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Those POM suburb names

Hotel moresbyGOBI DON GUREKI
| Skerah PNG

PORT MORESBY - Unlike the street in Port Moresby's central business district, named after many prominent people of the colonial era, the suburbs have more local and traditional names.

The Koitabuans along with Motuans are the traditional landowners of Port Moresby, the Koitabuans hunters while the Motuans were more associated with the sea.

This is why a vast area of inland Port Moresby suburbs are Koitabuan names.

As luck would have it, we’ve found an interesting piece by Gobi Don Gureki, a Koitabuan, explaining the meaning of each name.

Koki was originally known by the Koitabuans as Koge sounded as’Koxe’ which is one of the clans of Kirakira village, a Koitabuan community.

Badili is also a clan name, originally ‘Badiri Vamaga’, also a Kirakira clan.

Korobosea village was a Koitabuan community with people mostly migrating from the Koiari tribes of Ogoni Gubini, Gorogaha, Iabagaha and Iarogaha.

‘Koro’ in Koitabu means wild fowl and ‘bosea’ is a basket.

The name Korobosea is said to have been coined when the chief of the village gave a basket full of wild fowl eggs as a gift to the United Church bishop in exchange for its first pastor.

This was after most of the ministers had declined to be posted to this village due to the widespread practice of sorcery.

Tokarara comes from ‘to Garara’ which means dog fight.

Gerehu is ‘kerehu’ – a place of war or warzone.

Boroko is the name of a tree in Koitabu.

Waigani is ‘vaiga’, a spear or weapon.

Hohola is ‘hohoa’ which means to swallow.

Morata comes from when the brother of a woman giving birth called in Koitabu, “Otadona au havara gahanu?” [what did she deliver?], the midwife replying, “Morauki manu”, which means, she’s got a son. ‘Moe’ is son in Koitabu and “’ata’ is male.

Paga means shoulder. Elders will tell you that Paga Hill was named by the colonial administration after one of its workers, wanting to have a look at Fisherman Island, looked over the shoulder of another employee.

Touaguba is an interesting one. Touaguba Hill was the highest point west of the CBD and men climb to the top of the hill and beat the kundu drum (toua). Guba means sky in Motu.


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@Gary. As Philip said....hanua = village; Bada = big;
Thus: Hanuabada = big village.

I don't think there is a word for "town" in Motu - sedira?

Yu stap gut poro....Marum.

Garry Roche

Phil - There are two separate places Gumats (now also called Kaiwe) is just beyond Newtown on the road from Hagen towards Togoba.

Gumanch is the name of a well known plantation towards Dei Council. At one time Dick Hagon was involved with Gumanch.

Apparently Dick passed away recently. He was a well known personality in the Hagen area.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Hanuabada is 'big village'. I think the name pre-dates Port Moresby. Hanua - village, bada - big.

Isn't Gumats something to do with the Gumanch River?

Garry Roche

Very interesting information on Port Moresby suburb names.

It is certainly worthwhile both from cultural and historical perspectives that the original meanings of suburb names, street names and place names in general are recorded and preserved. Does 'Hanuabada' mean 'big town'?

In Mt Hagen town the street names are generally local Hagen names.

Some areas are named after the nearby streams or rivers, thus Warakum refers to the Kum river and Kumkala refers to where the stream Kala flows into the Kum river, and nearby is Kalakai market.

Street names such as Pena, Kupanda, Moka, could refer to specific people or to objects. Maybe some Hagen historian can tell us if the name 'Pena' was in acknowledgment of the former Member Pena Au, or was it just used as it can mean 'place'?

Sometimes specific areas acquire unofficial names, one remote section of Hagen town was commonly referred to by expats as 'Siberia' - because it was then on the outskirts.

An area formerly know as Gumats later became known as Kaiwe, because a workshop at that site used that name.

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