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Brief History

The novel idea of starting a ‘resource centre’ for missionaries in Papua New Guinea originated among the SVD missionaries (Societas Verbi Divini/Divine Word Missionaries) in 1967. With the cooperation of the Marists (Societas Mariae) and the MSCs (Missionaries of the Sacred Heart), and the Association of Clerical Religious Superiors (ACRS) as a legal sponsor, it became a reality in July 1968. The first full-time director, Fr. Hermann Janssen MSC, was officially installed in April 1969. In 1970, the Melanesian Institute (MI) became an official venture of the Roman Catholic Church in PNG, and a land for the Institute was officially offered by the then Bishop of Goroka, John Cohill SVD, thus moving MI from its original founding site near Rabaul to its current Campus in Goroka. In 1973, in line with the spirit of the Vatican Council II, MI gradually evolved into an ecumenical Institute. The current corporate members of the Institute are the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United Church and Lutheran churches.

The Melanesian Institute (MI) is an ecumenical research, teaching and publishing institute. It is designed to help churches, government and other organisations speak more clearly to the needs of the people in Melanesia. Melanesian Institute staff have experience of living in Melanesia as well as qualifications in areas like anthropology, sociology and theology. MI's research focuses on topics of pastoral and social concern to people in Melanesia.

The staff offer their services in three main ways: through Teaching, Research and Publications. Staff members are available for seminars, in-service courses and orientation courses, both for church groups and others concerned with the needs and aspirations of Melanesian peoples. The results of the research are communicated through courses and seminars, and are made available in a variety of publications including Catalyst, Point, Occasional Papers and Melanesian Mission Studies.

Mission Statement: The Melanesian Institute (MI) is an ecumenical research, teaching and publishing body in Papua New Guinea that:

  • is mandated to focus on pastoral and socio-cultural issues,
  • engages in ongoing dialogue between Christian values and Melanesian cultures,
  • promotes peace and reconciliation; dignity and respect; and social, economic and ecological justice.

Melanesian Institute's location map.

FOCUS 2017

Every year, the Melanesian Institute dedicates its work to specific focus areas. This means that every staff member work towards achieving the common goal set for certain activities. This year our focus is on:

  1. Point No. 40 - a Joint Publication with Laidlaw College
  2. Catalyst Vol. 46.1 & 46.2
  3. Melanesian Mission Studies
  4. 2016 Recent Publication: Point No. 40

Our Recent Publication


All churches are culture churches,” writes Andrew Walls, and the process of Christ encountering culture is very like the process of translation from one language to another. Arguably, with its myriad people groups, Melanesia has much to teach the rest of the world about what happens when Christ encounters local culture. This collection, gathered in honour of John Hitchen, begins with a look at specific case studies of the Gospel’s encounter with local culture in Melanesia itself, before turning to broader themes particularly raised by the Melanesian context. Case studies from Asia and the wider Pacific then throw further light on the incarnational process of encounter, demonstrating both that Melanesian struggles are not unique and that as a result there is much for the rest of the world to learn from the Melanesian experience. The book concludes with some penetrating analyses of the dynamics at work when the Gospel encounters human cultures for the first time. As a result, this book speaks as clearly to the Western context as it does to cultures much closer in time to their first encounter with Jesus. The process of critical contextualization of the Gospel is never complete, and is inevitably the product of conversation and experimentation. As such it is a communal process. This set of essays models one such conversation while at the same time enabling the rest of the church to listen in on important insight...Read more




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Catalyst 46.2


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Catalyst 46.1

This issue will be published in 2016. The topics include; Being Church in the World Today: From a Devotional Church to a Kingdom–Driven Church, The Death Penalty in Papua New Guinea, Evangelising in and through families—The key to a pastoral renewal in PNG, Relationship in Marriage, PNG Church Partnership Program Theology of Development Statement, Ethnographic notes from German Holy Spirit Sisters stationed in New Guinea between the two World Wars, Book review and CONTRIBUTORS Read more........

Catalyst 45.2
This issue was published in early 2016. The topics include; Arguments over birth control in PNG, The Papuan Spirit Nogut in the Light of the Gospels, Religious Experiences and Religious Learning in Oceania, MI’s 45 years of reflection, PNG highlands turning to Islam, Obituary of Prof. Dr. Theodor Ahrens and CONTRIBUTORS Read more........

Occasional Paper No. 16
The content of this Occasional Paper is based on the author’s personal experience with the asylum seekers from the Indonesian territory of West Papua, who are now settled in PNG. He was assigned to work for six months among the West Papuan refugees in Kiunga District, Western Province. He continued to pay regular visits to them in 1995, 1997, 2003, 2006, 2008, and in October 2013. In this way, during the last 20 years, the author had the opportunity to witness the logistic and cultural changes experienced by the refugees and to write about their situation.......Read more....