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23 May 2016


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Tom and Salome live in Hervey Bay Peter, just up the road from me. I knew them in the late 1960s at Nomad.

Betty, (Egerabagi), An interesting narrative aligned pretty closely with Damian Arabagali's (A Good Catholic, bless him) less than authoritatively supported, but nevertheless scholarly and enlightening thesis, and thank you for sharing and explaining some interesting Huli mythology.

Well done. Your perfect English expression provides clarity and even a 'classical' touch to the identification and reconciliation of traditional and Christian beliefs amongst many Huli people.

I am interested in your use of the Huli word ‘Duguba’, previously widely pronounced 'Tuguba' in the 1970's.

As I recall, then it meant 'lowland cannibal savage' (LOL) and the Huli's looked upon them with disdain and dread. The lowland people in turn, were wary of the bigger, stronger and more aggressive Hulis, and largely 'deferred' to them, on the very rare occasions that members of the two tribes met.

These days, some Huli Clans adjoining promising oil snd gas prospects have even adopted 'Tuguba' as part of their Clan names. They certainly would not have identified, in any way shape or form, with the 'Tugubas' 40 years ago.

In the early 1970's the only Huli residents, anywhere in the Bosavi Area were those that accompanied my patrols from Komo 1973-4, and they behaved much as 'tourists', wonderfully tough, strong and good humoured tourists, fascinated, but repelled by the grille covered ‘Tuguba’s’, and the few Huli and Gogodala health workers and teachers with Keith and Norma Briggs at the APCM (now ECPNG) Mission at 'Ludesa' (which the local people call 'Didesa').

In those days nearly every Bosavi had grille, many totally covered, which the Hulis found disgusting. (Today it is rare to find a case of grille (sikin kuskus), even in the remotest areas of the country. Yaws too. 'Never heard of yaws? Good. Leprosy? Gone. Progress.

Some of the Tigaso Tree oil and black palm bows trade filtered from Bosavi through Komo, and Kutubu 'wel' was mostly directed to established Tari traders.

Returning to the Bosavi area with a Seismic Team 30 years later, I found that nearly every Onabasalu, Kasua and Etoro (most of the Great Papuan Plateau) family groups had a Huli 'Inlaw' and were very proud and happy with the arrangement.

Many times I found myself dealing with a Huli 'tanimtok', always fully supported by 'family' and the former 'Hanua Policemen' or their descendants, now Bosavi Local Government Councillors, (The Establishment).

The once feared and despised 'Tuguba' have become respectable and desirable 'relatives'. (Like marrying into the 'Beverly Hillbillys').

Bosavi people are now investors in the Port Moresby real estate market and Graduates are now not uncommon.

The airstrip I laid out near Bona Village is now the Government Station of Munuma and the Great Papuan Plateau, like the Sogeri Plateau outside Port Moresby, has been well and truly 'colonized' and even 'included' into Huli Myths.

Who would have thought? I was taken aback, amazed and gratified to find two groups so 'alien' to each other, ending up so closely mixed and allied. If the Manam Islanders were resource rich, there would be no resettlement problems.

'Bit of credit' is due to the Briggs Family, who are venerated by the Bosavi people, just as are Tom & Salome Hoey from the next door Mougolu APCM station, in Bedamini (formerly commonly known as Biami) country, who both arrived in the mid 1960's, and all those other Missionaries who ‘brought the Light’.

I watched those people, the Briggs, the Hoeys and Gogodala and Huli staff and Pastors, over much of their mission field lifetimes bring The Light to 'Last Papua'. What a wonderful achievement.

Both couples will have stored up a huge treasure in heaven, but both should be double MBE's or Members of Logohu. Recognition of their contributions is long overdue.

Betty, ‘arime timbune, wandari paija.

Peter Turner ML BEM Ll.M

Hi Betty. I enjoyed this - all the best with this entry. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

That's true about myths having a basis in fact Gary.

In Australia some of the Aboriginal myths describe geological events that occurred thousands of years ago.

Their myths are extremely complex and form the basis of their understanding of the cosmos and the way life should be lived. Armed with the song from a myth one can navigate through unknown country quite well.

Since Papua New Guineans and Australian Aborigines have the same origins it is not surprising that their myths are similar in purpose.

With regard to Engan mythology, the late Lawrence Kambao from Tsak valley had written about a culture hero whom he called "Tiri Akali Puio". I believe his account had some parallels with the Huli mythology.

As Philip Fitzpatrick mentioned, mythology has a purpose. It would be wrong to dismiss such narratives by saying "it is only a myth". These myths had a purpose and also may have contained some historical facts, e.g., place of tribal origin etc.

Betty, nice story. A comment on the book written by Damien Arabagali 'Huli book of secrets crept cheaply into the world' appeared in PNG Attitude on 15 November 2012. You might like to revisit the story.

We Hulis and Engans are brothers, you know, and similar stories abound here in Enga Province too especially a virgin giving birth to a super handsome being who opposed evil.

Many groups of people have messiah type myths. The comparisons could work the other way around. The Huli could claim that Christians have copied their 'true' origin stories.

Mythology has a purpose and that is to instruct people on how to behave and impart other useful knowledge to them.

Another very common myth world-wide concerns the travels of the Seven Sisters, usually represented by the stars in the Pleiades Constellation. There is one very faint star so the representation is often of six stars. The seventh is the wayward sister who always hangs back.

In Japan it is called subaru, hence the stars on the motor vehicle logo of the same name.

The Huli probably have a similar myth, Betty.

That aside, they are a fascinating people, different from most highland societies.

Thank you Keith Jackson and Friends for publishing my writing on your website. Seen my writing on your website just makes me want to write more. Thank you so much guys for motivate me. Can't wait to write.

Betty, I remember that Damien Arabagali wrote a thesis on this matter in 1990. He later published a book - in 2012.

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