Marion and I have just come back from the Chathams. I was drawn to them by a childhood fascination they have held; my Uncle Charlie and family were there.
Here's a recent extract from Mr. Google.
[Around 1933] "Charles (Charlie) Roke, committed himself and his wife Gladys, to the Chathams. They were to stay there for 10 years, on behalf of the Chatham Islands Gospel Mission.
That group of islands is about 800km east of Christchurch. The population was (and is) about 650 people. There were few roads and life was, by mainland standards, pretty basic.
A Wellington supporter later wrote about their experience. "It is doubtful if the Rokes ever received from their handful of missionary-minded friends a total of £75 in any one year, with possibly a few parcels in addition."
Their furniture was made from packing cases, and their shelter from a "conglomeration of available materials". Charlie visited New Zealand once only in that period of 10 years. Gladys came to the mainland on three occasions, when each of her three children was born.
Within a year Charlie had established two Sunday schools and a scout troop. He preached the Gospel at four preaching places. At first there was no horse - he called himself a "Gospel swagger". He carried a tent, ground sheet, rug, blankets, billy and utensils, change of underwear, shaving-gear, camera, Bible and tracts. Later there was a horse [and a folding treadle organ].
They had gone knowing life would be hard and that they were on their own. The Home Mission Department couldn't help - it was Depression-time.
Has the world changed so much that it no longer needs people like Charlie and Gladys Roke? The revolution in transport and communication has brought everything, and anything, within reach. Except people, perhaps."