The History of the Tahitian Mission, 1799-1830, Written by John Davies, Missionary to the South Sea Islands
With Supplementary Papers of the Missionaries
In the wake of the navigators who finally opened up the Pacific came missionaries, traders and finally administrators. In the early decades of the 19th century Polynesia was a rich field for the curious and the calculating, for writers and adventurers. The pioneer European settlers in Eastern Polynesia were ministers and mechanics sent out on the crest of an Evangelical wave the merged with the currents and eddies of trade and whaling to break down the isolation of the islands and their inhabitants. Among the pioneers was Welshman John Davies (1772-1855) who spent just over 50 years of his life on Tahiti and neighbouring islands. He witnessed the rise of the Pomare dynasty, conversion to Christianity, reaction to attempts at theocratic government, and the gradual encroachment of alien commerce and European rule. His colleagues have made their contribution to the history and anthropology of Polynesia. Davies himself, teacher, linguist and careful observer, wrote his own story of the Mission, its personalities and their contact with the Polynesians, from the early phase of disillusionment through three decades of political and economic change, destruction and reconstruction. From this contact there emerged the uneasy compromise of missionary and indigenous beliefs and institutions that characterized Tahiti and its neighbours before and after the advent of French administration. Davies's manuscript History is here edited and annotated, supplemented by the writings of other missionaries and presented as a contribution to the literature of the Pacific. This is a new print-on-demand hardback edition of the volume first published in 1961.