Corporate entry: Church of the Province of Melanesia (Church of Melanesia)



The General Synod of the (Anglican) Province of New Zealand on 21 March 1974 gave full approval for the Diocese of Melanesia (q.v.) to withdraw from the New Zealand Province. In August, the New Zealand Parliament passed a special bill to enable assets in New Zealand to be guaranteed for the Church of the Province of Melanesia forever. The Solomon Islands Legislative Assembly passed a private bill to secure assets and property of the Church until such time as it was possible to set up a Provincial Trust. A further step in the reorganisation was the closing of the administrative office in Auckland and setting up of the Provincial Headquarters at Church House in Honiara. The Church of the Province of Melanesia (Church of Melanesia) within the Anglican Community was inaugurated on 26 January 1975. The Diocese of Melanesia ceased to be part of the Church of the Province of New Zealand and become a separate autonomous province with four dioceses: Ysabel (Isabel), Malaita, Central Melanesia and New Hebrides. The actual ceremony at St. Barnabas' Cathedral (q.v.) took place on 26 January 1975. The change came because the Diocese of Melanesia had the capacity for self-government, and it was part of a similar movement throughout the Anglican Communion toward provincial autonomy through the formation of new provinces. John Chisholm (q.v.) became the first Archbishop of Melanesia and the Bishop of Central Melanesia, Leonard Alufurai (q.v.) became Bishop of Malaita, and Dudley Tuti (q.v.) became Bishop of Ysabel. Derek Rawcliffe (q.v.), already Assistant Bishop of Melanesia for the New Hebrides since 1974, became the Bishop of the New Hebrides.

During 1974, a new ship was added to the diocesan fleet-the Fauabu Twomey III-to replace a ship wrecked in the New Hebrides three years earlier. At Selwyn College a new permanent chapel was erected, and this completed the main building programme of the College. In many rural areas the bishops dedicated new permanent churches. A new programme of evangelism started under the Department of Evangelism, which ran courses in many subjects in all areas of the Diocese and at training centres. A staff of fieldworkers trained overseas had been built up. Twenty-five new priests and six new deacons were ordained in 1974, and thirty new brothers were admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood. Medical work continued at Taroaniara, Ugi and at the Hospital of the Epiphany, Malaita where a new course for village nurses was running. (AR 1974, 116)

Bishop Chisholm died from throat cancer a few months after the formation of the new Province, and was replaced by Archbishop Norman Palmer, the second Archbishop of Melanesia from November 1975 until his retirement in 1987. The next archbishop was Amos Waiaru (q.v), who served until 1993. He was replaced by Ellison Leslie Pogo, who retired at the end of 2008. Bishop David Vunagi, then Bishop of Temotu, moved to Honiara and became Archbishop of Melanesia and Bishop of Central Melanesia in May 2009.

The head of the Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Donald Coggan, visited Solomon Islands in February and March 1977. (SND 18 Feb. 1977, 4 Mar. 1977)

Published resources


  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details