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31 January 2017


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I read this item today about the Hoeys under the headline
'Tom & Salome visit Mougulu' ( dated 2015-08-28)

"On Thursday Andy normally goes towards Kiunga and Tari and back again. Another big day.

"Last Thursday, he picked up a missionary couple who were the original couple who walked into the Mougulu area and brought the gospel.

"They are now very elderly but are still persistently coming back and working with the Biami people in the southern highlands."

Tough pair. Phil, pass on my regards when you next see them.

The men we arrested in 1970 were actually Gebusi, who lived near the Biami and had been preyed upon by them for a long time. When the Gebusi were attacked by Biami on this occasion they managed to kill one of them. He was the guy the Gebusi ate.

They were acquitted on the grounds of custom by Justice Prentice.

A string of cases of cannibalism were heard in the Supreme Court after this case and Prentice's decision overruled.

Tom Hoey and his wife were living down the road from me in Hervey Bay but I haven't seen them for a while - must go check.

Mougulu was one of the trade stores I managed from Kawito in 1979-81 for Pasuwe Ltd set up by the APC Mission across Western, SHP provinces.

I had heard a few stories about the Biami and one day I flew up to check out my storeman Bernard Kuok and his running of our tiny rural store. Quite a few years later he would become MP for Middle Fly.

I was greeted by Tom & Salome Hoey who had been accepted by the Mission Board in 1968 to go to the Biami area.

They were based initially at Rumginae where the hospital and agricultural project had recently been opened by the mission Director George Sexton on January 24.

Tom then set off to reach Mougulu where he believed an airstrip could be constructed. After initial clearance of the chosen site a tractor was delivered to Nomad by MAF and then the Wycliffe Bible Translators helicoptered in the machine which had been broken down into smaller units for several trips to Mougulu.

Tom and his wife spent 40 years at their chosen place during which he and the local people have opened a further five airstrips; translated the Bible into the local tokples and baptised 6,000 people.

Phil, Tom recounted in an MAF 2012 letter how he had first met a man called Isilowa who with others was apparently on the run for eating two men.

This man eventually became a Christian and would become ECP’s first Head Pastor. Was he one of the guys you arrested in the early 1970s?

As I alighted from the Cessna I was soon surrounded by local men in customary apparel some with bones through their noses. A few started to jostle me and to pinch my exposed meaty arms while muttering in their language – obviously commenting on good fatty white meat - or so I imagined.

Even then right at the start of the 1980s my storeman told me that he and other workers at the station were scared of walking alone or even just in twos along the track to Nomad.

But much has happened since and possibly the biggest step into modernity came when in 2011 Digicel erected their first communications tower. At its inauguration Tom was able to speak to his son in Australia.

What memories must have flashed into his memory of his jungle walk from Rumginae in 1968 and the change in the society he was privileged to help into the digital age.

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