In exploring these sites, it is worth keeping in mind that all of this material came from Melanesian landscapes in which living ni-Vanuatu (indigenous people of Vanuatu) continue to practice traditional methods of housebuilding, cooking, and other crafts. While many people converted to Christianity, traditional beliefs about spirits and magic also remain strong on these islands. Often Christian and kastom (traditional) beliefs occur together in local cosmologies.
This project was initially conceived by local chiefs and Presbyterian Church elders on Tanna and Erromango. Archaeologists were brought in to help these communities to systematically record historical places, and to recover artefacts from the mission sites. While many of the people and things here are ‘European’ in one sense, the broader places were and remain Melanesian. Much of the food the missionaries ate, most of their friends and people who they saw every day, and some of their household items (many o f which don’t survive archaeologically, such as pandanus mats) were from Vanuatu. The story is partly about the experiences of European missionaries and their families. But, it is worth keeping in mind the broader context of Melanesian life and Melanesian communities that shaped mission history in Vanuatu.