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New Guinea recollections. (Part 7 of 8)

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Miscellaneous photographs.

This is one of my favourite New Guinea photos because I love the intense concentration on the faces of the children.
New Guinea kids have an insatiable appetite for looking at picture books or photographs.  The adults too, hunger for information about the world outside of PNG.  Just one National Geographic magazine will entertain an entire little community for half a day.

In the era before television and videos had reached PNG, we regularly converted our workshop into a bush cinema, and this was the first time these children (and many adults too) had ever seen a moving image.

One night each month we would screen an assortment of cartoons and educational films followed by old Hollywood movies which we hired from Port Moresby.

The following evening we would load the portable generator, white bedsheet "screen", and projector into the plane and fly off to either Mindik, 4 minutes flying time away, or Siwea (8 minutes) to repeat the show.

Pindiu;  P2-WKD, with L to R; Goraseng, Tomai, Lembang, Pau and Gindi unloading coconuts and fish.

Pindiu was 15 minutes flight inland from Finschhafen, on the coast, and had a perfect climate at 3000 feet altitude for growing vegetables.  To provide an outlet for this produce we commenced a trading exchange.
Vegetables to the coast where they could not be grown, and coconuts and fish on the return flight.

Mimbel was an unforgettable character at Lumi in 1968 
who was employed in a role loosely described as "janitor"


Rice Milling.
Each year the Lumi people grew around 50 tons of rice. 
We purchased the harvested paddy from growers, stored it in the "paddy house" until it was dry, then processed it into brown or white rice with portable Japanese CeCoCo SC25 rice mills.

Rice had been grown by villagers in the Finschhafen area for a long time after it's introduction by the Lutheran Mission at Heldsbach.
The photographs are from Bonga village on the Finschhafen coast, and Wandokai village on the Sialum "grassland steppes" a unique geological feature caused by Continental drift.

(To access all stories in this series click "view my tags" off to the right, then "png history")

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

17 responses »

  1. I can honestly say I have never seen a photo of anyone harvesting rice by hand.Nice photos, and memories.

  2. That is such a special thing you and your group did, showing movies. I am sure that was above and beyond the call of duty. What fun. I love the first picture as well, the rapt look on the children's faces. I enjoy reading your summary of your experiences. And I, like Grouchy, have never seen anyone harvesting rice by hand. That is very interesting.

  3. I can honestly say I have never seen a photo of anyone harvesting rice by hand. It is quite common throughout Asia and the Pacific. It is done using a special small serrated sickle-shaped blade.

  4. Thanks Freedom.The travelling movie shows were always great fun…..the village elders decided we should have them in the village churches. I'm not too sure what the original staid German Lutheran missionaries would have thought about all the laughter and frivolity going on in the churches. 'I still vote that you publish a book"Thank you for your vote of confidence, but this blog will be the only "book"…..writing is an enjoyable occupation in the presence of my Vox neighbours. A real book would be tedious hard labour.:-)

  5. When I was a little girl I had a penpal, a young girl who lived in PNG. From time to time we would send her something. Once she asked for a swim suit and once for some bobby pins for her hair. She wrote back and said that when the other girls saw the bobby pins they took them from her. We sent her some more. She stopped writing after a year or two. I often wonder what happened to her.

  6. It's amazing to see how truly fascinated those kids look at something that is commonplace and everyday to us. We can turn on a TV and have a film any time of the day or night but to the villages it was a major occasion. Makes you wonder if with all we now have we're actually missing something, the excitement and community spirit that arrived when you brought your projector and film into the village. I never even realised how rice was harvested, never gave it a thought, it's fascinating to see pictures of what really went into creating the little packet that sits in the cupboard!

  7. I love these photos! The Bootheel of Missouri was once swampland, like the Everglades. It was drained in the 1950s as "improvement" (helping rid the area of malaria and yellow fever, which was a constant problem — even The Duchess got it as a child and proving land for commerce). Rice paddies were one of the biggest crops at the time (following cotton).

  8. I think you need a ghost writer GOF. Not that there is anything wrong with your writing style. Far from it. Just that this is such an interesting time and historically important for both PNG and Australia.I'm a huge fan of the ABC's Oral history unit and I reckon they would walk over broken glass to get your memories down on tape.I hereby volunteer to chase up the ABC side of things if you ever decide to add your history to the national archives. It's every bit as interesting as our war history and Aussies should know of, and be proud of how we used to do things when we were a more mature country.

  9. When I was a little girl I had a penpalThat is a nice story FD……if she coincidentally lived in the area where I worked in the Morobe Province I probably have the contacts to track her down if you remembered her name.Otherwise unfortunately communications, especially mail services, have broken down in most of the rural areas.She would never have forgotten your kindness in sending her things, and she would have told her kids about the time when she had a generous Australian penpal.

  10. It's amazing to see how truly fascinated those kids look at something that is commonplace and everyday to us.It was incredible see how much the kids and adults living in rural areas appreciated something a simple as a book. I went back in 1998 to visit a family who had previously "adopted" me, and I took with me a scientific book used to identify ferns.(my hobby at the time) Everyone in the little village pored over the photographs and line drawings for hours deciding which plants were in their area.I never even realised how rice was harvested, It is only harvested this way with knives in subsistence cultures. Most of the commercial rice we buy is farmed broadacre and mechanically harvested.

  11. Thanks for the Missouri rice growing story m-t. This blogging business is a real educational experience. 🙂

  12. This rustic way of life really appeals to me, as someone living in such a corrupt and spoiled materialistic society. To sit down to (if I'm understanding this right) coconut rice and fish, and to soak in a magazine, sounds lovely. I agree with FD, you should have a ghost writer. This series could be a book. I would read it.

  13. To sit down to (if I'm understanding this right) coconut rice and fish, That's pretty much it Emmi. The coconut flesh was grated and squeezed to get the "coconut cream". Rice, taro, sweet potato, green vegetables and fish were then cooked in the coconut cream. Very nice 🙂

  14. Wonderful photos and memories. I love the movie nights you describe – it must have seemed like magic to those kids.

  15. it must have seemed like magic to those kids. Some of the kids in the photograph will now be telling their grandchildren about the experience… that's scary 🙂

  16. Lucas Hundang Dosung

    I am from Pindiu, thank you for the photos from my homeland, I was attending school during that time. Brings back a lot of memories. thank you. Lucas Hundang Dosung, Auckland, NZ

    • Thank you for reading and commenting Lucas. There are many other Pindiu stories on my blog if you type ‘Pindiu’ in to the search box on the left hand side of my home page. I will send you a separate response by email.


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