Aboutness Statement (Port Moresby, Central District, 1944-1946), Jia Li, Week 3

Key notes on patrol reports with timeline


6/27-7/7 objects:

  • Revise census
  • Compile census
  • Inspect GAILE village Gardens.
  • Norm routine matters

6/30: high death rate in 1943-1944, 48 deaths, 9 births

7/2: inspection continues, settle complaint about distribution of food

7/3: census

7/4: census, inspection

young men married to widows who were much older

Complaint of not enough food

7/5: census

7/6: census

General report: main object- check existing census sheet and compile new census


9/5-10/1 objects: general inspection and census check of main KOIARI District

9/19: census checked, gear distributed. two villages were inspected and the health were generally good. People in a happy state of mind, food were plentiful. Etc.


  • generally good. KOIARI people have settled down more or less to their pre-war existence. They were convinced that the war has definitely finished for them, apart from their boys being away from the indenture
  • People are in a happy, contented frame of mind, and received the patrol very well
  • Crime was practically non-existent
  • On the whole, the position in the KOIARI district is most satisfactory
  • Villages: Generally improvements are being made, such as planting of flowers and bordering of tracks.
  • House: Good. Structures are sturdy, weatherproof, and of a  suitable, easy design.
  • Agriculture: Food is abundant, and no shortages anywhere. All the gardens visited were large, and planted to capacity. There were no difficulties in obtaining the requirements for the patrol.
  • Roads and bridges: Roads generally good. Bridges, where necessary, were all in place.
  • Census:  Checked, and alterations and additions made
  • Indentured labour: One of the patrol instructions was to recruit where possible.
  • Health: Generally good



3/19-4/17 purpose of patrol:

  • To investigate murders at two villages
  • To report on number of villages and number of natives in the area

6/6-7/3 purpose of patrol:

  • Investigation of two murders
  • Compile new village Census Books
  • To recruit 30-50 natives for carriers


  • Native situation: Most satisfactory, the general attitude was found friendly and cooperative. Complete absence of complaints. The people seem to be very happy. Food is plentiful and the patrol was well supplied.

8/11: census taken and village inspected. Village in excellent order. House constructed and in good repair.


In Jan. 45 I visited the KILAKILA people at TAVAI and instructed them to enlarge and improve their gardens. Nothing has been done so far, with the result that, in the near future when evacuee rations are stepped, these people will have very little food.


A small number of KILAKILA villagers are temporarily living at their pre-war village, for the purpose of of constructing gardens.


House: Generally good. As mentioned in the diary, TUPUSELET and GAILE Villagers are at present engaged in a rebuilding programme.


Native situations: KILAKILA people are either procrastinators or openly defiant. Unless they are made to improve conditions in housing and in gardens. The advent of the NW rains and the stopping of further evacuee ration issues may lead to bad results.



Appendix “C”

Native compensation: The following remarks are made:

  • (a) All houses have been rebuilt and gardens remade.
  • (b)…
  • (c)…

Owing to the cessation of the patrol, compensation work yet remains to be done… Claims will be heavy, because of complete destruction of villages, etc during ‘42…



1/4-1/15 purpose of patrol: to investigate the local natives for acquisition of timber rights in the BROWN RIVER area.

(the contents are extremely hard to read)


3/18-3/31 purpose of patrol: Routine patrol with particular attention to gardens.

Gardens: There is insufficient food in the old gardens for the people…They have gardens under cultivation, but these gardens need more attention. The inhabitants appear to have the attitude that the administration is supplying them with food, therefore they need not exert themselves to the utmost…Presumably, the issue of rations will cease about the end of May…I am of the opinion that this request was made simply because other villages, which were evacuated during the war, are receiving rations.  


Morale: The morale of people, especially of those who have recently returned to their pre-war sites, is exceptionally high. They are very happy and contented. The return to their original homes is having good effect upon them. They are far more cheerful than when I saw them two and half years ago, in the evacuee villages at PAPA.


Rehabilitation of ROKU Village: ROKU village, which was evacuated to HISIU and PAPA at the commencement of the war, has now been returned to its old site…


5/9-5/16 purpose of patrol: to estimate the extent of damage caused to gardens by recent rains.


5/26-5/31 purpose of patrol: to estimate the extent of damage caused to gardens by recent rains.


Aboutness Statement

The volume 3 patrol report collection of Port Moresby in the Central District of Papua New Guinea during 1944-1946 is mainly about the post-war reconstruction after WWII. Though there were some individual cases and trivial matters seemingly irrelevant to the main themes of the report, such as murder investigations, weather conditions and minor conflicts on timber rights, the main themes of whole volume of patrol reports are quite fouced. According to the key notes taken above on the primary sources, the patrol reports keep a significant record of events pertinent to the post-war reconstruction process correspondingly. The key words frequently used throughout the patrol reports are “census”, “inspection”, “ration”, “recruit”, “pre-war” and “rebuild”. If you read through my notes above according to timeline, you might easily discover that the focus of the reconstruction themes slightly shifts over time. The reports in 1944 mainly focuses on census, death rate and inspections. According to my cultural context blog and research, 1944 is the year towards the end of WWII, which is 1945. This makes sense because census and inspections were the two most urgent and necessary tasks to be carried out right after the war, which also explains the high death rate and low birth rate mentioned in the reports. Then I observe that the reconstruction of infrastructures tended to take place massively in 1945 according to the patrol reports. In addition, problems about garden reconstruction and the lack of rations arose. In 1946, many people had been returned to their own villages. But new issues came. Some villagers had been relying too much on the rations distributed by the government and thus did not make enough effort to establish their own food supplies. The good news was that the morale of people was exceptionally high for many evacuees had returned to their original homes. Besides, the recruitment of patrols and carriers became the one of the most important and consistent tasks during 1944-1946.


My way of constructing an aboutness statement is to take key notes of events that show up consistently throughout the patrol reports (see above), and then analyse them carefully and try to find a pattern of themes relevant to the secondary sources found outside the primary sources, such cultural context and research articles.


For me, the easiest part of making an aboutness statement was to summarize and analysis the key themes of the assigned patrol reports. First of all, the cultural context about Port Moresby in Central District of PNG has been extremely helpful for me to gain a good understanding of the backgrounds of Port Moresby in 1944-1946. Second, the time period and historical events of the patrol reports assigned have already well implied the main focus of the patrol reports in 1944-1946. Third, Port Moresby is considered one of the major cities in PNG with most recent research articles and contemporary information. Besides, the digitization of the primary sources allows me to easily access my assigned patrol reports and take notes of them. In addition, the online search engine and secondary sources online also did me a big favour in obtaining the indispensable background information about my assigned patrol reports.


However, I still find it hard to better organise the primary sources and take notes of the assigned patrol reports. It was extremely time-consuming to peruse through the whole collection of patrol reports and take notes of the key words and the key sentences. Indeed, some texts of the digitized patrol report are nearly impossible to read not only because of faded ink, but also because of the lack of attachments and further information.      

PNG Patrol Report: Central District, Port Moresby, 1944-1946



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey Jia,

    First of all, I also found it extremely hard to read some of the digitized patrol report with teared pages. My assigned reports had a lot of maps too and it was hard to interpret the maps. I think your key words are really well chosen. I am still working on those key words for my reports and it was one of the hardest thing to do in writing aboutness statement. Also really nice work on the timeline organization!

  2. Rachel Hicks says:

    Hi Jia, the timeline was very interesting to read and a good way to organize the journey. However, some parts of the timeline seem like direct quotes from the patrol reports; be sure to use quotation marks when it is not your own paraphrasing. For example, at one point in the timeline, you use the first person, so I thought you were talking about your own experience but then I realized it was a patrol officer.

    Your aboutness statement is a little long. You did an excellent analysis, but in addition to the analysis, formulate a 2-4 sentence statement that says what it is about without analyzing why.

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