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TAGS: Hamuel Hoahania; Islands
LOCATIONS: Fiji; Pacific islands; Solomon Islands
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Short biography of an early Pacific islander convert to the Bahá'í Faith.

Hoahania, Hamuel

by Graham Hassall

published in Bahá'í World, Vol. 20 (1986-1992), pages 843-844
Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1999

Hamuel Hoahania was born in the AreAre district of Malaita in the Solomon Islands. He was a traditional chief and owner of all land near Hau Hui on Malaita, and had a reputation as one of the most cooperative cocoa producers in the Protectorate. As a young man he had worked for the South Sea Evangelical Mission (the major Christian mission in his area), but subsequently worked as a medical dresser. He was contemplating a return to custom religion when he encountered Alvin and Gertrude Blum in Honiara in 1956.

Despite the Christian teaching of brotherly love, European missionaries did not socialise with Islanders. When Hamuel heard of a European family living in Honaira who allowed Islanders into their home, and even ate with them, he did not at first believe the story, and decided to investigate for himself. His work as a "medical dresser" allowed Hamuel to travel to different parts of the Solomon Islands, and when next in the capital, he approached the home of Knights of Bahá'u'lláh Alvin and Gertude Blum. Alvin was told one evening about July 1956 that there was a man standing near to the house. He invited him in, and offered him some refreshments. Hamuel asked the Blums for books about the Bahá'í Faith, and invited them to Hau Hui to "start a mission".1

His conversion precipitated the first mass entry of Pacific Islanders into the Faith after the events in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1954-55, and was regarded as an important event in Solomon Islands' religious history.2

Gertrude Blum visited Hamual's clan in Hau Hui, and a large number decided to become Bahá'ís. An LSA was soon established at Hau Hui, of which Hamuel was a member. The rapid emergence of Bahá'í communities on Malaita provoked opposition from a number of missions, and the new Bahá'ís faced a variety of forms of harrassment and ridicule. They persevered, nevertheless, in establishing Local Assemblies, and a primary school.

In 1959 a regional National Spiritual Assembly was established, with its seat in Fiji, of which the Solomon Islands was a part. In each group of islands an Island Teaching Committee was appointed to co-ordinate the activities of the Bahá'í community and liaise with the RSA. Hamuel was a member of the Solomon Islands Teaching Committee from 1961.

In 1962 and subsequent years Hamuel was elected as a delegate to the convention of the South Pacific RSA. Toward the end of the World Crusade Hamual assisted in implementing a large-scale travel teaching project on Malaita, in which Bahá'ís visited most of the villages in the AreAre and Koio regions of Malaita. By Ridvan 1963 there was an Assembly at Hau Hui, nine othere localities on the Island, and some 800 Malaitan Bahá'ís. By 1986 there were 59 Local Assemblies on Malaita.

Hamuel served on the Southwest Pacific NSA for a number of years. In 1978 was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly, and later that year was appointed an Auxiliary Board Member.


[1] 25 May 1956 "ITC 1960" - Honiara Bahá'í Archives.

[2] [Note: this endnote has scanning errors, it appears that two separate blocks of text were combined during OCR.] Tippett has suggested that the theme of the "unity of the human race" was crucial to HChristianity, p. 98: "In the same island [Malaita] the issue of unity had been injected into the same oahania's conversion: Alan Tippett, Solomon Islands dmovement, which stems from a certain trader in Honiara and has now quite a community of members enominational community (SSEM) by the Bahá'í rSouth Sea Evangelical worker who had been disciplined. After a decade the Bahá'í now claim about ound Hauhui in Malaita. It began there through a 8of considerable strength at Auki, and the others round Hauhui. These people have a natural urge for 00 adherents in 5 Assemblies, one at Honiara, one uplace..." Frank Coaldrake also noted the expansion of the Bahá'ís, as well as other religious groups. "Many nity, which attracted them to Bahá'í in the first cministered to by the church because of lack of staff. The people wanted the Anglican church, but were taken up by onverted by the brothers could not be tWitnesses, Bahá'í or Roman Catholics." -Floodtide in the Pacific quoted in Tippett, Solomon Islands Christianty: A he SSEM, SDA, Jehovah's SObstruction, p.50. Darrel Whiteman has suggested that conversions to the Bahá'í Faith among Malaitans were more likely to be tudy in Growth and fEvangelical Church (SSEC) than the Melanesian Church (Church of England), the former being "... prime candidates for splintering rom the South Sea fforming either new sects or joining other sects and denominations." Darrell L. Whiteman, Melanesians and Missionaries, William rom their church and Carey Library, 1983, p.334.

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