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New Hebrides Text
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Diaries of Reverend Conrad Stallan

  • AU PMB MS 1428
  • Collection
  • 1940-1946

Conrad George Stallan was born in Chatteris, England on 31 March, 1904, to parents Edward Stallan, a congregational minister, and Isobel Pratt (?). He was the sixth of seven children; his brother Donovan was killed in action during World War I. When the family moved to Hampshire, Conrad met Christina Cryle Brown (Chriss), whose father had a smallholding, growing fruit and vegetables and running delivery lorries. Conrad met Chriss, whom he would go on to marry, while working as a driver delivering fruit and vegetables overnight to Covent Garden.

In the 1920s, Stallan trained for the ministry at New College, Hackney in East London and Christina attended Stockwell Teachers’ Training College. The couple married on 3 October, 1930 and within a week Stallan was ordained and the couple set sail for Samoa with the London Missionary Society (LMS) on 9 October. The couple had jointly decided to go to the Mission field, and they served in Samoa from 1931-1939. Their two sons, Donovan (1934) and Roger (1936) were born in Samoa. These were happy years for the family, but Rev. Stallan was after more challenging work.

Daughter Janet was born in October 1939 while the family was on leave in England. In March 1940, the family travelled across Canada before sailing to the island of Malekula in the New Hebrides Condominium. Supported by the John G Paton Mission Fund, Rev Stallan was based in Wintua, South West Bay. Several churches had already been established in the area before his arrival, but in nearby communities there had been some violent resistance to European contact and allegations of cannibalism.

Sons Donovan and Roger were sent to boarding school at Geelong College in Australia. Daughter Rachel was born in January 1944 in Vila hospital. Distressed at the thought of sending his young daughters to boarding school, Rev. Stallan requested leave for a possible 5 years, returning to the UK in 1946, collecting the sons from boarding school en route.

In the first diary, written by Rev. Stallan between 1940 – 1943 (though most entries were in 1941), he writes about his life and work in South West Bay. He comments extensively on sickness and death in the local community, including his own periods of illness. Both Rev. Stallan and daughter Janet suffered malaria during this time. Janet was treated by a visiting Missionary GP who administered life-saving quinine. Rev. Stallan had no formal medical training, but had worked as an apprentice chemist/pharmacist for an unknown period, and may have received some basic training for the mission field. He was often called upon for medical and dental help, including giving injections (known as ‘stick medicine’), and daughter Janet recalls there was a room in the family home known as ‘the surgery’. He also comments on school activities, agriculture, local customs and preparations for making contact with the Big Nambas; who had violently rebuffed previous European contact and missionaries were forbidden by Condominium authorities from approaching them (Garrett, 1997 p.75). Rev. Stallan also writes of visiting Tangoa, Tanna, Vila and Tongoa.

The second diary, dated 4 January 1945 – March 10 1946 includes loose correspondence and photographs, including images of Stallan, the mission house and Wintua School. He also writes about weather, health of self and others, building the copra drier, interactions with workers, school commentary, family matters, a visit by American soldiers (intelligence unit), working in the garden, inter-island travel, carbon monoxide incidents, visiting the US Army Malaria Control Unit, baptisms, christenings and ministry, problems with launches, marriage/exchange culture, malaria surveys/control and reflections on mission. Writing in different hand is possibly that of Chriss Stallan. Some writing is in language – probably the Ninde language of the Meun cultural district where Stallan was located.

Stallan, Conrad George (1904-1980)

Diary of Conrad Stallan, 1941-1943

The first diary, written by Rev. Stallan between 1940 – 1943 (though most entries were in 1941), covers life and work in South West Bay. He comments extensively on sickness and death in the local community, including his own periods of illness. Both Rev. Stallan and daughter Janet suffered malaria during this time. Janet was treated by a visiting Missionary GP who administered life-saving quinine. Stallan had no formal medical training, but had worked as an apprentice chemist/pharmacist for an unknown period, and may have received some basic training for the mission field. He was often called upon for medical and dental help, including giving injections (known as ‘stick medicine’), and daughter Janet recalls there was a room in the family home known as ‘the surgery’.
In the first diary he also comments on school activities, agriculture, local customs and preparations for making contact with the Big Nambas; who had violently rebuffed previous European contact and missionaries were forbidden by Condominium authorities from approaching them (Garrett, 1997 p.75). Rev. Stallan also writes of visiting Tangoa, Tanna, Vila and Tongoa.

Stallan, Conrad George (1904-1980)

Diary of Conrad Stallan, 1945-1946

The second diary, dated 4 January 1945 – March 10 1946 includes loose correspondence and photographs, including images of Stallan, the mission house and Wintua School. He also writes about the weather, health and medical of self and others, building the copra drier, interactions with local workers, school commentary, family matters, a visit by American soldiers (intelligence unit), working in the garden, inter-island travel, carbon monoxide incidents, visiting the US Army Malaria Control Unit, baptisms, christenings and ministry, problems with launches, marriage/exchange culture, malaria surveys and control and reflections on mission. Writing in different hand is possibly that of Chriss Stallan. Some writing is in language – probably the Ninde language of the Meun cultural district where Stallan was located.

Stallan, Conrad George (1904-1980)

Isaac Neilson Whyte and Mary Grace Whyte Photographs of New Hebrides (Vanuatu)

  • AU PMB PHOTO 108
  • Collection
  • 1952 - 1959

This collection of photographs illustrates the life of Rev Isaac Neilson Whyte and Dr Mary Grace Whyte durng their service with the Australian Presbyterian Board of Missions in the New Hebrides, 1952-1957. With their children Michael, Robyn, Alistair and Peter, they were based in the village of Wintua in the South West Bay region of Malekula. Mary Grace and Neilson arrived in Wintua shortly after a hurricane had been through and destroyed much of the village infrastructure. In the years that followed, Wintua was rebuilt with the help of people from neighbouring villages, who helped to build a new church, mission house, district school and a small hospital. Rev Whyte was often away from Wintua, visiting other villages in his mission jurisdiction. He visited Big Nambas territory, which had in the previously been hostile to Europeans, and helped bring about a peace agreement between village leaders. Mary Grace practised medicine in Wintua and surrounding villages.

This collection of photographs depicts village and church life in South West Bay. It shows the reconstruction of the village, family photographs, Rev and Dr Whyte giving medical care and travel between villages by launch and canoe. There are also photos of a Big Nambas village and the Leviamp peace talks, as well as family photos taken on return to Australia.

Whyte, Isaac Neilson

Journals of Reverend Peter Milne.

  • AU PMB MS 1403
  • Collection
  • 1868-1906

This collection includes a significant sequence of journals covering Peter Milne's early years and ministry training, before giving an extended account of the mission in the New Hebrides at Nguna (Hocken Collections MS-0432/16 to MS-0432/23). They differ from the diaries in that they are written later as a more considered narrative, rather than daily notes. There are several numbered volumes, with consecutive pagination.

Milne, Peter.

Letters

  • AU PMB MS 197
  • Collection
  • 1869 - 1893

The Rev. Peter Milne (1834-1924) was born in Scotland and went to the New Hebrides as a Presbyterian Missionary in 1869. After a brief stay on Erromanga, he established himself at Nguna on Efate, where he remained, except for short breaks, for the rest of his life.

There are 33 letters. The first four were written in New Zealand, and all but one of the rest from the New Hebrides - mainly Nguna.

Milne, Peter.

New Hebrides Mission Lantern Slides, 1880-1945

  • AU PMB PHOTO 92
  • Collection
  • 1880-1945

Collection of 157 images copied from glass lantern slides, associated with the Presbyterian Church New Hebrides Mission. The images date from 1880 to 1945, and cover a range of subjects including mission buildings and churches, fishing scenes, island landscapes, and plants. There are a number of portraits of ni-Vanuatu mission teachers and European missionaries, as well as images of unknown community members from around the mission areas. Some of the named individuals are Tatu (teacher from Nguna), Reverend and Mrs Inglis, Reverend and Mrs Michelsen, Reverend and Mrs Gilles, Reverend Peter Milne, Carlo, Reverend I. Muir, and Dr J.T. Bowie. The images were captured on multiple islands, including: Tanna, Aneityum, Futuna, Ambrym, Nguna, Tongoa, Tangoa, Epi, Efate, Malekula, and Erromango

A number of the glass plates have been hand-coloured. Many of those photographs taken in the islands of Tafea province are attributed in photographic collections outside of the Presbyterian Research Centre, Dunedin, to Reverend James Hay Lawrie, a Scottish Presbyterian missionary on Aneityum and Futuna from 1879-96. The photographers of other images are unknown.

The New Hebrides Mission from the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand:
The Presbyterian Church began sending missionaries to the New Hebrides (today known as Vanuatu) in the mid-19th Century. The first missionary was Rev. John Geddie of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia who arrived on the island of Aneityum in 1848. Subsequent missionaries came from the Presbyterian Churches of New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Australia (Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales).
In New Zealand an interest in supporting a Christian mission to the New Hebrides was fostered when Rev. John Inglis of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland toured the country in 1852 following a three month tour of the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands. In that same year, Inglis and his wife joined Geddie on Aneityum. Rev. John Inglis continued to send regular reports of his work to New Zealand, leading to increasing interest from the Church there in sending their own missionaries to the islands.
The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was at that time divided up into the “Northern Church” and the “Southern Church” (consisting of the Provinces of Otago and Southland). The Southern Church was based on the ideals of the Free Church of Scotland and these principles influenced its mission work for many years. For over 40 years the two Churches worked separately, with mission activities during this time operating independently of each other.
Over several decades the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand sent a number of missionaries to the New Hebrides including the following people. The information below includes the missionaries' date of arrival in the New Hebrides, the name of the missionary and the name of the main island on which they worked:
1866, Rev. William Watt, Tanna
1870, Rev. Peter Milne, Nguna
1879, Rev. Oscar Michelsen, Tongoa
1885, Rev. Charles Murray, Ambrym
1889, Rev. Thomas Smaill, Epi
1892, Rev. Dr. Lamb, Ambrym
1899, Dr. John Bowie, Ambrym
1903, Rev. Thomas Riddle, Epi
1905, Rev. William V. Milne, Nguna (born on Nguna in 1877)
1932, Rev. Basil Nottage, Tongoa
1938, Rev. Ken Crump, Nguna
1941, Rev. J.G. Miller, Tongoa
1944, Rev. Ian Muir, Emae and Epi
1948, Rev. A.G. Horwell, Epi
In the early years there was no organised or reliable shipping service to the individual islands of the New Hebrides so it was important for the Church to have their own vessel to bring regular supplies from Australia and New Zealand. A boat was also necessary for transport to other mission stations. Although the New Hebrides missionaries were responsible for their home churches and allotted areas and islands, they worked closely together on common issues and met annually for a mission Synod meeting. New Zealand Presbyterian Church worked in conjunction with the Australian Presbyterian Church to raise money and purchased a mission supply vessel, the “Dayspring I”. This 115 ton brigantine was launched in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1863. It was lost in a hurricane ten years later and replaced by a second hand schooner, the “Dayspring II” in 1876. The Dayspring II was sold prior to 1890 as she was too small and slow and uncomfortable to sail in. The Australian missionary Dr. John G. Paton raised £6000 during a visit to Britain in 1884-1885 and later increased the donations to £7000. The “Dayspring III” was built on the Clyde in Scotland to the order of the Victorian Presbyterian Church Foreign Missions Committee. She was 157 feet long and arrived in Australia in 1895. On only her fourth voyage to the islands, she sank on the 16th October 1896 after striking an uncharted coral reef near New Caledonia. The decision was made not to replace the vessel.
The New Hebrides Mission shared a practical concern for the everyday needs of island people. In addition to converting local people to Christianity, the missionaries worked to improve education, through the introduction of schools where the training of local mission teachers was initiated. The Tangoa Teachers’ Training Institute opened at Tangoa, South Santo, in 1895. The purpose of the Institute was to train local teachers and it was supported by all the Protestant missions working throughout the New Hebrides. Missionaries also worked to improve health education and services and encouraged the production of arrowroot and island trading as a means to generate revenue. Arrowroot powder was shipped to New Zealand and other countries, where it was initially distributed by women’s missionary groups and later by commercial organisations. The funds from the sale of arrowroot were used to build additional churches in the islands and, in some cases, as a donation towards New Zealand mission funds to be used elsewhere. From 1880 to 1918 on Nguna alone, over 26 tons of arrowroot was produced.
By 1910, the work of the New Hebrides Mission was declining. This was partly due to a rapidly decreasing population on the islands and a feeling that little room existed for further expansion of mission work, as by then most areas were adequately covered. The reduction in population was primarily caused by introduced European illnesses and epidemics which decimated the local population. The Queensland labour trade had also had an impact on the local population, with many locals having decided to remain in Queensland.
In 1947 there was a general consensus held among the Island missionaries that the local church was ready to assume control of its own affairs. A constitution was drawn up, and after amendments submitted by the New Zealand and Australian Mission Committees and the New Hebrides Mission Synod, it was adopted. At a Centennial Synod meeting in 1948, the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Rev. John Geddie, the local church was placed fully in charge of its own affairs. The island mission councils for Australia and New Zealand were then limited to the affairs of their immediate mission staff. The New Zealand Church continued to provide a large financial grant to the New Hebrides Presbyterian Church. A continued focus remained on training church leaders and education more generally. The Tangoa Training Institute later introduced a curriculum of advanced theological studies.
In the early 1950s, the New Zealand Missions Committee responded to the request for assistance to establish a High School at Onesua on Efate, along with funds and personnel to set up and run a small hospital on Tongoa. The Committee viewed this project as a practical means by which the New Zealand Church could provide for a social need rather than a means for furthering evangelistic opportunities. This policy shift in Mission funding opened up other opportunities for aid from the New Zealand Church including developing Navota Farm and opening the Maropa religious bookshop in Port Vila, training local islanders to be trades people and undertake the building work. The New Zealand Bible Class volunteer scheme sent out young people during the 1960s to assist with building, administration and nursing. The Mission, at the request of the Presbyterian Church of the New Hebrides, divested itself of all remaining authority in the Islands so that the New Zealand missionaries effectively worked for the New Hebrides Church. In 1965 a memorandum was prepared which defined the terms of “responsible partnership” and sought to define the responsibilities of each partner. The Church continues today as the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu.
For more information about New Hebrides Mission collections at the Archives of the Presbyterian Research Centre, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, and New Zealand, see: http://www.archives.presbyterian.org.nz/missions/newhebrideshistory.htm

Foreign Missions Committee

New Hebrides Mission Lantern Slides, 1890-1945

  • AU PMB PHOTO 91
  • Collection
  • 1890-1945

This is a collection of 180 images of the New Hebrides mission in Vanuatu. The images were created by digitising magic lantern slides. Magic lantern slide shows were used to promote the work of the Mission. The islands featured in the collection include Ambrym, Santo, Malo and Tangoa.

The images show the Ambrim volcano c.1913, missionary life on Ambrim during the 1920s, mission services and buildings around Craig Cove, Pangkumu church, local ni-Vanuatu missionaries, planters buying cotton from ni-Vanuatu people and ferrying sacks (of copra?) out to a steamer, ni-Vanuatu demits and drums. Missionaries in Hog Harbour and non-Christians with their children. Image of Elephant island and local birds as well as ni-Vanuatu people who live in the bush on Santo visiting the St. Phillip’s mission in Santo. It appears that an expedition was made across Santo by the mission crossing Oru river and through the bush greeting local ni-Vanuatu people and assisting them with health issues such as yaws (yaws is a tropical infection of the skin, bones and joints caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum pertenue). Building a mission jetty at Hog Harbour in Santo, sheltered coves for the launch during hurricanes and areas where young children swam safely.

The images include children swimming and climbing trees and Ni-Vanuatu people undertaking daily chores and images of their homes and gardens, including growing yams and other food. Some images include pictures of ni-Vanuatu men with muskets/guns, including a man standing on “killing stones” at Big Bay, the mission school and children at Big Bay, Big Bay river and local groups and teachers from Malo. Lenakel church and mission hospital, the wives and children of missionary students, the mission church at Malo and Tangoa students undertaking drills. Tangoa Training Institute jubilee in 1945, dentists and assistants (1945).

Missionaries and other ex-patriate people in the images include Mr.Mansfield, Robert Lamb, Rev. Anderson, Rev. Fleming, Dr Alex S Frater Superintendent of The Paton Memorial Hospital at Port Vila.

The New Hebrides Mission from the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand:
The Presbyterian Church began sending missionaries to the New Hebrides (today known as Vanuatu) in the mid-19th Century. The first missionary was Rev. John Geddie of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia who arrived on the island of Aneityum in 1848. Subsequent missionaries came from the Presbyterian Churches of New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Australia (Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales).
In New Zealand an interest in supporting a Christian mission to the New Hebrides was fostered when Rev. John Inglis of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland toured the country in 1852 following a three month tour of the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands. In that same year, Inglis and his wife joined Geddie on Aneityum. Rev. John Inglis continued to send regular reports of his work to New Zealand, leading to increasing interest from the Church there in sending their own missionaries to the islands.
The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was at that time divided up into the “Northern Church” and the “Southern Church” (consisting of the Provinces of Otago and Southland). The Southern Church was based on the ideals of the Free Church of Scotland and these principles influenced its mission work for many years. For over 40 years the two Churches worked separately, with mission activities during this time operating independently of each other.
Over several decades the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand sent a number of missionaries to the New Hebrides including the following people. The information below includes the missionaries' date of arrival in the New Hebrides, the name of the missionary and the name of the main island on which they worked:
1866, Rev. William Watt, Tanna
1870, Rev. Peter Milne, Nguna
1879, Rev. Oscar Michelsen, Tongoa
1885, Rev. Charles Murray, Ambrym
1889, Rev. Thomas Smaill, Epi
1892, Rev. Dr. Lamb, Ambrym
1899, Dr. John Bowie, Ambrym
1903, Rev. Thomas Riddle, Epi
1905, Rev. William V. Milne, Nguna (born on Nguna in 1877)
1932, Rev. Basil Nottage, Tongoa
1938, Rev. Ken Crump, Nguna
1941, Rev. J.G. Miller, Tongoa
1944, Rev. Ian Muir, Emae and Epi
1948, Rev. A.G. Horwell, Epi
In the early years there was no organised or reliable shipping service to the individual islands of the New Hebrides so it was important for the Church to have their own vessel to bring regular supplies from Australia and New Zealand. A boat was also necessary for transport to other mission stations. Although the New Hebrides missionaries were responsible for their home churches and allotted areas and islands, they worked closely together on common issues and met annually for a mission Synod meeting. New Zealand Presbyterian Church worked in conjunction with the Australian Presbyterian Church to raise money and purchased a mission supply vessel, the “Dayspring I”. This 115 ton brigantine was launched in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1863. It was lost in a hurricane ten years later and replaced by a second hand schooner, the “Dayspring II” in 1876. The Dayspring II was sold prior to 1890 as she was too small and slow and uncomfortable to sail in. The Australian missionary Dr. John G. Paton raised £6000 during a visit to Britain in 1884-1885 and later increased the donations to £7000. The “Dayspring III” was built on the Clyde in Scotland to the order of the Victorian Presbyterian Church Foreign Missions Committee. She was 157 feet long and arrived in Australia in 1895. On only her fourth voyage to the islands, she sank on the 16th October 1896 after striking an uncharted coral reef near New Caledonia. The decision was made not to replace the vessel.
The New Hebrides Mission shared a practical concern for the everyday needs of island people. In addition to converting local people to Christianity, the missionaries worked to improve education, through the introduction of schools where the training of local mission teachers was initiated. The Tangoa Teachers’ Training Institute opened at Tangoa, South Santo, in 1895. The purpose of the Institute was to train local teachers and it was supported by all the Protestant missions working throughout the New Hebrides. Missionaries also worked to improve health education and services and encouraged the production of arrowroot and island trading as a means to generate revenue. Arrowroot powder was shipped to New Zealand and other countries, where it was initially distributed by women’s missionary groups and later by commercial organisations. The funds from the sale of arrowroot were used to build additional churches in the islands and, in some cases, as a donation towards New Zealand mission funds to be used elsewhere. From 1880 to 1918 on Nguna alone, over 26 tons of arrowroot was produced.
By 1910, the work of the New Hebrides Mission was declining. This was partly due to a rapidly decreasing population on the islands and a feeling that little room existed for further expansion of mission work, as by then most areas were adequately covered. The reduction in population was primarily caused by introduced European illnesses and epidemics which decimated the local population. The Queensland labour trade had also had an impact on the local population, with many locals having decided to remain in Queensland.
In 1947 there was a general consensus held among the Island missionaries that the local church was ready to assume control of its own affairs. A constitution was drawn up, and after amendments submitted by the New Zealand and Australian Mission Committees and the New Hebrides Mission Synod, it was adopted. At a Centennial Synod meeting in 1948, the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Rev. John Geddie, the local church was placed fully in charge of its own affairs. The island mission councils for Australia and New Zealand were then limited to the affairs of their immediate mission staff. The New Zealand Church continued to provide a large financial grant to the New Hebrides Presbyterian Church. A continued focus remained on training church leaders and education more generally. The Tangoa Training Institute later introduced a curriculum of advanced theological studies.
In the early 1950s, the New Zealand Missions Committee responded to the request for assistance to establish a High School at Onesua on Efate, along with funds and personnel to set up and run a small hospital on Tongoa. The Committee viewed this project as a practical means by which the New Zealand Church could provide for a social need rather than a means for furthering evangelistic opportunities. This policy shift in Mission funding opened up other opportunities for aid from the New Zealand Church including developing Navota Farm and opening the Maropa religious bookshop in Port Vila, training local islanders to be trades people and undertake the building work. The New Zealand Bible Class volunteer scheme sent out young people during the 1960s to assist with building, administration and nursing. The Mission, at the request of the Presbyterian Church of the New Hebrides, divested itself of all remaining authority in the Islands so that the New Zealand missionaries effectively worked for the New Hebrides Church. In 1965 a memorandum was prepared which defined the terms of “responsible partnership” and sought to define the responsibilities of each partner. The Church continues today as the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu.
For more information about New Hebrides Mission collections at the Archives of the Presbyterian Research Centre, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, and New Zealand, see: http://www.archives.presbyterian.org.nz/missions/newhebrideshistory.htm

Foreign Missions Committee

New Hebrides Mission Photographs, 1890-1960

  • AU PMB PHOTO 93
  • Collection
  • 1890-1960

This is a collection of 190 images of the Presbyterian mission in the New Hebrides. The collection contains photographs of early missionaries to the New Hebrides, including Reverends Smaill, Milne, MIchelsen, Murray and Crump, along with some spouses and family members. The collection also includes images of other mission infrastructure including medical staff at clinics, churches, the Nguna District School and the Tangoa Training Institute. There are many photographs of unidentified New Hebridean / ni-Vanuatu people and everyday village activities such as preparing arrowroot and copra, weaving, making laplap and fishing.

The collection also contains images of a number of mission boats and identifies villages at Malapokasi, Mataso, Futari, Mangarisu, Tongoa, South East Epi, Santo, Paama, Lamenu, Lelaga, Fila, Iririki, Vila, Makura, Nguna, Lumbukuti and Emae.

The New Hebrides Mission from the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand:

The Presbyterian Church began sending missionaries to the New Hebrides (today known as Vanuatu) in the mid-19th Century. The first missionary was Rev. John Geddie of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia who arrived on the island of Aneityum in 1848. Subsequent missionaries came from the Presbyterian Churches of New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Australia (Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales).

In New Zealand an interest in supporting a Christian mission to the New Hebrides was fostered when Rev. John Inglis of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland toured the country in 1852 following a three month tour of the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands. In that same year, Inglis and his wife joined Geddie on Aneityum. Rev. John Inglis continued to send regular reports of his work to New Zealand, leading to increasing interest from the Church there in sending their own missionaries to the islands.

The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was at that time divided up into the “Northern Church” and the “Southern Church” (consisting of the Provinces of Otago and Southland). The Southern Church was based on the ideals of the Free Church of Scotland and these principles influenced its mission work for many years. For over 40 years the two Churches worked separately, with mission activities during this time operating independently of each other.

Over several decades the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand sent a number of missionaries to the New Hebrides including the following people. The information below includes the missionaries' date of arrival in the New Hebrides, the name of the missionary and the name of the main island on which they worked:

1866, Rev. William Watt, Tanna
1870, Rev. Peter Milne, Nguna
1879, Rev. Oscar Michelsen, Tongoa
1885, Rev. Charles Murray, Ambrym
1889, Rev. Thomas Smaill, Epi
1892, Rev. Dr. Lamb, Ambrym
1899, Dr. John Bowie, Ambrym
1903, Rev. Thomas Riddle, Epi
1905, Rev. William V. Milne, Nguna (born on Nguna in 1877)
1932, Rev. Basil Nottage, Tongoa
1938, Rev. Ken Crump, Nguna
1941, Rev. J.G. Miller, Tongoa
1944, Rev. Ian Muir, Emae and Epi
1948, Rev. A.G. Horwell, Epi

In the early years there was no organised or reliable shipping service to the individual islands of the New Hebrides so it was important for the Church to have their own vessel to bring regular supplies from Australia and New Zealand. A boat was also necessary for transport to other mission stations. Although the New Hebrides missionaries were responsible for their home churches and allotted areas and islands, they worked closely together on common issues and met annually for a mission Synod meeting. New Zealand Presbyterian Church worked in conjunction with the Australian Presbyterian Church to raise money and purchased a mission supply vessel, the “Dayspring I”. This 115 ton brigantine was launched in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1863. It was lost in a hurricane ten years later and replaced by a second hand schooner, the “Dayspring II” in 1876. The Dayspring II was sold prior to 1890 as she was too small and slow and uncomfortable to sail in. The Australian missionary Dr. John G. Paton raised £6000 during a visit to Britain in 1884-1885 and later increased the donations to £7000. The “Dayspring III” was built on the Clyde in Scotland to the order of the Victorian Presbyterian Church Foreign Missions Committee. She was 157 feet long and arrived in Australia in 1895. On only her fourth voyage to the islands, she sank on the 16th October 1896 after striking an uncharted coral reef near New Caledonia. The decision was made not to replace the vessel.

The New Hebrides Mission shared a practical concern for the everyday needs of island people. In addition to converting local people to Christianity, the missionaries worked to improve education, through the introduction of schools where the training of local mission teachers was initiated. The Tangoa Teachers’ Training Institute opened at Tangoa, South Santo, in 1895. The purpose of the Institute was to train local teachers and it was supported by all the Protestant missions working throughout the New Hebrides. Missionaries also worked to improve health education and services and encouraged the production of arrowroot and island trading as a means to generate revenue. Arrowroot powder was shipped to New Zealand and other countries, where it was initially distributed by women’s missionary groups and later by commercial organisations. The funds from the sale of arrowroot were used to build additional churches in the islands and, in some cases, as a donation towards New Zealand mission funds to be used elsewhere. From 1880 to 1918 on Nguna alone, over 26 tons of arrowroot was produced.

By 1910, the work of the New Hebrides Mission was declining. This was partly due to a rapidly decreasing population on the islands and a feeling that little room existed for further expansion of mission work, as by then most areas were adequately covered. The reduction in population was primarily caused by introduced European illnesses and epidemics which decimated the local population. The Queensland labour trade had also had an impact on the local population, with many locals having decided to remain in Queensland.

In 1947 there was a general consensus held among the Island missionaries that the local church was ready to assume control of its own affairs. A constitution was drawn up, and after amendments submitted by the New Zealand and Australian Mission Committees and the New Hebrides Mission Synod, it was adopted. At a Centennial Synod meeting in 1948, the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Rev. John Geddie, the local church was placed fully in charge of its own affairs. The island mission councils for Australia and New Zealand were then limited to the affairs of their immediate mission staff. The New Zealand Church continued to provide a large financial grant to the New Hebrides Presbyterian Church. A continued focus remained on training church leaders and education more generally. The Tangoa Training Institute later introduced a curriculum of advanced theological studies.

In the early 1950s, the New Zealand Missions Committee responded to the request for assistance to establish a High School at Onesua on Efate, along with funds and personnel to set up and run a small hospital on Tongoa. The Committee viewed this project as a practical means by which the New Zealand Church could provide for a social need rather than a means for furthering evangelistic opportunities. This policy shift in Mission funding opened up other opportunities for aid from the New Zealand Church including developing Navota Farm and opening the Maropa religious bookshop in Port Vila, training local islanders to be trades people and undertake the building work. The New Zealand Bible Class volunteer scheme sent out young people during the 1960s to assist with building, administration and nursing. The Mission, at the request of the Presbyterian Church of the New Hebrides, divested itself of all remaining authority in the Islands so that the New Zealand missionaries effectively worked for the New Hebrides Church. In 1965 a memorandum was prepared which defined the terms of “responsible partnership” and sought to define the responsibilities of each partner. The Church continues today as the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu.

For more information about New Hebrides Mission collections at the Archives of the Presbyterian Research Centre, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, and New Zealand, see: http://www.archives.presbyterian.org.nz/missions/newhebrideshistory.htm

Foreign Missions Committee

New Hebrides Mission photograph album, 1950s

  • AU PMB PHOTO 97
  • Collection
  • 1950s

The images depict mission life on the islands of Epi and Nguna, Teachers Training Institute Tangoa on the island of Tangoa and This album of black and white photographs depicts various partnerships between the New Zealand Presbyterian Church and the newly independent New Hebrides Presbyterian Church. The photos show people and activities at the Tangoa Teachers’ Training Institute, a small mission hospital on Tangoa, and the Onesua High School on Efate. It also shows mission life on the islands of Epi and Nguna.

Named people include John Patrick, Rev Graham Horwell, Rev RW Murray, Miss A Riatch, Matron Sister Rhoda Vickers, Clinton Johnson, Pastor Kalmar, Betty Lowndes, James of Anietyum, Rev Rob Kirkby, Rev John Hyslop, Pastor Moses, Sister Kath Gillanders and Sister Anne Lilburne.

The New Hebrides Mission from the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand:

The Presbyterian Church began sending missionaries to the New Hebrides (today known as Vanuatu) in the mid-19th Century. The first missionary was Rev. John Geddie of the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia who arrived on the island of Aneityum in 1848. Subsequent missionaries came from the Presbyterian Churches of New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Australia (Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales).

In New Zealand an interest in supporting a Christian mission to the New Hebrides was fostered when Rev. John Inglis of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland toured the country in 1852 following a three month tour of the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands. In that same year, Inglis and his wife joined Geddie on Aneityum. Rev. John Inglis continued to send regular reports of his work to New Zealand, leading to increasing interest from the Church there in sending their own missionaries to the islands.

The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was at that time divided up into the “Northern Church” and the “Southern Church” (consisting of the Provinces of Otago and Southland). The Southern Church was based on the ideals of the Free Church of Scotland and these principles influenced its mission work for many years. For over 40 years the two Churches worked separately, with mission activities during this time operating independently of each other.

Over several decades the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand sent a number of missionaries to the New Hebrides including the following people. The information below includes the missionaries' date of arrival in the New Hebrides, the name of the missionary and the name of the main island on which they worked.

1866, Rev. William Watt, Tanna
1870, Rev. Peter Milne, Nguna
1879, Rev. Oscar Michelsen, Tongoa
1885, Rev. Charles Murray, Ambrym
1889, Rev. Thomas Smaill, Epi
1892, Rev. Dr. Lamb, Ambrym
1899, Dr. John Bowie, Ambrym
1903, Rev. Thomas Riddle, Epi
1905, Rev. William V. Milne, Nguna (born on Nguna in 1877)
1932, Rev. Basil Nottage, Tongoa
1938, Rev. Ken Crump, Nguna
1941, Rev. J.G. Miller, Tongoa
1944, Rev. Ian Muir, Emae and Epi
1948, Rev. A.G. Horwell, Epi

In the early years there was no organised or reliable shipping service to the individual islands of the New Hebrides so it was important for the Church to have their own vessel to bring regular supplies from Australia and New Zealand. A boat was also necessary for transport to other mission stations. Although the New Hebrides missionaries were responsible for their home churches and allotted areas and islands, they worked closely together on common issues and met annually for a mission Synod meeting. New Zealand Presbyterian Church worked in conjunction with the Australian Presbyterian Church to raise money and purchased a mission supply vessel, the “Dayspring I”. This 115 ton brigantine was launched in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1863. It was lost in a hurricane ten years later and replaced by a second hand schooner, the “Dayspring II” in 1876. The Dayspring II was sold prior to 1890 as she was too small and slow and uncomfortable to sail in. The Australian missionary Dr. John G. Paton raised £6000 during a visit to Britain in 1884-1885 and later increased the donations to £7000. The “Dayspring III” was built on the Clyde in Scotland to the order of the Victorian Presbyterian Church Foreign Missions Committee. She was 157 feet long and arrived in Australia in 1895. On only her fourth voyage to the islands, she sank on the 16th October 1896 after striking an uncharted coral reef near New Caledonia. The decision was made not to replace the vessel.

The New Hebrides Mission shared a practical concern for the everyday needs of island people. In addition to converting local people to Christianity, the missionaries worked to improve education, through the introduction of schools where the training of local mission teachers was initiated. The Tangoa Teachers’ Training Institute opened at Tangoa, South Santo, in 1895. The purpose of the Institute was to train local teachers and it was supported by all the Protestant missions working throughout the New Hebrides. Missionaries also worked to improve health education and services and encouraged the production of arrowroot and island trading as a means to generate revenue. Arrowroot powder was shipped to New Zealand and other countries, where it was initially distributed by women’s missionary groups and later by commercial organisations. The funds from the sale of arrowroot were used to build additional churches in the islands and, in some cases, as a donation towards New Zealand mission funds to be used elsewhere. From 1880 to 1918 on Nguna alone, over 26 tons of arrowroot was produced.

By 1910, the work of the New Hebrides Mission was declining. This was partly due to a rapidly decreasing population on the islands and a feeling that little room existed for further expansion of mission work, as by then most areas were adequately covered. The reduction in population was primarily caused by introduced European illnesses and epidemics which decimated the local population. The Queensland labour trade had also had an impact on the local population, with many locals having decided to remain in Queensland.

In 1947 there was a general consensus held among the Island missionaries that the local church was ready to assume control of its own affairs. A constitution was drawn up, and after amendments submitted by the New Zealand and Australian Mission Committees and the New Hebrides Mission Synod, it was adopted. At a Centennial Synod meeting in 1948, the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Rev. John Geddie, the local church was placed fully in charge of its own affairs. The island mission councils for Australia and New Zealand were then limited to the affairs of their immediate mission staff. The New Zealand Church continued to provide a large financial grant to the New Hebrides Presbyterian Church. A continued focus remained on training church leaders and education more generally. The Tangoa Training Institute later introduced a curriculum of advanced theological studies.
In the early 1950s, the New Zealand Missions Committee responded to the request for assistance to establish a High School at Onesua on Efate, along with funds and personnel to set up and run a small hospital on Tongoa. The Committee viewed this project as a practical means by which the New Zealand Church could provide for a social need rather than a means for furthering evangelistic opportunities. This policy shift in Mission funding opened up other opportunities for aid from the New Zealand Church including developing Navota Farm and opening the Maropa religious bookshop in Port Vila, training local islanders to be trades people and undertake the building work. The New Zealand Bible Class volunteer scheme sent out young people during the 1960s to assist with building, administration and nursing. The Mission, at the request of the Presbyterian Church of the New Hebrides, divested itself of all remaining authority in the Islands so that the New Zealand missionaries effectively worked for the New Hebrides Church. In 1965 a memorandum was prepared which defined the terms of “responsible partnership” and sought to define the responsibilities of each partner. The Church continues today as the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu.

For more information about New Hebrides Mission collections at the Archives of the Presbyterian Research Centre, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, and New Zealand, see: http://www.archives.presbyterian.org.nz/missions/newhebrideshistory.htm

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