“Restricted Areas” were areas where only DDA Field Officers were allowed, without special permission from the District Commissioner.
The last three Census Divisions which were de-“Restricted” in TP&NG were the Waina Suonda (Amanab District WSP), West Mianmin (Telefomin District WSP) and North Hewa (Lake Kopiago Sub-District WHP), in the 1960’s.
Phil Bouraga had been attacked in the Waina Suonda in the early ‘60’s and several DDA Field Officers were attacked in the West Mianmin around the same time.
The North and South Hewa Census Divisions are bounded on the east by the Porgera District (Paiyela) and on the west by Oksapmin Patrol Post area. It was during a patrol to the Oksapmin side of the North Hewa area that “Taffy” Watkins lost his life in a fast flowing river accident in 1972.
I have spoken to a Policeman who was with “Taffy” on his “last patrol” and he said that Taffy was crossing a thigh deep fast flowing stream when he slipped on a stone and in falling cracked his head on a rock, before the current seized his unconscious body and carried it a considerable way downstream before the patrol personnel were able to retrieve it.
Those of us who have crossed and re-crossed fast flowing, montain watercourses filled with smooth, mossy rocks are aware of how treacherous and dangerous such crossings are. Wet arse and bruised dignity were the most common injuries, but twisted ankles and abrasions were always a danger. I guess Taffy was unlucky that there was no one close enough to grab him soon enough, when he slipped, fell and was carried away. He was by no means an experienced “big bush” Kiap and seemingly neither were his patrol personnel.
After learning the hard way during “big bush patrols” in 1972, ’73 and ’74 out of Koroba and Komo my “bodyguard” was never far away. I had my bacon saved on at least two occasions by the quick action of the coppers who were assigned to “look after me”. I owe my life to Daniel Nabur of Siassi and Otto Gandi of Kerowagi.
Both the Hewa populated North and South Hewa Census Divisions had been neglected in favour of the more populous Duna populated Tumbudu and Paru Census Divisions, by Lake Kopiago staff, with widely separated quick visits having been made to the area by Bob Halahan (mid-60’s) and Chris Makin (1971), the only contacts since Black (or was it Taylor) passed through on the way from Hagen to Telefomin pre WW11 (1938?).
The inhabitants of the South Hewa Census Division, south of the Lagaip River and north of Lake Kopiago Patrol Post, (350 odd), were under a reasonable degree of government influence and teams of warrior bowmen had consistently taken out the archery prize at the Mt. Hagen Show in
the 1960’s and early ‘70’s.
John Kabisch, then ADOiC at Lake Kopiago led a patrol in early 1974, to investigate the killing of the only Government appointee in the area (he was Luluai Parata of Wanakipi in the South Hewa C/D and his skull still adorned the Sub District Office at Lake Kopiago, last time I visited in 1991). John’s patrol was attacked with arrows fired from concealment and with the element of surprise lost, he returned to Lake Kopiago.
Laurie Bragge, then ADC at Koroba followed up quickly with a dawn raid on a Hewa treehouse at Wusipa on the North Hewa side of the Lagaip River from Wanakipi, nabbing several of Parata’s suspected murderers. The raid was strongly resisted and one of Laurie’s policemen narrowly missed being arrowed at point blank range. The arrow grazed Constable Nabur’s neck, went right through a four inch diameter sapling growing nearby and protruded about a foot on the other side.
Laurie’s patrol was again attacked, in a similar manner to that of ADO Kabisch’s, as it withdrew to Lake Kopiago with the prisoners.
I was posted from Komo to Lake Kopiago in January 1975 and carried out the Initial Census of the North Hewa Census Division during three patrols totaling seven months. Several village groups were still using stone axes and were very pleased to trade these for steel axes. Salt was very much sought after as well.
Luluai Parata had been done in for attempting to protect his sister from being killed as a witch. I had the unpleasant task of exhuming the lady’s remains and determining that she had been brained. I still have three hours of super 8 films taken during those patrols, incorporated onto a
The Hewa were well and truly spooked by this time and I had to “capture” most of them in dawn raids in order to pick up the wanted men and carry out Census etc. These raids were sometimes a little hair raising, but mostly went off without any great problems. Modus operandi was to locate tracks leading to garden areas, follow these tracks stealthily during the late afternoon when the “gardeners” were all headed home, until the treehouse was located and then withdraw an hour or so back along the track, where the main patrol group would be settled in for the night.
Myself, six Policemen and usually about a dozen stalwart Duna carriers would then quietly return and establish ourselves a few hundred yards from the treehouse for the night, having already eaten back at the patrol base. Sometimes a night of teeming rain was endured before the dawn bought a quick resolution to the enforced meeting of “Gavman” and the startled inhabitants of the treehouse. A quick hand out of salt, navy biscuits, a few bush knives, fish hooks and matches usually established amicable interest in the unexpected visitors and my remarkable Interpreter Himau would then provide re-assurance of our friendly intentions.
None of the murder suspects gave up voluntarily and all had to be captured in dawn raids or chased down by Policemen. No shots were fired by any of the Kabisch / Bragge / Turner patrols.
After nearly a year of concentrated patrolling and other interventions ( medical treatment, assistance with vegetable seeds, establishment of a Police Post and Medical Centre at Wanakipi the North Hewa was considered to be pretty well “under control”, though by no means “government influence consolidated”.
I investigated a total of seven murders and arrested a total of eleven suspects all of whom served two years at the Tari calaboose, before returning home, fatter and wiser men.
To my knowledge, there have been no more patrols by Government Officers into the North Hewa Census Division, though there is now a mission airstrip at Wanakipi and the North and South Hewa mob do receive compensation payments from the Porgera mine, for damage done to the Lagaip River, which flows through their land at about 8 knots.
With the most belligerent of the warriors having been removed from the area by Laurie Bragge in 1974 and during the early stages of my first early 1975 patrol, I experienced no real opposition and certainly no aggression from the Hewa, who, by the end of 1975 had stopped trying to avoid any contact with “gavman” and many had become regular visitors to the Wanakipi Police Post / Medical Centre.
Another, and probably the final episode, in Governor Hubert Murray’s policy of peaceful penetration, of which I am so proud to have been a part of.
Lord, what an exciting life it was. ‘We earned our keep.