Rennell Islanders and Efate tribe reconcile after 100 years

The land handover ceremony in Siviri village.
The land handover ceremony in Siviri village.

MORE than 100 years after the murder of a ni-Vanuatu preacher on Rennell island in the Solomons, a delegation from the island has taken part in a reconciliation ceremony with the Labrogona Tribe on Efate in Vanuatu.

In the 1900s, Thomas Tabangatang was blackbirded into work on the sugarcane fields of Queensland, where he was recruited by the South Sea Evangelical Church.

He later became a preacher and was sent on a mission to Rennell Island with two other pastors from the Solomons in 1910.

While there, they were involved in a dispute over a canoe that resulted in all three missionaries being chased to their deaths off a cliff.

In a gesture of turning the other cheek, the Labragona gave the delegation from Rennell’s evangelical church two hectares of land to farm at Siviri village on Efate, a gift intended to strengthen ties with the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu.

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