Corporate entry: Malayta Company (later Fairymead Company)
The Malayta Company was started in 1908-1909 by Ernest and Horace Young, brothers of Florence Young (q.v.), founder of the South Sea Evangelical Mission (q.v.), as a commercial trading and copra plantation venture, and to help support the mission. There were five hundred shares, two-thirds owned by the two brothers and one-third by various relatives and friends. Their first base was made at Baunani on Malaita, to support the mission headquarters at Onepusu. Malaita had no resident traders, who in other places facilitated land-acquisition, which left the Youngs with a difficult task since they had little understanding of indigenous land tenure and there was no Protectorate Government base on the island until 1909. Their land problems on Malaita were partly due to the inexperience of the company, but also because Malaitans and others who had returned from Queensland had a greater understanding of the land's value and the potential for its alienation, and some exploited the ignorance of the company's owners. In 1908, the company purchased ten thousand acres, a twenty-four kilometre coastal strip centred on Baunani and stretching from south of Kwa'a to Su'u, except for land between the Fulo and Ala'olo Rivers. In later years they found that many of the land deals were suspect because boundaries were not surveyed, because they had bought from false owners, or because the money for the purchases was not properly distributed to the actual landowners. Their next purchase was in 1913: they paid trader 'Billy' Pope £35,000 for fifty thousand acres on Aola Island in Marau Sound, Guadalcanal, and Talina and Yandina plantations in the Russell Islands. (Golden 1993, 429; Boutilier 1979a, 50) This was the most expensive land purchase in the Protectorate up to that time. The company included evening education of labourers in its activities, just as the Youngs had done on their Queensland plantations, and in 1911 the SSEM transferred their training school to Baunani, where it remained until the company shifted its focus to the Russell Islands in 1918.
On Malaita, the company faced similar problems to those of the early missions, and had to post armed guards to protect their property. They also failed to honour preservation of sacred sites, which angered the owners. Before long the Malayta Company abandoned trading to concentrate on its plantations, but in the meantime they had annoyed other traders by paying too much for locally produced copra. Like other companies of the time, the Malayta Company was stingy with labourers' rations, worked them hard and imposed stern discipline. The SSEM encouraged its adherents to recruit for Malayta Company plantations because of the Christian atmosphere, and for a time discouraged followers from selling their copra to other companies. This 'industrial Christianity' followed the model from Queensland where the Young family had combined sugarcane growing with their Queensland Kanaka Mission (q.v.). Members of the Young and Deck families in the SSEM also interfered in the Malayta Company's management.
During the Great Depression the Malayta Company almost closed, and employed only a few casual labourers. In 1936 it was sold for £95,000 to Fairymead Sugar Company (also controlled by the Young family) against the wishes of the minority shareholders. Its Malaita land was poor plantation land and the company did much better in the Russell Islands. In 1957, the Solomons' assets of Fairymead Sugar Company were sold to Levers Pacific Plantations Pty. Ltd. (q.v.), which then moved its headquarters to Yandina. (Golden 1993, 429; Bennett 1987, 41, 155, 160, 171, 179, 196, 197, 208, 229, 236, 303, 304; Hilliard 1969)
- Bennett, Judith A., Wealth of the Solomons: A History of a Pacific Archipelago, 1800-1978, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1987. Details
- Golden, Graeme A., The Early European Settlers of the Solomon Islands, Graeme A. Golden, Melbourne, 1993. Details
- Boutilier, James A., 'Killing the Government: Imperial Policy and the Pacification of Malaita', in Margaret Rodman;Matthew Cooper (ed.), The Pacification of Melanesia, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1979a, pp. 43-87. Details
- Hilliard, David, 'The South Sea Evangelical Mission in the Solomon Islands: The Foundation Years', Journal of Pacific History, vol. 4, 1969, pp. 41-64. Details