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21 April 2019


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Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Phil for the second photograph with its interesting posers. I'll leave the analysis to you.

Paul Oates

The bloke in the middle looks like he's looking for 'Divine Inspiration'. Perhaps they were lost, Phil?

Philip Fitzpatrick

I think the Ialibu photograph was taken by Phillip Hazelton or someone he knew. Phillip posted it on the exkiap website as a kind of joke.

I've seen other photographs in the same vein. I remember one (or several) taken at Nomad River in which Craig McConaghy, Geoff Smith and someone else posed themselves with maps etc making out they were great explorers.

Not sure what the intent was but maybe a psychologist can explain.

Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Arthur for your tale and the other commenters for enlightening me as well as the readers.

Keith, thank you as well for publishing this narrative related from memory. It has now become clearer for everyone, with due respect and in memory of Mr Ben Probert and those who served with him in Tari.

Maybe a second edition would suit well this brief history. Mr Ben Probert and not Proberts and an Englishman kiap and not Australian (paragraph 6).

Thanks Ray. A photo has been added and corrections made to the original article - KJ

Arthur Williams

I was in Tari 84-85 when Ben Probert was OIC there. If you rang his office near 1600 a voice would answer with ‘Benny’s Woodyard!’ spoken in a delightful West of England twang.

If you didn’t recognise his voice you would think you had a wrong number and end the call I was not put off and would say, ‘Good afternoon Ben’ and we would then have a chat.

One day he badly injured himself and fellow expats wanted blood donors. I gave my blood-type to the guy doing the ring-around but was told mine and Ben’s was incompatible.

I asked “Why not get any local person to donate?” It was then that I learnt hepatitis was endemic in the valley and they were scared of making Ben’s condition worse.

One incident involving the police was when a local lad from the far side of the airstrip pickpocketed a bilum at the usual crowded market.

He ran like the proverbial bat chased by a couple of coppers around Huli traders and headed for the airstrip’s boundary fence.

Youth and agility on his side he cleared it in one stride like a Grand National winner and sped off across the runway to clear the fence on the other side.

Sadly the coppers were unable to repeat his jump and stood gasping for breath as the rascal stood taunting them with a two finger salute and what I guessed were some Huli swear words.

Like all places I worked in PNG I have some varying memories of each. The best side of a highland’s post was you had access to great veggies. Whereas the Gogodala was sacsac tasol! Yet with plentiful abus from glorious barramundi to crocodile and even deer.

Raymond Sigimet

Thank you Ross for the information.

Ross Wilkinson

Ben Probert was an Englishman who was a mature-age recruit in 1970 aged 40 years. He returned to England a number of years ago and died there in 2016 aged 86.

His obituary on the ex-kiap site stated he remained as a kiap for a number of years and then worked for mining companies until retiring.

Vincent Boama Atusa was appointed a Trainee Patrol Officer in February 1971 and spent his early years in the East Sepik District.

Raymond Sigimet

Phil, those who took over from the Australian administration after independence like Mathew, my father and others always express this nostalgia of the "taim bilong waitman".

They talk about the "taim bilong hamamas" then compare it to the present state of affairs in PNG, especially the breakdown in family and lack of respect from young people.

When they talk about their time working as public servants during the independence era, they praise the efficiency, work ethics and discipline they learned from the "waitman".

Concerning the kiap Proberts, Mathew gave the name Proberts but I initially suspected the name to be P. Roberts. Maybe, a reader can provide the correct information.

Ray Weber

I remember seeing an article about Probert (Tom?) being the last white kiap in Tari - aged and with white hair

Philip Fitzpatrick

An interesting article Ray.

It would be good to see more articles in the same vein with people like Mathew who were around in those early days. Not just policemen but other public servants too.

One question you should have asked Mathew was what he thought about the kiap system and whether it could have been continued on in the provinces.

I haven't heard of a kiap called Proberts but there were a few Roberts around in those days. Perhaps someone might remember who was there.

Paul Oates

To try and beat the avalanche of indignity, the servicemen pictured are actually not all Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

Those pictured (L to R) are Constable Temba from Suwetine village in the Kua valley of the Hube Census Division, Pindiu area, a visiting Hube local of the then Pacific Islands Regiment, a visiting Hube local in the Corrective Services and Constable Paulus from the Madang area.

They were photographed at the official opening of the Mindik Base Camp located in the Kua valley of the then Pindiu Patrol Post area.

Mindik was eventually expanded into a small outpost with a school and other services.

Thanks Paul, the caption has now been corrected - KJ

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