Celebrating Vanuatu: 40 years of independence


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the independence of Vanuatu last month, the ANU Pacific Institute has published this online showcase of the university’s research and engagement with Vanuatu landscapes, culture and people across a wide range of disciplines, including linguistics, archaeology, gender studies and anthropology.

This collection highlights initiatives in which ANU has played a role, as well as archival resources ANU has co-produced with ni-Vanuatu colleagues.

ANU Library

The ANU Library holds over 3,000 published works on Vanuatu from publishers across the globe, including the Bureau of Statistics, Office of the Ombudsman, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Vanuatu Nasonal Kaljoral Kaonsel and Wan Smolbag Theatre.

Key subjects held by the library include:

Works available in print at the Menzies Library that relate to Vanuatu’s independence include:

ANU Open Research Repository

The ANU Open Research Repository holds a variety of scholarly publications including journal articles, books and book chapters, conference papers, posters and presentations, theses, creative works, photographs and much more in a number of collections and formats. The earliest digitised work related to Vanuatu is a map from 1895 of Port Sandwich, Malekula.


The ANU Library has digitised the entire collection of theses developed by ANU PhD and Higher Degree Research students. All those without restrictions are available online through the Open Research Repository.

Theses of note that are related to Vanuatu include:

ANU Press

ANU Press is Australia’s first open-access university press which publishes peer-reviewed research on a broad range of topics including Asia and Pacific studies, Australian politics, humanities, arts, Indigenous studies and science. Published works on Vanuatu’s independence include:

Pacific Research Archive

The Pacific Research Archive (PRA) holds around 40 collections relating to Vanuatu. Many PRA collections are the papers of ANU scholars, as well as businesses, diplomats and politicians, medical personnel and missionaries, and academic researchers from a variety of fields. Collections cover topics such as linguistics, archaeology, mission history and disaster management. It includes materials such as papers, topographical photos and slides.


In honour of the 40th anniversary of the independence of Vanuatu, the PRA has highlighted the Vanuatu material in its collections. An exhibition, A Celebration of Vanuatu: Vanuatu materials in the ANU Archives, is currently on display on level 2 of Menzies Library and in the Archives reading room.

Select materials from this collection can also be accessed on the ANU Archives website and a full digital exhibition will launch shortly after the physical exhibition closes on 1 September 2020. Factsheets on Vanuatu resources held at both the Pacific Research Archive and the Noel Butlin Archive of Business and Labour are also available online.

Pacific Manuscripts Bureau

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PAMBU) makes preservation copies of archives and rare printed materials about the Pacific Islands. Since 1968, PAMBU has copied over 160 collections of manuscripts, publications and photographs relating to Vanuatu.


Below is a timeline of this important work:

  • 1969: Inaugural PAMBU fieldtrip to New Hebrides to microfilm records of the Tangoa Training Institute and Melanesian Mission.

  • 1999 and 2005: In collaboration with the USP School of Law and Archives de la Nouvelle Caledonie, PAMBU microfilms records at the Supreme Court of Vanuatu. Fire ripped through the courthouse in 2007.

  • 2009 – 2011: PAMBU worked closely with Church of Melanesia to preserve Diocese of Vanuatu records.

  • 2016: PAMBU worked with the Presbyterian Research Centre in Dunedin to digitise nearly 2000 lantern slides and photographic prints of the Presbyterian Mission in New Hebrides, 1860-1970s (see above).

This digital factsheet lists PAMBU titles documenting Vanuatu.

Archaeological connections

The Australian National University has a long-standing commitment and connection in archaeology with Vanuatu. Dr Stuart Bedford provides an intriguing overview and history of this enduring connection over the past five decades in this compelling digital presentation.

Chief Roi Mata’s Domain world heritage site

Chief Roi Mata’s Domain was inscribed on the world heritage list in 2008. It is Vanuatu’s first world heritage site and the only one in the world entirely owned and managed from the outset by an Indigenous community. This digital summary prepared by Associate Professor Christopher Ballard provides details about ANU research in West Efate and work on the nomination for world heritage status on behalf of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Gender studies

Over the years, ANU scholars have been heavily involved in research and engagement with Vanuatu landscapes, culture and people across a wide range of disciplines, including gender studies.

A leading researcher in this field is Professor Margaret Jolly, who has contributed to more than 50 years of research—from before independence to the 40th anniversary. This short narrative piece highlights aspects of her impressive career and contributions in this area.


Vanuatu has the world’s highest number of languages per population. Various ANU scholars have worked with ni-Vanuatu colleagues on the challenging task of mapping the country’s linguistic diversity, which is now known to include 135 languages. This digital presentation provides details on ANU research on Vanuatu languages.


Updated:  4 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, Pacific Institute/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team