pomegranate to Fiji. The grounds were well laid out in a perfect quadrangle, the church on the north side, properly orientated, the vicarage faced across to the church on the south side, the volcanic black cliffs, covered with wild sage, formed the west side and the old stone wall, very much like those of Ireland, and the Beach Road and sea, on the east.

The centre piece was the fountain, replica of one that had attracted Floyd in the public gardens of Magdeburg in Germany. The bowl of the fountain was the sort of clubhouse of the drinking, bathing, excitedly gossipping, descendants of the old pigeon post that once linked Levuka with Suva. The waters cascaded into a large ornamental pool, missing the swans, that supported the base.

[49] The pool claimed a few victims. It was particularly unfortunate that a vicar of ample proportions and a certain sense of dignity, suffered an involuntary immersion, stumbling as he played ball with a small child. The pool was then considered a breeding place for mosquitoes, and filled in. When I arrived it was a great blaze of antirrhinum in full bloom.

There came a day when a senior Public Works authority walked by, and an hour later sent an order that the water must be cut off from the fountain. Two hours later he apologised, for his orders had been countermanded by no less than His Excellency Sir Bickham Sweet Escott, by personal telegram.

Unfortunately, in late years, impious hands were laid on the outlay, the vicarage was turned to face the sea, the symmetry lost, and the newer generation, lacking all sentiment, neglected the fountain; only the dejected swans on the base now look down their beaks, as though ashamed.

Floyd was on his way back to Fiji, after a fund-raising visit to the United Kingdom, when news of the death of the Great Queen arrived on board. He was asked to take a memorial service for the passengers and crew. In the midst of it came a sudden inspiration. The old Mechanics Institute, where he had held his first services, had not been replaced after the great hurricane; why not build a new Town Hall in its stead, as a Memorial to the Queen. He moved in this direction on his return and the Queen Victoria Memorial Hall (often erroneously called the Levuka Town Hall) was opened in 1904, in the year the church was dedicated.


Birth Pains of a Diocese

Floyd's original appointment was most irregular, but the matter was adjusted later and he came under the supervision of the Bishop of London, as other clerical members of the staff did. He was, however, the more anxious, as the staff grew, to have an authority more available. He had conveyed his personal anxieties to the Australian Church.

He was greatly encouraged by news, conveyed to him by the Bishop of Goulburn in 1884, that the Hon. Robert Campbell, a very wealthy land-holder and Member of the Legislature, who had been a benefactor to the Church in New South Wales, had set aside his Natoavatu Estate, with some other smaller lots, on Savusavu, about 6,000 acres in extent, but undeveloped, to the church, to establish an endowment for a Bishop of Fiji.

(Just at the time, Vanua Levu seemed a popular place for parliamentarians to invest in land; such great British statesmen as Bonar Law and Campbell-Bannerman owned land on the Lekutu River.)

The land was to be held on the condition that when the accumulated and banked profits reached the sum of £10,000, that would become the endowment, and the land would revert to its owner. These terms were carried into his Will, with the understanding his legatees would jointly own it in the latter state. It is now the property of the Diocese, by purchase.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, encouraged by reports from Bishop Willis of Honolulu, began to explore possibilities, but the whole great area was too far from his centre to make any sense. He therefore made enquiries through the New Zealand Church, raising in Bishop Nevill of Dunedin a burst of apostolic enthusiasm that was to be at times embarrassing. Nevill paid a quick visit to Samoa and Tonga, and was in communication with Floyd, in 1885. In 1886, Bishop Suter of Nelson came officially as a Commission from the New Zealand Church to formulate a report for the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the latter's request.

During this official visit, Bishop Sutor dedicated the new Holy Trinity Church in Suva, now demolished, but whose timbers form the temporary wall of the present unfinished Cathedral. In Samoa he baptised five members of the Betham family. The last of these, August de Silva Betham, is alive and living in California, writing in excellent script in his 89th year. He and his wife were the backbone of the Anglican Church in Samoa, when eventually it came, though at times they would have previously to wait four or five years for the Sacraments.

[51] Of Samoa, Bishop Sutor reported, "here, I may state at once, there is a clearly-defined sphere for a clergyman of our Church" and "I do not think that the SPG has on its lists a more distinct claim than this". (It was not until 1932 that this could be implemented and again there was the storm of protest to London, for the Anglicans in Polynesia were not ever to be allowed "freedom of religion" in their own way.)

The 1888 Lambeth Conference discussed Fiji's position and made a suggestion, dear to the Nevill heart, that Fiji should be attached to the New Zealand Church. Floyd was able to convey to the SPG in London that the Suva congregation rejected this completely, not wishing to be attached to New Zealand. They were mostly English and Australian in background, and felt they owed a great deal to the SPG where their hearts (and probably their best interests) laid.

There was no concerted movement or even a plan for the formation of a diocese. As I have pointed out, it all came into being as "the results of an accident". Floyd had wanted it, and two others, Bishop Willis and the Rev. Dr. Shirley Baker, unwittingly became the fathers or the midwives of an unfortunate foundling. Naked she came into this Pacific world; of late she has, at least, been able to afford a "mini", cutting the cloth a bit short, and from the present tone of things, she won't be allowed to "keep up with the Joneses".


Bishop Alfred Willis

Until the American annexation of Hawaii, the Diocese of Honolulu was an unattached diocese that would come under the Archbishop of Canterbury. Alfred Willis, who became Bishop in 1871, was the last of the Archbishop's appointments, and he remained Bishop until 1902. Willis had many discouragements, in spite of which he apparently loved the life, travelled extensively throughout his Diocese and established the church schools that rate very high in the State of Hawaii.

Willis was a striking figure, tall, long-bearded and dignified, in every sense a prelate of the church, always dressing the part. He also had a strongly willed wife, who seconded rather than dominated him. He could be said to have been of the old Tractarian order, much like Floyd in that sense. I have said, in later years, that our church life of Tonga and of Levuka has been so much a part of the people because of the strong foundations laid by definite teaching and practice.

Willis held definite opinions and stuck to them. When it was mooted that the 1888 Lambeth Conference was to debate the excision of the imprecatory clauses from the Psalms (those delightful expressions of feeling from the very heart of the "sweet singer of Israel", about the things he would like to happen to folk he did not get along with), Willis wrote a scholarly defence of them, and he was a scholar. He challenged the Conference, and won his point.

Willis felt for the people outside of his jurisdiction, living south of the equator and outside the ministrations of the church. He paid unofficial visits to Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga. In 1897, Willis received a Commission from the Bishop of London allowing him to exercise certain rights in this area.

He possessed these rights as he came through Tonga on his way to the Lambeth Conference in 1897. The Rev. W. Horsfall, Principal of the Tonga College, presented him with four candidates for Confirmation, three Britons and one Hawaiian, in the King's Chapel. Horsfall had already admitted eight communicants and baptised seven, all of Anglican families. This seems almost to have been the death penalty for Horsfall, who left not long after, to be replaced by an orthodox Wesleyan. However, through these connections, Willis had a very kindly attachment to the Kingdom. It is a lovely place and they are lovely people.


Rev. Dr. Shirley Waldemar Baker

One is never quite sure whether this third member of the triumvirate that led to the birth of the Diocese, the Rev. Dr. Shirley Waldemar Baker, is the villain of the piece or the chosen instrument of Providence, for it was certainly due to his activities that the establishment of the Diocese was, let us say, accelerated.

Robert Louis Stevenson, who met Baker in Tonga, referred to him as "the only man that has lastingly impressed his mind on any nation in the South Seas". On the other hand, Sir Basil Thomson, sent to clean up the mess, both political and financial, left behind after Baker's deportation, felt he was a thorough scoundrel, though others have felt that he was much maligned. Nevertheless, Providence does work in strange ways and through the strangest of people.

Dr. Shirley Baker was born in London in 1836, emigrated to Victoria, Australia, in 1852, where he became a Wesleyan missionary to Tonga in 1860, rising eventually to the status of Chairman of the Mission.

The Mission had been established originally under the Wesleyan Church in Britain, then later transferred to the Australian Conference. The King, with undoubtedly the persuasion of Shirley Baker, sought independence for the church, and, getting no encouragement from the authorities, decided to break away and form the Free Church of Tonga, led by Baker, whose influence became so strong that ere long he was Prime Minister and held no less than 14 portfolios in the Government.

A somewhat Gilbertian attempt at his assassination, together with strong complaints about his ruthless suppression of any who had remained loyal to the old church, brought about his downfall. He was ordered by Sir John Thurston to leave Tonga and went to New Zealand. During the visit of Bishop Nevill to Tonga, he appears to have approached the Bishop with the prospect of the Tongan Free Church being united with the Church of England. He was absent during the visits of Bishop Willis.

During his "exile" in Auckland, he attended St. Matthew's Church, and had won their sympathy there, though not much encouragement from the sick Primate, Bishop Cowie.

He returned to Tonga in 1899, happy to find he still had a following. He established a new religious connexion, which he called "The Church of Victoria", bringing to it some parts of the Book of Common Prayer and the Scriptures, translated into Tongan. He immediately applied to Bishop Willis, of Honolulu, to come down and ordain him priest. The very cautious Bishop asked for further information, but the impatient Shirley Baker turned to his sponsor (to some extent) Bishop Nevill, who appointed him on September 13th, 1900, a Lay-reader, and with a commission wider than the bounds of Tonga, as [53/54] "Episcopal Superintendent of the Eastern Pacific".

His Layreader's Licence, parchment with an impressive and imposing Episcopal Seal, enabled Baker to refer to himself as a "Church of England minister", though he was not of the ranks of the clergy. This gave further encouragement to his following.

Unfortunately, he overstepped the mark by foolishly taking the marriage of two Europeans. The marriage had to be registered in Suva, where the Registrar naturally wanted to know how Baker had derived authority to take marriages. The perfectly respectable contractors of the union were dismayed to find that they were not legally married. There was some consternation. As a result of this and other indiscretions Baker was asked again to leave the Kingdom.

The whole business shocked his people, who included some of the nobility, including the Princess Ofa, rejected bride of King George, who had married Princess Lavinia instead. Still living in Nuku'alofa is a most gracious, most regal lady, Sitena, the widow of a one-time Premier. He had been one of those who, in their dilemma, had petitioned Bishop Willis to come to their aid in Tonga. This was a spontaneous call from pure Tongan people, knowing they could not return to the Tongan Free Church for very obvious reasons. Bishop Willis weighed the matter with his usual caution.

Shirley Baker's downfall coincided with the annexation of the Hawaiian group by the United States, which placed the British Bishop in an awkward position, for the Episcopal Church of the United States would now be responsible; furthermore, he felt, as an Englishman, he could not take an Oath of Allegiance to an American President. He was still married in affection to the Polynesian people, feeling surely that this was the sphere God had called him to. Yet he was not one to be swayed by mere sentiment.

Willis saw that the signature of Princess Ofa to the petition would be used in much the same way as that dreadful "red herring" about Henry VIII, which causes both Anglican and Roman Catholic scholars so much disturbance. He read the letters of the Chairman of the Methodists and weighed them in relation to those of Mr. Leefe, the British Consul, coming to the conclusion that this was a definite call, timed according to Divine intent, which he could not refuse. It was not, as some detractors have tried to assert, a case of an English chaplain moving in for European churchmen, and then invading a field, but a direct call from responsible and mature Tongan people.

Willis came down to Nuku'alofa in 1902, bringing with him a young Hawaiian-born Chinese, Sang Mark, who was later sent to the United States and admitted to deacon's orders there, ordained priest in Auckland, and spent 25 splendid years in Tonga. His first wife was a sister of Archdeacon Bryce's father.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was now posed with quite a problem. First, he could hardly have a spare bishop wandering about his chessboard, and secondly, to what extent was the Anglican principle of "Comity of Missions" affected? Of course, the Methodist folk wrote [54/55] to England about it. The Archbishop referred the matter to the Primates of New Zealand, Australia and United States, who said that all that was needed was that some diocesan status, with proper local authority, should be given to the whole area, including Fiji.

The good Archbishop seemed to have just waved a wand--not a fairy one--with "let there be a Diocese--and there was a Diocese!!", but, reversing the original creation, it was "without form", for its boundaries were not settled until 42 years later, it was completely "void" of any endowments, and had little prospect of financial backing. Both Floyd and Willis had already spent too long in the tropics, both were advanced in years. Who would be the first Bishop?

Let me say that, marching with these affairs, came the request to the Primate of New Zealand, Bishop Nevill, from the Rev. Horace Packe, the Vicar of Suva, for an exchange with someone in New Zealand. He was suffering from a serious skin infection that was aggravated by the tropics. Bishop Nevill found this an excellent chance to get rid of one of his more turbulent priests (so 'tis said). He asked the Rev. Richard Twitchell Matthews, Vicar of Queenstown (you will note the middle name "Twitchell") to take up the idea, adding that the possibility of a diocese coming into being was by no means remote, and he (Matthews) had the best chance of all in being selected as the first Bishop. So Matthews came to Suva, to spend 17 years here.

With almost dramatic suddenness advice came to Matthews through the Colonial Secretary of the establishment of the Diocese and of the choice of a Bishop. The Fiji Government Royal Gazette of July 17th, 1908, announced (in effect) that His Majesty King Edward VII, on the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury (that was Randall Davidson, who referred later to the diocese as "that strange Diocese of Polynesia") had appointed the Rev. Thomas Clayton Twitchell, Vicar of St. Saviour's, Poplar, as Bishop in Polynesia. That is to say, not Bishop of Fiji, but Bishop in an area covered by other Governments' administrations, "in" therefore, and not "of".

The Rev. Richard Twitchell Matthews felt that Fate had played him a shabby trick, having a kinsman thus thrust on him. He took his revenge by having all relevant documents concerned with the endowment of a "Bishop of Fiji" impounded, and Twitchell was faced with a long lawsuit to get matters cleared.

Twitchell's first act was to elevate the veteran Floyd to the office, style and dignity of Archdeacon of Fiji, an honour not to be his for long, for in October in the following year, 1909, he passed to his rest, in Suva.

Contemporary accounts tell that when the news of his death reached Levuka, there was widespread sorrow, in which everyone, from all sections, religious and secular, joined, and all business stopped. He had been so much part of the life of the place for nearly 39 years, he had helped so many, and so many had grown up from childhood to maturity during his life there. He had been everyone's friend and his Irish wit and humour, always kindly, had captivated them; they all felt his death keenly.

[56] His body was brought from Suva to Levuka by launch the next day, and the Rev. R. T. Matthews, vicar of Suva, preached the panegyric in the church Floyd had dreamed up and built. He spoke feelingly of Floyd's early struggles, of which Floyd had remarked, "Few know what I had to suffer in those days". "So", went on the preacher, "literally without scrip or purse, without the support of a leader's advice, he had to establish the church in a country whose native population was already Christian and whose white settlers were struggling to maintain the footing they had with difficulty won."

The funeral cortege, the biggest Levuka has ever seen, moving slowly along the old Beach Street, different now from the sandy trail of Floyd's early days, passed the little Marist church, where every available Marist Father had assembled in silent tribute to a personal friend. It went along, to climb the hill at Draiba cemetery and move out to the bluff--and there his body was laid, his feet towards the rising sun. Miss Gordon-Cumming, writing in another context, describes the setting: "At rest--on a headland overlooking the sea, with palms and wild citron trees and tall reedy grass all round, a most lovely spot, especially at sunrise, when the sun comes up out of the sea, and in the moonlight."

This is where a brief essay into history can end. We leave Floyd with his permanent niche in Pacific history--the diminutive, virile, kindly, sometimes battling, visionary; one of "God's puppets"--great or less, content, just content, to fit into God's "one increasing purpose".

He belongs to Fiji, having spent more than half of his life given to its welfare, coming to the aid of its King at the moment of its greatest need, and Polynesia owns him. He is now our inspiration to make another century one of sanctified effort.

We can hardly pray "Requiescat in pace"--may he rest in peace--but, rather, "Requiescit in pace"--he rests in peace--for after so much turmoil of body and soul, his reward must be a happy one.

His successor was the Rev. A. E. Frost, later known as Fr. Bede Frost, of the Benedictine Order, the Anglican one, whose books on prayer, especially "Art of Mental Prayer", are classics. It was he who further enhanced the Church of the Holy Redeemer by placing the beautifully carved High Altar as a Memorial to Floyd. The work was done by a French Canadian of Huguenot stock, M. le Francoeur, a tall, very dignified, handsome gentleman with a full set of Habsburg facial fungus, as particular in his work as he was in his person. The large cross and candlesticks were presented by the Chief Justice, Sir Charles Major, he who had given his judgment freeing the "Bishop of Fiji" Bishoprick endowments to the Bishop "in Polynesia". The whole is a fitting tribute to Floyd.

When I came to Levuka nearly 40 years ago, Floyd was still a living memory to many. I have drawn on my memory for much of the framework of this lecture, thus I hope I can be forgiven for any lapses or omissions. There have been but four Archdeacons of Fiji, he the first and I was the last.


The South-west Pacific Today

The people of the Pacific Islands are living in a time of extremely rapid social change. The stability of village life is crumbling under a host of pressures. A cash economy and commercial development are quickly replacing subsistence gardening. And people are streaming into the growing towns. In Fiji, nearly 18% of the people live in the city of Greater Suva. A quarter of Tonga's population lives in the capital, Nuku'alofa, while in Western Samoa, over half the population lives in a 30-mile strip between the airport and Apia.

Polynesia's age-old isolation has ended. Cruise ships and jetliners bring a swelling flood of tourists. The local people watch their lavish spending and ask, "why can't we live like that?" Why? Because education is not available to all. Because industry and national resources are limited, and because better health services have produced a population explosion. Over 60% of Polynesians are under 21. Tonga will soon be hard-pressed to accommodate its people, let alone improve their living standards. And the minority who do get a good education and jobs feed the flames of rising expectations among the majority.

A sense of national identity is growing as countries gain independence. In Fiji, where Indians now outnumber native Fijians, independence was recently achieved amidst the stirrings of racial conflict. The passing of western colonialism removes one set of problems, but transfer of responsibility is always a complex business. In a ferment of rapid social change, it is even more difficult. This is the social context in which the Christian churches, in a growing spirit of ecumenism, are proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


The Anglican Diocese of Polynesia covers a vast area of 11 million square miles, making it the world's largest Anglican diocese. The total land mass, however, is smaller than Tasmania. Christians number 440,000 in the total population of 750,000, but only 9,000 are Anglicans.

The diocese is really a group of small congregations scattered among diverse communities, with each congregation a minority in its community. The Pacific was evangelised before the Anglican Church came. Most Christians are Methodists or Congregationalists, and the Anglican Church works mainly among non-indigenous groups. These include Europeans, Fiji Indians, Chinese and Solomon Islanders. A small number of Tongans are also Anglican. But these ministries, though small, are highly important. The diocese is involved in much creative witness to the reality of Jesus Christ.


Pacific countries are fast achieving independence. Western Samoa became a fully independent nation in 1962. Rarotonga achieved self-government in 1965. Tonga and Fiji gained independence in 1970. National pride is a potent new factor in Polynesian life.

Independence has also come to Pacific churches. The Methodist churches in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are now independent. The Roman Catholic Bishops have formed a Pacific Conference. Now the New Zealand General Synod has given the Anglican diocese permission to elect its own bishop.


There is another complicating factor--the presence, in Fiji, of other religions. Hinduism, Islam and the Sikh faith are enjoying vigorous revivals of intellect and life. These virile faiths claim 97% of the Indians as followers, and try to win other races, too. The Ahmadiyya Muslim sect has translated the Koran into Fijian. The Fast of Ramadan packs the Muslim mosques, and the Hindu Feast of Diwali has more prominence in Fiji than Christmas.

Outside Fiji, the problem is militant American sects. Of these the Mormons are the most active and powerful. Backed by seemingly limitless funds, they are building modern church complexes and well-equipped schools, and offering young islanders free scholarships to American universities. They are particularly active in Tonga, an almost bankrupt country where the Government is finding it hard to resist their offers of economic aid. The Mormons believe they can, within a decade, eliminate the mainstream churches from Tonga--and look forward to similar results in other island groups.


Against this backdrop of social upheaval and religious ferment, the Christian churches witness to the power, love and availability of God in Jesus Christ. In some areas, the evangelistic vision seems to have dimmed. In others, the church is vigorously evangelistic and socially active.

One good sign is the growth of ecumenical activity. The Pacific Conference of Churches encourages contact and joint action for mission. The Pacific Theological College draws students from all churches and island groups. By 1980 it will have 150 graduates working throughout the Pacific.


The Anglican Church fills a special niche in the Polynesian church scene. Most of its work is in Fiji, where it ministers to Europeans and Chinese, runs Missions to Seamen, seeks to evangelise the Indians, and cares for the descendants of Melanesians "blackbirded" to Fiji last century.

The main centre outside Fiji is Tonga. Although 90% of Tongans are Methodists, the Anglican congregations are strong, active and respected. St. Andrew's Anglican School is one of Tonga's best. The diocese's first indigenous bishop is a Tongan, the Rt. Revd. Fine Halapua, now Assistant Bishop of Nuku'alofa.

Anglicans in other islands are few and far between. There is a resident priest in Western Samoa, who also visits American Samoa, actually part of the Diocese of Hawaii but cared for by Polynesia. Occasional pastoral visits are made to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and other remote groups.


Indians comprise nearly 51% of Fiji's multi-racial population. Only 3% are Christians. Most are very poor, and live as tenant farmers on sugar cane plantations. Their poverty demands a social welfare ministry as well as evangelism. Around Suva, a nurse-evangelist brings medical care and food with the Gospel. In Ba and Nadi, a similar double thrust is made.

Evangelism among Indians is a one-by-one affair. The Revd. Philip Thirlwell pioneered the work around Ba, an 80% Indian district, in 1964. He used his fluent Hindi to meet people, share their problems, help where he could, and speak about Christ. He started Sunday Schools, a move welcomed even by non-Christian Indians because they want their children to get any teaching that's going. Gradually results came. Today, Mr. Thirlwell has moved on to Nadi--leaving a virile young congregation under the care of an Indian priest.

Now spearheading the Ba work are the Melanesian Brothers, who live among the Indians, work beside them in the cane fields, and preach Christ whenever they can. Their presence overcomes the idea that Christianity is the white man's religion.


Before the Indians came, New Hebrideans and Solomon Islanders were brought to Fiji as cheap plantation labour. Today their descendants have great difficulty getting work for themselves or education for their children. The Anglican Church cares for them on settlements at Wailoku, near Suva; Wainaloka, near Lcvuka; and Naviavia, on Vanua Levu. It runs schools, seeks jobs for the adults and continually represents their case on the highest levels, as well as conducting a spiritual ministry among them.


Education in Fiji is neither free nor compulsory. There are comparatively few government schools, and the Church plays a significant part in education. The Anglican Church runs one high and seven primary schools in Fiji, all on a multi-racial, multi-faith basis. This is a vital contribution to future racial harmony.

Staff is a problem. It is difficult even to find Christian teachers, let alone Anglicans. Help is urgently needed here.

An important work among children is St. Christopher's Home for Children, near Suva, run by the Sisters of the Church.


Originally the diocesan theological college, St. John the Baptist Theological College is changing its role, now that the Pacific Theological College offers a wider learning experience. St. John's will conduct lay training, clergy "refreshers", correspondence courses and special work in teaching methods.


Twenty years ago, Polynesia had no indigenous clergy. Now 65% of the active clergy and 80% of those in parish posts are indigenes. The assistant bishop is a Tongan and the Archdeacon of Polynesia a Samoan. The 22 indigenous clergy include Indians, Tongans, Samoans, Melanesians and Fijians.


An interesting experiment is the recent introduction of worker-priests. It is hoped that two-thirds of the diocesan clergy will eventually minister in this manner.

The first worker-priest under this scheme was an Indian, the Revd. Sam Sahayam, who returned to his old job as a Department of Agriculture field officer in 1970, and is now assistant priest at Labasa on Vanua Levu. He spends his days helping farmers with their problems, and conducts services and Bible study groups at nights and weekends. Apart from its financial advantages, Mr. Sahayam believes such a ministry is more acceptable to the Indian community.


Because of the rapid changes in Polynesia, the diocese finds it hard to plan a concrete strategy for the future. It prefers to be flexible and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Finance will certainly be a major problem. Most Polynesian Anglicans are very poor, and the diocese is most unlikely to be self-supporting in the foreseeable future. Over 75% of its budget still comes from outside. The diocese must be careful that financial worries do not loom larger in its thinking than evangelism and service.

People, prayer and money are needed by the diocese of Polynesia. They are needed by the people of Polynesia. And they are needed by the Christ of Polynesia. Now.


Lord God Almighty, bring the people of Polynesia
together in the way of Christ and the fellowship
of your Spirit. Uphold the ministry of your clergy and
people in Polynesia. May their ministry bring
guidance to the puzzled, healing to the sick, hope to
the dispirited, and the light of a clear way to those
who seek a better future; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Project Canterbury