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Lifou Missionary Arrival

During the annual "Weekend Touristique Ahmelewedr" the villagers of Mou re-enact the day in 1841 when a Tongan from the London Missionary Society came ashore in a small canoe.

Many of the people of Mou were Tongans themselves, descendants of survivors of a 1770 shipwreck in the Isle of Pines. When the missionary, named Fao, came ashore, warriors held him captive on the beach until a Tongan with the same name who lived in the village managed to get there.

He claimed the missionary was a cousin and they met with the chief - who tried to have the missionary killed because he didn't wish to give up his harem for a Christian "one man one wife" ideology. But the warriors could not kill him and here, in the scene of this sphere image, Missionary Fao is accepted by the chief after proving that his magic book - the word of God - was so strong that the warriors could not kill him.

This was the introduction of Christianity to New Caledonia and a monument, surrounded by spectators in this image, marks the event.

The play goes on for about an hour and then, in true Tongan fashion, everyone makes a bee-line for the many culinary delights at the festival grounds.

Plan your holiday in Lifou to match up with one of the several festivals held each year. There are cultural tours, traditional dances, and local foods to enjoy. For a schedule of events in Lifou click this link Festivals in Lifou New Caledonia.

Copyright: Richard Chesher
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 11748x5874
Taken: 25/10/2009
Uploaded: 03/11/2009


Tags: missionary lifou; missionary arrival new caledonia; religious play new caledonia; religion lifou; protestent missionary lifou
More About Lifou

Lifou Island is the largest of the Loyalty Islands, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The Loyalty Islands comprise the Province Iles Loyaute of New Caledonia. There are 4 major islands, Ouvea in the north, Lifou in the middle and Mare in the south. 40,000 people live on these islands, with over half on the largest island of Lifou. All three islands began as atolls - a circular ring of islands with a central lagoon. About a million years ago the sea floor bulged under these atolls upwards. Ouvea, on the northern slope of the bulge, still retains the characteristics of an atoll, a circular group of islands with a central lagoon, but it is tilted, with the southeastern side raised up into two long islands and the lagoon getting progressively deeper to the northwest. The coral reefs and islets of Lifou were lifted about 80 meters out of the sea with the central lagoon now a forested plateau. Mare was also lifted right out of the water and also has a central forested plateau. The ancient, uplifted coral has left a multitude of caves, cliffs and sink-holes that are fun to explore. The coastal areas have new reefs around them and there are a number of very pretty beaches. The people of the Loyalty Islands speak French and their own tribal languages, a mixture of Melanesian and Polynesian. Many also speak some English. The physical infrastructure of roads, schools and medical facilities are modern and high quality. The people of the Loyalty Islands honour their cultural heritage and this is especially evident in the construction of their homes, their respect of custom, celebrations and family life. Each island has at least one international standard hotel and the villages offer "tribal stays" with guests staying in traditional styled thatched huts or small guest houses. The islands are only about a 40 minute flight from Noumea and Air Caledonie, the domestic airline, flies to each island several times a day. There is also a high speed catamaran from Noumea, the Betico II, with air conditioned guest rooms for the trip (about 3 hours to Mare, 4 hours to Lifou and 5 hours to Ouvea). Each island has it's own special personality and things to see and do. For full details on the tourism features of the Loyalty Islands visit the official web site

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