“Oyabia Iyupalilaguyau Lotoni” Honored

7.4.1928 – 21.4.2021

Rev. Dr. Ralph Lawton was regarded as a Kiriwinan (Trobriand Islander). He called Kiriwina “home”. He spoke the Kiriwinan language fluently. He lived the life of the people of Kiriwina. Ate the food, drank the water, felt the pains, struggles and the hardships daily. Ralph respected the cultural norms of Kiriwina.

In keeping with the Kiriwinan’s sense of humor Ralph was known as a chief and given the Kiriwinan name “Iyupalilaguya Lotoni” which means “He who thinks he is Chief Lawton‘.

In Ralph’s honor the Oyabia Mission Station will now be renamed “Oyabia Iyupalilaguyau Lotoni”. Dual country memorial services were held simultaneously on Tuesday 27th April at 11am, with a huge socially distanced crowd of Kiriwinan’s in attendance coming from all over the Island. Tributes were given by representatives of the Kiriwina Bible Translation Committee, VBA’s, Catholic Church and United Church.  During that ceremony the New Church Building at Mulosaida Village was also dedicated in honor of Ralph and officially named the “Rev. Dr. Ralph Lawton Memorial Church”. The church will be officially opened and dedicated in July 2021. 

Thank you Kiriwina!

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