Ulawa to mark 140th anniversary of Christianity

Clement Marau, Ulawa, Solomon Islands. (From a Photograph by Bishop Montgomery

People of Ulawa Island, Makira-Ulawa Province will tomorrow celebrate the 140th anniversary of the arrival of the first missionary that brought Christianity to the island.

The three days historical occasion will mark the arrival of Clement Marau a Vanuatu missionary who first brought Christianity to Ulawa Island in 1878.

It will include a historical story-telling of the events of 1878 and the celebration of the lives and work of the Anglican priests in Ulawa.

The 4th generation descendants of Clement Marau will also organise a ceremony in honour of their great grandfather.

History of Clement Marau

Born about 1855 on Merelava Island in the Banks Group of Vanuatu, Clement Marau was the youngest son of Qoqoe, a Ni-Vanuatu chief.

In 1869, Marau, like two of his brothers before him, went to the Melanesia Mission School on Norfolk Island and was baptised and confirmed in 1875.

He travelled to Ulawa with Walter Waaro from that island in 1877 to begin the first school, initially for only three months.

Marau returned to Ulawa in 1878 for another year. He battled very difficult conditions and after three years little progress had been made.

When he wanted to marry Susie, a local woman, her family requested an exorbitant £50 for the bride wealth payment.

Clement Marau and Joseph Wate’ae’pule in 1890. Mr Wate’ae’pule is from Small Malaita the first Christian teacher on Malaita

He learned to carve shell inlayed bowls and sold them to raise the money, and they married later married Susie in 1883.

Marau became a deacon in 1890 and a priest in 1903, by which about four hundred Ulawans had been baptised.

He became very influential, and supervised the building of a beautiful church from sawn coral rock, which still stands and was considered the most substantial building in the Protectorate until the Catholics built their stone church at Visale on Guadalcanal in 1909.

Unfortunately, Marau was suspended for some years for faithlessness and returned to Merelava, but he was later restored to the Mission and returned to Ulawa.

In 1918, his son Martin Marau was put in charge of the Ulawa church, a position he held for twenty-four years.

Clement Marau lived quietly nearby at Su’u Taluhia until his death in 1920.

 

 

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