via Papua New Guinea
Kwato Island, Milne Bay
Kwato Island is about 2 to 3 kilometres west of Samarai Island. The Reverend Charles Abel and his wife, Beatrice, founded a non-hierarchical church in 1891 on Kwato. The Mission on Kwato functioned as a successful educational and boat building centre. The mission's boats were used to transport and supply the Australian Coastwatchers during the Second World War.
Some more recent and possibly famous PNG boats have been built in the Kwato area. To name a few - MV OSIRI, the 60 ft MV KWATO and the MV TELITA used for many years by Bob and Dinah Halstead as a dive boat.
The Reverend Charles was not the first white man to step foot on Kwato Island but apparently he was the first to see the unique possibilities of the small island set in the China Straits of Milne Bay. Due to its location on one of the oldest trade routes in the South Pacific many foreigners had visited Kwato before Charles looking for gold or trading sea cucumbers (beche-de-mer), mother of pearl and sandalwood.
Charles came not to take but to give and he came to stay and make Kwato his home, and as soon as a rough house was built on the beach he sent for his wife, Beatrice, to join him.
Charles Abel resolved to create at Kwato an institution where Papuans would receive not only a Christian education but also the necessary training to put them on equal footing with foreigners who were coming into the country in ever increasing numbers - an equal footing in terms of technology and the ability to match anyone in newly introduced skills.
To help finance the work he established coconut plantations with each plantation becoming an agricultural and management training centre in itself as well as a base for extending the standard of life on Kwato. Plantation managers also taught the village people how to mark out and plant coconuts and this boosted the copra industry amongst the people of Milne Bay.
Not only did the people of Kwato experience music and singing as part of the development plan they also experienced sport and play especially cricket.
On the following pages you will find some recent photographs from Kwato.
Thanks to Nori for the Kwato photographs