Jim Moore's photographs

Taken during 1998/99 while working for CARE Australia, on secondment to National Disaster and Emergency Service, Port Moresby. Refer below notes for backgrounding on photographs. Click on images to enlarge.

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1. Sign of the times: Satellite dishes appear everywhere. If power (mains or portable) is available, any local entrepeneur can buy a system, and tune into CNN, or whatever. This trade store owner charges entry fees for people to come and watch his telly. This was in the Hagen valley, not far from Kagamuga airport.

2. Mt. Hagen, Feb 98. Joe Leahy on left (unacknowledged son of Mick Leahy), featured in the 2nd and 3rd of the Connolly/Anderson film trilogy, "First Contact", "Joe Leahy's Neighbours" and "Black Harvest". In the middle is Simon Kaumi, people from the late 60's and early 70's would remember him as one of the first local public servants to reach the top. He was then Chief Electoral Officer. In '98, he was Minister for Local Govt and Provincial Affairs in the Skate-lead government.

3 and 4. Stone figures, taken outside Joe's house in the Nebilyer valley. He swore he was given these by locals, who claimed they were used in traditional ceremonies, but kept secret from absolutely all expats, including missionaries, etc. The "owners" said because traditional culture was now basically shot, they wanted Joe to look after them. Extremely heavy, granite-like material - as far as I could tell, not concrete. I remember seeing stone bowls dug up from the Waghi river swamps, that were made from what appeared to very similar material, and which local people could not account for at all. IF these figures were truly used in traditional practices, is it feasible that they were never seen or heard of by any expats at all? If they truly pre-date highlands society, where did they come from, and how did they get to the Highlands? Or was someone having a big joke at Joe's expense? Given the similarity to the Waghi bowls I saw (I know someone who still has one), these figures MAY be genuine. Anybody got any ideas or further knowledge?

5. Western Highlands Provincial Government building in Mt Hagen.

6. The old DC's house in Hagen, still used by the Provincial Governor.

7. Hagen-based people from 60's and 70's would remember the name Wamp Nga. Wamp Nga Motors was still going strong in 98. Photo taken on Sunday afternoon, hence lack of people - during the week, the town is packed. The population of Hagen is said to be 40,000 now. Security grilles are typical of what's needed in Hagen.

8. This was a small block of shops just across the road from the old District Office and the Didiman's offices. Note the security grilles everywhere. Joan Coleman had a store (COLTRA) in the end shop.

9. Another sign of the times in Hagen. The satellite dish is, almost to the inch, on the site where the old outstations radio shack was, next to the old District Office (which has been demolished). The high-rise building is an apartment block, which would not be a pleasant place to live.

10. Eastern Highlands Provincial Govt building in Goroka. End of the Bird of Paradise hotel is on the right hand side.

11. Provincial Governor's house (palace?) just behind Prov Govt office in Goroka.

12 & 13. You will recall Sissano lagoon was where the tsunami occurred in June 1998. For those not familiar with that area, the lagoon is about 30 k.'s west of Aitape. It turns out that there had been similar seismic activity there, resulting in a tsunami sometime in the 1920's. The scale of the 1998 event, and the sheer bloody horror of three following walls of seawater 12-15 metres high hitting the narrow spit of village-covered sand between the sea and lagoon, was the stuff of lots of peoples' worst nightmares. At its widest, the lagoon is about 3 km's wide, and the waves went right across it, taking everything, including people, with it.. Then of course, all that water rushed back out to sea, destroying whatever may have survived the flood on the way in. By one of those flukes of timing, I took these two photos of Sissano village as we took off from Sissano airstrip in a 206 on 25 March 98. Lagoon in the foreground and sea at the back. Compare to devastation after tsunami of 16 June 98, photos 21-22.

14. Aitape is now a quite pleasant little town, not a lot happens there in normal times, I suspect.

15. The French Ambassador to PNG, and the French Navy ship that bought 100 tons of rice from New Caledonia to POM in April 98 as "aid" during the drought/taim hangri.. They also bought a Transall (mid-way between a Caribou and a C-130) to fly it to various strips that could take a plane that large. They even bought their own trucks to shift the rice from the wharf to Jackson's airport. Given the amount of food aid rice being distributed country-wide was in the order of 10's of ,000's of tons, 100 tons was a drop in the bucket that in reality added almost nothing to the alleviation of hunger. Given all the cost of a naval ship for three weeks Noumea-POM-Noumea, a plane that size with two full crew for two weeks, etc, by the time the French rice was in the cooking pot, it probably ended up costing 50 times what it would have had the French Govt given the PNG Govt the money to go down to the POM wholesaler and buy 100 tons. However, one has to realise that this sort of thing has little to do with true humanitarian aid, and everything to do with the politics of inter-country relationships, and influence-peddling.

16. The remains of the first Parliament House in downtown POM, wrecked by squatters, just up the hill from the wharf. The loss of this building leaves a big hole in the political and cultural history of the country.

17. Downtown POM from the area where Ambassadors, etc, live in an almost surreal level of security. Quite an eye-opener to see the level of security necessary.

18. Anyone who worked in late 60'/early 70's in Mt. Hagen Sub-District Office (now long since destroyed), might remember a tanim tok named Michael Korua. I'd forgotten him until I heard his voice, which immediately raised memories of him. Sadly, killed in a hit-run accident on the Hagen-Nebilyer road about 3 months after this photo was taken.

19. Mr. Ludwig Kembu. A truly outstanding man, by any standards. As Deputy Commissioner of Police during the Sandline affair, he stood at the gate of Parliament with a couple of constables, and faced a horde of around 100 PIR rabble who were intent on getting inside and doing whatever to Julius Chan and his Government. Ludwig quietly, but very firmly told them, "If you wish to go inside, you will have to kill me first". They gave away. [See Sean Dorney's book on the Sandline affair]. He was later forced out of the Police force for political machination reasons (though you would never have got anyone to admit that), and put in charge of running the National Disaster and Emergency Service, where I worked with him. He did truly excellent work (again, by any standards) during the tsunami. Sadly, died of stomach cancer in early 2000, a loss the country could ill-afford.

20. The other side of the Sissano lagoon, where debris driven across about 800 metres of the lagoon was piled about 5 metres high. Some people actually survived rolling in the wave across the lagoon, and then being washed into the mangrove swamp. Many didn't of course.

21 & 22.. The same spot shown in photos 10-11. Taken a week after the tsunami. Even at that time, there were still bodies floating in the lagoon. The village had been literally swept clean of everything except coconut and ya trees. 1,000 people died from this village alone, total death toll was approx 2,300.

23. Nothing remained of what had been the Sissano Govt Station, which was on the bare ground near bank of the tidal creek in the foreground.

24. Taken March 99, in what used to be Malol village. 800 died from here, a lot were buried in unmarked graves where they were found. You can vaguely see the debris still piled 4-5 metres high up against the mangroves on the other side of the lagoon, which narrows a fair bit at this point.

25. A temporary bush school. The people all moved well away from the coast, and started re-establishing villages, schools, etc miles from the coast. I've got maps, press articles, and a whole lot of other information on the aftermath of the tsunami, if anybody who served in the Aitape area is interested.

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