In 1861 Bishop Selwyn formed the missionary Diocese of Melanesia, within the Church of the Province of New Zealand.
He and the other bishops of New Zealand consecrated John Coleridge Patteson as first Bishop of Melanesia on 24th February, 1861.
Patteson continued the work of the Melanesia Mission which Bishop Selwyn had begun. “Southern Cross II” arrived in 1863, and patteson continued to visit the islands and became well known to people in many places.
He was the first white man to sleep ashore on islands like Mota, Makira and Guadalcanal. Patteson moved the Melanesian schoolboys from St.John’s, which was too cold, first to St Andrew’s Kohimarama, and then in 1867 to Norfolk island. Other priests and teachers came to help with the work.
In 1864 Patteson went ashore at Santa Cruz and talked to the people. He swam back to the boat, and they started to row out. Some men were standing on the reef. They began to shoot arrows at the boat. Two young Norfolk islanders, Fisher Young and Edwin Nobbs, were wounded, and later died of tetanus.
Patteson was sad when Bishop Selwyn left New Zealand to return to England. Then he received new that his own father died in England. His sister wanted him to go home for a holiday but he would not go.
He became sick and in 1870 had to go to New Zealand to see a doctor. His house was at the school at Norfolk Island, and he also had a house on Mota where he spent a lot of time.
When he took girls from Mota for school, he sewed dresses for them to wear on the ship. He did not think that Melanesians should be forced to wear European clothes or change their customs.
There was a lot of trouble in the islands because ships were taking young men to work in plantations in Fiji and Queensland. Many were forced to go. Some were killed. It became dangerous for white men to visit the islands.
In 1871 Patteson spent some months on Mota, and baptized many people, men, women and children. Then the “Southern Cross” took him to the Solomons, where they collected Joseph Atkin a young New Zealand priest, and Stephen Taroaniara, whom Patteson hoped to ordain, from Makira, and school boys from various islands.
On 20th September they arrived at Nukapu, where the bishop went ashore. The people took him to rest in a house while they prepared food.
A man named Teandule came and killed him with a club. They wrapped his body in a mat, and put it in a canoe to take to the cemetery. When they saw Atkin and others in the boat, they shot them with arrows. Atkin went back to get the bishop’s body with Joseph Wate and Charles Sapi.
They buried him at sea next morning. A few days later Stepehn Taroaniara and Joseph Atkin also died.