The first Papua New Guinean people to experience major contact with Europeans want compensation from Australia and Britain for what they say was more than a century of colonial neglect. The new president of the Motu Koita people, Miria Ikupu, made the claim on PNG's former colonial masters, and PNG's present government, in his first address as leader. Mr Ikupu said his 45,000 people, who live in and around Port Moresby, have not seen one cent from successive administrations despite continued promises, the first from Queen Victoria.
"The Motu Koita people, who are the original inhabitants and owners of Port Moresby City, have been denied and neglected from their land rights and the benefits," he told AAP. "The former British and Australian colonial administrations forcefully took our land and built the now city of Port Moresby. Landowners' concerns were completely ignored and made into crown land with twist tobacco, axes or goods."
Mr Kupu also blamed successive PNG governments for failings in water supply, public transport, sanitation and garbage collection. "Much of the problems faced today are a direct result of the actions and inactions of the former British and Australian colonial administration," he said.
Missionaries and traders arrived in the Port Moresby area in the 1870s. Papua was proclaimed a British protectorate in 1884, when the Union Jack was raised by Commodore James Erskine on Motu Koita land and PNG had its first colonial administration. "When the Union Jack was raised, Erskine made a declaration to assure the people of Papua that the Queen would protect their land, culture and future generations," said Mr Ikupu. "It was a hollow promise."
Mr Ikupu said he does not want an apology, just help to tackle lost business opportunities, poor education facilities, 70 percent unemployment and a lack of health infrastructure. "That promised system failed miserably to work to the benefit of the Motu Koita people," he said. Community Development Minister Carol Kidu and Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop both support the Motu Koita claims.
Source: ‘PNG people claim colonial compo’ by Ilya Gridneff, News Limited. Photo: Port Moresby today