The bay of Balade, located at the city of Pouebo, at the extreme north-east of New Caledonia, is historic in many respects. From James Cook to Admiral Despointes through that of Catholic missionaries, the bay is the "first"!
The first European to stay there was the English Admiral James Cook in 1774. But it is also at Balade that the first missionaries landed from the ship Bucéphale in December 1843, Christmas Eve. Jean Taragnat, whose local history has retained the name, celebrated first mass there the next day, on the Mahamate beach, under a Banyan tree which is still in existence!
If the arrival of a Saint Bernard dog in 1845 is anecdotal, the tragic death of one of the missionaries Blaise Marmoiton who came in 1843 is less anecdotal. In 1847, the relationship between the tribal people and the missionaries became strained. Prolonged drought, poor harvest of yams and spread of leprosy: all contributed to make the people accuse missionaries of witchcraft. Beatified in 1919, Blaise Marmoiton will be part of the victims of the violence during that time.
Lastly, it is in the same bay that the ship Le Phoque docked on 24 September 1853 with Admiral Auguste Febvrier Despointes on board, who officially took possession of the territory that day on behalf of the Emperor of France, Napoleon III. The Memorial celebrates that day, which is "public holiday" in New Caledonia.