As World War I drew to a close, Australia was faced with the question of what to do with German New Guinea, or rather, how to ensure the continuance of Australia's control there. It was officially recognized that the act of military occupation did not legally constitute the establishment of sovereignty, but it was widely assumed, and publicly demanded, that the colony would remain in Australian hands for both military and economic reasons. In Australia a few voices were raised against outright annexation, holding that it would be a betrayal of the Allied commitment to 'no territorial gains'. A few others spoke up for the principle of 'self determination', implying that the colony's native populace should be consulted in the matter - an unrealistic proposal, to say the least! But when the Prime Minister, William Hughes, left for the peace conference in Paris, even most of the Opposition in the Australian parliament supported his wish to convert the de facto military control into outright sovereignty.
That development, however, was not to take place. In the face of the new anti-colonialist philosophy that prevailed at the peace conference, the best that Hughes could do was to have the former German New guinea proclaimed a ward of the new League of Nations, under mandate to Australia. As mandatory power, the Australian government agreed to administer the territory according to several general principles, including the undertaking to 'promote to the utmost the material and moral well-being and social progress of the inhabitants' (Article 2 of the mandate agreement).
In order to obtain expert advice on how to carry out its mandate, the Australian government appointed a royal commission to investigate and make recommendations. As it turned out, the recommendations of the commission served to shape events in the territory (including Bougainville-Buka) for the ensuing twenty years. The composition of the commission indicated at the outset what kinds of recommendations the government wished to have made, since the members' histories and attitudes concerning colonial matters were widely known. The chairman was the top colonial official in the Territory of Papua, the veteran Lieutenant-Governor, Hubert Murray, a champion of indigenes' welfare. Lined up against him were W. H. Lucas, Island Manager for Burns Philp (the largest Australian mercantile firm then operating in the islands), and Atlee Hunt, Secretary of the Department of Home and Territories.
Papua, it will be recalled, had been under Australian administration since 1884. Because of its discouraging terrain, scattered population, and what then appeared to be meagre natural resources, Australian governments and Australian citizens in general showed little interest in developing Papua economically. some mining and plantation enterprise became established there, but under Murray's long governorship the Papua Administration gave first consideration to the indigenes' welfare. Partly due to this policy and partly to geography, white businesses did not prosper as well in Papua as in neighbouring German New Guinea. In any case, Murray wished to extend this policy to the new Mandated Territory, and in fact to join the two territories into a united 'Papuasia'. (He also wished to become the first governor of the new union, but probably more out of a desire to extend the Papuan-style policy to it, than to advance himself personally.) As components of this policy he recommended nationalization of the German-owned properties (title to which had been awarded to Australia by the peace treaty); the leasing rather than the sale appropriated lands; and direct access to European and Asian markets in place of trans-shipment through Australian ports. These and similar measures were designated to favour development of a healthy, educated and affluent indigenous citizenry, even at the expense, if need be, of Australian enterprise.
Line village (1938) as 'encouraged' under both German and Australian administrations.
For a variety of reasons the views of Lucas and Hunt, the majority, prevailed. The new Mandated Territory remained separate from Papua and plans made for its administration and development were aimed principally at furthering Australian national security and welfare. Australian attitudes differed, however, as to the best way to proceed. Some large firms active or interested in the Territory favoured the continuation and expansion of large-scale businesses there; other person, including members of the Opposition Labor Party, spoke up for dense colonization by independent white settlers. (For political reasons both advocated that Australian war veterans be given preference for jobs and land in the Territory.) Throughout these debates and the actions that followed them, little or no attention was devoted to the cause of the indigenes themselves, either the matter was considered unimportant, or it was assumed that what was good for Australia was good for its colonial wards as well. s for the possibility that the indigenes of the new Territory would be treated humanely, it was asserted that the officials. Being Australian, would be incapable of acting otherwise.
Thus the principal and almost only concern of the new civil administration in the Mandated Territory (which assumed control in May 1921) was with Australian economic affairs. To begin with, all German-owned non-mission properties were expropriated and sold outright to Australians, by the terms of the peace treaty it was left to the German government to compensate its citizens for their losses. Most German missionaries were permitted to remain at their posts, but most other Germans were repatriated. Many of the officials in the military administration doffed their uniforms and joined the civil administration. In many other respects, administrative policies and practices and Territory, had been brought under some measure of administrative influence or control. Established missions continued to widen their nets, and new mission bodies entered the field. Economically, coconuts continued for a decade to dominate, with the result that the whole Territory's money economy, including the Administration's revenue and expenditure, was strongly affected by rises and falls in the price of copra.
Later on, following the discovery of new ore beds around Wau, Bulolo and Edie Creek, gold mining became the principal revenue-producing industry of the Territory. Hundreds of whites and thousands of indigenes were employed in the new mining towns, which could be reached from the coast only on foot or by plane. By the end of the 1930s the major ore bodies had been nearly worked out, and since extensive exploration had turned up no other significant deposits of gold or any other minerals (including oil), it appeared that the Territory's future would, as in the past, depend upon agriculture. This meant coconuts; other crops had been experimented with but abandoned, or proceeded with on a very small scale. By 1941 there were about 4600 whites in the Territory. About 10 per cent of these consisted of Administration personnel (including their dependants); another 15 per cent were associated with Christian missions; and nearly all the remainder were involved with plantations, mines, shopping and merchandising. The 2000 or so Asians in the Territory, mainly Chinese, were engaged largely in commerce. As for the indigenes, about 800,000 had been actually counted or their number estimated by 1941, with some parts of the mainland still largely unexplored. Meanwhile, the role of the indigenes in the Territory's developing economy had changed very little since the German era.
Although criticism had begun to be voiced both in New Guinea and Australia regarding the labour indenture system, it continued much as before. Many critics pointed to the anachronism in the twentieth century of a form of employment that was coercive, requiring government-enforced sanctions to keep labourers at their jobs throughout the term of their contracts. Others criticized the low wages paid to the labourers, and the diet and living conditions found in plantation and mine labour-camps. Still others pointed out the harmful effects produced in the labourers' own communities by their long absences from home. No one, however, was able to propose a workable alternative, given the nature of the territory's economy and the requirement that the Administration pay for itself.
Original Catholic presbytery and chapel at Tenaru.
The Territory's agricultural economy - consisting mainly of copra production by crude technological means - depended upon large and constant amounts of cheap manual labour. Moreover, since most plantations were located far from the areas where most of the prospective labourers lived, and since the latter possessed neither the knowledge nor the means to travel to distant places of work, the cost of recruiting and transport had to be bone entirely by the employers. Under these circumstances it appeared at the time that few plantations could have maintained production and remained solvent without some form of enforceable labour contract. In the Territory as it then was, physical coercion was thought to be the only means of achieving that.
Critics of labourers' diets and living conditions were also rebutted with the item of coast, and with the observation that the living conditions were no more primitive than the ones the labourers were accustomed to at home. Employers were also able to point to the improvement in health experienced by many labourers under plantation regimes. On the other hand, so one could deny nor offer cures for the unhealthy social conditions that obtained in the compounds of labourers cut off from women and from most other interests and activities of their usual ways of life. Homosexuality and gambling were common, as were drunkenness and brawling; but worse than these in long-term effect were the kinds of attitudes such a life fostered in both employers and employees, between whites and indigenes. As its best, the 'master-boy' relationship was tinged with feelings of paternalism and dependency, neither conducive to partnership. And at its worst, it was characterized by contempt, fear, envy and hatred. As for the widespread argument that employment on waitmans plantations served to inculcate valuable attitudes towards work and to introduce indigenes to other aspects of civilization as well: the jobs most of them performed would have produced only profound boredom and distaste, and the little bit of civilization they saw, from a distance, was not always edifying, and almost entirely inaccessible. Moreover, except for the blankets, knives, lanterns, etc., and their scant wages (most of which were used eventually to pay head taxes for themselves and their relatives), the things earned or learned on plantation were of little use in their lives at home.
Appointed village officials were called 'hat men' (1938)
At the height of large-scale gold dredging, many thousands of indigenes were employed at the Wau-Bulolo mines. Although the work there was more diversified and the white communities larger, the lives of the indigenous labourers, and the things earned and learned, were not very different from those of the plantation workers. As for the effects of the indenture system upon the labourers' home communities, some areas became so denuded of able-bodied males that regulations were imposed to restrict recruitment from them. The absence of many men for long periods of time did not perhaps lead to any long-term population decline as some officials feared, but in some instances it did disrupt family and village life to a demoralizing degree. However, for all its adverse effects upon the Territory's indigenes, the indenture system cannot be judged solely from that point of view. while it did protect employers from labour desertions, it also protected the labourers from periodic lay-offs and arbitrary dismissal. While it took many labourers far from home, it also ensured their eventual return at the employer's expense. Government taxation did undoubtedly force many otherwise unwilling indigenes to become labourers - the only means most of them had for earning tax money. But perhaps just as many sought employment, voluntarily and eagerly, for reasons of their own: to experience a new kind of life, to earn money for buying enticing new things, and to escape troubles at home.
During the mandate, the Administration imposed a tax on most adult male indigenes reassigning in 'taxable' areas, i.e. in areas that were firmly controlled and deemed economically capable of supporting the tax. In 1938-9, for example, 42,000 indigenes in the Territory paid the tax, out of an enumerated adult male population of 241,600. Several categories of persons were exempted, however: village officials; those individuals currently under indenture; mission teachers and students; fathers of four or more living children by one wife; and those physically unfit (which generally included all men judged to be over forty years old.) In retrospect the tax seems rather high, since it represented about 10 per cent of the average indentured labourer's annual cash wages; but with all its exemptions it was levied on less than 20 per cent of the total enumerated adult male indigenous population of the Territory. Moreover, although it undoubtedly served to impel many indigenes into the ranks of indentured labour, and thus to support white enterprise, its official purposes were more widely developmental and educational: it was viewed as a device for encouraging indigenes to take up cash-crop production and to adopt responsible attitudes towards citizenship. In fact, while the measure may have had a small but positive measure of success in fulfilling the former objective, it failed altogether in relation to the latter.
Buka village scene, 1890
Throughout the period of the mandate the civil authorities maintained almost unchanged the system of local government established by the Germans. As soon as an area was brought under control a chief (luluai, kukerai), interpreter (tultul), and medical orderly (doctorboy) were appointed in each of its indigenous communities. In some places an effort was made to encourage larger administrative units by placing several communities and their local officials under the supervision of an appointed paramount (number one) chief (nambawan luluai), but usually such measures proved effective only in places where they served to consolidate traditional tribal groupings. In addition, even larger multi-tribal councils were encouraged in more Europeanized Rabaul and Morobe, but otherwise the Territory's indigenous population remained as administratively atomized and politically voiceless as before.
Rabaul continued to be the Territory's capital throughout the mandate era, even after gold mining and the opening up of vast new areas to control had served to raise the mainland to greater commercial and administrative importance. At the top of the governmental hierarchy was an administrator and three departments - secretariat, public health and native affairs. In practice, because of great distances and infrequent communications, most governing was left to officials in each of the Territory's seven districts (of which Bougainville, Buka, Nissan, Nukumanu, Tauu, Kilinailau, and Nuguria constituted one). The Christian missions supplied their indigenous members with some medical aid, but most health services, such as they were, were provided by the Administration. Each district had its government hospital, but these were able to serve only a very small proportion of the indigenes requiring medical care. In addition, European medical officers made periodic, usually annual, tours of outlying areas, but were able to attend to only the most obvious, and current afflictions. As for all the other maladies which shortened and made painful the lives of the Territory's indigenes, few preventive or therapeutic measures could be undertaken by an Administration having so few medical or public health resources at its command.
Kieta, 1915. government office left, official residence centre, police office and quarters right.
An even drearier picture is presented by the Administration's education programme, if it can be so dignified. There were only six government-operated schools for indigenes (four on New Britain, one on New Ireland, and one on the mainland), comprising in 1940-1 a total of 466 pupils of an estimated total population of 800,000. In fact, the Administration, with its limited resources, seemed more than content to leave schooling in the hands of the missions - an arrangement with which the latter evidently agreed. Some 70,000 pupils were enrolled in mission schools during 1940-1, but the impressiveness of this number must be deflated somewhat, since most of these pupils were in sub-primary village schools, where instructions was rudimentary and casual, to say the least. Before turning more specifically to Bougainville-Buka, some explanation should be offered as to why so little headway was made by Australia in carrying out its mandate to 'promote to the utmost the material and moral well-being and social progress' of the Territory's indigenes.
Anyone familiar with the Territory during the mandate era could not blame the Administration itself over much for the failure to live up to the mandate. Administration forces undoubtedly indicated many individuals who were 'coon-bashers' through ignorance or calculation; but there were many more who viewed the indigenes with liking and sympathy, and worked faithfully, even heroically, on their behalf. Nor should one blame the white settlers overmuch for the plight of the indigenes. Coon-bashers were probably not as numerous among the ranks of plantation managers, recruiters and traders, but among these were also numerous individuals of fairness and goodwill. Moreover, the latter had their own livelihoods to earn, under conditions wherein low labour costs were essential for economic survival - or so the prevailing theory held.
In retrospect one must hold the policy-makers in Melbourne and Canberra, and ultimately the Australian voters as a whole, responsible for the shortcomings in indigenous welfare and progress. It was they who set the policy of requiring the Territory to pay for itself on a year-to-year basis. Such a policy could have yielded more immediate resources for education, etc., by granting subsidies as investments; but this was not done to any significant degree. The inevitable consequence of these official policies is indicated by the fact that the Administration's annual expenditure - which derived almost entirely from imports and other forms of local taxation - remained between 450,00 pounds and 500,000 pounds. Of this only about one-third (by the most liberal estimate) was spent on matters described as 'essentially native'; in other words, some 150,000 to 170,000 annually among an enumerated population of over 800,000! No wonder that the harassed Administration was pleased to accept the Christian missions' assistance in matters of health, and mission substitution in matters of education .
By the operation of this requirement that the Territory pay for itself, the indigenes were brought to the boundaries of civilization, white style, but were fated not to cross. In 1941 there were about 175 non-indigenous (white and Chinese) adults residing on Bougainville and Buka. Of these, about half were associated with Christian missions, and the remainder with plantations, retail stores, a small gold-mine at Kupei, and the administration. The indigenous population of that period is more difficult to characterize and quantify. According to the census of 1941 there were about 45,000 indigenes residing in native settlements on Bougainville-Buka, and another 3000 residing in European enclaves, mainly plantations. Virtually all of the former were locally born; of the latter, most were locally born, and the remainder had come from other parts of the Territory. Fin ally, the statistics for that period record that some 850 locally born Bougainvillians were working and residing elsewhere in the Territory.
Bougainville - Tense action between United States Tank-Infantry Team and Japanese.
By themselves these figures provide little sociological information, they need to be supplemented by facts of another kind. Firstly, not one of the indigenes occupied a position of authority or social status equal to that of any of the whites with whom they associated in administrative, commercial or religious organizations. And secondly, although many had been conditioned to wish for it, not one indigene was able to match any of the whites in the attainment of a Western-style standard of material well-being. In other words, after many decades of contact with whites, including two decades of officially pledged noblesse oblige, the native proprietors of these islands had been obliged (or at least encouraged) to give up many of the satisfactions of their old ways of life without being able to taste the fruits of the newhe limbo in which they were stranded contained a poignant juxtaposition of old and new.
By 1941 every part of Bougainville-Buka had been visited by Administration officials and declared to be 'under control'. Most indigenous settlements of any size had been located and their populations counted or estimated. High up on the slopes of the northern Emperor Range lived people to whom the sight of a white was a rare event, but even th4ese had learned to acknowledge the latter's superior power and to want some of their goods. Kieta remained the administrative headquarters for the whole district, with sub-district headquarters at Sohano (Buka Passage) and Kangu (Buin coast). Among all these centres there were half a dozen officials, along with several 'police boys' (indigenous members of the Territorial police force). They issued rules, judged all but the most serious of civil and criminal cases, punished malefactors, supervised labour contracts, and carried out periodic tours to record census changes and collect taxes. In addition to a body of criminal law, which applied to indigenes and all other residents as well, there went numerous native regulation s concerned with everything from sorcery and adultery, upon a handful of whites of widely varying capabilities and temperaments. consider the caser of southern Bougainville.
In 1938 the Buin sub-district contained an indigenous population of 16,500 indigenes, scattered over about 3100 square kilometres of difficult terrain accessible only by footpath or bicycle trail. At that time another 1200 to 1300 residents of the sub-district were working and living elsewhere, mainly under indenture. four different languages were spoken in the sub-district, none of them ever having been systematically recorded in published grammars or dictionaries. Though alike in some respects, many customs of the sub-district's populace varied even more widely than their languages, and only a few years previously the whole region had been given by local feuding and warfare. such was the realm which one official, usually of very junior rank, was required to govern: to count its people, collect taxes from them, introduce them to an alien set of rules, police them, adjudge them, and punish them. In addition, this official was frequently required by circumstances to arbitrate conflicts involving indigenous customs about which he knew next to nothing and was insufficiently trained to investigate. And all of this had to be done by means of a lingua franca, Pidgin, which was quite incapable of conveying many nuances of meaning from native vernacular to English or vice versa. No wonder that many Administration officials regarded their indigenous wards as contrary and stupid, or that the latter came to view the kiap (captain) as arbitrary and inscrutable.
Bougainville - United States Marines.
One of the more arbitrary and incomprehensible measures undertaken by kiaps on Bougainville-Buka was to create large nucleated villages where they had not previously existed. The most characteristic settlement pattern in pre-European times consist4d of small hamlets of one of four household; each was located near its members' grove s and gardens, and separated by some hundreds of metres from other such settlements. In some coastal areas somewhat larger and denser settlements were found, but the bulk of the pre-European population of Bougainville-Buka was widely and thinly scattered, In order to facilitate administration, the Australian officials brought together the people of neighbouring hamlets and required them to build 'line-villages', consisting of straight rows of narrowly spaced houses surrounded by a village fence made strong enough, hopefully, to exclude pigs (and thus help keep the villages 'clean'). Whenever possible these line-villages were designed to incorporate hamlets of people sharing close kinship ties, and so many of them were and have since remained. In other instances, however, the officials juxtaposed kin units and individuals who had no interest in being together, with the result that such people occupied their line-villages only during the infrequent visits of the kiap and lived the rest of the time in their hamlets.
As in the rest of the controlled parts of the Territory, the Administration maintained on Bougainville-Buka the system of organization introduced by the Germans, wherein each village was placed under the supervision of a kukerai, a tultul, and a doctorboy. All three of these village officials were appointed by the area's Australian Administration officer, or kiap, although an effort was usually made by the latter to conform to popular choice in the naming of the kukerai. In some places one local resident was so prominent that the selection offered no difficulty. In other places rival factions made the choice more difficult and it had to be resolved by a vote - i.e., an alien and not always satisfactory way of resolving differences. In still other places, where the whole alien institution of gavman (government) was viewed with suspicion or outright hostility, the locally recognized leaders caused some henchman to be appointed kukerai, and then proceeded to rule as before, unencumbered by the obligation and conspicuousness attached official appointees.
In mist parts of Bougainville-Buka the villages were grouped by the Administration into large units, each under the supervision of an appointed nambawan luluai, and his interpreter-executive officer (bossboy). These two officials served mainly as links between village officials and the Administration. In some instances they exercised considerable authority, with or without the boundaries of their own village. All of the officials were exempt from paying head tax, and in addition a nambawan received an annual salary of sixty shillings. All of them were presented with peaked caps to wear when carrying out their official duties, hence their label of hat-men.
Village officials were responsible for maintaining law and order in their communities; for keeping a record of births, deaths, arrivals and departures; for constructing and maintaining the portion of the Administration road that passed through their areas; for supporting European travellers with porters along assigned stretches of road; for sending the sick and wounded to hospitals; and for carrying out any other duties that might be imposed by their numbawan. 'Maintaining law and order' was a broad mandate indeed. Specifically the village kukerai was charged to 'arrest natives belonging to their tribes or villages whom they suspect to be guilty of wrongdoing or an offence', and to 'bring them to the nearest court in the district, or before the district court, to be dealt with according to law'.
Bougainville - United States Marines.
The courts in question were those presided over by Administration officials. Theoretically the indigenous officials were not permitted to try cases or execute judgements; actually many of them did, with or without the tacit consent of white officials. The actions that constituted offences or wrong-doing were numerous and comprehensive, including, for example, gambling, sorcery and threats of sorcery, use of intoxicating liquor, 'careless use of fire', unsanitary practices, burying bodies too near to dwellings, behaving in a riotous manner, using obscene language, spreading 'false reports tending to give rise to trouble or ill feeling amongst the people or between individual', and the wearing (by males) of clothes over the upper part of the body. In other words an undigested mixture of Australian laws, public hygiene guide-lines, and Victorian pruderies.
Not surprisingly, the opportunities for abuse of authority under such a regime were numerous. The Administration of course regulated against this situation as well, as in the following:
In the long run, however, local indigenous sanctions were probably more effective than Administration regulations in checking such abuses, provided that the victims knew enough about the regulations to realize that the hat-men were in fact exceeding their authority. Portering was not required of Bougainvillians very frequently - perhaps three or four times a year in most areas - but it was nevertheless un popular. Even the relatively high payment received, a twist of tobacco for about two to three hours' work, did not serve to make such work any less distasteful.
Even more unpopular was the construction work required periodically on most men. This consisted mainly of building and maintaining roads, bridges and rest houses (for whites). In the Buin Plains region of southern Bougainville where the writer observed it most closely, this activity required a large amount of the indigenes' time. The age-old trails there which served the purpose of foot travel were considered by the Administration to be too narrow and circuitous. To facilitate patrolling, the Administration obliged the indigenes to construct straight trails some 2.75 metres wide and suitable wherever possible for bicycle travel. Bridges were ordered to be constructed over the smaller steams, and these were required to be roofed over to prolong the life of the spans. At intervals along the road network, rest houses were built to house Administration officials and other white travellers.
The original work for these projects involved weeks of labour, but maintenance would have required only a few hours' work a week of every adult male had it not been for the ambitions of some indigenous officials. In order to curry flavour with the Administration, some officials caused their stretched of road to be widened, graded and smoothed - all by hand and machete - for beyond the standards yet by the Administration. Bridge timbers were shaped and planed as flat as a floor - first-rate carpentry but hardly necessary for their infrequent use. The climax to such endeavours was reached with the rest houses. A small one-or two-room affair would have served well enough, but in some villages the indigenous officials ordered enormous barn-like structures to be built, up[ to twenty-seven metres long and suitable for permanent residence of a whole troop. In such instances the competition which characterized indigenous politics was carried into the new activities, and many kukerai endeavoured to built bigger and better than their rivals elsewhere.
A head tax of ten shillings a year would appear at first glance to be burdensome for men with so little opportunity to earn Australian currency. Actually the exemptions were so numerous that the burden was spread quite thinly; of the whole adult male population of Bougainville-Buka, only about one in three had to pay. Nevertheless this did not make taxation any less unpopular. Administration officials were at pains to explain the impost in terms of the theory of 'taxation for responsible citizenship', but it is doubtful that this logic was widely understood, much less accepted. Even those few indigenes who comprehended the general theory seemed to feel that it hardly applied to them; aft4er all, they did not elect the Administration officials nor participate to making the rules. Also, many Bougainvillians were heard to express resentment that whites with their great treasures of money should take away money from indigenes who had so little. Finally, although it may not have been officially intended that taxation would force Bougainvillian s to work, and thereby serve white commercial enterprise, it often had that effect.
Alongside the governmental structure imposed by the Administration, there continued to exist numerous indigenous ones; some had lines of authority that corresponded to the local administrative hierarchy and others had an entirely separate leadership. In places where the two systems corresponded, where the indigenous-type leader was himself the kukerai, or where the kukerai was the true leader's henchman, village affairs went smoothly. But where the true leader and the kukerai were rivals, which was quite often the case, the village was continually troubled with factionalism. Before the Europeans arrived and for some time thereafter, every coastal village and every neighbourhood grouping of hamlets constituted an autonomous political unit, a 'tribe'. There were hundreds of such tribes, and they varied widely in cohesiveness, depending upon the strength of their leadership. Also, there were differences in the routes to leadership. In some tribes the leader inherited his position. This tended to be the mode in tribes dominated, numerically and economically, by a single matrilineal kin group. In other tribes the leader achieved his position by attracting followers through personal attributes of generosity and forcefulness. And finally, some leaders of both types succeeded from time to time in extending their authority over neighbourhoods beyond their own, this was usually accomplished by the exercise of military leadership which was occasionally, but not necessarily, linked with personal military prowess.
After the consolidation of Administration control, indigenous intertribal warfare was brought to a halt, but many of the old tribal groupings persisted. They were deprived of their military aspects but continued to function in other respects, for example as land-clearing and feast-giving teams, and as the unit within which wrongs were righted by informal means. In some cases, such tribal groupings were maintained, and even strengthened, in the form of the new line-villages. In other cases they were subdivided and effectively destroyed by the new line arrangement. In still others they persisted, despite having had their membership consigned to different 'lines'. This persistence of old tribal groupings in the face of the abolition of warfare and of Administration regrouping was mainly the result of the remarkable durability of one particular type of indigenous leadership: the type personified by men who achieved rather than inherited their positions of influence and authority.
This institution merits a closer look. Variations of it were found throughout Bougainville-Buka during he mandate era, the one best known to the author having been practised in the Siwai region of southwest Bougainville:
Throughout the (Siwai) area, 'renown' was a very concrete concept; it meant, literally, the kind of esteem enjoyed by the man who gives feasts frequently. The concept was most elaborately institutionalized in the northeast quarter of the Motuna-speaking region, which, significantly, was not the richest part of the Plain in material surpluses. Here, at the centre of this complex of ideas and practice4s was the mumi, the man of the neighourhood who had most renown.
To become a mumi a man had to own or control material resources. He could either accumulate these by his own hard labour, plus the labour of members of his household, or he could persuade kinsmen and friends to make him gifts or extend him loans. he usual method of accumulating wealth was by cultivating large gardens and converting the surplus produce into pigs, which could then be either distributed at feasts or sold for shell money. Another method was b y making and selling pottery, another by practising magical skills for fees.
Accumulation alone did not however bring renown; wealth had to be distributed in the form of food and other valuables, usually at feasts. It was useful to have had a mumi father, to have begun life with some of the latter's reflected renown, together with what was left of his wealth after most of it has been given away in the form of mortuary distributions. such an initial advantage prompted many informants to assert that 'Only the son of a mumi can become a mumi.' Actually, a mumi's son was only slightly better off than an orphan. He had to increase his inheritance many times over, or have very liberal backers, before he could begin serious feast-giving.
It is little wonder that the feast-giver was highly esteemed. Feast food - roasted and steamed pork, boiled eel and opossum, tasty vegetable and nut puddings - provided a welcome br4eak in the everyday monotony of a vegetarian diet. Also, natives keenly enjoyed the excitement of milling crowds and the pleasure of dancing and pan-piping. However, the ambitious man did not merely invite a few of his neighbours and treat them to a banquet: that would have been a waste of resources. He usually made the fest the occasion for a house-raising or some other kind of work-bee; no one esteemed him any less for that.
It was customary to begin a social-climbing, renown-seeking career by building a club-house. The club-house is a rectangular, shed-like structure built directly on the ground and without walls. Large wooden slit-gongs occupy most of the floor space. These are sounded to convene workers, to announce feasts, etc., and serve as benches for the men who gather in the club-house to gossip and sleep. Here among these Siwai only kinfolk visited one another's hamlet dwellings, so that the club-house was virtually the only public gathering place for men. Hence, the man who wished to become a mumi had to own a club-house; and to derive most renown for his ownership of one he had to build it rather than inherit it. The most renown-bringing manner of building a club-house was to collect all the helpers available, draw out the work as long as possible, and reward the workers with such a bountiful feast that they would ever aft4erward remember the occasion and the club-house with pleasure.
There were many club-houses in the Siwai region in the thirties - an average of one to about eight adult males - so that mere possession of one did not ensure for the owner lasting renown. To serve as a lasting symbol of the owner's renown, the club-house had to be the scene of almost continuous activity, and since nothing drew or pleased a crowd like a fest, the ambitious owner gave as many feasts as he and his followers could afford. He had men cut down trees, fashion them into slit-gongs, and install them in the club-house; then he rewarded them with a pork feast. When no more gongs could be crowded into the club-house, he caused the roof to be repaired or the floor swept, and provided food delicacies for each occasion. After a while people would say of him: 'He is a true mumi: he gives large feasts.' And when they strolled about in search of amusement they would usually end up in his club-house. They were at pains to ingratiate themselves with the feast-giver, to defer to his judgement, to perform little services for him, laugh at his sallies of wit, praise whom he praised or scorn whom he scorned. In this manner the mumi assured himself of a following in his own neighbourhood and even extended his renown and influence beyond.
Some mumis stopped there; others were led by their ambition to seek wider acclaim. Their lives turned into continual rivalries for renown. so long as they were active fest-givers they could count on exercising authority over their immediate neighbours and kinsmen, who lined up behind them with patriotic pride in 'our mumi' and 'our place'. Those rivalries between neighbouring mumis culminated in competitive 'mumi-honouring' feasts at which the host presented his rival with large quantities of pigs and shell money. The guest of honour then distributed these goods among his own supporters, as rewards for their support, and then set about to accumulate an equivalent or more than equivalent reciprocal gift. If he could not reciprocate within a year or two he forfeited much public esteem and was no longer considered a worthy rival by other mumis. If he returned an equivalent amount of goods and no more, that was a sign that he wished to cease competing with the initiating host; thereafter the two usually became 'trade-partners and assisted one another in competing with other mumis. If, however, the debtor-guest reciprocated more than he received, the rivalry continued until one of the principals gave up in defeat. A supernatural sanction supplemented the social sanctions connected with these exchanges either the club-house demon-familiar or an ancestral spirit of the creditor mumi accompanied the 'gift' and tore out the soul of the debtor mumi if he did not repay in good time. (In my experience, however, this supernatural sanction provided less motive power than the social ones.)
A successful mumi was fortunate in a number of respects. he was singled out among his fellows by means of special beliefs about his personality and destiny - for example, the mumi had a better chance than most other mortals of attaining paradise. Also, he had the satisfaction - highly valued among these people - of hearing himself frequently praised. Others showed great respect for his name and person and opinion s, and in his own community he exercised considerable authority even in matters not directly concerned with feast-giving. Next to his material resources his most powerful weapon was his ability to focus [raise or scorn upon fri3nds or enemies.
There were also certain more material advantages in being a mumi. It other men's pork distributions a mumi usually received the best cuts. He had little difficulty in raising loans. And he had the tacit right to utilize land belonging to all those persons to whom he regularly distributed pork or other valuables. The term tuhia was applied to these persons and, derivatively, to the lands so utilized by them; it was in this connection that natives describe certain mumis as having had extensive tuhias, which some whites had interpreted as 'kingdoms'.
There were also drawbacks in being a mumi. Such a man had to be scrupulous in his everyday conduct and in his commercial or ceremonial transactions. Moreover, he was dangerously situated, in being the potential victim of sorcery aimed at him by envious rivals. Informants stated that in the days before the German and Australian control mumis were primarily war-leaders, their renown having been mainly dependent upon their success in organizing and financing victorious head-hunting forays or pitched battles with rival mumis. In those day, informants asserted, a mumi's authority was backed by physical force. How closely such assertions corresponded to past actual events it is difficult to judge, but even according to these supposition, feast-giving was the principle kind of reward given by a mumi to his warriors, and fest-giving was the most important factor during the early stages of a man's rise to affluence. Feast-giving rather than personal bravery or martial skill attracted followers who would then fight one's battles.
By 1941 German and Australian control had succeeded in ending inter-tribal warfare, thereby removing much of the basis for the traditional form of tribalism. The Germans and Australians had also imposed a new form of territorial grouping and leadership, which conformed only in part to traditional tribal boundaries and forms of leadership. yet desp0ite all the coercive authority behind the Administration's kukerai system, it was unable in many places to supersede the traditional form. By 1941 Australians had also attempted to creat4e larger indigenous groupings, but these units, under so-called 'paramount chiefs' or nambawans, were in fact more ceremonial than administrative, and seem not to have fostered any sense of wider political boundaries. After several years of decades of contact with whites, the indigenes exercised less control over their own lives than ever before. Despite having become members of a vastly larger and purportedly more democratic 'tribe', they had little or no voice in their own governing.
Nor did they acquire any sizeable stake in the new capitalistic market economy of their islands during he mandate era. By 1937 whites had alienated 28,000 hectares of Bougainvillians' land, nearly all of it of prime agricultural quality and accessible to shipping points. Of this, over 10,500 hectares were planted in coconuts and most of the remainder was designated for coconut planting. Figures on total copra production on Bougainville-Buka are not known, since they were not segregated from Territory corals in published reports. However, it is safe to say that most of the copra exports were produced on white-owned plantations. Some indigenes in central areas sold self-grown and self-processed copra to traders, but this constituted a small percentage of the two islands' exports. Nor did the Administration attempt much in the way of encouraging indigenes in cash-cropping. One or two officials, on their own initiative required the men in their sub-districts to plant coconuts when their wives gave birth as a means of ensuring 'family welfare', but this was a sporadic enterprise and was not followed up with assistance in processing and marketing.
Locally made handicrafts included the now famous 'Buka' baskets (which were in fact made in southern Bougainville). Such handicrafts provided a few indigenes with some cash, but the volume was small and the prices low (for example a large bowl-shaped basket fetched only a few shillings). Up to 1941 no official effort had been made to encourage this potential profitable form of indigenous enterprise.
And finally, virtually all retailing remained in white or Chinese hands. Now and then a hopeful Bougainvillian invested his wage savings in a small stock of goods for resale to his neighbours, but such enterprises were usually very short-lived, and received no technical or financial assistance from the Administration. In other words, during the mandate era about the only part played by Bougainvillians in their islands' developing market economy was as wage labourers in white enterprises. Some Bougainvillians were employed as casual labourers, but for the largest population of wage labourers worked under indenture, principally as unskilled labourers on plantations. In 1939, for example, there were about 3400 working under indenture, about 2500 worked on Bougainville-Buka itself, and the remainder elsewhere in the Territory. At that time there were also 131 indigenes from elsewhere in the Territory working under indenture on Bougainville-Buka.) It would be pertinent to inquire what these labourers gained, economically or socially, from this, their closest and most sustained contact with whites.
Assuming that the average wage of each labourer was 3 pounds a year (the wage for unskilled labour was between six and ten shillings a month), wage earners would have earned during 1939 about 17,000 pounds. By viewing this as income for Bougainvillians as a whole, and subtracting from the figure some 2400 pounds (the approximate amount of head tax collected on Bougainville-Buka that year), this would leave about 34,600 pounds for other purposes, or about six shillings per capita per annum, i.e. enough to buy a strip of calico, a few pounds of rice, and a few sticks of trade tobacco.
But what about other benefits? Mention has already been made of some of the detrimental consequences of the indentures-labour system; the irrelevancy to indigenous life of most plantation-acquired skills, the unsavoury moral atmosphere of labour compounds, the psychological time of the master-boy relationship, the social disruptions in home life brought about by the workers' long absences, etc. on the other hand, the combination of medical care, muscular regimes and plantation food (monotonous as it was) does seem to have produced somewhat healthier individuals. And, however divisive it may have been in other aspects, a term of labour in a white enterprise, especially plantations and mines, served to provide a model for a larger-scale indigenous society. Despite the interethnic conflict that occurred in many labour compounds and colonial towns - Buka Islanders against Buins, Sepiks against Bougainvillians, etc. - experience of working together, and in the same roles, may have served to dampen some of the intertribal hostility that characterized indigenous life in pre-white times. And finally, Pidgin, which most indentured labourers succeeded in learning, provides a means of communication across old tribal boundaries as well as with the alien Europeans.
Meanwhile, the subsistence economy of Bougainvilliains persisted very much as before. vegetable staples and gardening techniques remained unchanged. Indigenes were introduced to new crops, maize, tomatoes, beans and pawpaw. Some of the set they grew on a small scale, but mainly for sale to whites because most indigenes found each food unsatisfactory substitutes for their own taro, sweet potatoes and yams. Many indigenes developed a taste for rice, but the sporadic efforts to grow it did not succeed and few people were willing to expend their precious little hoards of shillings for this kind of luxury. The change in meat supply was somewhat greater. Interbreeding with new strains considerably increased the size of local pigs, and made pig breeding a widespread preoccupation. On the other hand the increased production scarcely affected people's daily diets, since pork continued to be reserved for festive occasions. As in the case of rice, many Bougainvillians developed appetites for tinned beef and fish, but few were in a position to afford such luxuries.
In its efforts to introduce white notion s of public hygiene, the Administration required pig-proof fences around the new line-villages, and encouraged people to raise their dwellings off the ground on piles. (Pile dwellings were not unknown in pre-European times, but most dwellings were formerly built directly on the ground.) As a result of these efforts pile dwellings did indeed become more numerous, in line-villages that is; in their hamlets most people continued to live in their ground-level houses. As for other architectural innovations of the mandate era, very few indigenes were financially able to emulate whites to the extent of roofing their houses with metal. By 1941 there were probably no indigenous households on Bougainville-Buka without a metal cooking pot or two, although many of them continued to see their own clay vessels. Few adult males were without a steel machete, and many of them owned steel axes or adzes as well. Just as universal were smoking pipes, both wood and clay, for women as well as men. A few Bougainvillians were able to afford an occasional stick of twist tobacco - at threepence apiece - but most of the tobacco used was house-grown (and wholly uncured).
In at least one respect the Administration's policy met with outstanding success. As part of its mandate undertaking, it pledged itself to discourage the consumption of alcohol by indigenes. Even after decades of observing the whites at this congenial pastime, few Bougainvillians followed suit. They were not permitted to purchase alcohol, and drunkenness was sternly penalized. But perhaps more effective was the fact that few Bougainvillians were affluent enough to purchase beer, much less spirits. White notions of modesty were only partially diffused throughout the islands. Virtually every Bougainvillian past early childhood became accustomed to wearing a laplap - a strip of calico reaching from waist to below the knees - but mission efforts to induce the girls and women to cover their breasts met with only sporadic success.
It is possible, but difficult to document, that the Bougainvillians improved somewhat in physical health as a result of their twenty-year wardship. for example, all obvious cases of leprosy, tuberculosis, meningitis, etc. were hospitalized, and both Administration and mission agents conducted campaigns against yaws. Also, as previously noted, a term of years spent on plantations seems to have had a generally good effect upon the indigenous labourers, in terms of physical well-being at least. On the other hand, little progress appears to have been made in eradicating such major killers as malaria and pulmonary diseases. As for mental health, although there is no evidence of increase in extreme forms of mental illness, the period spent under mandate rule can only have increased the psychological stresses occasioned by insubordination to incomprehensible authorities and ways of life. By 1941 nearly all Bougainvillians had become at least nominal adherents to Christianity, of one variety of another, and some had even begun to develop new varieties of Christianity of their own.
At the beginning of the Australian military occupation in 1914 the Marist mission maintained four stations on Bougainville (Kieta, Patapatuai, Koromira and Torokina) and one on Buka Island at Burunotui, and counted some 800 to 900 baptized converts on the two islands. By 1939, the last pre-war year for which there are figures, the number of Marist mission stations had increased to twenty-one and the number of converts to over 30,000, including over 25,000 baptized members and over 5000 catechumens and adherents. Ministering to this large flock were twenty-nine priests, six brothers, twenty-five sisters and five lay nurses, all white, and seven indigenous sisters. To appreciate the great numerical weight of these sixty-five or so white Catholic missionaries, they should be compared with the numbers of other non-indigenous adults living on Bouagainville-Buka at that time: six Methodist missionaries, two seventh Day Adventist missionaries, and some hundred other whites engaged variously in production, commerce, or the Administration. In other words, in terms of numbers alone Catholicism constituted the largest agent of social change in these two islands, and the most widespread manifestation of change. How deep seated a change it was remained to be seen.
Throughout the mandate era, the primary goal of the Marist mission appears to have been to save indigenes' souls, either from the darkness of paganism or the error of Protestantism. Individual missionaries undoubtedly ministered to the physical and material well-being of their changes, and in the course much mission-wide effort went into health care and education; but evangelism was the overriding objective. The Marist strategy for carrying out its mission was to set up stations, staffed with priests, nuns and brothers, consisting of churches, schools, living quarters for the missionaries and pupils, vegetable gardens and, at the larger coastal stations, coconut plantations. The gardens were needed to feed the station personnel, and the plantations to help finance the whole mission enterprise. Some financial support came from outside sources, including funds raised by the missionaries themselves in their homelands, but much of the operating costs had to be paid for by profits from the missionaries' own commercial enterprises, a circumstance that added immeasurably to the mission's principal task.
The necessity to be as self-supporting as possible required of many missionaries that they devote too much time and energy to copra production, leaving too little for their evangelical teaching and pastoral duties. For labour they depended heavily upon their schoolboy boarders, who spent more time working than attending their lessons. The mission's acquisition of good agricultural land, however, 'voluntarily' tendered, sometimes entailed conflict with its indigenous neighbours and served to identify it with other kinds of waitman takeover. And finally, the mission's operation of plantations, in prime agricultural areas and with 'free' student labour, aroused protests from other white planters.
As remarked earlier, the Administration operated only a few schools, and none at all on Bougainville-Buka. In these islands indigenous education was left entirely in the hands of the missions, a task which the Marist mission was pleased to undertake and indeed zealously sought to monopolize. However, during the mandate, the mission's educational goals went no further than their evangelical ones: to save souls. Beyond instructing new converts enough to prepare them for baptism, the only formal schooling was that given young boys at the station boarding-schools and was designed to turn them into village catechists. It was only towards the end of the era, and largely in response to a growing challenge from the Methodists, that one of the catechist schools (the one at Chabai) was placed in the hands of trained missionary educators. But even this move was intended mainly to increase the pupils' value to the central evangelical purpose of the mission. The Marist mission also supplemented the Administration's meagre medical services to Bougainvillians. Humanitarian sentiments undoubtedly played a part in this, but as in the case of education it appears that much of the mission's work was specifically undertaken to win converts or to avoid losing them to the Protestants.
How did the mission's primary task - that of conversion - take place, and how were the new converts incorporated into membership of the church? the normal procedure of conversion has been described by the historian, Hugh Laracy' his account is as follows:
The Marists, like all missionaries, generally found adult pagans - those most committed by habit and interest to old religious allegiances - reluctant to adopt Christianity. . . . therefore, children were regarded as the hope of the mission and the Marists' efforts were mainly directed to drawing as many as possible into the station schools, where study was a novelty, discipline generally light, calico and tobacco regularly obtained and the (pagan) spirits impotent.
Pupils eventually received baptism almost as a matter of course. Normally, their catechumenate lasted about eighteen months. . . . Pupils usually returned, directly or via the plantations, to their villages. There some acted as teachers and prayer leaders, but most helped diffuse awareness of the lotu (Christian religious ritual) simply by their conversation, whetting the interest of their fellows with tales of what they had seen and learned. Infants were baptized whenever the parents approved. The baptism of adults, where there were no matrimonial impediments, was at the priest's discretion. A catechumenate of six months, including a period at the station, might be required to test an adult candidate's sincerity and to extend his knowledge of Christianity; especially once mission influence became established in an area, a request was sufficient to obtain baptism. (Laracy 1976, p. 74)
Perhaps the most obdurat4 difficulty in winning adult converts was the mission 's rule on marriage: only monogamous persons were eligible for baptism. Before a polygamous man -there were no polygamous women on Bougainville-Buka - could be baptized, he was required to put aside all but one of his wives. This ruling was no obstacle to most men; although by indigenous custom any male could acquire as many wives as he would and could afford, only a few actually did so. But among those few were usually to be found the most affluent and influential men in the indigenous communities, and by excluding them from baptism the mission lost the drawing power of their example. On the other hand many polygamists did cast aside their extra wives in order to be baptized, thereby securing for themselves the promise of a place in heaven. It is not recorded what became of the discarded wives.
Other than the requirement of monogamy, conversion did not demand any radical changes in the converts 'lives. It was enough that they attend services and participate on occasion in the sacraments, it was not required that they understand these rit4es. In fact, the simple cosmologies and ritual practices taught to new converts were similar in many respects to those of the indigenous religions. In each of the native languages encountered on Bougainville-Buka the missionaries were able to find verb al concepts near enough in meaning to Christian ones for their purposes of teaching and preaching. For example, among the Siwai people their pagan creator spirit, called Tantanu (Maker) was appropriated by the Marists and Methodists to designate God; although the divine qualities attributed to the Christian Tantanu were considerably greater than those of the indigenous spirit of that name, the identification seems to have been acceptable to both sides. As for the other major Christian figures, Jesus and the Virgin Mary were of course new concepts to the Siwai, but the Holy Ghost (Mara Mikisa) fitted easily into indigenous belief in the familiar form of a supernatural bird. A Siwai convert to Methodism once described to me the differences between Catholic and Methodist beliefs: 'The Popi (Pope, i.e. Catholics) talk a lot about Jesus' mother and a place called Roma, while we Taratura (Methodists) think mostly about Jesus Himself.'
As for mission doctrines about souls (before and after death) and about saints, these accommodated quite easily to indigenous b4liefs. The mission's criticism of evil spirits and indigenous magic served only to reinforce what the indigenes already believed; namely, that evil spirits are dangerous and that some magic can be deadly. The mission concept of sin was more difficult, and few Siwai even bothered to wonder about it. On one occasion this writer succeeded in having three Siwai teachers, to Catholics and a Methodist, discuss the subject together, and they agreed on the following proposition: that sin accommodates within a person as do other evil things, forming a hard round object that lies in the stomach. Catholics can rid themselves of sin through taking communion, but Methodists have no special means of ridding themselves of it and hence have to take special care to avoid doing sinful things. Except for polygamists then, conversions to the Catholic mission creed and membership in the church did not require a major change in the indigenes' thinking and living. But it did represent a conscious acceptance, however superficial, of something partly new; and it may be asked what persuaded so many people to covert?
Some of the earliest conversions were accomplished through purchase. For example when the Marist mission was becoming established on Shortland Island some indigenes, including a few from Bougainville-Buka, were obtained for work on the station (and of course religious schooling) by payment of goods or money to their relatives. To paraphrase Laracy (p. 75), purchase was a guaranteed means of obtaining an initial following and of creating a core of potential assistance: those who were purchased belonged to the mission. In many other instances individuals who were originally attracted to mission stations for purposes of earning money were converted as a matter of course. Another means whereby individuals were attracted to the mission in the first instance then held within the fold, was by generous hand-outs of tobacco, calico, tools, etc. Religious medals were also passed out in huge quantities; the wearing of one seems to have given the recipients a feeling of adherence to the mission, even without baptism. The incentive to conversion supplied by a few specific trade goods was increased for some by their comprehensive belief that Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, would somehow provide an unending supply of waitmans goods of all kinds, as witnessed by the boat-loads of objects that whites (who were nearly all Christians) continually received.
Medical aid was instrumental in winning many converts. The missionaries were called upon to dispense medicine and first aid as a regular part of their pastorates, and eventually the mission was obliged to establish hospitals in addition to the dispensaries attached to each mission station. quite apart from any gratitude that may have been elicited by these services, they also served to impress Bougainvillians with the superior 'magical' powers possessed by the missionaries, more powerful even than those of their own magicians and sorcerers. In this connection, there are indications that some missionaries, in their evangelical zeal, did nothing to disabuse them of such beliefs. The motivation behind these endeavours undoubtedly included some genuine humanitarian solicitude, but a need to equal or outdo Methodist medical services also played a part.
Many others became converts in the first instance in order to attend school. In the view of many Melanesians, on Bougainville-Buka and elsewhere, the main basis of whites' superiority in material goods, weapons, etc., was to be found in their knowledge, and schooling was the key to such knowledge. An understanding of English, particularly, came to be regarded as an essential ingredient of that knowledge, this circumstance, reinforced by rivalry with the English-speaking Methodists, moved the Marists to place less emphasis on the use of native vernaculars in schools and services and to augment their French- and German-speaking staff with missionaries from Australia, new Zealand and the United States.
Still another powerful incentive to conversion, especially in the mission's early days in these islands, was the protection, real or imagined, that it afforded against other white attacks or encroachments. On some occasions it was only a missionary's interception that spared some community from positive action by the Administration. On other occasions, a missionary was the only white willing and able to defend indigenes against other non-official white infringements and greed. An instance of the former occurred in Buin in 1919-20 when mass conversion took place in response to a series of punitive expeditions by the Administration, which included the execution of some feuders for homicide. On this occasion gratitude to the missionaries for having successfully shielded many innocents from Administration retribution was mixed with realistic acknowledgement that Christianized indigenes had wisely remained aloof from the feud. In some areas whole communities became converted as a consequence of the conversion of an influential kinsman or local leader. And, as will be described, there were instances in which one of the factions of an ancient feud joined the ranks of the Catholics in response to seeing their enemies become Methodists, the reverse also took place.
Another incentive to conversion, individual or en masse, may have been contained in the indigenes' own belief - very widespread in Melanesia - about cargo (kago), a millennium in which every wish would be fulfilled, especially those concerning a plentiful supply of good foods and reunion with deceased kin. In some instances the appearance of the affluent and seemingly supernatural whites was viewed as materialization of the prophecy; the missionaries' promises about heaven reinforced such views. Missionary preaching about the terrors of hell may also have influenced some people to covert, although theological arguments were probably less influential than mundane practical considerations in most conversions.
Finally, in attempting to explain why Bougainvillain s underwent conversion to readily and in such large numbers, one should not overlook the fact that Christianity was for them not an entirely distinctive institution. It was but one aspect of the whole complex of new - waitmans - objects and customs. during the early stages of their encounters with the waitmans way of life, the latter must inevitably have appeared overwhelmed. it was somewhat later, and then only sporadically, that the idea emerged of selecting only some parts of the new to complement parts of the old. As noted earlier, the Methodists installed their first mission in 1920, after an abortive attempt in 1916. The 1920 salient was established in Siwai by indigenous teachers from the missionary station on Treasury Island, and this was followed in 1922 by one white and three Fijian missionaries who set up a station on the west coast of Buka. In 1924 and 1926 other Methodist stations were established at Teop and Siwai respectively, and in 1931 were 'on trial for membership'. On Bougainville-Buka its strategy resembled the Marists' in some respects and differed in others. Like the Marists, the Methodists based their operations principally on stations somewhat isolated from the indigenous communities, where youthful converts boarded, worked, attended school, and generally led lives quite unlike their lives at home. More so than with the Marist, however, the education of th4ese young coverts included training in agriculture and industrial arts. This concept of industrial missions was based partly on the policy that the Methodist missions should be largely self-sustaining economically, and partly on the view that the indigenous Methodist should be industrious (in the white sense) as well as pious.
The Methodists were more exacting than the Marists in their requisites for church membership; they were considerably less tolerant of 'heathen customs', more interested in Westernizing their converts' characters and not only their religious beliefs. The third Christian mission to become established was that of the Seventh Day Adventists, who began their evangelical work in 1926 in the village of Lavelai on the southeast coast of Bougainville. Their progress was very slow; in 1941 they recorded only about thirty converts, all in the area around Kieta. This is not to be wondered at, because their membership requirements were even more stringent than the Methodists' and included the prohibition of tobacco, betel chewing, and the eating of crustaceans and pork. To forswear pork-eating was an especially onerous test of commitment. Meat in any form was a grand luxury to these islanders, and much of their traditional life revolved around pigs - raising them, exhibiting them, trading them, gift-giving them, and eating them on the most solemn or festive of occasions. (While being impressed with the persuasiveness of a mission able to secure so deep a commitment, one also wonders why such a radical deprivation was demanded.)
Ecumenism was not in fashion in these islands before World War II; in fact, a reading of early missionary reports and correspondence creates the impression that a soul matched from Methodism (or Adventism, or Catholicism) was felt to be an even greater victory than one lifted out of heathenism. The Marists were first on the scene, while their proselytizing rights were not legally exclusive, as some of them appear to have believed, they were bitter at what they considered Methodist encroachments, and speeded up their evangelistic activities like an urgent military campaign. As for the Methodists (the Adventists being still too meagre in numbers to constitute a threat), although there were several pagan areas in which they could operate, they made so bold as to evangelize mainly in the heart of Catholic strongholds. The rivalry was most intense in southern Bougainville and is here described by Laracy (pp. 63-4):
Feelings ran highest in Siwai. The Methodists, who eventually attracted half the population, were reinforced in 1928 by an influx of teachers from new Georgia. The Marists were ready for them. The year before Father Boch had equipped a squad of catechists in south Bougainville with bicycles in order that they might more quickly visit threatened villages, challenge Protestant emissaries and report back to their priest. In November 1928 he issued instructions that forceful catechists, 'even insufficiently trained ones', he placed in each village and station work subordinated to visiting, even if it means making the schoolboys 'a troop of peripatetic scouts accompanying the (priests) . . . from village to village'. Visiting Siwai two months later and observing the bitter sectarian competition, the Government Anthropologist, W.P. Chinnery, suggested to Boch that the missions reach a modus vivendi, only to be told, 'If the Protestants wish to have peace with us, let them go where we are not . . . where our influence is established . . . there will be fight for each individual village if necessary'.
Fighting did break out shortly afterwards; Methodists and Catholic factions destroyed each other's chapels at Osokoli and Hukuha. A judicial commission was appointed to investigate the situation and, though its only official outcome was the restriction in 1930 of the entry of 'foreign' Melanesian and Polynesian missionaries to the mandated territory, it did consider the Marists most to blame for arousing the animosity of their followers. The display of government interest in mission activities (and the threat of further action it was thought to contain) did, however, have a pacifying effect. Rivalry in Siwai continued into the 1930s but it was more discreet, and decreased as the number of people unconverted to one side or the other declined.
As this point it will be illuminating to go beyond general statements about mission programmes and statistics on conversion to inquire how far these mission activities, singly and in opposition, had affected indigenous life in the off-station Bougainvillian communities themselves. Again the Siwai area, where both Catholic and Methodist missionaries had been long at work and where their converts lived side by side, provides an example of that era:
In matters of belief, then, mission influence has made little impact upon most Siwai. similarly, Christianity cannot be said to have changed many Siwai practices. It has caused some Methodists to give up productive work on Sundays, and it has encouraged many of the younger men, especially Methodists, to wear cleaner loincloths; but it has had little effect in curbing polygamy or in changing sex mores. It has discouraged the practice of image-sorcery - the carved wooden figures (poripai) used in this sorcery are condemned by the mission as being 'graven images' - but it has probably had little inhibiting effect on other kinds of magical practice. In fact, some zealous converts now use Bibles as magical aids in litigation, and most natives see no difference at all between, say, Catholic . . . christening and Siwai (pagan) baptism. some Methodists heed their missionary and inhume rather than cremate their dead relatives, but for most natives Christian rites of passage merely reinforce the native rituals.
More significant than their influence upon religious beliefs and practices have been the mission's effects on social structure. As a result of mission rivalry new lines of social cleavage formed or old lines of cleavage crystallized. Catholics and Methodists no longer burned one another's chapels but many tensions continued to exist.
By 1941 Catholics outnumbered Methodists in Siwai, not because of differences in doctrine or practice but mainly because white Catholic missionaries had been at the job there longer and more continuously than their Methodist counterparts. Some villages were entirely Catholic, others entirely Methodist, depending usually upon which missionary began his work there first. Once the missionary had received consent from the highest-ranking local leader to construct a chapel and install a native evangelist, most of the leader's followers moved into his fold. Troubles began only when overzealous native evangelists tried to set up rival chapels in places already nominally affiliated. Many of these efforts were frustrated but some of them succeeded, with the result that there were many villages with both Catholic and Methodist congregations. In such cases the smaller congregation, usually representing the later mission to have become established, was nearly always identified with one or two hamlet units, conversion or transfer of affiliation having followed kinship lines. In most instances when a whole hamlet unit changed missions it did so at the behest of one of its more influential members. for example, one such unit became Methodist when its senior male member became piqued after being advised by his Catholic priest not to acquire a second wife. Another unit became Methodist after one of its brighter young men returned from indenture with glowing tales of the imagined practical advantages of learning arithmetic and bookkeeping, which Methodist schooling specializes in. . . . In some cases the division between Catholics and Methodists corresponded to long-standing political divisions, with whole neighbourhoods having purposefully embraced the sect opposite to that of their traditional enemies. . . .
The tendency towards sect-endogamy had some effect upon the maintenance of social cleavages between opposing congregations, but many inter-sect marriages took place, with one of the spouses usually joining the congregation of the other, depending upon the choice of residence. There were, however, a few steadfast mission members, usually men, who did not change sects when they moved to the places of their spouses, and these accounted for most cases of scatterings of sect A members in villages belonging predominantly to sect B . .
Lines of inter-sect division did not harden so long as a village's minority sect members did not band together into a definite congregational unit. Nor, in the case of relations between separate villages of opposing sects, did the fact of different mission membership create new cleavages or add significantly to cleavages already present; active religious hostility between separate villages seemed to have ended. In 1941, social cleavage between sects was mainly manifested in villages having opposing congregations, each with it on chapel and native evangelist.
Elsewhere there were whole villages associated exclusively with one or other of the missions, thereby sparing the local indigenes at least this consequence of whites' eagerness for their land or labour or immoral souls. To summarize, the three Christian mission at work on Bougainville-Buka during the mandate era differed from one another in many respects - in doctrines, goals and conversion, methods of proselytization etc. - but in one important respect they were alike. They continued to be waitmans institutions, as basically colonial as the white-owned plantations and Administration enclaves. All important mission decisions were made by whites and nearly all mission material resources responded in whites' hands. What indigenization of Christianity there was received its impetus from the indigenes themselves, and in forms that were more than distressing to the white missionaries and other whites as well.
Such developments first came to the notice of whites in 1913. They started in a corner of Buka but have since encompassed much of that island and have appeared in many parts of Bougainville as well. In 1913 word reached Europeans on Buka that a resident of Lontis village, a pagan named Muling, was attracting a large following by his claim to be able to acquire waitmans goods through magic, all other kinds of effort to do so having failed. His message fell on receptive ears. Before this event, buy Islanders had been in fairly frequent contact with whites for more than forty years. Large numbers of them had served as labourers, policemen, mission scholars, etc., and had come to use and want goods that would permit them to live more like whites, whom they at first greatly admired, and whom one report suggests they first believed to be returned ancestral spirits. In any case the cult swelled to such size that the German Administration, fearful of its potential. Arrested Muling and exiled him from the island.
The excitement aroused by Moling's prophecies died down under Australian rule, but his fellow Buka Islanders seemed not to have lost their appetite for waitmans goods and ways, so that the Marists were well received when they began active evangelism there a few years later. The missionaries may not have specifically promised the indigenes material wealth in return for conversion, but its quite likely that the latter read such promises into the missionaries' assurance about spiritual rewards. Thus, Sydney (Australia) was believed by the indigenes to be the future abode of the righteous' it was also known to be the source of most of the goods that reached Buka. Within a few years over 90 per cent of Buka's indigenous population had become Catholic.
Meanwhile, Catholic lotu (ecclesiastical services) began to serve purposes which the mission never intended. If the lotu worked for the missionaries in bringing what they wanted, some Buka Islanders reasoned, why should it not work for them and bring ships laden with goods? Armed with this argument another Buka Island, Pako, initiated a new movement to acquire the desired cargo. One of the leaders of this new movement was a Catholic catechist, but the principal one, Pako, along with his associate, the repatriated and durable Muling, were pagans, this form of lotu had evidently become disengaged from the mission itself.
Modelling their actions on the mission practices of approaching the divinity through saints, Pako and his associates employed their lotu in petitioning their own ancestral spirits for aid in bringing the desired cargo. People refurbished their burial grounds and spent nights there in prayer, and a mood of excitement prevailed in expectation of the arrival of the cargo which had been prophesized by Pako. Gardening and pottery-making ceased (why worked when the expected ships would bring all the food and utensils needed?), wharves and storehouses were built to receive the cargo. The movement was a bizarre mixture of new and old. Many old indigenous customs were renounced, new white ones adopted, and equality with whites was proclaimed. At its peak the cult - for such it was with its strong religious emphasis - embraced some 5000 Bougainvillians; this was the largest grouping up to then to unite on these islands, and a sign of things to come.
Subsequently, when some of the cult's members attempted to claim goods landed for whites, the Australian Administration stepped in and exiled the leaders to Madang, where Pako himself subsequently died. After this the popular excitement subsided for a year or so, but was stirred up again by another Buka pagan, Sanop, who moved into Pako's residence in Malasang village and began receiving mysterious messages which he identified as coming from Pako's spirit, again promising cargo, but this time ominously anti-white in tone. Again, however, the cult contained much from Christianity, including the rituals of lotu, regular church attendance, an d insistence upon monogamy (except for the cult leaders). But even though cult members continued to value the Marist priests' ritual powers (the local priest baptized 200 new converts including some Methodists on one visit to a cult stronghold, and 'Bishop' appeared along with 'Pako' on cuolt banners), the cult members otherwise distinguished between their brand of Christianity and the European mission itself.
When the movement spread to northern Bougainville it became more militantly anti-white. Then, when talk of 'liberation' was reinforced by a mass desertion of labourers from their plantation jobs, the Administration moved in again. The cult leaders were arrested, along with about 100 followers, and Pako's home was burnt down. Meanwhile too cargo arrived to offset the famine caused by the earlier cessation of gardening, and the disheartened people returned to their ordinary pursuits. With this the Pako-Sanop episode ended. Faith in cargo was revived a few years later when Japanese ships appeared - but that is another story.