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A Political Memoir of the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides


This is a fascinating memoir written by Keith Woodward many years after he left the then New Hebrides where he worked for almost twenty-five years in the British Administration. Although he is modest about his own contributions in these years, Keith played a significant role in the moves towards self-government, an innovative, electoral system and ultimately, in 1980, independence when the country became Vanuatu. This work not only led to his award of an OBE but a Vanuatu Independence Medal. It will be an invaluable history not just for those ni-Vanuatu who lived through those momentous and turbulent years leading up to independence but for those of subsequent generations. It will also be a great resource for scholars of the decolonisation process and political history of Vanuatu and the Pacific more broadly. In addition, it highlights the complexity of the relations between British and French colonialisms in the archipelago and the region.

I would like to thank both Brian Bresnihan and Michael Allen for their excellent photos from the period and Keith’s daughter Fleur for the recent photograph of her father. I am also grateful to Brian for permission to reproduce his photograph of the painting of the British Administration buildings by Olla Reeve which is in his collection. I thank Mitiana Arbon for his excellent cover design using two historical photographs provided by Brian and Michael respectively.

Thanks also to Stewart Firth the Chair of the Pacific Editorial Board of ANU Press and its members for their enthusiasm about this book and the excellent insights and positive suggestions which came from two anonymous readers, whom we now know were Howard Van Trease and Gregory Rawlings. Finally, I must thank my colleague Carolyn Brewer who has as always done an excellent job of copyediting of the manuscript and conversion to ANU Press style with grace and speed and ANU Press staff for their prompt and professional shepherding of this book to publication.

Margaret Jolly

23 July 2014

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