Papua New Guinea Photos 1972

(60 Best Pictures for a Show)

(this page created 5/24/08)

Quick Explanation: in 1972 my family lived in Papua New Guinea.  These are some of the old slides from that time scanned in for safe keeping.  Click on any picture for the VERY LARGE original.  The comments around the pictures are gleaned from an old notebook of my Dad's hand written notes plus hand-written comments on the borders of the slides.  Click here to go to the top level of all these pictures.

The pictures on this page are from a selection of 60 pictures my Dad (Howard) would give as an hour long slide presentation. 


"Buruni elementary school math class with boards" - it looks like the students below have chalk boards and chalk to do math problems.


"Wewak elementary school termite desks" - Wewak is a town we vacationed at on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Very pretty.  Wewak was a major Japanese airbase in WWII, so there was some war wreckage left behind.  Below are some students in a class, my dad's notes point out the termite eaten desks in the picture.


"Wewak primary bush school outside" - a primary school in Wewak.


"Wewak primary students" - students in an open air classroom in Wewak, Papua New Guinea.


"St Pauls vanacanau drum with staff and house" -  This is a woman in from the bush (native) showing the "vanacanau drum" (we're not sure about the spelling on that).  The drum was used to communicate between villages, long distances in the bush.  These were locally boarded students and thus not residence in the bush.


"Madang woman making sago" - Madang is a coastal town we vacationed at in Papua New Guinea.  The woman pictured below is making "Sago", which is a starchy food made from the Sago Palm.  The Wikipedia article says that one palm yields 150 to 300 kg of starch.


"Madang making sago settling pool" - the sago palm tree is split, then the "pith" down the middle is flushed and scraped out into a pool of water which settles out into the starch.


"Madang making sago trough close up" - this is a good picture showing the sago palm split open and what is going on inside to extract the food.


"Madang making sago bound sago" - hanging bundles of it from trees helped extract the water out, turning it brick hard.


"Goroka native housing project" - The government was trying to get all gainfully employed natives out of the grass huts and have the natives pay basic rent.  Note the gardens around the houses where we expatriates would have our lawns instead.


"Goroka boy with tire roll" - the locals would run along with two sticks in a tire as a toy.


"Goroka rooftop water heater" - looks solar powered?  Remember this was in Goroka, Papua New Guinea in 1972 so it was more about practicality than environmentalism.  Also notice the house is on stilts.  I think this is mainly to prevent bugs from getting into the houses.


"Goroka to Saturday market along airport road" - natives walking in from the bush to the large Saturday market in Goroka, Papua New Guinea.


"Goroka Steamships" - nick named "Steamies".  It was both a grocery store and a department store, imported everything. The fellows in the foreground are students from the Teachers College where my father was head of the mathematics department.  I found links on the web about Steamships here


"Goroka Saturday afternoon west Goroka" - the crowd as many out of town people come in from the surrounding villages to trade at market.


"Goroka rugby scrum" - a rugby game in Goroka in 1972.


"Goroka aussie rules football half time" - Australian Rules football is a variant on soccer/American football that was very popular when we were there.


"Goroka loaded meris on their way to Saturday market" - the term "meri" meant "native woman".  Notice the women in the picture below are bare foot and carrying large loads to sell at market.


"Goroka village next to market" - a really huge number of people came from the surrounding 30 miles from Goroka to participate in the Saturday market.


"Goroka market types of kau kau" - Sweet potatoes are called "kau kau" and there are several varieties.  In the picture below they are laid out in piles for sale.


"Goroka grapefruit and oranges" - at the Saturday market.   Grapefruit were usually quite good, oranges were usually not good. Both grown in the bush from seedling trees.


"Goroka market under roof" - this is the section of market under the roof, a lot of good looking fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in 1972.


"Goroka market pig counter" - pork for sale in the Saturday market in Goroka, 1972.  Pork was a very special item and was to bought and sold only by senior tribesmen. It was used to pay debts and establish obligations on someone. Not always very healthy.


"Gardens Nevis village" - Nevi was our second house boy.  My dad drove Nevi out the 20 minutes out to Nevi's village to see where he was from.


"Kassam Pass Highway" - Kassam Pass provides some access to the "Highlands".  Kassam Pass was on the highlands highway which went between Lae (on the coast, Eastern extreme of the Island) to Mt. Hagen in the Highlands. It goes through Goroka. We drove over its full length at one time or another.


"East highlands village on ridge" - The picture below shows the incredibly rough terrain in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and how the people would perch their clusters of huts along the top ridges and farm sweet potatoes ("kau kau") and other things on the steep slopes.


"Cocoa seeds sun drying" - I'm not sure where this picture was taken (my dad thinks Rabaul), definitely in Papua New Guinea in 1972.  :-)


"Coconuts and drying sheds" - for coconut farms.  Probably Rabaul.


"Highland meri digging garden" - shows a "meri" (native woman) working her garden.  Notice the mesh bag she hangs from her head, that was a very common way to hold produce or other things and keep their hands free.  The mesh bag hung from your head is called a "bilum" in Papua New Guinea.


"Madang coconut plantation" - self explanatory.  :-)


"Highland garden Nevis" - our houseboy (Nevi) highland garden.


"Highland village and garden" - a cluster of grass huts in the highlands in Papua New Guinea in 1972.


"Rabaul Yamamoto bunker outside" - This anti-aircraft and search light bunker was  known as the "Yamamoto Bunker" (because General Yamamoto spent his last night in this bunker before being shot down).  We vacationed in Rabaul in 1972 and must have toured this bunker.  This area of Rabaul was covered in volcanic ash in 1994, so you can't go see this site anymore.


"Rabaul Yamamoto bunker inside" - inside the bunker in Rabaul.


"Japanese Zero at Coastwatchers Lookout" - This is at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.  The "Coastwatchers" was a World War II organization of about 400 soldiers.  It was a loose a guerilla group that often operated behind enemy lines in WWII in the Papua New Guinea area.  Their main purpose was to provide early warnings on enemy movements in the area.  There were several famous incidents involving the Coastwatchers, one of the most famous was when a Coastwatcher (Arthur Reginald Evans) observed future US president John F. Kennedy's boat being sunk (PT-109) and dispatched native scouts in dugout canoes which resulted in saving the PT-109 crew.  The picture below illustrates the volcanic caldera which formed the natural port which caused the Japanese to make it their supply and command center for their South East conquest during W.W.II.  One of the peaks in the caldera’s outer rim became the volcano that  buried this whole area in volcanic ash in 1994.  The A6M Japanese Zero below was recovered from Richard Gault's Plantation in the early 1970s (the picture below was taken either 1972 or 1973) and put up on the pole you see below.  Around 1979 the plane fell down due to high winds (and that some of the restraining wires had been stolen for building materials) 


"Machine gun nests" - it's hard to make out so I circled them in red.  Rabaul again.  My dad writes: "This shows why the American forces never tried to take the Island of New Britain. After the defeat of the Japanese air force and the battle of the Solomon Sea that sunk the majority of the Japanese navy, Admiral Nimitz took his sea born marines through the central Pacific islands and General Macarthur went directly North to the Philippines and left an enormous Japanese army stranded, essentially helpless on New Britain. Trying to get them to surrender after Japan surrendered has many stories."


Same picture as above without the red circles.


"Mathesin’s bridge and the Asaro river" - this was a local gumi spot for us, picture taken standing on the bridge looking down.  The term "gumi" means inner tube in Tok Pisin (Pidgin English), "gumiing" means "rafting" or "playing around with inflatable rafts and inner tubes".  We'd go with a bunch of friends and hang out on that beach all afternoon with a picnic lunch swimming in the water.


"Mathesin’s bridge gumiing"


"National Gumi races TDE team" - The abbreviation "TDE" must mean "Turner and Davey Electrical" which was a store in Goroka, Papua New Guinea (at least in 1972).  As I remember, once per year people would compete in building silly rafts and entertain everybody watching.  UPDATE 5/10/2017 - The guy in this picture near the back with his right foot in the water is Jack Lewis (at that time was age 25)!  He found this picture on this page and contacted me at .


"Hilands from plane" - the Papua New Guinea Highlands from the air in 1972.


"Hilands village on ridge" - you can see the huts along the walking path on the ridge, and you can see how rough this terrain is in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.


This is a map of the area with the town names underlined in red where the pictures on this webpage were taken.  I borrowed this map off another website on the internet.


"Map of Papua New Guinea" - this was a slide my father included in the slide show, a picture of the area.


"Goroka School Assembly" - I attended this grade school in 1972, we would eat lunch under that building (in the open air by the stilts there were picnic tables).  I'm probably pictured below somewhere, I'm about age 5 in this picture.  :-)  I'm not sure why this school was almost 100 percent Caucasian, there are a couple of black kids in the picture below so it can't be segregation?  And Goroka itself was probably 98 percent black people (local Papua New Guineans), so it can't be a coincidence almost every student in the picture below is white?  My dad explains: The expatriate school system (elementary through form 6 (?)) was presented and followed the New South Wales curriculum. Locals could attend if they spoke English in the home, i.e. as a first language, which few highlanders were able. Coastal New Guineans were more likely to qualify. Cheryl is a “monitor” and is standing on the steps just above the head master.


"Goroka playing marbles" - that's our house in Goroka in the background, and that's Brian (me) looking at the camera, and "Steven" and "Randy" are the other white kids in the picture.  The most common marbles game was drawing a circle in the dirt and each player would put into the center of the circle an equal number of marbles spread about, like an "ante" in poker.  Then if you ever knocked a marble out of the circle you kept it, a form of gambling where the thing you won was marbles for more play.  We rarely played "for keeps", at the end of the game we would all get back our original marbles.  I think I carried my "shooter" (my main marble I "shot with") around in my pocket a lot of the time, so that at school we might break out a game.


"Wewak war debris" - this is a landing ship (barge) used by the Japanese.  Wewak was a site of Japanese occupation in Papua New Guinea in WWII, which was 25 years before this picture was taken.


"Airplane debris Siar Island" - Siar Island is an island near Madang that we vacationed at in 1972.


"Rabaul Japanese ship in tunnel Brian, Randy, and Cheryl" - What is behind the person taking this picture is the beach.  In WWII the Japanese in Rabaul would lay rail road track on the beach and wheel their ships up into these tunnels to be safe from allied bombers.  That's me (Brian) on the far left, my brother Randy in the middle, and sister Cheryl on the far right.  I have lightened the picture digitally which allows you to see more of the tunnel and more detail on the ship, but makes the colors look slightly blu-ish and strange.  When the Japanese were chased out of this area, they abandoned these ships, and 28 years later (when this picture was taken in 1972) the war boats were still here decaying.  My dad further explains: Again a landing barge of the type used by the Japanese. Note the smoke stack like in two pictures above. These huge tunnels (long - holding up to three of these boats) were dug after the Japanese were marooned by the Allied forces and the boats pulled up into them anticipating being used after the Japanese navy retook the waters around them. As you say they were to be safe from allied bombing. The soil from which the tunnels (both these and the fox holes) were excavated is all volcanic ash, thus easy digging.


"Goroka first day of school" - Brian (me) on left, Randy (my brother) in the middle, and Cheryl (my sister) on the far right.  This would have been in Papua New Guinea in 1972 or 1973.  I still own the small brown briefcase you see sitting to the far left, I carried my books and papers and lunch to school each day in it.


"Goroka Show Man Plenti plumes tusks" - a picture from the "Goroka Show".  Here is a Wikipedia article on the Goroka Show.  It is a big show where locals dress in their traditional native costumes and dance and celebrate their heritage.  It is one of the most famous Papua New Guinea events.


"Goroka show girl with parrot feathers and king sox feathers".  My dad writes: The bow shaped black and white feathers in her nose are from the  “King of Saxony” bird of paradise. Very valuable to we expatriates and forbidden to export them or buy them.


"Goroka show man with bow and arrow" - notice the stick through his nose and the face paint.


"Goroka show two men kundu and parrot feathers" - a picture of two men in the Goroka Show in 1972.  The man on the left is holding a "Kundu Drum", which is a traditional drum commonly associated with Papua New Guinea.  A Kundu Drum appears on both the Papua New Guinea Coat of Arms and also the Papua New Guinea Scout Emblem.  More "King of Saxony" feathers in the right head dress.


"Goroka show two girls with bras" - I think these two native girls are a little confused to the use of the western bra.  :-)


Below is "Pig kill feast" - A clan would hoard it's pigs for months, then kill a large number for a feast, partly to impress other tribes.  It leads to a lot of waste and spoilage because the POINT was conspicuous consumption and out doing the last "pig kill feast".    Pig Kill Feasts are mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Papua New Guinea.

 Update 11/17/09 - a reader of this web page (Sean Downey from University of Arizona) writes:

"I suspect this is actually a photo of the rather famous kaiko ritual. And if so, the pig slaughter originally served an important role in maintaining the pig populations and preventing degrading the natural environment. The distribution of meat also served to form bonds between groups, which was very important when such alliances came into play during warfare. In other words, there is a complex connections between tropical forest ecology, human and pig population dynamics, and the political relationships between highland groups that are all maintained , in part, through periodic kaiko feasts. It really has nothing to do with conspicuous consumption. There is a famous book (at least within anthropological circles) called Pigs for the Ancestors (Roy Rappaport) which describes this and more. There is also a short article describing  the ecological significance of the kaiko ritual which I use in my class. In case you are interested, I'm sending it along." -- Sean Downey, 11/17/2009  (Click Here for Rappaport_Pigs.pdf by Roy Rappaport.)


"Goroka show sing sing man" - In the Papua New Guinea highlands, the concept of a "sing sing" is when the natives dress up in feathers and paint and participate in singing and dancing.  Sometimes a mock battle would be acted out.  Sometimes a "sing sing" is about paying tribute to another tribe.  Here is a great webpage I found: Papua New Guinea Sing Sings showing more pictures.


Mike Davis touching a cocoa pod.


"Teachers college basketball game" - my father worked at the "Teachers College" in Goroka in 1972.  No indoor gyms were big enough to play basketball on. This was national tournament between colleges in PNG. All played on blacktop.


Below here are not actually our pictures, but "picture of pictures" found in books as good examples of Papua New Guinea.  This is "Ridge Village".


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Meri Washing Children".


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Man and Meri with Feathers"


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Coastal Village"


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Highland pig roasting"


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Man shooting bow and arrow"


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Bird of Paradise Skin" - the Bird of Paradise is the Papua New Guinea National bird.


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Bird of Paradise Live" - the Bird of Paradise is the Papua New Guinea National bird.


Not our picture, copied from a book.  "Boy drinking soda pop".


End of this group!   Click here to go to the top level of all these pictures.


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