As Papua New Guinea heads towards full independence, the role of the white patrol officer or "kiap" as he is known locally and the agricultural officer, or "didiman", is lessening.
As Papua New Guinea heads towards full independence, the role of the white patrol officer or "kiap" as he is known locally and the agricultural officer, or "didiman", is lessening. Local people are being trained to take their place.
Things are a great deal easier since the first patrol officers were appointed before the Second World War. Years ago they had to travel by dug out canoe. To reach villages not on the rivers it meant hikes through thick jungle. Headhunters were more the rule than the exception before the alst war. The job was a dangerous one and besides trying the protect his head, a patrol officer also had disease to contend with. He needed medical knowledge, tact, and a lot of good luck to survive a term of duty. During the Second World War many officers became coastal watchers reporting on the movements of Japanese troops and shipping off New Guinea.
The aircraft opened up the country and made the job easier after the war. Landing strips were hacked out of the jungle and inland villages came within hours reach instead of weeks.
Many officers still travel by dug out canoe, but now they're fitted with outboard engines. In the last days before independence the officers role now is mainly supervising local elections. Until recently the leaders of regions were appointed by the Australian administration. However, as part of the process of bringing self government to Papua New Guinea a system of elected councils has been established for each sub-district.
This film shows a visit by Patrol Officer Mike Goodsen and Agricultural Officer Tony Maddern to a village in the Sepik region.
SYNOPSIS: The aircraft may have opened up much of Papua New Guinea, but sometimes its still a lot easier to take the traditional dug out canoe when visiting an outlying village.
Mike Goodsen, a 27 year old Australian is one of the few white Patrol Officers in the territory. As Papua New Guinea moves into its last days before independence his role has changed and he is now educating villagers to take over his job.
One of Goodsen's last visits was to the village of Agrant in the Sepik region. Another Australian, Tony Maddern who is an Agricultural Officer was already there.
Their days in the territory are nearly over. The Agricultural Officers have trained local villagers to take over the education of farmers and use the land for crops such as rice and sago in a more profitable way.
It's the role of the Patrol Officer which has changed most over the years. Before the aircraft, all treks into the interior had to be made by dug out canoe, without an outboard, followed by a hike through jungles. There were headhunters and disease to contend with and the mortality rate was high.
All that has changed, and now the Officers are supervising the election of local officers to take over when the country becomes independent.
Until recently the administration appointed its own representatives in villages and they made their reports to the local Patrol Officer who made infrequent trips to their village. As the process of independence reaches its climax, a system of elected councils has been established for each sub-district. The new men will take over the running of their local area, reporting to the administration in Port Moresby. Gradually the white Agricultural and Patrol Officers will leave the running of Papua New guinea to the indigenous people.