In the early 1950s, BB work was expanding around the world under the guidance and leadership of William McVicker and the staff in the International Office in London. William McVicker toured New Zealand and Australia in 1951, seeing first hand the organisation of the BB in the New Zealand Dominion, and meeting with the provisional Federal committee of The Boys Brigade in Australia. 

A few years later the events held in the UK in 1954 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of William Smith, brought together representatives from the BB around the world, and the opportunity to discuss how the BB was to be promoted and managed around the world. Due to the vast distances, the Pacific area was difficult to manage from the BB Headquarters in London, and it was agreed that from 1955 BBNZ fully accepted responsibility from London for the Pacific Islands. They were supported by the Australian Council, who were already supporting the work of the BB in Papua New Guinea and Niue.

In 1960, a joint letter was sent from senior officers in the Pacific-Southeast Asia area to all BB Councils in the region, viz: Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Samoa, Niue, Nauru, Gilbert Islands and Solomon Islands. It was signed by J. M. Fraser of Hong Kong, a leading founding figure in Singapore BB affairs; R. L. Challis, South Pacific; S. W. Woodruff, Malaya; Cheong Hock Hai, Singapore, and M. T. Dearsly, New Zealand, who, as promised, was taking this initiative after his visit to Britain. The letter in part read:

The representatives of the Pacific Area at these [Leeds] consultations believe that one real contribution our Area could make to advance the aim and object of the Boys’ Brigade in the International field, would be in the formation of a Pacific Fellowship of BB for consultation, exchange of views, discussions of common problems and working together for Evangelism and the advance of the BB in other areas around us.

The first work of the fellowship, it was suggested, could be achieved through a regional conference which might meet every few years. In February 1962 the Pacific Regional Fellowship (PRF) met for the first time at Blackheath, New South Wales, where its form and objectives were laid down.

In February 1966 the second PRF Conference met in New South Wales and, among other matters, reviewed the total Pacific extension scene. It considered a report from Rev G. G. Carter, general secretary of the Methodist Overseas Missions Department in New Zealand. Herein it was stressed, and the Conference agreed, that the BB should be seen as a united Movement in serving the Island Communities’. In consequence PRF resolved to place the Territory of Papua and New Guinea ‘other than Buka and Bougainville under the responsibility and direction of the Australian Council’ and the Solomon Islands—including the two specified territories—and the New Hebrides under the New Zealand Council. Australia and New Zealand were charged with co-ordinating the extension and consolidation of BB work in the Pacific, and with liaising on matters of equipment, uniform and agreed standards in training and regulations.

In 1974 the Pacific Regional Fellowship split amicably into two new zones—the East Asia Regional Fellowship (including Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong) and the newly defined Pacific Regional Fellowship of Papua-New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific island territories (the Cooks, Solomons, Samoas, Niue etc). The ‘split’ was a timely response to growth, especially with informal discussions proceeding about BB extension possibilities into Indonesia and the Philippines. At the fifth PA Camp in Tasmania unofficial representatives from New Zealand, Singapore, Papua-New Guinea, Australia and the Pacific islands held an informal meeting to consider the new fellowships’ arrangements.

Many Pacific delegates agreed that their countries’ attitudes had often been ‘parochial’ in the past. The PRF, at this, perhaps its most historic meeting, agreed to support a World Conference Committee meeting in 1976 and appointed Vaine Rere T. Poto and Alford Dornan to represent it. In November 1976 the World Conference, meeting in Singapore, moved to set up a Brigade international secretariat, and the World Conference of The Boys’ Brigade and Kindred Youth organisations. Regional Fellowships formed along the lines of the PRF, became the operating method for the World Conference.


The Boys’ Brigade was first introduced into Australia well within a decade of the formation of the movement in Glasgow by the Founder. In 1890-91 a Company was formed at the St. Mark’s Church of England, Fitzroy in Melbourne. The next Company to be formed was at the Wesley Church, Perth in 1895 and this was very quickly followed by Companies in each of the other States on a fairly scattered basis.

It appears that most of these Companies merged with the Government scheme of Military Training for Boys of 12 and upwards introduced in July, 1911, and as a result of this scheme plus the drain on leadership into the Armed Forces, few Companies survived the First World War.

In 1913 a new 1st Brisbane Company had been formed at the Ithaca Presbyterian Church, led by a Mr. George Orr a former Lieutenant of the 1st Glasgow Company under the Captaincy of Sir William Smith. The formation of this Company marked the commencement of the present era of The Boys’ Brigade in Australia.

Cook Islands

Boys’ Brigade work started on Rarotonga, Cook Islands, in February 1935 when an LMS missionary, the Rev. Robert Lye Challis gathered 45 Cook Island Boys together as 1st Rarotonga. He soon became Captain of all Companies in the Cook Islands, visiting many of them by bicycle or boat. During the Second World War BB Boys in the Cook Islands helped provide a coast watching service looking out for Japanese and German submarines. By 1942 over 600 were in BB in the Cook Islands. In 1954, 15 Cook Islanders travelled with the New Zealand contingent to the Founder’s Centenary Camp at Eton, England.

In 1959 the Rev. Ta Upu Pere returned there after two years of training in Brigade and youth work in Great Britain and, as self-government approached in 1965, the BB was prominent in local celebrations. The Boys Brigade in the Cook islands has continued its close association with Island Government, and the strong relationship continues into the present day.

Gilbert & Ellice Islands

The London Missionary Society was a major providor of education on the Gillbert and Ellice Islands in the middle of the 20th Century, and was also behind the formation of a number of BB Companies on the Gilbert and Ellice Islands during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The first formed was the 1st Tarawa (Bairiki) in 1955, followed by the 1st Beru (Rongorongo ) in 1956 both on the Gilbert Islands, and then a few years later the 1st Ellice Islands (Funafuti) and 2nd Ellice Islands (Nanumea) in 1961 and 1963 respectively. The BB annual reports through to 1975 recorded an annual membership of about 65 Boys between the two Ellice Islands Companies, there were no records after 1965 for the Gilbert Islands Companies and it is presumed they had closed by then.

As a consequence of the 1974 Ellice Islands self-determination referendum, on 1 January 1976, two separate administrations were created out of the civil service of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. Gilbert Islands became Kiribati, and Ellice Islands became Tuvalu.


The Boys’  Brigade was started in Fiji in late 1989, with one Company in Lautoka. A party of Leaders and Young people from Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, visited Fiji in early 1990 to support the newly formed Company.

The Company remained in operation until the early part of the 21st Century.


The Boys’ Brigade in Nauru has only had one Company, formed in 1949 connected with the London Missionary Society. The Company had a strength of 40 in the early 1950’s reducing over time to the last entry in the BB Annual report of 1965 with a membership of 25. A Life Boy team founded in 1958 had a membership of over 20 Boys.

Notably the Company did a number of tours around the Pacific, including 15 Boys attending the Silver Jubilee of the BB in New Zealand in 1951, 15 Boys also attended the BB 75th Anniversary Camp held at Ardmore, New Zealand in 1958, and 15 Boys did a tour of Australia in 1961 as guests of the 8th Parramatta.


Tiny Niue Island (259 sq. km.), discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, was, like the Cooks and Samoa, a strong centre of London Missionary Society interest. BB activity is found in the Ekalesia Niue, successor to the LMS to which most Niueans belong. In 1956 Bob Challis spent a month on the island and BB membership rose to over 400. In 1960 Ron Dickey, stayed six months on Nine to help re-establish the Movement. He was there again in 1961 and since then several visits from BBNZ, including those by Alford Dornan and Ward Fischer.

New Zealand

As early as October 1886 an 80-strong Boys’ Brigade group was formed for the poorer boys of Christchurch. Although not attached to any particular church, it boasted a simple uniform cap and ran classes useful for gaining lucrative employment as well as a Bible Class. The first conventional B.B. company was raised in May 1887 at St. James’ Presbyterian Church, Auckland.

By the early 1930s the New Zealand Brigade had adopted a full uniform based upon that of most schoolboys. The movement also got underway just as ‘war boom’ babies were attaining Life Boy and Brigade age and just as the insecurities of the Depression encouraged their parents to enroll them for the kind of programme the Brigade could offer. In the late 1930s a number of all-Maori companies – a cause predictably dear to McVicker, even at so great a distance – were formed in the North Island.

By the late 1940’s the BB in New Zealand had gained Dominion status allowing them to manage their own affairs and register Companies separate from Headquarters in London. By the 1950’s New Zealand was also responsible for the development and expansion of the BB in the Pacific region.

Brigade growth peaked in Australia and New Zealand in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the rest of the Pacific in the mid 1970’s.

Papua New Guinea

The first B.B. Company in Papua (southern New Guinea) commenced with forty-five boys under the Rev. J.H. Homes (‘Homu’) at the L.M.S. station, Orokolo, in1899-1900, however BB was short lived and it was not until in 1954 a tacit agreement had been reached that Australia would accept responsibility for B.B. extension into the territory of Papua and New Guinea. Brigade work in Papua New Guinea was restarted in the 1960s by expatriate missionaries, and being an Australian territory (it was known as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea until independence in 1975), companies were registered through the BB Offices in Sydney. The 4th Pan Australian Camp was held Rabaul, Papua New Guinea over the new year period 1971-72 attended by over 400 hundred campers, mostly from Australia.


The Rev. Reginald Bartlett, a former B.B. boy and officer in Bristol started his missionary career in Papua New Guinea, before moving to Samoa in 1931, when the following year he started the 1st Samoa (Malua) B.B. Company. Bartlett correctly foretold that the movement would eventually capture the imagination of Samoan and other Polynesian boys and could provide in Samoa a much-needed outlet for the graduates (mostly young pastors) of Malua. Reformed by his successor the Rev. E.J. Edwards, the Malua Company, strategically placed and strictly run, became the forerunner of many units throughout both Eastern and Western Samoa.

In the two Samoas a booming birthrate aided recruitment into the B.B. By 1951 there were 800 members in the Brigade in Samoa, and in 1965 1,300 (all ranks) in twenty-three companies. In 1960 Pastor Tepa Faletoese became Samoan Organizer after training in New Zealand. By 1969, 2,000 members were in the movement in the Samoas.

In Samoa the centenary of the Boys’ Brigade in 1983, was marked with the issue of a commemorative stamp.

Solomon Islands

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.


The Boys’ Brigade started in what is present day Tuvalu, as the 1st Ellice Islands (Funafuti) and 2nd Ellice Islands (Nanumea) in 1961 and 1963 respectively. Membership figures have remained relatively low, as the islands have a small population base.

Most notably Tuvalu issued a set of stamps in 1983 to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the Boys Brigade.


From the late 1940’s on, New Zealand had Domion status within the global Boys’ Brigade movement. In 1963 Ron Dickey became full-time Pacific Organizer, and was wholly supported from New Zealand. He introduced the movement into the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) starting the 1st Efate (Hog Harbour), 1st Tongoa (Napagasele), 2nd Tongoa (Lumbukuti), 3rd Tongoa (Meriu & Bongabonga), 1st Malekula (South West Bay) ,2nd Malekula (Aulua) . In 1967 Dickey retired after seven years as a ‘B.B. missionary’ in the Pacific.

At its peak in the 1970s Brigade work in the Pacific Islands (excluding Papua New Guinea) was reaching 5,500 members.

In 1980, the New Hebrides gained independence and became Vanuatu but the BB had ceased to operate by then. By the middle of the 1990’s a combined Boys’ Brigade and Girls Brigade was operating in Vanuatu.

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