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The Solomon Islands





Malaita Island


Malaita has been the second most populous island in the Solomon Islands for centuries, certainly back to the sixteenth century and possibly much earlier. Today, there are one hundred and fifty thousand Malaitans on the island and tens of thousands more spread through the nation, particularly in Honiara. Solomon Islanders of Malaitan decent make up more than one-third of the country's population. (Bougainville (q.v.), the largest of the Solomon Islands, now part of Papua New Guinea, carries a similar size population.)

Malaita is an elongated continental island with a high central spine. The island covers 4,200 square kilometres spread over a land mass 190 kilometres long and 10-40 wide. Its rugged central mountains commonly rise above 1,000 metres and to 1,430 in the south, dissected by razor-backed ridges and deep valleys that make travelling even short distances an ordeal for most Europeans. The closest islands are Guadalcanal, which is larger (5,336 square kilometres), higher (2,450 metres) and wider and has a significant flat plain on its northern side (460 square kilometres). Malaita's only substantial flat area is around the Aluta basin on the central east coast.







Note: Polynesian is a term that the Albino people have applied to Pacificans/Austronesians who have significant "White Mongol/European" admixture. They reserve the term Melanesian for the original "Pure Black" Pacificans/Austronesians who have resisted admixture.


Note: "Blondism" is very common in some Pacifican peoples. It is in no way caused by admixture with Europeans. Rather, it is caused by defective (mildly mutated) "P" genes in the effected people: In this state, it causes singular Albino features rather than full Albinism.

To amplify: A Normal "P" gene produces NORMAL amounts of Melanin. A mildly "Mutated/Defective" P gene is an OCA (Oculocutaneous Albinism) gene, which produces lesser amounts of Melanin. When Negroid (for lack of a better word), Black people have "Slightly" "Mutated/Defective" "P" genes, they produce people who look like these Solomon Islanders with Blondism below:







When "Negroid" type Black people have "Badly" "Mutated/Defective" "P" genes, they produce people who look like this: Full Albinism




When our cousins the "Caucasoid" (for lack of a better word) type Black people (below) have "Badly" "Mutated/Defective" "P" genes:







They produce people who look like this:








This is NOT just an ancient phenomena, it is still VERY common today.









Malaita is actually two islands separated by the narrow, winding Raroisu'u (Maramasike Passage), which at its western end is no wider than a large river, then spreads out to encompass a sheltered mangrove-shrouded waterway which meanders east. The southern island is called Small Malaita or its local language equivalent, Maramasike. The central mountains combine volcanic ridges with limestone-rich karst lands, and are flanked by hilly plateaux, hills and narrow coastal terraces interspersed with valleys and swamps. Most of the coastline is made up of low terraces broken by river valleys, but on the east coast, high karst plateaus extend to the coast and the descent is often precipitous. Extensive shallow lagoons bound by outer reefs stretch along the northeast (Lau Lagoon), central west (Langalanga Lagoon) and southwest coasts ('Are'are Lagoon) and, with the Maramasike Passage, provide a sheltered haven from sometimes harsh seas. The lagoons and the mangroves swarm with fish. Some lagoons are lake-like in appearance, while others are long narrow fringing strips, with openings through reefs to the open sea and bare patches at low tide. Malaitans have constructed artificial islands in the lagoons made from coral rock laboriously collected on rafts. (Parsonson 1966, 1968; Chowning 1968; Tedder 1968) Adjoining areas of the coast that were once also part of lagoons are often swampy.



Indispensable Strait to the southwest of Malaita separates the island from Nggela and Guadalcanal. Isabel is to the northeast, Ulawa is to the east opposite Small Malaita, and Makira is directly south. People in the south of the main island (the 'Are'are) are closely connected to the inhabitants of Small Malaita, Ulawa and Makira through language, custom and trade. Those along the west coast have close ties to Guadalcanal and Nggela, and there is an 'Are'are colony at Marau Sound on Guadalcanal. (Coppet 1977; Scott 2007; Ouou 1980)

As with neighbouring Guadalcanal and Isabel, it seems possible that there was never one name for Malaita. If there was, it was Mala, with some small local variations. 'Mala' is used in the north, but further south the word becomes 'Ngwala', 'Mara' and 'Mwala'. It was first called 'Malaita' or 'Malayta' by Spanish explorers in 1568, which is thought to have been a misunderstanding. When they pointed to the island and asked what it was called, the people of neighbouring Isabel Island are supposed to have said 'Mala eta': that is, 'Mala over there to the east'. (Woodford 1926, 482) Some early sources also use 'Malanta', 'Maratta' or 'Mahratta' as variants on Malaita. Perhaps Mala was the name used in Isabel to describe the north of the island. Mala's people were known as 'Maratta' or 'Mahratta' when they worked on sugar plantations in Queensland during the nineteenth century, derived from a pronunciation from one of the southern language areas. Small or South Malaita is also known as Sa'a, or Maramasike Island, and the main island was also called Mala Paina ('large Malaita'). Gallego from Mendaña's 1568 expedition called Mala, Isla de Ramos (Island of Palms) because they first saw the island on a Palm Sunday morning.



There was no single Malaitan identity, although there is unity in their origins, which appear to be Austronesian migrations from the north between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago. The oldest of the Malaitan descent groups now claim more than twenty-five generations, arrived at by telescoping early generations. The Kwara'ae often claim that their ancestors were the island's original settlers. Some To'aba'ita claim that at Foo'odo in the north there are old ruins of substantial stone fortifications which they assert show their ancestors to have been the first arrivals. (Daefa, Lost Temple video; Timmer 2008, 2011a, 2011b)

There are many different Malaitan language groups whose members today may interact as Malaitans, while still maintaining a primary identity with their own region and its cultural mores. There are eleven languages and many dialects: To'aba'ita is located in the far north, then, moving south, five languages cut consecutively across the island: Baelelea, Baegu, Fataleka, Kwara'ae and Kwaio. To'aba'ita, Baelelea, Baegu and Fataleka are closely related. 'Are'are also cuts across the island and occupies the largest geographic area, in the south of the main island and onto Small Malaita, and Sa'a covers the remaining, southern part of Small Malaita. There is also the Langalanga language in the lagoon off Kwara'ae and Kwaio on the west, the Lau language stretching down the Lau Lagoon in the northeast, and Gula'ala'a, an east coast language centred on Kwai and Ngongosila islets off east Kwara'ae that stretches from Lau Lagoon to South Malaita. It contains aspects of all of the languages with eastern coastal zones and in places served as a trading language. There were always links between languages created by colonies. Examples are the people around Walande on Small Malaita who are closely related to the northern Lau and speak the Lau language, the relationship between Sa'a and Ulawa, and the 'Are'are colony at Marau on Guadalcanal. The greatest differences are apparent between the languages of the south and those of the north. There are also many dialects, for instance the Kwaikwaio dialect of Kwaio in the southeast between Kwaio and 'Are'are, and Dorio (or Kwarekareo) in the southwest, which is a much more distinctive mix of Kwaio and 'Are'are.



Malaitans first experienced foreigners from outside the Pacific Islands in 1568. On Palm Sunday, 11 April, Mendaña's expedition sighted the island from neighbouring Isabel Island. A brigantine left the other ships at Port Cruz (now Honiara) on Guadalcanal and set off south, coasting past small Rua Sura Island and on to Marau. The ship reached Malaita on 25 May and entered 'Are'are Lagoon at Rohinari (Uhu Passage), which they named Hidden Harbour (Porto Escondido), then sailed along the coast, anchoring at Ariel Bay, which they called Port Ascension. These Spanish visitors also called at large Su'upaine Bay, a short distance from Cape Zelée, the southernmost point of South Malaita. Attacked at Uhu by twenty-five canoes, the Spanish returned fire with their arquebuses, killing and wounding some people. At Ariel Harbour, faced with a crowd of two hundred, there was no close interaction, and at Su'upaine there was another altercation dispersed with guns. As with many early exploratory visits to Pacific Islands, it is difficult to know if there were any lasting consequences. Anthropologist Daniel de Coppet believed that a memory of the visit remained as epidemic disease that spread from the contact, although this memory could have stemmed from later visits by others (Coppet 1977). Reading the Spanish evidence, one is struck by the lack of fear shown by Malaitans and other Solomon Islanders when confronted by the strange foreigners.



After the Spanish visit, Malaitans had occasional contacts with Europeans. In 1767, Philip Carteret, commanding HMS Swallow, seized eight or ten occupants of a canoe near Da'i Island off Malaita's northwest end. Two years later, Jean-François-Marie de Surville on St Jean-Baptiste passed east of Malaita, but well out to sea. The next contact was probably a quarter-century later, in 1790, when Lieutenant Ball sailing from New South Wales travelled north along the east coast of Malaita. In 1792, Recherche and Espérance commanded by Bruny d'Entrecasteaux and in search of La Pérouse, sailed close by south Malaita. (Woodford 1909a, 506; Spate 1988, 95-98, 116-119)

Once the British settled Botany Bay in New South Wales in 1788, many merchant vessels began to use a route to Asia that passed just east of the Solomon Archipelago. (D'Entrecasteaux 2001, map 4, 89; Spate 1988, 92-94; AR 1971, 113) Soon after, with the Atlantic whaling ground in decline, whalers began to ply their trade in the islands. Malaitans would have seen ships sailing past east Malaita when skirting the Solomons, or travelling through Indispensable Strait on Malaita's west side. While landings were rare, the ships were visible and canoe traffic from Malaita to Guadalcanal, Nggela, Makira and Isabel would have come into contact with these foreigners. Naval vessels, such as Captain Erskine's HMS Havannah in 1850, also patrolled surrounding waters. This ship called at Port Adam on the east coast of Small Malaita between 21 and 24 September 1850, and edged its way into the unknown bay. Two descriptions of the visit have survived, by Charles Moore and Philip Vigors. (Vigors 1850, 202)



Malaitans were not part of the whaling and trading networks that began to develop in the Solomons around the 1800s. These new networks intensified in the 1820s, and whaling voyages peaked in the 1840s and 1850s. Malaitans must have been very frustrated by their inability to get iron and tools and weapons through trade with Europeans. Apart from prestige value, access to iron greatly reduced men's workloads; their tasks such as clearing gardens and building boats and houses were accomplished more quickly, releasing them for other tasks or allowing them to produce more with the same effort or amount of time. This may have enabled more time to be spent on leisure, fighting or trading. The influx of iron onto nearby islands meant that communities near whaling ports prospered and long-established trade patterns and hierarchies began to change. Malaitan shell and porpoise-teeth currencies had for generations been important trade items linking Malaita to the surrounding islands, and 'Are'are and Sa'a had dominant links with Makira. But starting in the 1840s Makira Harbour developed as a whaling port and soon Makirans had the upper hand since Malaitans had nothing valued by whalers and traders. Malaita's lagoons were numerous but not commodious, its warlike reputation made Europeans wary, and Malaita's strict sexual codes meant that no women were available to satisfy the lusts of the crews. Aside from contact with a few castaways and occasional passing trading or whaling ships seeking supplies of wood, water and food (which were often attacked to obtain European goods), Malaitans remained outside the spread of European influence into the Pacific. (Corris 1973b, 6-23; Bennett 1987, 21-44; Moore 1985, 33-36) They seem to have made little effort to enter into trade, although they would have received small supplies of European goods via Makira and Isabel.



Based on Judith Bennett's detailed analysis of the logs of whaling ships, the vessels began to sail close to Malaita onwards from 1799 and by the 1820s there were some limited direct contacts between the crews and Malaitans. (Bennett 1987, 30-31, 350-355) There is one possibly exaggerated report of a shipwreck off north Malaita in the 1820s, after which twenty men were eaten and only one man survived. (Smith 1844, 203-206) More certainly, a ship's captain was killed and his second officer kidnapped in north Malaita in 1827, and other ships were involved in disturbances. The earliest European resident on Malaita was known as Doorey or Matthews, second officer on the whaler Alfred out of Sydney, which was attacked when it reached Malaita in December 1827. Several crew members were killed, and Matthews lived on Malaita for an unknown number of years. (Forster 1975, 97)

The next European resident was John (Jack) Renton (q.v.), a Scottish seaman who was the only survivor among five deserters from the American guano boat Renard in 1868. He and his companions drifted almost two thousand kilometres in one of the Renard's boats, finally landing at Maana'oba Island off the northeast coast. His four companions were killed but Renton became a 'guest' of Lau Lagoon bigman Kabbou and lived from 1868 until 1875 on Sulufou islet.



Anglican Bishop Patteson (q.v.) first visited Malaita in 1856 and in 1866 he took two South Malaitans, Joseph Wate'ae'pule (q.v.) (also known as Wate) and Watehou, to the Melanesian Mission station on Norfolk Island. (Moore 1985, 35) Wate returned and established an Anglican school on Small Malaita in 1879, failed, and then began again in 1884-1886, with final success in 1897. The Mission spread to nearby Port Adam that year, Aulu, Pwaloto, Roas, Pou and Palasu'u in 1898, and then to Pululahu in 1904 and Ariel Harbour in 1907. In northern Malaita, the Mission established its first bases at Fiu in 1898, Foate soon after, Kwarea (Fauabu) in 1903, Laulana in 1904, Bita'ama in 1907 and Maana'oba in 1908. In northeast Malaita, they set up bases at 'Ataa in 1898, Ngorefou in 1902 and Fouia in 1904, and at Uru in central east Malaita in 1905.




Following close on the heels of the Anglicans was the Queensland Kanaka Mission (q.v.), first through Peter Abu'ofa (q.v.) in 1894, then various European missionaries in the 1900s. The Mission arrived formally in 1904, succeeded by the South Sea Evangelical Mission (q.v.) from 1907. The earliest QKM and SSEM bases were in north Malaita at Malu'u in 1894, followed by Sutoti, Tekinana, Gamour, Asimani and Sio in 1905, Maana'oba and Da'i in 1907 and Kwaria and 'Ataa in 1908. The QKM/SSEM spread to east Malaita in the 1900s: to Sinalagu in 1903-1905, Kwai-Ngongosila in 1905, Wunfor, Forti and 'Aioo in 1906, Maanawai and Bedimanu in 1907, Takataka in 1908 and 'Oloburi in 1909. The evangelicals arrived in west Malaita at Onepusu (the SSEM headquarters) in 1902/1905, Laulana, Asimana, Kwari'ekwa, Hauhui and Boronasu'u in 1906, and then Araora, Baunani, Bina, Aineo, Uhu and Baunani (at the Malayta Company [q.v.]) in 1909. The final expansion was to Small Malaita, in direct competition with the Melanesian Mission: to Hauloho and Su'upeine in 1907, and Heohoni, Baibai, Pau and Tawina in 1908. The last of the three early missions to arrive on Malaita were the Catholics, first as an extension of their activities on Guadalcanal in the early 1900s, then purposely in 1908 to take up land to begin a mission at Tarapaina, invited by a bigman named Ara'iasi who had fallen out with the SSEM. The Tarapaina land was purchased in 1911 and purchase extended to Rohinari in 'Are'are Lagoon in 1912.





Malaitan men (and some women) were the dominant Solomon Islander participants in the indentured labour trade to Queensland (9,186 contracts between the 1870s and 1903), to Fiji (5,149 contracts between the 1870s and 1911) and internally in the Solomons (35,596 contracts between 1913 and 1940). (Price with Baker 1976; Siegel 1985; Shlomowitz and Bedford 1988; Bennett 1974, 48-72) Between the 1870s and 1940s indentured labour was being drawn off Malaita, thousands leaving each year on indenture contracts. The 1870s were a time of illegal practices, although by the end of the decade there were Malaitans making their second trip, and though the labour system remained exploitative, a clear transition to volunteerism occurred. As the labour trade progressed from the 1870s, a primary motivation for Malaitan participation became to get steel tools and, increasingly important, firearms. The first guns were unreliable muzzle-loaders, but the more powerful and accurate rifles increasingly became available. These were used to defend and advance the interests of different groups that jockeyed for power and to defend against raiders from further north. As power balances between descent groups shifted, some bigmen, such as Kwaisulia in Lau, gained unprecedented levels of power.




The government established a headquarters in 1909 at Rarasu, mis-named for the island of 'Aoke, and misspelt that name as Auki (q.v.), which has become the conventional spelling used here. While Auki was being established during the 1910s, the three Christian churches already operating, a large plantation venture underway, and the Malayta Company (q.v.) at Baunani all made a big impact. This substantial Christian presence meant large changes occurred on Malaita, a local extension of the changes already brought by the external labour trade since the 1870s. Malaita never had many plantations, with the largest at Baunani, until the company shifted its focus to the Russell Islands in 1918, and others created before the Second World War at Mamnaba and Fulo, both close by Baunani, and at Su'u.




On 22-23 January 1942, and then continuing through March and April, the Japanese bombed Gavutu and Tulagi, which forced a hurried evacuation to Auki, and after heavy air raids on 1 and 2 May Tulagi fell on 3 May. On 4 May, High Commissioner William Marchant (q.v.) evacuated from Auki to Fulisango in the hills behind, joined by Anglican and Catholic bishops. The Japanese landed at Fauabu, where they remained until November and they visited Auki, looting the town. There were also some bombing raids in Langalanga Lagoon and east 'Are'are, although these may have been by the Allies. Once Guadalcanal was recaptured, as early as late August 1942, Martin Clements, a Protectorate officer who had become a coastwatcher (q.v.), was instructed by the Resident Commissioner to resume his duties as District Officer of Guadalcanal. By 2 September the Resident Commissioner had moved to Lungga and accommodations were worked out between the Allied forces and the Protectorate Government. (Baddeley 1942; Trench 1956)




After the Second World War, Maasina Rule (q.v.), a proto-nationalist movement began on Malaita and dominated the political and economic affairs of the island from 1946 to 1952. Two results were the opening of King George VI School (q.v.) and the formation of the Malaita District Council (q.v.).



Maasina Rule

Maasina Rule (also sometimes called Maasina Ruru, Marching Rule, Masinga Lo, and Masinga Rule) began in 'Are'are, Malaita in early 1944, at a time when many Malaitans were working in the wartime Labour Corps on Guadalcanal and Nggela. Maasina means 'his brother' or 'his sibling' or even 'his friend'. Arisimae (q.v.), Aliki Nono'oohimae, Hoasihau, and Nori from 'Are'are, joined later by Timothy George Maharatta (q.v.) from South Malaita, conducted meetings aimed at radically reorganising Malaitan society and seeking more Malaitan control over their own lives. They were influenced by some of the American servicemen, including African-American soldiers, whose humane treatment of and political advice to Solomon Islanders encouraged them to make a stand against the old colonial system.



The leaders spread a message of Malaitan independence across the island. In its seminal form Maasina Rule advocated improvements in agriculture, concentration into larger, cleaner villagers, and codification of indigenous law. These teachings were coupled at some stages with hopes for American liberation and millenarian ideas, although this aspect of Maasina Rule was often fabricated or exaggerated by government officials, and later by anthropologists and historians influenced by their accounts. Maasina Rule soon spread to all areas of Malaita, and to neighbouring islands, particularly Makira and parts of Guadalcanal. For eight years, the movement dominated the political scene in the central Solomons. It was an indigenous proto-nationalist movement grounded in a desire for self-government and self-determination.



In retrospect, Maasina Rule was an astonishing development: people of diverse and once divided Melanesian societies came together to confront the might of British colonialism. Though the aspirations of many followers were unrealistic-especially those who hoped for American intervention and independence from Great Britain-Maasina Rule did strain almost to breaking point the Protectorate Government, still weak after the Second World War. The factors which made this possible include shared Islander experiences within the exploitative indentured labour system, first in the Queensland and Fijian labour trades and then in the Protectorate itself; the influence of Christianity and literacy; decades of ineffectual colonial administration that provided people virtually no social services; and disappointment at dashed expectations of benefits that would follow from cooperation with Europeans, becoming Christian and ending warfare. The wartime experience was a catalyst for resentments that had been growing, particularly during the Great Depression when labourers, particularly Malaitans, suffered from the crash of the plantation economy, which had been their main source of money and goods.



The basic message of Maasina Rule was that Malaitans had the right to control their own affairs and the movement instituted various measures to form their own government. Of the ten original Maasina Rule chiefs, five came from one church, the South Sea Evangelical Mission (now Church) (q.v.), which was used as a web of contacts. Initially strongest in 'Are'are in the south, by late 1945 the movement was well on its way to being an alternative government across Malaita, refusing to allow men to labour away from Malaita. In 1946, an estimated 95 percent of Malaitans were adherents. Malaitans dominated the Solomons plantation labour force (over 60 percent of workers), and their refusal to work distressed a government anxious to get the war-devastated Protectorate economy back on its feet. Malaitans also collected and codified kastom (q.v.), much in the way that the British officials had instructed them to codify 'custom' before and just after the war for use in nascent Native Courts. Kastom was, however, much different from 'custom', including as it did many new and novel concepts and practices on which Malaitans would base social reform, and forbidding as it did many older practices thought to be socially divisive. Kastom was the foundation of Maasina Rule's political ideology, and Maasina Rule courts employed kastom codes to arbitrate and in some cases adjudicate disputes free from government interference.



Beginning in late 1946, the movement held several meetings with Malaita's District Commissioners and the visiting Resident Commissioners Noel (q.v.). The early meetings were friendly. In early 1947, the chiefs informed the government that they were planning a formal strike, and sought advice on how to do so (which was refused). Leaders said the minimum wage for labourers should be £12 a month, which strained Maasina Rule-government relations. The Lau region's Head Chief was arrested (for a non-political offence), and the District Commissioner recruited fifty Malaitan labourers to work in Honiara. In June 1947, six to seven thousand Malaitans, most of them from the northern half of the island, met with the District Commissioner and his officers in Auki, at that time the largest meeting ever held in the Solomons. Among other things, leaders demanded the government recognize kastom law and courts, and their appointment of men called alaha'ou'ou to head them. Meanwhile, Maasina Rule had been spreading to neighbouring islands and as far as the Western Solomons, although it found few followers there.




The British government launched Operation De-Louse to arrest the leaders of the Movement for violating the British Unlawful Societies Act of 1799 and the Seditious Meetings Act of 1817, for secretly conspiring to overthrow the government and holding illegal courts. The main chiefs were sentenced to six years hard labour. Malaitans responded with a massive campaign of civil resistance, refusing to pay a newly imposed Head Tax, submit to a census, or cooperate in any other way. Most villages erected small fences to delineate kastom and British jurisdictions, and a few even built stockades to keep out government officers and police. A series of government operations from 1948 into 1952 employed Western Solomon Islander police to arrest many thousands of Malaitans, and many Makirans as well, most of who lined up peacefully for jail. This suppression did little to quell the resistance and in fact greatly heightened resentment. It left the British embarrassed by overflowing prison camps (which required no fences because the prisoners did not run away). Reading the archive, it is clear that officers were at a loss as to how to resolve the situation, and their response for several years was simply to increase suppression. The result was a spiral of ever more arrests and heightened resentment and refusal to cooperate.




In early 1950, a new Resident Commissioner, Henry Gregory-Smith (q.v.), took a more conciliatory approach than his predecessors Owen Noel and J.D.A. Germond, and met first with 'Are'are Head Chief Nono'oohimae, and then the other imprisoned Head Chiefs. He soon released them on license on their vow not to oppose the government and to support government plans. He promised Malaitans an eventual island-wide council, with half its members elected, if they would stop resistance, but the populace turned down his offer. In the north, most of the Head Chiefs were soon rejected by the people, and eventually even Nono'oohimae in 'Are'are lost much of his following. The movement was now being led by several men, most notably Eriel Sisili (q.v.) of west Kwara'ae, Takanakwao, a former policemen, and Salana Ga'a (q.v.) of Kwara'ae, Eban Funusau of Fataleka, Jasper Irofiala of Baelelea, and 'Abaeata Anifelo of east Kwaio. This phase of the movement had several names over time, but is generally known in the literature as 'The Federal Council'. The Federal Council was an attempt to create a 'federation' of autonomous Malaitan 'tribes' or language groups, which may have had the American federal system as their model. Resistance continued, though Malaitans stopped lining up for prison and instead fled inland. Though some recruited for shorter-term labour contracts, or submitted to a census and tax in order to avoid further imprisonment, non-cooperation remained the order of the day. The government found itself fully despised and hamstrung, unable to reassert any real control or pursue plans for the future.




Malaitans were remarkably efficient in presenting their views and analyses. Multiple copies of letters were widely circulated on the island, including in 1949 a nine-page manifesto of grievances written by Sisili, and read to the District Commissioner at an Auki meeting. Officers were told that Malaitans demanded locally run courts and councils, and a single overarching council with a Malaitan leader, among other demands. A series of officers and Resident Commissioners continued to insist that only if every Malaitan paid the tax and participated in a census, would arrests stop, and a Malaitan would be chosen to sit on the Protectorate Advisory Council, (although they planned to appoint a minority, loyalist Headman). Most Malaitans refused these terms. Sisili was arrested in a night raid and sentenced to a long prison term for sedition, but the movement continued under the other leaders. Gregory-Smith and his officers made plans for further mass arrests and systematic harassment. However, in 1952 a new District Commissioner Val Andersen wanted to try a more conciliatory approach to break the deadlock, recognizing that suppression had failed, that many Malaitan grievances were legitimate, and that rapprochement was necessary. His softer approach had only mixed success among the now-bitter and suspicious Malaitans, but was bolstered by a new High Commissioner, Robert Stanley (q.v.), who arrived in Honiara in late 1952 when the Western Pacific High Commission headquarters was transferred to Honiara. Stanley quickly met with the Federal Council leaders in Auki. The ground for cooperation tilled by Andersen's work enabled Stanley to grant Malaitans most of what they asked for, and in fact many did not in fact want the government to fully depart. The most important agreement was for the formation of an island-wide council that would fully represent Malaitans, be headed by a Malaitan President, and take considerable responsibility for the management of local affairs.





The administration did offer to set up a whole-island council along the lines of Native Councils already operating in other parts of the Protectorate. In July 1952, twenty-nine of the forty delegates to this proposed council met at Auki, although the rest boycotted the meeting. In September, the new High Commissioner visited Malaita and held discussions with all factions. He proposed the establishment of a Malaita Council with delegates from all parts of the District and undertook to accept a leader chosen by the delegates, to be appointed as President of the new council. The offer included appointing the President as a member of the BSIP Advisory Council, provided he agreed to recognise the authority of the High Commissioner and would work with the District Commissioner.

Most of the members of the first Malaita Council (q.v.) in 1953 were former resistance leaders (in the end, only nine of its forty members were government appointees, and even some of them were former resistance leaders). Salana Ga'a was chosen as Council President, at the insistence of the Federal Council's major leaders. Sisili was soon released from prison, and in 1955 he succeeded Ga'a as Council President.



Bougainville Island

The Solomon Islands nation lies immediately to the southeast of the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville, separated by a narrow strait. Bougainville is the largest island in the Solomons Archipelago. Twenty-eight to eighteen thousand years ago, when seas levels were lower, Bougainville was the north of a single land mass that included Buka, Shortland Islands, Choiseul, Isabel and Nggela. Bougainvilleans are close relatives of Solomon Islanders to the south, particularly those of the Western Solomons.

The 168 islands in the present-day Autonomous Region of Bougainville cover 9,300 square kilometres, with Bougainville and Buka being the main islands (250 kilometres north-south). There are also a number of small islands (many uninhabited), island groups and atolls, including Nissan (Green), Nuguria (Fead), Takuu (Mortlock), Nukumanu (Tasman) and Tulun (Carteret). Bougainville is home to several active and dormant volcanoes, and central mountains rise to 2,400 metres. Mt. Bagana in the north-central part of Bougainville is extremely active and overall volcanic activity has created a coastal plain of rich volcanic soil. Bougainvilleans stress matrilineal descent, which sets them apart from many other Papua New Guineans. They are dark-skinned, far darker than other Papua New Guineans but similar in skin-colour to their neighbours in the Western Solomons. (Friedlaender 2005)



Human occupation of Buka Island, contiguous with north Bougainville, dates back thirty-two thousand years, the earliest date for human settlement in the Solomon Archipelago. Three or four thousand years ago a significant new group of migrants, agriculturalist Austronesians, arrived from Asia via the north coast of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, bringing with them domesticated pigs, dogs, and chickens, as well as obsidian tools, and they settled alongside the earlier inhabitants. (Spriggs 2005) Bougainville has many languages, both Austronesian and Papuan (Non-Austronesian). The most widely spoken of the seventeen Austronesian languages is Halia and its dialects, spoken in Buka, Kilinailau (Carteret) and the Selau Peninsula in northern Bougainville. Other Austronesian languages-Haku, Petats, Solos, Saposa (Taiof), Hahon, Piva, Banoni, and Tinputz (Vadoo), Teop, Papapana, Torau (Rovovana), Urava (now extinct), Nehan, Takuu, Nukumanu and Nuguria-were spoken on Buka, outlying islands and atolls and several parts of Bougainville. Nine Papuan languages are spoken on the main island: Kunua (Konua), Rotokas, Eivo, Keriaka, Nasioi (Kieta), Telei (Buin), Nagovisi, Motuna (Siwai), and Buin (Telei). (Tryon 2005)



Because of its size and fertility Bougainville probably always has been the most populous of the Solomon Islands, followed by Malaita and Guadalcanal. The pre-contact population of Bougainville, Buka and the surrounding outliers could easily have been one hundred thousand and possibly higher, even allowing for malaria limiting the size of the population. Significant depopulation took place on all Solomon Islands during the nineteenth century (q.v. Demography). The first British Solomon Islands Protectorate census in 1931 recorded a total of 94,066 people, but the Protectorate's pre-contact population was probably in excess of two hundred thousand and possibly twice or even three times that number, and this has implications for trying to calculate the size of Bougainville's early population. In 1914 the Germans estimated its population at around 32,000. Australian estimates were 36,000 in 1931, 41,000 in 1935, 51,190 in 1940, around 50,000 in 1942, 59,250 in 1967 and 129,000 in 1980. (Nelson 2005; Lummani 2005) The population of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in 2000 was 175,160. (Turner 2001) These numbers are similar to the population of Malaita during these decades.

European voyages began to pass by Bougainville in the seventeenth century: Schouten and Le Maire in 1610, Tasman in 1643, Carteret in 1767 and Bougainville in 1768. As in other parts of the Solomons and the Bismarck and Louisiade Archipelagos, in the first half of the nineteenth century whalers and traders worked around Bougainville and Buka, and the New Britain-based Forsayth company recruited labour and purchased copra on Nukumanu and the Mortlocks in the 1870s and 1880s. Thirty-three indentured labourers left Bougainville, Buka and Nissan for Queensland in the 1870s, followed by another 278 in the 1880s. (Price with Baker 1976) Over the same years 710 labourers from these islands went to work in Fiji. (Siegel 1985)



The original 1884 declaration of German New Guinea (q.v.) was vague on its eastern extreme because the status of the Solomon Archipelago was unclear. In 1886 Bougainville was proclaimed part of German New Guinea when the eastern border was defined as including Buka, Bougainville, the Shortlands, Choiseul, Isabel and Ontong Java. Britain claimed the remainder of the Solomon Archipelago as a Protectorate in 1893. Then in 1899-1900 another Anglo-German convention shifted the German-British border north to between the Shortlands and Bougainville. Bougainville Strait became the dividing line and the peoples of southern Bougainville found themselves politically divided from their close kin in the Shortlands and on Choiseul. Powerful Shortlands chiefs such as Gorai, son of Porese, helped the Protectorate traders obtain coconuts from Bougainville, and traders never felt bound by the border, crossing at will. The first official tours of inspection of the German North Solomons were made in 1888, 1893 and 1900, searching for a suitable place to establish a government station. Once the Catholics established a base at Kieta, this was chosen as the most suitable government base. (Sack 2005) After recruiting to Queensland and Fiji ceased, North Solomons labourers were absorbed onto German plantations. Between 1907 and 1913, 5,214 Bukas and Bougainvilleans were recruited by the Germans and others crossed from southern Bougainville to work in the Shortlands. During the German years (until 1914), Bougainville was primarily a labour reserve along with the beginnings of a local plantation economy.

The first plantation, at Kieta in 1902, was a side-product of the Marist mission. The first fully commercial plantation was established by the Bismarck Archipel Gesellschaft at Aropa in 1908 and another was begun by the New Britain Corporation at Toiemonapu two years later. By 1911 there were ten plantations on Bougainville, with another ten thousand acres recently acquired by Hernsheim and Co., which also had trading branches in Kieta, Buin, Petatz, Arawa and Enus. Just before the Germans lost control, Lever Brothers applied to the governor to extend their Solomon Island plantation interests into Bougainville. The non-indigenous population of the Northern Solomons remained low, at seventy-four in 1914, one-third of them part of the Marist mission. (Sack 2005; Bennett 2000)





Initial missionary work on Bougainville came from the Catholics (q.v.) and Methodists (q.v.), as part of endeavours that reached out of the British Solomon Islands and across Bougainville Strait. The Catholic Society of Mary (Marist) missionaries began a new phase of Catholic outreach to the Solomons in 1898. From their base in the Shortland Islands in 1901, Marists established their Kieta base and soon after used the close trading and kin links between the Shortlands and southern Bougainville to establish a base at Patupatuai on the Buin coast, making patrols further inland. Between 1901 and 1922, when their mission monopoly was broken, the Marists established several stations between Burunotui on Buka and Patupatuai. Between 1901 and 1939 eighteen Marist stations were established on Bougainville and Buka. The South Solomons prefecture was elevated to an apostolic vicariate in 1912 (including Guadalcanal, Makira and Malaita) with the same elevation granted to the North Solomons in 1930 (Buka and Bougainville). Thomas Wade, an American, became the first bishop of North Solomons. (Laracy 2005a, 2005b)

After a brief sojourn in 1916 at Siwai, the Methodists arrived permanently on Bougainville in 1922, establishing a base in Siwai, and incurred a great deal of resentment from the Marists. Like the original Catholic mission, the Methodist's Bougainville venture was an extension of their work in the Western Solomons. The Methodists were firmly established on New Georgia by 1914 and began to cast their eyes toward Bougainville. They succeeded in establishing themselves on Mono, the main Treasury Island, which had close trading and kin alliances with Bougainville. After Australia seized German New Guinea in 1914, the Methodists felt secure enough to expand into Bougainville. In 1916, Methodist boundaries were altered to include the German Solomons into the New Georgia district. The border at Bougainville Strait did not stop the constant indigenous movements nor the movement of mission personnel, although by the 1920s discussions were held to try to stop Buin labourers working in the Protectorate. (Bennett 2000) Seventh-day Adventists (q.v.) were also active in the Western Solomons, following the Catholics and Methodists to Bougainville. In 1924, R. H. Tutty and two Solomon Islander evangelists, Nano and Rongapitu, sailed to Lavilai on Bougainville and established a station there. In 1927, A. J. Campbell worked for some months on Bougainville, and the next year the first two local converts were baptized there. Today, seventy percent of people in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are Catholics.




In an early act of the First Wold War Australian armed forces arrived on 9 December 1914 and took control of Bougainville, and a final transition to Australian administration was made in 1921 once the League of Nations Mandate was enacted. By the 1920s large coastal areas in Buka, and along the north, south and east coasts of Bougainville had become coconut plantations. Labour was mainly from Bougainville and Buka. The administration remained based at Kieta. German plantations and other property were disposed of via an Expropriation Board, with Germans only able to claim compensation from their own government. The plantations were reserved for Australian servicemen who had served in the First World War, an extension of the soldier-settler experiment in Australia. Police patrols were concentrated around Kieta and a police post was established at Kangu near Buin on the south coast in 1919, although regular patrols did not begin in the south until the mid-1930s. The small hamlets which had dominated the earlier settlement pattern were discouraged by the administration in favour of larger ordered villages. Burns Philp, through its subsidiaries and Choiseul Plantations Ltd., became the largest managers of plantations, and W. R. Carpenter & Co. Ltd. Was also involved in trading and plantation management. (Elder 2005; MacWilliam 2005)

In 1942 the Australian administration and most of the planters and missionaries fled before the Japanese advance, just as most whites did in the British Solomons. During the Second World War (q.v.) parts of Bougainville were under Japanese control between January 1942 and August 1945. Initially the Japanese numbers on Bougainville were small and they were not in direct contact with the Australians who had remained. Then from August 1942 to July 1943 coastwatchers (q.v.) were able to give advance warning of Japanese ships and planes heading south into the Solomons. The Japanese dominated Bougainville in mid-1943, but then between November 1943 and October 1944 the Americans began to fly there, and onwards from October 1944 Australian troops were responsible for the island's recapture. Around forty thousand Japanese, two thousand Allies and an unknown number of Bougainvilleans (probably around 16 percent) died during the war. (Nelson 2005)

In 1945, once the war was over, the islands returned to Australian control. War damage took a decade to repair, but slowly the plantations began to operate again. Burns Philp worked hard to re-establish their plantations, and plantations diversified to interplant coconut palms and cocoa trees, the new crop of the 1950s. Official development policy changed to include Bougainvilleans as smallholders and co-operative societies were established. Village-made copra and cocoa began to enter the market, creating a small indigenous bourgeoisie. Between the 1960s and 1980s most Bougainvilleans turned to cocoa and coconuts as their dominant cash crops, although production plummeting in the 1990s during the civil war. (MacWilliam 2005; Lummani 2005)



In 1964 a large copper deposit was discovered at Panguna on Bougainville by a subsidiary of Conzinc Riotinto Australia. Mining at Panguna, which became the second largest open cut mine in the world, began in 1969 with the first exports in 1972. The mining agreement was made between Bougainville Mining Company, later Bougainville Copper Ltd. (both CRA subsidiaries) and the Australian administration, ratified by the House of Assembly in Port Moresby, with little consultation with or compensation of the landowners. Australia saw the huge copper mine as a way to provide finance for the approaching independent government of Papua New Guinea. This uneven agreement sowed the seeds for the conflict that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. (Vernon 2005; Denoon 2000)

There had been many suggestions during the first half of the twentieth century that the North Solomons be reunited with the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, or that the Protectorate be combined with Papua New Guinea, but all failed to eventuate. During the 1950s and 1960s, Bougainvilleans were unhappy about their future as part of Papua New Guinea. They always regarded themselves as different from other Papua New Guineans and identified more closely with the rest of the Solomon Islands, based on their dark skin colour and matrilineal societies, and also their geographic isolation from the other islands off eastern New Guinea. Bougainvilleans rightly regarded the Panguna mine agreement as exploitative and grew to fear the environmental damage being caused by the mine. The first moves for succession were in 1964, extended by the exploitative mining agreement and unwillingness to join with the rest of Papua New Guinea at independence in 1975. (Griffin 2005) Discontent simmered with Bougainvilleans in the National Parliament being strong advocates for devolution of power to the provinces. In 1988 a rebellion began which became a protracted civil war. The rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) was formed, forcing the mine to close in 1989, with a civilian government established under Francis Ona. Between 1990 and 1994 the PNG Defence Force fought the BRA. In 1991, a Bougainville Interim Government was established, which in 1995 became the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG). The PNG government calamitously tried to bring in mercenaries (O'Callaghan 1999; Dorney 1998), and finally a permanent cease-fire was established and an unarmed peace-monitoring group was created staffed from Australia and New Zealand, Vanuatu and Fiji. In 1997 an Autonomous Region of Bougainville was agreed to, still within Papua New Guinea but with provision for future independence. There was an election in 1999 in which Joseph Kabui, commander of the BRA, was elected president of the BTG; he died in June 2008 and was succeeded by John Tabinaman as acting president. Since December 2008, James Tanis has been president. Frances Ona died in 2005. The peace agreement that was finalised in 2000 was brokered with the help of New Zealand. There will be a future referendum on whether the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will become an independent nation. (Turner 2001)

The crisis in Bougainville impacted the Solomon Islands since supplies including guns and ammunition that passed over the border, and Bougainvilleans used health facilities as far south as Malaita and Honiara. The Bougainville crisis also gave some momentum to the internal crisis between Malaita and Guadalcanal in the late 1990s