Making History Module Essay By Cleo Bailey

The overall aim of the patrol was to complete a census of Nami-Uri and Nami-Hoi area of lake Kutubu sub-district by M.B Allwood. But there were two small natives’ groups which they couldn’t contact. The aim of the patrol was to see the work that was previously done by other patrols and gain information about which area would be suitable for crop growing which would allow for further cash flow into the area. This would allow a money economy which would be able to raise the native’s standards of living. Another aim of the report was to find a suitable applicant for the position of village constables in the area as there weren’t any direct representatives. Except no attempt was made to appoint village councillors. It was also quite commonly shown in the report that there was a limited supply of food for the natives and there was a lack of access to health services. The reports also suggest a dire need for a medical assistant in the Lake Kutubu area, until those being trained in the area had completed their course. The most common causes of death were pneumonia, malaria, HIV epidemic and acute respiratory diseases.

The patrol took place between the years of 1955 to 1956. The first patrol report started on the 1st of August 1955 and ended on the 26th of August 1955.

The patrol took place during the 1950’s this was after the war which had left significant destruction in its wake. Many places in Papua New Guinea had villages destroyed and many roads, bridges, airstrips and equipment had been left abandoned. Papua New Guinea started a new period of major economic development. During the 1950’s the United Nations accepted the terms Australia proposed for a trusteeship agreement which means that Australia took Papua New Guinea under its wing. This act came into parliament during 1945 so when this patrol was written was 10 years after this act was pushed through parliament. Thus demonstrates how these patrols had tried to help and provide access to medical services and health advice that would aid in increasing the life expectancy of the natives.[1] During the 1950’s it was quite common to still see many natives use headhunting and cannibalism. During the era of 1950’s to 1960’s the aim was to erase this entirely, which proved successful, due to administration and mission pressures on the natives.[2] This trusteeship agreement was a result of Australian officials wanting to return the favour from the aid during the war. It was quite common that during this time the patrols would help the natives to grow certain crops to help gain more revenue into Papua New Guinea this included crops such as arabica coffee, rice, seed corn, peanuts, soya beans and cacao. The natives tended to grow crops such as sage, cabbage, sugar cane, yam and in some rare cases bush cucumbers.[3] Coffee is a common plantation crop in the Highlands and allows for a profit and by 1956 it covered about 3000 acres and produced about 71 tonnes.[4] The aim of this patrol was to educate the locals in how to plants and grow these new crops and mainly improve the health services, which is what they achieved.[5]

During this patrol they visited two distinct geographically areas. They firstly visited the Namo-Uri which is the mountain regions. This consisted of the limestone ranges and these areas were very ‘rugged’.[6] the most difficult terrain crossed was between Sisibia and Hainana villages and Fasubaisa and Guhugusia Village and finally between Soro village and Lake Kutubu.[7] The second area which they also visited was Nami-hou which is the valley region.[8] This was low and narrow and very swampy which is close to the Iwa range which is covered with ‘limestone pinnacles’.[9] During the wet season this area is almost ‘impossible’ to cover due to the flood waters.[10] The construction of motor roads was poor but even if in good shape they wouldn’t be used. At each village they asked the natives to widen and clean the current roads or tracks that were in use, due to the poor structure of them.[11]

Most natives have minimal infrastructure but compared to previous reports most communal houses have been added to, renewed or planning to be reconstructed.[12] The newer houses in these villages tended to be stronger and bigger than the previous houses. Steel tools have been replaced by stone tools, as the stone pick is quite commonly used in making sage.[13] The attire of these natives hasn’t changed much and nor has the culture and traditions. There was a change in imports as in Fasu village there was several fish-mouth drums which are from imported from ‘Kutubuan specimen probably from the Namo tribe’.[14]

The two common activities that were prevalent in this patrol was census taking and medical analysis and education. As stated in the patrol the areas overall health is an unhealthy one. The valley which is more like a swap malaria and pneumonia estimated about 80% of the population had died from these two diseases over the past two years since the last patrol.[15] The ratio of death to births if very low being 119 deaths since the last patrol and only 61 births. It stated that these natives are dying out quite rapidly. The natives understand that there shouldn’t be a reason for these high numbers of deaths and in some villages infant morality is extremely high which is worsening the population ratio. In some villages the infant morality is at 100%. Some natives are realising that European medicine can help this problem and are realising the benefits that this medicine can have on their villages. This was shown when the sick presented themselves immediately after the patrol had arrived to seek help, including women. Many cases of malaria and pneumonia were treated, and the natives responded well to the treatment. What stands out in the report was the lack of access to medical services as generally people disliked going all the way to the government station at Kutubu to obtain treatment. As it included two or more hard days of travel which is almost impossible for someone who is very ill. But luckily in this patrol there were no recorded incident of violence except many villages were hesitant or refused to state their name for statistical and census purposes due to long standing traditions.

The report helps to aluminate that all these patrol workers were trying to help the native population. It also tells up how rocky and hard the terrain is in this area and that also of these patrols were hard. They tended to struggle, walking for hours and hours each day, to get to a different village. A large proportion of the native Papua New Guineans live in these mountainous rural and remote areas which means they are cut off from basic health services. To be able to deliver health care to these people is almost impossible unless they get a medical assistant to travel every six months. Which is suggested numerous times in the report. It would be challenging to try to deliver these services to almost 600 small islands and then with the added pressure of overcoming geographical, cultural and communication challenges. There are approximately 700 languages spoken by different tribes and some remain so remote they will never have access to the developments and attitudes of the modern world. Even by adding a medical program, the medical assistant would have to travel by foot which can be a hard task to get to the villages. If they had something set up close to the villages, these natives would still have to travel by foot. Which is a challenging task when sick or would have to travel a certain distance just to reach the nearest transport. It is quite common in this report that the population in decreasing and dying out and it is also shown by the lower health status compared to neighbouring Pacific countries. There are problems with lower life expectancy, high infant mortality which causes serious maternal problems and other major diseases. As stated, previously the most common medical issues are malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and other respiratory diseases which they are struggling to treat.[16]

This report does help us see the worry and sadness that these patrol officers have for these natives. The patrol officers name is M.B. Allwood who is kind and generous throughout each report. There is never any malice in his words, he only feels sorrow for these people and wants to help. He tends to struggle with the terrain which is shared between his patrol officers. But compared to his superiors he pushes to try and get some form of health services, but struggles. This patrol officer cares for these natives and want to aid in regaining their population numbers and not to die out. Even the Papua New Guineans feel sorrow at dying out and are eager to receive medical help. In 1947, 17 doctors worked in Papua New Guinea, and between 1951 and 1963, 16 new medical assistants were trained to help Papua New Guinea, which demonstrates the need for medical assistants.[17]

Most previous reports, suggest the need to deal with these natives in a ‘firm’ manner, but this patrol report doesn’t suggest that.[18] But it does suggest the patrol officers ability to overcome the challenges of the landscape and not complain about minor cuts and bruises. These patrol officers tend to have a sense of ‘purpose and hence direction’.[19] The aim of the patrol officers was to be a form of government and regulate the peace, compliance and gain control. Which allowed them to learn new knowledge about these natives.[20]

These natives could have been hesitant to give patrol officers their names because before the arrival of Europeans, no tribesman or woman were allowed into the territory of another unless invited for a specific reason, which included alliances and negotiations.[21] There was a very clear path of tribal boundaries which is why these patrol officers would have been regarded with caution and maybe the natives didn’t share all their information with them due to this. They may have been regarded as intruders. As a result, they could have the assumption that white men wouldn’t accept traditional boundaries like giving their name out to trespassers and would cause conflict.[22] It demonstrates after 10 years of patrol reporting that these natives aren’t as hostile as they used to be. As many accounts of early contact show that the villagers ‘immediate reaction to intruders was hostility’ and it was quite common to hear ‘go away’.[23]

One common issue that the patrol officer has is his struggle with the land. These natives have this strong connection to the ‘land and place’, which the patrol officers don’t grasp.[24] Which was crucial to these native’s and their history, according to Karen Fox it should be ignored.[25]

Finally, regarding Cohn’s investigation modalities, the patrol report did achieve its overall aim. Which was, to gather data and educate natives on how to plant different crops. The information about the number of people who are giving birth and dying, helped to draw the conclusion that the populations are dying out. It added information on the high number of infant moralities, due to the lack of access to health services.[26] This data helped Australia to keep Papua New Guinea under their control, in helping them to thrive and eventually Australia wouldn’t have to help them anymore. Overall, this report expanded on the history of the people, their language and to work out ways to implement health services which would significantly help these natives and their population.[27] The patrol officers in their own eyes also mapped out the landscape according to their view and through their help in educating these natives created a different future for these people which wouldn’t have previously occurred if they didn’t have any influence on them and the trusteeship agreement never occurred.[28]

Bibliography:

Ballard, C, Explorers & co. in interior New Guinea, 1872-1928, Brokers and boundaries: Colonial exploration in Indigenous territory, ANU Press, Canberra, 2016, pp.185-212

Foster, M, Drawing the historian back into history: creativity, writing and the art of time travel, Rethinking History, Taylor & Francis Online, 2018.

History: From Ancient Ancestry to Modern Politics, Papua New Guinea, 2020, retrieved 8th of September 2020,  https://www.papuanewguinea.travel/history.

Lauer, S, Walangu, H, Mahap, F & Homingu M, Papua New Guinea History: An Overview, Pastep, 2002, retrieved 8th September 2020, https://www.education.gov.pg/TISER/documents/pastep/ssd-tc-3-3-png-history-an-overview-student.pdf.

McPherson, NM, In Colonial New Guinea: Anthropological Perspectives, Colonial New Guinea: The Historical Context, P Brown (ed.), University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001.

PGN National Archives, Patrol Report, No. 7, ISBN: 9980-970-70-4, Lake Kutubu, Southern Highlands District, 1955-1956, retrieved 9th September 2020.

Pilang C, Gray M & Oprescu, F, The evolution of the Community Health Worker program in Papua New Guinea. Rural and Remote health, University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, 2017.

Sinclair, J, Middle Kingdom: A colonial history of the highlands of Papua New Guinea, The Missions, Crawford House Press Pty.Ltd, 2016.

Standish, W & Jackson RT, Papua New Guinea, Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2019, retrieved 8th of September 2020, https://www.britannica.com/place/Papua-New-Guinea.

Waiko, JD, A Short History of Papua New Guinea, From Stone to Steel Age, 2nd Ed., OUP Australia and New Zealand, 2007.

Watters, D & Theile D, Progress of Surgical Training in Papua New Guinea to the end of the 20th Century, University of Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands, 2000.


[1] S, Lauer, H, Walangu, F, Mahap & M, Homingu, Papua New Guinea History: An Overview, Pastep, 2002, pp. 1-35.

[2] History: From Ancient Ancestry to Modern Politics, Papua New Guinea, 2020, p. 1

[3] W, Standish, RT & Jackson, Papua New Guinea, Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2019, pp.7-11.

[4] C, Ballard, Explorers & co. in interior New Guinea, 1872-1928, Brokers and boundaries: Colonial exploration in Indigenous territory, ANU Press, 2016, p.19

[5] W, Standish, RT & Jackson, p.10.

[6] PGN National Archives, Patrol Report, No. 7, ISBN: 9980-970-70-4, Lake Kutubu, Southern Highlands District, 1955-1956, p.19.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, p.8.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid, p.19.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid, p.18.

[15] Ibid, p.20.

[16] C, Pilang M, Gray & F, Oprescu, The evolution of the Community Health Worker program in Papua New Guinea. Rural and Remote Health, University of Sunshine Coast, 2017.

[17] D, Watters & D, Theile, Progress of Surgical Training in Papua New Guinea to the end of the 20th Century, University of Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands, 2000, pp. 302-307.

[18] J, Sinclair, Middle Kingdom: A colonial history of the highlands of Papua New Guinea, The Missions, Crawford House Press Pty.Ltd, 2016, p.78.

[19] C, Ballard, p.14.

[20] D, Watters & D, Theile, p. 307.

[21] Ibid.

[22] JD, Waiko, A Short History of Papua New Guinea, From Stone to Steel Age, 2nd Edn, OUP Australia and New Zealand, 2007, pp.1-26.

[23] NM, McPherson, In Colonial New Guinea: Anthropological Perspectives, Colonial New Guinea: The Historical Context, P Brown (ed.), University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001, p.7.

[24] M, Foster, Drawing the historian back into history: creativity, writing and the art of time travel, Rethinking History, Taylor & Francis Online, 2018, pp.137-153.

[25] Ibid.

[26] PGN National Archives, Patrol Report, p. 21.

[27] Ibid, 16.

[28] Ibid, pp.52-55.

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