Concept: Printing Presses


The Christian missions and churches established printing presses in the Pacific Islands. The earliest was the Melanesian Mission Press (MMP) of the Diocese of Melanesia (q.v.), established in 1845 at Kohimarama, New Zealand by Bishop George Selwyn, using a Columbia Press. Over the many years since then different presses and typefaces have been used. There were also long-serving and dedicated printers. The MMP concentrated on producing portions of the Bible, the Church of England prayer book and literacy materials, as well as grammars and dictionaries of various Melanesian languages. The MMP was moved to Norfolk Island in 1866. At this time the decision was made to use Mota as the main language of the Diocese of Melanesia, which required Mota editions of the Bible and prayer book. The Norfolk Island imprint of the Press was simply 'S. Barnabas'.

The Catholic Mission established the first printing press in the Solomon Islands at Rua Sura, Guadalcanal in 1910. In 1912, the MMP was transferred to Hautabu near Maravovo on Guadalcanal in buildings formerly occupied by the Welchman Memorial Hospital. In 1930, it was decided to abandon Mota and teach in English, which required more translations and printing. At about this stage the MMP began to accept private orders, the first of which was to print the rules of the Tulagi Club. In 1942, the buildings, the press and all of its records were destroyed during the Japanese invasion.

In July 1942, a small jobbing printing plant was purchased at Summer Hill in Sydney which served as the Diocese press until 1952, when a small grant from the Australian Board of Missions enabled the MMP to return to the Solomons, this time to Taroaniara on Nggela Island, the new industrial centre for the Diocese. The final move came in 1967 when the MMP was moved to Honiara to be close to the administrative centre of the Church and offset printing machinery was installed to enable the press to take on more commercial jobs. The press is now known as Provincial Press. ( [accessed 1 Aug. 2011]; AR 1966, 67, AR 1969, 81)

The Seventh-day Adventists used Islanders as sellers of devotional materials, or 'colporteurs', once they were established and there was sufficient literacy. They established large presses in Papeete, Tahiti (1893), Avondale, Australia (1900), Buresala, Fiji, and finally Batuna in the Solomon Islands. They also ran smaller presses all over the Pacific that turned out monthly papers, tracts and Sabbath school lessons. (Steley 1990, 119)

Published resources


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


  • Steley, Dennis, 'Unfinished: the Seventh-Day Adventist Mission in the South Pacific, excluding Papua New Guinea, 1886-1986', PhD, University of Auckland, 1990. Details