History & colonialism Feed

The death of Somare & the descent of PNG

Early leaders
Kavali, Somare, Chan and Guise in 1973 - independence leaders whose idealism was compromised by the realities and opportunities of government

| John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations

Published as 'On the death of PNG’s first MP, Sir Michael Somare'

MELBOURNE - The death of Sir Michael Somare, first prime minister of Papua New Guinea, has occasioned an outpouring of national grief and heartfelt obituaries for ‘the Father of the Nation’, ‘the Chief’.

That he was, and remains, widely respected, even loved, across the country is beyond dispute.

Continue reading "The death of Somare & the descent of PNG" »

Of white supremacists & the ‘kanakamen’

Painting of Jim Taylor  Port Moresby Craft Market  1996 (Pacific Manuscripts Bureau)
Jim Taylor - artwork from Port Moresby Craft Market,  1996 (Pacific Manuscripts Bureau)


The Sky Travellers by Bill Gammage, Melbourne University Press (1994). ISBN 9780522848274. 348 pages. Paperback $49.99

NORTHUMBRIA, UK - A re-examination of Professor Bill Gammage’s book, The Sky Travellers, published by Melbourne University Press in 1994, is timely.

It is especially relevant now given that many Papua New Guineans want to know more about their early colonial history and the attitudes of those who made it.

Continue reading "Of white supremacists & the ‘kanakamen’" »

Black & White magazine: a reflection

B&W No 1
Extract of the cover of the first issue of Black and White


NOOSA – In November 1966 I was transferred from my school in the bush to Port Moresby to edit the School Paper.

At 22, I felt it was my big break. An opportunity that put me on the doorstep of journalism.

It was far from a major newspaper; but it was paid, full-time writing job.

Continue reading "Black & White magazine: a reflection" »

Tom Mboya, Paulus Arek & PNG independence

Tom Mboya in PNG 1964
Kenyan leader and independence advocate Tom Mboya talks with a school student when visiting PNG in 1964


TUMBY BAY – In 1971, between 4 January and 19 February, Paulus Arek took his Select Committee on Constitutional Development on a fact finding tour to gauge the feelings of Papua New Guineans about self-government and independence.

Arek, the MP for Ijivitari, was first elected in 1968 and was also Minister for Information (1972-73) and the first president of the Federation of PNG Workers' Associations.

Continue reading "Tom Mboya, Paulus Arek & PNG independence" »

Sir Michael: The loss of a giant

Morrison Somare Whitlam 1973
Territories Minister Bill Morrison, Michael Somare and Gough Whitlam at a press conference at Parliament House, Canberra January 1973


NOOSA - English scientist Isaac Newton admitted that, if he “had seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, was a reflection that we all benefit from the work of great people who came before us.

Last month, one such person was lost to the world.

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was a giant of Papua New Guinea and, indeed, the world because of his significance to the decolonisation movement.

Continue reading "Sir Michael: The loss of a giant" »

Sir Michael & the secret of the Colours

The Regimental Colours return to 2RPIR, Wewak 2013 (Anara Private Archives)


PORT MORESBY - From among the countless stories about Sir Michael Somare comes this one, about a secret.

It originated from near the tip of Cape Moem peninsula in Wewak, East Sepik Province.

This part of the Sepik coastline is home to the PNG Defence Force’s 2nd Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (2RPIR), the sister battalion to the Taurama-based 1RPIR in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Sir Michael & the secret of the Colours" »

Brian Cooper’s conviction was a fit-up

Cooper at Sydney Airport after release from prison
Brian Cooper at Mascor after his release from prison


"[Brian] Cooper wasn't the only one espousing such messages in Papua New Guinea before independence, especially after the UPNG was established. In most cases the local kiap or the district commissioner would have a quiet word with them and tell them to tone it down and that would be the end of the matter" – Phil Fitzpatrick

ADELAIDE - I think that Phil is right. At worst, Mr Cooper was guilty of tokim mauswara tasol or, as my children would have said, ‘dribbling shit’.

Why then Australian prime minister Robert Menzies decided to single him out as an 'enemy of the people' is hard to fathom.

Continue reading "Brian Cooper’s conviction was a fit-up" »

The trials of Brian Leonard Cooper

Sir alan mann
Sir Alan Mann, then PNG chief justice, conceded that the words attributed to Cooper were highly improbable

| University of Western Sydney | Extract

SYDNEY - In January 1961, when [Brian Leonard] Cooper landed in Port Moresby for his trial, a large police contingent awaited his arrival at the airport.

Media publicity ensured that the courtroom was full of spectators.

The Crown prosecutor opened by telling the territorial Chief Justice, Alan Mann, that Cooper had demonstrated “prior motivation” to commit a criminal act.

Continue reading "The trials of Brian Leonard Cooper" »

When orthodoxy seeks to strangle dissent

Brian Cooper - Uttered a n opinion that the Australian government of the time was determined to suppress


ADELAIDE – The story of Brian Leonard Cooper is a very sad story indeed.

The early sixties in Australia were a period in which there was developing a simmering pent up desire for significant socio-economic change.

Continue reading "When orthodoxy seeks to strangle dissent" »

Bousimae, the chief who resisted colonisation

Waide - Bousimae  the Binandere chief
Bousimae, the Binandere chief

| My Land, My Country

LAE - Papua New Guinea is a collection of nations, each with its own rich history.

Much of that history has been lost and much needs to be told.

The stories need to be told not in the context of the 200 years of colonialism, but from the perspective of our elders and based on 60,000 years of unwritten precolonial history.

Continue reading "Bousimae, the chief who resisted colonisation" »

‘Victory Song’ dedicated to a kiap wantok

John Gordon Kirby  Melbourne 2019
John Gordon-Kirkby was a kiap in Enga when he encountered Daniel Kumbon as a boy. After connecting on the internet in recent years, they have formed a great friendship


PORT MORESBY - Early this morning, I received a ‘thank you’ note from one of the kiaps (patrol officers) John Gordon-Kirkby, now aged 84, who had served in Enga Province up to the time of Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975.

A few days ago, John asked me to send him a dedication note with my signature on it so he could stick it somewhere in my new book, ‘Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter’, which he had just ordered.

Continue reading "‘Victory Song’ dedicated to a kiap wantok" »

Chimbu peoples uneven & constant rise

Chimbu Valley
Chimbu Valley - 24,000 years of settlement

| Republished in an edited form from ‘Not always easy, not always nice, but look where we are’, PNG Attitude, July 2018

KUNDIAWA - From the north coast our ancestors climbed into the mountains arriving here in Chimbu more than 24,000 years ago.

Organised in small groups, they freely roamed the vast forests of the time, living by hunting and gathering.

Continue reading "Chimbu peoples uneven & constant rise" »

Calamity of the mountain in the mist

Approaching Mt Lamington after the explosion 1951 (Fred Kleckham - PNGAA)
A small group of government officers approach Mt Lamington after the 1951 eruption (Fred Kleckham - PNGAA)

| Library of the PNG Association of Australia

Fred Kleckham - The last surviving expat remembers

BRISBANE - 21 January 2021 commemorates the 70th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Lamington, near Popondetta in Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province.

Mt Lamington was probably the most destructive volcano to human life in modern history, taking the lives of an estimated 4,000 people.

Continue reading "Calamity of the mountain in the mist" »

Mt Lamington: Remembering the 4,000

Mt Lamington in eruption
At the time heavily forested. Mt Lamington was not believed to be a volcano until shortly before it exploded

| My Land, My Country

POPONDETTA - It’s early morning at Hohorita village, a few kilometers outside Popondetta town.

Organisers of the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Mt Lamington eruption on 21 January 1951 are putting the final touches to preparations as they wait for the guests to arrive.

Continue reading "Mt Lamington: Remembering the 4,000" »

The indispensable manki masta

Kure Whan at Balimo in 1972
Manki masta Kure Whan at Balimo, 1972


TUMBY BAY - When writing about their experiences in Papua New Guinea, many old kiaps mention the special relationship they enjoyed with members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

Very often they highlight the sense of teamwork enjoyed with the policemen under their command – those wise old sergeant majors and sergeants get special praise.

Continue reading "The indispensable manki masta" »

1997 – That turbulent and defining year

(Waide) PNG was witnessing a law and order breakdown
1997 was a dangerous year in PNG, but it ended  more positively with Sir Mekere Morauta  at the helm

| My Land, My Country

LAE - In the first quarter of 1997, word came out that the government of Sir Julius Chan was in talks with a British security contractor, Tim Spicer, to bring in South African mercenaries to end the Bougainville civil war that had been running for eight years.

The protracted conflict had seen the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) withdraw from Bougainville, depleted, demoralised and badly in need of rebuilding.

Continue reading "1997 – That turbulent and defining year" »

Morauta’s masterclass in economic reform

Sir Mekere Morauta - brought Papua New Guinea back from the brink of economic disaster

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Following independence, the Papua New Guinea economy fared relatively well. From 1980 to 1994 it grew at an average of 4% a year.

It was a bumpy ride though, with peaks and troughs in growth, notably the closure of the Panguna mine in 1989 and the start of the Kutubu oil project in 1992.

Continue reading "Morauta’s masterclass in economic reform" »

Rose Kekedo’s string of firsts

Rose kekedo
Dame Rose Kekedo

| Ples Singsing | Edited

Dame Rose Kekedo by Eric Johns, pamphlet, Famous People of PNG series, 27 pages. Pearson & Longman Publisher, South Melbourne, Australia, 1 January 2002, ISBN-10: 0733933300. Available on Amazon for US$39.99 at this link

WAIGANI – This is a short biography of Dame Rose Violet Kekedo (1942-2005), the first Papua New Guinean first woman to venture into fields and roles that had been traditionally reserved for men.

Like her mother, Dame Mary Kekedo, she was knighted for her services to the government and people of PNG before and after independence.

Continue reading "Rose Kekedo’s string of firsts" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 29 - 'CRA, you're unwelcome'

Brown - Pic 1 - MV Craestar moored at KIeta (Peter Steele)
MV Craestar alongside the small ships’ wharf at Kieta circa 1965 (Peter  Steele)


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - On 24 July 1968, Craestar (1), Conzinc Rio Tinto's (CRA) research vessel, motored into Kieta harbour.

None of the onlookers were excited, even though Craestar had a helicopter sitting on a landing pad over the stern.

The townsfolk had seen it all before. CRA had been using the vessel's helicopter to move drilling gear around Panguna in 1965.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 29 - 'CRA, you're unwelcome'" »

Now a video record of an historic moment

Alfred Max Parkinson Uechtritz shows his delight at receiving the first English translation of Dreissig Jahre in Der Südsee (Thirty Years in the South Seas) in 1999


SYDNEY - "Without Richard and Phebe Parkinson, we would be strangers in our own land."

These words were spoken by the wonderful Papua New Guinean historian Gideon Kakabin in our first conversation and formed the basis for our enduring friendship and shared passion for history.

My Danish great grandfather Richard Parkinson published his famed tome Thirty Years in the South Seas in 1907.

Continue reading "Now a video record of an historic moment" »

Ageing kiaps worry about their legacy

Bob Cleland
Many ex-kiaps maintain a close relationship with PNG. Here Bob Cleland looks out over the Asaro Valley from the Daulo Pass. Bob was instrumental in building this challenging stretch of the Highlands Highway in the early 1950s


TUMBY BAY - It began about 10 years ago when a group of ex-kiaps sought to have their services in pre-independent Papua New Guinea formally recognised.

The end result was a reluctant awarding of a Police Overseas Service Medal by the Australian government for those interested in applying for it. It was a fancy piece of tin to keep the old chaps quiet.

The award failed to recognise the kiaps’ primary function as change and development agents and concentrated solely on their police role, which in many cases was minimal.

Continue reading "Ageing kiaps worry about their legacy" »

Time of tension: Revisiting Kerry Dillon’s ‘Chronicle’

Kerry Dillon
Kerry Dillon today - his perceptive chronicle of a time in PNG as independence loomed is well worth reading


The Chronicle of a Young Lawyer by Kerry Dillon, Hybrid Publishers, August 2020, 384pp. ISBN: 9781925736410, $35. Available from Booktopia & all good bookstores, www.hybridpublishers.com.au and as an ebook from Amazon, Kobo, Google Books and Apple iBookstore

NOOSA – In case you missed it, or on the off chance you want to know more, in this piece I’m revisiting Kerry Dillon’s memoir, ‘The Chronicle of a Young Lawyer’.

After publishing a brief review of the book in PNG Attitude in August, I exchanged a number of emails with Kerry, mainly on the subject of Rabaul in 1969-70 when his and my paths crossed during the tense days of the Mataungan Association’s challenge to the colonial Administration.

Continue reading "Time of tension: Revisiting Kerry Dillon’s ‘Chronicle’" »

From tragic first contact to now

Daniel & Paul
Author Daniel Kumbon and the subject of his latest book, Paul Kiap Kurai with the vista of Enga below them


This is the Introduction from a new book by Daniel Kumbon which will come off the presses in a few weeks’ time. It tells of three generations of a prominent Enga family over a period of 90 years, from first contact with waitman gold prospectors in 1930 to the present day. The book features the prominent Enga businessman Paul Kiap Kurai who carries with him the knowledge that tradition is not something of the past but part of the spirit that carries his people forward into the future - KJ

Continue reading "From tragic first contact to now" »

Papua New Guinea patrol reports

Sir Peter Scratchley in Papua
In the early 1880s, Sir Peter Scratchley was sent to Papua to manage the affairs of this latest addition to British imperial interests. And so began the important practice of compiling patrol reports

| National Archives of Australia

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea's patrol reports had their beginnings in 1885 and are credited to Sir Peter Henry Scratchley who, as well as establishing Port Moresby as the seat of government and administration of British New Guinea, also developed a plan for administration and land policy.

The administration plan involved establishing government stations along the coast. These were staffed by a government officer, whose tasks included establishing contact and developing friendly relations with the inhabitants of the area.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea patrol reports" »

Patrolling the Maramuni with Graham Hardy

Aerial view of the new Maramuni road
Aerial view of the new Maramuni road


WABAG - Graham Hardy was posted to Wabag as a cadet patrol officer in 1954 and has recalled that period in an enthralling book, ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’, and in other writing, including a September 2015 article in Una Voce, the newsletter of the PNG Association of Australia.

It is clear that he, like former kiap and magistrate Chips Mackellar, developed a special affection for the people of Enga and related areas of the Papua New Guinea highlands.

Continue reading "Patrolling the Maramuni with Graham Hardy" »

The first outsiders into Enga

Akmana gold prospecting field party  1930
Members of the Akmana gold prospecting field party and local villagers. The party were the first outsiders into Enga in 1929


WABAG – The field party of the Akmana Gold Prospecting Company were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Enga Province.

The Akmana prospectors, trekking south from the Sepik, had penetrated the Maramuni area and into the Wabag district four years before the ill-fated Leahy brothers’ expedition of 1934.

Michael Leahy’s diary stated that 15 tribespeople were killed and an equal number injured in a bloody encounter at Tole village and five more were killed as the Leahy party retreated back to Mt Hagen.

Continue reading "The first outsiders into Enga" »

The papers being sorted; the drawers emptied

Kiaps 1960
Newly recruited kiaps having completed their training in Port Moresby observe a march past by police in the early 1960s


TUMBY BAY - In an article a few days ago about Francis Nii and the effort to memorialise his contribution to Papua New Guinean literature, Keith Jackson reiterated an earlier comment that “this is likely to be PNG Attitude’s last big project. It was always going to happen that Phil Fitzpatrick and I would age and gradually run out of steam. Well, that point is arriving”.

I can wholly endorse that observation, no matter how hard I try to build up a head of steam about lots of things these days it seems to inevitably dissipate in ineffectual little puffs from all the leaks in the rusty old boiler.

Continue reading "The papers being sorted; the drawers emptied" »

There’s no escape from our changing world


NORTHUMBRIA, UK - It does no good to pretend that late 19th and early 20th century Papua New Guinea with its stone based technology and scattered and perpetually warring tribes could have lain forever undisturbed by the relentless impetus of the world.

Any discussion of Australia’s presence in PNG should not begin with whether it had any right to be there, but with what might have happened if a potentially harsher Japanese or Indonesian administration had taken over the country before it became independent.

Continue reading "There’s no escape from our changing world" »

Guise & Kerr – the Whitlam connection

Ind Day
Prince Charles speaks at PNG's independence day. Sir John Guise (left) and Sir John Kerr (centre) themselves had an interesting private talk the night before


TUMBY BAY - There’s an interesting conversation currently taking place in the Australian media following the release of letters exchanged between Queen Elizabeth II and Sir John Kerr, the former Australian governor general who dismissed the Whitlam government in 1975.

The release of the 211 ‘palace letters’ from the Australian Archives follows a protracted effort by historian Jenny Hocking who wanted to know what role the queen might have played in the dismissal of an Australian prime minister.

Continue reading "Guise & Kerr – the Whitlam connection" »

How PNG escaped colonialism’s worst

The Australian colonial Administration's basic position was that PNG people should be brought under the rule of law as humanely and non-violently as possible


ADELAIDE - Phil Fitzpatrick is right to equate racism with economic oppression, as they clearly go hand in hand.

You do not need to be a Marxist to understand that neo-liberal capitalism relies upon the ability to exploit labour in order to flourish.

The basic theory underpinning capitalism as outlined by Adam Smith is that if each person is free to pursue his or her own economic best interests so the total economy must inevitably grow.

Continue reading "How PNG escaped colonialism’s worst" »

The finding of Ok Tedi

"Young came to have more profound impact on the Wopkaimin than any previous colonial administrative or army patrol. He made ethnographic observations but more importantly recorded that the streams seemed to contain copper deposits"


EX KIAP WEBSITE - I have often meant to write of my 24 day patrol to the Star Mountains (Wopkaimin) in August and September of 1966 and the finding of copper sulphate presence in that remote north western corner of the then Western District.

There has been some confusion as to who first discovered evidence of copper leading to the Ok Tedi venture, hence this article.

Continue reading "The finding of Ok Tedi" »

The end of the world – Part 2


ADELAIDE - As regular readers will know, our esteemed guide and editor has until very recently been in a world of pain, having undergone unpleasant surgery in a hopefully successful attempt to treat a debilitating back condition.

Anyone who has undergone major surgery can tell you that the easy bit is the time spent unconscious on the operating room table. What follows is almost invariably unpleasant. It is merely a question of degree really.

Continue reading "The end of the world – Part 2" »

The end of the world

Yucatan crater
The Yucatan meteor strike left a crater 150km wide and caused climate disruption that made extinct 75% of Earth's plant and animal species including any dinosaur that could not fly


ADELAIDE - In the very midst of the Dark Ages of Europe, the coming of the year 1000 was viewed with fear, trepidation and alarm.

This was the year many theologians of that era believed would see the end of all things and the second coming of Jesus as foretold in the Bible.

There was a palpable sense of expectation throughout Christendom which grew steadily as the year 999 CE progressed, reaching a crescendo on New Year’s Eve.

Continue reading "The end of the world" »

Our horrible history


ADELAIDE - The study of history is not likely to inspire belief in the inherent virtues of humanity.

There are so many conspicuous examples of our species’ propensity for violence, venality and depravity that it sometimes takes a certain resolve to stare the facts directly in the face and recognise them for what they tell us about the human condition at a given point in time.

Continue reading "Our horrible history" »

Turning point: Dorney’s history revisited

Sean Dorney on the job. His early independence history reveals a significant turning point in PNG's story as a nation


Papua New Guinea: People, politics and history since 1975 by Sean Dorney, 335 pp. ABC Books, 2000. ISBN-10: 0733309453. Available from Amazon here for $US31.70

PORT MORESBY – In this book, first published in 1990, the noted journalist Sean Dorney gave us a glance of Papua New Guinea, its people, politics and history over its first 15 years after independence.

Dorney lived and worked in PNG for 17 years as the correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation having previously been assigned there in the early 1970s to work with the embryonic National Broadcasting Commission.

Continue reading "Turning point: Dorney’s history revisited" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 28 – In defence of the people’s land

Pic 1 - District Officer Ross Henderson
District Officer Ross Henderson in 1968


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - Tuesday 7 May 1968. District Officer Ross Henderson and I were dumbstruck at the tone of the on-site meeting at Panguna that morning.

Conzinc Rio Tinto Area Manager Colin Bishop was unusually forceful with his demands.

He wanted more assistance in the coming months when the CRA teams - geologists, engineers, planners and surveyors – would start tramping through the villages and gardens of central Bougainville.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 28 – In defence of the people’s land" »

Telling a kiap apart from the crowd

Papuan kiap Geoff Smith
Papuan kiap, Geoff Smith


TUMBY BAY - I served as a kiap in both New Guinea and Papua. In New Guinea the kiap rig generally consisted of a khaki shirt and shorts, shiny RM Williams boots and a slouch hat.

In Papua, especially on the remoter stations, kiaps tended to get around in whatever took their fancy or whatever they deemed suitable for the climate and circumstances.

Continue reading "Telling a kiap apart from the crowd" »

The soldiers that never were

Newspaper advertisement for kiaps  circa 1966
Newspaper advertisement for kiaps, 1966


TUMBY BAY - How often have you heard the admonition to always read the fine print before signing anything?

And how often have you had some sneaky little paragraph in the fine print pointed out that you never read excusing a manufacturer or insurer from honouring what you thought should have been an obligation on their part?

When we signed up to become kiaps we all swore an oath of allegiance but very few of us actually queried what that actually entailed.

Not only did we not read the fine print but we didn’t ask whether such a list of obligations existed.

Continue reading "The soldiers that never were" »

The tragic history of Goaribari Island

Kerewa longhouse, Goaribari Island, 1923  (Frank Hurley)
Kerewa longhouses,  Goaribari Island,  1923 (Frank Hurley)


ADELAIDE - Daniel Kumbon’s recent article on the work of early missionaries in Papua New Guinea triggered some memories for me, especially in relation to Goaribari Island.

By a strange quirk of fate I met a man who witnessed the events of 8 April 1901 when the Reverends James Chalmers and Oliver Tomkins, together with 12 colleagues, were murdered and then eaten by the people living on Goaribari Island.

Continue reading "The tragic history of Goaribari Island" »

That their names may live on

Rev James Chalmers - Tamate
Rev James Chalmers (Tamate) - his name & the names of many other heroes of PNG will be remembered forever


WABAG - Today, 8 April, is the anniversary of the untimely death of Rev James Chalmers – ‘Tamate’ – who was killed and cannibalised along with Rev Oliver Tomkins and local missionaries on Goaribari Island in Western Province 119 years ago.

When I think about their horrible deaths, the names of four friends come to mind who were all posted to serve in the Western Province at some stage of their careers in the 20th century.

Continue reading "That their names may live on" »

The turbulent story of Enga

Cr Paul  Kiap Kurai with his father's last wife Kipaukwan and some of his children at Kaiap village_
Cr Paul Kiap Kurai with his father's last wife, Kipaukwan, and some of his children at Kaiap village


WABAG - One of the greatest feats Kurai Tapus accomplished occurred in World War II when he accompanied Daniel Leahy and a group of men to rescue eight missionaries including five Catholic nuns hiding from the Japanese in the jungles of Wewak.

What is intriguing about this story is whether Kurai recognised Leahy as the other white man who had come to Tole on that dark day of the mass killing some nine years previously.

Continue reading "The turbulent story of Enga" »

The story of how ‘gavman’ came to Wabag

Jim Taylor and Michael Leahy
Early highlands explorers Jim Taylor and Michael Leahy


PORT MORESBY - The colonial Administration utterly failed to understand why native people in the vicinity of Wabag patrol post vehemently opposed the government establishing contact with them.

Colonial kiaps described the native people as the “most difficult to be found anywhere” for continuing to oppose them after a base was established in Wabag during the Hagen-Sepik patrol of 1938.

Continue reading "The story of how ‘gavman’ came to Wabag" »

The old priest & the young councillor

Alois Alapyala Yolape (right) speaking with Paul Kurai at opening of new Leptenges churchDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG - Alois Alapyala Yolape often thanks Fr George Schubbe publicly, even though the priest is dead, for playing an important role in getting him elected for the Monokam council ward in the Ambum Valley 57 years ago.

Recently, he again acknowledged Fr Schubbe at a new church opening at Leptenges near Sirunki, where his late mother was born.

Continue reading "The old priest & the young councillor" »

The mysterious Goilala ‘totem pole’



NORTHUMBRIA - This photograph is the most puzzling in my Papua New Guinean collection.

I tramped through the bush for almost six years and it is the only example I bumped into that had any resemblance to the totem pole so often presented as typical of Native American culture in the nineteenth century or the mumbo-jumbo, voodoo style, pagan doll depictions so readily associated with early British exploration of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Did kiaps and anthropologists who broke PNG bush much earlier than the late 1960s come across anything that was similar?

It was housed in a traditional sentry box-like structure standing at the end of a line of village houses in the Pilitu section of the Goilala Sub-District that I came upon in January 1974.

Continue reading "The mysterious Goilala ‘totem pole’" »