ADELAIDE - I worked with Papua New Guinean kiaps Jack Karukuru and Cedric Tabua, both now deceased I think.
They were intelligent and capable men. Jack went on to become a departmental head but Cedric's ultimate fate is unknown to me.
I always thought that PNG kiaps had a really tough task.
They were being asked to join a colonial force that was designed to impose the rule of a foreign power upon their fellow citizens. There was, amongst some officers within the Department of District Administration, more than a hint of racism with which they had to contend.
Also, it was my impression that it was harder for them to win the confidence of the local people they were working with because they were not automatically covered by the mystical prestige accorded to white kiaps.
This ‘glamour', if I can call it that, was a function of history rather than a reflection of personal capability or charisma (although some of us fondly imagined otherwise).
So, unlike the white kiaps who were obviously outsiders, PNG kiaps could be seen as brothers. I think that this may have set up a different set of expectations about how they would behave and do their jobs, which could be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Sadly for PNG, the government did not persist with the kiap system, presumably believing it to be an anachronistic colonial relic.
This was, I think, true to some extent, but jettisoning an entire working administrative system left a gaping hole in the new country's public sector structure which does not seem to have been filled by any viable alternative.
Anyway, irrespective of what I may think, history has moved on and PNG has developed another way of doing business.
Whether that is a good thing or not is a matter of conjecture although the current state of affairs in rural and remote PNG suggests not.