Book dedicated to a kiap

John Gordon with the dedication from the author.

EARLY last week, I received a ‘thank you’ note from one of the kiaps (patrol officers) John Gordon-Kirkby, now aged 84, who had served in Enga up to the time of independence in 1975.
John asked me to send him a dedication note with my signature on it so he could stick it somewhere in my new book, ‘Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter’, which he had just ordered.
The book has just been released on Amazon and if you do not live in PNG you can order the book at More about PNG later.
Back to the dedication of my new book, the words read:

I dedicate this book to my special ‘wantok kiap’ John Gordon-Kirkby who in 1975 came unexpectedly to my grass-thatched home at Kondo village in Kandep, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea.
It is kiaps or patrol officers like John, my wantok and missionaries who brought change and development, and opened up Enga Province and other corners of my country.
Thank you.

I also thank and extend my appreciation to every kiap and missionary who opened up Enga and PNG and exposed the fertile and rich island to the outside world.
And a special thankyou to former kiaps like Graham Hardy and former magistrate Chips Mackellar whose full-length chapters have been used in the book.
And all the other people who have contributed articles and rare photographs which fit in nicely.
And not forgetting Ed Brumby, Sr Ursula Julich, Keith Jackson and Fr Garry Roche who guided me along to complete this mammoth task.
Enga and PNG owe you heaps, the last friends who still have some emotional attachment to PNG.
‘Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter’ is a book which I am sure will make you want to watch First Contact, the documentary video and read the book of the same name by Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson.

Paul Kurai has named his new Port Moresby home, now under construction, Maria Tukim Kurai Anda, in memory of his mother, the protagonist in the book.

It is a story about rebuilding Enga, a book that will bring back memories of the good old days in comparison to the present.
Pingeta was shot dead by Michael Leahy and his wife disappeared forever nearly 90 years ago. It still remains a mystery but their two children, a boy and a girl survived.
Tukim, the elder of the two orphans was the mother of Paul Kiap Kurai, who is now a successful businessman.
And Waiep is the person charging down the slope in the documentary film First Contact. He is enacting how his father tried to attack the gold prospecting party.
It is very sad that Amazon no longer ships book orders direct to Papua New Guinea, apparently because too many consignments have been lost in the postal system in this country.
To get them to me, they’ve had to ship my new books to Australia.
The package landed in Brisbane last week. Family members living in Brisbane redirected the shipment to me in Port Moresby.
On Tuesday last week, I flew to Port Moresby to collect the books when they arrive. I trust DHL will deliver them to me on the 18th of this month as promised.
I will then make the arduous trip back to Wabag towards the end of this month.
On my way to the capital, I noted that DHL has an agent near the Kagamuga airport in Mt Hagen with plans for direct international flights from Australia.

Expensive travel
I am hopeful my expensive trips to Port Moresby just to pick up a few copies of books will stop.
Amazon does not know the hardship PNG writers face to receive their books.
I believe Amazon must reconsider its decision and deal with individuals, not bundle everybody into one group.
For instance, I received all my orders over the years except for one box.
Amazon promptly replaced it and I received it safely as I had so often before with my other orders.
I am planning to order 100 more copies of my new book.
I hope Amazon will reconsider its stance and send them direct to us here to Port Moresby.
I am sure to pick them up safely from DHL’s 6-Mile depot here in the nation’s capital.
And to friends, kiaps and missionaries I say a mighty yakaplin (thank you) again for all your efforts to make us a nation.
Note: The book is expected to arrive in Port Moresby on Feb 18, 2021. A limited number of copies will be on sale at the UPNG Bookshop and Ribito Grill & Restaurant at Waigani Central near the Air Niugini office.

  • Daniel Kumbon is a freelance writer.

In search of education in the city

Willie Tiwias was in Grade 7 Orange at New Erima Primary School last year. He had to leave his remote village in Menyamya, Morobe to find casual employment but friends urged him to continue his education.

THIS is a true story of how I struggled to come to Port Moresby in search of education.
I come from a small village called Taingama in the Manyamya District of Morobe. My village is on the border of Morobe and Gulf.
Taingama village is located right in the jungle where there are no roads linking to schools and villages. The place where the school is, you’ll walk one whole day to get there.
In 2008, the Government established an elementary school in our village. They started developing the place and built new classrooms and teachers’ houses. Teachers came from within Morobe to teach at our new elementary school and were very pleased to teach us. I did my elementary education at our new school and our teacher taught us in our own language.
After three years in elementary school, in 2010 they selected me to go to a community school but that school was far from my village and people from that village didn’t want to get students from other villages. So I stayed home for five years.
During those five years, my hardworking parents did their best to find a place for me to stay and go to school. They found a nice family from another village who was willing to look after me while I attended school. My parents took me there and I started going to school.
In the Taingama village, we have a small market were we sell our produce. My mum usually sells garden food at the market. The money that she earns from the garden food, she sets it all aside for my school fees. She doesn’t buy herself things like a soap to wash, salt or oil for cooking. My heart breaks when I see my mum doing that.
During the Christmas holiday in 2017, I made up my mind and told my parents that I had to look for part-time work somewhere. I left them, walked through the dense forest until dark, and slept under big trees. I woke up the next morning and kept walking. I met some people on the road and walked with them. We came to a small village and slept there. The next morning I walked with people I met on the road to the banks of a large river.
There we saw speed boats carrying people to other villages. From there, the people I came with got on a boat. I tried to ride with them, but the skipper told me to get off the boat because there was no space left for others.
So I walked alone on the river bank and came across a garden. I was so hungry that I was looking for the garden owner but couldn’t find him or her. So I kept walking until I saw people packing betel nuts bags onto their boats. I was hungry and couldn’t stand it anymore, so I went and sat down.
I asked one of them that sat next to me where they were heading to. He told me they were heading to Port Moresby. I got on with them and we followed the river down to Malalaua. From there, we got on a PMV and came to Port Moresby.
It was the first time I came to Port Moresby and they left me at Gerehu. I got on the bus to Gordon, got down to Erima and slept with some people.
While staying with them, I looked for some part-time jobs.
I asked around and they got me a job in the chain of stores at Erima. I worked there and got K600 fortnightly. I was thinking of going back to the village but people I stayed with told me that they would be able to find a school for me here. So I stayed with them and they found a place for me at New Erima Primary School.
I did my grades 5, 6, 7 and will be doing Grade 8 this year.
I’m grateful that I come these far.

  • This article is from a school writing project coordinated by freelance writer Betty Wakia.