To mark the 175th anniversary of the introduction of the gospel to Niue in 1846, the Ekalesia Kerisiano Niue led the national church service yesterday. The day was attended by the Premier, members of Cabinet, and representatives of the New Zealand and Australian governments.
At the national service this year, the New Zealand High Commissioner Helen Tunnah announced that the great-grandson of one of the first missionaries to Niue Frank Lawes had decided to gift to the people of Niue the Lawes family bible and photographs during their time working in Niue. Ms Tunnah told the congregation that for a few months now she has been in communications with historian Margaret Pointer in New Zealand and Mr Jonathan Lawes in London about this.
“As some of you may be aware that I’ve been in communication with Margaret Pointer and Mr Jonathan Lawes in London. He is the great-grandson of Frank and Sarah Lawes.
This is because his family has decided to gift some family treasurers back to Niue. It’s a family bible and some family photographs from Frank and Sarah’s time in Niue”.
The bible and photographs are already in Wellington after being delivered to the New Zealand High Commission in London by Mr Jonathan Lawes. (Pictured is L-R Sue Lawes, NZ High Commission staff Juliet Pearce and Jonathan Lawes)
“We will be archiving the photographs and we will be working with the government of Niue, the Ekalesia Niue and Taoga Niue on archiving and ensuring that we treasure these items”.
High Commissioner Tunnah read out part of her communications from Jonathan Lawes.
“I was pleased that you might mention this at the church service on Peniamina day. I hope my great grandfather the Reverend Frank E Lawes and his marvellous wife Sarah might have approved of this happening seeing that they worked and lived in Niue for forty years. After all, it was her bible, translated into Niuean language partly by her husband and her album in which she had assembled photographs.”
Ms Helen Tunnah said that Mr Jonathan Lawes is keen to learn more about the developments of bringing these taoga back to Niue.
Frank Lawes is the brother of William George Lawes who joined his brother in Niue in 1868 and worked as missionaries for the London Missionary Society.
The announcement by Ms Tunnah was welcomed with applause and echoes of ‘Tulou’ by the Church leaders and government leaders in the congregation.
Peniamina day is a public holiday and many people from the fourteen Ekalesia churches joined in the national service. This year the churches donated just under $72,000 for the work of the Ekalesia on the island.