Biographical entry: Betu, Willie (1938 - )



Willie Betu, from Roviana Lagoon, New Georgia, was born at Kia on Isabel Island in 1938. He was educated at All Hallows' Senior Primary School, Pawa (q.v.) (1952-1957), and later at the British Solomons Training College (1959-1960) where he was the best student in 1960 and became a Grade III primary teacher. He began teaching at All Hallows' School, and then moved to St. Barnabas' School at Alangaula (q.v.), and Maravovo schools. In 1965-1966 he was awarded a one-year scholarship to the University of Sydney to study teaching English as a second language. He taught at St. Barnabas' School at Alangaula (q.v.) on Ugi Island and St. Mary's Maravovo School (q.v.), became a junior primary School Inspector for the Diocese of Melanesia and in 1968 was appointed Headmaster of Jejevo School on Isabel. In 1969, Betu gained passes in English from London University as an external student and qualified as a Grade II teacher. He was elected as the member of the Legislative Council (q.v.) for Isabel-Russells in 1967, became the member for the Santa Isabel District in the 1970 Governing Council (q.v.) and was re-elected for the West Isabel electorate in 1973. In August 1970, he married Daisy Riko from Kia Village. He represented the Solomons as a delegate at the South Pacific Commission Conference held in Noumea, New Caledonia in 1967, 1968 and 1969. Betu was appointed to the Education and Social Welfare Committee (1970-1971) and to the Social Services Committee (1972-1974), and from 1972 was a member of the Governing Council Finance Committee. He represented the Solomons as a delegate at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in 1971, and in 1972 accompanied the High Commissioner to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1972 at their separation from the Western Pacific High Commission. That year he also led one overseas touring group from the Constitutional Select Committee. He became Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs in the first Legislative Assembly in 1974, and later served as Minister for Finance. He was a member of the London Constitutional talks in 1975.

An Anglican and married to a daughter of the sister of Bishop Dudley Tuti (q.v.), he was quiet and rather shy and always fair, but suffered from a stomach problem that made ministerial responsibilities and other stresses difficult for him. In 1976 Betu received an O.B.E. (NS 15 Jan 1964, 15 June 1964, 30 June 1969, 15 Apr. 1969, 30 June 1970, 31 Aug. 1970, 7 July 1973; SND 18 June 1976; 'Constitutional Talks in United Kingdom on British Solomon Islands, Pacific Dependent Territories', FCO 32/1260 HPS 1/18, pt. A, British National Archives; SND 9 July 1976; Betu 1983)

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Betu, Willy, 'The Origins of the Independent Group', in Peter Larmour;Sue Tarua (ed.), Solomon Islands Politics, Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, 1983, pp. 107-113. Details


  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details