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Missionary Day (French: Arrivée de l'Évangile)[1] is an official holiday in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France. It is celebrated annually on 5 March, to mark the arrival of the London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries in 1797 when their ship Duff landed at Matavai Bay.[2] It is a non-working holiday.[1]

Missionary Day
The missionary ship "Duff" arriving (ca. 1797) at Otaheite, lithograph by Kronheim & Co.jpg
The missionary ship Duff arriving in Tahiti, 1797
Observed byFrench Polynesia
SignificanceTo mark the arrival of the London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries in 1797
CelebrationsCultural shows, public concerts and other events of cultural significance
ObservancesRe-enactment of first landing
Date5 March
Next time5 March 2020 (2020-03-05)



On 5 March 1797, British Protestant missionaries from the London Missionary Society landed at Matavai Bay, in Mahina, Tahiti, on board Duff. Despite early setbacks in the mission, the LMS missionaries were able to convert the reigning king Pōmare II, who sought to use the new religion to consolidate his own power over the other chiefs of the island. The king was formally baptized on 16 May 1819, and the rest of the kingdom of Tahiti followed. Protestantism gained a strong following with the Tahitian people through the patronage of the Pōmare Dynasty and other chiefly families of the neighboring Society Islands. Even when Tahiti became a French protectorate in 1843 and was annexed in 1880, Protestantism remained the dominant religion among the natives.[3]

The holiday was established on 1 February 1978.[4]


The parishes of the Maohi Protestant Church hold organized celebrations and worship services. The holiday is also marked by cultural shows, public concerts and other events of cultural significance. Traditionally, the arrival of the first missionaries in 1797 is re-enacted at the Willy Bambridge Stadium complex in Papeete, Tahiti, as well as on Afareaitu, Moorea.[2][5]

The commune of Arue commemorates the festival by laying wreaths at the graves of the first Christian king Pōmare II and Henry Nott, a member of the first company of missionaries who translated the Bible into the Tahitian language.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Kennedy, David M.; Center for International Studies (2001). Africa, Asia, and Oceania: Culturegrams 2002. Orem, UT: CultureGrams. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-89434-421-3. OCLC 48029327.
  2. ^ a b "French Polynesia Observes Missionary Day". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  3. ^ Garrett, John (1982). To Live Among the Stars: Christian Origins in Oceania. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific. pp. 14–31, 253–260. ISBN 978-2-8254-0692-2. OCLC 17485209.
  4. ^ "Chronologie". Histoire de l'Assemblée de la Polynésie française. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  5. ^ Saura, Bruno (2015). Histoire et mémoire des temps coloniaux en Polynésie française. Papeete: Au vent des îles. p. 118. ISBN 978-2-36734-081-4.
  6. ^ "L'arrivée de l'Évangile célébrée". Tahiti Infos. 5 March 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016.