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The Melanesian Mission is an Anglican missionary agency supporting the work of local Anglican churches in Melanesia.[1] It was founded in 1849 by George Selwyn, the first Bishop of New Zealand.[2]



Bishop Selwyn's see was focused on New Zealand. In December 1847 he began a series of voyages to the Pacific Islands, which were included in his diocese by a clerical error[citation needed] in his letters patent. His letters and journals of these journeys through Melanesia present the reader with a vivid picture of his versatility, courage, and energy. In 1849 he formed the Melanesian Mission to work in the Western Pacific.[3][4][5]

The Undine, a small 21-ton schooner, serviced the mission from 1849 to 1857. In 1854, Selwyn commissioned the construction of a 100-ton schooner, the Southern Cross[6][7][8] to service the mission and enlisted John Coleridge Patteson to lead the mission. His voyages and the administrative work resulted in 1861 in the consecration of Patteson as the first Bishop of Melanesia.

Bishop Patteson Memorial Church (St Barnabas), Norfolk Island in 1908

In 1867, the Mission established St Barnabas College on Norfolk Island, as a church and training centre for missionaries.[5] The Melanesian Mission established an administrative centre on Mota island in the Banks Islands (now part of Vanuatu) and the Mota language became the lingua franca of the mission.[5]

Members of the missionEdit

The missionaries included:

Current activitiesEdit

Today it continues to provide financial and staffing support for the Anglican Church of Melanesia, an independent province of the Anglican Communion.[17] Its headquarters are in Feniton, Devon.[18]


  1. ^ Official website
  2. ^ Limbrick, Warren E. (1990). "Selwyn, George Augustus". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  3. ^ Project Canterbury
  4. ^ Correspondence and photographs of the Melanesian Mission dating from 1872 are held by SOAS Archives.
  5. ^ a b c Lawrence, David Russell (October 2014). "Chapter 5 Liberalism, Imperialism and colonial expansion" (PDF). The Naturalist and his "Beautiful Islands": Charles Morris Woodford in the Western Pacific. ANU Press. pp. 142–146. ISBN 9781925022032.
  6. ^ Historical resources on Anglicanism in Oceania
  7. ^ "The History of the Melanesian Mission" Armstrong,E.S. London Isbister & Co, 1900
  8. ^ God's Gentlemen: A History of the Melanesian Mission 1849-1942 Hilliard D: Australia], University of Queensland Press, 1978 ISBN 0702210668
  9. ^ Wikimedia commons
  10. ^ Blain's Biographical Directory
  11. ^ "Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican clergy in the South Pacific" (PDF). 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  12. ^ God's Gentlemen: A History of the Melanesian Mission 1849-1942 Hilliard, D: Australia, University of Queensland Press, 1978
  13. ^ London Gazette
  14. ^ RUDGARD, Ven. Richard Cuthbert’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, April 2014 accessed 7 Oct 2017
  15. ^ Ecclesiastical News. The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Apr 30, 1958; pg. 12; Issue 54138 1971
  16. ^ Church news The Times (London, England), Thursday, Mar 04, 1971; pg. 16; Issue 58113
  17. ^ Melanesian Messenger Online
  18. ^ bizd