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Journal featuring writings of Aitutakian Missionary donated to National Library

Thursday 20 July 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Features

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Journal featuring writings of Aitutakian Missionary donated to National Library
Kevin and Mary Salisbury have donated a copy of the Special Issue (Volume 57) of the Journal of Pacific History to the Cook Islands National Library. MELINA ETCHES/23071807

Authors Kevin and Mary Salisbury have had the great privilege of following in the tracks of a “wonderful” Aitutakian author Rau, one of the very first Cook Islands missionaries in Papua New Guinea who wrote in his own language about the first four years of the London Missionary Society (LMS) during his time.

The couple’s work “Rau’s Report on the Work of the Cook Islands ’Orometua in Papua, 18 June 1872–14 June 1877” draws on the writings of Rau, to capture the early days of the Christian mission in PNG.

It tells of the eagerness and passion of these Cook Islands missionaries in Papua New Guinea, for their mission as well as their challenges, tribulations, misfortunes and heartbreak.

Rau’s Report features in the Special Issue (Volume 57) of the Journal of Pacific History – a leading refereed journal dedicated to the study of the Pacific Islands, their peoples and their pasts. It was published last year to commemorate the Bicentenary of Christianity in the Cook Islands.

Three of the articles included in this volume are introduced by their authors – Reverend Mata Tumu-Makara, Dr John Hitchen, and Kevin and Mary Salisbury who donated a copy of the Journal to the Cook Islands National Library on Friday last week.

Rau Taria, a booklet for children written by Mary, was also gifted to the library.

The Salisburys have close ties to the Cook Islands and have been associated with the Auckland community of Pukapuka since 1975.

Their research has encompassed the language and culture, the history and the music of the people of Pukapuka.

In 2003 they attended the International Leaders Conference on Pukapuka, giving presentations on the language and culture.

Mary completed a PhD thesis on the Grammar of Pukapukan in 2004 and has worked with Kevin on the Pukapukan dictionary.

Since then, the Salisburys have acted as advisors to the Pukapuka Bible translation project based in Auckland.

In recent years Mary has assisted with the linguistics papers for the Diploma in Cook Islands Maori course at the University of the South Pacific, Rarotonga.

Earlier this month at the recent Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN) Conference, Kevin’s presentation was entitled, “Exploring our sea of islands: toponyms reveal connections”. 

At the conference, Mary’s talk compared two Aitutakian authors in the 19th century and highlighted differences in grammar from modern Cook Islands Maori. 

They also spoke at the “Festschrift” for the late Marjorie Tuainekore Crocombe held at the USP.

Last week the Salisburys were presenters at a workshop at the 34th General Assembly of the Cook Islands Christian Church discussing “Te kaveanga o te Evangelia ki te au 'enua etene: The Cook Islands Mission Legacy (1830-1926)”.

The Salisburys were in Atiu yesterday to join in their Bicentennial Gospel celebrations. They will return to Aotearoa New Zealand next week.