Making History Module Essay by: Emma Carberry

Summary

The purpose of this patrol was to survey the land in the South East corner of the Kainantu Sub-District and to assess the most effective means of administration. Assistant district officer H. W. West conducted the patrol for sixty days accompanied by patrol officer John Coleman. The area is regarded by West as largely unexplored. Topographical information was recorded, and maps established. Travelling South-East from Kainantu, the patrol contacted populations along the South Lamari River, Aziana River and Headwaters of the Vailala river to Menyamya. The native people are described as ‘Kukukuku type’, who live in independent groups that engage in ‘internecine warfare’. The contacted populations were often apprehensive of the patrol party and communication was difficult due to the absence of the Agamusei interpreter. Possible locations for airstrips were contemplated, however West concludes the region can be divided into five population groups, administered by the existing posts; Okapa, Kainantu and Menyamya. Geographical and ethnographical descriptions are discussed including; physical appearance and health, dress, hunting and agricultural practices, salt manufacturing and trade. The patrol’s trading efforts were hindered by lack of desire.  The report also includes descriptions of the accompanying constables’ perceived abilities.

Keywords; Agriculture; Gardens; Land Surveys; Pigs; Topography

Background to the Patrol: The Eastern Highlands

Prior to the Second World War, the first administration post had been set up at Kainantu by Jim Taylor in 1932.[1] During this period, Kainantu’s administration fell under the ‘Central Highlands’ district which was divided into sub-districts including; Bena, Chimbu, Hagen, Wabag, Aiome, Kutubu, Huri, Hoiyamo and Telefomin.[2]   The impracticality of coordinating effective administration, especially where half the sub-districts were regarded as ‘uncontrolled’ areas, drove the decision in 1951 to divide the ‘Central Highlands’ into three regions, the Eastern Highlands, the Southern Highlands and the Western Highlands.[3]

Particularly pertinent during the post-war period was the consolidation of Australian administration. According to Nelson pre-war administration was made difficult by lack of funding.[4] However by 1947, the School of Pacific Administration was created in Sydney that provided mandatory training in subjects such as colonial administration, anthropology, law and order, elementary medicine and tropical agriculture.[5]   Kituai notes that this training gave cadet officers ‘a confidence that was previously lacking in their dealing with the people.’[6] Until 1960,  the patrol officer system ‘constituted the practical aspect’ of Australian colonial policy.[7] The officers themselves ‘wielded enormous power’ and were assigned  the responsibly to bring about  pacification to warring tribes, impose Western laws, enhance the health conditions of the local people and provide Western education.[8]

Furthermore, it was the role of the patrol to extend and strengthen new posts throughout the territories of Papua and New Guinea.[9] In the Eastern Highlands, the construction of an airstrip at Menyamya, south-east of Kainantu, was attempted by John Black in 1933, however local ‘Kukukuku’ were hostile and able to drive off the patrol.[10] Despite this failed attempt, pacification of ‘Kukukuku country’ in the Eastern Highlands remained on the administration’s agenda and by November 1950 an airstrip and station had been built at Menyamya.[11] Likewise, by 1954 a post in the Fore country was established at Okapa, south-west of Kainantu .[12]  Under the management of District Commissioner Ian Downs significant administrative advancement during the 1950s was propelled, and the ‘fledging Eastern Highlands District forged ahead’.[13] This included an increased emphasis on the ‘cash-cropping of coffee’, and the expansion of Highlands Highway that crossed the Upper Ramu, Kainantu and Goroka and became the ‘lifeline’ of the Highland Districts.[14]

Despite Australia’s increased expenditure throughout the 1950s on health, administration, agricultural and education in the territory of Papua and New Guinea, there remained parts of the region that were restricted.[15] Previously in 1935, the Highlands were closed to anyone but the administration and relatively few prospectors and missionaries, as a response to the killing of Father Morschheuser, Brother Eugene, ADO Ian Mack and a prospector, Bernard McGrath.[16]  By May 1952 the closure had been lifted and the Highlands saw an influx of white settlers.[17]. The death of Patrol Officers Szarka and Harris and the native members of their party in 1953, exemplifies the risk of the patrol who ventured into the ‘restricted’ lands and no doubt reiterates Sinclair’s declaration that the ‘utmost care’, planning and vigilance needed to be employed in such cases.[18]  Notwithstanding the potential threat the patrols often faced, it was the ‘settled policy of the Government not to resort to force except in cases of necessity when all other means have failed’, indicating the administration’s desire to appear benevolent and a more desirable alternative to intertribal conflict.[19]

Patrol Report: The Eastern Highlands District Kainantu 1955/1966

According to Sinclair, the patrols officers who ventured into restricted or uncontrolled areas did so for mainly two reasons, purely exploratory or to consolidate previous contact.[20] This was the case for Assistant District Officer H.W. West who led the 1955 patrol into the South-East corner of the Kainantu sub-district.[21]  According to West, the purpose of this particular patrol was primarily exploratory, aiming to contact populations east of the Lower Lamari River and to complete mapping of unknown regions south and south-east of the sub-district.[22] West also lists additional purposes of the patrol; consolidation of previously contacted places, the examination of the Morobe and Papuan borders in relation to the topographical and population patterns, examination of possible airstrips for a base camp, and to determine future administration of the area in relation to Kainantu and Okapa Patrol Post.[23] At the summation of the repost, West proposes that the only viable location for an aerodrome is at Iabia, yet at ‘considerable expense’ and alternatively proposes that the  populations of the patrolled region to be divided into five distinct groups and administered at Okapa, Kainantu or Menyamya depending on their proximity.[24]

As previously mentioned, the early 1950s saw the extension of Australian control in various sections of the Eastern Highlands, such as Okapa and Menyamya. Evidently, this patrol serves to expand Australia’s administration into uncharted territory of the Kainantu sub-district. The activities undertaken by the patrol are typical of Cohn’s survey modality, namely the ‘exploration of natural and social landscapes,’ which include the development of maps, detailed descriptions of the various indigenous groups and the location of hamlets, often in regard to valleys and river systems.[25] Such ‘systematic’ collections of the natural and social features, signify ‘the gradual extension of officialising procedures’ that reinforce colonial control.[26]

H.W. West’s 1955 patrol consisted of sixty carriers, seventeen constables of the Royal Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary, three interpreters, one native medical orderly and John Colman who was responsible for the topography of the area explored.[27] Travelling South-East from Kainantu, the patrol contacted populations along the South Lamari River, Aziana River and Headwaters of the Vailala river to Menyamya.[28] The populations often encountered were described as a ‘Kukukuku type’, a stereotypical term of a ‘sub-type’ of highlander based upon ‘physique, bearing, costume and the manner of dealing with Europeans’.[29] This is evident through West’s description of the people who were ‘short of stature’ and wore ‘large grass sporrans’, thus categorised as ‘Kukukuku’, despite reported difference in language groups, development and influence.[30]  Anthropologist Beatrice Blackwood recognised that native highlanders determined as Kukukuku did not refer to themselves as such, but the term was adopted by government officials in their reports.[31] Kukukuku was a pejorative name meaning ‘mountain people’  and attributed to those who fitted the physical characteristics.[32]  The homogenising nature of terming groups ‘Kukukuku type’ is symptomatic of the short-term interaction that government personnel had with the diversity of native groups.[33]

James B. Watson notes ‘stereotypes and vigorous folklore dominant the intercultural picture on both sides’ and this was manifest in the patrol report.[34] With this in mind, Blackwood’s contention in 1939 that the ‘Kukukuku’ people, had a ‘formidable’ reputation ‘as fighters’ and ‘all the natives within their reach go in terror of them’ may have ultimately shaped Western perceptions of Kukukuku persons inhabiting the Eastern Highlands.[35] Furthermore, recorded confrontation between Europeans and ‘Kukukuku’ also affirm the narrative of the ‘feared’ warrior. For example,  Michael Leahy’s bloody conflict in 1931 near the Langmia River, which resulted in the death of six native persons and the injury of his brother Patrick or the ambush of John Black at Menyamya in 1933, who received an arrow over his left eye ‘splitting the bone and jamming his skull.’[36] West does not explicitly divulge the stereotypical assertions of the ‘Kukukuku’ people, however prior to the first encounter of the ‘Kukukuku type’ on 5 August 1955, it is noted that ‘four Fore carries run away’ and despite the establishment of ‘friendly relations’ the ‘party were continually alert’.[37] Perhaps this is indicative of Ann Stoler’s colonial ‘common sense’ whereby the warrior nature of the Kukukuku is a shared assumption between the patrol officers and goes without explicitly stating.[38]

Whether the ‘Kukukuku type’ people encompassed on this patrol ‘fit’ this colonial perspective is open for interpretation. West accounts the ‘Kukukuku type’ people at camp three, who do not engage in trade or disclose the name of their native group however, warn that if the patrol were to proceed further along they would be killed and eaten.[39]  Sinclair notes the apprehensive nature of indigenous Highlanders to the patrol is expected and the warning maybe symptomatic of the ‘superstitious fear of one’s neighbours’.[40] Conversely, it may have been a tactic employed to scare off the patrol party.  Interestingly, the next ‘Kukukuku type’ people encountered were ‘timid’, spoke a different dialect and ‘had very little to do with the people in the vicinity of camp 3’.[41]  This is a stark contrast to the ‘very friendly welcome’ the patrol received at camp fourteen, where an absence of fear was shown by women and children, who had ‘no previous contact with Europeans’.[42] Normally women and children reside in safe places away from the patrol, so this represents a more ‘successful’ effort at contact.[43] Although common features between groups are discussed, such as dress and hunting practices, given the varying descriptions of each encounter and the differences in language groups,  it is conceivable that nuanced differences exist between the ‘Kukukuku type’ that may challenge colonial ‘common sense’ of the perceived ‘nature’ of such population groups.

As stated by West,  the southern east corner of Kainantu was ‘previously unvisited by white men’ so much of the patrol was concerned with establishing amicable contact and collecting information on the geographical location of various population groups.[44] A population of approximately 11,800 persons was said to inhabit the patrolled area and was comprised of ‘small independent groups, isolated by the terrain, mutually hostile and amongst whom internecine warfare is an accepted part of the way of life’.[45] As a major priority of the patrols was to establish pacification, it is unsurprising that evidence of hostility and potential intertribal warfare are recorded, such as when West encounters 100 persons who showed ‘indications of recent fighting’ or the fleeing of the ‘Iambandidi’ people when approached by the patrol accompanied by ‘Iwa’ guides.[46]  Although the report largely consists of the investigative survey modality, the recording of ‘aggressions’, for example ‘groups of men with bows and arrows and shields ready to fight’ or the raids by the ‘Oraura’ people on ‘Konkonbira’ people reveal colonial surveillance modalities.[47]

Surveillance modalities are employed by colonial administrators to categorise behaviours that fall outside the ‘prescribed social order’ and do not fit the sociological structure of ‘rulers and ruled’.[48]  Thus references to ‘sorcery’, for instance, are somewhat multifaceted. West proclaims that the ‘sorcery amongst Lamaris is rife’ which is highly likely given ‘the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea are characterized by an abundance of beliefs in different types of sorcery’ and often ‘death is blamed on the working of sorcerers from other local groups’-this was the justification the Oraua people had for burning the Konkonbira’s men’s house.[49] The observations are seemingly descriptive.  However, this detail is weighted and can be read in conjunction with West’s statement that ‘bringing these primitives within the scope of effective administration will not be easily solved’, suggesting not only the difficulty of the geographical location of the groups but also the practices that were regarded as antithetical to Western conceptions of law and order.[50]

Although the Kiap’s law ‘was promoted with vigour’ it was often implemented hastily and ‘reflected the undoubted “wrongness” of whole sets of indigenous behaviours’ and discounted its ‘long stablished roots.’[51] This is exemplified by the kiap’s appointment of luluais, a government appointed liaison official who acted as a ‘chief’ and was given the responsibility of maintaining ‘law and order’ in the villages.[52] This was problematic as such appointments had been made ‘among a people who had traditionally had no chiefs’ and the lululai could fall out of favour with his own people.[53]

Ultimately, conceptions of ‘justice’ and of ‘fair trade’ were established by the patrol officer who, as Rowley states, was a ‘multi powered boss’.[54] After a failed trade or contact with local inhabitants, West ordered that food be taken from the gardens, however declared  ‘food was always paid for at the first opportunity after its removal and acceptance that justice prevailed in the transaction was invariably ensured’.[55] Such a transaction is questionable given the potential powerlessness of an individual in the face of an eighty man patrol, many of whom are armed with rifles, that are routinely showcased to enact the power-dynamic between the patrol party and the native populations.[56]  In one instance the owner of the food that was removed appeared ‘covered in ground with mourning’, he received the ‘pay which had been prepared for him’, nullifying, even retrospectively,  any essence of negotiation.[57]  Sinclair argues that ‘personnel should be forbidden to take food from the native gardens’ and attention ‘to this sort of detail goes a long way towards convincing people of the ‘good intentions of the patrol’.[58] Similarly, the bargaining position of certain indigenous people were dismissed. Often ‘Kukukuku’ people manufactured their own salt and the wealth of the certain groups was noted by West, ‘all have axes due to their salt trading’.[59] The limited desire to trade with the patrol is perhaps what drove a person to ask ‘for a larger axe’ in exchange for a pig, much to the exasperation of H.W. West, who refused this offer.[60] This event illustrates that the notion of ‘fair’ trade was determined by the Australian administration, and yet indigenous autonomy was attempted through their customary practice of bargaining. 

Overall this patrol report highlights the role of the administration during the 1950s, particularly regarding the expansion of colonial control into uncharted territories of the Eastern Highlands. Although there were no instances of violence, H.W. West exploratory venture into previously uncontacted land poses risks as there is evidence of intertribal conflict. Using survey and surveillance modalities, West and Coleman document their encounter with the land and people, in order to position the most effective means of administration. In doing so, they envision future control over the south-east corner of Kainantu with the establishment of Western values and the delineation of ‘rulers and ruled.’.

Bibliography

  1. Anas, M, ‘The Highlands of Australian New Guinea’, Geographical Review, vol. 50, no. 4, 1960, pp. 467-490
  2. Blackwood, B ‘Life on the upper Watut, New Guinea’, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 94, No. 1, 1939, pp. 11-24
  3. Cohn, B. S., Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1996. 
  4. D.D.S & N.A. ‘Firing on the Native People’, Circular Instruction of 1st December, 1947-no.8-27/48 
  5. Downs, I. The Australian Trusteeship Papua New Guinea 1945-1975, The Australian Government Publication, Canberra, 1980.
  6. Dwyer, P. D. & Minnegal M., ‘On Reading Patrol Reports- 1: South of the Blucher Range’, The Journal of Pacific History, vol. 55, no. 1, pp.
  7. Gammage, B., The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938-1939, Melbourne University Press, Carlton
  8. Kituai, My Gun, My Brother: The World of the Papua New Guinea Colonial Police, 1920-1960. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1998
  9. Leahy, M ‘The Central Highlands of New Guinea’, The Royal Geographical Society, vol. 87, no. 3, pp.
  10. Nelson, H., Taim Bilong Masta: The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, 1982.
  11. Radford, R., Highlanders and foreigners in the upper Ramu: the Kainantu area 1919-1942, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1987.
  12. Rowley, C.D., The New Guinea villager: a retrospect from 1964. Cheshire, Melbourne 1972
  13. Schwoerer, T. ‘Sorcery and Warfare in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea’, Oceania, vol. 87, no. 3, pp.
  14. Sinclair, J., ‘Patrolling in the Restricted Areas of Papua and New Guinea’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 8, no. 3, 1954,  pp. 129-145
  15. Sinclair, J., Kiap: Australia’s Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1981
  16. Sinclair, J., The Middle Kingdom: A Colonial History of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Crawford House Publishing Australia, Goolwa SA, 1928.
  17. Stoler, A., Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2009.
  18. Watson, J. B. ‘Kainantu: Recollections of a First Encounter’, in T. E. Hays ed., Ethnographic Presents: Pioneering Anthropologists in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, University of California Press, California, 1992.
  19. Watson, J. B. Introduction: Anthropology in the New Guinea Highlands’, American Anthropologist, New, Vol. 66, No. 4, 1964, pp. 1-19
  20. West, H.W., Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, 27 Jul.-24 Sept. 1955, National Archives and Public Records Services of Papua New Guinea (hereinafter National Archives of PNG), Patrol Reports, Eastern District, Kainantu Station, 1955-1956, vol. 5, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb78858291

[1] J. Sinclair, Kiap: Australia’s Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1981, p. 253

[2] Ibid, p. 253

[3] M. Anas, ‘The Highlands of Australian New Guinea’, Geographical Review, vol. 50, no. 4, 1960, p. 469

[4] H. Nelson, Taim Bilong Masta: The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, 1982, p. 56

[5] A. I. Kituai, My Gun, My Brother: The World of the Papua New Guinea Colonial Police, 1920-1960. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1998, pp. 29-30

[6] Ibid, p. 30

[7] Ibid, p. 19

[8] Ibid, p. 19; P. D. Dwyer & M. Minnegal, ‘On Reading Patrol Reports- 1: South of the Blucher Range’, The Journal of Pacific History, vol. 55, no. 1, p. 115  

[9] Ibid, p. 256

[10] B. Gammage, The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938-1939, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, pp. 21-22

[11] Sinclair, Kiap: Australia’s Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea, pp. 74-75

[12] Ibid, p. 256

[13] Ibid, p. 254

[14] Ibid, p. 255-254

[15] I. Downs, The Australian Trusteeship Papua New Guinea 1945-1975, The Australian Government Publication, Canberra, 1980, pp. 123-3

[16] J. Sinclair, The Middle Kingdom: A Colonial History of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Crawford House Publishing Australia, Goolwa SA, 1928, pp. 76-78

[17] Sinclair, Kiap: Australia’s Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea, p. 255

[18] J. Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the Restricted Areas of Papua and New Guinea’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 8, no. 3, 1954, p. 129

[19] Quoted from the D.D.S & N.A. ‘Firing on the Native People’, Circular Instruction of 1st December, 1947-no.8-27/48 

[20] Ibid, p. 130

[21] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, 27 Jul.-24 Sept. 1955, National Archives and Public Records Services of Papua New Guinea (hereinafter National Archives of PNG), Patrol Reports, Eastern District, Kainantu Station, 1955-1956, vol. 5, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb78858291, p. 1

[22] Ibid, p. 8

[23] Ibid, p. 8

[24] Ibid, pp. 32-33

[25] B.S Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1996, p. 7

[26] Ibid, pp. 1-7

[27] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 27

[28] Ibid, p. 8

[29] J. B. Watson, ‘Introduction: Anthropology in the New Guinea Highlands’, American Anthropologist, New, Vol. 66, No. 4, 1964, p. 7

[30] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, pp. 30, 10-13

[31] B. Blackwood, ‘Life on the upper Watut, New Guinea’, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 94, No. 1, 1939, p. 15

[32] Ibid, p. 15

[33] J. B. Watson, ‘Introduction: Anthropology in the New Guinea Highlands’, p. 7

[34] Ibid, p. 7

[35] Blackwood, ‘Life on the upper Watut, New Guinea’, p. 15

[36] M. Leahy, ‘The Central Highlands of New Guinea’, The Royal Geographical Society, vol. 87, no. 3, p.241; Gammage, The Sky Travellers, p.22

[37] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 10

[38] A. Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2009, p. 1

[39] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 11

[40] Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the Restricted Areas of Papua and New Guinea’, p. 139

[41] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 11

[42] Ibid, p. 17

[43] Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the Restricted Areas of Papua and New Guinea’, p. 137

[44]H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 27

[45] Ibid, p. 31

[46] Ibid, pp. 15-16

[47] Ibid, p. 20, 25;

[48] Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge, p. 10

[49] T. Schwoerer, ‘Sorcery and Warfare in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea’, Oceania, vol. 87, no.3, p. 318; H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 25

[50] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 32;

[51] J. B. Watson, ‘Kainantu: Recollections of a First Encounter’, in T. E. Hays ed., Ethnographic Presents: Pioneering Anthropologists in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, University of California Press, California, 1992, p. 177

[52] R. Radford, Highlanders and foreigners in the upper Ramu: the Kainantu area 1919-1942, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1987, p. 130

[53] Ibid, p. 130

[54] C.D. Rowley, The New Guinea villager: a retrospect from 1964. Cheshire, Melbourne 1972, p. 76

[55] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 28

[56] Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the Restricted Areas of Papua and New Guinea’, p. 140

[57] H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 19

[58] Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the Restricted Areas of Papua and New Guinea’, p. 140

[59] Ibid p. 133; H.W. West, Kainantu Patrol no.1 of 1955/66, p. 19

[60] Ibid, p.23

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