Brief History
The Portugese and French had already visited the islands before Captain Cook became the first British person to land there in 1774. It was he who mapped the chain of islands and named them as the New Hebrides. European missionaries and sandalwood traders settled on the fringes of islands from the 1840s. However, as indentured servitude became a more common and important source of labour through the Pacific region, returning islanders demanded more rights and privileges. So much so that they competed with the influence of the European settlers and traders. To protect the interests of the mainly British missionaries and mainly French planters, the British and French governments established rudimentary political control with a Joint Naval Commission in 1887.

This was succeeded in 1906 by an Anglo-French condominium, under which resident commissioners in the capital, Vila, retained responsibility over their own nationals and jointly ruled over the local people. This administrative arrangement had little impact, however, on the indigenous peoples. During the Second World War the islands took on a new strategic significance for air and seaplane bases primarily for the US.

Independence was agreed upon at a 1977 conference in Paris attended by British, French, and New Hebrides representatives. They became fully independent within the Commonwealth under the name of the Republic of Vanuatu on July 30, 1980.

British Resident's flag
Flag of New Hebrides
1943 Map
Map of Polynesia, 1883
1884 Map of New Hebrides
Map of Eromanga and Tana
Map of Aneityum
Map of Torres Islands
Map of Vanua Lava
Map of Gaua
Map of Omba
Map of Raga and Maewo
Map of Ambrim
Map of Epi
Map of Segond and Bruat Channels
Map of Efate
Map of Malekula
Map of Espiritu Santo
Map of Vila
1943 Map of New Hebrides
1944 Map of Torres Islands
1944 Map of Espiritu Santo
1944 Map of Aurora
1944 Map of Malekula
1944 Map of Efate
1944 Map of Eromanga
New Hebrides Images
National Archive New Hebrides Images
1906 - 1980
New Hebrides to Vanuatu: The Contribution of Keith Woodward, OBE (1930-2014)
Brian Bresnihan gives an appreciation and overview of the life and work of of Keith Woodward in preparing New Hebrides for Independence given its peculiar condominium status between Britain and France.

The Lap of Luxury
R E N Smith explains the housing situation for colonial officers like himself serving in the Pacific in the post-war period.

On Being a Pacific Sea-Dog
R.E.N. Smith explains the role of the sea in allowing him to conduct his affairs as a British District Agent in the Anglo-French New Hebrides Condominium. He goes on to compare the respective approaches (and at times - rivarly) between the British and French as they sought to administer this far flung and dispersed archipelago.

Vive Le Royaume Uni!
R. E. N. Smith recalls the strange administrative arrangements in New Hebrides that saw him being included in the State visit of President De Gaulle of France to the port of Vila. He also wonders if it is the only time that the French President uttered the words "Vive Le Royaume Uni!"

The Volcano
David Browning thought that he was part of an elaborate April Fool's Day joke in the New Hebrides when he discovered that he was involved in a much more sinister plot.

Further Reading
From the Middle Temple to the South Seas
by Gilchrist Alexander

Tufala Gavman: Reminiscences From The Anglo-French Condominium Of The New Hebrides
edited by Brian Bresnihan

Journey of a Lifetime
by Olive Champion

Doctor In Vanuatu - A Memoir
by Dr E A (Ted) Freeman

Coconuts and Coral
by Gwendoline Page

Of Cargoes, Colonies And Kings
by Andrew Stuart

Nowhere Near Greenland
by Barry Weightman

A Political Memoir of the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides
by Keith Woodward

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