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Mission print shop, Pape'ete.

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Te Maramarama ("The Lightbearer"), Australasian Division

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Te Maramarama (“The Lightbearer”) was a magazine printed for the people of the Society Islands in their own language. It commenced in 1906 and continued publication until a change of name to Te Vea Adivente Mahana Hitu, an alternative for “The Light,” in 1954. It was last listed in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook in 1964.

When the Eastern Polynesian Mission executive committee met for its annual meeting in 1906, the decision was made to publish a Tahitian-language periodical.1 French government law made it difficult for Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to conduct public crusades and English-language schools in Tahiti.2 For that reason the distribution of literature proved to be an excellent method of evangelism. An elementary hymnal, some Bible readings, and a few tracts were all that the missionaries had at their disposal in the Tahitian language. A regular magazine would provide reasons to repeatedly canvass the same territory and talk to the same people over an extended period.

Benjamin and Ida Cady, resident American missionaries in Tahiti, fostered the project. Ida acted as editor,3 choosing appropriate articles of a doctrinal and ethical nature. These were dispatched to Frances Waugh in Wahroonga, NSW, who translated them into Tahitian before sending them on to Elliott Chapman at the Avondale Press in Cooranbong, NSW.4 Earlier Chapman had operated a little press in Tahiti, becoming familiar with some of the Eastern Polynesian languages.

The magazine was titled Te Maramarama, meaning “The Light,” or “Lightbearer.” It was an illustrated eight-page monthly, first appearing in December 1906. The print run was one thousand copies, a figure that remained unchanged for years.5 Missionaries and church members united to distribute it freely. Within two years it was reported that four hundred people had signed up for a regular subscription.6

In 1913 the periodical began appearing under the title Tiarama, a Tahitian synonym for “Light.”7 During wartime Frances Waugh combined with Agnes Deane to translate and prepare the copy for Eastern Polynesian periodicals. In addition to Frank Lyndon, superintendent of the Tahitian Mission, Annie Williams briefly served as editor,8 followed by George Sterling.9 The printing of the magazine in Australia was later considered to be too distant from Tahiti. Lyndon, then the president of the Eastern Polynesian Mission, arranged for his Tahitian domestic aide, Olive, to transfer to Rarotonga, where a small printing press had been established, and typeset for the periodical.10 Agnes Deane also transferred from Australia to assist.11

During the 1920s Lyndon performed much of the editorial work. In 1921 the print shop was reestablished in Tahiti, so Deane transferred to the new location in Papeete, Tahiti.12 She became so proficient that she was reported to be virtually the manager of the printery.13 Sterling took over the editor’s role when Lyndon was transferred from Tahiti.14

The magazine continued with the same size and nature throughout the World War II years and beyond. It was listed in the 1954 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook under the fresh title Te Vea Adivente Mahana Hitu, an alternative for “The Light."15 The listing lasted for a decade, last mentioned in 1964.16

From the outset the periodical was popular among the islanders. Its longevity was testimony to its quality and usefulness. Production costs and the time spent in translating and printing served to establish the Advent message throughout the scattered islands of Eastern Polynesia.

Sources

Aitken, J[ohn] D. K. “Avondale School Press.” Union Conference Record, October 24, 1910.

Cady, [Benjamin J]. “Our Island Papers.” Union Conference Record, April 29, 1907.

Cady, B[enjamin] J. “Our Tahitian Paper.” Union Conference Record, June 29, 1908.

Chapman, E[lliot] C. “Mission Studies on Our Island Papers.” Union Conference Record, June 1, 1908.

Howse, Mabel. “Progress of the Work in Raiatea.” Australasian Record, December 15, 1913.

Lyndon, F[rank] E. “Another Native Worker.” Missionary Leader, February 1919.

———. “Eastern Polynesian Mission.” Australasian Record, October 21, 1918.

———. “Society Islands.” Australasian Record, October 11, 1915.

“Nominations.” Union Conference Record, September 21, 1908.

Piper, A[lbert] H. “Annual Meeting of the Eastern Polynesian Mission.” Union Conference Record, August 20, 1906.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Years 1913–1964.

Schowe, C[harles] H. “En Route to the General Conference.” Australasian Record, July 10, 1922.

“Sister Agnes Deane . . .” Australasian Record, April 18, 1921.

Sterling, Geo[rge] L. “A Greater Interest Than Ever Before.” Australasian Record, July 20, 1925.

Stewart, A[ndrew] G. “Visit to the Society Islands—Part 1.” Australasian Record, August 21, 1933.

“The publication of the regular monthly . . .” Union Conference Record, December 17, 1906.

Thomas, L[ouisa]. “A Trip around Tahiti.” Union Conference Record, October 18, 1909.

Notes

  1. A[lbert] H. Piper, “Annual Meeting of the Eastern Polynesian Mission,” Union Conference Record, August 20, 1906, 6.

  2. F[rank] E. Lyndon, “Society Islands,” Australasian Record, October 11, 1915, 4.

  3. “Nominations,” Union Conference Record, September 21, 1908, 41.

  4. J[ohn] D. K. Aitken, “Avondale School Press,” Union Conference Record, October 24, 1910, 33, 34.

  5. “The publication of the regular monthly . . .,” Union Conference Record, December 17, 1906, 7.

  6. B[enjamin] J. Cady, “Our Tahitian Paper,” Union Conference Record, June 29, 1908, 3.

  7. Mabel Howse, “Progress of the Work in Raiatea,” Australasian Record, December 15, 1913, 2.

  8. “Tahitian,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1917), 214.

  9. “Tahitian,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1918), 224.

  10. F[rank] E. Lyndon, “Another Native Worker,” Missionary Leader, February 1919, 7.

  11. “Tahitian,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 260.

  12. C[harles] H. Schowe, “En Route to the General Conference,” Australasian Record, July 10, 1922, 5.

  13. A[ndrew] G. Stewart, “Visit to the Society Islands—Part 1,” Australasian Record, August 21, 1933, 4, 5.

  14. Geo[rge] L. Sterling, “A Greater Interest Than Ever Before,” Australasian Record, July 20, 1925, 2.

  15. “Tahitian,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1954), 338.

  16. “Tahitian,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1964), 301.

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Hook, Milton. "Te Maramarama ("The Lightbearer"), Australasian Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed June 19, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6863.

Hook, Milton. "Te Maramarama ("The Lightbearer"), Australasian Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6863.

Hook, Milton (2021, January 09). Te Maramarama ("The Lightbearer"), Australasian Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6863.