Solomon Islands

The Boys’ Brigade New Zealand was one of a few countries to received Dominion Status from the International Office of The Boys’ Brigade in the UK, and with it came the responsibility to enrol companies and manage their own affairs. Following WWII, in the early 1950s William McVicker, Overseas Secretary, operating out of Abbey House in London, persuaded The Boys’ Brigade New Zealand to accept formal responsibility for the Pacific Islands extension and training, with the exception of Papua New Guinea which was an Australia protectorate until the 1970s.

The BB first came to the Solomon Islands in 1960, when the New Zealand Brigade led the advancement into Melanesia with the appointment of a New Zealand Officer, Derek G McKay, as Organiser in the British Solomon Islands. Based initially at Goldie College, Banga Island, McKay travelled by canoe, on foot, and occasionally by air as he rapidly extended the Brigade in the scattered and remote Islands of the Solomons. In 1962, he was succeeded by another New Zealander, Ron Dickey, who set up headquarters in Munda. In the same year, Gordon Siama, a native Solomon Islander, was appointed organiser, following a period of training in New Zealand. By 1963 there were 700 members in the movement in the Solomons. Siama was later elected to the Solomon Island Legislative Assembly and appointed to the Governing Council. By late 1969-70 the Solomons BB had peaked at between 1200 and 1300 (Boys, Urchins, Men pp 201-202) it was during this period that the Brigade in New Zealand were supplying cloth achievement awards for the Solomon Islands.

The 1970s saw a slow decline in membership; however the importance of the Brigade in the Solomon Islands was recognised, together with the Boys Scouts, with the release of a set of postage stamps commemorating the centenary of The Boys’ Brigade in 1983. The Solomon Islands set, released in 1982, also commemorates the 75th Anniversary of Scouting. However, sometime after this, the BB in the Solomon Islands fell away, leaving only two or three companies in the Western province.

Concerned over the demise and at the situation for young men in the church and the country, from 2006, the United Church of Solomon Islands passed a number of resolutions desiring the renewal of the organisation.

2011 saw a beginning with the starting of BB company at the Noro United Church following a visit from five representatives from its Australian partner Church, Emmanuek Uniting Church in Brisbane as recorded in the Annual Report of The Boys Brigade Queensland 2011:

A team of current and past BB Leaders from 46th Brisbane Company supported by Enoggera Uniting Church came together take a trip to Enoggera UC’s sister church in Noro, in the Solomon Islands with a view to re-launching BB in the Solomon Islands after it had been shut down across the Island nation some years earlier.

The trip and subsequent support has resulted in a new company being established with a new uniform and awards scheme organised in consultation with the local leaders. The Noro Company is going strong with 90 members and over 10 leaders at the last update. This re-start work is now so successful that the United Church of Solomon Islands is requesting the team plan another trip from Queensland in 2012 to train leaders from all over SI to start new companies at their local churches. This is an amazing story of God leading and a significant extension of the BB ministry in the South Pacific nation.  BB Queensland will be looking to support this mission in various ways in the new year. (The Boys Brigade Queensland Annual Report 2011)

This was again followed up in 2012 when a team of five from Brisbane, serving Officers Peter Gilding and Barbera Young, and old boys, Keith Fanning, Norton Russell and Keith Young travelled to Noro. In one week they worked with the Noro Boys and Leaders on Christian Devotions, arts and crafts, drill and marching skills and Boys’ Brigade (BB) Knowledge. Nineteen officers and 40 boys aged 7 to 15 were involved in the training, including members from some of the surviving companies at Iriguila and Patutiva.

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