New Hebrides Project

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The New Hebrides Project

Conceived by the late William Stober, the original idea for this project was to launch an appeal for reminiscences about life in the former condominium of the New Hebrides. It was intended that the project would place emphasis on the system of rural administration operated by the British and French District Agents on behalf of the joint Anglo-French administration, usually known as the Condominium Government.  In 1991, Will Stober approached Keith Woodward OBE and sought his help and support in getting what was then known as the District Agent Project, off the ground.  Subsequently more than 350 appeal letters were sent, inviting contributions in writing or tape recording from persons who had lived in the New Hebrides under the Condominium regime.  Eventual contributors, more than fifty in total, included not only British and French expatriate Condominium staff (including former Resident Commissioners and District Agents) but also Australian, New Zealand and ni-Vanuatu condominium civil servants, among whom are one former President of the Republic and a former Prime Minister.

The resulting collection of personal contributions provides a valuable historic record of day to day life in the New Hebrides  prior to independence in 1980.  The record was safeguarded for posterity in 1996 when the Rhodes House Library in the University of Oxford, which specialises in Commonwealth and Naval studies, agreed to provide a permanent home for all of the contributions received.  More recently, the University of the South Pacific, expressed an interest in examining the collection and this has been followed by confirmation from the Research School of Pacific Studies that the University has now published the collection of Condominium reminiscences, in 2002, under the title of Tufala Gavmen.

Keith Woodward has received a limited number of copies of ‘Tufala Gavman’ for sale to members at the discounted price of £20, plus £5 for postage (UK or overseas surface mail) and packing.  Orders should be sent direct to Keith at Taradale, 17 Van Diemen’s Lane, Lansdown, Bath BA1 5TW. Payment should be by cheque, payable to K. Woodward, sent with the order.

A full acknowledgement of the contributions made by the many supporters of this project over the years is given in the detailed project introductory statement attached, but attention is here drawn to the work done by the following members without which the Condominium project would not have been possible (shown L to R) :

Brian Bresnihan MBE British Residency 1971-1980
Keith Woodward OBE British Residency 1953-1978
William E Stober British National Service 1972-1976

[The British Friends of Vanuatu has been authorised by the University of the South Pacific to include extracts from the new book on this website, to give a better understanding of the content and to promote interest in both the subject and in the book itself. 

To view samples of contributions to the new publication, click below


John S Champion  CMG OBE British Resident Commissioner 1975-78

Jean-Jacques Robert French Resident Commissioner 

Andrew Stuart CMG CPM British Resident Commissioner 1978-80