Volume 73 1964 > Volume 73, No. 2 > New Guinea's first national election: A symposium, p 179 - 230
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A Symposium

The first election of a national House of Assembly, by universal adult suffrage on a common roll, took place in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in March and April, 1964.

Statutory provision for the Territory's new House of Assembly was made in the “Papua and New Guinea Bill, 1963” of the Commonwealth of Australia, which amended the Papua and New Guinea Act, the Territory's basic constitution. Moving the second reading of this Bill in the House of Representatives, the then Minister for Territories gave the following account of the constitutional reforms that the Bill contained:

“I turn now to the reform of the Legislative Council. Honourable members will recall that, under amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act made by this Parliament in 1960, elections were held in the Territory early in 1961 for a council in which the number of elected members was increased from three to twelve and the number of native members was increased from three to a minimum of eleven, with additional places open to appointment regardless of race. When the new Legislative Council was opened in April, 1961, it was announced on behalf of the Government that this was only to be a stage in further constitutional change. In introducing the bill of 1960 to this House I made the points that Australia had dedicated itself to the political advancement of the people and that in deciding what was best to do we would apply the test of the welfare of the people rather than the satisfaction of a theory; that the government saw the future of the inhabitants of the Territory as a single future and, in the case of the Legislative Council, this meant that the eventual goal would be an equal and universal franchise exercised by voters on a common roll; that Parliament was being asked to commit itself to a frequent and periodical review of the Papua and New Guinea Act and to accept the continuing responsibility to watch closely the changing situation and to make amendments when they were needed and when they would be useful.

“At the time when the reformed Council was instituted our anticipation was that the Council might run a full term and that, after a second election, proposals for the next step forward would be placed before the Council. In the light of our experience of the rapid progress of the people of the Territory we have found that the next step, that now being proposed to Parliament, can be taken before the next election rather than after it.

“I should like to inform the House of the precise steps by which we arrived at the judgment on the reforms to be made and the time to make them.

“Shortly after the opening of the new Legislative Council in April, 1961, preparations for the next stage began. In September, 1961, the appointment of a Select Committee of the Legislative Council to consider constitutional reform was envisaged by the Council itself. In order that full assistance could - 180 be given administratively in the development of any new proposals, a committee of public servants was set up by the Administrator in October, 1961, to give attention to what might be described as the mechanical side of constitutional reform, namely the best way to develop efficient electoral machinery, the political and electoral education of the people and the means by which a common roll could be established and by which direct elections and secret ballots could be introduced. In March, 1962, as anticipated in the previous September, the Legislative Council appointed a Select Committee on political development. This committee presented its first interim report in October, 1962, and its second report in February of this year. Both reports were adopted by the Legislative Council and, on being forwarded to the Australian Government, were approved by Cabinet without any delay and with only minor reservations.

“In the meantime, while the Select Committee was at work a Visiting Mission of the United Nations had visited the Trust Territory of New Guinea and had made a report in April, 1962. This report suggested that preparations be made for the election of a ‘representative parliament’ of about 100 members not later than 31st December, 1963. When the Visiting Mission's report was received, the Select Committee was already at work and we, governmentally, preferred to await the report of the Select Committee before passing an opinion on the suggestions made by the Visiting Mission. The Select Committee—and this is the point I want to stress—had under notice the suggestions made in the report of the Visiting Mission and two of the indigenous members of the Select Committee attended sessions of the United Nations in New York, at which the work of the Visiting Mission was discussed. The Select Committee of the Legislative Council worked for several months inquiring and discussing suggestions of various kinds with hundreds of leaders of the native people in the presence of thousands of others. So its reports are the result of a comprehensive study by persons with a long and close knowledge of Papua and New Guinea, and as I have said, the Select Committee's proposals were finally endorsed by the Legislative Council after debate and after they had been under public notice throughout the Territory.

“On examination, the Select Committee's report will be seen to reflect the thinking of the more advanced elements about the immediate future. In this connection I should like to quote from the penultimate paragraph of the first interim report—

‘Your committee wishes to point out that its recommendations, though largely based upon the freely expressed wishes of the people, in fact goes well beyond the conservative proposals which they themselves put forward. However, your committee is confident that the people will respond to this stimulus and challenge, and that the implementation of these proposals will make yet another step in the democratic political development of this country.’

“The report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council contained some recommendations which require legislation of this Parliament in order to be put into effect, some which require legislation of the Legislative Council for the Territory and a few which can be implemented by administrative action. I propose to explain to the House the proposals to which effect is being given in the Bill now before us. It will be appreciated that, broadly speaking, what we do in this Parliament is to establish the institutions which the Territory requires and to endow those institutions with the powers appropriate to their functions. The main provisions of the amendments before this House, therefore, concern the structure, membership and powers of the legislature itself and the - 181 structure, membership and powers of the Administrator's Council. It will be left to the legislature of the Territory to give effect to those decisions which relate to the conduct of elections and the functioning of the institutions this Parliament creates.

“The first group of provisions in the Bill propose changes in the membership, structure and name of the Legislative Council. The total membership will be raised from 37 to 64.

“The elected membership will be raised in number from 12 to 54. Of this total of elected members, 44 members will be elected from a common roll in single-member constituencies, described in the Select Committee's report as open electorates; and ten will be elected on a common roll in single-member constituencies described as reserved electorates.

“There will in future be no appointed non-official members and the number of appointed official members will be reduced from fourteen to ten. Thus the total of 64 is made up of ten official members, 44 members from open electorates and ten members from reserved electorates.

“It is expected that the 44 members from the open electorates will be indigenous persons, although it is not obligatory that they should be, and in that case the change will mean that the number of indigenous members will be raised from a prescribed minimum in the present Council of eleven, of whom only six were elected, to a prospective minimum of 44, all elected.

“In order to avoid misunderstanding it might be well for me to digress at this point to explain the nature of open and reserved electorates. The arguments in favour of this arrangement are set out at some length in paragraphs 15 and 16 of the First Interim Report of the Select Committee. At one time it had been thought that with the establishment of a common roll some non-indigenous members would be elected by popular vote but, as the inquiry proceeded, this prospect became more and more unlikely and the realization of this caused a good deal of dismay among the indigenous people themselves, for, while on the one hand they said that they would feel bound to vote for their own people, they also said that they badly wanted some of the Australians to be elected, too. In addition, they wanted to have a say in which Australians were to be the members. So this device of open and reserved electorates was chosen as the means by which both wishes could be met. Only non-indigenous candidates can be chosen in the ten reserved electorates but all voters take part in their election. In practice this will mean that at each general election every voter will take part in two ballots, the first to pick one of the 44 members for an open electorate and the second to pick one of the ten members for a reserved electorate. The roll in both cases will be the same. In keeping with the recommendation of the Select Committee this arrangement will be reviewed before the election next after the one in March, 1964.

“The reforms for the legislature include the establishment of a common roll and the introduction of direct voting by secret ballot by the indigenous voters. Enrolment is to be extended to all adult inhabitants of controlled areas. It is contemplated that in the conducting of the secret ballot it will be made possible for presiding officers at polling booths to give assistance to voters who require help. Effect will be given to all these matters by ordinance of the Territory.

“Two further changes proposed by the Bill are to increase the normal term of the legislature from three years to four years and to change the name from Legislative Council to House of Assembly—a name which is thought to reflect more truly the character of the body.

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“One question which may arise in the minds of some members is whether the number of elected places—namely 54—and the total membership of the House of Assembly—namely 64—is large enough. They may recall that the United Nations Visiting Mission mentioned 100 members. It is estimated that the average enrolment of voters in 44 open electorates will be not more than 30,000 and the average total population in each of these electorates will be about 46,000. For comparison, in this House we have a total membership of 122 covering a population of approximately 10,500,000. It is proposed in Papua and New Guinea to have 54 elected members for a population of approximately 2,000,000. That level of elected representation would give this Chamber if applied here, a membership of not less than 270 members.”

The mechanics of the election were explained by a representative of the Administration in moving the first reading of “The Electoral Bill 1963” in the Territory's Legislative Council on 12th August, 1963. The following extracts from this speech describe the electoral process:

“Section 36(1) of the Papua and New Guinea Act, as amended in 1963, makes provision for a House of Assembly to consist of:

  • (a) ten persons to be known as official members, appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Administrator;
  • (b) forty-four persons elected by members of the Territory; and
  • (c) ten persons, not being indigenous inhabitants of the Territory, elected by electors of the Territory.

“An ‘elector of the Territory’ is defined in Section 5 of the Act as ‘a person qualified and enrolled as an elector of the Territory, as provided by Ordinance’.

“The Act further provides in Section 36(2) that:

‘The elected members of the House of Assembly shall be elected as provided by or under Ordinance, and a candidate for election shall possess such qualifications and be subject to such disqualifications as are provided by this Act or by Ordinance.’

“Otherwise, apart from enacting certain disqualifications for membership of the House of Assembly and from providing that no person shall be denied enrolment, voting or election ‘on the ground of race’ (Section 36(3)), the Act is silent on the method and mechanics of election to the House, which it leaves to be covered by Ordinance.

“The amending Act did, however, specifically provide that the Legislative Council could make Ordinances covering the matters above referred to, and the present Bills, with three others to be introduced during this meeting, are the basic provisions necessary.

“It should be noted that, while all persons of all races are eligible to enrol and to vote (i.e., the Territory will have a ‘common roll’), and to stand for election in the electorates referred to in paragraph (b) of Section 36(1) of the Act, for the electorates referred to in paragraph (c) of that Subsection only non-natives may stand for election or be elected. For this reason, the Bills refer to the electorates for which any person may stand as ‘open’ electorates while the other electorates are referred to as ‘special’ electorates. The term ‘special electorate’ was preferred to the term ‘reserved electorate’ because the latter has unfortunate political overtones in other parts of the world, whereas in the Territory the ‘special electorates’ were provided at the request of the peoples of the Territory expressed through the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on Political Development.

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“There are three Bills directly associated with the elections for the House of Assembly. They are:

  • (a) the Electoral Bill 1963, hereinafter referred to as the ‘main Bill’;
  • (b) the Electoral (Open Electorates) Bill 1963, referred to as the ‘Open Electorates Bill’;
  • (c) the Electoral (Special Electorates) Bill 1963, referred to as the ‘Special Electorates Bill’.

“The main Bill repeals the Legislative Council Ordinance 1951-1960, under which the elections for the Legislative Council have been held, and provides in detail for voting, counting of votes, etc., for electors under the new system.

“The main Bill does not, however, define the boundaries of the electorates themselves, but this is done in the Open Electorates Bill and the Special Electorates Bill.

“Under Part II of the main Bill, provision is made for a Chief Electoral Officer and other electoral officers, including a Returning Officer for each Open Electorate. The administration of the Bill and of the electoral machine is, by Clause 7(2), vested in the Chief Electoral Officer, who is ultimately responsible for the organization of elections.

“Under the Special Electorates Bill, there is provision for the appointment of Special Returning Officers and other officers to conduct the elections in the Special Electorates in much the same way as Returning Officers operate in Open Electorates.

“The 44 Open Electorates for the Territory are defined in the Schedule to the Open Electorates Bill, while in the Schedule to the Special Electorates Bill these are grouped to form the ten special electorates.

“Under Clauses 15-23 of the main Bill, provision is made for the establishment of a Distribution Committee to consider the question of the redistribution of electoral boundaries. The Committee is appointed by the Administrator whenever a redistribution becomes necessary by reason of a change in the composition of the House of Assembly or whenever the Administrator so directs. The Committee, taking into consideration the matters specified in Clause 18, prepares a map with a description of the proposed boundaries and, after calling for and considering objections, furnishes a map and report to the Administrator. The report is laid before the House, and, if approved by the House, the new boundaries or the new electorates replace the previous ones after proclamation by the Administrator. When electoral boundaries are changed, naturally action has to be taken as provided for in Clause 24 of the main Bill to change names from one electoral roll to another.

“Part V of the main Bill provides for the compilation and checking of electoral rolls for the various open electorates. The rolls are prepared by the Returning Officers, are open to objections and may be corrected by the Returning Officers. Preliminary action is already well advanced, of course, under the Electoral (1964 Roll) Ordinance 1963, to gather the necessary information to enable the preparation of the first rolls.

“The qualifications for enrolment on the Roll for an electorate are prescribed in Clause 35 of the main Bill as follows:

  • (a) twenty-one years of age or over;
  • (b) British subject or Australian protected person;
  • (c) either—
  • (i) having a home in the electorate or having had one within the preceding twelve months; or
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  • (ii) residence in electorate for the twelve months immediately preceding.

“At this stage, and before moving on to the mechanics of the elections, it might be desirable to refer to the qualifications for candidates for election. The most important are that under Clause 66(2) of the main Bill the candidate—

  • (a) must be an elector of the Territory, i.e., he must be enrolled and entitled to be enrolled;
  • (b) must not be enrolled for an electorate other than the electorate for which he wishes to be elected;
  • (c) must have been born in the Territory or (except for temporary absences, etc.) have lived in the Territory for three years immediately before his nomination.

“Additionally, he must be nominated for the electorate and must not be nominated for any other electorate.

“Members of the Commonwealth or Territory Public Service and the holders of certain prescribed statutory offices, etc., are not qualified for nomination, although in the case of public servants it is intended to introduce a Bill to enable public servants to resign their offices in order to contest elections and in the event of failure, to be reappointed without loss of status; such a provision is made in the Commonwealth.

“Under Clause 9(1) of the Special Electorates Bill, a candidate must be a person who is not an indigenous inhabitant of the Territory, (e.g., Section 36(1)(c) of the Papua and New Guinea Act).

“Nomination is a simple matter of the candidate filling in and having witnessed a form, and lodging it with the Returning Officer or an Assistant Returning Officer, or some other authorized person, a reasonable time before nominations close (Clauses 67 and 68). The candidate must also formally consent to act if elected (Clause 69 (a)). With a nomination, a candidate must, under Clause 69 (c), lodge a deposit of £25 which is forfeited (Clause 72) if he does not receive one-eighth of the total number of first-preference votes cast for the successful candidate. The deposit is returned if the candidate dies before the election is completed (Clause 77). A nomination may be withdrawn before the close of nominations, by giving notice of withdrawal in the same way as the nomination, in which case the deposit is refunded (Clause 76). At the close of nominations, the Returning Officer publicly announces the nominations (Clause 75) and, if more than one nomination is received the election is held (Clause 78 (2)). If only one nomination is received, of course, that candidate is automatically declared to be elected (Clause 78 (1)).

“There are three main methods of voting allowed for in the Bill—postal voting (Part XII), ‘ordinary’ voting under Division 2 of Part XIII and ‘absent’ voting under Division 3 of that Part, but they all involve the filling in of a ballot-paper so it might be best to consider the form of the ballot-paper and the method of recording a vote first.

“For general elections, voters will have to elect two members—one for the open electorate for which they are enrolled, and one for the special electorate of which the open electorate forms part. A copy of the proposed ballot-paper will be distributed to members at the end of this sitting.

“The list of candidates will be printed in random order, in the form shown on the ballot-paper. This differs from the Australian system, but under the conditions of the Territory a random order would, it seems, give a fairer result.

“As voting is on the preferential system, the voter should mark the figure “1” against his first choice, “2” against his second choice and so on until - 185 the list is exhausted (Clause 135). In Australia, a ballot-paper which is not completely marked in this way would be informal and not counted, but the Bill relaxes this provision somewhat. Special provision is also made for assistance to illiterates and other people unable to record their vote themselves, by allowing such a voter to have his ballot-paper marked for him, in strict privacy, by a person appointed by the voter or by the presiding officer (Clauses 123, 125, 132) or, in the case of a postal voter, by an authorized witness of his own choice (Clause 88 (1) (g)).

“While polling throughout the Territory will start officially on the one day, it is clear that not all of the 1,500 polling places expected to be prescribed under Clause 25 can be open simultaneously, and large areas will have to be covered by travelling teams of electoral officers. The problem is as to how to lay down a timetable for these teams which will give an adequate coverage and can be adequately publicized, while at the same time permitting flexibility to meet local emergencies, such as floods, the failure of transport or shipping, etc., or anticipated demands.

“The device used in the Bill is to allow of the grouping of numbers of the prescribed polling places in such a way that a roster can be drawn up showing when it is anticipated that the polling booths will be open within the overall polling period. These ‘polling schedules’ are drawn up by the various Returning Officers, published in the Gazette and in a newspaper, forwarded to local government councils and otherwise publicized as widely as possible. They are then open to appeal to a Judge if it is considered that they do not give a reasonable opportunity for all electors to vote.

“Part XIV is very detailed, but most of its provisions are procedural directions to electoral officers, particularly intended to safeguard the secrecy of the poll. The basic principle is that the Returning Officer for each electorate counts the votes cast on the ‘preferential’ system, having first rejected any votes which have been wrongly made and any ‘informal’ votes. What are ‘informal’ votes is prescribed mainly by Clause 144 (although there are some additional provisions relating to absent voting, postal voting, etc.), and there are two classes of them.

“The first consists of ballot-papers which are not properly authenticated by the initials of the presiding officer or which contain some mark by which the identity of the voter can be ascertained. As to this latter case, which is included in order to guarantee the secrecy of voting, it should be noted that even with absent voting, postal voting, etc., where it is necessary for a declaration to be made in order to identify the voter's name on the roll, the declaration is kept quite separate from the ballot-paper itself, which contains only the official initials or mark to show that it has been properly issued, and the vote (but not the name or other particulars) of the voter.

“In the case of the second class, however, the Bill departs slightly from Australian practice. In ‘preferential’ voting in Australia, if a voter does not indicate an order of preference (starting with the figure ‘1’) for all candidates, the vote is totally informal, unless there is only one omitted, in which case the one omitted is taken to be the last preference. Clause 144(2) of the main Bill, however, provides that where a preference or a consecutive order or preference is shown, even if not for all candidates, the ballot-paper is not informal but is counted as far as it can be. If, for example, of six candidates, the numbers ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’ are shown against four of them and nothing against the other two, then the vote will be formal and counted as regards those four but, if it comes to a question of allotting the preference of the other two, it is disregarded in relation to them. This variation from the Australian practice is designed to - 186 give effect to the voter's intention as far as possible and not to have a vote ruled out of order unnecessarily.

“Leaving the mechanics of handling ballot-boxes and ballot-papers out of account, and also the special provisions relating to absent voting, postal voting, etc., Division 6 of Part XIV sets out the method of determining the result of the election. Basically, where no candidate has an absolute majority, (i.e., more than one half) of the first preference votes cast, it consists of excluding the candidate who has received the fewest first preference votes (shown by the number ‘1’ on the ballot-paper) and adding each ballot-paper on which he is given first preference to the candidate who is shown on it as second preference. This process is continued until some candidate has more than half of the total votes.”


Of all the predictions about the first national election in Papua and New Guinea, the only one which was correct and on which there was unanimity was that there would be a native majority in the new parliament. When it meets in June, the House of Assembly will have thirty-eight native members, all from Open Electorates (in which both Europeans and natives could stand), and twenty-six Europeans, of whom ten will be Heads of Public Service Departments nominated by the Administration, ten will be from Special Electorates (reserved for European candidates), and six will be from Open Electorates. Even if all the Europeans support ministerial policy on vital issues, there will still be a substantial gap which, it is generally accepted, the Administration will try to bridge by appointing a number of native members as Under-Secretaries to various Departments and expecting them to align themselves with the official vote. Yet whatever arrangements are made, it is clear that a large proportion of the native members will not be so tied. On their conduct during the next few years the political future of the Territory may well depend.

If we allow that the politics of any country are determined by its internal conditions, obviously we cannot assume that the behaviour of many of the native politicians will parallel that of our own. To appreciate something of the attitudes and intellectual equipment with which they will come to the House, we must see and understand these native politicians as individuals against the background from which they come: first, their traditional socio-cultural system; and, second, their socio-cultural system as it has been modified by the Administration's programme of economic, educational, and political development, which - 187 was begun after 1945 and of which the present election is the most important achievement. Furthermore, by considering the problems inherent in development during the last nineteen years we may get some insight into those that may emerge in national politics.


It is most convenient to divide the peoples of the Territory into two classes—those of the Central Highlands, and those of coastal and island Melanesia—and to consider both in relation to two fields—socio-economic structure and religion—in which to some extent they differ from each other.

All native societies are, of course, organised on the principles of kinship, marriage, and descent, which govern co-operation and the observance of traditional law, although a man's socio-political horizon may be extended by trade ties and military alliances. Their economy is based largely on subsistence agriculture, hunting, and fishing. Yet Highland societies differ from coastal and island societies primarily in their size. Many language groups in the Highlands number tens of thousands, and descent and local groups (phratries, clans, and tribes) are proportionately large. The economy, although hardly specialised and dynamic in the Western sense, places some emphasis on profit-making as a value in its own right. By comparison, coastal and island societies are small. With a few exceptions—such as the Tolai of New Britain (37,000), the Orokaiva of north-east Papua (9,000), and the Motu near Port Moresby (9,000)—language groups range from about 3,000 to 150, with a corresponding diminution of descent and local groups. The economy places virtually no emphasis on specialisation and far less emphasis on profit-making than does that of the Highlands. There are no forces within it to create serious and continual change.

Native religions are generally based on beliefs in deities and spirits of the dead, whom man seeks to manipulate by ritual so that they will help him in important undertakings (agriculture, manufacture, trade, and war). Yet again there appear to be significant differences of emphasis. Highlanders give the impression of being comparatively practical or pragmatic-minded in the Western sense: they regard purely secular techniques as important in their own right. Among coastal and island peoples, however, religion dominates intellectual life. True knowledge is mastery of ritual, and secular techniques on their own are accorded little importance. This may be one of the major reasons why cargo cult, the main form of indigenous political reaction to contact, has been more widespread on the seaboard than in the Highlands.


Even before the announcement of the 1964 election, the Administration had made a few moves towards political development at the national level. Between 1951-60, there was increasing native representation in the Legislative Council, the forerunner of the House of Assembly; and after 1960 native Patrol Officers were recruited by the Department of Native Affairs, and plans for a Native Magistracy were mooted. The main advances, however, were in economic, educational, and local political development. The aim was to raise the standard of living, and provide the necessary economic and intellectual supports and political experience for the state system of government envisaged for the future.

In the economic field, the people have been encouraged to invest in cash crops, Co-operative Societies, and various local businesses. Apprentices have been taken into skilled trades—carpentry, mechanical and electrical work, and goldmining.

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In education, the Administration has built primary and secondary schools throughout much of the country. Native Medical Assistants have been trained in Suva and Port Moresby; native teachers are being trained in the Territory and at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (Sydney); and native undergraduates, who should eventually become the élite of the Public Service, are beginning to enrol at Australian Universities. Soon there will be a University at Port Moresby. In the political field, the old system of Direct Rule through appointed village headmen is being replaced by Native Local Government Councils. Each village within a Council area acts as a small electorate and returns a member. Councils raise taxes for regional development: building roads, schools, and Medical Aid Posts.

The programme has had many successes. But it is more important to examine the difficulties which have impeded it and which derive from two factors: the failure of the Administration, especially before 1958, to realise that the pace of development could and should be speeded up to meet the demands of the modern world; and the inevitable conflict between the old way of life and the new institutions. Without dismissing the first factor as of little importance, I shall concentrate on the second because the future lies with the native politicians. They will determine the speed of development from now on.

We must consider not only the conflict between the new institutions and the two features of the old way of life mentioned—socio-economic structure and religion—but also the different degrees to which it is apparent in the Highlands and on the seaboard. In the economic field, many peoples have had great difficulty in grasping the essentials of a profit economy. In one case, a sub-coastal group with no access to the sea or lakes wanted to buy a European launch merely to prove that they were as good as their coastal rivals, who already had one. There are numerous examples of small business men unable to live in their natal communities and make their trade stores or other business ventures pay because of their kinsmen's demands for free hand-outs of cash and goods. This probably accounts for some of the deficits in the books of Co-operative Societies. Religious beliefs, 2 especially cargo cult, can hold back economic progress. In some places, it assumed that God or other cargo deities must be harnessed to business ventures to ensure their success. This may be harmless when the ventures are running smoothly, but when things go wrong there is the danger that the people will turn to unrealistic measures (soul-cleansing and prayer meetings) rather than sound economic reform to put them right. Also some groups believe that the small amount of money earned from business may prevent the cargo deity from sending the bulk supplies of goods they crave. By the same token, in education, it is not always secular knowledge that is sought but the European's ritual techniques which provide his wealth and are thought to be hidden somewhere in the English language. 3

In local politics, the same themes recur. Traditional social structure and religious thinking impede development. For instance, where, as in the Highlands and among the Tolai, Local Government Council Areas roughly correspond with original language groups or societies, councillors represent their old political units (phratries, clans, and tribes) and vote on issues according to traditional alliances and enmities, although the real interests of their followers in the modern situation dictate otherwise. This has been illustrated among the Bena Bena and Navuneram-Taviliu peoples. 4 Again, just as in the economic and educational fields, should a Council's projects fail for lack of finance or any - 189 other reason, its members' discussions and decisions could degenerate into religious mumbo-jumbo. This is shown by the failure of Tommy Kabu's secular trading enterprise in Western Papua (although no Council had been established there at the time) and by the lack of progress in Paliau's secular rehabilitation scheme in Manus. In Tommy Kabu's case, the voices of cargo prophets began to be heard. 5 In Manus, cargo enthusiasts opposed the introduction of a Council on the grounds that it would never produce the bulk wealth that the people wanted.

These problems are not found uniformly throughout the Territory. Because of the differences in the socio-economic system and religious attitudes discussed, it is possible to distinguish broadly between those most likely to occur in the Highlands, on the one hand, and in the seaboard area, on the other. In the economic and educational fields, all the difficulties described so far—inability to assimilate the idea of profit-making and resist the extravagant demands of kinsmen, and the fruitless search for ritual techniques to provide European wealth—are probably more common on the seaboard. Economic relationships in that area have always tended to be static and to be based on the principle of strict equivalence. Societies are smaller and the individual has always been dominated by close interpersonal kinship ties from which he could not escape. Religion has always governed intellectual life. In the Highlands, with the more dynamic and profit-oriented economy, larger societies in which the individual can evade the claims of close kinsmen perhaps more easily, and greater emphasis on secular knowledge, there is less chance of progress being obstructed in these ways.

In the field of local politics, which is more important from our present point of view, the general position may be rather different. For the reason already given, religious thinking probably does not influence deliberations in Highlands Councils to a great extent. Yet because of the size of traditional Highlands societies, which have remained largely intact because they could resist Western encroachment, the danger of the old social structure turning a Council into a microcosm of precontact politics is very great. It is in the Highlands that Council Areas are most likely to correspond with language groups. With the exceptions of the larger societies mentioned earlier, this problem should not be widespread on the seaboard, where societies are so small that they have tended to lose their identity under the impact of the West. Very often many language groups have to be combined to make a viable Council Area so that its inhabitants, although sometimes linked by old trade relationships, cannot be knit up over a wide area by the far stronger interpersonal ties of kinship, marriage, and descent or be divided by traditional enmities. Thus the old socio-political system can be left behind by the new, which is so much wider that entirely different relationships, based on the reality of the modern situation, have to be created. This gives scope for more reasonable political manoeuvre and conflict in terms of current interests rather than age-old feuds. Nevertheless, the full exploitation of this advantage will depend on the eradication of religious thinking, which seems to be most prevalent on the seaboard.


This suggested contrast between the Highlands and seaboard cannot be regarded as complete. It represents only differing degrees of emphasis: problems more likely in one area will doubtless be found to some extent in the other. Even so, if conservatism is to be a factor in national politics, we could reasonably expect Highlanders to express it, on the whole, in terms of traditional social - 190 structure rather than religion, and seaboard peoples to express it in terms of religion rather than traditional social structure.

Because of their size, there are relatively few language groups in each of the Highlands electorates. Hence traditional social structures must have influenced voting in the recent election and may determine the attitudes of members returned to the House of Assembly. The problem facing the candidates must have been to overcome regional sectionalism: to rise above the cleavages within their own societies and then somehow ensure a majority outside them. Although the reason so far offered is that the electors preferred delegates who would at once understand parliamentary procedure, this may be an additional primary explanation of the election of Europeans in three Highlands constituencies (Gumine, Hagen, and Kainantu). Because of fairly good race relations in the area as a whole, a European is comparatively acceptable to the people, and only a European can represent a total electorate without prior commitments to his natal group. A similar phenomenon is reported from the last election to the Legislative Council in 1960 in one of the few places on the seaboard where conditions are similar to those in the Highlands. Some Tolai (as noted, one of the few large language groups outside the Highlands) voted for a Papuan candidate. 6 The stated reason was that he was better educated than themselves and hence better fitted to protect their interests. Yet it is equally possible that they supported him so as to evade the regional sectional issue.

Generally speaking, however, this problem should not be prevalent on the coast and in the islands. Most of these electorates contain more language groups than even the Local Government Council Areas, and hence traditional social structures per se should be of minimal importance. In this area, therefore, it may well be the second problem—the influence of religious or, in its modern form, cargo-chiliast thinking—that will explain at least some of the difficulties that emerge. From this point of view, we should consider the outlook of some of the voters, some of the elected members, and the pressures that some of the voters may bring to bear on their members.

It would be naive to assume that every seaboard voter was a chiliast but, in view of the prevalence of cargo cults in Papua, the Madang District, the Sepik area, the Admiralties, Buka, Finschhafen, and New Britain, the cultist or chiliast vote must have had some national rather than local importance. It should be remembered that cultists do not represent a regional section of the population but are scattered at random throughout the whole seaboard area. Of the members returned, few if any are known to be active cultists or cult leaders. Mr. Paliau Maloat, the very astute representative for Manus, was involved in such a movement many years ago but has avoided any further implication for over a decade. It is a tribute to his political skill that he has managed to do this without, apparently, losing popular support. Mr. Koriam Urekit of East New Britain was once goaled for cargo cult activities and during the recent election campaign “is suspected to have embellished his . . . speeches with non-Keynesian economic concepts”. 7 One powerful acknowledged cult leader, Yali of the Rai Coast, failed to secure election, probably mainly because the electoral boundary separated him from the bulk of his followers. It is reliably reported that at least 2,000 of these men in the neighbouring Madang Electorate insisted on voting informally when they were told that that they could not vote for him. Again, men such as Mr. John Guise (Milne Bay), Mr. Lepani Watson (Esa, Ala-Losuia), and Mr. Simogun Pita (Wewak-Aitape) are politicians of long experience and understand the issues at stake completely in - 191 Western secular terms. Nevertheless, apart from men such as these, there are many other native members who so far have never been in the public eye. As cargo thinking is capable of many variable expressions, we cannot tell at the moment whether or not they subscribe to the philosophy in any shape or form.

However many or few chiliast members have slipped through the electoral net, we probably need not anticipate outbursts of cultism in the House of Assembly. The importance of the cultist vote will lie in the pressures it can bring to bear on the elected representatives, whoever or however sophisticated they may be. The problem will not be uniform: it will be more acute in electorates, such as Madang and the Rai Coast, where cargo cult has a long unbroken history. In such places, successful candidates may be plagued with impossible demands, which they are expected to meet by, to us, equally impossible means. Their greatest difficulty will be to satisfy their cultist supporters, just as Australian politicians have to come to terms with the Protestant or Catholic vote. In this context, the case of Yali may prove to be of considerable significance. As indicated, he commands a considerable following in both the Rai Coast and Madang electorates but has been denied access to parliament. The question now may be whether he uses his influence to obstruct the work of the House in his area or whether the two successful candidates will try to consolidate their position by wooing his support. In the latter event, these men could find themselves lured into the chiliast camp.

The difficulties facing native representatives will be enhanced by the absence of political parties which could help to mould and guide their outlook and behaviour. At the moment they must deal as individuals with their electorates. In view of this, if the Administration is successful in its aim to create an official majority by selecting the ablest and best educated native members as Under-Secretaries, either of two undesirable situations could emerge. On the one hand, if the other members do not align themselves in any way, this could set the pattern for a one-party state with all the dangers of absolutism in the future. On the other hand, those members not committed to the official vote, many of whom will be the least sophisticated and some of whom will represent electorates with a high proportion of chiliast voters, could become the bulk of the Opposition. Having to make some show of satisfying their followers, they might make demands far beyond what is economically and politically possible. This could introduce an explosive element to the spirit of nationalism that the new parliament is almost certain to foster. In this case, it will not be enough to shrug and assume that politics in every country are bound to be irrational to some extent. We must try to understand how this particular form of irrationality is conceived by its exponents to work.

  • EPSTEIN, A. L., 1963. “The Economy of Modern Matupit.” Oceania, 33:182-215.
  • LANGNESS, L. L., 1963. “Notes on the Bena Council, Eastern Highlands.” Oceania, 33:151-70.
  • LAWRENCE, Peter, 1963. “Religion: Help or Hindrance to Economic Development in Papua and New Guinea?” Mankind 6:3-11.
  • MAHER, R. F., 1961. New Men of Papua. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press. Madison University of Wisconsin.
  • MANN, A. H., 1959. “Navuneram Incident, New Britain—Report of Commission of Enquiry.” Commonwealth of Australia, Parliamentary Papers, 1959, Vol. 8.
  • SINCLAIR, A., 1957. Field and Clinical Survey Report of the Mental Health of the Indigenes of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Port Moresby, Department of Public Health.
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The island areas, to the north-east of the Milne Bay mainland, which constituted the Esa'ala-Losuia electorate in the House of Assembly elections had about 26,623 enrolled voters. These were distributed among the principal islands as follows: Normanby and Dobu, 7,032; Fergusson, 7,040; Goodenough, 5,582; Trobriands, 5,887; and the smaller island groups, such as the Woodlarks and Amphletts, 1,082.

This region, probably best known on account of Malinowski's writings on the Trobriands, was first pioneered by the Methodist missionaries who established a station on Dobu Island in 1891. Dr. W. E. Bromilow translated the Scriptures into the Dobuan language, Edugaura, and Dobuan became the mission lingua franca used both for religious services and until recently in mission schools. A candidate who could speak Dobuan and the Kiriwina language of the Trobriands could campaign effectively in most areas, but an English speaking candidate would have to use interpreters since few adults speak or understand English.

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Very little economic development took place on these islands during pre-war years, but they were centres for labour recruitment. More recently there have been efforts to stimulate the planting of cash crops, particularly copra and some Robusta coffee, and Village Agricultural committees have been active, but the difficulty of transporting produce to available markets has presented a serious obstacle to economic progress, and cash incomes for the islanders are very low. Samarai, the nearest township to the electorate, becomes inaccessible to smaller vessels during the south-easterly season from May to November.

At the beginning of this year there were only two areas in the Esa'ala sub-district which had Local Government Councils. The rest of the electorate still had a system of appointed village officials and had never experienced a secret ballot or any form of elected political representation. The longest established council, Dobu Local Government Council, was proclaimed in 1960 and had twice held elections for its councillors. The total number of enrolled voters in Council areas was 9,070, about a third of the enrolled voting population for the whole electorate.

There were originally seven candidates standing for this Open electorate: five Papuans and two Europeans. A Goodenough Island interpreter withdrew, however, and this left six candidates in the running. Pologa Leotani Baloiloi, a Government interpreter from Dobu, and Wilson Dobunaba, a clerk, originally from Wedau on the Milne Bay mainland, both worked in the Sub-District Office at Esa'ala on Normanby Island. The two Europeans were Clem Rich, a pre-war Assistant District Officer with the Administration, who had worked in the Esa'ala sub-district and who now runs a plantation on Goodenough Island at Nuatutu, and Jack Wilkinson, a trader and planter from the Sewa Bay area of south-west Normanby Island. Both the remaining candidates were from the Trobriands: Gowelli Tauraga is a Government interpreter at the Sub-District office at Losuia, and Lepani Watson, who originally came from Vakuta Island, has been with the Administration in Port Moresby for the past thirteen years as a Welfare Assistant.

While the candidates undoubtedly received some support from their families and friends to stand for election, the decision to nominate was largely a personal one in all cases except Lepani Watson's. He had organizational backing, and had been approached to stand for nomination by a group of young men from these islands who are working in Port Moresby. They were members of an organization, founded by Lepani Watson in 1955, called the Methodist Welfare Society. This association has been actively caring for the spiritual and welfare needs of Methodists from all over Papua and New Guinea who are working in Port Moresby. Some members of the Methodist Welfare Society formed a campaign committee for Lepani Watson last November, and there were representatives from each of the islands in the electorate on the campaign committee (all were of course Papuans, though they sought some advice from European friends in Port Moresby on how to run a campaign). Targets were set for each island area and these financial contributions were used to pay for the £25 nomination, to print pamphlets, and to send Lepani Watson back to the electorate on a tour of the islands to deliver his policies.

I was fortunate enough to be able to make a complete record of Lepani Watson's campaign, from its inception with a policy speech to the members of the Methodist Welfare Society in Port Moresby on January 1st, to its final meeting at Vakuta Island on February 13th, after some thirty-two full scale election meetings.

Before discussing the details of this particular campaign, which led eventually to Lepani Watson's successful election, some brief background details on all - 194 the candidates seem necessary. The Papuans were men in their late thirties and early forties. The two European candidates were older men in their fifties. Three of the Papuans were Methodists and one, Wilson Dobunaba, was Anglican, but he has acted as a lay preacher in the interdenominational United Church. Lepani Watson and Pologa Leotani Baloiloi have been lay preaching for a number of years. Neither of the European candidates were Methodists, Jack Wilkinson being an Anglican and Clem Rich a Congregationalist, son of the well-known pioneering missionary Charles Fry Rich of the London Missionary Society.

Educationally the background of the four Papuan candidates was fairly similar: all had been educated in Mission schools and had reached Standard V when war broke out; Wilson Dobunaba had reached Standard VI. The two European candidates had been educated in Australia and had reached secondary standard. The Papuans had gained their knowledge of English mainly through wartime employment with ANGAU and later in their jobs with the Administration as clerks or interpreters.

An interesting aspect is the degree of participation in voluntary and other organizations. Jack Wilkinson belongs to the Returned Soldiers' League and to a Church Society, and has for some years been on the Samarai District Advisory Council. I was unable to interview Clem Rich in person, but I do not think he has been active in clubs or organizations or district affairs. Both Wilson Dobunaba and Pologa Leotani have been active in the Esa'ala Club, which runs a canteen on the Government station and organizes sports. Gowelli Tauraga is chairman of a similar club at Losuia Government station. However, none of the European or Papuan candidates has had an organizational career to match Lepani Watson's, since he belongs to sixteen committees. These include the Methodist Welfare Society which he founded in 1955 and remains chairman of, the New Guinea Workers' Association of which he was one of the eight foundation members, a Trobriand Islands' Community Club and Savings Loans Society for Trobrianders in Port Moresby, as well as a variety of official organizations such as the Lands' Board, the Social Service Council of Papua-New Guinea, the Koki Market Trustees, and a variety of clubs and progress Associations.

As far as policies go, there was not much difference between the kinds of things which the candidates felt were needed for the electorate. All of them saw the need for general development, for roads, for education, for better health services, for promotion of cash crops and better marketing of produce. However, the question of how they would implement these changes was left vague or not discussed by them, though Lepani Watson's policy statement was more explicit and did try to deal with the realities of economic development and to suggest some of the means by which it could be achieved, such as the fostering of local industries (fishing and handicrafts, etc.), and the establishment of a township in the electorate. He regarded co-operative societies and the native loan scheme as a means of encouraging the growth of local capital. The typed policy statement which he issued, and which was very comprehensive, was fairly similar to the one issued by John Guise (the Milne Bay candidate) and appears to have resulted from collaboration between a number of Papuan candidates in Port Moresby last year. Lepani Watson's policy speeches stressed certain wider national issues, such as the need for a policy based on a Christian and Democratic foundation to foster national unity, and the need to promote better understanding between Papuans and New Guineans and the Australian Government, the Missions, and European private enterprise. The fact that he had spent so many years in Port Moresby, where he had opportunities for contacts - 195 with indigenous leaders and Administration personnel, gave Lepani a wider perspective in his approach to the problems of his electorate than other candidates who mainly saw the problems of the immediate locality but not much beyond it or beyond the confines of the island electorate.

The campaign which Lepani Watson conducted was the most intensive and widespread of those held in this electorate. He concentrated mainly upon the two council areas, at Fergusson Island and at Dobu and Normanby Island. Eleven meetings were held in the Dobu Council area, attended by 1,583 adults (or about 35.5% of enrolled voters in this area). Twelve meetings were held in the Duau Council area, attended by 1,547 adults (or 33.4% of enrolled voters). Six meetings were held in non-council areas on Fergusson Island, on Good-enough Island, and in the Trobriands, attended by 1,077 adults (about 5% of enrolled voters).

Campaigning by the other candidates did not range as widely throughout the electorate and they tended to concentrate upon the areas of the electorate in which they were already known and had support. Thus Gowelli Tauraga campaigned only on Kiriwina, the main Trobriand Island; Dobunaba and Baloiloi campaigned along those parts of the coasts of Normanby Island, Dobu, and Fergusson Island which were within canoeing distance of Esa'ala. One difficulty for these Papuan candidates was lack of transport since they lacked motor boats and had no finance to travel around the electorate. Here the financial backing by his campaign committee gave Lepani Watson an advantage, since he was able to charter the Dobu Local Government Council boat. He was also permitted to travel on boats belonging to the Methodist Mission stations and this was the one form of active assistance which he did receive from the missions. The European missionaries did not participate actively in the election campaign though, as I shall indicate below, the same is not true of Papuan local preachers and church officials.

The two European candidates owned their own motor vessels, so that they were not financially hindered from campaigning, but Jack Wilkinson seemed to believe more in the efficacy of pamphlet distributions than in making direct policy speeches—perhaps this was an attempt to copy Australian campaign methods, or perhaps it was due to his need to rely upon interpreters. When he visited areas he seems more often to have gone to local leaders (councillors or church officials) and asked them to influence the people. I do not know whether Clem Rich did hold any campaign meetings himself, and if he did there would not have been a language problem since he speaks Dobuan fluently, but I was informed that most of his campaigning was carried on by one of his Papuan employees.

In conclusion, I would like briefly to discuss the results of this election. Sixty-two per cent of the enrolled voters actually voted, and 15,574 formal votes were counted. Lepani Watson led with 7,663 votes (49.2%), next came Clem Rich with 3,167 votes (20.3%) and Gowelli Tauraga 2,504 (14.8%). Pologa Leotani Baloiloi gained 1,031 votes (6.6%), Jack Wilkinson 648 (4.1%), and Wilson Dobunaba 561 (3.6%).

The results seem to demonstrate the effectiveness of Lepani Watson's campaign, for he appears to have gained more support from the Esa'ala sub-district, where he campaigned intensively, than from the people around Losuia, which is his own home area. Gowelli Tauraga polled fairly well, better than I would have expected, and most of his support must have come from Kiriwina people since he was quite unknown to the Esa'ala people. Had Lepani Watson had the time to do more campaigning in the Trobriands, where he held only two meet- - 196 ings, I think he would have increased his majority—his absence in Port Moresby for so many years made direct contact with the people necessary even in the Trobriands from which he originally came. Clem Rich also polled better than I would have predicted, but here again there was a lack of campaigning by Lepani Watson on Goodenough Island (only one meeting at Bwaidoga) and Clem Rich was very well known there on account of his pre-war work as A.D.O.; despite the fact that he was a European, many Goodenough Islanders were prepared to trust in him as their representative.

The support which Lepani Watson managed to obtain from people in the Esa'ala sub-district (and from absentee voters in Port Moresby and Samarai) seems to have rested upon several factors. Though few people had seen him in person, he was known to many on account of his welfare activities in Port Moresby. His campaign committee helped to spread word among the villagers by writing letters back to their own areas, and, as a result, in a number of communities people were anxiously waiting to hear Lepani speak.

Apart from this outside support he had three other sources of local support within the D'Entrecasteaux Islands, where he mainly campaigned.

Firstly, there were traditional Kula links through his father, Upawapa Watson, chief of Vakuta Island, who had extensive Kula trade partnerships at Dobu, in the areas of Fergusson Island and Normanby Island close to Esa'ala, and on the eastern (Duau) side of Normanby Island. As a boy, Lepani had accompanied his father on several Kula trips and visited these areas. Although he had been sent to mission school and had then ceased to participate actively in the Kula, these connections through his father were quite important in gaining him local support, particularly since many of these Kula partners were important and influential leaders in their communities.

Secondly, there were his links with the Methodist church, as a lay preacher and as founder of the Methodist Welfare Society. These links were with Papuan pastors and local preachers rather than with the European mission. Certainly he had been well regarded by the Mission which sent him on a six-month's study tour to Australia in 1963, but it would be erroneous to regard the Papuan and European missionaries as a single organization. This was a view commonly held by Europeans in this electorate, who tended to regard Lepani as a sort of Mission “stooge”. This view shows an ignorance of the real nature of mission and church organization in this area, for there is an emerging indigenous church and, though it has not yet become autonomous, Papuan church leaders are exerting influence without official sanctioning or control by the European clergy. The active campaigning by these Papuan local church leaders was done without the knowledge of the European missionaries, but it was quite extensive—one Papuan pastor even had a large board with a “how to vote” chart drawn on it, in support of Lepani Watson.

Finally, there was Lepani's concentration upon local leaders, particularly the Local Government Councillors with whom he discussed his policies, welcoming their criticisms. He assured them of his intention, if elected, to maintain close links with Local Government Councils in the area, so that his policies would be a reflection of local council opinion. He left copies of his policy statements with the heads of the Local Government Councils, so that they would have time to consider them in detail.

In this short paper it has been possible only to deal with the bare outlines of this election campaign. Among the most interesting questions which I have not dealt with here are the people's expectations of their candidates and the images which candidates presented to the people. I intend to publish some longer - 197 articles on these questions in the near future. One outstanding feature of the campaign meetings was the emphasis upon the personal characteristics of the candidates rather than upon policy issues. The people had a clear idea of the kind of representative they wanted: one who was prepared to consult with them and reflect their views rather than his own. They wanted a man who was active and not merely a talker, and they wanted a candidate who would remain loyal to them, who understood how to deal with Europeans but who would not compromise their interests. While there were many who were rather ignorant about the actual mechanics of voting, basic ideas about what to expect of an elected representative seemed fairly sound; there was certainly nothing of the “Cargo cult” type of thinking reported in the press for other parts of New Guinea.


In January and February this year, while I was re-visiting Uritai village, I made some casual observations on the House of Assembly elections but did not carry out any detailed investigations.

The people of Uritai are Toaripi, part of the Elema culture group in the Papuan Gulf. The Elema, the Mekeo, and the Roro and Waima, are the three main culture groups in the Lakekamu Electorate. There were three candidates in the election: one Elema, one Mekeo, and one part-European who lives at the eastern extremity of the electorate. I had little contact with any of these men, and my remarks are based almost entirely on conversations with and observation of the people of Uritai village.

By the time I arrived at Uritai, the preliminary educational programme had been completed, and I was unable to observe it first-hand. I was told that the Local Government Councillors and others specially instructed at the district headquarters had been responsible for disseminating the background information on the election.

The actual mechanics of the election were well understood by the villagers. They are familiar with the ideas of voting and electing by a majority, from their own mission, co-operative and local government activities. They have also had some experience of preferential voting in Local Government Council elections, and therefore these procedures were also familiar.

On the other hand, the significance of the election was not so widely understood. Some regarded the House of Assembly as another of those vague meeting places to which delegates go from time to time; others had the idea that, as soon as the elections were held, the Australians would leave the Territory. The majority, however, did not seem to care very much what the elections were about.

This apathy surprised me: the Toaripi are a sophisticated group by Territory standards, capable of seeing the significance of the elections, and they are generally enthusiastic about anything that promises progress or development.

Men in the 25-45 age-group were the ones primarily concerned with the - 198 elections, and they wanted to know what, if anything, would result at the local level. In asking these questions, they pinpointed two reasons for scepticism about the election.

In the first place, the election was seen as a Government sponsored scheme, and as such, its value was open to doubt. This attitude is general among the Toaripi, who feel that they have been passed over in favour of less advanced groups while any projects actually undertaken among them have taken years to materialize, and have then seldom fulfilled the people's expectations.

This scepticism was apparently justified by the Legislative Council elections in 1961: after his election the representative for Western Papua never visited this part of the electorate, and there was no visible change in the area, despite the publicity given to significant changes in the composition of the Legislative Council for the 1961 election.

Those who were interested realized that, if anything tangible were to result from the election, they needed to have some control over their representative. For this reason, they were hesitant about supporting either of the Mekeo candidates. On the other hand, the Elema candidate was not popular among the Toaripi, and many would have welcomed an excuse to vote against him. The grounds for his unpopularity are several: he comes from Moveave, the traditional and bitter enemies of the Toaripi; he is a Catholic, while the Toaripi are nearly all members of the Protestant Papua Ekalesia; and he is often brusque and tactless in his public relations with his own people.

None of the candidates paid much attention to the Toaripi area during their campaigns. Gabriel, the Elema candidate, concentrated on the Mekeo area, and merely asked the people of his own area to support him on the grounds of their common culture and language, and his reputation in Local Government Council activities. Some Toaripi were annoyed about this, claiming that he did not want to be questioned by his own people on policy. His plan, however, was quite sound: he covered the areas in which he was not known, and then visited some parts of his own area in the time left.

Baupua, the Mekeo candidate who visited Uritai, was following the same plan. His meeting was sponsored by the Uritai Local Government Councillors, and was well attended. Baupua made a short speech, outlining the things in which he was interested: economic and social development; increased health and education services; continued close association with Australia. He then invited questions. The questions were of two sorts: those concerning the means he planned to use to carry out these schemes; and those concerning his promise to represent the whole electorate, rather than his home area. The questions were searching, and revealed an awareness of some of the central problems of the area and of the Territory as a whole. Those who asked them were men of the 25-45 age-group, mentioned earlier, who had been interested in council and co-operative activities in the village.

These same men were anxious to talk to Gabriel, and for a few days after Baupua's visit, they talked about the points raised during the meeting. It seems a pity that they did not have more opportunities for such discussions; but that one meeting was the only direct campaigning done in the village. Gabriel did in fact speak to a small group of young men on their way to a cricket match on the day preceding the voting; but I did not hear any comments afterwards.

As polling day came closer, the consensus of opinion seemed to be that Gabriel should get the votes, because he was the local man, known to the people, and more likely to be subject to their control. The small group of interested, articulate men probably had a great deal of influence on the voting in the village: nearly everyone eligible voted, under the impression that voting was - 199 compulsory, and the Councillors (who belong to this small, articulate group) took care to round up stragglers.

Gabriel was in fact elected, and for the first time the people of this area have a direct link with the central legislative body. I have no doubt that a few of the people will be quick to realize and use this fact. The question that remains is how Gabriel will act. He has had considerable experience of bodies such as Local Government Council, District Advisory Council, and so on, but this is the first time he has been in a position to help shape policy. He will be expected to represent the whole Lakekamu Electorate; but there will be considerable pressure on him to take a special interest in his own area, which is itself divided into many factions. If he fails to balance these conflicting interests, the Toaripi at least are likely to feel that all their scepticism was justified. And it would be a pity for such a group to withdraw from further participation in constitutional political development, as they are likely to do if disappointed once more.

The final count in the Lakekamu electorate was:

Alan (Bera) Baupua 4,323
Ehara Karava (Gabriel) 6,258
Kevin Alphonse Kassman 1,438

The elections at Kainantu for the House of Assembly, in March and April, 1964, resembled in many respects the elections in other parts of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. There were no national or terrritory-wide parties, no regional and only the slightest local constellations of political action or power. In the great New Guinea majority of the electorate there was little awareness of common national issues or interests. There was not, for example, any clearly defined nationalism, nor any question of independence or continued association with Australia, compelling as such a question might be. (For that matter, one could speak of Kainantu issues, or of Eastern Highlands politics, even less than of Papua-New Guinea ones. There is a singular political void between the local village and the embryonic central government.)

The only issues initially important to almost the entire electorate were those arising from their position in a rapidly changing caste system, and the anxieties and hopes engendered by European contact generally. To an unknown number of voters, especially in and near the town of Kainantu, a principal if unproclaimed issue of the election was the replacement of Australia and its Papuan favourites by America, “our mother's brother”, because Australia has not helped New Guinea as it should. If only in default of anything else so far, - 200 cargo cult and related beliefs may thus have been the most significant factor to yield common objectives, though the election campaign failed to develop such issues overtly. This was the legacy of aboriginal life in the easternmost Eastern Highlands, as modified by some thirty years of Australian missionary and commercial initiative and by governmental administration that infrequently permitted, rarely demanded, choices and decisions beyond the clan or village.

A suddenly constituted electorate was called upon for political action on a large scale. The political process had consequently to begin with a least common denominator of parochialism and an atrophied sense of initiative. Yet, without numerous candidates, voters and groups of voters had in some sense to ally themselves in large numbers to one candidate or another. For the great majority of voters, the candidate whom they supported could not be “their man” in the limited traditional sense. Their common support of a given candidate might also bring together, however loosely, people who had never previously acted in concert. The story of how larger political alignments were attained, and of the rumours and reactions of the people in attaining them, is the story of the election at Kainantu.

The Kainantu electorate consists of a number of moderately large and populous ethno-linguistic areas, as well as some smaller ones. By this are meant areas in which a single common language and a common cultural frame of reference predominate. The four largest areas, in ascending order, are Gadsup, Agarabi, Tairora and Kamano, whose populations range from six to twelve thousand. These four areas are practically contiguous to the administrative seat at Kainantu, and the main Highlands road runs through three of them, also touching the fourth, Tairora. The same four areas, as a result of their proximity, have been longest subjected to European contact and were the earliest to be controlled (except for the southern Tairora) of all areas in the sub-district. Three of these areas each had a candidate in the Kainantu Open Electorate, and the fourth, Agarabi, had two—both from the same village. Also running for the Open Electorate was a single European candidate, Holowei (Barry Holloway).

Candidates who are linguistically, culturally, and by birth and residence identified with a particular ethnic area will be known here as “ethnic candidates”, to distinguish them from candidates, such as Europeans, or Papuans and New Guineans from outside the area, who cannot be so identified.

The race for the Open Electorate seat in the House of Assembly made it possible in Kainantu to test a number of interesting questions: (1) How well would a European candidate fare against a field of local, ethnic candidates? (2) How well would a given ethnic candidate poll outside his own area? How well would he poll against another ethnic candidate in the latter's area? (3) What would be the response of the people of the smaller ethnic areas, with populations of from a few hundred to four thousand-odd, south-east and south-west of the Kainantu station, none of whom had candidates identifiably their own? (4) Would there be largely “block” voting, or would voting be more individually determined, at the clan level, the village level, and the level of the ethnic area?

The New Guinea candidates for the open seat included Ono, from Agarabi, and To‘ito, from Gadsup. Ono was the President of the Agarabi Local Government Council, established two years earlier, and had briefly visited Australia. To‘ito was a leading figure in a coffee growing and marketing group in his home village of Aiyura. He had once attempted to establish a programme of adult education in his area. Akila, from Kamano, was a clerk at the Sub-District office. Manke, the second Agarabi candidate, was a man educated in Seventh

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Day Adventist mission schools—like his Agarabi rival, Ono—a teacher, and a vocal and respected public spokesman. These four candidates, then, all of them literate, were relatively well schooled men, more experienced and familiar with European views and governmental practices than all but a few voters of the electorate. As much as one could speak of a local New Guinea elite, these men belonged to it, though they could scarcely be compared with some of the sophisticated candidates on the New Guinea coast and in Papua.

To'uke, the Tairora candidate, had had no formal schooling, was not literate, and spoke no English. His prominence was purely local and arose mainly from his position as a Tairora interpreter for the Kainantu government station. Through this association, his forceful character, and his own ambition, he became moderately influential in a part of the Tairora area, an arbitrator of village disputes, and a man who often acted with authority as the government representative and not just its “turntalk”. The Tairora candidate was the least well educated of all the candidates in the open race, but the Tairora area was also the least advanced of the four that had ethnic candidates, without a school in its entire large territory and without a single literate or English-speaking person to match the small but significant number among the Kamano, Agarabi, and Gadsup. The backwardness of the Tairora area and its ethnic candidate are worth noting since To'uke, notwithstanding, led all of his New Guinea rivals by an appreciable margin. Without the European candidate, he might possibly have won in the Open Electorate.

The European candidate, listed on the ballot paper as Holowei, an officer on leave from the Department of Native Affairs, was the man principally responsible for setting up the first (and only) two Local Government Councils in the sub-district, the Agarabi and Kamano Councils. The latter had been opened just before the election campaign. His recent special work in these two areas, as well as his general approach, gave him a prominence among New Guineans that seemed at the outset to assure him of a good number of votes. Besides this, Holowei made a point of pidginizing his surname for campaign purposes, and publicly rejected the caste epithet “masta”, declaring that he was running as a Kainantu man. He campaigned far more widely and vigorously than any other candidate in either the Open Electorate or the Special Electorate, covering the majority of areas in the sub-district by car or on foot.

To a considerable degree the ethnic candidates in the Open Electorate concentrated their efforts in their own back yards. Only Ono, to the writer's knowledge, made more than a token bid for votes outside his ethnic area. The ethnic candidates tended to assume, from their lifelong experience as New Guineans, that their hopes lay mainly in standing as representatives of their respective peoples. Wider allegiances or loyalties had even less precedent than sociopolitical cohesion founded on common language, itself no traditional rallying point in the Eastern Highlands, where a particular village's ties of friendship and its fighting alliance were often with a village of different speech, and its bitterest animosity was often directed towards one of the same language. In the context of the election, however, the ability to speak to voters in their own vernacular was assumed to constitute, and apparently did constitute, a distinct advantage.

The question arises how ethnic candidates from the less populous Agarabi and Gadsup areas calculated their chances against the candidates of the more numerous Kamano or Tairora. At the outset, they may not have calculated them at all. A challenge was understood to have been laid down by government officers in their pre-election orientation talks: will black-skinned men be able to come forward and participate, now that the call has been issued, or will they fall - 202 down, showing that New Guineans are still not ready to meet this test? To some ethnic candidates, nominated largely in response to this general challenge, the further necessity of competing for votes against given rivals in order to win was much less obvious at the start. Many voters, in fact, did not realize until quite late in the campaign that, in order for one candidate to win, he must cause the other five to lose. The complex Australian system of preferential voting, with its successive choices, contributed to obscure this condition of the game. The population statistics of Kainantu ethnic areas, moreover, are not known in much detail outside the Department of Native Affairs. Some language groups, in fact, are not censused integrally, being rather seriously cut up among different census divisions and patrolling routes. Parts of Tairora are administered from different government stations, and Kamano is split between sub-districts, falling, as it happened, into two separate electorates. Both candidates and voters might well be vague about relative ethnic voting strengths. In addition, even the more astute candidates might feel that as much depended upon “getting out the vote” as on the sheer numerical strength of a given ethnic area. Finally, no matter how plain the relative strength of different areas, once in the race nearly all of the ethnic candidates largely resigned themselves to deeply embedded traditions of familism and localism. Quite possibly they could not have done otherwise.

As the campaign wore on, Holowei's problem increasingly seemed to be to draw sufficient first preference votes from the ethnic candidates in each area. If he could thus stay in the running, it was conceded, he might win with second preferences though the favourite sons could expect the majority of first preferences. Holowei, however, hoped to win a plurality of first preferences. In his campaign, he stressed the idea that he could be a more effective representative than his rivals because of his experience in government.

Holowei won decisively in the Open Electorate. His victory, it turned out, was not based mainly on second-preference votes, nor could it safely have been, for too few voters expressed second preferences. But his first preferences were over twice as many as those of his nearest rival, To'uke, the Tairora candidate. Nor did Holowei's plurality come especially from Kamano and Agarabi, where he was well known through his work with the councils. Indeed, those two areas contributed somewhat less than proportionately to his total. The biggest single block of Holowei votes, over a third of his first preferences, came rather from Gadsup. In large part, surely, this was because To'ito, the ethnic candidate, had attempted to withdraw in Holowei's favour towards the end of the race and let this be known among many of his Gadsup supporters. To'ito's resulting small number of first preferences eliminated him from the contest, this again especially favouring Holowei because many Gadsup voters had bothered to express second preferences and the majority of them were for Holowei. Even without the special advantage of the Gadsup vote, however, Holowei would almost certainly have won a plurality of first preferences.

The character of Holowei's victory thus turned out to be quite different from what many expected, although the prognostication was correct in one important respect: he ran well behind the ethnic candidates in each area—except in Gadsup, as noted. In Agarabi he ran a close third, behind the two ethnic candidates. The assumption thus proved basically sound that a given ethnic area would prefer its own candidate, and in second place a non-ethnic candidate, such as Holowei, to the ethnic candidate of some other area. It appears that none of the four ethnic areas as a whole gave more than five per cent—if that—of its first preferences to an alien ethnic candidate. Accordingly, the order in which the ethnic candidates finished the race reflected almost exactly the number of voters who were polled in each ethnic area.

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Unfortunately, because of the way votes were collected and tallied, one cannot discriminate clearly the areas with no ethnic candidate, except for Wonenara. But this area is isolated, very new, and only Holowei campaigned there. They gave him almost 90 per cent of their first preference votes. While some of the other areas did ally themselves with the Kamano or Tairora candidate, depending on contiguity, it appears in general that these areas distributed their votes more evenly than the principal four, to the relative advantage of the European candidate.

The issue of ethnic candidates, and of European vs. New Guinea candidates, was of course ruled out in the South Markham Special Electorate, of which the Kainantu Open Electorate formed a part, but which also included a sizeable area and population outside the Kainantu sub-district. Three European candidates were entered, of whom only two, Mr. Mick Casey and Mr. Graham Gilmore, were residents of the Kainantu area. Only these two, moreover, became well known in the area during the race. The third candidate, Mr. Lloyd Hurrell of Wau, did not campaign at Kainantu and was only a name to most of the electorate. Casey, the longer resident of the two local men, was a coffee planter already known in some parts of the area. Gilmore, a new arrival in Kainantu, had recently taken over as proprietor of the Kainantu Hotel. The campaigns of the two men differed appreciably, Gilmore's including a five-point platform intended to appeal directly to Kainantu New Guineans. Gilmore spoke to gatherings more widely and often, and fraternized openly, especially with influential local men in some areas. There is little question that each candidate projected, at least to voters who could be reached by car, a reasonably clear if over-simplified image; and their rivalry was also far more obvious to voters than any in the open election. In fact, for a time it generated anxiety and fear in some areas, with rumours of hostile threats between the candidates and of killings and reprisals that awaited voters who did not support a given man. The very large number of blank ballots in the special election may to some extent reflect the element of fear, but probably more the fact that campaigning, limited to places acccessible by road, was carried on by candidates less well known to voters than most New Guineans would be.

Gilmore's 56 per cent of Kainantu first preferences 9 was not sufficient to beat Hurrell's larger Wau vote, but Gilmore won on second preferences when Casey was eliminated. Block voting was evident in the Special Electorate but was, on the whole, much less pronounced than in the Open Electorate. It was more pronounced at the village than the ethnic level, moreover, presumably reflecting the absence of a controlling ethnic factor. The intensity of campaigning seems to have affected the outcome of the Special Electorate race as much or more than the style of campaign, and it is strongly indicated that European candidates, whether they are running against New Guinea candidates or against each other, have to campaign harder to obtain a given number of votes. This is not surprising in a caste system.

During the entire campaign for both Open and Special Electorates no substantive national issues were developed for the vast majority of the voters. Indeed, very few issues of any kind emerged in their thinking, apart from the “issue” of choosing a representative. This decision, furthermore, was reached by relatively few voters independently but rather through consensus with influential men, close kinsmen, and fellow villagers. The vagueness of voters about issues, and hence about the work to be done in Port Moresby, reflected the almost complete lack of experience of most of the electorate with any supra-local - 204 concept or activity of government. The pre-election explanations by government officers and patrols failed—indeed hardly attempted—to communicate the purpose and nature of a legislature. Instead, these briefings were nearly all concentrated upon familiarizing the people with the mechanics of balloting and election—admittedly no easy task. The voter thus expressed a judgement of the men who offered to go to Moresby and do the work, whatever the work might be. For a majority of voters at Kainantu this judgement was apparently based as far as possible on the principle that “one of ours” should do it.

The uncertainty about the “work”, as well as the strangeness of election procedures, led to fears and speculations that one would like to detail and analyse if there were more space. Dreams, and ghostly visitations, and inevitable echoes of cargo cult belief, played a part in some areas.

The first experience of voting, on the positive side, will make subsequent elections easier for voters. In addition, in a number of areas there was an experience of political action and the development of political allegiances transcending in scale—though not in content—anything known from the past. (The politics of aboriginal New Guinea communities, after all, dealt with substantial issues of life and death, peace and war, beside which the known issues of the recent election were pale indeed!) The extent to which the new political affiliations can be maintained or increased before the next election will depend very largely on the degree and kind of communication in the meantime between the Kainantu voters and their legislative representatives.

A window on territorial government has been opened. While it will afford Kainantu people a somewhat different vista than if a majority of them had been able to agree on a sophisticated New Guinea representative, some of them may in the next few years acquire a sense of national participation that will substantially alter their lives. Lest we too easily accept rhetorical sweep for the certainty of large achievement, however, we might reflect that some residents of the Kainantu sub-district may not yet know the outcome of the election when the House of Assembly convenes.

The final figures in the Kainantu Open Electorate were:

Ono Aia 2,644
Holowei (Barry Holloway) 8,350
To'ito Simau'ampe 1,165
Akila Inivigo 2,352
Touke Mareka 2,859
Mauki Kaoti 2,049

The final figures in the South Markham Special Electorate were:

Albert Lloyd Hurrell 8,963
Mick Casey 5,658
G. Gilmore 9,311

These figures include in each candidate's total both the first preferences received by him and also any second or subsequent preferences credited to him after the elimination of other candidates and before his own elimination.

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“I would like to tell you about this new election business. We talked about it every morning and night. We didn't do our other work. We showed all the men and women how to vote. We didn't want to make any trouble for the government. Election day came. It was a big day for us. Some of us greased ourselves and went quietly to vote. In a short time, we all got a big election sickness and were sick for many days. Now we are getting better and the election is finished. We still don't know what may happen to us. This is all of my story about this election business of the government.”

This synoptic account told by a Gadsup man highlights the pertinent features of the first election for a village group of 265 people in the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea. These horticultural people viewed the election as a very serious “business”, filled with many responsibilities, and having many uncertainties about it.

Late each night, in a smoke-filled bamboo hut, one could hear a group of men and women talking about the “election business of the government”. The following morning, the discussion would continue in the village plaza with a large number of villagers present. Frequently afternoon sessions were held whenever some special election news came to the village. Every Sunday afternoon, men and women from six near-by Gadsup villages came to this village to share information they had obtained about the election. A few village men who had attended the election school were considered the election experts, and they tried to maintain this role by obtaining any bit of information available to them, quickly sharing their news at village meetings. All regular village meetings dealing with the daily affairs of the village were suspended and only a few village court cases were heard. The women would wait until the morning meetings were finished before going to their gardens for the daily supply of food; upon return they would sit and listen to more election talk as they prepared the evening meal. This was the modified pattern of village life created by the election. It began four months prior to the election and three months before the Patrol Officer made his visit to explain the purpose of and the general procedure for the election. It also began well in advance of the appearance of any election candidates in the village.

Most striking to the witness was the people's weighty sense of responsibility: they felt obliged to become deeply involved in the election activities and to be constantly doing something concerning the election. They appeared to show exaggerated concern, particularly as they had so little information and guidance about the election. For almost three months, the concepts of “open” and “reserved” electorates were meaningless to them: the identity and specific platforms of most of the candidates were unknown, and the general election plans and procedures were unfamiliar to the villagers. Any bits of information that came their way were discussed and re-discussed, and then had to be discarded when new information was received. Some of the group discussion - 206 during these early months was quite general, and covered such matters as whether to ask a new country to come here and help them; whether the taxation practices would change after the election; and whether a “white” or a “black” man should be running the country.

Although the villagers perceived the forthcoming election as “big business of the government”, they were never clear about the purposes of the election and the possible consequences of it. When asked what they thought might be the outcome of the election, a common comment was, “I don't know. Some things are going to change around here.” And when pressed further, they would say, “The government knows about this. It will change things, but I don't know exactly what it will change. I think we will have some new kind of work around here—some government work to do, but I don't know what it will be. They will tell us later.” There were no significant statements that large cargo wealth would be coming to them, nor did they build any new houses or destroy homes. These and any other so-called “cargo-cult” symptoms were not evident in this village group.

The villagers' apparently compulsive tendency to keep busy with election affairs, to the neglect of some of their own village work, could be partially explained by their attitude toward the government. Generally, they feel that the government brings about more favourable than unfavourable changes. And since they view the government as a powerful external force controlling and guiding their lives, they said, “We must always do what the government wants us to do. Government work is most important business for us. It has good ‘think-think’; we have no good ‘think-think’. If we don't do what the government tells us to do, we will get in trouble with these men.” With these two predominant feelings, namely, a disposition to comply with any government-sponsored activity and fear of trouble if they did not comply, the village members continued for months with election discussions. These discussions relieved their anxiety to be doing something for the election.

A more significant development was also occurring, however, among the six neighbouring Gadsup villages. For the first time, these separate autonomously-perceived villages were beginning to talk and act as a larger political unit with common interests and political concerns. A significant impetus toward this development occurred when the Gadsup people as a unit decided to have one of their own men on the ballot paper in the open electorate. The Gadsup decision to select only one man from all the Gadsup villages was a major achievement in the development of group thinking and action. Shortly after, discussions of other economic, political, and social problems in the large inter-village group meetings revealed feelings of unity and increasing solidarity among them. A second important consequence of these inter-village meetings, closely related to the first, was the establishment of wider inter-village social ties between the men, women, and children of the six villages which now came together periodically to share and eat food. These social gatherings did not take place without some fear of sorcery, but it was considerably less than previously.

A troublesome question in discussion was whether to vote for a “white man” or a “black man”. Villagers who had enjoyed considerable favourable contact with the Europeans said, “We black men, we got no good think-think, only the white man has good think-think. Now, suppose we fall down, only the white man can pick us up and lead us back to the right road.” But villagers who had experienced only limited, and in some cases unfavourable, contact with the Europeans said, “The white man, he doesn't know how we live in our village. He doesn't know what we want. He may take our land. It is time we black men talk for what we want.” Although this discussion began early, it was not - 207 resolved until the last month before the election. Then, they decided to vote for both a white and a native candidate in the open electorate, so that one could help the other.

As one may have surmised from the above discussion, a significant characteristic of Gadsup behaviour is their strong desire for group consensus. In the past, achievement of group consensus had high survival value when they continuously fought with other villages, and now it was still a most apparent feature of their behaviour in inter-village discussions as well as intra-village discussions. Any man (seldom a woman) might voice an opposing opinion in the early part of a group discussion, but he soon realized that a sustained viewpoint contrary to the developing viewpoint of the majority could readily place him outside the group. The costs were too great to oppose the group's decision; particularly the danger that he might be rejected by all his neighbouring Gadsup villages and marked as a potential sorcerer. The people were able to state clearly the reasons why they felt a united group decision was important to them: “It's no good if every man votes differently and then something goes wrong with the voting; we could be blamed by the government and by other people in this village for voting differently. If we vote alike, we will know, but if we all vote differently we will never know the trouble. We must be together as we always have been in the past.” As we shall see from the election results, they did vote as a group supporting selected candidates. At the poll there was little deviation from the group's prior decision, even though electoral officials told them that each voter was to cast his own vote according to his own particular preference.

One month before the designated election day, a Patrol Officer came to explain the election's purposes and procedures. Fortunately, he had some knowledge of the Gadsup people and also a marked degree of sensitivity to the group's reactions to his presentation. He adjusted the educational materials to the needs of these people, and utilized such instructional methods as: simple concrete examples and explanations; large crayon drawings with his visual presentations; practice voting sessions; and sufficient time for questions to clarify their ideas. For the first time in three months, the villagers were greatly relieved (and more relaxed) to have had an official government man clarify many points which they had been struggling to verify for months. They returned to the village and began a new series of group discussions in which the content was centred on specific voting procedures and specific candidates for the “big and little fences” (Reserved and Open Electorates).

In the meantime, some of the candidates began to appear in the village. Each candidate utilized a different method for his campaigning. The methods reflected their thinking about the needs of the indigenous people; their previous experiences with them and the candidates' anticipated mode of working with the people if elected. It is of interest to offer the contrasting approaches of two white candidates.

One candidate felt very closely identified with the indigenous people. His desire was to be like one of them in their thinking, interests, and village activities. His post-election aim would be to move with them as they formulated their goals. He felt the people must know that the candidate fully understands their customs and general mode of living. This candidate listened to the people; ate with them; stayed in their villages; and even walked some incredible distances to reach their villages. In his campaign speeches, he made quite indefinite statements about what he would do once elected. Rather, he spent time explaining the electorates, election procedures, and the candidates for each electorate, and avoided giving any specific platform goals.

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In contrast, another white candidate expressed the viewpoint that the natives needed strong and definite leadership from the white man as they were groping for ways to achieve the European way of life. They needed to be “lifted” from their traditional patterns of living into quite a drastic new way of life, with new homes, new agricultural methods, and new health practices. He felt that ambitious programmes for schools, better roads, European business practices, land-loans, and national defense should be developed in the immediate future. Thus, in his campaign speeches specific goals were stated and definite lines of action were outlined. He also felt that one did not especially have to know the people well to be elected; rather he thought, one could use startling and repetitive stimulation and quickly win the people. He flew over several villages dropping leaflets about himself and his proposed post-election plans. He drove a large new truck to many villages where the people didn't know him, and gave an impressive talk about the needs of the people. It is of interest to relate that both of these European candidates were elected by the Gadsup people, one in the Open Electorate and the other in the Special Electorate, and that any candidate who did not make a personal appearance in the villages received very few votes.

One week before the election day, the villagers became tense and quiet. On several days one could see them all rehearsing the exact voting procedure in the village plaza, with all men and women participating. They said this was very important to ensure that they would not make any mistakes when they voted. Then the day of the election came. The villagers awakened early and moved about in an unusually quiet manner. Some men and women put pig's grease on their hair and skin as a magical practice to protect them from any evil spirits. The women put on new grass skirts which they had made for the occasion; men tied bright new loin cloths around their waist. Men and women walked in separate groups to the election post. Each man and woman walked quickly and in an orderly and solemn manner to the election booth. They voted solemnly, then placed their ballot paper in the bright red box (with some hesitation) and returned to the village. Some villagers said they feared the red box, believing that there might be some powerful force or a spirit inside the box which could cause them harm. Back in the village they prepared for a big sing-sing that lasted for two full days and nights.

Approximately ten days after the election day, an epidemic of influenza spread over the Eastern Highlands and many Gadsup people became acutely ill. The villagers said they had never had such a terrible illness before, and called it an “election sickness”. They felt it was due to the election, since only the men and women who had voted were acutely ill. They had a severe headache with the illness and attributed this phenomenon to an “evil spirit” which got into their heads at the election booth. To further support their claim that this was an election sickness, they indicated that all men and women from other Gadsup villages had this same sickness right after they voted. The villagers were quite frightened during the course of their illness, and frequently asked the anthropologist what might happen to them.

After the villagers had voted and had experienced the “election sickness”, they did not make any inquiries about the election results. Finally, the results were made known to them. There was a marked apathy and a quiet acceptance of the news. They asked no questions and made no further comments about the results. They even failed to ask about the defeated Gadsup candidate whom they had placed in the open electorate and had worked so hard to get elected. Their behaviour responses indicated that they were quite angry with the government and with the whole election business. They felt they had worked - 209 diligently to comply with the government's requirements for the voting, yet the consequence was an unfavourable one, namely, illness for everyone. One man said, “We tried hard to do what the government wanted us to do and thought we had done well. This is what happened to us—sickness.” A number of other Gadsup villages had similar feelings about the outcome of the election.

Only a brief summary can be offered about the voting behaviour of the people in the village, and of all Gadsup people. Ninety-seven per cent of the men and women in the village voted; 94.5 per cent of all Gadsup people voted in this first House of Assembly Election. Both males and females voted alike in their first and second preferences, voting for the two pre-selected candidates. In one near-by Gadsup village an exactly equal number of male and female voters were sent to the booths so that there would be a balance between sexes. Male voters made very few votes beyond their first and second preferences, whereas a few females made some third, fourth, and fifth preference votes in the voting for the open electorate. In general, the voting behaviour followed very closely the village group's decision to vote for one native and one European candidate in the open electorate, and to give a first preference vote to one particular candidate in the reserved electorate. From the election results of the Kainantu sub-district voting precinct, the Gadsup people showed a distinctive pattern in their voting behaviour with their large number of group-preference votes for one or two specific candidates in both the open and reserved electorates.

It seems reasonable to predict that this Gadsup village which has now experienced its first election will be hesitant or reluctant to experience its second election unless substantial alterations occur in the villagers' thinking.


Our field-work area lies in a pocket between two natural electoral districts, the Minj and Mount Hagen areas, in the Western Highlands of New Guinea. Administratively, it belongs to the Mount Hagen Sub-District, but for the elections it was included in the Minj Open Electorate. The issues in the election largely depended on this fact.

The Assembly elections followed a year after the Local Government Council was first set up and given the name of Dei Council. We were staying beside the Council House at Dei when the elections began, but during them we moved about seven miles westwards to a place called Buk; and at Buk we also saw the elections for new local Government Councillors which took place soon after the national elections were over.

Most of the election propaganda was channelled through these Councillors—it was they who were asked by the Patrol Officer if they wanted to put up a local native candidate. Minj and Hagen have a different vernacular (tok ples), and men of our area say they cannot “hear” the Minj language, although it is in fact closely related to their own; and coupled with this worry over language was the feeling that only a local candidate could represent Dei Council interests - 210 properly. But no native candidate was found. The Councillors here represent their “lines”—one for each small tribe or each clan within a larger tribe—and they were split by descent-group sectionalism. Later, in discussion with us, some of them pretended that they had not heard what the Kiap said when he asked about a Council candidate, as they couldn't understand Pidgin and the others, who could, failed to pass on the news to them. The rest admitted that they had either not understood what it was all about, or that they couldn't reach agreement (kamap wanbel long tok).

In the end, local opinion supported two outsiders: one local white plantation owner, and one native man bilong bisnis from Nondugl, a few miles from Minj. The latter was favoured by one of the more influential councillors, who had himself thought of standing, but withdrew because of a further split: in the Buk area he could have carried his own tribe and three or four of the others, but the groups around Dei itself and eastwards nearer to Banz supported the white plantation owner. There were three further candidates, one white planter and two native businessmen, but their names were barely considered at Dei and not always known at Buk.

The Dei groups had decided that the native candidates would not have enough save—the need to read and write in English as well as Pidgin was the main anxiety here—and that this new House of Assembly was still samting bilong ol waitman. But they reached a mental compromise here—they hoped that the “master” would take a “boy” with him to the coast and show him the way to law and government, so that on the next time round he could take over. Some thought that only the “master” would be elected and he would later choose a boy of their “line” to go with him; others had it that one white man and one black man could get in but that the white representative would then school the black one, who would be “number two”. Knowing that more than one man could be voted for, the people thought this meant that more than one could be elected—eleksin bilong tupela man tasol.

At Buk the local Councillor who campaigned for the Nondugl man, Kaibalt, secured the local votes for him. Kaibalt himself came as far as Ambukla, about three miles from Buk, and from there simply sent out “talk” via the Councillors. Many of the voters felt that the whole business somehow emanated from the Council, and so followed their Councillor's lead. The European candidate favoured by the Dei groups toured the area constantly by car and tried to win the Councillors' support. However, even at the final Council meeting before the elections began, some Councillors maintained that they didn't know him and asked if there were still time to put up a local native candidate.

Both Kaibalt and his European rival were seen as future promoters of schools, coffee-growing, and road-building in the district. The problem was, cui bono? Would the white man help only those who were wanskin with him, or would he use his save on everyone's behalf? Would Kaibalt perhaps be the safest choice, as he was only a step away from the category of wantok?

Decisions were partly influenced by what the voters thought the position of the new representative was to be. Some thought he would be the “big boss” over the Council, and provide the authority which some of the Councillors lacked to get things moving. Others repeated carefully their information that he would go to the coast and there talk with other representatives, although few realized the significance of this for political development. Some saw him as the intermediary between the Council and the District Office in Hagen. The winner should know how to deal with the white man's world in Port Moresby, but must also be willing to help the people of Dei. Hence the “compromise” decision, reached by some, to elect both candidates.

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The progress of the Electoral Officer's car was followed eagerly, partly because people thought they could vote only at their census-points. There were stories that some were threatened by their Councillors with a £50 fine if they failed to register their vote, but there was no elaborate check on who voted for whom—after the votes were cast they were now in the hands of the Administration, and, it was said, “We shall know in due course” (bihain taim mipela i ken save).

The Assembly elections here contrasted with the later ones for new Local Government Councillors. In the former the process of voting was regarded as the important thing, but it was realized that the end result could not be foreseen. It would depend on an eventual majority decision and no prior consensus could be reached over the whole electorate. At the Council elections, in the one case where there was some doubt, there was a furious attempt to reach a consensus before the point of voting was reached. This was theoretically possible because the group to be represented was small enough to argue the matter out before-hand—something which the whole of Minj electorate clearly could not do. In the Council case, when eventually another Councillor of the same tribe “marked” a new man for them, the people voted unanimously for him—the process of voting here was simply a public statement of the consensus reached. In the Assembly elections this kind of decision as to who was the right candidate for both Dei and Buk was never made. Neither of the two best candidates quite fitted their needs. Recently one of the Councillors asked us if the elections had gone well or badly—and if perhaps they had gone badly, could they have another one and this time put up as their candidate the vice-chairman of the Council, the man who had campaigned for Kaibalt at Buk? This was a few days before the news came that Kaibalt had won, with the local white candidate second.

Once the election was in progress, the people of Buk and Dei paid little attention to the Hagen electorate, though the candidate who eventually won that electorate has his plantation close to Dei. The Hagen result was the reverse of that in Minj. In Hagen a white plantation owner won, with a native candidate second.

Final figures in the Minj Electorate, with all preferences included, were:

Brian Corrigan 379
Kaibelt Diria 8,568
Paulus Waine 1,782
Ian Frederick Parsons 6,715
Nopnop Tol 5,291

The Mount Hagen Open Electorate was one of the few which chose a white man to represent it in the House of Assembly. Electorates immediately surrounding this one, i.e. Minj, Wapenemunda, Wabag, Lagaip, Ialibu and Kerowagi, elected natives.

The particular area that I am most familiar with, i.e. the area along the Eastern slopes of the Mt. Hagen range and into the Baiyer River valley, accounted for roughly a fourth of the electorate.

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There was very little interest in the elections at first. Unlike other parts of New Guinea, e.g. the Eastern Highlands, where interest ran high and people held frequent meetings, no one here seemed concerned or interested. What political talk there was dealt primarily with the notion of Local Government Councils and the taxes the people would have to pay if their area became a Council area. No one was interested in paying taxes, so no one wanted a Council, though it was recognized that a Council was sophisticated and that without it the people of the Kumdi line, the big line here, would remain “bush-kanakas”. Until Keith Levy made his first campaign appearance, there was very little talk about the House of Assembly elections. Twice the people decided to have a meeting in the evening, the women in one house and the men in another. In both cases the meetings were failures. Nobody knew what to discuss, and they broke up early after an hour or so of desultory talking.

With the appearance of the candidates, interest quickened slightly. There were five candidates in all: Kup, Pena, Colman, Komp, and Levy. This was the order in which their names appeared on the ballot. The native candidates, Kup, Pena, and Komp, had an immediate advantage in their names, which were much easier for the people to remember than the names of the non-native candidates. Kup is in business for himself. He has a truck which he uses for transporting people around. His line is Pilenge, which is very small. Its original place is Kaip (Area I; cf. below). Pilenge people have since moved in with the Mogei people and have many ties with this line. Pena has a chain of small stores. His line is Ndika. It is one of the larger lines in the Hagen electorate. The Mogei line and the Ndika line are roughly equal in size. Colman, like Pena, also operates a chain of stores. He works on a larger scale than Pena, but his stores are essentially of the same sort. Komp is a coffee-grower and has a truck. He is also a Mogei. Levy is a planter. He has also been in the contracting business. Resident in the territory for many years, he seems to have a good basic understanding of the natives.

The methods of campaigning of the five were quite different.

On the basis of the results, Keith Levy was the most effective. In my area he was the first to arrive on the scene, a day before the government official came in to begin his instruction of the natives on the method and meaning of the elections. Levy arrived with two land-rovers, each of them filled with native men: councillors and recognized “big men” from various lines, Ndika (Pena's line) and Mogei (Kup's and Komp's line) as well as others. Levy did this deliberately to let the people see and realize that his appeal was not limited to this or that line. As will be seen from the tables and figures below, voting did proceed according to line, but in each case Levy polled enough votes from all the areas to give himself a majority. Much of his speaking was devoted to educating the people about the elections and straightening out their questions or doubts about what the government said or what other candidates had to say. For this reason, to meet all rumours, objections, etc., he made two appearances in every place at which he decided to stop. Various rumours went about. For example, it was rumoured that if the people refused to vote, they would be put to work on the roads; also that if a white man was elected all the business would be taken away from the natives and put into the hands of the whites. At every place, Levy wrote his name on slips of paper, in view of the people, and then handed these out to various men standing about: to anyone who wanted one, and to those who looked as if they might be “big men”. He wrote it in pidgin-English, according to the way the natives themselves would pronounce his name, i.e. Kis Lipi. Knowing that they would have a difficult time remembering - 213 his name, Levy used the natives' almost mystical respect for a “pas” or letter to give them a reminder which they would carry proudly about with them, or put in some safe place, so they wouldn't forget his name when election day came up.

In my area two things especially worked for Levy. Firstly, he did not underestimate the natives or their abilities. He answered their questions, shook hands with them, and tried to remember the names of the people who were important, i.e. the “big men” and the tultuls and luluais. Secondly, he was the first one to come here and “give his talk”. The very next day John Colman came, but the people said that Levy had already come, and as far as they were concerned the whole matter was settled. It was Levy all the way. This changed somewhat later, especially when Pena began campaigning, but the first impression he made gave Levy a big head-start. The other white candidate, John Colman, came only once to my area, did not stay long, and had very little to say or do with the people. He was forgotten as soon as he left. One had the impression that he definitely underestimated the natives. He staked his whole success on printed election posters which had a picture of himself on them. Considering the people's interest in pictures, this technique should have been a huge success, but it was not, as the results of the election proved.

In addition to Levy, Pena was the other candidate of importance in this area; as a matter of fact, he came second in the polling. He did not have an automobile with which to do his campaigning, yet he seems to have gotten around very effectively. He was in my area at least twice during the campaign, and once on an earlier occasion before he was a declared candidate, when he came to report on his government-sponsored trip to Australia. His most effective appearance here was on the occasion of the dedication of a new Lutheran church. Pena stood up to make his contribution to the opening of the church around 3.30 in the afternoon, and from then until 7.00 the meeting turned into a political rally. Many people from far and wide were assembled. From the European point of view Pena may be a long and tedious speaker, but this is not a bad quality in a native speaker.

Kup came out in the course of driving people around, but at no time did he have a rally or make any speeches in this area.

I have no indication that Komp ever came out.

By the time of the elections, the “talk” of the people was almost exclusively for Levy and Pena, in number one and two positions respectively. People were quite confused by the fact that different candidates seemed to promise the same things, only more so. Whom were they to believe after all? The burdens and difficulties of the choice actually lay heavily upon them. Levy, however, had been first to come among them, and so held an edge.

Some of the reasons why, according to the people themselves, Levy continued to be their first choice might be offered. He was white, and therefore had more schooling than the native candidates. Therefore he could do a much better job as representative. He had more “savvy”. Also, there was fear that if a native got into office he would favour his own line too much. The Kumdi people had none of their own line running, so they were the more anxious to have a neutral white man represent them. The white man also built their roads and looked after their schools and dispensaries. They themselves did not know how to do this yet, so they decided to vote for a white man.

The voting of the entire Kumdi line was significantly for Levy and Pena, but there were variations in the order of the two leading candidates, so that a wife might vote one way and her husband the other. The idea that each one had the right to vote just the way he wanted had gotten across to them by the time - 214 of the elections themselves. The unanimity reached was achieved in the way that any unanimity is customarily reached in such a society as this, i.e. by constant talking and discussing until everyone more or less agrees on a solution or course of action.

The Kumdi people all had a surprisingly good grasp of the meaning of the elections and what was expected of them. Seventy-seven per cent of the eligible males and seventy-five per cent of the eligible females voted. According to my own impressions, this does not mean that the people here are particularly civic-minded, aware of their responsibilities as well as their rights. The act of voting itself was confused with the act of being counted in a census, which had occurred shortly before and was still fresh in the minds of everyone. At census-time everybody must appear before the government representative, under pain of being made to work on the road for a day or so.

The results of the elections in the Mt. Hagen electorate can be summarized in various ways. The following tables and figures indicate the way the votes were cast generally, as well as how the preferential votes were placed.

  First Count   Second Count   Third Count   Fourth Count
    Rec'd 11 Total Rec'd Total Rec'd Total
Kup Ogut 3,527 482 4,019 544 4,563    
Pena Ou 5,284 505 5,789 358 6,147 2,012 8,159
John Colman 1,481            
Komp Dei 1,604 263 1,867        
Keith Levy 9,026 191 9,217 830 10,047 2,227 12,274

Examining Table 1 we notice that at no time was Levy behind, although three candidates, viz. Colman, Komp and Kup, had to be eliminated before he reached the required majority. In all, a total of 21,013 votes were cast in the electorate. When Colman was eliminated, Levy received only 191 of his second preference votes as compared with 482 for Kup and 505 for Pena and 263 for Komp. This indicates that few people voted for two white people, at least in the order Colman 1, Levy 2. Whether many voted in the order Levy 1, Colman 2 cannot he known since Levy's votes were not eliminated. From this point on, Levy got the majority of preference votes, although Pena stayed close. Table 1 indicates also that Komp's voters tended to vote in this order: Komp, Levy, Kup, Pena.

Following the official map of polling places, the Hagen electorate can he divided into five areas, i.e. the four census divisions and the town of Mt. Hagen itself. 12 We can number these areas as follows: Tuman, Kuli, Kaip, Korn Farm and Wurerp is I; Keltiga, Kelyua, etc. is II, the area I was in; Rugli, Bukapena, etc. is III; Baiyer River, Manjip, etc. is IV; the town of Mt. Hagen is V. Area IV is predominantly Enga-speaking. Considering each area, we get the following percentage breakdown of voting.

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Kup 30.6 6.5 13.3 9.21 33.5
Pena 4.3 29.0 25.0 44.8 8.9
Colman 9.0 4.0 10.4 4.71 9.7
Komp 17.4 5.1 3.1 2.78 16.8
Levy 38.7 55.4 48.2 38.5 31.1

In areas I, II, and III Levy received more votes than any other candidate. Kup, however, also did well in I. This is where his own line, Pilenge, originated. In IV Pena received more, and in V Kup received more, than Levy. Pena's home locality and the bulk of his line (Ndika) are located in IV, and the Mogei people (Kup's relatives and Komp's line) are strong in Mt. Hagen itself. Areas II and III were not so committed to any of the candidates, although Pena's wife comes from area II, where, as we ourselves observed, the talk was all for Levy and Pena.

Although some areas and lines tended to vote for local favourites, in no area was this completely the case. Nowhere was Levy or any other candidate totally excluded. There was no really massive block voting by lines. Even in his opponents' strongholds, Levy managed to win a sizeable number of votes, i.e. in areas I, IV, and V. Kup and Komp split their available votes. Had one declined to stand for election, the other would have run more strongly. Pena made a very good showing. He also did a creditable job of electioneering. Colman, either for lack of interest or because one white man on the ticket was enough, ran very poorly; he was very soon eliminated. This left Keith Levy as the winner of the Mt. Hagen open electorate.

The final result, including all preferences allotted to each candidate during the count, was as follows:

Keith Levy 12,274
Pena Ou 8,159
Kup Ogut 4,563
Komp Dei 1,876
John Colman 1,481
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The Kyaka Enga dwell on the northern slopes of the Mount Hagen Range and are bisected by administrative and electoral boundaries. The Lanim (or Ganduma) River, which separates the Hagen and Wabag Sub-Districts, was set in 1963 as the line between the Hagen and Wapenamanda electorates. Thus about four thousand Kyaka voters found themselves as a small minority among the Medlpa peoples of the Hagen electorate, who speak an entirely different language, while roughly the same number were placed in what is certainly an Enga electorate, Wapenamanda, but within which their dialect group was grossly outnumbered by the Laiapu Enga of the Middle Lai Valley, a people so numerous that, as one Kyaka spokesman put it, they swarm like bees and ants.

Yaramanda settlement area, where the writer lived from 27th January to 11th February 1964, is on the eastern side of the Lanim gorge, just within the Hagen electorate. I had previously spent thirteen months there in 1955-6 and four months in 1959-60.

During my fortnight's stay I witnessed the activities of a Census Patrol undertaken by the Returning Officer, Mount Hagen, who was concerned mainly to check the electoral roll, but who also gave preliminary instruction regarding the significance of the election and the procedures for casting votes. I also observed instructional sessions held by two locally recruited Kyaka lecturers; attended one abortive election meeting (the European candidate arrived late in the afternoon, well after the time when Kyaka gatherings normally break up in anticipation of rain, and found that the crowd had dispersed two hours previously), and one other meeting at which three candidates from Open Electorates addressed the crowd; listened to informal discussion of the election among Yaramanda people; and asked numerous questions. 14 I also learned much from discussion with the Rev. K. Osborne of the Australian Baptist New Guinea Mission, Baiyer River, and with members of the Department of Native Affairs, both within the Western Highlands District and elsewhere in the Territory. Unfortunately, I had to leave the Kyaka ten days before polling commenced among them, so was unable to observe this, or the full series of election meetings.

The Kyaka have been under effective European administration since 1947. The Australian Baptist New Guinea Mission has operated among them since 1948.

Four general questions may be raised concerning the elections. Firstly, were the Kyaka clear as to what the elections were about? Secondly, what were the platforms of the candidates? Thirdly, what issues were of concern to the electors, and for what reasons? Fourthly, to what extent may the organisation and administration of the elections have influenced the result?

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At the time of my arrival, less than three weeks before polling was to commence, there was general confusion at Yaramanda about the nature and purpose of the elections, and lack of enthusiasm for them. This was despite the fact that one or two election meetings had already been held in the Baiyer Valley, four hours' walk away, and that staff of the Baptist Mission, which has a very strong position among the Kyaka, had made some effort at explanations. The Kyaka, unlike the Medlpa groups living near Mt. Hagen township, do not yet have Local Government Councils. There was understandable initial confusion between Council elections and House of Assembly elections, and, as on previous occasions over the past five years when the prospect of Local Government Councils had been raised, the Luluai and other senior men stressed that Councils apparently implied taxation, and said that since they were all very poor they were against taxation and therefore against any form of election.

The visit of the Census patrol to check the electoral registers did little to dispel this confusion. By the time the rolls had been checked it was mid-afternoon, so that half way through the Returning Officer's explanatory address a heavy rain shower began, which led him to abbreviate proceedings. His address, though admirably lucid, also lost some of its impact through being delivered in pidgin, which very few of the audience could understand, and through being somewhat inadequately translated by the official interpreter. The only local speaker to reply to the officer was the Tultul, who dwelt on the lack of motor roads in the Kyaka domain, and then, as an apparent non-sequitur, went on to say that the Kyaka people living on both sides of the Lanim River would like to gather for the elections at Drambemai police post in the Baiyer Valley and not be “pulled” to Hagen or to Wapenamanda. He spoke in Kyaka, and again partly because of problems of translation, and partly because it is typical of Kyaka oratory that points should not be bluntly put, at least not at the commencement of a debate, he did not get his message across.

The officer said that he did not see what all this had to do with elections—all that they had to decide was who would best represent them at Port Moresby; and that they wouldn't have to walk any distance to go to the polls since several stations would be established within the Baiyer Valley. As I understand it, the Tultul was of course obliquely referring to the general worry of the local people: would representation mean taxation? If so, they would prefer to wait until economic development had proceeded further and they had become rich. Meanwhile they resented their apparent lack of importance in the eyes of government, and the division imposed on them in consequence.

Nevertheless, at least the inevitability of the election got across at this meeting, which, as a census assembly had a compulsory 100% attendance, as also the recognition that this was something the Administration considered important. Thus, when the locally recruited instructional teams arrived on the scene a few days later they had a good hearing, even though their initial appointment had itself caused some confusion.

There is no Patrol Post in the Baiyer Valley area. District Headquarters therefore requested the Baptist Mission to nominate five or six intelligent men with fluent pidgin to go to Mt. Hagen for a three day briefing course, after which they would hold instructional sessions in their home areas. Adult fluent pidgin speakers are still not numerous in the Baiyer, and most are either in European employment or are not persons of any prominence or pronounced character. Partly for this reason, but also to avoid identification of the elections with the Mission, the Rev. Osborne, Mission Secretary, nominated young men who lacked present connection with the Church but all of whom had achieved - 218 some prominence. One was an ex-Government Interpreter and the youngest Luluai in the Valley. He and another nominee are generally credited by the Yaramanda people as being the leading gamblers of the region, which is a fair tribute in an area which had been swept by gambling fever in the past two years.

In spite of Mr. Osborne's pains his actions were misunderstood: rumours spread that he had chosen the six men not as instructors, but as candidates for the election, or even as nominated members of the House of Assembly. However, these rumours died a natural death as the instructors set to work.

The instructors who actually visited Yaramanda were the two gambling kings. Apart from taking the opportunity to participate in a card school, they did little other than spread the word that a third instructor, Raleya Goya, would speak at Wunye, just outside clan territory, where there is a church, school and medical aid post.

Raleya Goya is a man of about 30. He is a very forceful orator in Kyaka, with tremendous voice-production, and also speaks excellent pidgin. I heard him give his routine address, illustrated with the set of poster cards distributed by the Administration, on three occasions. He put the information across very forcibly and very clearly, and dispelled much of the cruder misunderstandings of his audience. I had the impression that the complications of the overlapping Open and Special electorates, and of preferential voting, were still not understood, but Goya's performance was very creditable considering that he had had such a very summary briefing himself.

Apart from his duties as an instructor, Goya acted as agent and interpreter for John Colman, one of the two European candidates in the Hagen Open Electorate, and he combined his instruction sessions with propaganda on behalf of his candidate.

Thanks mainly to Goya, but also to the efforts of the candidates themselves and of members of the Baptist Mission, both European and Papuan, the Yaramanda people seemed by the time I left to have a fairly clear idea of what the elections were about. They certainly understood that the candidates they were to elect were merely to represent them at Port Moresby, not to replace administration by the Department of Native Affairs. However, quite which problems were properly to be considered as concerns of the Kiap and which were to be the province of the future members of the House of Assembly was not clear—and in some respects the candidates did not assist in clarifying this matter.


The concerns of the electors and the platforms of the candidates whom I heard speaking bore little apparent relationship to each other in the Kyaka part of the Hagen electorate. Here the Kyaka had no candidate of their own. In contrast, at least two of the candidates in the Wapenamanda electorate had platforms which made good sense to many Kyaka voters.

As I heard them at a meeting at Dalipun on the 7th February, or had them reported to me from other election meetings, the Hagen candidates' platforms consisted almost entirely of appeals for votes on account of their personal qualities or qualifications. John Colman, both in his address and in his election brochure, stressed that as a trader who purchased coffee in the area and as an ex-Kiap (member of staff of the Department of Native Affairs) he would know how to look after the interests of the people. Both Colman and Goya, his agent, likened the Highlanders of the recent past, before Administration reached them, to wild pigs or birds of the forest, and suggested that since European government had brought them peace and prosperity, a European, and one with experience of government, should be chosen to represent them so that govern- - 219 ment would not break down. The wild-pig simile is hackneyed in the Highlands, and is often used by policemen, Luluais, Tultuls or Bossboys, as well as by some members of the Department of Native Affairs.

When Colman was asked questions about motor-roads, economic development and electoral boundaries, he said that these were matters for the District Office, and not for future members of the House of Assembly. In fact, he added, he personally thought it didn't matter if electoral boundaries did divide language groups, since whichever side of the boundary you lived you would still have a vote and a voice representing you in Port Moresby. However, he added that he thought it would be reasonable for any future Local Government Council in the area to embrace all the Kyaka, and said that he would if requested raise this matter with the Kiap.

Colman had the advantage that he was the first Hagen candidate to hold meetings in the settlement areas, away from the Baiyer Valley main road. He also probably benefited from Goya's very energetic assistance and forceful interpretation into Kyaka. His election brochures, printed in pidgin and English, also made a favourable impression: the Kyaka are at the stage of literacy where all printed material is eagerly sought after. Colman was accompanied at Dalipun by two Medlpa Councillors. These men, though of very impressive appearance, spoke in Medlpa and did not seem at ease with a Kyaka audience. My main impression of this election meeting was of how all three candidates, European and Papuan, and also the Medlpa supporters of two of them, were overshadowed by the exuberant oratory of the Kyaka Big Men, speaking, as it were, on their home ground.

The approach of Councillor Pena and his accompanying Medlpa committeeman, was that Kyaka should vote for him since, although he was of a different ‘line’, he was still of the same skin colour as they were, ate the same foods, and sat down in the same kind of house. These two speakers spoke in pidgin, and had the assistance of an interpreter who was I think an Ugini Medlpa youth bilingual in Kyaka.

A special variant of this kind of appeal in terms of personal qualifications was reported to me by two Yaramanda youths whom I knew very well. They had attended the meetings of one of the Medlpa candidates in the Baiyer Valley, and of a Wabag candidate addressing expatriate Enga at Mt. Hagen township.

According to my informants both these candidates, who had recently visited Australia as part of official delegations, began their addresses by describing how one succeeded in reaching that country. One came, they are alleged to have said, to a great rock which completely barred the way. Only by searching for and finding a certain cane could one get past. If one tapped the rock with the cane it opened. One then descended through a deep shaft until one came to an enormous store and in the middle of the store was an airfield. This was Australia.

My informants disingenuously asked me if this was truly the way one travelled to Australia. Reacting with immediate horror I was already half way through a laborious account of wharf procedures and customs formalities in Brisbane and Sydney when I vaguely remembered having read in Vicedom and Tischner's Die Mbowamb Medlpa folktales and myths describing rather similar adventures, in which the lucky traveller arrived in the underworld and acquired pearlshells and other traditional valuables. I stopped and asked the two boys if they knew these stories. They said no, though they agreed that the Medlpa and Mae Enga might have them. I then said, but surely the candidates were just using “hidden talk” (i.e. metaphor calculatedly used to insult, mislead or mystify part of an audience, while enlightening and entertaining those hearers who consider themselves to be on the inside—a very important feature of - 220 Kyaka oratory)?: what they meant was, “we've got the know-how, vote for us!”? Possibly, said my boys, but how were we to know what they meant? In fact, one of the reasons advanced in private discussion at Yaramanda for voting for a European was that the Medlpa candidates did not talk straight to them and could not be trusted.

In contrast to the Hagen candidates, the local Kyaka candidate in the Wapenamanda electorate, Manigyuwa Traimi, had an objective programme to offer, even though it was a simple and a rather naive one. Traimi is in his early twenties. As a schoolboy he assisted the Rev. E. Kelly in New Testament translation, has since spent some time at Port Moresby, and is the only locally resident Kyaka adult who speaks reasonably fluent English. His candidature was supported both by the Baptist Mission and by many of the Luluais and Tultuls of the Lumusa plateau, west of the Lanim River. Although nervous and unsure of himself (he was addressing the meeting at Dalipun when the landrover bearing Colman and Pena arrived, and immediately lost his nerve and came to a halt, waiting for the European to say his piece before he recommenced) he struck me as being very sincerely anxious to do his best by his people. If he was elected, he said, he would press for more hospitals and more schools, and especially for economic development, since too many of the Kyaka really were very poor. In general, he would follow the instructions and requests of his people to the best of his ability.

Having heard that another candidate in the Wapenamanda electorate (the ex-Government Interpreter Leme Iangalo, who won the seat) was campaigning on a platform advocating retention of the Moka (or Te) ceremonial exchange system, which is unpopular with both Missions and Administration, I asked Traimi what his attitude to this was. 15 He said that he personally was opposed to the Moka both on medical and social grounds, but so long as the majority of his people wanted to retain it he would not, if elected, take any action that was against their wishes.

Unlike both European and Medlpa candidates in the Hagen electorate, Traimi was strongly opposed to the present electoral boundary, and agreed with the Western Kyaka Luluais and Tultuls in making an issue of this at the Dalipun meeting.


The concerns of the electors, as revealed both at public meetings and in private discussions, were three. Firstly, anxiety that representation might mean taxation and, on this ground, opposition to participation in any elections whether for Local Government Councils or for the House of Assembly. In part, expressions of this concern were used to support claims for increased economic development. But it was also my impression, at least at Yaramanda, that the most vociferous opponents of elections were the Luluai and other senior men who probably suspected that they had most to lose by any kind of political innovation.

The second and major concern at Yaramanda and in the region generally was for increased economic progress. Coffee, among the Kyaka, has just begun to bring in substantial sums of money, perhaps £150 a month all told, to men who planted this crop in 1958 or 1959, when the first seedlings were made available to them. Coffee is purchased both by the Mission and by Hagenkofi, the Papuan managed company with which Kup Ogut, one of the election candidates is associated, and in which John Colman is believed to have a financial interest. - 221 The Mission is also now purchasing about 2,000 lbs. of first quality European vegetables a week, at a flat rate of 3d a pound, and is air-freighting these out to coastal towns. Thus money is beginning to flow into the area: but people want much more of it, and also resent having to carry produce long distances to the Mission, then only to be told in some cases that it is damaged and no longer purchasable. There is therefore general clamour from groups who are not served by motor roads that these should be extended into their territories. The Yaramanda people are saving up to buy a truck (both the Luluai and Tultul have savings bank accounts) in order to freight their produce out. But the desire for motor roads is also linked to agitation for further European settlement in Kyaka territory. Many men in each of the larger Kyaka clans would like a European settler in their own clan territory, and there is also some support for the suggestion that the Administration should establish a station with a white officer at the present Police Post in the Baiyer Valley. Looked at one way, the motives for this are essentially economic: the Europeans are wanted to provide marketing facilities for cash crops. But it is also true that each clan-parish and its leaders wish to become important and renowned, and as they see it this involves both becoming rich and having one's own European settler or settlers. They feel that only then will they be as good as the Hagen and Wabag peoples, and not be looked upon as “bush-kanakas”. John Colman's arrangement with Goya, his agent, that he would open a store at Dalipun, with Goya in charge, a point which Goya made much of in his electioneering, probably helped gain him initial support.

The third issue of concern to the electors was, of course, the question of electoral boundaries. For the period when I was present it seemed that the Lumusa people, living just to the east of the Lanim in the Wapenamanda electorate, felt much more strongly on this issue than the Yaramanda people. This may have been because they had their own candidate, Traimi, whereas the Eastern Kyaka did not. But I suspect that long-established Kyaka views of social geography were relevant here. In past enquiries I learned that Eastern Kyaka, living around Yaramanda, held the view that though the Lai Valley Enga groups (Laiapu and Mae) were basically the same as themselves, 16 with a shared language and putatively shared origins, the Medlpa peoples around Mount Hagen had much greater prestige. Medlpa cults, marriage customs, personal ornaments and house-types have all been adopted by the Kyaka in recent generations, and Kyaka Big Men ape the manner of the very impressive Medlpa tribal leaders. Thus the Yaramanda people, while lamenting the fact that they have no-one who could speak English and stand as their own local candidate, were, up to the time when I left, half-hearted about a revision of the electoral boundaries if this would merely add them to the Wapenamanda electorate. They did, nevertheless, support the idea of a single Kyaka electorate, following the lines of the dialect boundary (Baiyer River to the east, Lai to the west and Ku to the south-west), but this was obviously a hopeless proposition, since it would include at the most only nine thousand voters, and probably fewer.

I was particularly interested to hear the Kyaka define themselves as an ethnic or “tribal” group in this way, since although I had in my previous field-work noted that the Ku was probably the most important of a number of minor cultural and dialectal boundaries which follow the river gorges and subdivide the Kyaka and other Enga groups to the west, I had no previous evidence of the Kyaka perceiving themselves as a clearly defined group. The Baptist Mission, which follows the same boundaries to the east and south, but also operates among the Sau Enga to the north, may have something to do with this new-found - 222 ethnic unity. But the Kyaka also seem to be united in a common feeling of underprivilege in relation to the groups of the Middle Lai Valley, and even more, of Hagen, who seem to them to be enjoying far greater prestige and material prosperity, and to be deriving this from European settlement in their areas.


Up to the time when I left them the Yaramanda people gave the impression that they were going to vote for a European candidate. That is to say, some men were very actively canvassing this suggestion, while there was no body of declared opinion for any of the Medlpa candidates. I heard one or two comments on the Medlpa candidates which were tinged with jealousy of their wealth, and I also heard it said that one could not believe their statements. But the generally expressed view was that government and economic development were things Europeans knew more about than Papuans did, and in the circumstances, lacking a candidate of their own, they should vote for a European. At that stage John Colman had an advantage as the only European candidate who had come into the settlement areas to hold a meeting. In effect, however, it seems probable from the figures quoted by Brandewie in his Table II that the majority of Kyaka ultimately voted for Keith Levy. Pena's heavy vote in the Baiyer area may be attributed to the fact that his own group, the Ndika, are in this section of the electorate, while the Ugini Medlpa of the East Baiyer Valley have ties of origin with the Ndika. Thus although Medlpa voters in the Baiyer section are in a minority, they are nevertheless numerous enough to account for Pena's topping the poll.

The situation among the Kyaka of the Wapenamanda electorate at the time I left was that there seemed to be very strong support for Traimi, the young local candidate, both among Christians and non-Christians. In fact he did astonishingly well in the poll, gaining 4,698 votes on the final count, and coming in second place. He must have gained some votes outside the Kyaka area, probably among the Sau Enga who are also in the Baptist Mission field, since there would be barely 4,000 Kyaka voters in the Wapenamanda electorate. This is even more impressive when it is noted that the successful candidate at Wapenamanda was Leme Iangalo, the ex-interpreter whose alleged platform was “Keep the Moka”, a policy which would undoubtedly appeal to very many Kyaka voters.

As far as I observed the preparations for the administration of the elections, both in the Kyaka area and elsewhere in the Highlands, these were conducted with extreme conscientiousness and propriety by officers of the Department of Native Affairs and others whom they called in to assist them. Although I did not see the polling among the Kyaka I should certainly be surprised if the administration of this in any way prejudiced the result. The main way in which polling officers could affect results would be by encouraging or discouraging the casting of preferential votes, but in both these electorates the winning candidates were in the lead the whole way, before and after preferences were counted.

The high percentage of votes cast is specially remarkable in view of the chaotic state of the electoral rolls up to the time of their final checking. Traimi, the Wapenamanda candidate, did not even have his name on the roll on the last days when nominations could be entered, though his school-aged sister's name was included.

However, the initial decisions regarding electoral boundaries may be argued to have determined who got elected. If all the Kyaka had been included in the one electorate, and if they had all voted as solidly for Traimi as the Western - 223 Kyaka apparently did, he could possibly have won the seat. On the other hand, if all Kyaka had been eliminated from the Hagen electorate, and the Medlpa speaking enclave from the Minj electorate included in the Hagen group in their stead, this is less likely to have damaged Keith Levy's chances, since his support appears to have been general in all divisions of the electorate.

The fact that many of the Eastern Kyaka probably voted for a European is a tribute to race relations in their area, and, despite Kyaka discontent with their present economic situation, to the magnificent, practical programme of medical aid, education and economic development undertaken by the Baptist Mission: but it seems also to have been a second-best choice, and one they would not repeat if they had a local candidate available to represent them.

  • BULMER, Ralph, 1960. “Political Aspects of the Moka Ceremonial Exchange System among the Kyaka.” Oceania, 31:1-13.
  • MEGGITT, M. J., 1958. “The Enga of the New Guinea Highlands: some preliminary observations.” Oceania, 28:256-9.

For the Motu and Koita peoples who inhabit the coastal fringe of the electorate, in and near the town of Port Moresby, the result of the House of Assembly election in the Moresby Open Electorate was a bitter end to many decades of earnest, hesitant, perplexed political endeavour.

The Motu and Koita were the first people to welcome Europeans whole-heartedly to south-eastern New Guinea, the first people in all of New Guinea to embrace Christianity, and the first to elect one of the statutory Local Government Councils that the Administration instituted some years ago as a prelude to national self-government. Trusted friends and servants of the European for ninety years, proportionately better-paid and better-educated than any other indigenous group in the Territory, they now find themselves to all intents and purposes without representation in the nation's first parliament, where the majority of indigenous members, including their own, are relatively unsophisticated men from the mountains.

How did it happen?


Firstly, the boundaries of the Moresby Open Electorate united for electoral purposes two major ethnic groups, the Motu and Koita of the coast on the one hand, and the various mountain peoples know collectively as Goilala on the other hand, who inhabit adjacent administrative sub-districts but are divided from each other by every other relevant criterion—economic, social, linguistic, - 224 topographical, religious, etc.—more sharply than any other two neighbouring groups of people in the Territory. Within this electorate the Goilala greatly outnumbered the Motu and Koita.

Secondly, the Motu and Koita were themselves divided, and therefore their leading candidate found it necessary to campaign hard among his own people, exploiting to his own advantage the traditional political values of tribal society, when he might otherwise have devoted himself more fully to other sections of the electorate, whose support he might have won by invoking and developing the new political ideology which his policy contained in embryonic form.

At the election of six indigenous members to the former Legislative Council in 1961, when delegates to an electoral college chose the member for the Western Papua constituency, two Motu candidates stood, thus splitting their vote and allowing a poorly qualified and—as it turned out— ineffectual candidate from the remote western side of the Gulf of Papua to win the seat by a very narrow margin. One of the Motu candidates defeated on that occasion, Mr. Oala Oala-Rarua, is a young man of outstanding ability, considerable ambition, and some political flair.

Faced with the threat of a massive Goilala vote against him at this year's election for the new House of Assembly, at which he stood again, Mr. Oala-Rarua and his supporters sensibly resolved to prevent the Motu and Koita, if possible, from splitting their vote this time. To this end they persuaded the only two Native Local Government Councils so far established among the Motu and Koita to endorse him as their official candidate.

Mr. Oala-Rarua was better qualified for election than almost any other indigenous candidate in the Territory. President of the Territory's first trade union, influential in administrative circles as personal adviser to the Assistant Administrator, widely travelled overseas, a former schoolteacher with a good secondary education, and a London Missionary Society pastor's son whose father and family are widely respected among the Motu and Koita, he seemed assured of overwhelming support among his own people, and ultimately obtained it.

When nominations closed, however, there were three other Motu candidates among a total of twelve candidates for the Moresby Open Electorate. Two of his Motu rivals were inconsequential, but the other was dangerous to Mr. Oala-Rarua.

Mr. Daera Ganiga, a former sergeant-major of police and president of the Papuan Returned Servicemen's Association, entirely lacked political experience, funds, and organized support. He stood, he said, partly as a protest against his Local Government Council's action in endorsing a candidate without first consulting their constituents, which he thought arbitrary, but partly also because he wanted the job.

Mrs. Ana Frank was persuaded to stand by European feminist interests in Port Moresby, who largely directed her campaign. An intelligent and forceful woman, she was able to recruit as campaign workers some members of the local Papuan women's organizations in which she was prominent, but there was little feminist sentiment for her to exploit among her people. In fact her campaign was conducted in breach of Motu norms, since there was some slight feeling that tradition forbade women to stand for high office and a very strong feeling that women should not enter into competition with male cousins of close degree, which in her case included Mr. Oala-Rarua.

The fourth Motu candidate, Mr. Willie Gavera, had little chance himself, but his entry constituted a real threat to Mr. Oala-Rarua's chances. A former President of the Hanuabada Native Local Government Council and a present member of the Port Moresby District Advisory Council, senior member of a - 225 prominent family in the large urban Motu village of Hanuabada, the owner of a small transport business with some capital behind him, and backed by a small but energetic and enterprising campaign committee, he hoped to win votes both from his own people and from European electors. In the final count he had only 1,119 votes, which in themselves could not have affected the result; but what may have affected the result was the fact that Mr. Oala-Rarua had to spend time and money pursuing the votes of his own people, in the course of a troublesome campaign at home, when he might otherwise have concentrated his campaign upon other parts of the electorate. It is extremely doubtful that he could ever have obtained in the mountains the several thousand second preference votes that he would have needed to win, even if he had spent longer than he did among the Goilala, but a vigorous campaign among immigrant urban workers and plantation labourers might have gained him significantly more of their votes than in fact he received.

Mr. Oala-Rarua was slow to grasp the advantage, under the preferential system, of “exchanging preferences” with Mr. Gavera (i.e. by each persuading his supporters to give their second preferences to the other). When he did eventually request Mr. Gavera to agree to such an exchange, the latter refused. This did not ultimately affect the result. Almost half of Mr. Gavera's supporters did give their second preferences to Mr. Oala-Rarua, but the leading Goilala candidate, Mr. Eriko Rarupa, finally had a majority over Mr. Oala-Rarua (8,867 to 6,243) which the preferences of Mr. Gavera's other supporters could not have erased.


I visited a number of villages to hear Mr. Oala-Rarua speak, attended also one of Mrs. Frank's meetings, and obtained tape-recordings of other election meetings which I did not myself attend. I also had many long discussions, some tape-recorded, with all four Motu candidates and with a number of Motu and Koita voters.

Mr. Oala-Rarua was the first candidate to visit any of the Motu and Koita villages west of Port Moresby, to all of which I accompanied him. At each village he devoted most of his campaign speech to explaining the mechanics of the election, about which the villagers seemed most confused, even though a government official had already visited each village once to give instruction. Unfortunately this official had used an interpreter from another tribe whose Motu was far from comprehensible to Motu audiences. The two matters which the villagers seemed to find most difficult to understand were, firstly, the system of preferential voting devised for the election, and secondly, the distinction between Open and Special Electorates. Drawing on his experience and skills as a teacher, no doubt, Mr. Oala-Rarua answered patiently and lucidly the many puzzled questions put to him by his audiences.

Very few villagers had any idea what the functions of the new House of Assembly were to be. They merely understood that the Papuan people were to have greater control than previously over the operations of the central government. At Manumanu, the Motu village furthest west from Port Moresby, there was some confusion between this election and a proposal put to the villagers some months previously that they should join the Fairfax Local Government Council. At Manumanu I also heard it said that the election might result in the departure of white men from the Territory, which would be deplorable, people said, not because the white man is particularly lovable but because Papuans cannot do without his technological skills. At other villages people seemed to - 226 understand that the election would provide increased representation for Papuans in the affairs of government, and welcomed it accordingly.

In the more remote villages Mr. Oala-Rarua said very little about his platform, resting his appeal for support instead upon his personal qualifications and experience, to which he alluded briefly, with the polite self-deprecation expected of a young Motu man in such circumstances. Though he was not personally known to all the people of these villages, there were always individuals who knew him well or knew a lot about him, and at each meeting at least several of them spoke at length of Mr. Oala-Rarua's character, career, and qualifications. After each meeting it was clear that he had gained substantial support. The fact that he was the first candidate on the scene gave him an evident advantage, but in the last analysis his impeccable credentials, by contemporary Motu and Koita standards, were what impressed his audiences most.

Mr. Oala-Rarua did try sometimes to introduce national issues into his campaign, especially in the more sophisticated villages close to town, but his platform evoked little response at his meetings. He claimed to stand for the interests of the workers, and made some capital out of the fact that his main Motu rival, Mr. Gavera, is proprietor of a motor transport business who might therefore be expected to promote the interests of the employers. He argued also for the eventual independence of Papua and New Guinea, but none of his audiences seemed to take the slightest notice of this plank in his platform.

Mr. Gavera's meetings in the Port Moresby urban area were more stormy than those of Mr. Oala-Rarua. The latter's supporters asked Mr. Gavera some embarrassing questions. Was it true that he had been forced to resign from the Local Government Council because he never attended meetings? If elected, how could he attend to his parliamentary duties while running his own business? Why had he decided to run in opposition to the endorsed Council candidate, thus splitting the vote? A seasoned campaigner who has always enjoyed the mystique and paraphernalia of political activity, Mr. Gavera campaigned vigorously despite the heckling, especially in those villages in which he had family connections. A number of my Motu friends told me in confidence that they proposed to vote for him.

Mrs. Frank and Mr. Ganiga preferred to campaign through house-to-house visits rather than public meetings, though each did hold some public meetings.

Mrs. Frank spoke in general of the need to have the woman's point of view represented in the House of Assembly, but when it came to particular points of policy her campaign speeches sometimes sounded like Women's Club pep-talks, covering such topics as care of the home, infant welfare, health and hygiene, and budgetary control.

Mr. Ganiga offered himself as a custodian of custom: one who could speak for the whole of the Motu and Koita people more effectively than other candidates because he understood the ways of his people better than they.


There were eight other candidates in the Moresby Open Electorate: Bill Dihm, a part-Papuan who was said to have Seventh Day Adventist affiliations; Bill Stansfield, a European whose campaign handbills proclaimed that he stood for “private enterprise”; Colin Sefton, a plantation owner born in the Territory who naively suggested in his leaflets that Papuans should vote for him because he was born among them; John Martin, a European about whom I have no information; Weina Babaga, a commercial entrepreneur from the small, fragmented Koiari tribe who live in the hinterland behind Port Moresby; and three Goilala candidates, Kaita Kau, Bia Maini, and Eriko Rarupu.

- 227

With the exception of a few Seventh Day Adventists supporting Bill Dihm, who also picked up a few other votes in the villages around Port Moresby by campaigning hard with obvious sincerity, Motu voters showed no interest whatsoever in any candidates except their own. Though they were aware of the Goilala threat, the Motu and Koita fully expected one of their own candidates to represent them in the new House of Assembly, and the only question was: which one?

They were interested mainly in the four candidates' achievements, their prestige, their kinship affiliations, their standing in the Church, their ability to cope with Native Affairs officers, their performance in statutory local government councils, their experience on town and district advisory councils, their age, and their temperament; and the candidates themselves based their appeal for support partly on considerations of this kind. Though the criteria which the contestants invoke have changed, and though the game is now played at the tribal rather than the village level, this remains essentially the same kind of political game as that which took place traditionally within each Motu village. Prestige is seen as an entitlement to power.

Nothing in the political experience of the Motu and Koita had adequately prepared them for a national election, though in ninety years they had experienced five different kinds of politics: the politics of prestige, traditional among them, in which village “big men” compete for the kind of political influence to which entrepreneurial and ceremonial achievements entitle them; the politics of the Puritan Elect, in which Church deacons attempt to enforce and expand the moral jurisdiction bestowed on them by the missionaries; the politics of direct rule, in which officers of the Native Affairs Department exercise political authority through appointed village officials; the politics of statutory local government councils, in which members of a new élite compete for a new kind of local prestige; and the politics of town and district advisory councils, in which prominent private citizens of all races raise and discuss local problems with officers of the Administration.

The candidates' tactics and the issues on which the election campaign was fought among the Motu and Koita reflected their past experience of politics rather than their present electoral situation.

Tactically, neither the candidates nor their supporters had any effective plan for obtaining from other sectors of the electorate the substantial number of additional votes necessary for success. It is by no means certain that any of the four Motu candidates fully appreciated the extent of the Motu and Koita people's numerical inferiority.

How did the candidates view their chances?

Mrs. Frank did not expect to win, but she certainly hoped to attract more votes than she did, both from European women and from Motu and Koita women.

Mr. Ganiga seemed to entertain some hope of success: he expected to poll well among his own people, and thought also that, being known to the Goilala because he had once served among them as a police sergeant, he might obtain votes from them also.

Mr. Gavera hoped that, in addition to the votes of his Motu and Koita supporters, he might obtain a substantial number of votes from the Europeans on the roll. By campaigning among the Goilala he hoped also to obtain some Goilala votes, though he did not seem to have any idea of the way in which, or the reasons for which, he might persuade them to vote for him.

- 228

Mr. Oala-Rarua hoped to obtain an overwhelming majority of first preferences among his own people, which he did, and among immigrant Papuan workers, which he did not, in addition to a substantial number of European public servants' and artisans' votes. Campaigning actively among the Goilala, he hoped to secure also some of their second preferences by persuading them that he had the qualifications and the experience to represent them better than any other candidate if their own tribal candidates should fail to win election. This pursuit of second rather than first preferences among the Goilala seemed a shrewd pitch, but in the event Mr. Oala-Rarua received very few second preferences from the two Goilala candidates who were eliminated, Messrs. Kaita Kau and Bia Maini.

Lacking any experience in the organization of a mass political movement, having neither taste nor flair for the arts of the demagogue or the charisma of the prophet, and finding no common cause on which to appeal for the support of the whole electorate, none of the Motu candidates was able to transcend the traditional tribal polity in which they had gained their previous experience of politics.


In this election, which the Motu and Koita viewed primarily as an internal tribal contest between individuals and their factions, the candidates staked their prestige rather than their platforms. In the absence of any major sectional conflicts among the Motu and Koita themselves on this occasion, Mr. Oala-Rarua's personal prestige rather than his platform accounted to some degree for his ascendancy over his Motu rivals. Eventually, however, in order to win in this electorate, he or any other Motu candidate must learn to devise and exploit an effective platform in addition to personal prestige.

In traditional Motu society the insignia of achieved status were derived directly from the size of the personal following that a man could recruit for prestigious enterprises, and therefore a man's prestige was the public reflection of his private political power, since weight of numbers was the ultimate political sanction. In a modern national polity, however, there is no necessary relationship between prestige and power, nor between the idiom of social and political discourse and the realities of social and political conflict.

Several of the Motu candidates in this election, failing to perceive this point, thought that by offering polite encouragement to white planters and traders in their policy platforms they might attract from white traders and planters the extra votes that they needed to counteract the Goilala's weight of numbers.

Early in his campaign, Mr. Oala-Rarua hoped that, despite the fact that he was president of the Workers' Association, he might nevertheless secure the votes of some of the employers, since his social relations with them had always been quite amiable. Later in his campaign he seemed to realise that the only common interests likely in the long run to unite a sufficient number of Papuan voters behind him were in conflict with the employers' interests, and accordingly in the end he came out unequivocally as the workers' candidate.

Since the Second World War many other Motu politicians have made the ethnocentric mistake of thinking that they could achieve political influence in the white man's world merely by manifesting the kind of social personality and moral repute that they thought their white acquaintances admired. They have behaved with decorum, dressed as elegantly as they could afford, gone diligently to evening classes, worked hard as committee men in all sorts of benevolent voluntary associations, spoken respectfully to their superiors, and frequently condemned the less high-minded members of their own community. - 229 Yet they have seldom exercised any real influence upon the decisions of the Administration, for, desiring above all to gain the white man's regard, they have never been willing to use any sanctions against him. They have sought to earn concessions, not to win them. They have accepted the administrative assumptions of a thoroughly paternalistic colonial regime, mistaking these for the political conventions of their own society.

The one post-war politician who may be said to have furthered his people's interests substantially, in the wider society controlled hitherto by European administrators and entrepreneurs, was the late Mr. Gavera Arua, father of one of the candidates in this election, Mr. Willie Gavera. Since he made no attempt to acquire prestige in the white man's world by conforming to its professed standards, many Europeans considered him uncouth, even dangerous, but on a number of occasions they met his demands: for example, by rebuilding his village entirely at government expense after the war, when the people of other villages had to rebuild their own. Mr. Gavera Arua saw the basic political conflict in his day, just after the Second World War, as a conflict between Papuans and Europeans, and he was able to unite his own people behind him only for as long as they continued to regard their own interests as opposed to those of the Europeans.

Now that Papuans seem to have accepted the doctrine of racial “partnership”, at least for the time being, racial issues may not provide any very effective platform planks for Papuan politicians. Yet, in order to obtain representation in the House of Assembly at the next election, the Motu and Koita must learn that successful political campaigns exploit conflicts of interest rather than mere personality conflicts, and they must therefore seek a common interest which will unite them with at least some other sectors of their electorate against opposed interests.

In tribally heterogeneous electorates, predominantly tribal interests were in conflict at this election, resulting either in the victory of the numerically strongest tribal group, as in this electorate, or in the victory of a white candidate free from tribal identification, as in several Highland electorates. If Mr. Oala-Rarua or any other non-Goilala candidate is ever to succeed in this electorate, as it is at present constituted, he will have to find a common interest which unites the Motu and Koita with other sectors of the electorate (with other workers, perhaps?), and he must also create an organization to exploit this common interest (a Labour Party, perhaps?).

The major conflict of interest in this electorate, between mountain and coastal peoples, already exists to some extent on a national scale, and may eventually emerge in the proceedings of the present House of Assembly. It is an unrewarding issue on which to found political parties. Yet in the absence of any nationalist fervour uniting all the indigenous peoples of the Territory against outsiders, it is at present difficult to foresee any other ideological foundation for national party politics.

Party politics of some kind is the obvious answer to the dilemma of the Motu and Koita people. What sort of party will they create? Their answer may determine the political future of the Territory, for the divisions in the Moresby Open Electorate—between coastal sophisticates, immigrant urban workers, mountain people, plantation workers, and Europeans—are the present political divisions of the whole nation, in embryo.


The distribution of votes after each count in the Moresby Open Electorate, and the final result, are shown in the following table:—

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Candidates First Count Second Count Third Count Fourth Count Fifth Count
B. Stansfield 486 491 495 535  
Bill Dihm Junior 1,050 1,063 1,091 1,115 1,217
Weina Babaga 152 157      
Colin J. Sefton 1,085 1,089 1,097 1,142 1,281
John Martin 1,144 1,167 1,177 1,188 1,267
Daera Ganiga 146        
Kaita Kau 1,212 1,213 1,218 1,225 1,226
Willie Gavera 1,009 1,042 1,054 1,095 1,119
Bia Maini 1,840 1,841 1,841 1,842 1,847
Mrs. Ana Frank 266 269 273    
Eriko Rarupu 6,502 6,506 6,506 6,518 6,523
Oala Oala-Rarua 4,645 4,677 4,723 4,763 4,804
Informal 854 854 854 854 854
Exhausted 32 72 124 263
Total 20,401 20,401 20,401 20,401 20,401
Candidates Sixth Count Seventh Count Eighth Count Ninth Count Tenth Count Final Count
B. Stansfield 1,284 1,298        
Bill Dihm Junior            
Weina Babaga            
Colin J. Sefton 1,390 1,400 1,728 2,008    
John Martin 1,299 1,394 1,484      
Daera Ganiga            
Kaita Kau 1,250          
Willie Gavera            
Bia Maini 1,867 1,971 1,985 2,389 3,057  
Mrs. Ana Frank            
Eriko Rarupu 6,543 7,036 7,052 7,324 7,517 8,867
Oala Oala-Rarua 5,266 5,289 5,421 5,527 6,095 6,243
Informal 854 854 854 854 854 854
Exhausted 648 1,159 1,877 2,299 2,878 4,437
Total 20,401 20,401 20,401 20,401 20,401 20,401
1   The original of this paper was read at the ANZAAS Conference in Canberra, A.C.T., during January-February, 1964. Since then the Papua and New Guinea Election has been held and the results announced. I have altered certain parts of the paper accordingly. Lists of native and European members of the House of Assembly can be found in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea Gazette, 23rd April, 1964, p. 382.
2   Lawrence 1963:3-11 contains a fuller discussion of this problem.
3   See Sinclair 1957:19.
4   See Langness 1963, and Mann 1959.
5   See Maher 1961.
6   See Epstein 1963:214.
7   The Bulletin, Sydney, 16th May, 1964:18.
8   Dr. Watson (University of Washington) has been working in New Guinea as director of a project entitled “The Dynamics and Micro-Evolution of a Human Community,” under a grant from the United States National Science Foundation. Madeleine Leininger, author of the next paper in this symposium, has been engaged on the same project.
9   The figures herein are based on resident polling and do not include the postal vote.
10   Andrew Strathern is working in New Guinea as William Wyse Student of Cambridge University. Marilyn Strathern is supported by a Bartle Frere Exhibition and a grant from the Anthony Wilkins Fund.
11   Under Rec'd are placed the number of Second, Third, Fourth, etc. Preference Votes each continuing candidate receives from consecutively eliminated candidates.
12   Polling Places 1964 (Preliminary Guide Only), Planned and Prepared by the Department of Native Affairs and Published under authority of the Chief Electoral Officer, January, 1964.
13   The visit to the Kyaka during which the observations here reported were made was made possible by support from the New Zealand Universities Research Grants Committee, and, indirectly, by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Health, National Institutes of Mental Health. I am grateful to both these institutions for their support.
14   I made approximately 2½ hours of tape recordings of speeches and discussion. These are held in the Department of Anthropology, Auckland University.
15   See Bulmer 1960 31:1-13.
16   cf. Meggitt 1958 28:256-9.
17   This paper is based upon field-work undertaken among the Motu and Koita peoples in December 1963 and January 1964, on a return visit to villages in which field-work was also undertaken in 1952, 1954-5, 1957-8, and 1958-9. Grateful thanks are due to the American Philosophical Society for a financial grant that made this study possible. Thanks are also due to Dr. David Bettison and Dr. P. van de Veur, of the Australian National University, for providing the voting figures set out at the end of the paper.