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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

The Melanesian Mission

The Melanesian Mission was founded in 1849 by Bishop Selwyn, of New Zealand. Its sphere of work embraces the New Hebrides, Banks Islands, Torres Islands, the Santa Cruz Grou, and the Solomon Islands. At first its headquarters were at St. John's College, Kohimarama, near Auckland; but in 1866 Norfolk Island, 400 miles N.N.W. from the North Cape of New Zealand, was selected for the purpose. Thence the Bishop of Melanesia administers his diocese, and there he has his missionary college and training schools, where natives, brought from many separate islands, all speaking different dialects, are trained for seven or eight years, and then sent back to their people. The staff of the mission consists of the Bishop (the Right Rev. Cecil Wilson, M.A.), two archdeacons, eleven white clergy, twelve native clergymen, and 480 native teachers, teaching at 168 different stations. At present the income of the Mission averages about £10,000 a year, raised chiefly by subscriptions in New Zealand, Australia, and England, and the interest on properties given by Bishops G. A. Selwyn and J. C. Patteson. In 1899, the jubilee year of the Mission, an effort was begun to raise £12,000 to buy a new Mission schooner. Since the foundation of the Mission by Bishop Selwyn, and his constant visits there, there have been three Bishops. The first was John Coleridge Patteson, born in London on the 1st of April, 1827, sometime Fellow of Merton. Oxford, consecrated Bishop in 1861, at old St. Paul's Church, Auckland, and murdered by the natives at the island of Nukapu, on the 20th of September, 1871; the second, John Richardson Selwyn, born at Waimate, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on the 20th of May, 1844, M.A., Trinity College, Cambridge, consecrated Bishop at Nelson, New Zealand, in February, 1877, retired from the Bishopric through ill-health in 1893, and died on the 12th of February, 1898; and the third and present Bishop, Cecil Wilson, born in London in 1860, M.A., Jesus College, Cambridge, selected in 1894 by his predecessor and the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Melanesian Mission, and consecrated Bishop at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Auckland, on the 11th of June, 1894, by the Primate of New Zealand, Dr. Cowie, who was assisted on the occasion by Bishop Nevill, of Dunedin, Bishop Julius, of Christchurch, and Bishop Mules, of Nelson. The Mission has been a great factor in the civilisation of the islands within its sphere of action, and 10,000 natives now profess Christianity in consequence of its teachings. The Rev. George MacMurray, Vicar of St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Parnell, is treasurer of the Mission, and the Very Rev. Canon Calder, Vicar of All Saints', Auckland, edits the Mission journal, named “The Southern Cross Log.”