Vanuatu lost its National Head Librarian, Margaret Austrai Terry, over the weekend.

Mrs. Terry was appointed as the Head Librarian at the National Library in 2011.

Her daughter, Helen Kailo, shared that she was really passionate about her work to do with libraries and loved her job.

Kailo reflected on how her late mother always spoke of how libraries were a useful tool to children, when it came to their education.

Late Mrs. Terry was also quoted, saying, “libraries allow students to go beyond what is being taught in classrooms, with unlimited resources, they provide much needed information to students, which takes them further into topics”.

Last year, she travelled throughout the islands giving consultation on her Library Service Policy, alongside the Vanuatu Law Reform Commission.

Last Thursday, the Council of Ministers passed this policy, sadly, she passed away a day after she received the news on Friday.


Margaret was born on the 12th of June 1968 on Manus in Papua New Guinea. She was born to Austrai Tori and Iku Austrai and was the last born out of eight siblings.

She attended Pombu Primary School and later went on to Karavat Secondary School. Both schools on Manus.

After she completed her secondary education she went to Goroka Teachers College in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands Province. That was where she met her late husband, Ture Kailo of Aniwa.

They got married and later had six children. She taught Home Economics at Malapoa College when she arrived in Vanuatu as a young 23-year-old.

Late Ture Kailo’s brother, Joshua Iatu regarded her as a second mother as she was known for her kindness towards all of them.

Margaret and her late husband then left teaching at Malapoa College and went to Canberra in Australia to pursue further studies. It was there that she took up studies in Library Management and developed her passion for libraries.

Upon her return to Vanuatu in 1999, she was appointed, she began work at the USP Library, during this time, and she managed to set up the libraries at all the USP Centers around Vanuatu.

In 2009, Ture Kailo passed away, following that, she decided to return to PNG with her three youngest children and she found work in the Divine Word Catholic University in Madang. However, she felt her heart belonged in Vanuatu and returned to Port Vila just three months later.

Due to her passion for libraries, she joined the National Library and in 2011 she met Alexander Terry of Akamb Island, South Malekula and they got married on the 12th of December 2012. Terry too was widowed and had six children of his own.

Helen Kailo said her late mother’s love for her stepfather was so strong that it helped her and her siblings to get along well with their stepsiblings.

Mrs. Terry was also a member of the International Federation of Library Associations, Pacific Islands Library Association, Treasurer of the Indigenous Melanesian Land Defense Alliance, founder of the Vanuatu National Library Association, Founder of the Teouma Valley Community and their Women’s Leader, founder of the Vanuatu Kumul Dance Cultural Group and a strong leader within the Vanuatu –PNG Community.

Mrs. Terry was laid to rest at the Port Vila Cemetery on Sunday. She is survived by her husband, 12 children, 20 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.