Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Rekindling memories of the great sea voyages of Morobe

The kasali beaches at Malalo with Salamaua Point in the background
Sailing the kasali into Salamaua

Laukanu villagers with their kasali at picturesque Malolo in Salamaua, Morobe province
Laukanu villagers land their kasali at Malalo in Salamaua, Morobe province

In October 2007, the people from my mother’s beautiful Laukanu village in Salamaua, Morobe province, rekindled memories of yore when they launched a kasali (ocean going canoe).
For many people, especially the young ones, it was a rare opportunity to see a traditional canoe used by these seafarers of the Huon Gulf, as they may never again be able to do so again.
The people of Laukanu were among the greatest mariners of the Huon Gulf, making long ocean trips throughout the Huon Gulf to exchange goods, long before the arrival of the white man.
Researchers know that around the Huon Gulf, a complex and extensive trading system – dependent on canoe voyages – had existed long before contact with Europeans, and the Laukanu people, using the kasali, were among the best.
When the first Lutheran missionaries arrived in Finschhafen in the late 1880s, the Laukanu made the long sea voyage to Finschhafen, and helped to bring the Miti (Word of God) to the villages south of Lae.
The launch of the kasali celebrated not only the great seamanship of the Laukanu, but more importantly, coincided with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Malolo Mission Station - overlooking idyllic and historic Salamaua – on October 12, 1907.
The people of Salamaua and surrounding villages, who make up the Malalo Circuit, converged on Malalo for that momentous occasion.
It was a time for all to celebrate the important role the church had played in their lives, as well as remember the many expatriate missionaries and local evangelists, who worked through the dark days of World War 1 and World War 11 to bring the Miti (Word of God) to the people.
These legendary missionaries include Reverend Karl Mailainder and Rev Herman Boettger (who started actual work on the Malalo station), Rev Hans Raun, Rev Friedrich Bayer, Rev Mathias Lechner, and Rev Karl Holzknecht.
Apart from the centenary celebrations, it was also a time for the Laukanu people to showcase their ocean-going and canoe-building skills, which have now been safely passed on to the next generation.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks for that. So will this be an annual event? Should be something like the Hiri Moale festival

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