AIH399 – Assessment Two
In the decades before Papua New Guinea (PNG) achieved independence from its Australian colonisers in 1975, the commonwealth administration conducted patrols of the remote interior highlands with intent to modernise the newly formed nation state to western standards, as perceived pre-conditions for self-governance. The University of California San Diego digital archives offer public access to twentieth century patrol reports, which are useful artefacts for exploring colonial practices involved in making Papua New Guineans and their homelands quantifiable, and understanding the subsequent knowledge these reports create, which informed policy decisions and helped Australia justify control. This essay analyses a patrol report conducted and authored by M. R. Haywood in the eastern highlands, exploring the subjective perspectives of Haywood and administration officials. Local perspective will be considered by reading against the archival grain of these events to understand why local responses were documented in certain ways or what stories could be hidden.
In 1955 Haywood undertook his first patrol of the Salt region in the Chimbu province in the eastern highlands. His instructions were to survey Christian mission land leasess and perform a census of the Gunangi, Kere, Iui and Kia groups living south of the Waghi and Maril river juncture. Considering this was only the areas third census patrol, there was minor western infrastructure of four mission schools and a road being built to connect the groups to the province capital Kundiawa and future patrol post in nearby Gumini. Aspects that stand out are Haywood’s personal opinions on who should be elected and dismissed as village leaders, census reports, and land inspections for the new patrol post. The comments of the assistant and district commissioner following the patrol are revealing of the colonial administration’s priorities during the 1950s and suggest their shared paternalistic assumptions of how to approach future development in this region.
The Chimbu people of Haywood’s patrol remained mostly isolated by rugged terrain and mountain ranges in the eastern highlands for thousands of years, alongside hundreds of other indigenous groups in the interior. North eastern New Guinea became German colonial possession in the late nineteenth century where ‘Germans had barely penetrated inland’ before the League of Nations mandate appointed Australia colonial governance and ‘exploration proceeded in the 1920s and 1930s with missionaries, miners, and administration officials’. South eastern Papua was under British rule until 1949 when the ‘trustee system succeeded the old Mandate system in which [both] territories were administered through the new United Nations Trusteeship Council’ as PNG. Freedom of religion was re-sanctioned by the United Nations after the second world war, resulting in reports of ‘too many missionary organisations’ or ‘a mission rush’, which is seen in Haywood’s comments on mission surveys at Iobai and Kilau where it seemed ‘confusing to have three missions at one rest house’. Catholic, Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventist missions were the source of western education in attempting to standardise pidgin English, and replace traditional religious institutions, with their aim to ‘select the most promising students for further advancement at main stations’.  The ‘New deal’ formed during trusteeship re-directed administration aims to improving education, medical care, and living conditions to propel PNG toward independence in the future, requiring a dramatic increase of ‘financial assistance to PNG, from a pre-war (1938/9) level of £42,500 per annum, the Australian grant to Papua and New Guinea had risen to £3.2 million by 1948/9’. However, improving education was a slow process throughout PNG, which was evident in the patrol’s survey of poor attendance at mission schools, and ‘lack of funding for post-primary education ‘delaying the emergence of an educated elite’. Haywood’s mission surveys were a written record of student attendance, and how land was managed. This was one of numerous documenting practices that enabled the Australian administration to justify the need to continue development of infrastructure and appoint community leaders that could inspire improving educational standards, as these standards were perceived pre-requisites for a self-governing nation.
Haywood’s report was predominantly taking a census of the four groups and recommending standouts for leadership roles. Locals visited ten rest houses to be censused, checked by indigenous medical orderlies, and resolve disputes with the patrol officer that had not been sorted amongst themselves. Indirect rule was managed using remnants of ‘German procedures, such as the…appointment of luluais and tultuls, (native village officials)’, to establish representation in the communities.  Haywood wrote that when a man of the Iui group was dismissed from his leadership role ‘He ran off and hid in the bush. Required a police constable to get him’. By employing Inga Clendinnen’s approach of ‘re-examining the dots’ of this event ‘to see if they joined differently: a more coherent picture of aboriginal intention’ may emerge to reveal possibilities of a heated exchange or at least more to the story than Haywood writes in census reports. Jeanette Bastian describes authors of archival documents as captain to the ship, although the full story is never told unless the cargo has a voice and marginalised people heard, which was more difficult with Haywood relying on accompanying translator Diunde to translate four languages spoken in the Salt region. What was selectively written down by the patrol officer did not always match indigenous realities and, in this sense, information was not simply recorded: it was creating knowledge that would inform how administrators rationalised having patrol officers nominate leaders because existing indigenous authorities were frequently recorded in Salt as unsuitable of village leadership. However, the response of the assistant and district commissioner recommended against recruiting Haywood’s recommendations of Luluai’s and Tultul’s because it was his first patrol in this sub-district. Acknowledging Haywood’s newcomer status and considering local opinion reflected the historical context of the anthropological attempts of colonial governance.
The letters between Haywood and district officers regarding recommended local authorities are insightful for revealing their shared prejudices about traditional indigenous leadership. The administration was trying to replace traditional institutions of ‘big men’ who were leaders nominated for strength, knowledge of traditions, and speaking abilities, among other traits, which meant leadership was constantly contested. Reading these documents while considering the administrative authors perspective is helpful because ‘colonial accounts and their ‘prejudices’ can offer fertile ground for recovering the tensional webs of European and indigenous meanings and practices’. The patrol officer comments that appointing ‘a sufficient number of Luluais and Tultuls, the surplus “Boss Boys” can be gradually done away” and the assistant district officer responds the ‘gradual weeding out… should be continued’ to lessen the ‘eternal bickering that usually goes on’. Bernard Cohn discusses the importance of ‘the ideological construction of the nature of [indigenous] civilisations’ in colonists warranting their rule, meaning the shared colonial point of view recorded in the archive is powerful for justifying control through the paternalistic characterising of adult Chimbu as childlike ‘bickering’ and disposable. These comments offer more light on the administrations reluctance to employ Haywood’s recommendations because they show while attempting to avoid conflict with locals, their aim is to ‘do away with’ traditional forms of hierarchy in ‘big men’.
The people of the Salt sub-division were in a stage of subsistence farming after previous failed attempts of cash crops, while some men in the villages were recruited to work on the coast. By 1945, the indentured labour system that existed before and during the war was abolished, and thousands of men returned to their highland homes, with administration hopes to contract them to paid labour schemes. Haywood reports that ‘14 recruited from Mogiagi failed to appear at Kundiawa, they apparently lost their courage on the road’ and presumptions could be made that it was incredibly overwhelming for the Mogiagi people to leave their home, and language group.  The assistant district officer’s letter to the district officer claims returned coastal workers ‘have little been influenced by their journey on the coast’, with very few speaking Pidgin English and the outcome worded as ‘no exception to the general rule’.  This ‘general rule’ reveals an element of colonial common sense about administration aims to have ex-coastal labourers return with inspired ideas of labour and development. The district officer wrote there was a need to ‘foster the progressive spirit’ seen in some locals because this ‘should make progressive ideas of development schemes readily acceptable by the people’. This shows paternalistic shared assumptions between administration members and patrol officers that indigenous people needed to be fostered and nurtured through capitalist ventures.
The patrol post proposed for nearby Gumini is not mentioned in the memo prepared for Haywood’s patrol, and it can be assumed the constable returning from nearby Kundiawa passed a message of the scheme as Haywood records this in his diary the same day. Haywood consequently sends constables north to Kundiawa several times, has discussions with surrounding village officials, before visiting the proposed site at the end of his patrol. The abrupt nature of this notification and Haywood’s response shows patrol officers were not simply to conduct a census pertaining to outlined duties, but they must also respond to nearby infrastructure proposals during patrols. Infrastructure beyond boundaries mattered because some of the Salt region groups, particularly the Iui, were more isolated from other areas of the district where only minor medical needs were met by five medical outposts managed by indigenous medical orderlies. The road being built would connect Salt to the Gumini patrol post, with a proposed European staffed hospital and a coffee plantation to bring money into the communities, which the district officer suggests ‘should see more marked progress’.  By employing a reading strategy of ‘entanglement to explore colonial accounts as a means of gaining access to historical encounters … rather than window to tensional world of colonial epistemologies’ the road can be understood as not simply lessening isolation, but also a means of ensuring the government could keep a close relationship with areas intended for development. There was a coffee plantation boom as cash-cropping was adopted throughout the territories to promote self-governance to meet growing international demands for decolonisation. Three years prior to this patrol report ‘the administration publicly opened the Highlands to applications for land alienations’ and outsiders were purchasing land for coffee plantations, with a large area already developed in nearby Goroka. The Gunangi, Kia, Iui and Kere people were impressive subsistence farmers, maintaining remarkable gardens on steep hillsides, yet the 1950s administration was interested in agricultural improvement that would bring money into regions. Nicholas Fern argues ‘ongoing prominence of PNG in [Australia’s] contemporary aid spending indicates the continued significance of the former colonial relationship’, complicating the misinformed and renowned idea that Australia has been giving substantial ‘international aid’ since the mid-century; when this was in fact a colonial relationship with Australian officials under immense pressure to decolonise PNG.
This patrol was insightful for understanding dynamics between patrol officers, Australian administrators, and Salt locals when the government was attempting Eurocentric educational development and pushing labour schemes. These reports created knowledge of village demographics through surveys, census data, and subjective diary entries of Haywood’s perspective, that were only accessible to government officials. The colonial practices discussed are a valuable source of historical information that show how colonial powers conducted themselves in PNG. The paternalistic tone and administrator’s hesitancy appointing leaders, is revealing of the temperamental position of the 1950s government: wanting to keep locals on side for collaboration, but also the nature of the power they held. These archival sources were more than just recorded figures of the indigenous population and their homes because ideas for development were shaped from these reports and the subjective knowledge created justified control for the administrators who controlled report-writing.
Bastian, B., ‘Reading Colonial Records Through an Archival Lens: The Provenance of Place, Space and Creation’, Archival Science [online journal], vol. 21, no. 1, p. 45-59, https://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/phrj/article/view/3822, accessed 30 September 2020.
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Cohn. B, S,. Colonialism and its forms of knowledge: the British in India, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1996, https://www-fulcrum-org.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/epubs/76537146m?locale=en#/6/54[xhtml00000027]!/4/4/1:0, p. 28, accessed 26 September 2020.
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Nelson, H., ‘The mission rush’, in H. Findlay & N. Riemer eds., Taim bilong masta: the Australian involvement with Papua New Guinea, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, 1982, p. 157-163.
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 H. Nelson, ‘The mission rush’, in H. Findlay & N. Riemer eds., Taim bilong masta: the Australian involvement with Papua New Guinea, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, 1982, p. 159.
 M. R. Haywood, Chimbu Province Papua New Guinea, Accession number 496, Patrol report number 8, 1954/55, p. 13, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb6145387d/_1.pdf, accessed 29 October 2020.
 Haywood, p. 11.
 Fern, p. 5.
 A. Turner, Historical dictionary of Papua New Guinea, The Scarecrow Press, Kent, 2001, https://content.talisaspire.com/deakin/bundles/5f28a7559faa8865674ee654, p. xl, accessed 26 September 2020.
 Brown, 2001, p. 19.
 Haywood, p. 19.
 I. Clendinnen, ‘Spearing the governor’, Australian Historical Studies [online journal], vol. 33, no. 188, 2002, p. 158, https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1080/10314610208596189, accessed 26 September 2020.
 J. Bastian, ‘Reading Colonial Records Through an Archival Lens: The Provenance of Place, Space and Creation’, Archival Science [online journal], vol. 21, no. 1, p. 238, https://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/phrj/article/view/3822, accessed 30 September 2020.
 P. Brown, ‘Chimbu leadership before provincial government’, The Journal of Pacific History [online journal], vol. 14, no. 2, 1979, p. 103, https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy-b.deakin.edu.au/stable/25168365?seq=4#metadata_info_tab_contents, accessed 27 September 2020.
 R. Roque, & K. A. Wagner, Engaging colonial knowledge: reading European archives in world history, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2011, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy-b.deakin.edu.au/lib/deakin/reader.action?docID=815902&ppg=13, p. 11, accessed 27 September 2020.
 Haywood, p. 15; p. 38.
 B. S. Cohn, Colonialism and its forms of knowledge: the British in India, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1996, https://www-fulcrum-org.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/epubs/76537146m?locale=en#/6/54[xhtml00000027]!/4/4/1:0, p. 4, accessed 26 September 2020.
 Turner, p. xli.
 Haywood, p. 23.
 Haywood, p. 37.
 Haywood, p. 37.
 Haywood, p. 39.
 Roque, & Wagner, p. 11.
 B. R. Finney, ‘Partnership’ in Developing the New Guinea Highlands, 1948-1968’, The Journal of Pacific History [online journal], vol. 5, no. 1, 1970, p. 120, https://www.jstor.org/stable/25168024, accessed 26 September 2020.
 Fern, p. 18.