Biographical entry: Tuza, Esau (1939 - 2005)

6 December 1939
18 July 2005


Esau Tuza's father, and ex-slave, always claimed that his eldest son was born on 6 December 1939, but when he came into contact with missionaries they thought that Esau was younger than this. The Choiseul family of six children evacuated into the centre of the island during the Second World War, and afterward returned to the coast. Esau did not begin school until he was eleven, but excelled and was allowed to jump a grade, and eventually went on to high school. He was selected as one of four students to study in New Zealand at Wesley College, and then spent a year at Trinity Theological College in Auckland studying Christian education.

Next, he attended Rarongo Theological College on New Britain, where he graduated as an ordained minister of the Methodist Church, and then earned a B.A. at the University of the South Pacific. When he returned to Honiara he became an assistant pastor, before returning to Rarongo as a lecturer in church history. He was sent to the University of Papua New Guinea to complete his M.A. degree, the first Solomon Islander to gain one. During research for his degree in New Zealand he met his first wife, Jocelyn, and when Esau returned to Rarongo in 1975 she went with him and worked nearby as a volunteer. They married in 1978 while Esau was working at the Melanesian Institute in Goroka in Papua New Guinea.

Esau gained a scholarship to complete his PhD at Aberdeen University in Scotland, and for a time worked as a relief pastor in a small congregational church in Edinburgh. He was unable to complete his study since it required more research in the Solomon Islands, and he transferred to Auckland University for a while before returning once more to Raronga. There the couple's first son Steven was born. After four years, he accepted a two-year appointment in 1984 in the Department of Extension Studies at the University of Papua New Guinea. His second son Simon was born at this time. Esau then received a post as a lecturer at University of the South Pacific Honiara Centre, and was for a time Acting Director.

His first marriage broke down, and after several years in Honiara Esau and Simon returned to Munda where he worked as General Secretary for the United Church. He remarried, to Mali, and returned to Honiara before moving back to his home village in Choiseul, where he worked for the Lauru Land Conference. At the time of his death on 18 July 2005 he had retired and was living a Munda. (Tuza 1977; Jocelyn Tuza obituary notes in the possession of Clive Moore; Clive Moore memories)

Related Places

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Tuza, Esau, 'Silas Eto of New Georgia', in Garry Trompf (ed.), Prophets of Melanesia: Six Essays, Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, Port Moresby, 1977, pp. 65-87. Details