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11 July 2011

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In 1969/70 I carried out 2 patrols into the very mountainous country located between Kerema and Kiantiba, which lies a couple of days walk from Menyamya to the north. The people living in this area were then all known as Kukukuku.

While they had had sporadic contact with the Administration for many years and the area was official described as "controlled", it was still regarded as necessary for me to be heavily armed with a WW2 vintage Lee Enfield .303 Carbine and a very dodgy .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.

At that time, to the best of my knowledge, there were no totally uncontacted people living between Kerema and Menyamya.

However, there were people whose contact really had been quite tenuous. A few young children, upon seeing me and my patrol, fled screaming to their parents, to the great amusement of the adults. It seems I was mistaken for one of their deceased "tumbuna", returning in a ghostly white form.

It seems to me highly doubtful that a French film crew could have blithely wandered into that country and discovered a hitherto unknown group of people.

It is fearsomely rough terrain and only the local people would have known how to find such a group, if it existed.

Menyamya had been established and consolidated in the 1950s by several pretty intrepid kiaps including the late Lloyd Hurrel.

The area had been pretty thoroughly patrolled by the mid 1960's and I strongly doubt that the kiaps had missed contacting every population group in their patrol area at least once, and probably much more often.

So far as I am aware, the last group of previously uncontacted people were located deep in the Strickland Gorge area by a patrol out of Koroba in 1971 or 1972.

To my eternal regret I was posted out of Koroba before this patrol was mounted and so a young colleague called Peter Turner got the honour instead. It seems likely that Peter will know if it was at all possible for the French to do what they say they did.

I was a long term resident of PNG during this time and researcher to Sir Michael Somare. The film crew made no attempt to obtain permission to enter the area as required under the Anthropological Research protocol.

The film content is highly edited, professional to the degree that it is obviously a santitised production.

This so-called first contact with white people is a farce and ought to have been labelled truthfully as a well defined, pre-planned documentary fable!

So, it was fake, all rehearsed, and acted out for pay.

Well they didn't only meet "civilized" men ... they met TV!

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