National Boy Scout Movements: Oceania

Figure 1.--.

The Scouting movement has traditionally been the stronest in Europe, but it is now growing in Asia and Oceania as well. Much of the growth of the Scout movement in recent years has in fact been in developing countries. It is the strongest in the Oceania countries that were European countries such as Australia and New Zealand. There is also a sizeable movement in the Philippines because of its American connections. The British also promoted Scout movements on several Pacific island colonies. Please have a look at available information on Scouting in the following countries and the development of the various national uniforms in each different country. Many of the island countries of Oceania are very small with limited populations. The Scouting movements are thus very small.


Scouting in Australia commenced shortly after Scouting for Boys was published in 1908, the same year it began in Britain. As with all countries in the then British Empire, initially Scouting in Australia was very closely based on the way Scouting was structured in Britain. Baden Powell visited Australia in 1912 to help promote the local Scouting movement. As in all British colonies and dominions, it proved imensly popular. The original uniforms were simple copies of English Scout uniforms. As time went by an Australian flavor of Scouting developed. Those changes were eventually reflected in the Scout uniform.

Cook Islands

The Cook Island archepelago consists of fifteen small islands located in the South Pacific northeast of New Zealand. The different Cook Islands first was united as the Kingdom of Rarotonga (1858). Britain estanlished a protectorate and created a federal parliament (1888). A New Zealand began to become a more independent Dominion, Britain transfrred authority for the Cook Islands (1901). The Islands were beyond the area conquered by the Japanese in World War II and thus escaped the damage expeienced by other South Pacific islands. The Cook Islands today are a self-governing parliamentary democracy, freely associated with New Zealand. The only youth groups we know of are the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. As both groups are very small, they are associated with Scouting New Zealand an arrangement which developed before the Cook Islands became a self-governing dependency of New Zealand. We have been unable to find much informstion about Scouting on the islands, but we know that there was some Scouting activity in the pre-World War II era. The boys had British looking information.



Scouting was founded in Indonesia while the country was the Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies. We note a memoir from a boy who was an eager Cub and Scout in the years before the Japanese World War II invasion. We believe that relatively few boys were involved, but have little information. couting effectively ended with the Japanese occupation of the colony. Some efforts were made to revive Scouting after the War. Conditiins were unsettled as Indonesians resisted the restablishment of the Dutch colonial administration and waged a struggle for independence. The Government formed the highly nationalistic Gerakan Pramuka in 19?? and banned Scouting. The Indonesian Pramuka has since begun to rethink their initial rejection of Scouting. Pramuka authorities have been striving to re-establish relations with Scouting for a long time, claiming that their organization from the beginning was just Scouting the Indonesian way, rightfully taking the place of pre-revolutionary Scouting.

New Zealand

New Zealand is the most sotherly of the Pacific island countries. It is composed priomarily of two large islands. The climate in the south is tempetrate. The population is both European and Polynesian (Maori). New Zealand boys as in other British Empire possessions eagerly adopted Scouting after it appeared in England. Scouting has traditionally been a popular activity for Kiwi boys. New Zealand os a great place for Scouting. The climate permits outdoor activities year round. Scouting is popular with New Zealand boys. While there is a great deal of information avialable on the Baden Powell and the foundation of English Scouting, HBU has been able to find very little about the founation of the Scouting movement in New Zealand. The New Zealand Scout program consists of Kias, Cubs, Scouts, Ventuere, and Rovers. The are the basic Scout levels, although the names of the different levels varies from country to country. New Zealand Scouting has the same modern Scouting Levels as other countries. They include Kia, Cub, Scout, Venture, and Rovers. Some of the names vary, but the levels are identical. There is also an active Sea Scout program in New Zealand. Early uniforms were just like the British ones. Only later did a destinct uniform develop.

(The) Philippines

The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) was founded in 1936, a rather late date considering the American presence. The mocement was interupted by the Japnese invasion in December 1941 after Peal Harbor. The BSP joined the WOSM in 1945 after liberation from the Japanese. The BSP in 1998 had a membership of about 3.5 million. At this time, HBC has only limited information on Philippino Scouting.



Tuvalu is one of tghe smallest independent countries. It is a Polynesian island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, approximately midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are island nations of Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. The islands are atols with very limited populations and land areas. The Islands were administered by Britain as part of a protectorate (1892-1916) and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony (1916-74). The Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status as Tuvalu (1974). The Gilbert Islands became the independent country of Kiribati. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth (1978). As a result of the association with Britain, there was a Scouting movement. Scouting was introduced soon after it was founded in Britain (1914). Scouting on the islands as in many other British Empire locations, began as a the British Scout Association. The separatecGilbert and Ellice Scout Association was founded (1927). They joined the World Organization of the Scout Movement (1933). The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Scouting movements took different paths after independence. The independent Scout Association of Tuvalu was founded (1975) again as a branch of the British Scout association. The movement fell dormant beczause of lack of interest (1979). Scouting was revived on the islands (2004). The Association reported about 450 members. The Girl Guides Association of Tuvalu is a former member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, but membership was withdrawn when the movement became inactive (2005).


HBU has obtained a number of images of Scout uniforms, but can not identify the nationality. If you can figure out what country these boys are from, please let HBU know.


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Created: February 9, 1998
Last updated: 6:39 PM 9/6/2011