Biographical entry: Gerea, John Richardson (1942 - )



John Richardson Gerea from Fiu, Kwara'ae, Malaita, was born in 1942 and educated at All Hallows' School, Pawa (q.v.), and St. Peter's Theological College, Siota (q.v.), and then underwent further Christian education in Papua New Guinea. He became a deacon in 1964 and the second priest from Fiu in 1968. He served as a district priest in the Anglican diocese and was an advisor on youth and adult learning and communication development. Gerea became involved in development projects in Fiu and used his position in the Church to persuade parishioners to participate, threatening noncompliers with excommunication. He was authoritarian, used his several brothers as his lieutenants and mismanaged funds. By 1972, the businesses were failing and his leadership was increasingly criticised. He left Fiu and began a new business at Bi'o several kilometres away. In 1974, he moved back to live near the Fiu bridge and persuaded the people to allow him to manage the store and to begin a youth training centre focused on religion, agriculture, carpentry and social development. In 1976, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly (q.v.) for the seat of West Kwara'ae, but resigned in 1978. In 1981, 1989 and 1996 Gerea unsuccessfully attempted to be elected as Anglican Bishop of Malaita. By 1981, with his family controlling all positions and equipment, the Fiu Bridge Centre was in serious decline. Gerea remained authoritarian and his mismanagement lost more money. The family was evicted in 1984, and faced a land court case, which they won. Their next move was to the confluence of the Fiu and Kwai'afa Rivers, where Gerea established the Fiu-Kwai Centre, but he faced a new land case in 1990. Gerea's development desires became increasingly grandiose and eventually he was accused of mismanaging/stealing credit union monies belonging to the priests in the diocese. Following retirement as Vicar-General of the diocese, he continued to develop the Fiu-Kwai Centre and served as rector-in-charge of Christ the King Cathedral at Fiu in the late 1990s. Following the ethnic tension, he was involved in various reconciliation initiatives. Most recently he has been a member of the National Constitutional Review Commission. Gerea was a hard-working priest who put too much faith in the Anglican Church's involvement in socio-economic development. (SND 9 July 1976; Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo 1996)

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  • Gegeo, David W., and Watson-Gegeo, Karen Ann, 'Priest and Prince: Integrating Kastom, Christianity, and Modernization in Kwara'ae Leadership', in Richard Feinberg;Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo (ed.), Leadership and Change in the Western Pacific: Essays Presented to Sir Raymond Firth on the Occasion of His Ninetieth Birthday, The Athlone Press, London and Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1996, pp. 298-342. Details


  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details