The Haus Kiap at Tababe
|In September, 1963, after we had been
in Gunts for six months,
we knew the various members of the Fungai families quite well. We had
filmed and photographed men, women, and children at work and play, yet,
with few exceptions, we had never seen entire families gathered
together. Our photo collection contained nothing like what we thought
of as complete “family portraits.”
|We had also not yet experienced a visit
from the Kiap – the
Officer in Simbai. One of the Kiap’s official duties was to keep
census records up to date. The Kiap who was on duty when we were there
rode his motorcycle to visit clans near Simbai. He had, however, not
yet managed to get the Kiap Road in the lower Simbai Valley cleared and
widened sufficiently so that his motorcycle could get through.
Therefore, to come to the Fungai area - a 3 to 4 days’ walk from
Simbai, he, or other officials such as Australian agricultural officers
or medical officers, had to organize major expeditions,
consisting of police constables, a clerk, and a number of carriers. The
whole group would stop each night in a different haus kiap. There was
great excitement when a patrol would arrive at Tababe, the Haus Kiap
that was about an hour’s walk north from Gunts and was officially
designated by the Australian Administration as the gathering place for
all the people of the Fungai, Korama, Bomagai, and Angoian clans.
|Allison: “The visit of
Medical Patrol at the end of September
to carry out a Malaria Survey brought all the people together, family
by family. Marek was called on to help weigh and measure each
person, and I was finally able to take “family portraits”.
life among the Maring almost never achieved, i.e. spatial gatherings by
family, was easily achieved by the Western-style organization of an
|Everyone was in full bilas for
occasion. The Bomagais and Angoians
were the first to be called. I easily recognized the men
helped build our house and had
frequently visited Gunts.
159-25: Bosboi Giribo and his family line up in front of the Patrol
|It was a lovely day with clouds
scudding through the sky. For a
moment, Fogaikump mountain stood out darkly behind the bright rooftops
of the Haus Kiap and the haus kuk. In the background, Kabi and others
waiting their turn stood around, smiling.
Then it was the turn of the people
the Korama clan.
Tultul Banka and his family.
160-18: Aikapo’s father, mother and sisters.
Bossboy Gul in full bilas stands in the background.
The clip-board holding the list of names
was also used to help match the top
of people’s heads
to the numbers on the tape measure.
160-21: A tiny child with a large bilum
over its shoulder is held gently on the scale by its father.
|The first of the Fungai clan families to be measured was
He was highly bilased and stood with his arms crossed firmly on his
chest. He was even wearing an angane shell around his neck.
160-23: Marek measures Bosboi Gul, as his wife, Ke, looks on.
|Allison: “I remember
there was a definite problem in
figuring out where the “top” of the men’s heads were
since they wore so
Pfun and his immediate family were next. His older brother, Awar
waited patiently in line. Though he was a very influential person among
the Maring themselves, he was never
one for show and had never been acknowleged by the Australian
Administrtion. Even upon this occasion he only wore a few dried
branches of leaves sticking into his belt and, instead of feathers, had
affixed a piece of paper to his mamb kun.
160-29* Pfun steadies Arum on the scale, gently holding her two arms.
|Allison: “Over the
the preceding months, the little Fungai
children had gotten used to our presence in Gunts and Tenegump. A
few weeks prior to the weighing and measuring in Tababe, however, a
health team giving whooping cough shots had passed by the area. Fearing
they were to be given more shots, the little children were
scared of us all over again in this official context.”
160-33: Pint’ steps on the scale to be weighed and
measured. Her father, Pfun, and her little sister; Arum, behind
on the right her mother, Komba, holding her little brother, Mbuk.
|Allison: “Not only was
an occasion to get a visual sense of
the individual families, but even more it was a moment when the
transitional position of the luluais and tultuls could be seen. Dressed
in formal finery, and helping direct the positioning of each
family, they were, at one and the same time, acting as leaders within
their own egalitarian society and as subjects of a colonial
administration. The transition was doubly complex since the
colonial administration was, itself, in the midst of the process
leading to independence. All the people at this gathering would, only
12 years later, become citizens of an independent Papua New
Completed in August, 2011 from details in Chapter 82 of the Yellow Book.
1999-2011 Allison Jablonko.
All Rights Reserved.