Thank iu tumas – 6 months ago, I dragged myself through Honiara international airport, to the plane that would take me home. A sea of crying faces lay behind me, and in front of me airport security guards, who I doubt could have looked more scared had they found a bomb in our bags. Jet and I were in an absolute state: weighed down by generously gifted presents, which we were ready to defend to the death from security; crying inconsolably after having just said goodbye to our Solomon family; and crying all the more as we laughed at our ridiculous situation. But while we undoubtedly looked like a mess from the outside, what we were feeling on the inside would have made my dump of a teenage bedroom look like a model showroom. We were painfully aware that we were about to do one of the most difficult things we have ever done: to leave the Solomon Islands. [Flora Hamilton]
Flora shared her Project Trust volunteering experiences with us in her own short film;
Marie Schlenker from the University of Southampton attended the January 2019 Melanesian Mission UK Trustee Meeting. She shared with the charity news of her PhD Project : The impact of sea-level rise and climate change on Solomon Islands.
During my studies, I developed a strong interest in the impact of climate change on coastal regions. Following my interests, I specialised in climate change and coastal hazards during my study abroad at Oregon State University within the framework of the American Fulbright programme. Furthermore, I obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Disaster Management and conducted research into coastal hazards as part of internships at the Lower Saxony Water Management, Coastal Defence and Nature Conservation Agency, Norderney, Germany, and the Institute of Coastal Research, Geesthacht, Germany. I have been involved in volunteering for disaster risk reduction and environmental protection and obtained teaching experience during a 5-month placement in a public school in Chile.
In my PhD project, I will investigate the impact of sea-level rise and other climate change impacts on the Solomon Islands. To address this overall aim, my research has three objectives:
To map and quantify the extent of shoreline and vegetation changes, erosion rates and human development changes along the coastline of the Solomon Islands over a range of timescales (100 years, decadal and annual), using aerial and satellite imagery;
To assess rates of sea level rise in the South Pacific, and identify specific storm events and conditions which have led to major inundation and coastal erosion events in the past using observational datasets and model hindcast of sea level and waves; and
To investigate how island communities are being impacted and might respond to climate change in the future.
At the moment, I am conducting a comprehensive literature review on coastal changes and associated impacts in the Solomon Islands and other island states in the South Pacific. After this initial phase, I will address the first and second objective of my PhD, using pre-existing datasets.
The first objective of my PhD will involve an analysis of aerial and satellite imagery to assess shoreline changes on a national scale. Historical aerial photographs will be sourced from the Solomon Islands Government Ministry of Housing, Lands and Survey archives for the period 1947 to 1962, and historic charts will be obtained from the UK Admiralty Office. In addition, high resolution satellite imagery will be sourced for each site for more recent periods, post 2000 (using Google Earth Engine). For the second objective, observational datasets including back barrier/lagoon storm overwash records, water level and wave model hindcast of sea level and waves will be analysed. Rates of sea-level rise and characteristics of larger storm surge and wave events across the Solomon Islands will be examined.
For the third objective of my PhD, fieldwork is essential. I plan to plan to visit local communities in the Solomon Islands and obtain insights on climate change from local knowledge through focus group discussions and interviews with community members. My fieldwork aims are to (a) document how climate change has impacted coastal communities in the Solomon Islands both in the past and presently using oral evidence, and (b) develop a better understanding of how coastal communities are adapting or might adapt to coastal change in the future, including the identification of potential barriers to adaptation. To achieve my fieldwork aims, I would like to collaborate with local contacts of MMUK in the Solomon Islands.
As part of my fieldwork, I plan to collect data on the following indicators of climate change and its impacts: Shoreline recession and growth, flooding frequency and extent, frequency/duration/intensity of storm, king tide and swell events, land subsidence, mangrove health, coral reef health (esp. coral bleaching events), occurrence of saltwater intrusion and water shortages, rise and fall of the groundwater table (e.g. in wells), impacts of storms/flooding on agriculture/infrastructure/health, adaptation strategies (e.g. human shoreline protection, rising houses/infrastructure, landward migration, resettlement of inhabitants to other islands and related issues) and particularly vulnerable/resilient population groups.
Insights from local knowledge will significantly increase our current understanding of climate change and its impacts in the Solomon Islands (and potentially other small island nations) and form a knowledge basis for comprehensive climate change policy and coastal management. Dissemination of the results to a wide audience will raise awareness about climate change impacts in vulnerable island settings and empower the local people to actively participate in the process of climate change adaptation. To actively increase the awareness about climate change in the Solomon Islands, I would be happy to engage in outreach activities in the Solomon Islands, including visits to local schools.
The PhD project is embedded within the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, an internationally recognised centre of excellence focusing on interdisciplinary marine and maritime research, and will be jointly supervised by Prof. Robert Nicholls, Prof. David Sear and Dr. Ivan Haigh (all from the University of Southampton). Robert Nicholls is Professor of Coastal Engineering, focusing on coastal impacts and adaptation to climate change. He has significantly contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was awarded the Roger Revelle Medal for his contributions to ocean science. David Sear is Professor of Physical Geography, undertaking research into flood risk management, coastal erosion, and tropical cyclone and climate variability in small island states in the western tropical Pacific. Ivan Haigh is an Associate Professor in coastal oceanography at the prestigious National Oceanography Centre, investigating sea-level changes and their impacts on coasts. I will also collaborate with Dr. Adam Bobbette (University of New South Wales) in developing a climate change monitoring system for the Solomon Islands and Dr. Simon Albert (University of Queensland), who has undertaken research into climate change impacts in the Solomon Islands previously.
The MMUK office was saddened to learn on reopening in early January, that the Solomon Islands had suffered from heavy rain over Christmas and new year. An estimated 100,000 people across six of Solomon Islands’ eight provinces had been affected by two weeks of torrential rain and strong winds.
Secretary to the Melanesian Brothers’, Alphonse Garimae reported: “Rain and wind on New Year’s Eve has badly affected the Melanesian Brotherhood Head Quarters. Flooding has damaged again food gardens and other crops, according to reports received from Head Brother. Gardens were swept away by rivers and some bush garden houses were damaged due to fallen trees.”
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has received numerous requests for assistance with food from various communities throughout Guadalcanal. The ACoM Disaster Committee met last week to look at the situation and coordinate with other relief agencies and the National Disaster Council to respond accordingly. Donations to support this work, can be sent to MMUK, with the reference 2018 SI Flood Appeal.
Community of the Sisters of Melanesia Flooding Report
Date: December 2018 – January 2019
Damage report from the headquarters of The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia in Verana’aso. Sisters, Novices and Staff have been affected, especially their daily food sourced from the root crop gardens. This will probably last for another four to five months whilst they begin to plant their food crops again. A few of the community’s temporary buildings also had their roofs blown off.
The pictures below show the major damage to the CSM food crops, vegetable and staff gardens.
News story and pictures courtesy of Companion Charlton Thegu – 1st January 2019 at Verana’aso
Trustees are delighted to announce that Mr Steve Scoffield from Exeter Diocese has been co-opted as a Trustee and Hon Treasurer of the Melanesian Mission, filling the vacancy left by Ven Chris Liley.
Steve has been a qualified Chartered Accountant since 1984, and worked in general practice until 1999, when he and his family joined the Lee Abbey Community in Devon, becoming their Director of Finance for eleven years, then leaving to join the National Autistic Society in 2010. Steve is currently the Director of Finance of two small charities Amigos Worldwide and Alström Syndrome UK.
Steve has extensive experience as a charity trustee and treasurer including nine years as treasurer of North Devon Hospice. His experience of voluntary sector policy, marketing and fundraising, strategy, governance and voluntary sector financial management, was recognised with the award of the ICAEW’s Diploma in Charity Accounting.
He was introduced to the work of the Melanesian Mission through his wife the Revd Cathy Scoffield, who is a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood and an Associate of the Community of Sisters of Melanesia. Steve is looking forward to using his skills and knowledge working with MMUK, and the charity is very grateful to him for coming forward to fill this important voluntary role.
On Sunday 20th January 2019 a special service was held at St James, Gawsworth to celebrate Bishop William’s retirement from his parish in Chester Diocese. People came from all over the UK, with 180 people squeezed into church for this very special event. Speeches were made by Fr. Paul, Katie Drew from the Melanesian Mission UK, John Freeman from the Chester Diocese and a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Parish’s Patron Rupert Richards and of course Bishop William himself. At the end of the service all the Pwaisiho family sang a farewell song to the congregation. A few handkerchiefs were seen in use around the Church.
Bishop Willie and his family are retiring in Chester Diocese, with Bishop Willie continuing his Assistant Bishop duties.
Almighty God, the light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, We give you thanks for the faithful ministry of your servant Willie (William) Alaha Pwaisiho: For his service and ministry in New Zealand For his guidance and leadership as Bishop of Malaita For his love and pastoral care of the people of Gawsworth For his inspiration as assistant bishop Of Chester. We pray for Willie and Kate and their family as they prepare for retirement and continue in your service and witness, Through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen
In accordance with ACOM’s Constitutional Canons the General Secretary Dr Abraham Hauriasi advises that the current Archbishop George Takeli will be stepping down from office in March this year.
On 25th March 2019 Archbishop George Takeli will reach the compulsory retirement age of 60. He will have served as Archbishop for nearly three years and leaves the Church in good heart. Prior to his appointment as the primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, he served as Bishop of Temotu for six years and has been an ordained priest for twenty three years, following a career in the Solomon Islands marine division.
Archbishop Takeli’s term of office has seen a number of changes and initiatives. Shortly after his installation he oversaw the first Bishops’ training in the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, highlighting the very close working relationship with the dioceses in that part of the Province. He also forged close relationships with important mission partners including the Melanesian Mission Trust Board and the Church in New Zealand, Melanesian Mission UK, and other key partners both regionally and internationally.
In November 2017 he presided over the 14th General Synod in Port Vila, Vanuatu and encouraged open discussions on a number of important issues including changes to the ACOM Canons aimed at modernising the Church in line with changing social conditions, the ordination of women and the establishment of a number of task forces.
In May 2018, at St Barnabas Cathedral, he re-launched the decade of Evangelism and Renewal Programme, which will be implemented in all Dioceses within ACOM from early next year.
Archbishop Takeli said: “I have worked to implement the vision God placed in my heart for this Church to build ACOM and help the church grow and mature in all aspects of spiritual, socio-political, economic and cultural well-being.”
The process of selecting a new Archbishop will commence following the Archbishop’s retirement and will be take place in accordance with Church Law.
To my amazement, it was announced in the 2017 Solomon Islands Independence Day awards that I had been nominated to receive the Solomon Islands medal. I feel it was totally undeserved and I know of several other former missionaries who deserved the award far more than I.
By chance it was the 50th anniversary of my first contact with Solomon Islands, arriving at Pawa School in 1967. In 1970 we moved to Guadalcanal, combining with Pamua Girls’ School to form Selwyn College. One of the new teachers was Jenny who was later to become my wife.
After I returned to the U.K., I was asked in 1977 to be the English Secretary of the Melanesian Mission, and eventually combined that with being a parish priest in Oxfordshire. During my time as English Secretary, we gave hospitality to many visitors from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and looked after all the bishops and their wives during two Lambeth Conferences. Over all that time Jenny was a tremendous support and I certainly could not have managed without her.
It was a joy to receive the medal from the Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, supported by Jenny, our daughter Eleanor and Richard Carter. Sir Frank was on a farewell visit to the U.K. before he steps down next year.
At the ceremony, the private secretary, Rawcliffe Ziku gave a brief C.V. ending with the official citation: ‘For distinguished service and commitment to the government and people of Solomon Islands in human resources and community development.’
Over refreshments that followed there was an opportunity for reminiscing and making further acquaintance with the new High Commissioner in the U.K. who turned out to be an old student of mine from Selwyn College days.
‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6-7.
A Merry Christmas to you all from the Community of the Sisters of the Church. It is a great joy for me to share with you the ministry and the mission of this Holy Child given to us over this year. I will share with you the significant events that have happened this year.
On 14th – 15th January 2018, I led a Retreat for the Provincial Mothers Union in the Solomon Islands. It is a privilege to work closely with this large organisation that has many members and they are in every single village in the country. The new year begins with people seeking the Holy Child to lead them to what is ahead. The Sisters of the Church and the Mothers Union work closely in the Anglican Church of Melanesia in many ways.
From 9th – 11th February 2018, the Sisters of the Church hosted the Religious Life Sunday at Tetete Ni Kolivuti (TNK). It is a moving event for Sisters and Brothers who live in the Religious Life to share, pray, celebrate and to learn from one another. We are partners in Mission although we approach ministry differently. This diversity as well as what we have in common among us brings richness to ACOM. We were grateful to Br Christopher John, the SSF Minister General who joined us. It makes a lot of difference when a worldwide leader is present among us.
On 28th July 2018, the land where St Scholastica House is located in the Diocese of Ysabel is now owned by the Community. For the past 12 years, we lived illegally on unregistered land and the landowners were wondering whether or not, the Community would ever do the traditional ceremony. Yes, after having several meetings with the landowners, the Associates and the Community finally registered the land under CSC. The Associates in the Diocese of Ysabel advised us on what items to prepare and led us in the ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their commitment and dedication to the Community.
From 9th – 14th September, we had the honour to host the Women on the Front Line programme. Mrs Caroline Welby, Mrs Jane Namurye, Mrs Karen Lewis and Canon Sarah Snyder from Lambeth facilitated this programme for the Bishops’ spouses, the Mothers’ Union and the female Religious Communities in Melanesia. Mrs Welby and her team were invited by his Grace, Archbishop George Takeli of the ACOM. It was the first time in our history that such a distinguished team has come to the Solomon Islands.
On 30th September 2018, two weeks later after the women programme, we had the blessing of late Sr Kathleen Kapei’s headstone, as well as celebrating Michaelmas. TNK was bursting with thousands of people, but everybody worked together and so the preparation went smoothly. That day many groups from different Parishes, Schools and people living in the planation came with their entertainment and we all enjoyed the celebration so much that we forgot when to stop. However, it was 5:30 pm and we were still sitting under the trees in the feasting area. I suggested we had Evensong at that spot, before everybody went home. That day we began the Service in the Chapel and then ended the day with an Evensong under the trees.
On 20th October at Evensong, we had the Acceptance of Jacklyn, Noelyn, Naomi and Yvon as Junior Sisters. Then on 21st October 2018 we had the Life Profession of Sr Mary Gladys. One of the moving moments at the Service was when her family escorted her into the chapel to pronounce her vows. They danced a Tikopian traditional dance and chant as they led her up to the altar, and then handed her over to me to be presented to the Bishop Visitor. That day was so lovely and a great blessing as we learned more about Tikopian culture. Again, the Evensong took place at the same spot under the trees before the crowd dispersed to their homes.
We have now completed the first part of the Retreat House at TNK. We will be doing more fundraising to complete the rest. Although this part will be blessed, at present there is no dining room, nor kitchen and no office yet. Retreatants will still join in the Community for meals in the refectory.
Mother Emily’s kindergarten is doing well and progressing. However, they have been disturbed a number of times, as we needed TNK to be quiet and silent. When groups come during the week for retreat, we asked the teachers to cancel the classes which was not right for the children’s education. The teachers are always annoyed with us regarding this issue. However, we are thinking of moving the School a little further from the Retreat House, so there will be no interruption to the school.
Please remember our Sisters on mission to Lord Howe islands during this Christmas Season. They are spending Christmas with our Christian people there, doing teaching, dramas, singing choruses and Christmas Carols, taking part in Worship and the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Sr Emily and I are in Canada as I write this letter. We came here to attend the Blessing of our new Mother Superior Sr Marguerite Mae and then the Provincials’ Meeting. It is good to be here and to have space before going back to our busy life in the Solomons.
‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’
May I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2019.
Following ongoing volcanic activity and falling ash from the volcano on the Vanuatu island of Ambae, the government has ordered a complete evacuation and the permanent closure of all institutions. This has made over 9,000 people homeless and also the loss of a Melanesian Brothers’ Household and the Church flagship school St Patricks.
The Rt Revd James Tama, Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia has made this appeal to UK friends.
Please pray for our situation here and the displaced families from Ambae, over 2,000 in Maewo, over 7,000 in Santo and over 2,000 scattered all over the islands in Vanuatu with immediate family members. I have
over 40 families, a total of 110 staying with me at the bishop’s residence. I do sympathize with them and had to organise fundraising for them, since the government is still to respond with immediate needs. We are looking for some plots of land, somewhere suitable for farming and the stronger men will then go there and begin clearing the bush ready for farming. The women will stay back with the children who are attending school. We have partitioned part of the Diocesan office into 3 rooms where the children of over 5 schools from Ambae attend daily from kindy, class 1 – class 6.
My wife and I have started the psychological first aid support with the mothers, gathering them, allowing them to express freely their feelings and the needs for their families, then we decided out of our own pockets provide wool for knitting, printing materials, crochet knitting, sewing materials, and other life-skills to occupy themselves and at least do something that they can sell and earn small money to help their families since the state of emergency is now extended until 26 November. My humble request is if you can share our stories of the difficult situation we are facing at the moment, and for anyone who may wish to support our mothers with little funds to resource their home life-skill training would be very much appreciated.
Many thanks with love and prayers +James Tama Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia
Many thanks to those individuals, parishes, schools and Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood who have already sent in donations to support those affected by the volcano. If you would like to make a donation to help Bishop James provide for these displaced families, please send your donations to the charity with the reference Ambae relocation. The charity is planning to transfer another round of donations before Christmas.
In 2019 MMUK hopes to receive the plans for the rebuilding of St Patricks School, and will launch a fundraising campaign to support this large project. You will find details for this, at the time of launch, on our donations page.