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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, March 6) – French Polynesia's Maohi Protestant church is this week celebrating the 210th anniversary of the first landing of British missionaries who brought the Gospel to what is now a French Pacific country.

Some 30 missionaries arrived on the main island of Tahiti on March 5, 1797 aboard the "Duff".

A monument commemorating the historic event was erected some years ago.

It features landmark dates such as the names of the first missionaries who arrived in 1797, as well as the first translation of the Bible into the Tahitian language, in 1815.

The real beginning of Bible teaching by the missionaries began in 1819, when then King Pomare was baptised.

Missionaries then started to spread to Tahiti, then neighbouring Moorea island, and some years later to French Polynesia's outer island groups, in the Windwards, Marquesas, Australs and Tuamotus.

This week, in Tahiti, the Evangelic Church (which recently re-named itself « Maohi Protestant Church », a prominent force in the French Pacific country's religious spectrum) is holding major celebrations that are scheduled to gather some 2,000 youths, local television Télé-Polynésie reports.

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