November 25 - December 1, 2012: Issue 86  

Example of District Hut 


Kamaro man

 Various “wigs” from the Southern Highland District

Mt. Hagen men in battle line

Local Belles 

A speared captive

By George Repin

Goroka in the Bena Bena Valley, the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, has developed from a small outpost in the 1950s into an attractive town with modern facilities and a population of about 25,000.  This is in marked contrast to the sparsely settled town in 1953, as viewed from a nearby hill, in a Kodachrome reproduced opposite page 95 of the 2nd Edition (1955) of Colin Simpson’s book Adam in Plumes.

Today, Goroka is known for its annual cultural show, the Goroka Show, held around 16th September, the PNG Independence Day.  The show, however, had its origin long before PNG Independence, which occurred in 1975. The show was started in 1957 on the initiative of Australian Patrol Officers as a gathering of various tribes and clans so that the people of different districts could proudly display their cultures.  Houses typical of the districts were built, people wore plumes typical of their districts, tribal battles were re-enacted, painted warriors danced to the beat of the kundu drums and groups reflected their divergent cultures in song.

Chimbu man

Amongst the tribal groups, for example, the “mud men” of Asaro recreated a legendary event.  According to tribal lore, centuries ago the Asaro were defeated in a tribal fight and retreated into the Asaro River.  Before undertaking a “payback” raid they covered their bodies with grey mud from the river but because they thought the mud was poisonous did not use it to cover their faces. Instead they made masks with grotesque designs from pebbles and water from a waterfall. Apparently the ruse worked and their enemies ran away at the site of the ghostly apparitions.

Asaro mud-men

From its simple beginnings in 1957 the Goroka Show has grown from just a local get-together into a major tourist attraction.

The accompanying pictures are from Kodachrome 35mm slides by George Repin in 1958.

Mother and child. 

Copyright George Repin, 2012.  All Rights Reserved. 


 Examples of District Huts.