In Papua New Guinea, the descendants of cannibals who killed and ate four Fijian missionaries in 1878 have apologised for their ancestors' actions. They held a reconciliation ceremony, which was attended by thousands of people, in the East New Britain province where they were killed.
The missionaries were part of a group of Methodist ministers and teachers who arrived in 1875 to spread Christianity. The murders three years later, by Tolai tribespeople on the Gazelle Peninsula, triggered angry reprisals. The English pastor who was head of the mission, George Brown, avenged the killings by taking part in an expedition that resulted in the deaths of a number of tribespeople and the burning of several villages.
Candles were lit in memory of the four. Fiji's High Commissioner in Papua New Guinea, Ratu Isoa Tikoca, accepted the apologies on behalf of the descendants."We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement," he said.
The Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane praised the early missionaries for making the country Christian and called for more people to follow the guiding principles of the religion.