Missionary link to Milne Bay found

National

By Martha Deruage
A researcher says the first missionaries at Milne Bay have influenced how people build canoes, plant coconuts and did carpentry work today.
Patrick Dian Vamilei,from Milne Bay, is a former United Church Sunday school teacher, who researched from ruins he found at Isulailai.
Vamilei said his interest to research developed in the 1980s so he began looking for information of the first missionaries who arrived from London in 1877.
“The first London missionaries who came to Milne Bay, formerly known as Eastern Papua, were Rev George William Lawes and Rev James Thomas. They settled at Isulailai in 1877,” Vamilei said.
From 1940 to 1990 a college called Fife Nay Technical College was run by Rev Rich Charles. Unfortu-nately the school closed when Charles returned to Australia.
“I dug up the ruins and realised that the roofs were made from mud and coral reef cement which was made by the people,” Vamilei said.
He said that it was interesting that people were taught by the missionaries to make cement by burning coral. Unfortunately, that practice stopped.
Vamilei said he found that during that time, people were taught carpentry, how to make canoes, how to make cement and how to tend to coconut plantations.
Some of those skills are still used today in
canoe-making, carpentry and planting coconut trees, he said.
“Throughout my research I found that the missionaries who came to Papua New Guinea, especially to Milne Bay, had a great influence in how people live today,” Vamilei said.

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