NORTHUMBRIA, UK - This photograph was taken at Minj in the Western Highlands early in 1972 and supports Phil Fitzpatrick’s view that good ‘bush policemen’ made their own special contribution to the development of rural Papua New Guinea.
It also contradicts a post-independence view, put forward by a number of opinion formers, that before 1975 many PNG policemen were self-serving individuals more interested in feathering their own nest than promoting social stability at village level.
The photograph shows armed clan warriors, who have decided to give up more than three months constant confrontation with a neighbouring village, on their way to a peace-making ceremony.
They are led, and this was no surprise to the kiaps who had organised the lull in hostilities, by a senior policeman (two stripes, probably a corporal) who lived close to the feuding communities.
Can anyone looking at this 47-year old photograph doubt his enthusiasm for what is about to take place?
His behaviour is active not passive, he has a front row position among clan leaders, he is part of the initiative – not a spectator - and he is waving his baton with all the eagerness and authority of a conductor leading an orchestra.
Some may say he should not have being taking part so directly.
However it would have been difficult to stop him.
He had nagged local kiaps incessantly in his efforts to encourage the restoration of village stability and must be credited with a positive contribution to the welcome halt in what had been regular and destructive fighting.