His name was Pius (pronounced Pews in the family). He was a teenager when Jim Taylor's expedition first arrived in Simbu in the late thirties.
Because he was one of the first locals to learn Tok Pisin he was employed as an interpreter.
In Pius’s memory, those early settlers were not benevolent. Jim Taylor was like a malign despot who killed many people and treated the locals very badly.
Pius's stories about the early Australian administration were disturbing. His job was to arouse the villagers in the morning to work on the Kundiawa airstrip.
The airstrip was built by forcibly recruiting local villagers to carry big rocks from Wara Simbu to make the foundations - you can see them to this day.
If people did not get up at sunrise and get to the works on time, they were beaten and sometimes killed. They were not paid, other than a bit of food twice a day, which was inadequate.
Some starved, some were beaten to death, some died of cold and overwork. A local anecdote to be sure, but history must see the past from both sides.
According to Bubu Pius, Jim Taylor and the early Australians were magical monsters, dealing death and glory with the same hand.
Photo: Bubu Pius