IT is not uncommon for Papua New Guinea’s historic photographs taken by explorers, kiaps or missionaries to list the names of the expatriates but not the names of the individual local people.
In many ways this is understandable, but it is also regrettable. It is understandable because the kiaps or missionaries may have been passing through an area and may not have known the people involved. Perhaps naming them did not seem to be important.
Perhaps, even if the name were asked for, it was difficult to pronounce or misspelt. In some cases the photographer did know the names of the individuals but did not write them down or pass on the knowledge.
But for the sake of history, and indeed out of respect for the people themselves, it is also regrettable that many of them were not identified and it would be good if an effort were made to do this.
Clearly, many years later, it may not be possible to achieve a high success rate in this endeavour. But there are still people alive who may be able to identify the individuals in photographs dating back even 60 or 70 years.