He died last Saturday after a long illness. The late Bishop was buried on Monday this week. No bishops turned up to give this giant man of God what would have been a fitting farewell. His funeral service was conducted by the Rector of Fiu Parish, on Malaita where he was ordained 30 years earlier.
Our staff in Auki provided this obituary which included the late Bishop’s own writing.
Bishop Aumae was born at Aama, Malu’u on 26th May 1946. He was 74.
He came from the tribe of Afoa above Loi’ina in North Malaita and is a descendant of the high priest Tofeagwala of Afoa. An earlier descendant of Tofeagwala married the first-born daughter of the Aluthaai tribe in Malu’u. The woman’s name was Orufafingu, the first of the four daughters. Orufafingu conceived with her first child but her husband died. His name is Fiko Buaikona. This woman returns to her father with the baby in her womb. She gave birth to a son who became high priest in place of his grandfather, High priest Fairobo of Dikwili. He became the Landlord of Aluthaai. The Bishop is the great-grandson of that high priestly line.
The only survived son of the travelling catechist Jabez Irofiala and his wife Ella Alasifo. Had only one born sister Ellam Maenari and several cousin brothers and sisters. Father died in 1950 and mother remarried a year later. Has to be raised by grandmother Susan Maenia.
The late Bishop Aumae takes over from here in describing life in general for him.
Grandma Susan was in her eighties when I went to live with her. I lived in her old little hut with no lamb or a good bed. There was no blanket but fire kept the hut warm during the night. Life was hard. She told me of old folklore stories about great warriors of the past. She told me of Bishop Patteson’s death when killed at Nukapu in 1871.
She used to pray every night and morning and I listened and got inspiration. She was a young girl then. Grandmother Susan died in 1958 when I was a second-year student at Malu’u Primary School. After Susan’s death, I went and live with Uncle Raymond Sakua who lived up and beyond the mountains of Malu’u.
To go to school was far enough. I had to travel down (by walking) every day, five days a week to attend classes – a journey of five hours return. All the other boys from the mountain finally gave up their schooling but I continued despite the hardships. Clothe and school uniform was hard although it was only a yard of red calico with a white sash. When the South Pacific High Commissioner comes from Fiji to visit the Solomons, he usually visits Malu’u Government Station. The school would gather in four straight lines with their red calico and white sash uniform to sing the British anthem “God Save Our Gracious Queen”. The High Commissioner would stop when the anthem was sung. In the end, he moved on without a word. We would then return to our classes.
The school was called in those days “Malu’u Government Elementary School, later changed to “Primary School”. Left Malu’u Primary School in 1963, 1964 – 1966 to Maravovo Primary. Life was hard, no bed, no mat nor private clothes, Colgate or toothbrush. Took only one home umbrella and a pair of shorts without a shirt. The home umbrella became my sleeping mat without a pillow for 6 months. During the mid-year break, I went to work as a labourer for a Guadalcanal man named Philip for a wage of 50 cents a day, after two weeks, the pay was A$5 enough to pay a shirt, Colgate and a toothbrush and a mat. The home umbrella became my pillow.
Sometimes asked to work with the school labourers in brushing the school plantation just to get some money to buy a prayer book “A HOLY SACRIFICE” (A very good prayer book gone out of print a long time ago). The cost of the book was 2 shillings and 6 pence expressed in the currency at that time. Some school holidays I had to work as a labourer to pay for school fees.
In 1966, I passed Std 7 Secondary Examination with all credit passes. I was selected to go to King George VI School but decided not to instead choose to go to Pawa Secondary School, a church school. The reason was that the feeling of becoming a priest was heavy in my mind. In fact, the thought of becoming a priest first came to mind at the age of 12 when told by an old priest Fr. George Kiriau that one day I would end up a priest. He died when I was a 2nd-year student at Kohimarama in 1983. He didn’t live to see his promise being fulfilled in my life but I was already on the way to priesthood.
Attended Pawa in 1967 and continued through to 1969 – 3 years only of schooling education. Pawa Secondary School as it was called in those days, closed and moved to Selwyn College, a new COM co-education school at Najilagu near Ngalibiu River. I didn’t have the chance to go as there was no form four in that transitional period of the school. While at Pawa in 1968, I won the SI National English Award for that year and was awarded the ‘Sir Irving Gas English Prize’. Life at Pawa School was beautiful, discipline was very high in class, worship, and outdoor activities.
The most highly disciplined school than any other school in the country. Love and comradeship were the reigning marks of every student. We pray hard, work hard, and play hard. We love it all and we shed tears upon leaving school.
The Pawa School then became a place of brotherly love which makes one to forget even going home. At Maravovo we had to spend three years in school before one could go home for holidays, at Pawa after 2 yeas. The difficulty of paying fees continued and was finally given exemption of fees. God made this possible for me to continue in school.
Left Pawa in 1969, 1970 entered Honiara Technical Institute as it was called then, now SICHE. In 1971, entered Public Civil Service or Government Civil Service as a Clerical Assistant in the Treasury Department, for a monthly salary of $38.00.
1972 – Transferred to Auki Sub-Treasury
1973 – Promoted to Clerical Officer and got married.
1974 – Promoted to Executive Officer
1974 – Resigned for a better offer at Lever’s Pacific Plantation at Yandina -1st son Anthony was then born on 17th October.
1976 – 26th May Russell was born – shared my birthday
1978 – Left Levers for personal reasons.
1982 – Entered Kohimarama Theological College. Susan Aumae was born on 23rd June.
1984 – Went on an exchange program with Central Theological College – Tokyo
1985 – Sunday 24th – Feast of Christ the King – ordained Deacon at Fiu Cathedral by Bp. Willie, 2nd Bishop of Malaita. Leonard being the first one
1986 – 88 – Became Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Malaita under Bp. Willie, Clifton Aumae was born 28/9/86.
1986 – 23rd November Feast of Christ the King, ordained Priest by AB Norman Palmer at St John Divine Aama, Malu’u. 2 cows, 53 pigs, and thousands of taros were eaten at the feast.
1989 – Appointed Personal Secretary to the Archbishop of Melanesia (AB Amos Waiaru) then return to Honiara.
1990 – January – elected Bishop of Malaita and return to Auki
1990 – 20th May – Consecrated third Bishop of Malaita
Hellen Aumae was born on 17th November.
1995 – August resigned as Bishop of Malaita for personal reasons.
1996 – Appointed Dean of Provincial Cathedral as the 8th Dean.
2002 – Appointed Chaplain of Bishop Patterson Theological College
Dec 2003 – Retired from active service. Age 57 years old
2004 – 2006 Head of Theology ATC & Chaplain
2007 – Chaplain MBH Airahu Household
2010 – Caretaker Parish Priest – Bio Parish
2013 – 2015: Chaplain – Arnon Atomea Community High School, Malu’u
2016 – Chaplain Gwaunaoa Community High School
2017 – Caretaker Assistant Bishop DOM for Southern Region
2018/2019 – Free for Personal Ministry
2020 – Continued with Personal Ministry until his death.
Form a Charitable Organization known as “Compassionate Education Trust Fund”.
By Solomon Star, Auki Staff