Pacific Island Books

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Arts of Vanuatu. Edited by Joël Bonnemaison, Kirk Huffman, Christian Kaufmann and Durrell Tryon. Recommended retail price $79.

Arts of Vanuatu is a comprehensive, authoritative, beautifully illustrated guide to the arts of this fascinating South Pacific archipelago. There is little doubt that this book will become a classic. Hard cover, 338 pages.


Big Wok: Storian Blong Wol Wo Tu Long Vanuatu edited by Lamont Lindstrom and James Gwero. Recommended retail price $20.

World War II’s beginnings; Australians, Japanese and Americans; cargo, airfields, roads, telephones, ships, hospitals, canteens, mosquitoes; trouble among workmen, women and Indochinese; the New Hebrides Defense Force; equipment, planes, submarines and bombs; medicine, money, music, cinema and sport; John Frum Movement; and changes from the War. Written in Pidgin.

Long Mei, 1942, plante bigfala wosip oli kam insaed Vila Haba, mo laef blong ol pipol long Vanuatu I stat jenis. Long Wol Wo Tu plante samting I happen we I impoten tumas long histry blong Vanuatu. Wo I jenisim plante ples olbaot long Vanuatu mo I jenisim laef blong olgeta man mo woman long evri aelan long kantri. Olfala blong yumi oli save gud Wol Wo Tu, be plante oli lus finis. Bitim 140 man mo woman blong olbaot long Vanuatu oli storian long taem blong wo insaed long buk ya. Soft cover, 308 pages.


Birds of Vanuatu by Heinrich Bregulla. Recommended retail price $75, our price $60.

This superb book is a labor of love by the author Heinrich Bregulla. He originally went to Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides) in 1959. His intended stay of nine months extended to twenty years in the region. Although he started as a collector for museums, Herr Bregulla soon realized the fragility of island faunas and turned his attention to observation and conservation. It was his enthusiasm and field experience that led to the publication of this book (together with the substantial German Aid which made it possible).

Birds of Vanuatu
contains a checklist and detailed notes on identification, behavior, habitat, breeding and distribution for the 121 species known to have occurred there. It is essential reading for anyone planning a trip to Vanuatu and a useful addition to any ornithologist’s library. I recommend it highly and lament the fact that I encountered this book too late to include it in the bibliography of Fiji’s Natural Heritage. Hard cover, 294 pages.


Bislama Dictionary, A New by Terry Crowley. Recommended retail price $26.

A New Bislama Dictionary reflects the current vocabulary of Bislama, the national language of Vanuatu. It provides up-to-date spelling, usage and translations. Spellings follow principles endorsed by the Bislama Spelling Committee of the Literacy Association of Vanuatu. This dictionary is an essential tool for everyone in Vanuatu and others who use or study its language.

Terry Crowley has conducted linguistic research in Vanuatu for almost 20 years. He is a former staff member of the University of the South Pacific, having taught at the Pacific Languages Unite, Port Vila. He has written Beach-la-Mar to Bislama: The emergence of a national language in Vanuatu, as well as a grammar and a dictionary of the language of Paama. He is writing a grammar and a dictionary of the language of Erromango. Soft cover, 484 pp.


Diving and Snorkeling Guide to Vanuatu by Bob Bowdey, Judy Beaty, and Brian Ansell. Recommended retail price $14.95, our price $14.50.

Vanuatu is one of the world’s exotic dive destinations. On the edge of the Coral Sea it provides some spectacular diving. This book covers a variety of dive sites from the challenge of the S.S President Coolidge, the world’s largest divable World War II wreck at 654 feet in length to snorkel sites that anyone can manage comfortably. As usual with these Pisces Guides the photos are excellent. A must for anyone traveling to Vanuatu. Soft cover, 92 pages.


Doctor in Vanuatu: A Memoir by Dr. E. A. (Ted) Freeman. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies.  ISBN 9789820203808. Recommended retail price.

For seven years in the 1960s, Ted Freeman was the doctor in charge of the main practicing and training hospital of the New Hebrides – what is today Vanuatu.

In what was the tin-roofed, wooden-walled Paton Memorial Hospital on Iririki Island, now the splendid location of the Iririki Island Resort, he treated everything from broken bones to meningitis, rheumatic fever and TB – when necessary operating with a medical text propped on a lectern installed over an archaic ex US-army operating table and by torch-light. Traveling, queasily, in small boats and planes, Ted visited and assisted the even more remote hospitals and clinics on the outer islands. With his endlessly supportive wife, Dorothy, a young family and a largely local support team he worked to heal and mend and to improve the medical skills and resources in what was then a remote corner of the South Pacific. An appointee of the Australian Presbyterian Board of Mission, Ted established a blood bank, updated anaesthetic procedures, taught birth-control – and came a poor second in the Iririki Cup Challenge…

This evocative and amusing memoir brings to life the challenges, joys and frustrations of living and working in the Pacific. In 2004 Ted Freeman was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to medicine. Soft cover,  204 pages. Published in 2006.


Land Tenure In Vanuatu edited by Peter Larmour. Recommended retail price $10.

Land tenure always presents problems in developing societies. Land tenure in Vanuatu discusses all aspects of land ownership in this multicultural Pacific Island nation. Soft cover, 87 pages.


Pentecost: An Island in Vanuatu by Genevieve Mescam with photographs by Denis Coulombier. Recommended retail price $12.

Pentecost Island is known mainly for its land divers ... the original bungy jumpers. Author Mescam looks at the culture and arts and crafts in this unusual book. Pentecost supports three main societies, each having its own characteristics and making up an entity quite distinct from its neighbors.

The motifs illustrating the text are taken from the mats of the area which are objects of both art and value. They are woven and dyed by complex processes and form an important part of social ceremonial exchanges. Pentecost is recommended for everyone with an interest in Pacific arts and crafts and is a must for anyone planning to visit Pentecost. Soft cover, 59 pp.

Click here for illustration from Pentecost. (32.89K)

Click here for photos from Pentecost. (34.27K)


The Making of a Rebel: Captain Donald Macleod of the New Hebrides by Katherine Stirling Kerr Cawsey. Recommended retail price $45.

Tarred as a blackbirder, Donald Macleod participated in settlement and trading in the Pacific Islands from 1868 until his death in 1894. Although he did participate in the labour trade, he has been unfairly maligned in history books. British and French colonialists, anxious to achieve political ends, used Macleod as a whipping boy, as did the New Hebrides Mission. After extensive research, his great niece, Katherine Stirling Kerr Cawsey, found that Macleod enjoyed a good reputation among Islanders, settlers, traders and some colonial officials and missionaries; he was not the villain that many others had painted him. This book offers hitherto unknown data about trading conditions and Islander participation and revelatory discussion of the politics of the day, as well as an intimate portrait of a survivor in a rough and controversial era. Soft cover. 589 pp.


Vanuatu by Denis O’Byrne and David Harcombe. Published by Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 0-86442-660-7. Recommended retail price $14.95, our price $14.50.

Vanuatu is a fascinating Melanesian destination. From the roaring volcano Yasur on Tanna to the urban French sophistication of Port Vila, Vanuatu should be on the itinerary of any seasoned traveler. Paddy well remembers the joy of driving around the island of Efate and lunching on a French bread stick, Camembert cheese and vin rouge … not the normal fare of the South Pacific. The authors have done the usual thorough Lonely Planet Guide job and Vanuatu is highly recommended. Soft cover, 304 pages.

Click on links below for these books.

Black Stone I and II by Grace Mera Molisa

Policies and Perceptions of France in the South Pacific: New Caledonia and Vanuatu by Peter Myriam Dornoy-Vurobaravu

South Pacific Islands by Joan Beard

South Pacific Islands, Nelles Guide by Michael Brillat

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