Volume 70 1961 > Volume 70, No. 2 > Shorter communications, by Colin Jack Hinton, R. C. Green, and C. J. Lynch, p 233-249
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SHORTER COMMUNICATIONS The Importance of Personal Acquaintance in the Identification of Island Discoveries
The Australian National University

I am somewhat doubtful whether Mr. Andrew Sharp's recent comments on the value of actual observation and personal knowledge in the identification of island discoveries 1 are a useful contribution to the methodology of the subject, and I should have thought that a total of fourteen identifications agreed upon between Sharp and Maude out of a possible twenty-four was neither “notable” nor a cause for “gratification”. A comparison of their two works 2 shows clearly that the differences in these identifications are anything but “minor”.

When Sharp writes—“I myself prefer the evidence of the Pacific Islands Pilot and detailed charts to personal observations of visits made”, he implies that Maude has not used this evidence. In point of fact Maude has used this evidence with as much facility and diligence as Sharp, but where it has proved inadequate, as occasionally it must, he has had recourse to his personal acquaintance with the islands concerned.

The Pacific Islands Pilot is by no means the detailed and exhaustive source which Sharp claims it to be. For the purpose for which it is primarily intended it is clearly an adequate publication, but it is surely self-evident that the Pacific Islands Pilot cannot contain all the information which a historian may require. It rarely gives detailed descriptions of individual islands; it provides few sketches of islands from different quarters and none from varying distances.

A considerable number of discoveries can certainly be identified with the aid of nothing more than the Pilot and a detailed chart. At the other extreme, personal acquaintance, additional to hydrographic and topographical aids, where the narrative is very vague, may be of little value. There are, however, many instances where personal acquaintance will compensate for an inadequate source or inadequate hydrographic and topographical data.

Sharp's claim that he arrived at the same identifications as G. C. Henderson 3 in relation to the Fiji group is no argument against the value of Henderson's personal observations. Perhaps in this particular instance the sources and data were sufficiently adequate and comprehensive to make a correct theoretical identification possible. But their correctness is confirmed by Henderson's personal observations, and it is on the strength of these observations alone that Henderson's work can be regarded as definitive and probably final.

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Carteret's “Nine Islands

Perhaps I can best illustrate my argument by taking an identification which Sharp himself has attempted 4 and, with those sources which he has cited and those aids which he regards as adequate, reconstructing the process of identification stage by stage. I refer to the discovery by Captain Philip Carteret in 1767 of “Nine Islands” in the Northern Solomons which Sharp has firmly identified as the Kilinailau Islands 5 using the account in Hawkesworth's “Voyages” 6 as his sole narrative source. 7

From this source we can derive the following relevant information. At some time on August 21st, or at the latest before 8 a.m. on the 22nd, 1767, Carteret left “Gower's Island” 8 and steered NW. to allow for a strong S. current which he feared might sweep him into the New Guinea coast. During the “night of the 24th” he fell in with nine islands, stretching NW. by W. and SE. by E. for fifteen leagues and bisected by 4° 35′ S. 154° 17′ E. (Greenwich). Carteret identified this group as the “Ohang Java” (Ontong Java) of Tasman and described it as comprising one island of “considerable extent”, “the other eight . . . scarcely better than rocks; . . . but though low and flat . . . well covered with wood” and abounding in “black and woolly-headed” inhabitants, some of whom approached the vessel in a canoe. Passing to the north of the group another island was encountered at 11 at night on the 24th, of considerable extent, flat, green, populated, and lying in 4° 50′ S., which Carteret named “Sir Charles Hardy's Island”, 9 and estimated to lie 15 leagues to the W. of the northernmost of the “Nine Islands”. At daybreak on “the next day, the 25th”, another large high island, rising in three considerable hills was sighted ten leagues to the S. by E. of “Hardy's Island”, which Carteret named “Winchelsea” or “Lord Anson's Island”. 10 At about 10 in the morning of the 26th another large high island was seen to the N. which Carteret identified as “the same that was discovered by Schouten, and called the island of St. John”, 11 and shortly afterwards “New Britain” 12 was sighted to the west.

Let us now attempt to identify the “Nine Islands” from the description provided, with the aid of the available “topographical and hydrographic information”, noting that we may expect this particular identification to be facilitated by the firm identification of islands in close proximity.

Latitude and Longitude

The latitude given runs to the N. of “Kilinailau”, “Tau'u” and “Ontong Java”, but cuts the S. portion of “Nukumanu”. 13 (Though Carteret's latitude positions are substantially correct we can initially assume some degree of error.) The longitude bisects the latitude to the S. of “Green Island” (Sir Charles Hardy's Island). As the longitude given for “Gower's - 235 Island” is in error by 1° 41′ 30″ 14 and the longitude for “Cape S. George” is in error by 32′, 15 Carteret's longitude for the “Nine Islands” should be provisionally corrected against these two known errors. 16 As far as latitude and longitude are concerned, “Kilinailau” and “Tau‘u” appear to be the more likely identications, with “Kilinailau” taking the lead, but on latitude alone “Nukumanu” has the strongest claim. “Ontong Java” seems to be ruled out.


If we now plot a NW. course from “Gower's Island” we can see that it would pass to the N. of Tau‘u. Carteret does not state whether the course was magnetic or true, so we are bound to plot alternative courses based on Carteret's “Table of Variations”. 17 We have no indication of the force of the southerly drift so that whilst we are justified in assuming that the vessel veered off course to the S. we cannot be certain whether the final true course followed was NW. 1/2 W., bringing Tau‘u on course, or NW. by W. 1/4 W., bringing Kilinailau on course. Even if the force of the current was known we would still require to know whether the original course was true or magnetic. In order to sight Ontong Java or Nukumanu, Carteret would have had to follow a true course of N. by W. 3/4 W. or N. by W. 1/2 W. respectively, both of which, in view of his intended course and the drift, seem unlikely. (See Map 1.) On the evidence of course sailed Tau‘u and Kilinailau are equally possible identifications.

Sailing Time

It appears that Carteret left “Gower's Island” some time before 8 in the morning of the 22nd, probably on the 21st, 18 that he sighted the “Nine Islands” during the night of the 24th, and that “Sir Charles Hardy's Island” was discovered at “eleven o'clock at night” on the 24th. Whether by “the night of . . . the 24th” Carteret means the night between the 23rd and 24th, or the night between the 24th and 25th is by no means clear. The relative claims of Tau‘u and Kilinailau are clearly influenced by this factor. If the “Nine Islands” and “Sir Charles Hardy's Island” were sighted during the same night then their obvious proximity seems to indicate that the former was Kilinailau, though Tau‘u is not ruled out entirely. On the other hand, if the “Nine Islands” were sighted on the night of the 23rd-24th, then the sailing time seems to point to Tau‘u. That Carteret is in fact speaking of the night of the 23rd-24th is perhaps indicated by his description of the “Nine Islands” and their inhabitants, a description which seems only likely to have been made as a result of daylight observation, that is, on the 24th, the group having been sighted during the preceding night and the vessel having been hove to or stood off to await daylight. In this case the “Nine Islands” would almost certainly appear to be Tau‘u. The sailing time seems finally to rule out the possible identification of Ontong Java or Nukumanu.

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Relative Positions of Islands

Carteret describes “Hardy's Island” as lying 15 leagues to the west of the northernmost of the “Nine Islands”. This clearly underestimated distance between “Hardy's Island”—“Winchelsea” and “Hardy's Island”—“Nine Islands” is substantially correct. The underestimate of distance between the two latter places can be attributed to the SW. current, which Carteret notes in his account, and to his W. by S. course.

If the “Nine Islands” are to be identified with Tau'u then it seems strange that Kilinailau was not sighted in passage to “Hardy's Island”, particularly as Carteret's course from the “Nine Islands” was W. by S. It is of course possible that “Kilinailau” was passed during the night of the 24th, or in bad visibility during the day. Carteret clearly states that he passed to the N. of the “Nine Islands”. He does not however say how far to the N. It would be quite feasible for him to have passed well to the N., in order to avoid the danger of being swept under the New Guinea coast, the consideration which had induced him to follow a NW. course from “Gower's Island”, and for him to have passed too far to the N. of Kilinailau to sight it, the SW. current bringing him S. towards “Hardy's Island” and increasing his speed beyond his estimation.

Carteret's Chart

In the Hawkesworth account 19 appears a chart of Carteret's discoveries. This shows the “Nine Islands” in a position relatively approximate to that of Kilinailau, but adds little to what can be deduced from the account. It shows moreover a total of 12 islands, 9 of which are grouped together under the name “The 9 Isles”, not one of which is particularly larger than the others, and 3 others lying to the SE., one of which is by far the largest of the 12. If anything the chart adds to the confusion.


Having reduced the number of possible identifications to two we can now consider the description of the “Nine Islands” against the information provided in the Pacific Islands Pilot. 20 Tau'u is described as consisting “of about 20 low coral islets, covered with coconut palms situated on an atoll reef. Most of the islets are close together on the eastern side of the lagoon, and there is an isolated one named Nuugurigia on the western side; the southernmost islet named Tau'u, is the largest. ‘Kilinailau’ consists of six islands lying on a coral atoll, Piuli, Yeharnu, Yovo and Irinalan islands are situated on the eastern side of the reef: Yeccla, on which there are some trees, and Jaugain, . . . lie on the western side. All the islands are planted with coconut palms.” 21

Using this information in conjunction with any additional information which can be derived from Admiralty Charts 214 22 it is immediately apparent that neither Tau'u nor Kilinailau can be conclusively identified from Carteret's description. In neither case can we immediately recognise a group of 9 islands, one conspicuously larger than the others, all low and flat and - 238 covered with trees, nor for that matter can we identify either group as stretching NW. by W. and SE. by E. 23

In the case of Tau'u one island is conspicuously larger than the others and it is perfectly feasible that the remaining islands may, under certain conditions of tide and visibility, from a particular angle and from a certain distance, appear as eight islands. Similarly, when Carteret gives the lie of the islands he may be referring to the atoll as a whole and, since it is roughly circular, it may, when approached on a particular course, have the appearance of lying NW. by W. and SE. by E.

In the case of Kilinailau, where the islands lie in two pairs NE. and SE., and singly to the W. and NW., it is more difficult to conceive the group as appearing as nine islands. We cannot include the inevitable coral boulders and sand spits for Carteret clearly describes all the islands as bearing trees. It is possible that seen from the low level of a sloop's deck, or at some distance even from the masthead, the six islands may appear as more. The fact that one island appeared conspicuously larger than the others may be explained if the vessel passed fairly close to one of them, giving it a greater impression of size.

Carteret's estimate of 15 leagues for the size of the group is not very useful information, for estimates of size, in the majority of discovery narratives, are notoriously inaccurate. The presence of native canoes in the vicinity of Carteret's ship is no indication of the distance of the vessel from the islands for the inhabitants of these islands will venture out for considerable distances. The description of the inhabitants themselves is not of any value either, for the inhabitants of Tau'u and Kilinailau today are of mixed and undated origins and either group may have fitted Carteret's description in 1767. The description of the natives would however have been valuable had the Polynesian islands of Nukumanu or Ontong Java been possible identifications, since Carteret's description of them as “black and woolly-headed” can probably be taken as emphasising their difference from the Polynesians with whom Carteret had previously had contact.


Taking all the evidence together it is quite clear that no historian would be justified in this instance in making a firm identification. He cannot say, as Sharp has done, that “Carteret ran parallel with the main Solomon Islands without being aware of them until he encountered the Kilinailau Islands (Nine Islands) on 24 August, 1761. They are an atoll with six islands, some coral rocks and sand-keys.” In the context in which it is produced one can have no quarrel with the brevity of the statement, but one is entitled to protest strongly against the finality of the judgment. In the circumstances the most that the historian can say is that the evidence is inconclusive, and that, whilst the evidence seems to favour Kilinailau, the inadequacies of the narrative make positive identification impossible without the aid of personal knowledge.

Clearly in such circumstances a firm identification can only come from one who has followed Carteret's route from Gower's Island towards Tau'u and Kilinailau, and who has examined both groups from different directions, at different distances and under varying conditions of light, tide and visibility. It is possible that given this reconstruction the observer may discover that one group has the appearance which Carteret described. If he should find that both groups fit the description no one will be the loser.

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When Maude states that “detailed personal acquaintance . . . is an essential prerequisite to accurate identification” he is perhaps over-stating his argument. Personal acquaintance is not essential to all accurate identifications, but it is essential to accurate and final identification in the sort of situation which I have outlined.

  • ADMIRALTY, 1946. Pacific Islands Pilot. Vol. 1 and supplements.
  • ADMIRALTY, 1957. Chart 214. South Pacific Ocean. Solomon Islands (Northern Portion). Amended to 1960. London, Admiralty, Hydrographic Office.
  • HAWKESWORTH, J., 1773. Voyages. Volume I. London, Strahan & Cadell.
  • HENDERSON, G. C., 1933. The Discoverers of the Fiji Islands. London, Murray.
  • MAUDE, H. E., 1959. “Spanish Discoveries in the Central Pacific.” Journal of the Polynesian Society, 68:285-326.
  • SHARP, A., 1960a. The Discovery of the Pacific Islands. Oxford, O.U.P.
  • — — 1960b. “Early Spanish Discoveries in the Pacific.” Journal of the Polynesian Society, 69:89-91.
A Simple Matrix-Index for Working Bibliographies, Site Surveys, or Small Artefact Collections


One difficulty with a file of cards, whether for bibliography, sites or artefacts, is the development of an adequate index for finding the specific card or document that contains the desired information. Simple indexing by primary and secondary subject categories usually means searching through a majority of cards for items not classified under these headings and constant indecision as to the category under which any card should be filed. More complex cross-indexing usually means time consuming reduplication of cards, one for each category under which it is to be filed. Such cross-indexing too often is a long, drawn out process without sufficient reward. What I wish to describe in the paragraphs that follow is one among a group of related systems which overcome these problems. Unlike its more expensive and complicated relatives, this system is simple and inexpensive both in materials and time. The description is of the system as applied to a working bibliography, but its principles may be applied to a variety of situations.

For a scholar or teacher one of today's problems is keeping up with the literature on those subjects in which he has an interest or teaches. An even greater problem is finding again among the miriad publications that he has read or used in research, those which bear on a particular aspect of his current research. Bibliographies by subject matter, area, and author are one solution, but these generally do not cover the more recent literature. Indexes, both of books and periodicals, are another solution, but here the classification of subject matter may be too broad and the task of searching through numerous journals slow work, especially when the subject is indexed under various terms or not at all. Each scholar has his own personal solution to these problems, but they usually result in some form of working bibliography. The system described below is merely one method of rapidly cross-indexing that bibliography, so that various combinations of subjects will give the desired references.

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While reviewing data-processing and information-retrieval systems developed by major commercial companies to handle similar but far more complex problems, I found, to my surprise, a system employed by a major company that is so simple it may truly be described as a “do-it-yourself” project within the range of anyone who has the interest and sufficient pocket money to purchase several hundred 3″ by 5″ file cards. In a technical language the system may be described as an open-ended matrix-index of a very unsophisticated variety. The inventors, Dr. Mortimer Taube and his staff at Documentation Incorporated, call it Uniterm.

The method as it is applied to index the reports of the Research and Development Division of the Humble Oil and Refining Company is described by Zerwekh. 24 I have applied the principles to my own working file of bibliography cards for the Pacific area, especially Polynesia and its archaeology. In Table 1 is a list of the major categories, and indication of the subjects under which each book or article is indexed.

TABLE 1 25
  • Theory:
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Contact, Inter-island connections, Migrations
  • Linguistic
  • Stylistic
  • Voyaging, Rafting, Purposeful and accidental
  • Type of Material or Analysis Presented:
  • Bibliographic
  • Distribution study
  • Ethnography, Ethnology
  • Excavated materials
  • Museum or Private collections
  • Island Group or Areal Location:
  • Hawaii
  • Polynesia
  • New Zealand
  • Ecological:
  • Geography
  • Climate change, ecological changes, Pleistocene and recent
  • Geological, ash falls, rock sources, soils
  • Midden composition
  • Technical:
  • Carbon-14
  • Principles of Classification
  • Field Techniques
  • Aerial Photography
  • Artefacts:
  • Adzes
  • Anchors
  • Statues, Images, Tiki
  • Simple, One-piece, or Bait Hooks
  • Lure Hooks
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  • Structures:
  • Burial structures, tombs, cairns, Caves, Burials
  • House Site, Living House, Dwelling, Household
  • Pavement, Paepae
  • Activities:
  • Artistic Carving Pictographs, Art
  • Cooking, Fireplaces, ovens
  • Fishing
  • Social Organization:
  • Family, Biological, Simple, Extended
  • Lineages, tribes, sibs

As the years go by the list will no doubt see considerable modification and expansion. Obviously for those with other interests or different subjects, the list will vary immensely. In anthropology for example my interest has led me to index extensively for references to artefacts found in Polynesian sites and to use much broader terms to cover the range of social and cultural activities, while the reverse would apply for an ethnologist for the same area. The extent and detail of the list is largely a matter of personal interest, although care has to be exercised not to create too long or detailed an index. Fortunately, because the system is open-ended, more detailed breakdowns of old subjects, or entry of a new one is possible at any time with a minimum of effort. The general principles underlying the system remain the same regardless of the subject or objects to be indexed.


The development of an index is the first and most important step. It is also the most difficult. One method is to take a small group of indexed monographs centring on the major subjects of your personal interest, and from these develop a series of general terms as a preliminary index. Next read through a group of articles assembled either in connection with your present research or among those new periodicals that you normally read, checking off against the preliminary list those subjects discussed and adding new ones that do not appear but are of definite interest.

Next with file cards three by five inches or larger, rule off or have printed cards with a space at the top, and ten numbered columns as in Figure 1. Assign to the top of each card one term or cluster of closely related terms from your index. File these in alphabetical groups under a series of major categories.

The final step is to gather together your old bibliography cards or begin with a new set. Each card is assigned a number in numerical order as it is processed and filed in order of this number, but not alphabetically as is the usual manner. The number of the bibliography card is entered in the appropriate column on all those subject index cards which receive significant mention in the report. Significance in this case, as in so many, is determined by a variety of factors and subject to individual interpretation. Note that the numbers are placed in the columns according to the unit digits (Fig. 1).

Searching and retrieval of the pertinent references is now a relatively simple process. Select, for instance the subjects New Zealand, Simple or bait fishhooks, Excavated materials. By removing these three cards from the files and searching by columns for numbers common to all three (Fig. 1), it is possible to obtain the numbers of bibliography cards with all three items. Removing the bibliography cards from the file, they can now be arranged alphabetically by authors. Your basic bibliography for the problem has been assembled within minutes. By varying the combinations bibliographies for numerous other subjects can be assembled, or with a single card all those references to a single subject like Simple or bait fishhooks can be found.

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The major problem is, of course, to obtain sufficient consistency in terminology to insure that reports on closely related subjects are not scattered throughout the index. Broad terms, or clusters of closely related terms are better than specific items whenever possible. Only when there is an intense interest in the precise nature of a subject, such as descriptive types of artefacts in the case of the archaeologist, are narrow and detailed indexes useful.

Related to this problem is the addition of new terms. Because the system is open-ended, new terms can be added at any time, but all reports previously indexed will have to be checked for this item. In practise this problem is not as great as it might seem. For instance wooden paddles were at first not indexed separately, but included under Sailing, rafts and canoes. Later I became interested in canoe paddles and established a separate category for them. Guided by the numbers on the subject cards dealing with Sailing, these books were quickly searched while I was tracking down new specific references to paddles. The number for both the new and old cards were then entered on the card.

False references occasionally occur. In an article discussing bait fishhooks from Hawaii for instance, there may be no references to such hooks from New Zealand. However, in the same article both New Zealand and Hawaiian lures are discussed. Both the cards from Hawaii and New Zealand and those for Simple or Bait hooks, and for Lure Hooks receive this number and a combination of New Zealand and Bait hooks would show that these are discussed in the article although in reality they are not. The relative infrequency of such results, however, plus the general ease in finding the desired references far exceed in value the occasional false combinations that occur.


The Uniterm system overcomes many of the major difficulties inherent in most hierarchical classifications of items by subject. By combination a large number of subject categories can be formed from a limited number of - 243 terms. Moreover, unlike many punch card systems it requires no specially printed cards or complex system of coding. It is both simple and inexpensive. Finally the system is adaptable to a wide range of interests and capable of expansion in any direction with changes of interest. Thus for the personal bibliography of a research scholar it seems immensely practicable since its inherent disadvantages will not appear in the small number of documents that will normally compose his collection.

By extension of the same principles other files of items may similarly be indexed to aid in their analysis. In a file of cards describing all the sites from a particular area for example, the site form becomes the bibliography card or document which receives a number, preferably that of the site. The number is then entered on subject cards listing the features of the site, such as ditch, bank, pits, associated artefacts, and location on hill, swamp, or flatland. In the same way as with the bibliography subject index, it is possible to quickly list all the sites with any particular combination of features or all of those sites containing a single feature. It is even possible to carry out a primitive matrix analysis of patterning among the various features. Similar treatment of a file of artefacts is also possible. In such a system the number stands for the artefact, and the subject index is used to give its location within the site, its descriptive type, and various features exhibited by the specimen. For small groups of sites or collections such a system can be immensely helpful and time saving in analysis; for larger collections, however, a more sophisticated punch-card system is necessary.

A New Constitution for Papua and New Guinea

If the winds of change blew across Africa in 1960, at least a zephyr touched Australia's Territory of Papua and New Guinea, with the Australian Government's decision to reform the political constitution of that Territory.

Constitution of the Legislative Council

The first and most spectacular change was a change in the constitution and manner of election of the Legislative Council. Going further in the direction of increased representation than even the most sanguine Territorian had hoped, the Commonwealth of Australia amended the Papua and New Guinea Act: firstly, to increase the elected membership of the Council from three to twelve; secondly, to increase the nominated non-official membership from nine to ten (abolishing the former specifically sectional representation of Missions, natives and “others”—generally accepted as being primary industry, commerce and mining—in favour of a provision that not less than five must be natives); and thirdly to decrease the official membership from sixteen to fourteen, the Administrator remaining, as before, the President. At the same time, it was specifically provided that, of the twelve elected members, during an interim period six should be native members.

The most obvious result of the changed constitution is that the Administration, which has had previously an absolute majority (excluding the Administrator) of sixteen to twelve, is now in the minority by fourteen to twenty-two. The implications of this move are clear—there can be no more talk of the Government steam-rolling legislation through the Council, and politics as distinct from administration will come to dominate the scene.

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In fact, the Administration, in order to govern, now needs the support of at least five non-officials (if we ignore the President's deliberative and casting votes—although these were used on one occasion in order to get a measure through the Council), who can only be relied upon, if at all, to come from the nominated group. In this regard, the effect of a number of official statements made in the Commonwealth Parliament is interesting. It was announced that the Administrator would be instructed to use his power of nomination so as to ensure that, of the nominated non-officials: two will be natives “who can speak for those people in backward areas who cannot take part in any system of election at this stage”; “some” are to be “advanced leaders of the native people who may be debarred from becoming candidates for election because they are in Administration employment”; and finally, two are to be appointed from the Christian Missions in the Territory, who are intended to be “voices that will be raised for sections of the population whom Missions can claim to know more closely and understand more clearly than others”.

Whatever else happens, it is fairly clear that the Government's freedom of action to ensure its majority by careful selection of nominated non-officials has been seriously reduced by the announcement of these “quasi-representative” positions. The fact is that from now on it will not be enough for the Government to be sure that its actions are right and that they will be proved right in the long run, but it will have to persuade people in the short run that they are in fact right.

However, it should be remembered that the Commonwealth Government still retains some controls over the passage of legislation in the Legislative Council. The first is that, to become law, an Ordinance must after being passed by the Legislative Council be assented to either by the Administrator or by the Governor-General (that is to say, by the Commonwealth Government), and even after the Administrator's assent is given an Ordinance can still be disallowed by the Governor-General within six months. These powers are far from merely formal—in the course of the “old” Legislative Council's nine years about eighteen Ordinances have either had assent refused or been disallowed in whole or in part—the last being in September, 1960. But this course, which is already unpopular, could become political dynamite in the future.

The other control is the reserve power of legislation possessed by the Commonwealth Parliament, which can, of course, legislate for the Territory on any matter, as it has done with the Papua and New Guinea Act. Policy appears to have been that where uniform legislation in the Commonwealth and in the Territory is desired, the Territory follows the Commonwealth legislation with its own Ordinance on the same lines, and it will be interesting to see whether the new situation will mean increased direct intervention by the Parliament in Territory affairs.

That deals with the composition of the Legislative Council, and we have now to look briefly at its mode of election.

Election of the Legislative Council

In the “old” Council, the three elected members were elected by enrolled voters, the main qualifications for enrolment being that one was neither a native nor an alien. In the “new” Council, six of the elected members are elected in the same way as before, but the other six are to be elected by natives. Incidentally, the Act provides for this as an interim position “until a date to be fixed by or under an Ordinance as the date on and after which natives are eligible to be enrolled as electors subject to the same conditions - 245 as apply to other persons”—in other words, the future of the common roll is in the hands of the Council itself.

The Act also provides that in this interim period an Ordinance may provide for “a system of election under which the natives who vote at the election are themselves elected or chosen by natives”—i.e., for indirect elections—and this provision has been implemented. In summary, the indirect system adopted involves, firstly, the election by members of each Native Local Government Council in the electorate of representatives who assemble on the polling day in an electoral college and vote, by secret ballot, for the native member for the electorate. In this way, some 300,000 natives have an indirect franchise, but it should be noted that the Native Local Government Council elections themselves are not in any way geared to the Legislative Council elections.

In addition, however, there is provision for the Administrator to proclaim “advanced groups” of natives outside Local Government Council areas to be “Electoral Groups”, who also have the right to send representatives to the electoral colleges. In all, 33 Electoral Groups were declared, covering over 200,000 persons. By way of contrast with the Native Local Government Council representatives (who are elected by the Councillors, so that their final election is two stages removed from the people), Electoral Group representatives are chosen at special meetings called for the purpose. When selected, the Electoral Group representatives join the Native Local Government Council representatives in the electoral college to elect a candidate.

While the linking of the franchise for the Legislative Council primarily with Native Local Government Councils (it might be noted in passing that the “dissident” Raluana-Navuneram-Duke of York Islands group was not included in an Electoral Group, in spite of a protest by a local Missionary, Rev. Wesley Luton) has interesting implications both for Local and for Central Government, this is hardly the time to go into them. However, what should be noted is that now approximately 500,000 natives, or 25% of the population of the Territory, have a franchise in one form or another.

For the record, the number of representatives who voted in the electoral colleges at the first election, and the number of candidates, were as follows:

Electorate   Representatives   Candidates
  N.L.G.C. Groups Total  
Eastern Papua 40 26 23 63* 11
Western Papua 31 24 55 13
Highlands 28 45 73 40
N.G. Coastal 41 22 63 7
N.G. Islands 30 21 51 25
New Britain 49 9 58 12
Totals 219 144 363 108

The exact significance of the heavy list of candidates (particularly in the Highlands, where 38 candidates came from the Eastern Highlands District and only 2 from the Western Highlands, although in the final voting 3 candidates polled between them 54 of the votes) is still not clear, but it certainly seems to reveal a considerable degree of interest, coupled with a considerable ignorance of the mechanics of politics. However, this - 246 must be left for separate analysis, although there is an interesting comparison to be drawn with the non-native electorates, where three candidates were unopposed, and about 40% of those eligible to enroll actually did so.

The Administrator's Council

A further major constitutional change was effected by the abolition of the Executive Council (totally official) and the creation of the Administrator's Council (the Administrator, three non-official members of the Legislative Council of whom two must be elected members, and three official members of the Legislative Council) in its stead.

Again, the possible implications of this change are wide, and this is hardly the place to discuss them. However, a few salient points are worth recording.

The first is the entry into the Administrator's top advisory body of non-officials, for the first time since before the last war, when the Executive Councils of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea each had one non-official member. Not only are non-officials on the Administrator's Council, but, if we leave out of account the position of the Administrator, they are on equal terms with the officials.

Secondly, membership of the Legislative Council is a condition precedent to membership of the Administrator's Council, which has not to date been the case. This applies both to officials and to non-officials, but the Papua and New Guinea Act does not go as far as the pre-War Papua Act and New Guinea Act in providing that the non-officials shall be chosen not only from but also by the non-officials in the Legislative Council.

Thirdly, the Administrator himself is a member of his Council, and does not merely preside over it, as in the case of the Executive Council. In the case of a direct official v. non-official clash, he also has the deciding vote.

Fourthly, members of the Administrator's Council are appointed by the Minister for Territories himself; and not by the Governor-General.

Fifthly, where the Administrator refuses or fails to take the advice of his Council, he must report his reasons to the Legislative Council and not, as with the Executive Council, to the Minister. It might also be noted that whereas it was the Papua and New Guinea Act itself which provided that the Administrator was not bound by a decision of the Executive Council, in the case of the Administrator's Council it is an Ordinance of the Legislative Council which so provides—in other words, the Legislative Council now has, subject to assent, the power to bind the Administrator by the decisions of his Council.

It is clear that the Administrator's Council is rather a political body with administrative functions than an administrative body with political implications as was the Executive Council, in which 10 of the 14 Departments of the Administration were represented. This political role of the new Administrator's Council is emphasized by the fact that, as stated in the Commonwealth Parliament, at least one of the non-officials will be a native.

Finally, to date there has been no indication that the statutory functions of the Administrator's Council will be markedly different from those of the Executive Council (which consisted mainly of the making of Regulations), but just how far it will go in the non-statutory, or general advisory, field can only be seen as the situation works itself out in practice. This, of course, depends largely on the Administrator himself, who alone can submit matters to his Council, although if he refuses so to do when called upon by a member, he must report his reasons to the Legislative Council (with the Executive Council, he had to report to the Minister).

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The Public Works Committee of the Legislative Council

The last development to which I want to refer may not appear on the face of it to be an important constitutional one. It is the creation, by Ordinance, of a Public Works Committee of the Legislative Council, the function of which is to consider and report to the Legislative Council on certain public works, mainly those estimated to cost more than £100,000. The Council then has a power to veto subject to certain comparatively minor controls. The Committee consists of three official and three non-official members of the Legislative Council, with a Chairman appointed by the Council. The constitution, power and functions of the Committee are essentially the same as those of the influential Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works of the Commonwealth of Australia, and through it the Legislative Council, and in particular the non-official members, will have a greatly increased power of supervision and control of Government policy and particularly Government expenditure.

One further point is worth stressing, which is that for the first time the legislative Council has an organ basically akin to those of fully mature and responsible legislatures, and in particular that organ has powers of compelling, and if necessary apprehending, witnesses—powers which to date not even the Legislative Council itself possesses.


We have seen, then, the radical changes made in 1960 to the constitution of the Territory, involving mainly the widening of the franchise and the increased status and powers (and correlative responsibilities) of the Legislative Council and especially the non-official segment. But these changes, important though they be, are only institutional ones: the real political development of the Territory depends on the persons who will have to work with or through the new institutions—on Ministers, Administrators, officials and non-officials and on the people of the Territory generally. As Sir Ivor Jennings remarked in referring to the drafting of constitutions for Ceylon: “the constitutional lawyer can provide suitable machinery once he understands the nature of the problem: but that machinery consists of men and women acting together for a common end. It is sometimes possible to say that the machine is too badly designed to achieve its purpose. More often defects appear because of the deficiencies in the people who form the machine.”

Finally, it is important to remember that the present is designedly an interim constitution. It will be interesting, and for those of us who live in the Territory vital, to observe how far and how quickly the Territory develops in the next few years, along the lines of the common roll, the universal franchise, direct elections and the evolution of a viable and stable party system. To a large extent those matters have deliberately been left by the Commonwealth Parliament to the Territory Legislative Council itself.

The South Pacific Commission's Urbanization Advisory Committee

In 1959 the South Pacific Commission agreed to set up a committee to advise it concerning proposed research in the region into problems of urbanization. This Urbanization Advisory Committee has now been constituted as under: - 248

Convenor: Dr. Alexander Spoehr, Director of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu. Members: Dr. Horace Belshaw, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Wellington, New Zealand; Professor J. W. Davidson, Dean of the Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra; Professor J. Guiart, Professor of History of Oceanic Religions, Sorbonne, Paris; Professor Douglas Oliver, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Mr. John Rennie, C.M.G., O.B.E., British Resident Commissioner, New Hebrides; Dr. W. Norman-Taylor, Public Health Officer, South Pacific Commission; Dr. Richard Seddon, Executive Officer for Social Development, South Pacific Commission.

It is now planned to have the first meeting of the Committee in Honolulu immediately following the Tenth Pacific Science Congress to take advantage of a wide range of interested disciplines, particularly in the field of health, by inviting additional persons from among those in attendance at the Congress to assist the Committee.

The following individuals will be invited to participate as consultants:

Dr. Emile Massal, Director, Institut de Recherches Médicales, Papeete, Tahiti. Dr. Massal has had an outstanding career in all phases of public health in the Pacific, having been inter alia Executive Officer for Health of the South Pacific Commission for 9 years. Dr. Ira Hiscock, Dean Emeritus of the Yale School of Public Health and Consultant on Public Health problems in the Pacific to the China Medical Board. Dr. Eric Lindeman, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lindeman is an outstanding authority on the mental health problems of urbanization. Dr. Irene Taeuber, Office of Population Research, Princeton University. Dr. Taeuber is known for her outstanding demographic studies in the Pacific area as well as in other parts of the world. Professor W. D. Borrie, of the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Professor Borrie directs a programme of demographic research centred on many of the territories of the area under study. Dr. L. Leigh Pownall, Department of Geography, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Dr. Pownall is an authority on the geographic aspects of urbaniaztion in all parts of the Pacific and will be convening a special Symposium on the subject at the Tenth Pacific Science Congress. Dr. Arthur S. Osborne, Division of International Health, Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington.

The principal terms of reference for the first meeting of the Urbanization Advisory Committee will be:

(a) To review the present state of work in this field in the South Pacific.

It should be noted that during the past 18 months a number of field projects have been started.

In Papeete, Tahiti, anthropological studies of the changes in cultural patterns of the population of that town in relation to its tributory villages are under way or recently completed.

At Nouméa in New Caledonia and at Rabaul and Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, studies are under way to obtain basic descriptive data. It is anticipated that the results of these studies will be available for examination, together with published work, essentially in the fields of demography, public health and geography.

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(b) To develop a series of promising problems for field investigation.

The content will be to determine problems for field investigations, the solutions of which are essential for the understanding of urbanization problems in the Pacific and to provide a base for planning by the 18 territorial administrations in the Commission's area. It is anticipated that the answers to these problems will have worldwide application. Among the more outstanding problems being considered for the agenda of the Meeting are:

  • 1. The nature of migration into port centres;
  • 2. Mental health problems particularly in primitive and peasant peoples resulting from the shift from a subsistence to a cash economy, the severance of kinship and village ties, and the exposure to new cultural orientations in the towns;
  • 3. Changing pattern of disease incidence including nutritional deficiency diseases;
  • 4. The relationship of geographical and physical sprawl to disease particularly those due to environmental and ecological factors;
  • 5. Social disorganization and reorganization in terms of the kinds of stresses placed on individuals.

(c) To recommend to the Commission an overall project plan that would provide a framework within which specific research studies, to be supported by the Commission or other organizations, would fit.

It is intended that a fully documented report will be prepared by the Committee for submission to the South Pacific Commission. It will then be distributed to research organizations, foundations and territorial administrations, the metropolitan governments involved and the specialized agencies of the United Nations (UNESCO, WHO, FAO, ILO), many of which have already indicated interest in the furthering of necessary research.

The essential purpose of the Meeting is to focus attention on the nature of some of the more urgent problems existing in this field with a view to stimulating specific research studies and enquiries to be undertaken. As part of this effort it is hoped that, on the basis of the overall research plan to be formulated by the Committee, the Commission would itself either directly or otherwise by attracting grants of funds for this purpose, be able to promote research into some of the more urgent problems of urbanization within the South Pacific region.

from a statement issued by the South Pacific Commission

1   Sharp 1960b:89-91.
2   Sharp 1960a; Maude 1959:285-326.
3   Henderson 1933.
4   Sharp 1960a:111-112.
5   Sharp 1960a:111.
6   Hawkesworth 1733:364-367, 453. N.B.—Sharp gives his reference as Vol. i, pp. 523-676 (see Sharp 1960a:109) from which I presume that he has used another edition of the work.
7   Sharp 1960a: footnote 109.
8   Identified as Ndai Island, 160° E 7° S, an identification which does not appear to be in dispute.
9   Identified as the Green Islands.
10   Identified as Buka.
11   Identified as Feni Island.
12   Identified as New Ireland. These four latter identifications do not appear to be disputed.
13   Admiralty 1957.
14   Hawkesworth, J. 1773:364.
15   Hawkesworth, J. 1773:368.
16   Consistency in errors of latitude is only reliable as primary evidence when it can be shown, for instance, that (a) the position was determined by simple dead-reckoning, or (b) the tables of declination contained a consistent error. When Sharp says of Gallego that his latitudes “showed a tendency to a southerly error” he is making nothing more than an interesting comment unless he can attribute that consistency to a demonstrable and particular reason. We do know that whilst Gallego initially determined his position by dead-reckoning he corrected his latitude against a noon solar observation.
17   Hawkesworth 1773:453.
18   The account is slightly confusing.
19   Between pp. 374-5.
20   Admiralty 1946:427.
21   The limitations of the Pacific Islands Pilot are surely immediately apparent.
22   On which the sketch map is based, and which I presume is what Sharp means by a “detailed Admiralty Chart”, though the scale of “1/1,000,000 at latitude 10° 00” hardly lends itself to detail.
23   Or even close to that line, depending on whether Carteret's observation is on a magnetic or true bearing.
24   Zerwekh, C. E. Jr., 1958. “A Uniterm System for Reports.” In Casey, R. S., J. W. Perry, M. M. Berry and Allen Kent, eds., Punched Cards: their Application to Science and Industry, 2nd ed. New York, Reinhold Publishing Corporation.
25   Note—no categories are complete, the subjects listed are only intended to give an idea of the range covered.
26   One representative was unable to attend the electoral college because of illness, and a replacement could not be brought to Samarai (the electorate headquarters) in time for the polling day. However, this did not in any way affect the result.