INUS - Devare Adventist High School is located in the Taonita Constituency at Inus in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The school shares political boundaries with Tinputz and Wakunai District.
It is the only Adventist high school that caters for the 23 Adventist primary schools in Bougainville. Unfortunately, not all the students who attend these primary schools secure a place at Devare. But the fortunate students who do make it come from various church backgrounds.
Apart from classroom learning, students play sport, do work duties and attend morning devotion and evening worship.
The students are assembled into six cultural groups according to the schools they come from: Buin, Kieta, Nagovis/Siwai/Torokina/Kunua/Kereaka, Wakunai, Taonita Teop Tinputz and Buka/Atolls
The anthology is the first of its kind for Devare Adventist High School and, in this article, I offer a sampling of the students’ writing.
The eagle woman
Long ago in the past there was an old woman who lived with her daughter. Their village was on a mountain called Mount Aravia. That mountain is in Suir in the Tinputz District.
The woman was very old and her clan was the eagle. Her daughter use to help her work in the garden.
One day they worked in the garden from morning till late in the afternoon. The mother then left her daughter in the garden and went to the nearby river.
She washed her body and rubbed it til her body turned white. She rubbed her body on a stone and sang very loudly.
Her daughter realised that something was happening at the river so she went to check.
The mother was busy singing and did not notice the daughter creeping up to her. The daughter was surprised to see a white colour on her mother’s skin.
The daughter shouted and ran back to the house. She was afraid of her mother. She couldn’t believe her mother, who was an old woman suddenly becoming young with white skin.
Her mother then changed her skin colour back to black. The old woman’s daughter was not very happy with her mother changing skin colour.
The last words the mother said were, “The eagle clan can become white if only my daughter is not afraid of me. The reason why I am black is because my daughter has rejected the colour I wanted so much.’’
How the big stone Wakapoi came to be
Long ago there was a village in Iamane area of Bana District called Keriau. Most of the village people there were subsistence farmers.
In the village lived an old woman. The old woman looked after a pig. It was kept inside a fence. The name of the pig was Wakapoi.
The pig used to eat the food in the gardens of the village people at night. During the day it went back outside the fence and slept for the whole day.
The pig continued to eat the food from the gardens eventually finishing it all. One day the villagers decided to hide and kill the pig that ate their garden food.
While they were watching, Wakapoi came through the fence and began to eat the food from the gardens.
The villagers got their spears and aimed them at the pig. The pig fell down dead. They left the pig where it was and went home to tell the owner of the pig.
When they returned to the spot where they had left the pig they found a big stone instead of the pig.
The village people named the stone Wakapoi. That was how the big stone came to be.
Today the stone is still there at Keriou.
How the lake appeared
There was village near the mountains. In the village lived grandfather, grandmother and their grandson.
One day, grandfather told his grandson to fetch water for drinking. The little boy carried a bamboo for fetching water and went to the creek.
When the boy arrived at the creek he saw a lot of girls from another village fetching water. They told the boy to wait until they had finished. The boy waited.
More girls arrived to fetch water and they continued to tell the boy to wait. The boy felt sad and he started to cry.
The boy’s tears fell into the bamboo and filled the bamboo. This continued till the afternoon.
The boy went home and told his grandparents what the girls have done to him. He showed them the bamboo of tears. His grandfather became angry.
“Go and stand at the side of the cave facing the sea and point at it.”
The little boy instead left the mountains and moved to the caves facing the sea. He pointed at the sea and the sea came crashing to the mountains. It destroyed the whole village.
The little boy with his grandparents also died with the villagers. The only survivors were two women who were out in their gardens.
The sea returned to the shore but a part of it settled on the mountain top forming a big lake. The lake is found on Mount Balbie where the village once was.
The origin of my clan
Long, long ago there lived four young girls. Their names were Basikang, Barapang, Bokoringu and Kuravang. When they were old enough to get married they married four handsome men.
The four women had children of their own. Although Baikang, Barapang and Bokoringu’s children were able to communicate well, Kuravang’s children could not. They were mute. They could only do signals and gestures.
One day Basikang, Bakoringu and Barapang’s family came up with a good plan. They invited Kuravang’s children to go gardening with them.
In the evening they went back home. Basikang and her husband collected different kinds of snakes and put them in their bag. Kuravang’s children did not know this.
After dinner that night, the children sat in a circle and told stories of the past. They were so busy telling stories that they did not see Basikang’s husband.
Basikang’s husband crept to the children and let loose the snakes in his bag. The snakes crawled to where the children were busy telling stories.
The children screamed and shouted at the top of their voices. They talked in loud voices cursing the snakes.
The other children noticed that while they were screaming and shouting, Kuranang’s children also did the same. They were actually screaming and talking like normal people.
From that day onwards, Kuranang’s children knew how to speak and they named them Karangponto in Kieta language meaning ‘they were scared, screamed and talked.’
So the Kuranang’s clan in Kieta was named after those children.
How children were born as lilies
There was once a terrible drought. The whole land was so dry that the people had nothing to drink. They became hungry because the drought was causing famine.
In a village there was a lovely girl. Because of the drought and famine, no one had come to ask her for her hand in marriage.
Every day the beautiful girl went to look for water. On this particular day she arrived at the muddy river. All of a sudden a fish swam to the surface and spoke to the girl.
“I will fill your bucket with clear water,” the girl was surprised but she willingly gave the talking fish her bucket and sure enough the fish did filled it with clear sparkling water.
The girl’s family was very happy. Every day for many days the fish did this good deed for the girl. The girl and her family recovered from the ill-effects of the terrible drought.
The girl soon fell in love with the fish. The fish was soft, gentle and kind. Afte several days the girl married the fish.
But the girl’s parents wanted to know where she was getting the fresh water. The girl answered, “Don’t ask me how I got the fresh water. Be happty that I have provided water to salve your thirst.”
The girl’s father was able to perform some types of magic. He transformed the girl’s younger brother into a flying insect. The tiny insect flew after the girl when she went to fetch water. The insect spied on the little girl by the muddy river.
The insect watched the girl embrace the fish. The insect flew very quickly home to report the incident to the parents. The parents were very angry to hear that their daughter had fallen in love with a fish.
The next day the parents refused to let the daughter fetch fresh water. Instead, the girl’s brothers went to the river and caught the fish.
“Here is your husband,” they said and threw the fish at their sister’s feet.
The girl knew that there were three ways to end suffering. The first way was with medicine. If that failed, there was patience. If patience failed, the last one was to commit suicide.
The girl chose the last decision. She went to the river and drowned herself.
As she was dying, she gave birth to many, many children. Those children were born as water lilies and they are still floating today on the rivers.
How Buka Passage came to be
There lived two brothers, Buka and Kokopau. They were very kind to each other. They lived in the jungle. Kokopau was older than Buka.
One day, Buka told his brother Kokopau that he wanted to go to the sea to get salt water to use as salt for food.
Early in the morning, Buka went to the nearby bush. He cut a long bamboo for fetching the salt water.
After cutting the bamboo he went home and ate his breakfast. Then he walked to the beach. When he arrived, he pushed his canoe into the sea and started to paddle.
While he was paddling he passed through a restricted area where people were told not to go. Before he knew anything, he was turned into a rock.
The bamboo he had cut started to grow on the rock. Then an island started to form.
His brother went looking for him. He went to the beach and saw the island.
He named the island Buka. Kokopau set up camp near the beach and has lived there ever since. Today, you can still see the two brothers facing each other across Buka Passage.
The woman who was transformed into a stone
SANDRA TONGI | A story from Nissan Island
Long, long ago there lived a couple in a small village. They had only one child. Their child was only one year old. The family lived happily together. Their village was situated some way from the sea.
One day the mother decided to go fishing and they both agreed that the father would take care of the child while the mother was away. While the mother was out fishing, the baby started crying. The father could not stop the child from crying. The child kept crying and this made the father angry.
He could not control his anger so he decided to kill the poor child, which he actually did. After murdering his own child, he cut the child into pieces then put everything in a big pot ready for cooking. When the pot was boiling, he ran away to the nearby bushes and hid there.
In the afternoon, the mother arrived and greeted her child calling out its name without knowing what had happened. There was no reply. She wondered why there was no sound at all in the house. The house was very quiet.
She went to the kitchen to store her fishing gears. There she saw the big pot on the fire place. She moved closer and carefully removed the lid of the pot.
Sadly she saw her child’s finger appear when the water bubbled up. She was shocked at what she saw. She wept bitterly and walked to a cliff.
The husband had been spying from the bush. He ran out from his hiding place to try to stop the woman from committing suicide. The man was too late in reaching his wife.
The woman jumped over the cliff and was killed. Later she was transformed into a stone.
Nowadays, people go and visit the place where she lies with her baskets by her side and tears in her eyes.
Patu the giant
There once lived a man named Patu. He lived in a valley near a river. The village people were angry with him because he often destroyed their gardens and burned their houses.
During the dry season, all the rivers dried up and the food in the gardens looked like dead grass. Early one morning, the village children got their empty containers and went to look for water. Patu was at his home asleep. The children found the river next to his house.
They were very happy when they saw the river. They quickly filled their containers then started to wash and play. The giant woke up when he heard the noise of laughter from the children. He shouted.
“You are making my river dirty.”
When the children heard him they felt scared and ran away. The giant walked slowly to the river but could not find them. He saw their foot prints and started to follow them. He found the children hiding behind a tree. He was so angry with the children that he chopped them up like firewood.
A few days later, the villagers realised that their children were missing. They sharpened their knives and prepared themselves for war. When they arrived in the bush, they saw the house of their enemy.
They walked quietly to the house. One of them went inside and killed Patu. They went home back home feeling excited because their enemy was dead.
The snake man
An old man named Peter Varesi lived near a small lake. He always chased the children who went to play near the lake.
One fine day the villagers decided to make a feast. In the first week of hunting they told the children to stay put in the village while they went hunting.
While the adults were hunting the old man came out of hiding. The children saw him and ran to the village chiefs meeting house.
“Hello grandchildren. What are you scared of?” the old man asked in a slight voice.
One brave child turned around to face him.
“We are scared of you because you are made up of two bodies. Your head is a human being while the other half of you is the body of the snake.”
“Don’t be afraid. I am your grandfather.”
The old man told them to search for lice on his head. While they were searching for lice the old man fell asleep. The children continued searching for lice while they made plans to kill him.
“Quick. Tie his hair around the coconut tree.” the brave boy said to his friends.
When the old man woke he realised that his hair was tied to a coconut tree. He started to pull until he removed the coconut tree and jumped with it into the lake.
Two weeks later the parents returned from their hunting trip. They noticed that something had happened in their absence.
“What’s been going on here?” they asked.
The children told their parents what happened. The parents were overjoyed. They made a big feast to celebrate. The children played happily that afternoon. In the night they sang songs and danced around with each other.
One month later, they saw a coconut tree growing up out of the water. The coconut tree bore fruit and the children enjoyed eating it.
The old man did not die. He is still living.
Danapoa the snake
Long ago there lived a big snake called Danapoa with her daughter Aveu. They lived beside the River Kakauparatai up in the mountains. Every morning Aveu used to warm herself in the sun.
One day a hunter called Kepoavu walked down the river and saw the woman sitting on a stone sun bathing.
He moved closer to hold the woman but the woman saw the man’s reflection in the water and jumped into the river.
The man kept coming back early in the morning to hold the woman but she would jump quickly into the river and swim to her mother.
One morning Kepoavu tried again. He moved closer to Aveu. Aveu saw his reflection and jumped into the river.
Kepoavu went back and collected some fungi that grew on decaying plants. He made a design on it. The next morning he left the design where Aveu sat to sunbathe.
Not long afterwards Aveu came to the river. She saw the design on the fungi and was studying it carefully. Kepoavu crept up to her and held onto her tightly. He then took her home as his wife.
The couple lived happily together. Later they had a baby boy. Kepoavu asked his wife to get her mother to help look after their child.
The couple would leave their child with their grandmother and go gardening. Every day they would cook food and leave it for their child to eat. However, when they came back the cooked food was always still there.
“What type of food does your mother feed our child? The food we cook in the mornings is always there when we come back from the gardens,” Kepoavu said to his wife.
The next day they went to the bush to collect some firewood. Kepoavu planned to spy on his mother in law so he left his wife behind with the bundle of firewood.
Kepoavu went back to the house. From his hiding place he could see that she was feeding their son with her own faeces.
The man got angry and could not control his anger. He took his knife and killed her. He cut her into small pieces and carried them to a small stream called Koukouvi. He threw the pieces in and went back home.
Aveu arrived home and saw only her son and her husband. She asked her husband about her mother and he told her that he had killed her.
“I killed your mother because she was feeding our baby with her faeces instead of the food that we prepared,” he said.
When Aveu heard this, she took her son with a bundle of kavivi (wild betelnut) and followed the stream where her mother’s body pieces had been thrown.
She followed the stream throwing the kavivi and crying out, AKO KOUKOUVI. She repeated the saying till the kavivi all sank to the bottom of the water. She knew her mother was there.
She held on to one kavivi and dug up an uriko (wild taro) to take home. She cooked the wild taro and fed her husband. Her husband ate it and felt his throat become itchy. He became angry at his wife but she gave him the kavivi to eat.
The kavivi was sweet so Kepoavu asked Aveu where she got the kavivi.
“I will show you where to get it,” Aveu told her husband.
“Okay,” her husband agreed.
The next day they both went to the stream where the kavivi had been thrown and grown into a tree.
“You climb up but don’t look back,” Aveu warned.
As Kepoavu climbed the kavivi tree, water began rising at his back and drowned him. The water was his mother in law who he had killed.
Aveu and her son turned into rocks. The big rock and the small rock are still there on the mountain.
Once upon a time there lived a man named Bekinatun who lived near the coast at Hanpan village (now called Ieta village) on Buka Island. Hanpan in the Halia language means “Big Community”.
One fine day before the sun had risen, Bekinatun decided to go fishing in the sea.
He prepared his fishing gear and set off to the beach. At the beach he got his canoe and paddled out to sea. He paddled and paddled until he reached his favourite spot.
There he got his fishing line, put bait on it and dropped it into the water. He waited but nothing happened. Suddenly he felt his fishing line move.
He pulled it out hoping to see a big fish. To his surprise, the fish had taken his bait and swum away. He put more bait on his line and let it down again.
Bekinatun waited patiently. The sun rose high up in the sky and was about to make its way down again. He counted his bait and realised that he had only a few left.
He decided to give it a last try. He put the bait carefully on his fishing line and threw it into the sea. An hour went past and still he felt nothing.
He had sacrificed the whole day to fish and yet he had caught nothing. The fisherman was about to doze off when he felt the fishing line move.
He carefully pulled the fishing line up. Bekinatun could not believe his eyes as a big tuna landed inside the canoe.
This catch lifted his spirit and he quickly put out bait for another try. Out came a red emperor.
Maybe this was his lucky hour. As the sun sank under the horizon he had caught enough fish of different sizes to feed a lot of people.
When it was getting late, Bekinatun packed his stuff and started paddling home. Many of his relatives were waiting on the seashore for him. When he arrived, he shared his fish with them and also with the community.
The people of Hanpan had a big feast to celebrate. They lit a fire and sang songs and danced around it with Bekinatun the fisherman.
A long time ago there lived an old woman by the name of Bakokora. She lived in the thick forest on a mountain called Denai at Koromira near Kieta. She ate lots of traditional food grown locally.
There was a village near the thick forest where Bakokora lived. Many people lived there, especially little children.
One morning the parents left their children to go to their gardens. When the parents went to their gardens, Bakokora crept out of her hiding place to visit the children.
She prepared some traditional food and brought it with her. When she came near the children she called, “Come my small children. Come sit down and eat the delicious meal that I have prepared.”
The children all rushed to eat because most of them were hungry. After feeding them, she left them.
Not long afterwards the parents arrived home. They have been working very hard in their gardens and most of them were very tired. They quickly prepared their evening meal. They thought their children were hungry.
When the food was cooked they called their children to eat. None of their children responded to their call and all the food was wasted.
The next day, the parents again went to their gardens. Again the old woman visited the little children bringing them more tasty food. The parents came back to feed their children and again their children refused to eat. This continued for a week.
One evening, the parents gathered together to discuss the matter. They wanted to find out why their children were refusing to eat the food being prepared for them. They wanted to find out who was feeding them.
The next morning, some parents pretended to go to the garden then made their way back to the village. Other parents went to hide in the nearby bushes.
While the parents were in hiding, they saw an old woman coming to the village calling, “Come my little children. Come and eat the delicious food that I have prepared for you.”
Seeing this, the parents could hardly control their anger. They ran towards the old woman shouting, “Go away with your food!”
The poor old woman was caught by surprise. She left all her clay pots and baskets of food and ran away. She made her way to the bottom of the hill and sat there. Looking back at where she had come from she heard the people talking and a rooster crowing. She left that area and went to Bakai Island.
She sat down but she could still see the village where the people had chased her. She left that place again and went to Tonolei Harbour. The old woman now lives in the thick pitpit bush around Tonolei Harbour.
The Katoiana bird
On Teop Island there was a village. In that village there was a particular house. In that house there was a mother and her three sons.
They lived happily together but the sad thing was that they did not have a father. Their father had died many years ago. The mother used to do all the work in order to support the family.
Over twenty years the three boys grew up to be handsome boys but they had never helped their mother. They just lazed about waiting for food to be brought to them.
One day the mother told the eldest son, “Please go to the creek and fetch water.”
The son looked outside the window and saw that the weather was dull. He said to this mother.
“Mother, I feel cold. I don’t want to go out of the house today.”
When his mother heard her elder son say this she shook her heard slowly.
The next day the mother wanted to cook but there was not enough firewood. She said to her second son, “Son, can you go outside and collect some firewood please?”
The second son went outside but had not collected anything when he returned. He went into the house saying, “My fingers are painful so I did not collect any firewood.”
For the second time, the mother shook her head slowly.
After some time there was shortage of food in the house.
“We are running out of food. Can you please go to town to buy some rice?” the mother asked her youngest son.
“Why go to town? It’s a long distance and the place is cold and windy. I don’t want to paddle across to the main land. Why can’t we drink tea this evening and forget about eating rice?”
The youngest son’s reply upset the mother very much. She cried and crawled outside the house. When the three brothers saw their mother crawling outside they thought that their mother was going to do something.
The boys waited to see what would happen. After waiting for what seemed to be like an hour, they went to see their mother. To their surprise they saw their mother lying on the sand.
They boys stared at their mother and tried to wake her up. Suddenly she turned into a bird and flew away.
As she was about to fly away, she looked at her sons with tears in her eyes.
“You looked amazed but from now on you have to look after yourself.”
The three sons followed the bird shouting, “Mum! Please come back to us.”
The bird took no notice of them and kept on flying.
Nowadays, on Teop Island there is a special bird called Katoiana. When it has young, it never looks after them. It leaves them on their own.
The elderly people still value that story and tell the children that at if they don’t listen to their mothers and don’t help them, their mother might turn into a bird and fly away.