BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE ashes of former British Colonial Government administrator, Christopher Douglas Alexander Cochran who died in his home country [England] in 2017 were finally buried in his beloved wife’s home village in Sulufou artificial Island in the Solomon Islands on Saturday 18.
The burial of his [late Christopher Cochran] ashes in Sulufou artificial Island, Malaita province, has finally fulfilled his wishes that his ashes be brought back to be buried there for his final resting place.
Hundreds of Sulufou and neighboring artificial Islanders joined with close relatives and family of late Christopher Cochran’s wife [Margaret Rose Abu Kakai] attended and witnessed the historical re-committal and interment church service led by Fr. Moffat Selo at the St Paul Church in Sulufou, North Malaita.
The special church service was later followed by the burial of the late Christopher Cochran’s ashes, and erecting of his memorial stone at the Sulufou village cemetery grounds.
Cochran’s ashes were brought to Honiara on board a Solomon Airlines plane by his eldest son, Alex Cochran on Friday 17. On his arrival, the remains were accompanied by members of his family who later board the ship to Auki the same day and continue with the final journey to Sulufou.
“Years ago, he [my dad, Christopher] worked for the Colonial Government in the Solomon Islands, that’s where we [Melanie, Dudley, Victor, and I] were born,’’ recalled Alex Cochran, the eldest son of Christopher Douglas Alexander Cochran when speaking to SUNDAY ISLES. “When I was 9 years–old my family migrated back to England after working for the British government in the Solomon Islands as an administrative officer.”
Alex said: “While over in England and not so long ago, my dad died of natural causes and his wish was for me to take his ashes back to Sulufou because this is where my mum is from.
“Of course, my mum is a natural Solomon Islander. This is my first opportunity to have a chance to come back and fulfill his [my dad’s] wish and that’s what I have done now.
“It’s been quite overwhelming, I want to do it low-key, but obviously, it doesn’t work out that though, so I am glad it went really well.
“It was a good service, the support of all the family that we haven’t seen in years, the support of the village and everyone living in the Solomon Islands to support me in doing this and it’s going really well. It couldn’t go any better than this,’’ he added.
Likewise, during the special burial, and erecting of the memorial stone ceremony, the sister-in-law of late Cochran, Hilda Zoleveke told SUNDAY ISLES that she was proud about the plans to bring back her sister’s husband cremated ashes to Sulufou.
“We have 9 siblings. Margaret Rose Abu Kakai is the firstborn in our family of, George, Caroline, Antony, David, Vicky Glass, Gravis Kakai, Mary Rose, and me.
“I feel proud about Alexander bringing back his father’s ash. I felt how late Cochran wanted to come back because of his love for Rose, her family, and the people of Sulufou, to bury him beside my dad and grandfather,’’ she said.
Hilda said her elder sister [Margaret Rose Kakai] married Christopher Douglas Alexander Cochran while working in the Solomon Islands after completing her university studies in New Zealand.
“After she come back to work in the Solomon Islands she later married Chris Cochran. At that time we were small and we live with them, so we really were so close to him. He pays for our school fees and takes care of us during our childhood days.
“He really respects Rose and family and the Sulufou people,’’ she recalled.
Meanwhile, now that Alex Cochrane had fulfilled his task to bring back his dad’s ashes to be buried on Sulufou Island, he finally had left the country for England today Friday 24.
Late Chris Cochran – A Legacy, Honour, and Tribute
According to a statement from the paramount chief of Sulufou, Fr. Dudley Thomas Wate, Kaikai, on behalf of the Tome Wate family and Beubaita tribal family, they would like to thank his eldest son, Alexander Cochran for bringing your father’s ashes to his resting place at Sulufou.
“Christopher Douglas Alexander Cochran, a legendary Scottish and Englishman, came to the Solomon Islands in 1967 as part of the British Colonial Government. Three years of a romantic expedition led to his marriage to Margaret Rose Abu Kakai from Sulufou Island, Malaita Province.
“In 1982 after profound administration and public service years in the country, they returned to England, with four children, Melanie, Alexander, Dudley, and Victor Cochran. Fr. Dudley Thomas Wate, the paramount chief of Sulufou, Kakai, Wate on behalf of the Tome Wate family and Beubaita tribal family, would like to thank his eldest son, Alexander Cochran for bringing your father’s ashes to his resting place at Sulufou.
“The late Chris Cochran was legendary, well honored, respected and truly loved by the Kakai and Wate family members, and the social friendships established since. Alexander’s journey with his father’s ashes is indeed a tribute to his father’s conviction and respect for the people of Sulufou since the colonial era. It is with honor that the wishes of our beloved in-law have been fulfilled. Much comfort and joy have been encountered as part of the journey to put him closer to all his tribal paramount chiefly in-laws.
“This is a rare moment for us to accept and honor his wishes to be buried in Sulufou. It is a reflection of a true story of love, friendship, honor, and dignity. Our in-laws have left without warning and all we possess are memories of our past, which shall always be treasured. You are loved by so many of us and we deeply thank you for showing us what love and respect truly mean.
“To our late in-law Chris Cochran, you have left a legacy and we will remember you with honor and respect. As a tribute, we shall lay you to rest near our fathers and grandfathers, your chiefly in-laws in Sulufou.
“We wish Rose and family in England, with extended family members in Scotland and England, heartfelt comfort and joy as we lay late Chris to his wishful rest.
“Tagio baita asiana,” the paramount chief of Sulufou stated.
Statement from the Family of Late Chris Cochran in England
According to a statement from the family and wife of the late Christopher Cochran, Margaret Rose Abu Kakai, March of this year signifies a prominent milestone for the family, community, Church, and government, the final resting of Chris Cochran after his passing away in December 2017.
“Chris was married to Rose Kakai from Sulufou in Malaita Province, on 7th March 1970. His name, Christopher Douglas Alexander Cochran, best suggested a Scottish heritage. His grandfather Alex from Cochran Boiler, an Engineering company constructed the first submarine. These were precedents a result of the industrial revolution back in the 18th century.
“Chris, his abbreviated name, was born to an English mother Kathleen Withington, and Douglas Cochran a Scottish father. Ian, Hilary the siblings, and Chris attended boarding schools in Cambridgeshire. He became an early leader who shone in his schooling and was perfect back then. Years following, he graduated with a degree in Biology and Zoology from Bangor University in Wales. From this, he becomes a Biology teacher at Hailabury Imperial College in Hertfordshire. The school was designed for boys to serve in India associated with the East India Company. This is a sign of his paternal roots where his grandfather had services there.
“He took the administrative root, which brought him to Honiara in 1967 under a 10 years contract with the British Colonial Government then. His first posting was in the Establishment Branch dealing with personal affairs in the Secretariat, headquarters of the Solomon Islands Government. During this episode, he gave Rose’s colleague, Hilda Kari then Thugea, places in the Secretariat. Rose was recruited to the Establishment Branch as a trainee in O&M (Organisation and Method). Hilda was charged to the Financial Branch. It was in early 1969 that romance blossomed between Chris and Rose, and the marriage took place at St. Barnabas Cathedral.
“His next appointment was as a Scholarship Officer in the Education Department, in which, his major role was involving young Solomon Islanders sent to universities abroad or schools away from home.
“Another big role he then took, was on the Government’s Programme of Localisation which led to the country’s Independence in 1977. Those he nurtured became friends all through life, one of which was Milner Tozaka, a lasting friend whose vacation was High Commissioner to Australia.
“In the flurry of Independence Chris was then promoted to Permanent Secretary with a big task as the Commissioner of Labour.
“Chris had been in close ties with his wife’s family. Her sister Caroline’s children would visit and play with their children and visits from Dudley and Rachel Wate. The latter couple had their wedding reception at their very own house, on Tavioa Ridge. Visitors from Sulufou would also visit them or stay. Late Chris’ relationships with Solomon’s leaders were numerous. A few became very close, Milner Tozaka, Augustine Manakako, Sioni (Milner’s friend), also Mr. and Mrs. Adifaka, and many more. Mainly they were his students which he nurtured in the Secretariat and Labour Department.
“Chris held this seat until 1982 when a 5-year contract was extended. It was time to say goodbye to the Solomons as he left with his dear wife and children, Melanie 11, Alex 9, Dudley 7, and Victor 5. The children were educated and found careers whilst Chris maintained his link with a number of his close friends and of course his family.
“Before his passing away, he made one wish and that his ashes would be brought to Sulufou. This in itself is prominent as it is the 60th anniversary of St. Paul Church’s opening after Sulufou was burned and devastated.
“It was 40 years ago since they left the Solomons and it is with love, honor, dignity, and respect that together we will strive to maintain our links as a family, friend, colleague, and colonial heritage.
“From the Cochran family in England and Scotland, with love, we say, Tagio Tumas,” she stated.