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03 July 2017

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For the 1964 election, as I was on the Sepik Advisory Board, I was asked to lead the team with Bruce Jeans a government teacher at Aitape in the election patrol on the Aitape West Coast.

We were taken by a Gibbs Sepik Airways Norseman to Sissano Airstrip in the early morning and as soon as we landed we headed west to Serra - about a five hour walk.

When we arrived we were welcomed as celebrities.

We had two policemen and a line of carriers with us and they made sure the haus kiap was ready with firewood and water.

The Luluai & Tultul came to have a conference and assured us that a singsing would be put on the next evening in our honour.

This was the pattern all the way back to Aitape.

We set up shop at each main village - Sissano, Warapu,Arop, Malol & Yakoi. We had to stick with the schedule and it could have been done in a third of the time. So we had a never to be forgotten holiday with singsings & feast of pigs all the way.

All the people who couldn't write would just whisper what they had been told to say - 'Simogunmartin'. So the result was Frank Martin elected to Madang-Sepik Special and Simogun Pita to the Wewak-Aitape Open.

A sense of 'great privilege' lives on with a good many of that era and expedition.

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