Part 1: The Report
The patrol was conducted by Patrol Officer J. Hannan and took place over 32 days between the 25th of March and the 9th of May in 1958. The area patrolled was named by the Australian administration as the Middle Lai census division. This area includes the Minyamba Valley and is defined as between the Wapenamanda Station and ‘the boundary of the Wapenamanda Patrol post area near Pins Catholic Mission station. This minus the Tshank valley is the Middle Lai census division’. The patrol came out from the Wapenamanda Station and visited Yaramanda, Ruandari, Anji, Pompobos, Kaigin and Rauwanda. In addition, the patrol also visited Mount Hagen base camp and summitted the mountain.
The area that was patrolled has been under colonial control for many years but had not been patrolled by patrol officers for the last four years and the Hannan described the ‘native situation’ as ‘not as peaceful as it could be’. He noted that there had been several petty disputes between groups and that essentially the indigenous people were restless and did not respect the colonial authority or those appointed by the colonial authority. Furthermore, Hannan notes that there is a significant rivalry between the ‘Bossbois’ and the Luluais contributing to the unrest. However, Hannan also notes that fighting that resulted in the loss of territory has not been seen in the area for many years and many of the land disputes are being brought before the Court of Native Affairs, even if the court’s ruling is not respected by all parties. Both the Patrol Officer and the District Officer note that land disputes are incredibly complex and common in this area of the highlands, and that the role of the patrol officer and the colonial authority at large already plays a significant role in settling these disputes.
The objective of the patrol was to conduct a ‘Tax Census and General Administration’, Patrol Officer Hannan records these objectives being carried out on the patrol in his report. The results of the census are included in the patrol report and it recorded the number of births and deaths, the age range for those who have died, the number of migrants in and out of the village, the number of those out of the village for work inside or out side of the district or those in school both government and missionary. The census also recorded the ‘labour potential’ for males and females, the number of pregnant women and the number of women at child bearing age, the average family size, the number of children male and female and the number of adults male and female as well as the total population. On this patrol the total population for the Middle Lai census district was recorded to be 10,349. The ‘general administration’ carried out by the patrol included recommending the permanent appointment of village official as well as hearing land disputes between groups. The latter takes up much of Hannan’s report as he recounts the hearing of both disputes including the transcripts of court hearings in which indigenous voices can be heard through a translator. Hannan goes into detail about circumstances that surround these disputes as well as an anthropological look at how these disputes effect people and how they may be resolved. In addition, the Patrol Officer identified several Luluai’s and Tuitui’s to be permanently appointed as village officials. 22 officials from 11 different groups were recommended for permanent appointment by Hannan as they had been serving in these roles provisionally or unofficially for some years.
On the patrol itself there were no recorded incidences of violence, however the report notes previous fighting between indigenous people included as matters pertaining to land disputes, though Hannan notes that fighting that resulted in exchanging of land had not occurred in years. This report appears to follow a relatively straightforward patrol, with no major deviations from the objective however there are still many notable aspects of the report and the patrol itself. The report notes that while the last patrol by ‘district services’ was in November of 1953, a medical patrol was conducted in February of 1958, the month before the patrol started. Hannan suggests that because it has been so long since a patrol officer conducted a full patrol of the area that the indigenous people are restless and more prone to disagreements among themselves as well as disregarding the authority of village leaders and the colonial administrators. Patrol Officer Hannan was accompanied by seven members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and he noted that Cadet Patrol Officer Lindsay joined the patrol from Wapenamanda for ‘a few days’. In regards to the census undertaken, Hannan noted that the sheets provided by the colonial administration designed to record census data, were not sufficient as they could not record certain family dynamics, such as adopted children, step-children or families with deceased mothers.
Part 2: Reading with and against the grain
The report contains documents and correspondence from Patrol Officer Hannan, District Commissioner Skinner and the Assistance District Officer Macmillan as well as Hannan’s patrol diary and the census data. The report shows who received what information and when, depicting the bureaucratic nature of the Department of Native Affairs. The District Commissioner criticises Hannan’s report as being difficult to follow and lacking a clear narrative of the patrol.
It is noted by the district commissioner that Patrol Officer Hannan has a keen interest in ‘native’ affairs and in particular land disputes. However, District Commissioner Skinner provides the greatest insight to his personal beliefs when he comments:
It is easy, in view of today’s more enlightened outlook and sincere desire of all filed staff for native advancement, to forget that the people Mr. Hannan is dealing with are only one stage in history’s page from where they were when Caesar [unintelligible]
This is to say that Skinner views the Papuan people as not having ‘advanced’ in thousands of years and that subsequently they are inferior to the colonial authority.
Hannan conducted at least four further patrols from the Wapenamanda Station, all after this patrol. It is possible that this may have been the first patrol that Patrol Officer Hannan lead in this area hence his fascination with the culture and customs with Papuans in the Highlands. This may also explain why the district commissioner had difficulty following parts of the report, if he had not read Hannan’s style of writing, or if Hannan had not written many, if any, patrol reports before.
Patrol Officer Hannan notes that the census documents are insufficient for recording certain elements of the census data in particular regards to women and children. This may suggest the colonial administration either did not consider that this may be an issue or did not consider the distinction necessary. This is evidence of a much broader colonial common sense spearheaded by the Australian government and objected to by both Hannan and Skinner. Ann Laura Stoler writes of colonial common sense as being ‘the “common sense” that underwrote what were deemed political issues and how those issues travelled by paper through the bureaucratic pathways of the colonial administration’. While Stoler’s argument centres around the idea that there was an unspoken agreement between bureaucrats that certain issues would be omitted from reports, this “common sense” comes from parts of the government and it is being openly questioned by others. This is to say that the papers provided by the Australian government to record the census did not provide space to mark children of adoption or step children because they, the Australian government, did not want or see the need for it to be recorded.
Many of the disputes that the Patrol Officer reports, especially those over land would not be considered ‘petty’ to those it effects directly. While Hannan acknowledges that these issues are complex, there are most likely not explained effectively and in a way that would truly represent the Papuan perspective. Hannan is operating through a translator and even with the best translators’ elements and nuances to different sides of a story can be lost. Inga Clendinnen’s article ‘Spearing the Governor’ demonstrations how difficulty in communication as well as preconceptions of the other party can influence how events are interpreted and remembered. It is entirely possible that there were important conversations or exchanges that took place on the patrol that may have been incredibly significant to the understanding of the Papua New Guinean side, that were not considered noteworthy by the Patrol Officer for one reason or another. One possible, if admittedly unlikely, explanation for the number of disputes brought to the colonial administration, is that it was an effort to defy the colonial authority by wasting their time. Papuans know that they cannot physically attack the colonial authority or even each other without facing prosecution under the colonial administration. However, one form of protest against the colonial authority is taking up the time and resources of the administration’s bureaucrats. The Patrol Officer and District Commission both criticize what they see as the petty nature of many disputes between Papuans, it is possible that this is an effort to deter more regular patrols. Alternatively, it is possible that Papuans bringing their disputes to the Kiaps is for the opposite reason, that they want or need the colonial authority to conduct more patrols in an effort to increase medical access, build more schools and open up better trading and work opportunities.
Bernard Cohn outlines six different methods that colonial administrations use to learn more about the people and land that they have colonised in order to determine the most effective means to control the colonised, and he describes them as investigative modalities. Cohn identifies these modalities as the historiographical, observational/travel, survey, enumerative, Museological and surveillance modalities. Cohn’s research discusses the British colonisation of India however it can be applied to Australia’s colonisation of Papua New Guinea in a similar manner. In this patrol report several of these modalities are present the most notable are the historiographic and the enumerative modalities. The historiographic modality focuses on learning the history of the colonised people and their culture in order to implement a colonial system of control that works within the framework that the people are familiar with. Cohn describes how the British did this in India:
They sought to incorporate, as much as possible, the administrative personnel employed by previous regimes. Thus, knowledge of the history and practises of Indian states was seen as the most valuable form of knowledge on which to build a colonial state.
In Papua New Guinea, Australia took a very similar approach, in the patrol report Hannan demonstrates the patrol officers’ anthropological studies training in describing in detail cultural and historical practises of the Papuan people. Jeanette Bastian argued that ‘this imperial belief in the power of knowledge included the belief that an intricate knowledge of the colonised was crucial to the ability to control’. Another of Cohn’s investigative modalities that supports Australia’s gathering of knowledge is the enumerative, the census conducted in the report is central to that. Cohn noted that ‘the census represents a model of the Victorian encyclopaedic quest for total knowledge’. The census was a way for the Australian government to count the number of people in the area, specifically to identify those who could pay tax and it also recorded the ‘labour potential’.
Part 3: Summary
The Patrol Report No.1 57/58 of the Middle Lai census district was conducted by Patrol Officer J. Hannan over 32 days between the 25th of March and the 9th of May in 1958. The main focus of this patrol was to census people in the area and conduct general administration including confirming village officials as well as hearing disputes on behalf of the colonial administration. The report includes responses from the District Commissioner and the Assistant District Officer. The report includes a day-by-day diary of the patrol noting the areas visited, time travelled and activities undertaken, this primarily included conducting the census. The report also details the ‘native situation’ which is described as ‘not as peaceful as it could be’. The Patrol Officer details how land disputes arise and how they are traditionally solved among the indigenous population from an anthropological perspective. The Patrol Officer includes transcripts of court proceedings regarding two land disputes and several Papuan’s court arguments are recorded with the assistance of a translator. The report touches on the agricultural practises and potential of the region as well as missions and schools both mission run and government run.
Hannan, J., Wapenamanda Patrol no. 1 of 1957/58, 28 Mar. – 9May 1958, National Archives and Public Records Services of Papua New Guinea (hereinafter National Archives of PNG) Patrol Reports, Western Highlands, Wapenamanda Station, 1957-58, vol. 4, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb1674180s, accessed 6 September 2021
Stoler, A. L., ‘Chapter One: Prologue in Two Parts’, in Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009)
Clendinnen, I., ‘Spearing the Governor’, Australian Historical Studies, 33/118, (2002) 157-174, DOI: 10.1080/10314610208596189
Bastian, J. A., ‘Reading Colonial Records Through an Archival Lens: The Provenance of Place, Space and Creation’, Archival Science, 6, (2006), 267–284, DOI 10.1007/s10502-006-9019-1
B. Cohn, Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: the British In India, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), https://hdl-handle-net.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/2027/heb.01826
 J. Hannan, Wapenamanda Patrol no. 1 of 1957/58, 28 Mar. – 9May 1958, National Archives and Public Records Services of Papua New Guinea (hereinafter National Archives of PNG) Patrol Reports, Western Highlands, Wapenamanda Station, 1957-58, vol. 4, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb1674180s, accessed 6 September 2021
 Hannan, Wapenamanda Patrol no. 1 of 1957/58
 Hannan, Wapenamanda Patrol no. 1 of 1957/58
 Hannan, Wapenamanda Patrol no. 1 of 1957/58
 Hannan, Wapenamanda Patrol no. 1 of 1957/58
 A. L. Stoler, ‘Chapter One: Prologue in Two Parts’, in Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 8
 I. Clendinnen, ‘Spearing the Governor’, Australian Historical Studies, 33/118, (2002) 157-174, DOI: 10.1080/10314610208596189
 B. Cohn, Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: the British In India, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), https://hdl-handle-net.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/2027/heb.01826, 5
 J.A. Bastian ‘Reading Colonial Records Through an Archival Lens: The Provenance of Place, Space and Creation’, Archival Science, 6, (2006), 271, DOI 10.1007/s10502-006-9019-1
 Cohn, Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge, 8