PNG: An old & mature culture with a capacity to transform
Life amongst the teachers at Salamo on Fergusson Island

From the Kundiawa News – 50 years ago in New Guinea

Aldo - Chimbu Club fireKEITH JACKSON

Extracts from Kundiawa News No 20 – 9 October 1964


A fire which broke out in the Chimbu Club last Sunday afternoon was put out just minutes before it could become too serious.

The alarm given by schoolteacher Kevin Marsh brought over a dozen people who were swimming and playing tennis to the scene of the fire.

A bucket chain was rapidly formed after Public Works OIC had broken into the bar. The seat of the blaze was quickly attacked and within minutes the flames were extinguished.

The fire was caused by a kerosene freezer being placed too close to the plywood wall of the Club and setting it alight. Thanks to the hasty action of those involved the only damage caused was top the interior wall and slightly to the outside weatherboarding.

An onlooker’s opinion of the fire said that the task of extinguishing it would have been impossible if noticed later than it was. The value of the damage caused has not yet been assessed.


An era in the history of the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary passed last week with a ceremony to initiate the new police uniform. In his speech, the acting District Officer, Mr G Burfoot, traced the history of the police force from the time the first Solomon Island police came to Papua at the end of the last century. He stressed that the proud traditions of the old uniform should not be left behind but transferred to the advent of the new style of dress.

For the ceremony, the Kundiawa garrison was split into two groups – one wearing the old and one wearing the new uniform. The ceremony was very impressive and did much to emphasise this changeover, which would occur very infrequently inn any country in the world. At the conclusion of the ceremony, three cheers were given to retiring police commissioner Normoyle, who has now left the Territory.

From the way local police have been “striding it out” over the past week, it appears that the new uniform has been a definite morale raiser. However a report from kerowagi suggested that police in that part of Chimbu are suffering from extremely sore feet and many were wearing sandals. A new era has begun.


The subject on which I write to you is, I know, of a delicate nature, however to my mind there are a number of points which do not fall into alignment with similar cases within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

The case to which I refer is the conviction of a ‘local’ individual to three months gaol for an affair with a ‘semi-local’ wench who was at the time under welfare care en route to Australia. It must be remembered that this was not the first time that the two parties had become estranged and there was apparently quite an amount of sincere feeling involved on both sides.

The question arises in my mind that, had this female been a full-blooded indigenous person or local (whichever is the current politic), would this matter have reached the Courts or even been noticed? Admittedly the girl had not reached the lawful age of ‘participation’, however it is, I believe, the local although not the legal custom for her counterparts in this society and Territory to indulge, without interference from either the law or the public. It is only natural for persons brought up in this environment to practise the customs and way of life of that environment. I do not think there is any need to comment on the particular environment connected with this case.

It appears that the basic argument revolves around the point that an individual has been mad e a scapegoat due mainly to an unfavourable set of circumstances, namely that of an indigenous (local) male courting a semi-indigenous female, which no doubt to the majority of us is much harder to swallow than the reverse situation.

If the law is enforced upon the above set of circumstances then no doubt, in accordance with current Territory politics, it must be enforced upon all other possible couplings.


Power: Because of the unlikelihood of Kundiawa being connected to the Ramu hydro-electric scheme for a number of years, advice is being sought about re-implementing the Tamba scheme which would yield a 300 KVA capacity.

Town Plan: The TAC is very concerned about the delay with the town plan. Many enterprises are now interested in obtaining business sites in the Kundiawa town area. The motion for more rapid action is to go before the Lands department.

New Road: The development of the Gembogl road through the Chimbu Gorge has been suggested to be put on the Needs List. A staff reporter who has walked into this area states that already the local people have begun preliminary work on a road in the Yongamugl area.

Highlands Highway: Council members were extremely worried about radio news broadcasts from the ABC which stated that the new Highlands Highway will terminate at Kundiawa. This was in direct conflict with other reliable sources which have stated that the road will terminate at Kerowagi. Official clarification has been sought by the TAC.


At their meeting last Tuesday week, the Kerowagi Council requested more serious penalties for ‘Lucky’ players and for other forms of gambling. As another means of prevention, the four Chimbu MHAs are to be requested to bring up the question of banning the importation of playing cards at the next sitting of the House.


The newest aid post in the Chimbu, at Ubanidaua, has been opened by Acting District officer Burfoot. The aid post is eight hours walk south-west of Chuave and 7,500 feet above sea level. The building, or iron and timber construction, was built entirely from Chuave Council funds. Over 2,000 people attended the opening including the District Medical Officerf Dr TG Murrell, ADO Chuave Mr JB Battersby and the ADO (Local Government) Kundiawa Mr N Macnamara.


Two young Kundiawa schoolteachers are caring for a seven-year old orphan boy who approached death from scabies and malnutrition in the Kundiawa Hospital some weeks ago. They are Messrs Jackson and Bladwell. The boy, Waim, is from Kombugl. Eighteen months ago his father was shot is mistake for a pig by a padre near Banz in the Western Highlands. He later died in Goroka Hospital.

His mother also dead, the boy along with his brothers and sisters was left to fend for himself. A younger sister died. It is not know how long Waim will stay with his adopted ‘parents’ but indications are it will be at least four months.


A rare Blue Bird of Paradise plume was stolen from the Chimbu Club on the night of the Chimbu Ball. It belonged to the personal servant of Gumine MHA, Mr Graham Pople. It is bleived that the plume, eight inches high, was stolen between the hours of 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm. Mr Pople said the plume had been displayed at the Goroka Show as well as at the Ball. He had an obligation to his servant to return the plume and he was extremely upset that it had been taken. Investigations into the theft are continuing.


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Patricia Crowe

Have just found the piece on Waim, who Keith and Murray looked after.

When they went on leave at the end of that year, 1964, my husband Paul and I looked after him. It was a honour to do that and we and my two children had lots of fun helping him.

Hi Pat - Such a generous act that was, as Waim - impaired from birth and eventually cast aside by his clan as a burden - would probably not have survived. It seems that the kindness that you and Paul provided did assist in his acceptance and return to village life. I'm told that Waim died a few years ago but he had a good life. My very best regards to you and Paul - KJ

Jimmy Drekore

I've made a search for Waim from Kombugl and found out he has passed on.

His brother, Lapun Dariye, is still alive and lives at Mirane near Kundiawa.

Many thanks for that follow up, Jimmy. Perhaps I can meet Lapun Dariye when I visit Kundiawa next year - KJ

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