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Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2

New Hebrides

New Hebrides

I'd like to answer the question that our sister from Tahiti has posed.

Her first question was that she'd like to know from us – from other countries – what our ministers or what our churches' stand is in relation to the bomb and nuclear testing in Tahiti.

I am very grateful that this Conference has made it page 22 possible for people from New Caledonia, New Hebrides and Tahiti to meet, as we have a common area that we share and that it is that we are French Territories. We come under French Colonialism, and this particular system makes it very very difficult for our three peoples to meet, to communicate As our Tahitian sister has stated, information to come out is very difficult and the relevant information to come in to us is also very difficult. This is the first time that I am able to hear anything from a Tahitian.

In the New Hebrides, as far as Christian religion is concerned, we have something like a dozen different denominations of one kind of Christianity or another. I have beer brought up in the Anglican tradition, my father being an Anglican minister. I went through Anglican church schools and have been involved in church activities.

The point is this: in the New Hebrides we have not had the education, we were denied education. People were educate by different churches, but what they were taught were only Christian teachings and may be how to read and write. So any knowledge of anything outside the religious traditions, they don't know very much about. For example, maybe a world-view or a world-outlook, anything on economics, and things like this, many people do not understand because they have not had the chance to be educated.

Coming back to our ministers, in the Anglican Church in the New Hebrides we have between sixty to eighty priests who are Anglican and out of these only two have had high-school education. They did not have high-school education because the Government made it impossible for them to have this. They had schooling because their families made it possible for them. Therefore, many of our ministers, because of lack of education, do not understand much about politics, economics, or, as you said, the bomb. However, a few priests who understand the world problems and the world situation as it is today, are involved in political developments like some of you might have heard about in the New Hebrides. There are a number of political parties now and one of them being the National Party which is headed by and the core of it is, the Church from the different denominations. Much of the page 23 leadership are ministers.

Our stand is with you. We are against the bomb. We are against militarism in the Pacific.

However, our voice is not yet a united voice because the few who understand us are so few, and our people who are the masses are so much for us to cope with that the information has not been channeled back into the grass-roots effectively yet. But the few who have had the chance to be educated or to see this light, realise that that is the challenge, and that that is the direction that educated and the more understanding are taking. And we hope more will come to understand that we must stand together and that things like militarism and other aspects that arise from it, I think we have to handle carefully and maybe base our ideas on real Christianity – not the Christianity that has been created after Christ dies, but Christ's true teachings has to be involved.