About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Missionaries, Headhunters & Colonial Officers by Peter Maiden

Missionaries, Headhunters and
Colonial Officers (CQUni 2003)
I've been trying to do some research lately into the practice of cannibalism in the Pacific. I came across this interesting book on the topic in my local library. Missionaries, Headhunters and Colonial Officers tells about the posting of Rev. James Chalmers to PNG, or British New Guinea as it was then known, in the late 1800s.  Rev Chalmers, or Tamate as he was known throughout the Pacific, was murdered by Goaribari warriors in 1901 off the south coast of PNG.
   The work of this energetic, inspiring missionary and the daily dangers he faced in harrowing conditions is engrossing reading. Then there are the gruesome details of how the Papuans of old practiced various forms of cannibalism. Hideous stuff, but fascinating.
   There are a few black and white photographs of Chalmers and his colleagues and some of the Papuans through out the book but more would have been better.
   Maiden's style drags at times as he lists endless facts and dates but it's easy enough to skim over the dry bits and reach the juicy, human-interest parts of this biography of Chalmer's life. If you are interested in the history of PNG or of church missionaries in the South Pacific, then this book is a good one.


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    1. There are lots of issues in this book. The courage of the religious men, the cruel way the Papuans were treated by the colonial powers and the injustices they bore, not to mention the way everyone was so sick with malaria. Thankfully things have come a long way... But there is further to go.