Port Resolution was an important place of early European contacts on Tanna. James Cook was the first European to visit Tanna in 1774 with the ships Resolution and Adventure. He and his crew spent several weeks in Port Resolution, which he named for one of the ships. A sandstone outcrop where Cook made some cartographic observations is named Captain Cook. The first missionary settlers were Polynesian teachers who lived by an imwarim (kava-drinking place) called Yakuperang, later named ‘Samoa’ in their honour. Early missionaries in Port Resolution included John G. Paton, whose house is located on a hill overlooking the natural harbour at Port Resolution. There are also graves for Paton’s first wife, and Samuel Johnston, another early missionary on Tanna who died of malaria in 1860. Paton was forced to abandon Tanna with the Mathesons in 1862.
The later mission at Port Resolution was maintained primarily by William and Agnes Watt. They built a church, mission house, and printing house on the site by the harbour entrance. The Bell from their church is located in a tree in the middle of the current settlement. Agnes Watt died in 1894, and she is buried in a Grave next to the former church site (now the Port Resolution Yacht Club).