Former staff and students of Selwyn College
Former staff and students of Selwyn College: Back L-R; Rawcliffe Ziza (deputy private secretary to the Governor General), Elizabeth Sinewala (assistant to Lady Vunagi), Clera Waokea (assistant to the High Commissioner), David Wippell, Eliam Tangirongo, Trevor Ramoni (head of protocol): Front L-R; John Pinder, Lady Mary Vunagi, Sir David Vunagi, Brian Macdonald-Milne

Solomon Islands Governor General Reception In London

In October the new Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Right Reverend Sir David Vunagi, was in London to be knighted by the Queen. During the visit, MMUK trustee, the Reverend Catherine Duce, hosted a reception for Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi at St. Martin in the Fields.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Vunagi
HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Vunagi (© Buckingham Palace)

It was a lovely opportunity for old friends to welcome the Governor General and his wife back to London. Sir David has been a servant of the Church of Melanesia for many years, serving as headmaster of Selwyn College, Dean of Honiara and Archbishop of Melanesia. In retirement David returned briefly to his home island of Santa Ysabel where he realised a long ambition to plant an arboretum, but was then called back to be headmaster of Selwyn College. Mary, meanwhile was back in Honiara as President of the Mothers’ Union. Earlier this year, David was elected Governor General.

At the reception, Canon John Pinder was able to hand over the Solomon Islands flag which was carried in procession and laid on the altar of Westminster Abbey at the independence service in 1978. He assumed that it would reside in the office of the Solomon Islands High Commission in London, but the head of protocol, Trevor Ramoni, claimed it for the Governor General’s residence in Honiara where it will have a place of honour.

Canon John Pinder handing over the Solomon Islands flag to Sir David
Canon John Pinder handing over the Solomon Islands flag to Sir David. Eliam Tangirongo is on the left.

There was a happy reunion between the Solomon Islands High Commissioner in London, Eliam Tangirongo and the Reverend David Wippell. Eliam was a prop forward in the Selwyn College rugby team that was brilliantly coached by David, beating all the other rugby teams in Honiara in 1971.

John Pinder was able to introduce the Governor General to Professor Nick Stanley who is writing a biography of Robert Codrington, apart from Patteson, the most famous and respected of the early missionaries. Nick was delighted when Sir David agreed to write a foreword for his book.

The afternoon ended with a short act of worship and an address by Sir David.

Past and present Melanesian Mission trustees
Past and present Melanesian Mission Trustees: Back L-R; Catherine Duce, Ian Drew, Katie Drew, Brian Macdonald-Milne: Front L-R; John Pinder, Lady Mary Vunagi, Sir David Vunagi, Jocelyn Squires

John Pinder – Melanesian Mission UK