William Gunn.

The gospel in Futuna; with chapters on the islands of the new Hebrides, the people, their customs, religious beliefs, etc online

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'







BRITISH EMPIRE COLLECTION
GIFT OF

Church of Scotland



THE GOSPEL IN FUTUNA







FUTUNESE GIRL



[Frontispiece.



THE

GOSPEL IN FUTUNA

WITH CHAPTERS ON THE ISLANDS OF
THE NEW HEBRIDES, THE PEOPLE,
THEIR CUSTOMS, RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, ETC.



BY



WILLIAM GUNN, L.R.G.S. & P. Edin.

Medical Missionary of the United Free Church of Scotland



WITH INTRODUCTION BY

THE REV. ALEXANDER MILLER, D.D., Buckie

Convener of the Foreign Mittion Committee of tht Fret Church of Scotland



HODDER AND STOUGHTON
LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO



Printed in 1914






QC
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JBV



1

THE UNITED FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
rj

AND TO

THE FRIENDS OF MISSIONS

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PREFACE

AFTER I had addressed a congregation in Scotland
on Mission Work in Futuna, during furlough, the
minister said to me, " That's what the people want
facts."

This volume is an attempt to narrate the chief
facts showing how the natives of Futuna, one of the
islands of the New Hebrides, were transformed from
savages to Christians.

The chapters on the work of Rev. Joseph Cope-
land, my predecessor, and that of the teachers in
the island before him, were drawn up chiefly from his
letters and reports, and from those of the other early
missionaries, and partially from information supplied
by the natives of Aneityum and Futuna.

The references to customs and religious beliefs in
other islands were kindly supplied by the missionaries,
as well as by natives. In the chapter on the " Lan-
guages of the New Hebrides " I have endeavoured to
give, in few and simple words, the main peculiarities
of the numerous tongues in the group.

Nothing is here told of the work at the two stations
in Aneityum. The Mission History of that island



viii PREFACE

has been written in the Life of Dr. Geddie, and in
the two volumes by Dr. Inglis.

This book would not have been written but for
the encouragement of my friend Rev. W. Ewing, D.D.,
and Oliphant Smeaton, Esq., M.A., F.S.A., Edinburgh.
To Dr. Ewing I am indebted for correcting the proof-
sheets.

The photos and sketches are original, except three
or four from Rev. J. H. Lawrie, formerly Missionary
of Aneityum.

The book is sent out with the hope and prayer that
it may strengthen and encourage the faith of friends
of missions.



FUTUNA, NEW HEBRIDES,
September, 1913.



CONTENTS

PAGE

INTRODUCTION xv

PART I

CHAPTER I

THE INTRODUCTION OP THE GOSPEL AND WORK OF

NATIVE TEACHERS 3



CHAPTER II
MR. COPELAND'S WORK 16

CHAPTER III
OTTR LANDING ON FUTUNA 31

CHAPTER IV
EARLY EXPERIENCES CONFLICT WITH HEATHENISM 3 9



THE MURDER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES TRANSLATION
WORK AND ARROWROOT-MAKING . 55



CONTENTS



CHAPTER VI

PAGE

THE HURRICANE . 73



CHAPTER VII
FORMING A CHURCH 80

CHAPTER VIII
THE WOMEN AND GIRLS THE DAY SCHOOLS . 94

CHAPTER IX
THE NEW CHURCH MORE MEMBERS ADDED . 103

CHAPTER X
THE EPIDEMIC 113

CHAPTER XI
WORK AMONG THE HEATHEN . . . .123

CHAPTER XII
PRINTING AND ITINERATING . 138



CONTENTS



CHAPTER XIII

PAGE

CHURCH BUILT FOR THE HEATHEN 145



CHAPTER XIV
RESULTS OF CHRISTIANITY . 159



PART II

CHAPTER I
THE ISLANDS 173

CHAPTER II

THE PEOPLE THEIR HOMES, OCCUPATIONS, AND

ARTS 187

\

CHAPTER III

NATIVE CUSTOMS . . . . . .201

CHAPTER IV
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND CEREMONIES 217



xu



CHAPTER V

PAOH

LANGUAGES OF THE NEW HEBRIDES . . .228



CHAPTER VI
FOLK-LOBE 241

CHAPTER VII

NATIVE CHARACTERISTICS 248

CHAPTER VIII

DECREASE OF POPULATION IN THE NEW HEBRIDES 261

CHAPTER IX

NATIVE CUSTOMS ILLUSTRATING SCRIPTURE . .270

CHAPTER X

BRITAIN AND FRANCE IN THE NEW HEBRIDES THE

CONDOMINIUM 282

APPENDIX

THE CHURCHES' INDICTMENT AGAINST THE CONDO-
MINIUM IN THE NEW HEBRIDES 299



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FUTUNBSE GIRL ..... Frontispiece

MM

SATJLA, PUNDIT AND TEACHER 4

JOHN WILLIAMS, THE " APOSTLE OF THE SOUTH

SEAS" 4

POPOINA . ....... 4

REV. JOSEPH COPELAND 4

THE LANDING PLACE, FUTUNA .... 32

SACKED FIGURE 10 FT. HIGH, WITH UGLY HUMAN

FACE 52

OUR MISSION HOUSES 76

WILLIE, AGED 5 YEARS AND 8 MONTHS . . .116

LAKU AND MADGIE 116

Mou AND CONNIE ....... 116

CHIEF IN FUTUNA, WITH BAND OF SHELLS ROUND THE

ARM 128

HEATHEN NATIVES OF IMOUNGA . . . .128
EPETENETO 136

HU



xiv LIST OF ILLUSTKATIONS

/

PAGE

HABENA 136

NAILO 136

ANAPAPO 136

MISSIONARY ITINERATING ON THE WAY TO IMATANGI 144
" YAUPA," THE OLDEST MAN IN THE PACIFIC . . 148
TEACHER, THE DEACONS, AND THEIR WIVES . .156

THE " THIRD GENERATION " 160

THE WEEK-DAY PRAYER-MEETING . . . .168

SOME OP THE ISLANDS 173

SPECIMENS OF GROWING CORAL, EXPOSED AT Low TIDE 176
SPECIMENS OF MELANESIANS IN THE NEW HEBRIDES . 192

HEATHEN VILLAGE, TANGOA, WITH THE NATIVES' FACES

AND HANDS WHITEWASHED WITH LIME . .194

SHOOTING FISH 198

FEASTING CARRYING IN THE PIGS, ANEITYUM . . 208

THE " PICTURE GALLERY," ANEITYUM . . . 218

AT THE NEW HEBRIDES MISSION SYNOD, PAAMA, 1913 288

MAPS

THE ISLAND OF FUTUNA ...... 3

THE NEW HEBRIDES 6



INTRODUCTION

IT rarely happens that a missionary sees his field
pass, within the limits of his own career of service,
from a state of almost untouched heathenism to a
stage where a self-supporting and self -directing
Christian Church includes and moulds the entire
population. This has been the happy experience of
Dr. Gunn in Futuna.

Yet this was not one of the islands where the faith
made specially swift or easy progress. The New
Hebrides, to which group it belongs, came forcibly
before the church when upon Erromanga, which is
one of them, the Rev. John Williams was murdered
in 1840; and soon after that event native teachers
went to Futuna. In 1866 the Rev. Joseph Copeland
settled there and remained for ten years. The
foundations were laid by him, but there had been no
baptism, and therefore no native church formed, when
he left, and there was before 1883, when Dr. Gunn
arrived, an interval of seven years, during which the
ground which had been gained was held with difficulty.
The speedy and general acceptance of the faith in
so many of the South Sea Islands which so invigorated
the hopes of the Church when her efforts for the older

XV



xvi INTRODUCTION

and more cultured races were found not to succeed
so quickly as she desired, had no place in this one.
Seventy years have in all elapsed before it has become
possible to contemplate the withdrawal of the mis-
sionary because his work is done. The old Reformed
Presbyterian church had accepted Futuna as part
of her field, and from her through the unions of 1876
and 1900 the charge devolved upon the United Free
Church; and it is most pleasant to note that the
obligation has been now, we believe not unsuccessfully,
discharged.

Dr. Gunn then took up the work in 1883, and his
book is the narrative of how, in the thirty years since
then, the change has come about. The book indulges
in no large generalisations, or inquiries into causes
and effects, it is no study of missionary strategy, it
is not dressed up to make an impression, nor does it
diverge into the hortatory. It resembles rather the
notes of the medical man recording the symptoms
and the progress of his case. But it shows, perhaps
none the less plainly, how the power of the Lord Jesus,
applied with personal devotedness to men, and guided
on sound lines of church and social action, has reached
the hearts of the islanders and re-created their
corporate life.

There is a second portion which, being in a mis-
sionary's book, may not attract the attention which
it deserves from those whose main interest lies in
other spheres of activity. These islands are from
time to time brought before the public by their earth-
quakes and volcanic outbursts, their cyclones and
their desolating epidemics. Dr. Gunn has in the



INTRODUCTION xvii

second, which is the shorter part, recorded the observa-
tions of a trained eye in brief chapters upon the
branches of science which deal with these, and upon
such kindred subjects as the languages, the social
customs and religious views which are now passing
out of memory the arts, the stories, and the songs of
the people. One could wish that the true nature of
what underlies the descriptions of the old life, the
cruelty, the senseless conceit, the slavish terrors,
the unabashed cannibalism, were more clearly realised
by those friends who think it a pity to disturb the souls
of the happy heathen with the serious things of
Christian teaching.

Dr. Gunn has also something to say about the
drawbacks of the joint government of Britain and
France and he reproduces the grave indictment of
the effects of its working which has been made by the
Protestant Church of these Islands.

From Caithness, the most distant and most isolated
county of the Scottish mainland, Dr. Gunn went to the
most distant and most isolated mission of his Church,
and the name he bears is not unknown in the story of
his own county. These facts increase the interest
with which I commend this book to those of our
Church and beyond it who are interested in the pro-
gress of the faith or in the islands of the Pacific.

ALEXANDER MILLER,

Convener of the Foreign Mission Committee
of the United Free Church of Scotland,



PART I







Draicn *by William Gnnn } Fitfima.



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION OF THE GOSPEL

First attempt to introduce the gospel to the New Hebrides Visit of
John Williams Fu tuna the missionary KEY to the New Hebrides
Landing of Samoan teachers Killed by the Futunese Visits of
Bishop Selwyn and Dr. Geddie First Melanesian evangelists
Yosefa's adventures Tom Teachers cruelly treated Futunese
in Aneityum Visits of missionaries to Futuna Lessons in keeping

\ the Sabbath Futunese want more teachers, and a missionary
Appointment of Mr. Copeland.

EARLY in November, 1839, the mission skip Camden
left Samoa and sailed westwards, with John Williams
and a party of ten native missionaries, to introduce
the gospel to the New Hebrides. For more than
twenty years Williams had carried the gospel from
island to island in Polynesia, the Eastern Pacific,
worthily earning the title of " Apostle of the South
Seas." During his visit home, he had been com-
missioned by the Synod of the Secession Church of
Scotland to begin another mission in the Pacific,
the Church giving 300 for the initial expenses ; and
it was in the fulfilment of this commission that he
projected a mission to the New Hebrides.

The mission party was divinely led first to Futuna,
the most easterly island of the group, for its people
spoke a dialect of Samoan, and Williams found he
was able to converse with them. The island was
sighted on Saturday evening, November 16, and a



4 INTBODUCTION OF THE GOSPEL

special prayer-meeting was held by the missionary
band, to ask that " God would protect their persons,
and open a way for the introduction of His Word
among the barbarous tribes they were about to
visit." It was an anxious time, for Williams reckoned
the New Hebrides to be the key to New Caledonia,
New Britain, New Guinea, and the Western Pacific
generally ; and he wrote in his journal, " Oh, how
much depends upon our efforts to-morrow. Will
the savages receive us ? ... The approaching week
is to me the most important of my life/' 1

Next morning they were close to the island. From
a distance it appeared like a cone with the top cut
off ; now they discovered cultivated patches on the
hillside, and little low huts. The vessel lay to in
a beautiful bay, now known as *' Herald Bay."
This was the most populous side of the island, and
hundreds of natives were living close to, and in sight
of, the bay. Two canoes put out to the vessel, one
containing four men, well made and good-looking,
but disfigured by red paint on their faces, and numer-
ous turtle-shell rings in their ears. A boat was
lowered, and as it was being pulled towards the shore
a man in one of the canoes ventured into it, saying
he was a chief and wished to go on board. The
boat returned to the vessel, and the chief went on
deck. A red shirt and loin-cloth were given to him,
and he strutted about, proudly admiring himself.
Having explained the object of their visit, Williams
asked him if he was willing to receive a teacher.
The chief promised they would give him " yams,
taro, and sugar-cane." He was presented with a
knife, looking-glass, fish-hooks, and a pig. The
mirror greatly delighted him, and he exhibited the
pig to his friends ashore with much pride. Williams

1 " Life of John Williams," by Ebenezer Prout, p. 667.





SAULA, PUNDIT AND TEACHER.



JOHN WILLIAMS, THE APOSTLE
OF THE SOUTH SEAS."





REV. JOSEPH COPELAND.



1]



VISIT OF JOHN WILLIAMS 5

accompanied him to the beach, landing at an entrance
in the reef near which for some years there has
been a copra station. The natives quickly sur-
rounded them, and chatted with the chief. They
treated those in the boat civilly, but would not go
on board. The missionaries, however, were en-
couraged by their reception, and were convinced
that such a friendly feeling had been established with
the natives, that they would be able to settle teachers
among them. They promised the chief that they
would come back to the island shortly, bringing
teachers with them. Keturning to the ship, they
" spent the evening of that memorable Sabbath day
in thanking God and taking courage/'

This is the earliest recorded visit to Futuna, and
this was the first attempt to prepare the way for the
gospel in the islands of the New Hebrides and the
Western Pacific.

Williams proceeded from Futuna to Port Resolution,
in the island of Tanna. Had he landed at any other
part of this island, he could not have made himself
understood by the natives, for the numerous dialects
are totally different from any in Polynesia. But
the natives of Port Resolution, owing to their
proximity to Aniwa, were able to converse with
Williams in Aniwan, identical with Futunese, and
thus he was able to settle teachers on Tanna. Then,
as will appear presently, it was through the medium
of the language of Futuna that teachers were accepted
on Aneityum, where the language is unlike any other.
When Williams went to Erromanga, the language
was again different. He could not explain the object
of his coming to the natives, and there, three days
after leaving Futuna, he met the martyr's deatji,



6 INTRODUCTION OF THE GOSPEL

Thus, despite its insignificance on the map, Futuna
occupies a position of pre-eminent importance in
the mission history of the New Hebrides ; for it
was the gateway of the Light, the KEY to open the
door for the gospel message to the group. And as,
by means of Futuna, the gospel was introduced to
the New Hebrides, so to this island was accorded
the honour of being the first to which native converts
of this group were sent as evangelists. Alas that
its people should have been so slow in accepting their
message !

The work laid down by John Williams was taken
up by his colleagues in Samoa, and about a year and
a half after his death, the Camden returned to Futuna
bringing two Samoan teachers, Samuela and Apela.
They were landed at Herald Bay, and placed in the
district adjoining, called Imounga, which was divided
into Upper and Lower Imounga, the chief Kautiama
promising to protect them. The time and circum-
stances were favourable for their reception. A
native of Aneityum, who was the guest of Kautiama,
was anxious to return home, and, as the Camden
carried teachers for Aneityum, he and his host were
offered a passage. Delighted at the prospect of
going on a trading expedition in a " foreign ship,"
the Futunese received the teachers, and Kautiama
with a crowd of his people, laden with mats, baskets,
and all kinds of native trade, accompanied the guest
to Aneityum. On their arrival, Kautiama inter-
preted the object of the missionaries' visit, and the
Aneityumese, recognising friends on board, welcomed
the teachers. Thus, through Kautiama, a native of
Futuna, teachers were accepted in both islands. 1

1 " Missions in Western Polynesia," by the Rev. A. W. Murray, p. 23,
also " Bibje Illustrations in tb,e New Hebrides," p. 246 t



KILLED BY THE FUTUNESE 7

The following year the Gamden brought Samuela'a
wife and child to Futuna. The teachers built a place
of worship, and visited the chiefs throughout the
island, trying to influence them in favour of the
" worship."

For a time all went well, but towards the end of
the year a deadly epidemic swept over the southern
islands of the group, and the people blamed the
teachers for causing it. Natives of Tanna, on a
visit to Futuna, told how they had checked the
epidemic by killing the teachers, and advised the
Futunese to do the same. This accorded with their
own opinions, and one day, when the two men were
in their gardens, the people of Upper Imounga,
armed with spears and clubs, attacked them, shouting
their war cries. Samuela was transfixed with a
spear, and he and Apela were then clubbed to death.
The murderers hastened to the teachers' premises
to complete their horrid work. The leader, Nasaua,
offered to spare the woman if she would become his
wife. She recoiled, but held out an axe and other
articles for her life. They were refused. Kautiama
and the natives of Lower Imounga had wished to
protect the Samoans, but in order to prevent war
between the two sections in his district, he took
the club from Nasaua's hand, and, disregarding his
promise, killed the woman, thus taking upon himself
the responsibility of the murder of the teachers. By
this act Kautiama undid all the good he had done
by receiving the teachers in Futuna, and the district
of Imounga became one of the very hardest places
in all the New Hebrides to win for Christ ; and
Kautiama himself lived and died a heathen. The
child, now left alone, was not spared, for it was the
custom in heathenism to kill every one related to



8 INTRODUCTION OF THE GOSPEL

disease-makers, as the teachers were believed to be,
and she was clubbed to death. Their dreadful work
finished, the heathen rifled the boxes and burned
the house. When they gathered together for their
dances, the natives bedecked themselves with the
clothing of the teachers. Their bodies were cooked,
but when the savages found that the victims did
not suit their taste, they buried them in the sand,
and made their bones into fish-hooks. Thus Futuna
was early consecrated by the blood of the martyred
teachers.

When the mission ship John Williams came to
Futuna in 1845, the natives said the teachers were
well, and in their plantations. After waiting vainly
for them for hours, the missionaries, Dr. Turner and
Mr. Murray, attempted to land at Ipau, but the
threatening appearance of the armed natives forced
them away, and the boat backed out. 1 As night
was coming on, with a strong wind and heavy sea,
they returned with sad hearts to the ship, and went
on to Aneityum. There they heard that the teachers
had been killed over two years before. Some
Futunese, on a visit to the island, boastingly told
that they had killed their teachers to get rid of the
epidemic, and they urged the Aneityumese to do
likewise.

Futuna was then closed to the Gospel for seven
or eight years. Bishop Selwyn, of the Melanesian
Mission, visited the island in 1851, and obtained two
lads, Saliva and Yarai, for his college in Auckland
for natives of Melanesia. They were brought home
at the end of the year to see their friends ; but, not
caring to go back to Auckland, they remained on

1 Evidently the missionaries were not aware that the teachers had
been settled in Imounga, for Dr. Turner told me that they were stationed
at the present mission landing at Ipau.



Futuna. Saliva had learned to read and speak a
little English, but afterwards went to Fiji, and was
killed in a quarrel. Yarai was a dull pupil, but
when the missionary came, he sold him land for his
house ; and he was the first, many years later, to
give up an important heathen ceremony.

This same year, Dr. Geddie, the missionary of
Aneityum, visited Futuna, and a chief, along with
fourteen natives, went with him to see what the
Gospel had done for Aneityum. They were so much
impressed that they at once renounced heathenism.
But many of them resumed their old life when they
returned to Futuna.

In 1852 a church was formed in Aneityum, and
two of the converts, Waihit and Yosefa, were set
apart as evangelists for Futuna. Waihit had been a
sacred man of the sea, and fierce and cruel ; but,
changed by the Gospel of Christ, he materially helped
to advance the work on Aneityum and Futuna.
Yosefa was a tried, faithful, and promising young
man. These two were the FIRST NATIVE EVANGELISTS
in the Western Pacific.

They were landed at Futuna with their wives by
the mission ship, John Williams, in 1853. Captain
Denham of H.M.S. Herald, then engaged in surveying
Futuna, took a warm interest in mission work, and
after the teachers were settled he entertained them
on board.

The following year a boat was sent from Aneityum
with supplies for the teachers, but took back the
startling news that Yosefa had left for Aneityum ten
days before their arrival. The boat had not reached
its destination ; and, concluding that all were lost,
missionaries, Drs. Geddie and Inglis, appointed



10 INTRODUCTION OF THE GOSPEL

another teacher and his wife to take Yosefa's place,
and they were kindly taken over to Futuna in the
Herald by Captain Denham.

But Yosefa and his companions were not lost, and
after some months' adventures they returned safely
to Futuna. He and Waihit had been cruelly treated
by the Futunese. They were refused food, and
Waihit, in his distress, used to follow the pigs to the
bush, and eat the roots which they dug up. He had
often to tighten his belt to allay the pangs of hunger.
Yosefa, therefore, resolved to return to Aneityum
for food, and a white man, named " Tom," undertook
to convey him there. This man had been mysteriously
landed on the island some years before, and was now
a naturalised Futunese. He had acquired the lan-
guage, and obtained a wife from the natives, and one
of his family is still alive who was recently received
into the membership of the church. He lived in the
island for a number of years, and died as the result of
a gun accident. He was a good boatman, but a
strong wind and heavy sea had prevented them
from reaching Aneityum. Tom tied the oars in a
bundle, and, fastening them to the bow of the boat,
let it drift. For five days they drifted, having only
a few uncooked yams for food until they reached
New Caledonia, 200 miles distant. Then they went
on to the island of Pines, where they were kindly
treated by an English family who had formerly lived
in Aneityum, and after five months a trading vessel
landed them at Futuna.

The teachers were stationed in Imatangi and lakana,
populous districts on the south-west of the island,
lakana has for many years been uninhabited, and
only a few people are left in Imatangi. Filipo, a
teacher wfro arrived later, was placed first in Ipau,



FUTUNESE IN ANEITYUM 11

where the mission house now stands, and afterwards
in Upper Imounga. Between the districts of Imatangi
and lakana, and the island of Aneityum, there had
long been intercourse, so that the teachers were
among those who should have been their friends ; but
because they brought a new religion they were treated
as enemies, and as slaves. The food which they
planted in their gardens was stolen at night by both
men and women, as soon as it was ripe. The natives
burned Filipo's house over his head, believing that
a friend from Aneityum living with him was making
disease ; but fortunately both made their escape.
They almost sacrificed Waihit to their superstition.
One of the worshippers, a chief in Imatangi, who had
gone on a visit to Aneityum, was so long away that
his friends accused Waihit of raising a storm to
drown him. Believing his life to be in great danger,
Waihit was about to embark in a canoe for Aneityum
when the mission vessel appeared, bringing back the
chief.

In 1856 Waihit went home to Aneityum with his
sick wife, accompanied by ten Futunese. Drs. Geddie
and Inglis took a four days' journey through the
island to show them the change wrought by the
gospel. 1 The Aneityumese gave them presents of
mats, women's dresses, etc. ; and food was served
in such abundance that the guests said " they could
only look at it." Then a great missionary meeting
was held, when about a hundred different articles
spears, clubs, sacred stones, and ornaments used in
heathenism, but now discarded were exhibited.


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