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July 21, 2021

Locals snap up bargains at Bigfala Sale 2021

From the moment we threw open the flaps on the marquee, we knew we were going to be busy. The Museum’s annual Bigfala Sale concluded on Friday last week after almost two weeks of raising much needed funds for the South Pacific WWII Museum.

The Sale, the brainchild of Museum Chairman Bradley Wood, sees a container load of excess hardware and homewares stock from GMID/Fill The Container Australia, get sold at heavily discounted prices – the profits of which, go straight back to the Museum.

The most popular items were those used in construction such as concrete reinforcing mesh, corrugated roofing, PVC pipe and cement sheet. While smaller items such as shovels, work boots, plastic pots and tarpaulins were also hot sellers.

Of course the constant stream of locals to the Bigfala Sale also meant a lot more locals dropped in to have a look through the Museum. Lengkon and Marina were rushed off their feet trying to look after both sites, but luckily for us, Santo Hardware staff were on hand. They did an extraordinary job moving products down to the Sale, looking after payments and ensuring everything ran smoothly.

The South Pacific WWII Museum would like to take this opportunity to thank Hamish Saunders from GMID/Fill-the-Container for once again getting behind the Museum with a container load of fantastic sale products.

We’d also like to thank the wonderfully generous Richard & Rosemary Lo from the LCM group for their ongoing support via Santo Hardware.

The Luganville Municipal Council Town Clerk is always very helpful in granting us the use of the empty space opposite Museum to set up the Bigfala Sale. Thank you sir.

A special thanks must also be given to Santo Hardware Sales staff Angela, Rosie, Justin, Karu, and Jordie for all their superb work during this sale. Plus the guys who came down and set up up the marquee for the event. You guys are the best.

To our Project Office Manager Lengkon Tokon, thank you for all your hard work jumping between the Sale and the Museum to look after visitors. And of course Marina Moli at the Museum. A huge thank you to you for so calmly and warmly showing everyone through the Museum and answering who knows how many questions about the Pacific War.

And lastly, a final word of sincere thanks must go to Museum Chairman and Santo Hardware MD Bradley Wood whose enthusiasm and passion for the Museum remains as strong as it was when we first embarked on this project.

June 20, 2021

An exciting collection with a fascinating link to our past

Early in June, we were contacted by Brad Wojcik in the United States. He told us the wonderful story of his father’s career in the merchant navy during World War II. But of greatest interest to us was that his father John served as a Steward on the SS President Coolidge when it went down off the coast of Espiritu Santo in 1942.

Brad had a number of his father’s items he wished to donate to the Museum along with a couple of fabulous pieces from the Coolidge, recovered prior to its sinking.
Born in Chicago, John Wojcik had a tragic childhood with both parents passing away in unrelated circumstances by the time he turned 10.

He went and lived with his older sister for a while then ended up with a family in Wisconsin. He then rode a freight train out to California with only 15 cents in his pocket, because his brother Steve lived there. 

John was a hard worker and was always trying to learn something new. Which is probably why he joined the Merchant Navy and US Coast Guard. He served on Edward Ganby, SS Defiance, SS Cape Isabel and on a number of occasions on the 

John Wojcik's photograph inside his Seaman's Passport.

SS President Coolidge. During his time on board the ships, he worked as a porter, qualified as a cook and baker, room steward, second steward, steward’s mate and chief steward. After the war he worked for a vending machine company in San Francisco where he worked his way up to general manager of Automatic Vending in Sacramento.

He was very successful financially without ever graduating from high school. However, later in life he took night classes and finally gained his high school diploma in 1984. As far as John’s wonderful memorabilia goes, Brad has sent us quite an amazing snapshot of his father’s life in the merchant marine. Included in the collection are:

Letters of recommendation
Certificates of discharge
A seaman’s passport
Crew ID passes
Inoculation records
Seaman’s permits
Leather seaman’s wallet
US Coast Guard Certificate of Service
And much more.

Brad sent us his father's Seaman Passport, USCG Certificate of Service, Coolidge menu, Seaman's Wallet and more.

John's Release from Active Duty certificate releasing him from service.

Of greatest significance is a beautiful lifeboat flashlight still with its protective copper canister. Brad said, “my dad was on a life boat after the ship sank and he brought back the flashlight from the boat.” There is also a menu from one of the Coolidge’s dining areas. Brad’s not sure of the story behind the menu but said, “…seeing as he was the Chief Steward maybe that is why he took that.”

Some of the papers from John's Seaman's Wallet provide a wonderful snapshot of his life in the Merchant Navy.

The flashlight's copper canister.

The beautiful SS President Coolidge lifeboat flashlight donated to the Museum.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Brad for his generous donation and for entrusting his father’s items to our care. They’ll be included in a wider Coolidge display that we will create at a later date.

December 17, 2020

A much needed donation from the Government of Japan

Earlier today in Espiritu Santo, the Ambassador for Japan Mr Hirohisa Chiba handed over the keys to a brand new, state-of-the-art Toyota 4WD ambulance to the ProMedical team.

The Government of Japan through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) Programme generously donated the Ambulance worth VUV 6,194,910. It was handed over to Station Manager Jerome Sese in a ribbon cutting ceremony at ProMedical’s headquarters in Luganville. As is customary with ProMedical’s ambulances, they are given a name. Children from Luganville International School were asked to submit names, including Amirah Wensi, who suggested the ambulance should be named after her dad.

Alma Wensi was a very active member of not only his church but the entire Luganville community, a Youth Group Leader and a loving husband and proud father. What’s more, he was the South Pacific WWII Museum’s Project Office Manager until his sad passing last year. The name ‘Alma’ also means lifts the spirits and feeds the soul.

Ambassador for Japan Mr Hirohisa Chiba and Amirah Wensi cut the ribbon to hand over ‘Alma’ to Station Manager Jerome Sese. Amirah’s proud mum Edwinge is in the background.

The ProMedical team with Ambassador for Japan Mr Hirohisa Chiba.

The brand new Toyota ambulance donated by the Government of Japan to ProMedical in Luganville.

We couldn’t think of a more deserving name for the new ambulance and we’d like to thank and congratulate the ProMedical committee on choosing what couldn’t be a more fitting name for the new emergency vehicle.

Tankio Tumas Government of Japan.

December 2, 2020

Museum kicks off end of year fundraiser.

It’s been quite a year for the South Pacific WWII Museum. With Vanuatu’s borders closed, one of our major sources of income has all but dried up – for the moment. Additionally, Cyclone Harold that struck the northern islands (including Espiritu Santo) in April, did untold damage to Luganville and Santo as a whole, setting the economy back who knows how far.

Yet, thanks to the hard work of Museum Board members and Lengkon and Marina down at the Museum, we’ve managed to keep things pretty much as they were earlier this year:

• We’ve maintained daily posts on social media.
• The website has remained up to date.
• We’ve published the monthly newsletter.
• We’ve continued locating the families of lost dog tags from those who served on Santo during WWII.
• And most importantly, we’ve kept the Museum open – on reduced hours – and continued hosting visitors from Santo and neighbouring islands. That has also meant that our schools’ program has continued to enjoy popularity.

However, to help keep our heads above water, we’re asking for your help, to support us in any way you can. If you’d like to give, you can access our online donation page here or click on the image and make your donation via PayPal or Credit Card.

Your gift would be mean a lot to us, and we greatly appreciate your generosity and support.

If you’re from the U.S. donations to the South Pacific WWII Museum are tax deductible.

September 19, 2020

Lord Mayor’s Award recognises Museum’s local role.

Saturday in Luganville started like any other for South Pacific WWII Museum Project Office Manager Lengkon Tokon and Support Officer Marina Moli. And then the phone call came.

Luganville Municipal Council Lord Mayor Mr. Peter Patty asked to meet with Museum staff at the Museum for a special presentation. Lengkon and Marina were intrigued. What was this all about? And the Lord Mayor no less.

Sure enough Lord Mayor Peter Patty came by the Museum and Project Development Office – to present an award to us.

The ‘Award of Recognition’ acknowledges the important role the Museum is fulfilling through:

– The preservation of Luganville’s WWII history;
– The untold stories being uncovered by the Museum;
– The dedication of the staff, particularly Marina Moli and her incredible work following Cyclone Harold and the Covid-19 outbreak;
– And our cooperation and communication of the Museum.

Lengkon and Marina were absolutely thrilled to accept the award on behalf of the Museum, which came as a total surprise to all of us.

Luganville Lord Mayor Peter Patty presents Marina Moli and Lengkon Tokon with the Museum’s award.

Lengkon and Marina are absolutely thrilled to receive the award from the Lord Mayor.

The Lord Mayor’s award that now hangs proudly on the Museum wall.

The Museum would like to congratulate and thank Marina for all she has done for the Museum project in her time as our longest serving Museum staff member. She has shown an enthusiasm and willingness to lend a hand no matter what was asked of her. She has also proven to be a wonderful guide and teacher to the hundreds and possibly thousands of tourists and locals who have visited the Museum over the years.

We’d like to thank Lord Mayor Peter Patty and the Luganville Municipal Council for the award which now hangs very proudly in the Museum.

Next time you’re visiting the South Pacific WWII Museum, ask Marina or Lengkon to show it to you. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to.

September 21, 2020

Museum is most grateful for BSP’s ongoing support.

As the unfolding tragedy of the coronavirus began to take hold of almost every country around the world, the Vanuatu government began weighing up the impact it could have on its own people. With so much of the population in isolated villages spread across the 80 or so islands that make up the archipelago, the devastation the virus could cause would be unimaginable.

The government therefore made the decision to close Vanuatu’s borders – early. It was decision that certainly paid off with no reported cases of the virus anywhere in the country.

But as everyone began to breathe a sigh of relief, there was another potential disaster looming.

The South Pacific World War II Museum in Luganville, is delighted to announce that Navara sponsor Bank South Pacific (BSP) has signed on for a third year.

In announcing its support for 2020/2021, Ms. Moana Korikalo, Head of Retail & Marketing at BSP said, “we are delighted to reaffirm our support for such an important project. The Museum is doing a wonderful job educating the younger and indeed older generations about Vanuatu’s vital role in supporting the Allied war effort during World War II.”

Museum Chairman Bradley Wood was thrilled to have BSP on board for a third year. “We are very grateful for the wonderful assistance we’ve received from Bank South Pacific. I can’t thank Ms. Korikalo and her team enough for what they’ve done to ensure we keep the Museum dream alive.”

2020 has certainly been a challenging year for tourism operators right across Vanuatu following TC Harold and the ongoing effects of the Coronavirus outbreak globally. Museum Project Office Manager Lengkon Tokon has had to make some tough decisions along the way, with the fall in tourist numbers affecting visitors to the mini museum and Development Office.

“It has been a year I think we’d all rather forget, as far as tourism goes. Of course, that has meant some unfortunate decisions for us, cutting back on our opening hours until tourist numbers pick up again,” Lengkon said. “However, Bank South Pacific’s wonderful contribution to the project enables us to keep the doors open through this difficult time and continue our fundraising efforts. We’re extremely grateful to them for their continued support.”

Should you wish to discuss becoming a Navara supporter of the Museum Project or would like to make a donation, please contact Lengkon at: lengkon.tokon@southpacificwwiimuseum.com

March 7, 2020

Museum reaches out to Hollywood actor Tom Hanks.

Last year the South Pacific WWII Museum produced a short video. It was essentially an invitation to a very special person.

Research had shown that the Museum project wasn’t widely known, particularly in the United States, where we believe a large proportion of our funding will hopefully come from. To increase our profile in the US, we need a way of getting the project known in the wider world. To do that, we wanted to get Hollywood actor Tom Hanks to record a short message that we could use to help publicise the Museum.

The reason we have chosen Tom Hanks will become clear when you watch the video. However, to demonstrate to him the level of commitment behind the project, we filmed an invitation from Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trades, Ralph Regenvanu, Museum Chairman Bradley Wood and James Carter to encourage Tom to support us.

The video was put on USB flash drives, packaged up in hand-made boxes and couriered to his three agents in Los Angeles. Despite all the effort we went to, we didn’t hear a thing. We have tried time and time again for the past six months to engage many contacts, friends and business associates who we thought could help. Again, we came up empty.

So this week we went public with our video and posted it on social media. The aim was to get our wonderful supporters and friends to see if they can find a way to get our video in front of Tom. Given our broad supporter base, we were hoping someone, somewhere may have had dealings with Tom’s production company, or may know know his agents. Then again maybe someone knows Tom personally or has worked with him. All we’re asking for is that if anyone has a way into Tom, we’d be extremely grateful for their help in getting him to see our video. So far the Facebook post has reached almost 32,000 people and it’s continuing to gather momentum. Who knows, maybe when he gets some downtime on the Gold Coast in Australia where he’s filming Baz Luhrmann’s new Elvis film, he might get to see our video? Whatever the case if you can help spread the word, please head over to our Facebook page and share our post.

If you’d like to watch the video, either click on the photograph above or follow this link.

April 29, 2020

The first Category 5 cyclone to hit the northern islands

As the unfolding tragedy of the coronavirus began to take hold of almost every country around the world, the Vanuatu government began weighing up the impact it could have on its own people. With so much of the population in isolated villages spread across the 80 or so islands that make up the archipelago, the devastation the virus could cause would be unimaginable.

The government therefore made the decision to close Vanuatu’s borders – early. It was decision that certainly paid off with no reported cases of the virus anywhere in the country.

But as everyone began to breathe a sigh of relief, there was another potential disaster looming.

On April 1, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported that a tropical low had developed east of Papua New Guinea. As the system developed, it began tracking towards the Solomon Islands. Passing approximately 135km to the southeast of Honiara, the cyclone gained ferocity and its track suggested it would make landfall somewhere along the west coast of Espiritu Santo.

On April 4, it was reclassified as a Category 3 cyclone and soon developed into a Category 4 severe tropical cyclone.

On April 6, at around 11:00am local time, Harold made landfall on the west coast of Santo, with 10-minute sustained winds of 215km/h (130mph). Harold continued to the southeast almost following the Segond Channel and the stronger northern eyewall of the cyclone passed over Luganville near 1pm local time.

While the storm weakened for a few hours, wind shear and very warm sea surface temperatures caused the cyclone to re-intensify just before passing over the south end of Pentecost Island in the early evening. When it hit the island, it was packing winds of up to 270km/h (168mph) – the strongest recorded along Harold’s destructive path across the northern islands.

While two category 3 cyclones have hit Espiritu Santo and Pentecost Islands in the past, Harold was the first Category 4 or 5 cyclone on record to hit the islands.

Infrared Himawari-8 image of Cyclone Harold over Pentecost Island. Credit: NOAA, CIRA & RAMMB

Damage to homes on Espiritu Santo following Cyclone Harold. Credit: Kevin Green

The aftermath of Cyclone Harold is nothing short of devastating. West coast communities were completely destroyed as was 90% of the houses on Pentacost. The damage across Santo and the islands is unimaginable. Of course, with Vanuatu’s borders closed due to the coronavirus, it’s been an immense challenge to get aid and personnel in. In fact, no personnel will be allowed in until border restrictions are lifted. So where possible, assistance is coming from Port Vila.

The people across the northern islands are facing challenges beyond anyone’s comprehension. It will be a mammoth rebuilding requiring time and an immense amount of effort. But of all the things that will get the Ni-Vanuatu people through all of this, it’s their faith and resilience that will ensure they stay strong.

Villages on nearby islands have been completely flattened. Credit: Big Heart Island Vanuatu

If you’d like to help the people of Vanuatu, donations can be made through Big Heart Island Vanuatu. A wonderful charity set up by Museum Secretary Mayumi Green following Cyclone Pam in 2015, to look after the people of Vanuatu in times of natural disaster. A Go Fund Me page has been set up following Cyclone Harold here:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/tc-harold-relief-fund-by-big-heart-island-vanuatu

Alternatively, donations may be made directly to Big Heart Island’s ANZ Bank account in Espiritu Santo. Details can be sent to you by emailing info@southpacificwwiimuseum.com

If you would like to keep up to date with what Big Heart Island are doing to support the people of Vanuatu, visit their Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BigHeartIslandVanuatu/about/

January 20, 2020

Lengkon Tokon joins the Project Office team

Today is a very special day for the South Pacific WWII museum as we welcome Lengkon Tokon to the Museum project. Lengkon is taking up the role of Office Manager, following the passing of our previous office manager Alma Wensi in May last year.

Our search for a replacement for Alma was a difficult one for us given the tremendous legacy he left behind. After sorting through the many applications we received, Lengkon stood out as the perfect candidate to continue our mission to see the Museum through to fruition.

Museum Committee Member Mary O’Reilly, who headed up the recruitment committee said, “Lengkon is an, experienced, friendly, and enthusiastic person. He has a desire to contribute to and become a valid member of the Santo community and sees the Museum Project as an opportunity to do that locally but has an immediate grasp of the global impact this could also have for Santo and Vanuatu.”

Lengkon comes to us from a diverse career in a variety of industries, most recently working for Air Vanuatu as the airline’s Airport Coordinator at Santo-Pekoa International Airport. He is fluent in English and Bislama and as Lengkon puts it, has “a basic grasp of the French language”, which will no doubt come in handy given the broad scope of visitors to the mini museum and Development Office.

Museum Chairman Bradley Wood is also very excited to have Lengkon coming on board. “Lengkon has some wonderful ideas and a work ethic that impressed me during the interview process”, Bradley said. “He also has a vision for how to improve his work places and provide development opportunities for his staff, which will be a tremendous asset to the Museum as we continue to grow.”

Lengkon is very much looking forward to his new role with us and envisages exciting times ahead for the Museum. “I see great potential in the South Pacific WWII Museum project for Santo, Vanuatu and the Ni-Vanuatu people. I can also see the potential for growth and the social contribution that this project can offer.” When you’re next in Luganville, come down to the Development Office and mini museum and and say hello to Lenkon and welcome him into his new role.

September 20, 2019

LCM makes it eight

The South Pacific World War II Museum has a new Navara Fund supporter, and one that is very familiar to the people of Espiritu Santo.

Rosemary and Richard Lo, the directors of LCM Limited, have joined the Fund, which helps support the operations of the Museum project office and team. LCM is the premier supermarket retailer in Luganville, Espiritu Santo.

Rosemary and Richard have already been supporting the Museum through another of their well-known businesses in Luganville, Santo Hardware.

Rosemary Lo says they are delighted to join the Navara Fund and give additional support over the next three years to the project.

“The Museum will create a significant tourism destination and local jobs and further help develop the economy of Espiritu Santo and we are fully supportive of all those goals.”

Elwood J Euart Trust chairman Bradley Wood thanks the Lo’s for their support. “We already know from their past help that Rosemary and Richard are believers in our work, but this latest support is a great sign of confidence in us.”

The Navara Fund is named after the bislama for coconut seedling, and is a local and meaningful name for our seed fund. It allows local and international businesses, and individuals, to support our office and fund-raising work.

LCM joins seven other Navara Fund members: Air Vanuatu, BSP Bank, TVL, Tropex Exports Limited, Henry Cumines Pty Ltd, Bob Hill, and the Thiele Boys. If you are interested in becoming a Navara Fund member, you can see more here at Navara Fund Information or contact us at info@southpacificwwiimuseum.com

October 21, 2019

We present our plans in Canberra with great success.

Our recent trip to Canberra was a great success for us as it provided us with the opportunity to essentially pitch the Museum to a number of key figures in Canberra. Each of the people were selected for their potential to add value to the Museum project in some way. Those people were, Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Assistant Defence Minister and Mr John Hennessey-Niland Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy. Here is a brief rundown of each of those meetings.

From left to right, Committee Member Steve Turner, Project Manager James Carter, AWM Director Dr Brendon Nelson and Museum Chairman Brad Wood.

Dr Brendan Nelson
Director, Australian War Memorial

We met with Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial on Wednesday October 16. We spent around an hour with him, introducing the project and discussing a range of topics, including how we might be able to partner with the War Memorial in some way and draw upon their extensive museum experience.

We left Dr Nelson’s office with new ideas, new directions and a clearer idea of where we should be heading in these early development stages. Having the opportunity to discuss our project with the Director of one of the truly great museums of the world was a rare opportunity indeed.

Hon Alex Hawke MP
Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Assistant Defence Minister

On Thursday we met with the Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Assistant Defence Minister. He was extremely interested in every aspect of the Museum project and as a result, made many suggestions as to how we might move the project forward.
He was one of the most committed and enthusiastic people we could hope to meet. We came away from that meeting full of ideas and will certainly be in touch with the minister – at his suggestion – again in the very near future.

From left to right, Museum Chairman Brad Wood, Hon Alex Hawke MP Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Deputy Defence Minister, Committee Member Steve Turner and Project Manager James Carter.

From left to right, Museum Chairman Brad Wood and Project Manager James Carter outside the US Embassy in Canberra.

Mr John Hennessey-Niland
Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy

On Friday we attended a meeting at the U.S. Embassy. We met with Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr John Hennessey-Niland. He was also very enthusiastic about our project and offered to assist us in any way he and the Embassy could.

We talked about the possibility of introductions to relevant museums, organisations, and corporates. John said that once the South Pacific WWII Museum is in a position to develop a list of people we would like to approach in the United States, to get in contact again. The Embassy in Canberra will liaise with its counterpart in PNG that is also responsible for Vanuatu, to facilitate introductions for us in the United States.

August 11, 2019

Bank South Pacific re-signs as a Navara supporter

We would like to thank Bank South Pacific, and its general manager Nik Regenvanu, for re-signing for a second year as a member of the Museum Navara Fund.

The generous support of BSP Bank has helped us run our popular mini museum and project office in Luganville, and to carry out activities as we progress our fundraising aims. Elwood J Euart Chairman Bradley Wood received the Navara second year re-signing from the Luganville branch of BSP manager, Edwige Wensi.

Chairman Bradley Wood with BSP Luganville manager Edwige Wensi.

Bradley thanks Edwidge with a framed medallion from the Museum.

We were delighted to give a small something in return – a framed silver medallion pressed from an authentic wartime die that the Museum holds. The medallion is handsomely framed with a picture taken during wartime of US soldiers and Ni-Vanuatu on a tank.

BSP is a leading bank in the South Pacific, and has branches across six countries in the region.

The bank has as its motto Our Culture is Our Strength, and their support is helping us develop an important cultural asset for the people of Vanuatu.

Our Navara Fund is named after the bislama for coconut seedling, and is a local and meaningful name for our seed fund.

The Navara thank you medallion framed with a wartime picture.

July 26, 2019

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
show their support for Museum Project

Recently, cinematographer and director Karl von Moller and Museum Project Manager James Carter travelled to Port Vila to film Vanuatu Prime Minister Hon. Charlot Salwai and Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trades. The filming which took place at the wonderful Breakas Beach Resort at Port Vila was part of a video the Museum Project is putting together to assist with the Museum’s fundraising program. The Prime Minister and Mr. Regenvanu were extremely generous with their time and we thank them most sincerely for squeezing us into their busy schedules.

pm

The short film in which they’ll appear is going to be sent to a key potential supporter of the Museum project. If and when that support comes to fruition, we’ll make further announcements later in the year.

July 24, 2019

Air Vanuatu supports Museum filming

Earlier in July, the Museum team embarked on an ambitious filming project to assist with not only our fundraising plans, but to create fascinating filmed content that will appear on the Museum’s website and in social media.

Australian cinematographer and director Karl von Moller travelled from Australia with Museum Project Manager James Carter to film the 18 short films and 1 longer content film. With a great deal of fragile gear to ship, the Museum turned to Navara sponsor Air Vanuatu to ensure everything arrived safely.

With some of the filming occurring on Efate and the majority on Santo, it meant a number of international and domestic flights to ensure the filming schedule remained on track. “Air Vanuatu were marvellous”, said James. “We were met at the airport to ensure there were no issues with our luggage and the whole shoot couldn’t have gone smoother.”

The Museum would like to thank Jeff Murdoch, General Manager Commercial and Paul Pio, Manager Marketing & Communications from Air Vanuatu for all their assistance in making everything go so smoothly for the film crew.

The videos that were created in Vanuatu will be released one by one over the coming weeks and months on the Museum’s social media pages and website.

July 24, 2019

Breakas Beach Resort assists Museum with filming

The Museum’s recent filming of the Vanuatu Prime Minister Hon. Charlot Salwai and Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trades took them to Breakas Beach Resort in Port Vila.

The resort was chosen for its idyllic South Pacific atmosphere and tropical island ambience. Film makers Karl von Moller and James Carter from Australia, were seeking the quintessential resort-like backdrop particularly for the Prime Minister’s portion of the short film being shot on behalf of the Museum.

“Breakas was just stunning and the perfect place to shoot”, said Karl. “It offered us so many possibilities and what we chose as a location was absolutely perfect.”

The Museum is very grateful to Breakas Resort for all their assistance to ensure the filming went so smoothly. We would particularly like to thank Breakas General Manager Isaac Boyle and Food and Beverage Manager Roy Ernst who went out of their way to accommodate us during our visit.

If you’d like to find out more about Breakas Beach Resort at Port Vila, visit their website at breakas.com

April 19, 2019

TVL signs on as our latest Navara Sponsor.

Vanuatu telecommunications company TVL is the latest company to become a member of the South Pacific World War II Museum’s Navara Fund. TVL has signed a three-year contract with the Museum to provide high-speed communications services to the Museum project office in Luganville, Espiritu Santo.

Seven companies or individuals have now joined the Navara Fund, which has been created to support the running costs of the project office and its fundraising efforts. Project manager Alma Wensi says TVL is a great partner for the Museum. “Our vision is for a Museum that has modern information technology and is interactive for our young generation.

We look forward to working with TVL as a telecommunications leader in Vanuatu.” Mr Wensi says the Navara package provided to the Museum office is a great help. Fast broadband makes it easier for us to talk to the world and showcase our progress and vision. So TVL is very much making a difference for us.”

Mr Barlen Lutchmoodoo Chief Execuitve of TVL says it’s great to be associating with the Museum project.

“We are a company that deals every day with the changes in technology and the differences we can make to people’s lives. This is a project that is ambitious to do the same, and we are proud to be associating with it. TVL is committed to connecting the people of Vanautu with each other and the outside world, and there is exciting work underway to keep on improving our service.”

Alma Wensi says the TVL agreement comes very soon after the national carrier Air Vanuatu signed up for a second year of Navara Fund membership, and Henry Cumines Ltd became the sixth new member.

“We’re delighted that the Fund is growing as more companies want to be associated with the excitement of our project. The Navara Fund is a way they can be in on the ground floor and look to partner further with us when the Museum is built.”

If you’d like to become a Navara Fund member, contact Alma Wensi at info@southpacificworldwariimuseum.com

June 3, 2019

The sad passing of a special friend to us all.

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of South Pacific World War II Museum Manager Alma Wensi on Saturday May 25.

Alma came to the Museum project quite early in its development and very soon was running it with the drive and passion we all came to know so well. But Alma was more than just the Museum Manager. On many levels he was the guiding light behind the project, with a generosity and kindness that will be greatly missed by everyone he came in contact with.

Alma’s keen business acumen was spotted very early on by Museum President Bradley Wood, who employed Alma to run the Museum following his time in the tourism and telecommunication sectors. 

It didn’t take Alma long to grasp the enormity of the challenge that lay ahead – a challenge he relished every day. The sponsors we’ve attracted to the project, the donations and support we’ve garnered from the Vanuatu Government, were all thanks to the extraordinary hard work of Alma.

He was more than just the Museum Manager. He was the joyous smiling face that greeted visitors from around the world when they arrived at the mini-museum and Project Office. His knowledge of local history fascinated visitors from all around the world, with tales of the famous and not so famous who came through Espiritu Santo, particularly throughout the war years.

Alma was a devoted family man. His love for his wife Edwige and daughter Amirah was only matched by his faith and devotion to the Centenary Presbyterian Church in Luganville. There, Alma was a leader especially involved with a flourishing youth group that saw him as far more than just a leader.

Alma was one of those people you meet once in a lifetime. His generosity and love for those around him was undeniable and unforgettable. His passing will leave a huge hole in our lives and those beyond Vanuatu’s beautiful tropical shores. His kind heart and gentle soul, will never be forgotten and likewise all he did for the South Pacific World War II Museum project.

Goodbye dear friend and god be with you.

March 7, 2020

It’s takeoff for year two of Museum sponsorship.

Air Vanuatu is pursuing its support towards the South Pacific World War II Museum in Luganville, Espiritu Santo. As the first local private business to partner up with the Museum’s Navara Fund in 2018, the national carrier has shown interest and recommitted for another consecutive year.

Museum project manager Alma Wensi says it’s wonderful to have a leading Vanuatu company showing its backing. “We’ve been able to support our fundraising efforts thanks to Air Vanuatu, including helping build understanding about our project with local people. It is also a vote of confidence from a tourism leader in our goal of becoming a significant tourism attraction for Vanuatu and Espiritu Santo.”

Jeffrey Murdoch, Air Vanuatu’s General Manager Commercial, says the airline is focused on growing and bringing additional visitors into Vanuatu. “This Museum project is ambitious for the future of our tourism, and our national prosperity, and as such we are proud to help its progress.”

A six-minute informational video was produced in 2018 and is currently available on Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737-800 inflight entertainment. Alma Wensi says many visitors who came to the Museum reported having seen the video onboard. More than 2000 international and 3000 local people have visited the project’s mini museum in Luganville in its first full year.

“As the first carrier of choice for entry into Vanuatu, we are very grateful to Air Vanuatu for showcasing and spreading the message. The Museum gives the travelers another reason to keep coming back and to visit our islands.”

The Navara Fund is a seed fund set up to allow local and overseas businesses to support the project office and costs of fundraising. 

If you are interested in becoming a Navara Fund member, please contact The South Pacific World War II Museum’s General Manager Alma Wensi at info@southpacificwwiimuseum.com

The South Pacific World War II Museum project office and mini-museum is open weekdays 8am to 5pm in Unity Park, Luganville. Phone +678 37000.

Jeffrey Murdoch, Air Vanuatu’s Commercial General Manager (left) and Museum Manager Alma Wensi at the signing of Air Vanuatu’s 2nd year of sponsorship.

April 7, 2019

Henry Cumines is our new Navara supporter.

The South Pacific World War II Museum is excited to announce its latest Navara Fund member – Australian company, Henry Cumines Ltd. The Sydney based company started in 1966 as an export merchant specialising mainly with the Asia Pacific region.

The company has strong links to Vanuatu and has been an early supporter of the Museum project. The Museum Manager Alma Wensi says Henry Cumines is now building on that by becoming a full Navara Fund member. “We’d like to thank them for this show of confidence in our work. The Navara Fund lets local and international businesses and individuals show their commitment to our vision.”

Helder Rodrigues of Henry Cumines Ltd says that the company founder, Mr Henry Cumines originally began traveling to the South Pacific region in 1946 before opening his own company in 1966. “During this time, he provided assistance and pioneered many trade missions to Vanuatu and many other South Pacific Nations by exporting high quality goods such as foodstuffs, medical supplies, general supplies and equipment from Australia and New Zealand. This helped these nations grow and rebuild after such an epic world event as World War II. We believe it is our turn to give something back to our South Pacific neighbors especially Vanuatu which has shown tremendous support to our company over the many years and to secure the history that brought us all together in the way of a museum for the next generations to appreciate.”

The Navara Fund supports the museum project office and mini-museum in Luganville, and its wider fundraising work. The present Navara Fund members are Air Vanuatu, BSP Bank, Tropex Exports, the Thiele Boys and Bob Hill.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Navara Fund and becoming a member, please contact Alma Wensi at info@southpacificworldwariimuseum.com

January 24, 2019

Chief of Australian Defence Force presents flag to Museum

The South Pacific World War II Museum has been greatly honoured with the presentation of a flag by Australia’s Chief of Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC.

General Campbell made the presentation to Elwood J Euart Association chairman Bradley Wood and Museum Project Manager Alma Wensi during a function hosted by the Australian High Commission in Port Vila on Monday night.

The Chief of Defence Force (CDF) is the senior ranked officer in Australia’s armed forces, representing the navy, army and air force. The role is shared between the three services and a senior officer from one of the other two services assumes the role when a new CDF is appointed.

General Campbell’s visit to Vanuatu was to mark Australia’s commitment to the security of the nation and the fostering of stronger relationships in the future.

Australia’s High Commissioner, H.E. Jenny Da Rin, kindly invited the
Museum to attend the function, which also included representatives of the Vanuatu Government – Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trades Hon Ralph Regenvanu, and the Internal Affairs Minister Hon Andrew Napuat.

General Campbell spoke positively of the Museum. He had been surprised to learn from Bradley Wood about the string of famous people who had been linked by wartime to the island of Espiritu Santo – names such as John F Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, and Gene Roddenberry.

Besides presenting an Australian flag that will fly outside the Museum project office in Luganville, General Campbell also gifted the museum several commemorative coins symbolizing the three armed services that he oversees.

The Museum had its own special gift for General Campbell – a reproduction of a sketch by famous US wartime artist Howard Brodie. It shows an Australian sergeant major during training of members of the New Hebrides Defence Force in 1943. The print, the original of which is held by the US Library of Congress, was handsomely mounted in a rosewood frame hand-made by Bradley Wood.

The museum team was able to chat with General Campbell and members of his staff, and tell them more about our project.

The South Pacific World War II Museum would like very much to thank General Campbell and his team, the High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin, and her staff for making us part of a memorable night.

Your contribution will help us create a lasting legacy for the people of Vanuatu.