Picturesque New Guinea/Appendix 1
BRITISH NEW GUINEA.
REPORT ON BRITISH NEW GUINEA, FROM DATA AND NOTES BY
THE LATE SIR PETER SCRATCHLEY, HER MAJESTY’S
MR. G. SEYMOUR FORT,
Private Secretary to the late
SIR PETER SCRATCHLEY, R.E., K.C.M.G.
PRESENTED TO BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY’S COMMAND.
BRITISH NEW GUINEA.
Report by G. Seymour Fort.
A record of places visited, proceedings taken in connection with the erection of buildings, purchases of land, judicial matters, &c., judicial proceedings, and other administrative matters.
Statement of the existing state of the country, the character of the natives, their system of land tenure, resources—actual and potential, &c.
The views of the late Sir Peter Scratchley with regard to the present political position which British New Guinea occupies in the Anglo-Australia System—also his views with regard to its future position and future administration.
SIR PETER SCRATCHLEY, K.C.M.G.
From a Negative by Foster and Martin, Melbourne.
Plate XLIX.MR. G. SEYMOUR FORT, PRIVATE SECRETARY TO SIR PETER SCRATCHLEY.
IR PETER SCRATCHLEY arrived in Melbourne at the end of the year 1884. Before, however, he was able to proceed to New Guinea, two main questions had to be settled—
(2) To arrange with the various Australasian colonies with regard to the present and future contributions towards the expenses of administering the Protected Territory. In order to settle this latter question, Sir Peter Scratchley visited the colonies of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand, and personally interviewed their respective Ministers. He also met and interviewed the Premier of South Australia. The purport of the replies from these colonies with regard to this point was to the effect that they would continue to contribute their respective quotas for periods varying from two to five years, on the condition that a certain share in the expenditure should be borne by the Imperial Government.
The difficulty and delay in obtaining a suitable vessel for service on the New Guinea coast was intensified by the threatened rupture between England and Russia, which was imminent during the months of March and April of that year. Early in January, 1885, Sir Peter Scratchley had gone to Sydney, and while there the Government had offered to place H.M.C.S. "Wolverene" at his disposal for service on the New Guinea coast for six months. This offer was accepted, and the vessel was placed in charge of Captain Taylor, who was instructed to carry out the necessary refittings and repairs. In the meantime, Sir Peter went to Tasmania, and not long after his return to Melbourne from that colony the threatened rupture with Russia appeared so imminent that he felt it his duty to resign the "Wolverene," and place her again at the disposal of the New South Wales Government. For a considerable period after this his time and attention were devoted to the defences of the various colonies. As soon as the alarm with regard to the danger to be apprehended from Russia had somewhat subsided, he advertised for tenders for the chartering of a steamer for service on the New Guinea coast. Twenty answers were received, but the prices asked by the majority of the tenderers were so exorbitant as to leave only one or two to choose from. After considerable trouble and deliberation, Sir Peter Scratchley accepted the tender of the Australasian Steam Navigation Company for the s.s. "Governor Blackall," and in July she was laid up in Sydney for the purpose of refitting and preparing for her work on the coast of New Guinea. In the meantime, at the request of the Governments of Queensland and New Zealand, Sir Peter Scratchley visited those colonies for the purpose of conferring with the Ministers on the subject of his mission.
By the end of July, the "Governor Blackall" was ready, but, owing to his illness, Sir Peter Scratchley was unable to start until the middle of August. On the 13th of that month the "Governor Blackall" left Sydney, and, after calling at Brisbane, Townsville, and Cooktown, arrived at Port Moresby on the 22nd August.
Part I.—Record of Proceedings.
After arrival of Sir Peter Scratchley in New Guinea, his time may be divided into three periods:—
(ii.) Period from 12th to 30th October. During this period, Sir Peter Scratchley, in company with H.M.S. "Diamond" and "Raven," who were awaiting his arrival at Dinner Island, was engaged in investigations concerning the killing of white men, which had occurred among the islands on the South and South-East Coast, in the Louisiade Archipelago, &c. The following cases were investigated:—The killing of Captain Miller, at Normanby Island, on the 3rd of that month; the killing of Reid, at Slade Island, Engineer Group; the killing of Captain Friar, at Moresby Island; the killing of Bob Lumse, at Hayter Island; the killing of Captain Webb, in the previous year, at Milport Bay; the attack on the schooner "Wild Duck," in Cloudy Bay, in June, 1884. For the purpose of obtaining evidence, the following islands were visited:—Killerton Island and the main land in Milne Bay, Dufaure Island, Lydia and Toulon Islands. On the 29th, the vessels returned to Aroma, where the flag was hoisted, in the presence of about 2,000 natives; and on the 31st they returned to Port Moresby.
Two important results are to be noted:—
With regard to the first point, at each place visited a record was kept of the name of the district and its chief; the approximate number of villages and population; the native teachers resident; the character of the natives, climate and nature of the soil; the natural products and industries, &c.; and any incidents of importance. Each of these points will be dealt with in a subsequent part of the Report.
With reference to the opening up communication with the natives—at each place, wherever possible, the chiefs were collected, presents made, and the intention of the Government and its wish to protect black and white alike explained. The chiefs were told that all complaints against white men were to be made to H. M. Special Commissioner or his representative, who would constantly patrol the coast; that no chief was to take the law into his own hands; that tribal warfare was to be discouraged; and the absolute authority of one chief to be recognised. The position of the native teacher, as exercising a beneficial influence, was also everywhere recognised.
On arrival in New Guinea the subjects demanding immediate attention were—(1) The appointment of officers; (2) The establishment of a seat of Government; (3) The purchasing of land from the natives; (4) The erection of a house for the Government Resident.
Captain Musgrave, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, was placed in charge, and intrusted with the administration of affairs for the district, extending from Yule Island to Hood Bay. The Honourable J. Douglas, who was Government Resident at Thursday Island, was also appointed Assistant Deputy Commissioner for the purpose of exercising control over the western portion of the protected territory. Mr. Frank Lawes was appointed Postmaster, Harbour-master, and Clerk to Captain Musgrave. Two brothers, by name Hunter, of considerable practical experience in New Guinea, were also taken into Government employ—the one to act as forester and inspector of the timber trade, the other to inspect the bêche-de-mer industry.
Port Moresby was established as the seat of Government, and the sole port of entry. The reasons for this selection were—(1) because it was the only place where any permanent attempt at civilization had been made; (2) because of its comparative healthiness; (3) its vicinity and easy access, especially for sailing vessels, to Cooktown, and a telegraph station.
A considerable area of land, comprising the best sites in the harbour and nearly the whole of the frontage to the sea, was, with but small difficulty, purchased from the natives. In summoning together the claimants for this land, and in obtaining their assent to parting with their property in perpetuo, and thus securing a sound title for the Government, the assistance rendered by the Mission was invaluable. A portion of this was set aside for Government buildings; part was reserved as a site for a future township, and a portion was also to be held as a native reserve.
Previous to the arrival of Sir Peter Scratchley at Port Moresby, the only houses were those belonging to the Mission and to a storekeeper of the name of Goldie. Consequently, all Government officials, and to a large extent all visitors also, were dependent upon the hospitality of the Mission for board and lodging. A site was, however, carefully selected by Sir Peter, on which a large two-roomed house, which had been ordered at Townsville, was erected. This is at present occupied by Captain Musgrave, and is the only Government residence in the island. By means of pipes laid on from a natural spring, the house as well as the native village below, is amply supplied with water. A prison was also in the course of erection, and Captain Musgrave was instructed to collect materials for the building of a native bungalow. A small printing office was also established, and regulations were printed, copies of which were sent to as many white traders as possible, and to the native teachers in each district.
Boevagi, the chief of the village, was formally recognised as chief of the district. He was instructed to refer all complaints, whether of a tribal nature or against white men, to the Special Commissioner. Twenty-five of the sub-chiefs of the district were summoned on board the "Governor Blackall," were presented with presents, and were told by Sir Peter Scratchley—firstly, that they were to regard the white man as their friend, whose presence would be to their advantage; secondly, that they were to regard Boevagi as their chief, to whom they were to refer to in all cases requiring arbitration.
In addition to the land at Port Moresby purchased by the Government, a large tract of land, comprising nearly one half of Stacey Island, was purchased at south Cape. In this case, the transaction was simplified by the fact that there was only one owner, and that the rest of the tribe recognised his individual right to dispose of the land. No title deeds were drawn up, nor did the seller attach his name to any document; a statement was signed by the Rev. J. Chalmers, the native interpreter, and others, to the effect that the native (Pusa) had a sole right to the land, that he had parted with it voluntarily, and that he and the tribe were satisfied with the payment given—about £5 worth of trade. These were the only purchases of land made.
Owing to the somewhat unstable and unique relationship that the Imperial and Colonial Governments had occupied with regard to New Guinea, several Europeans had gone through the form of purchasing land from the natives. Two classes of claimants to land were dealt with—those who based their claims on purchases made prior to the proclamation of the Protectorate; those who claimed a prescriptive right to lease lands, on the ground of occupancy or original exploration.
Of the first class, a claim to about 700 acres of land at Port Moresby in 1878, and a claim to 15,000 acres of land alleged to have been purchased in the Kabadi district in 1880, were the most important. Although, under paragraph No. 6 in Commodore Erskine's Proclamation of November, 1884, these claims had no legal basis whatever, yet as there might be special cases, where individuals might in equity appear entitled to consideration, each case was thoroughly investigated by Sir Peter Scratchley.
In the first case, the original purchase had been made in July, 1878; the original purchaser, who had been master of a trading vessel, had died and had assigned his claims to the present claimant, who now claimed about 500 acres of peninsula headland, and two other allotments of about 100 acres each, these two being comprised in the land purchased by the Government as a native reserve. In the purchase of these it was alleged that £600 had been spent. After careful inquiry, it was made clear that certain transactions had taken place, and that certain natives had signed their names to these transactions. It was, however, made equally clear that, putting the trade at its highest figure, not more than £8 was given to the natives for the land.
The claim was refused on the following grounds:—
(b) Neither of the parties to the transaction had any legal or official authority.
(c) There was no reason shown why in equity any consideration should be given.
As the land in the Kabadi district was stated to be very fertile, the area claimed extensive, and the claim already possessed an official history, a special expedition was made for the purpose of investigation.
This claim was refused on the following grounds:—
(b) Commodore Erskine’s Proclamation.
(c) There was no reason shown why in equity the claim should be recognized.
In support of this last cause, Sir Peter Scratchley wrote: “I have ascertained, by inquiries on the spot, that the purchase of the land was not completed by you or your late partner, and that your negotiations for the land have at no time been acknowledged by the chief of the district.”
I may state that one of the partners has voluntarily retired from his alleged claim—the other still importunes the Government on the subject.
The applications for leases were based on the grounds of occupancy or original exploration. They were all temporarily shelved or refused until the places had been visited by Sir Peter Scratchley or one of his officers.
The following applications for concessions of land were recorded:—
(2.) From the New Guinea Land and Emigration Company in London, to which the following reply was returned by Sir Peter Scratchley:—
(3.) From a New Guinea trader, in order to enable him to start a company for the development of native industries.—The correspondence in reference to this application was never completed.
Permissive occupancy of Government land, for the purpose of erecting a house and store, was granted to two traders at Port Moresby, and also at South Cape.
Permission was granted to Mr. H. O. Forbes, who has a station at Sogere, about 50 miles inland from Port Moresby, to purchase land from the natives in that district.
A registration of claimants to land or to leaseholds, on the same plan as that adopted in Fiji, was in the course of compilation. As soon as this had been completed, the claims of those persons who had expended money in the purchase of land, or who had worked and cultivated land on terms of agreement with the natives or otherwise, would have received prior consideration as against all subsequent requests to lease or purchase.
In addition to the claimants already mentioned, there are others whose claims date back for some years, who are only waiting the result of test cases before they take any action.
As it was found that no vessel would undertake the conveyance of a monthly mail to Port Moresby at an economical rate, it was considered necessary to abandon, for the present, the project of a monthly mail service. The Queensland Post Office authorities agreed, however, to regard New Guinea in the same light as an isolated station in Queensland. That is to say, letters posted in New Guinea, and bearing a Queensland stamp, would be charged Queensland rates; while all letters addressed to New Guinea would be forwarded to Cooktown, and would there await the departure of any vessel that might be returning to New Guinea, no extra charge being made for their transference from Cooktown to their destination. The Queensland Government were also good enough to allow the Auditor-General to make a half-yearly audit of the accounts. Official notices with regard to New Guinea were also, by the courtesy of His Excellency the Governor and the Premier, allowed to be inserted in the Queensland "Government Gazette."
As, in Sir Peter Scratchley's opinion, the indiscriminate influx of adventurers and speculators would be to the disadvantage of the country, no person was allowed to go to New Guinea without a permit. Several permits to trade were granted to private companies and individuals; but it is a significant fact that, although the requests for these permits were very urgent, yet in the majority of cases the applicants did not avail themselves of them when granted. Each permit was granted subject to the observance of conditions. The customs officer, both at Townsville and Cooktown, was authorized by the Queensland Government to prevent any vessel without a permit from clearing from either of the above-named ports.
It was a prominent item in Sir Peter Scratchley's policy to encourage as much as possible explorations, conducted upon a proper footing and under recognised leaders. Many persons applied for permits to explore who were totally unfit to do so, and whose attempt, had permits been granted them, would have been ruin to themselves, and would have made a breach in the relations with the natives which it might have taken years to heal. The following remarks on this question appear in his note book:—"All explorations must be methodical and systematic. No time must be fixed for the return of the exploring party, which should be composed of as few members as possible. No exploring party should act independently of the Government."
The two most important explorations undertaken during Sir Peter Scratchley's administration were—
(2.) Mr. H. O. Forbes, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, arrived in Australia in August, and accompanied Sir Peter Scratchley in the s.s. "Governor Blackall" to New Guinea. His object is to explore the Owen Stanley Range. For this purpose he has established himself, with 25 Malays, at a station at the base of the mountain, and has opened up friendly relations not only with the natives immediately around him, but also far back into the interior. Early in the dry season he will attempt the ascent of the mountain. In the meantime, he is engaged in making observations and collecting Botanical and Natural History specimens. He will eventually furnish the Government with a Geological Report upon the country through which he passes. In order to assist him in his operations. Sir Peter Scratchley has authorized him to purchase land from the natives, for the purpose of introducing the cultivation of rice and maize, and a considerable amount of the former, for seed purposes, was ordered from Batavia. Sir Peter also furnished him with a large number of seeds for the purpose of forming a Government garden. It had also been the intention of Sir Peter Scratchley to have granted him from the Government funds a considerable sum of money to enable him to continue his operations after his ascent of the mountain. His long experience in dealing with natives, the accurate records kept by him of the natural features and natural products of the country, render his work as an explorer of exceptional value in adding to the knowledge of the country.
(3.) An application was made from the Mayor of Townsville for a permit to be granted to a gold prospecting expedition to visit the country. This was granted, and Sir Peter Scratchley promised to instruct his officers to assist the expedition in every way possible. It was, however, pointed out that it would not be advisable for the expedition to start until the end of the rainy reason.
During his cruise along the coast, many instances of strained relationships existing between the trading whites and the natives were brought under Sir Peter Scratchley’s notice.
The most important complaint made by natives against white men was a charge brought by Renaki, chief of Hula, against two white men, by name Guise and Currie. These two men had been resident in that district for some time, and the chief had made a complaint to Mr. Romilly about them in December, 1884. He complained that, although they were resident in the district, they followed no trade; that they were in the habit of systematically violating the young women of the tribe; and, what appeared to be the chief cause of his complaint, of violating the married women also. He further informed Mr. Romilly that they had spoken disrespectfully of the Commodore. Acting upon this complaint, Mr. Romilly requested the captain of H.M.S. “Swinger” to deport the men from Hula. This was done, and they were taken in that vessel to Australia. They, however, again returned in a vessel which had no permit, and took up their residence at Hula. On Sir Peter Scratchley’s first visit to Hula, in September, the chief Renaki made a formal complaint against these two men, and asked Sir Peter Scratchley if he was strong enough to remove them. At that time Sir Peter Scratchley was unable to remain at the village, but he promised that he would return and investigate the matter. Accordingly, when he visited Hula in November, a Court was held on board the s.s. "Governor Blackall," and the two men. Guise and Currie, were summoned by warrant to appear. The native evidence taken before the Court was not strong enough to justify their deportation under clause 26 of the Western Pacific Orders in Council, but they were proceeded against under clause 27 of those Orders, which prohibits residents in the Island from remaining there if their presence shall be considered by the Commissioner detrimental to the peace and good order of the Pacific Islands.
A few minor complaints, made against some of the traders on the coast, with reference to the prices paid for bêche-de-mer, &c., were also adjudicated upon.
The principal complaint of whites against natives was a charge of robbery with assault, committed by some of the natives at Aroma, upon a trader called Dan Rowan. This case was carefully investigated on the spot by Sir Peter Scratchley, and the native evidence taken in the matter, the result being that the chief was ordered to restore the stolen property, which was done.
Six cases of white men who had been killed during the past two years on the New Guinea Coast were investigated. The results of these investigations went to show—
(2.) That in every case, therefore, there was either direct or indirect aggressive provocation on the part of the whites against the blacks.
(3.) That, in the majority of cases, there was reckless disregard on the part of the murdered of warnings given. Frier refused to believe the native boy who told him the natives had determined to kill him. Miller had been warned by Captain Bridge of H.M.S. "Espiègle," and by Mr. Chalmers, not to go to Normanby Island.
So many and so various are the difficulties connected with the question of punishment, that to administer justice according to European notions for these outrages is impossible. A murder is committed, and a man-of-war proceeds to the spot. She finds that every person in the village has left, taking everything with them; by waiting a day or so, some of the men will return. They will not, however, fight—at the first sign of hostility they flee into the jungle, where to pursue them would be fatal, as for every native caught, ten white men might be speared. Should, however, the natives remain and consent to give evidence, such evidence is wholly unreliable, partly from the difficulty of interpretation and explanation, and partly also from the readiness with which, when they do understand, they will endeavour to adapt their statements to the leading idea or apparent wish of the questioner. Then, again, the native custom with regard to payment for murder, and their low estimate of human life, forms another difficulty. In the case of Miller, one of the murderers came off to the ship voluntarily, bringing his payment or wergild for the murder he had committed. He was detained on board, but to have punished him with death, in the face of his having voluntarily paid what, according to his standard of justice, was a full penalty for his deed, would have been revenge and not justice.
As a result of the experience gained by Sir Peter Scratchley during these investigations, the following conclusions wore arrived at:—
(2.) That men-of-war vessels are not suited for the purpose of administering justice and punishing outrages on the New Guinea coast; that under the peculiar conditions for which they are required, they combine the least amount of efficiency with the greatest display of force.
(3). That the most effective police would be a selected crew of Samoans or Fijians, under the charge of an English officer, who would be constantly patrolling the coast. This force could also be utilized for the prevention of tribal warfare. It would of course be necessary that the officer in charge should send in a written report of his proceedings.
Part II.—The Existing State of the Country.
The above-mentioned administrative proceedings were more or less of a provisional nature, and were incidental to what appeared to Sir Peter Scratchley to be the main object of his cruise, namely, to gain a practical insight into the actual condition of the country, in order to be able to lay before the Imperial and Colonial Governments some scheme for its administration. As it is evident, on account of the climate, that as the natural resources of New Guinea can only be developed by means of coloured labour, the distribution of the natives, both as to population and disposition, is perhaps of paramount importance. With the exception of some portions of the North-East Coast, almost the entire littoral of the Protected Territory is inhabited. In the West and North-West, from the Fly River to Hall Sound, the natives are very numerous, the tribes are large, and a higher stage of tribal development is reached than elsewhere. The soil is in some places extremely fertile, and the sago produced in this portion of the coast supplies the districts on the South-West Coast as far as Kaile.
The natives inhabiting not only the coast, but also the high lands and valleys from Port Moresby to Kerupunu, are numerous, peaceable, and show themselves willing to adopt European ideas with regard to labour, &c. This is especially the case among the fertile lands behind Kapakapa, Hula, and Kerupunu. At Aroma, Cloudy Bay, Milport Bay, and Toulon Island, the character of the natives changes; they are very numerous, their tribal organization is more complete, and their individual physique finer, but they are not to be trusted—their latent capacity for bloodshed is strong, and with difficulty restrained.
The population from South Cape to Bentley Bay and East Cape is more scattered, the villages are small and numerous, the people small in stature, and of peaceable disposition.
But little is known of the natives on the north-east coast; the few that were visited were visited during the cruise of the "Governor Blackall." Several places were visited where no white man had ever been before; although shy, the natives appeared to be friendly; in some places the villages were very large.
Most of the islands in the Louisiade Archipelago and D'Entrecasteaux Group are thickly populated; the natives are, however, treacherous, and less to be trusted than those on the mainland; in most of the islands also, as well as on the mainland from South Cape to Bentley Bay, the natives have been and are cannibals.
From what is known of the interior, the villages appear to be numerous, and the people friendly. At Mr. Forbes' station, the furthest settlement inward hitherto attempted, the natives are not only friendly, but have caused tribes living far away in the interior to become friendly also.
During his tours of inspection. Sir Peter Scratchley personally visited no fewer than 18 districts, 27 islands, 34 inland villages, and nearly 60 coast villages. Except on rare occasions, no arms were carried; and on no single occasion was the slightest hostility shown, or was there a single disturbance with the natives.
The social and political organization of the New Guinea natives is quite rudimentary. Even the tribes in the West, who are less barbarous than elsewhere, have no fully developed tribal system, such as existed in Fiji, Java, or New Zealand. On the other hand, however, nowhere are they nomadic or so low in the scale as the Australian black.
The infinite variety of dialects to be found throughout the Protected Territory is a prominent element of difficulty in dealing with the natives, whether for trading or investigation purposes. Not only each district, but each village, has very frequently a different dialect. The Motu dialect prevails over the largest area, namely, from Port Moresby to Kapa Kapa.
Owing not improbably to the influence of the Malay element they have everywhere shown themselves ready to trade with Europeans, and eagerly exchange, not only natural products, pigs, &c. but even personal ornaments, relics, house utensils, &c. for tobacco, axes, cloth, &c. They have also a good deal of inland trading among themselves, the inland supplying the coast tribes with food products in exchange for fish, salt, &c. In the Port Moresby district large expeditions are annually made to the Gulf of Papua for the purpose of exchanging the pottery (burnt clay pots) made at Port Moresby for the sago grown in the West. These expeditions are undertaken in large crafts (Lakatois) made by lashing several canoes together. In those they frequently go out of sight of land, and steer by the stars. It was estimated that in one of these expeditions, which started from Port Moresby shortly after the arrival of the "Governor Blackall," 20,000 pots were taken, for which they would bring back in exchange about 150 tons of sago.
As the natives exist almost entirely upon vegetable diet—yams, bananas, &c.—they are obliged to undergo a certain amount of labour in tilling the ground. This, however, is done mainly by the women, who are not unfrequently skilful agriculturalists. The men, however, as a rule, are not industrious, and seem incapable of any systematic permanent labour. The principal food sources are bananas, yams, sweet potatoes, taro, cacoa-nuts, sugar-cane, bread-fruit, and other native fruits, fish, &c.
In order to render the natives more capable of self-government among themselves and useful instruments in developing the resources of the country, it will be necessary that native customs and institutions should be reformed by Government in two directions.
At present, not only in each district but in each village, there appears to be a chaos of authorities. Under the present circumstances, each man, beyond conforming to certain established customs, is a law to himself. In a single village there is not unfrequently to be found three rival chiefs, each basing his claim to chieftainship upon a different basis; there is the patriarchal chief, who is, more or less, connected by kin with all in the village; there is the man who is chief by virtue of his individual prowess in war; and there is also, perhaps, a sorcerer chief. It occasionally happened that all three attributes, or perhaps two, were centred in one chief—as, for instance, Koapena, chief of Aroma—but this is the exception, and not the rule. The remedy suggested by Sir Peter Scratchley was to introduce a modified form of the Java system, crushing out the minor chiefs, and making the Government-elected chief the recipient of a certain annual payment. He would then be held responsible for the safety of all foreigners, and for the maintenance of law and order within his district.
This could be done by means of the official chief and native teachers. Its effect would be to increase the number of requirements among the natives—to give them an inducement to steady labour and systematic cultivation. Hitherto tobacco has been current coin among the natives, and only so long as they were in want of this would they work, consequently their labour could never be depended upon. At Port Moresby, however, and elsewhere, the introduction of a meal of rice, as payment for a day's work, was appreciated, and proved a far greater incentive to steady and reliable labour than tobacco.
The system of land tenure in New Guinea is generally admitted to be a complicated one. Those who have hitherto written and reported concerning it have almost without exception regarded it as an organized system of tribal ownership; but although the natural boundaries of the tribal district are always known to each member of the community, yet it seems probable that there is no idea of tribal ownership as it is generally understood.
The actual ownership of the land appears to be based upon the basis of kinship. The land is divided into divisions and subdivisions, owned by groups of individuals, who are all more or less connected by kin. The number of individuals in these groups is variable. The group may have dwindled down to one representative, or it may have indefinitely increased. Each member of this family group regards himself as having a distinct interest in the land appropriated to his kinsmen; not only, however, can no one member alienate the land without the consent of the family group, but each member will claim to receive a share of the profits of the sale of such land. The sense of individual proprietorship is very strong, and extends to particular trees, and even to the fruit upon these trees, &c.
The position and action of the chiefs will vary in proportion to their individual influence and power. If the land to be disposed of belong to the family group, of which the district chief is also the patriarchal head, he would be the most prominent figure in any transactions with the land; but if the land in question belong to a different family group from that to which he himself belongs, and he has no voice by virtue of kinship with them, then his authority and power as district chief will, with reference to this land, be almost nothing. It is exceptional to find a chief strong enough to negotiate independently for the disposal of the land belonging even to his own group. It is, therefore, still less common to find him negotiating with regard to land in which, from want of relationship to the owners, he has not himself any share. However vague these distinctions with regard to the interests of chiefs and of members of family groups in land may appear to Europeans, they nevertheless seem to be pretty well defined and understood by the natives themselves. As a practical illustration of the strange degrees in which various members and chiefs of tribes are interested in the tribal lands, I may give the following:—
There was a small piece of land at Port Moresby for which thirty or forty members of a tribe alone claimed payment. These, however, were not the whole of the tribe but only a part, and their apparent right to receive the money was acquiesced in by the rest of the tribe. At South Cape, however, the independent right of one individual, and he was not a chief, to dispose of a large area of land was recognized by the whole tribe — no one, not even the chief of that tribe, putting forward any claim for payment; while again, for the land adjoining, there were many owners out of the tribe, each of whom, including the chief, would have had to receive payment in settlement for any land sold. At Kabadi, a piece of land belonged to a family group, of which the district chief was not the patriarchal head, and he was consequently, on the sale of the land, only able to veto the transaction, but could not stop the transactions in connection with the sale of the land.
Although it is probable that the confidence of the natives would best be gained by avoiding for the present any attempt to purchase land, yet this course is now hardly practicable. It is, however, evident that with all these different and conflicting interests in any one piece of land, it is absolutely necessary that there should be one recognized source and channel from which a good title could be drawn, otherwise it might be that two or three members of one of the groups might pretend to have authority to sell land to any purchaser, but in reality they would have only a small interest in the purchase-money, each of the other members of the group having an equal right to their share in it. The conditions for bringing about a war in connection with land, similar to that which occurred in New Zealand, are abundantly present in New Guinea, and unless the land transactions are controlled by Government, complications with the natives must arise. It is not easy, however, to define in what most practical and economical manner this control could be exercised. One means towards this end would be the creation of an official tribal chief, through whom theoretically the title would issue. No title would be valid without his assent, but this assent must be certified to by the Sub-Commissioner in charge of the district, and, if necessary, receive the approval of the Special Commissioner. Transactions for land, however, under a certain defined area, might, under special conditions, be made directly with the natives. Other means might also be devised on the spot for ensuring a good title to lands.
The London Mission Society commenced to work in New Guinea in 1871. In its constitution and principles it is unsectarian, but for many years it has been mainly supported by the Congregational Churches of the British Isles and Australian Colonies. The Mission districts are as follows:—(a) The Western begins at the Baxter River, embraces the Fly and the Katan Rivers, and ends at the Aird River. This is under the care of the Rev. S. McFarland and the Rev. — Scott. The head-quarters of this district are not situated on the main land but at Murray Island, where natives are instructed and sent to the coast to open Mission stations. In the institution many industrial arts are taught, and a schooner for Mission purposes has been recently launched which was built by the students under the direction of an English boat-builder. (b) The Central District begins at the Aird River and ends at Orangery Bay, having Port Moresby for its head-quarters, and the Rev. W. G. Lawes, F.R.G.S., and the Rev. J. Chalmers are at the head of this district. (c) The remaining district extends from Orangery Bay eastward, and is under the care of the Revds. Savage and W. Sharpe. At Port Moresby is a college and school, whereat native teachers are trained for the purpose of carrying out Mission work.
There are thirty South Sea Island and ten New Guinea teachers, located at as many stations. These stations form a chain from East Cape to Maclatchie Point, and then again on the Fly River, and to the west of it. Although the whole of that coast line is not actually occupied, the gaps are being rapidly filled up. Between the two places mentioned above, there is only one gap, namely, Cloudy Bay, where the natives are not on friendly terms with the teachers. At each station the Mission teacher has a large house and a garden, also a whale boat; at the majority of stations there is also a church built. It would be impossible to define the area over which the influence both of Mr. Chalmers and Mr. Lawes as well as of the native teachers extends. One positive result of the labours of the Mission is that they have succeeded, not merely in opening up communication with the natives along nearly the entire littoral of the Protected Territory, and far into the interior as well, but, what is more important, they have inspired those natives with confidence. Had the result been reversed, and the natives rendered aggressively hostile or suspicious, none but armed bodies of men could have ventured into the interior, nor could single individuals have cruised from point to point along the coast in fair security. Under the present conditions, a single white man, unarmed, can go fifty miles into the interior from any point between Port Moresby and Hula in perfect safety.
The successful results attained by the Mission in this respect are due, partly, to the special qualifications for the work possessed by the Revs. W. G. Lawes and J. Chalmers. The former has acquired a scholarly mastery of the native language, has compiled a grammar and dictionary from an unknown language, and has organized a body of interpreters. To his efforts are due the possibility of being able to carry out investigations and enter into explanations with the natives. The latter, by his energy and enthusiasm—by his courage and tact—has not only overcome native shyness and distrust, but wherever he has gone he has upheld the moral superiority of the white man, and inspired even the wildest barbarians with trust and confidence.
Success is also partly due to the native teachers, who frequently, with their lives in their hands, have been pioneers to break down native superstition and distrust. They are the channels of communication between European ideas and native superstitions, and their usefulness from a political point of view is very considerable. To their devotedness and zeal is due the fact that Europeans are able to go with tolerable security into places which otherwise must have remained sealed to any but armed forces. By their means, moreover, the natives might be induced to undertake the cultivation of rice, maize, &c. They are excellent gardeners themselves, and have cultivated limes, Papua apples, pine-apples, oranges, tea, potatoes, &c.
Experience shows, that the presence among primitive barbarians of Missionaries of different sects is not infrequently the cause of political disturbances, or even civil war. This was especially the case in some of the islands in the Western Pacific, Rotumah, &c. The efforts of the Roman Catholic Mission to establish themselves in places which the London Mission Society had occupied for years, were, in Sir Peter Scratchley's opinion, upon political grounds, to be discouraged. He considered that the London Mission had, in equity, a prescriptive right within certain districts, and that the intrusion within these districts of a rival denominational sect was likely to produce trouble among the natives. Hearing, therefore, that certain Roman Catholic priests had established themselves at Yule Island, which had been previously occupied by the London Mission, he wrote to the head of the Roman Catholic Mission at Thursday Island, and pointed out the settlement on Yule Island of these priests was undesirable, and that other areas were available for their efforts. He further offered to take the priests in the s.s. "Governor Blackall" to the Louisiade group, or any other island they might desire.
There are, in all, about twenty white men now resident in New Guinea. The majority of these are traders, who are backed in a small way by merchants and firms in Australia. There are three stores at Port Moresby, and one settler has erected a sawmill. The traders, as a rule, live in their boats, but a few native houses at Hula and Killerton Island have been erected by Europeans. In consequence of the recent murders that have been committed in the islands, and the disturbed state of the natives generally on the South-East Coast, warnings were sent round to as many traders as possible.
The climate of New Guinea must doubtless be considered as one of its greatest drawbacks. In the first place, it is enervating, and Europeans are incapable during the summer of performing much continuous labour; and, secondly, the fever, which is everywhere prevalent, is of a severe character. Although all early attempts at permanent settlement, especially on the coast, must be attended with a high rate of mortality, yet it seems not improbable that there the New Guinea climate will resemble that of the north of Queensland, and that in proportion as settlement advances and the soil is worked, so the pestilential character of the climate will become modified. In breaking up land for sugar plantations in the north of Queensland, every one, Kanakas as well as Europeans, were attacked, some fatally, with fever. On the same stations fever is now almost unknown. With regard, however, to the present state of the climate in New Guinea, all that can be done is to point out some of the least unhealthy spots on the coast, such as Cornwallis Island, Port Moresby, Dinner Island, Killerton Island, Teste Island, and several places on the North-East Coast. In the interior, although fever prevails, it is not of so severe a character as that on the coast, while the atmosphere, especially on the highlands, is more bracing and invigorating.
The commencement of the seasons in New Guinea are:—Spring, September 23rd; Summer, December 21st; Autumn, March 20th; Winter, June 21st. The rainy season commences in December, and lasts with more or less fall of weather until April. The rough statistics collected with regard to the rainfall shows as follows:—
On the North-West Coast, as far as to Redscar Bay, rainfall moderate throughout the year; excessive during rainy season. Most healthy portion of the year from June to October. On the South-East Coast, from Port Moresby to Kerupunu, rainfall almost nil for sometimes six months in the year; during this season this district, especially Port Moresby, is, comparatively speaking, healthy. From Aroma to East Cape the rainfall in the summer is considerable. At South Cape the least unhealthy season is during the north-east monsoon or rainy season. On the southern portion of the North-East Coast the rainfall is apparently small. Among the islands the rainfall throughout the year is considerable, and the most unhealthy portion of the year throughout the Protected Territory is in April and May, as the floods are subsiding after the rainy season.
The whole of the Papuan Gulf may be regarded as unsafe for vessels to visit. The water is always muddy, and reefs cannot be seen. Moreover, there is little depth of water for miles from the shore, very often not more than two fathoms, and heavy rollers are constantly coming in. From Redscar Head eastwards the South Coast is skirted almost continuously by a reef, an outlier of the great Australian Barrier Reef. This reef extends from the shore, at a distance of some five to six miles, and the numerous indentations afford excellent harbours and anchorage. Along the whole of the North-East Coast, from East Cape to Mitre Rock, are numerous large harbours. The most important harbours, however, which would afford anchorage to any considerable number of vessels of a large size are Port Moresby, Orangerie Bay, Milport Bay, and South Cape. At some of these, however, landing for small boats is difficult, on account of the fringe of reef. The navigation along the whole coast is difficult, and no vessel can travel at night.
There are a large number of rivers in the Protected Territory, and the whole of it, with the exception of the district around Port Moresby, appears to be well watered. The largest rivers are those which drain the basin of the vast level region which begins on the west side of the Gulf of Papua. The largest of these rivers is the Fly River, which rises some hundreds of miles in the interior. It is supposed that many of the smaller rivers are mere branches leading into the Fly. Owing to the action of the south-west monsoon, which blows during the healthy season, the mouths of these rivers are silted up with sand and mud, and are unnavigable. This is especially the case in the Aird River, which it is only possible to enter during the north-east monsoon, or unhealthy season. On the South-East Coast the rivers are numerous, and the soils on the banks fertile. As, however, the elevated land is near the coast, they are small in comparison with those in the west. The North-East Coast appeared to be well watered, and several rivers of considerable size were seen. In Dyke Acland Bay, where there is a vast tract of level country, densely wooded, intervening between the coast and the highlands, which are very distant, the mouth of a very large river was discerned. This river was not marked on any map.
In Milne Bay, two rivers, not mentioned in any map and apparently unknown, were discovered and explored. The first river (native name Davadava) was discovered in the north-east of the Bay, and was explored for a distance of about six miles. The banks were steep and precipitous; vegetation rank; timber; depth from eight to twelve feet; small bar at its mouth, navigable for a small steamer. It is comparatively a small river, rising in the mountains near the coast. The other river (native name Hadara) was a very large one, and apparently led into the heart of the country. There were several deltas at the mouth. The land on either side was flat and the soil very rich; vegetation very tropical and in abundance; depth of river from twelve to sixteen feet. Large numbers of natives were seen; they were, however, very friendly.
Within a radius of 100 miles from Port Moresby, the wallaby is to be found in large numbers. The undulating plains which extend at the back of Port Moresby are great hunting grounds for wallaby and pigs. Outside this radius the wallaby is not found. Wild pigs are found everywhere in the Protected Territory. The cuscus, an animal resembling the Australian native bear, and a species of tree kangaroo are to be found in the southern portion of the Peninsula. These animals, together with the wallaby, are marsupials. It is supposed that monkeys exist in the interior in the west. Birds of all sorts—pigeons, duck, cassowary, birds of paradise, &c.,—are very numerous.
The mineral resources of the Protected Territory, both as to kind and quantity, are still a matter of conjecture. With regard to gold, two specimens of sand, one from the Larogi and the other from Milne Bay, have been assayed. The assay of the specimen from the Larogi River yield gold, but not in payable quantities; the results of the assay of that taken from Milne are not yet known. It is the opinion of Mr. H. O. Forbes, based upon his geological observations, that gold will not be found to the westward, but might lie among the high country in the Milne Bay district, and on the North-East Coast. Plumbago has been seen at various places along the South- West Coast. Pebbles and small fragments brought down from the interior, consisting of mica slate, quartz, sandstones, greenstone, and jasperiod rocks, show tho formations there to be undistinguishable from the Silurian and Devonian series of the goldfields of New South Wales. Rocks of similar age, with granite and gneiss, were also found.
The following industries are at the present time in operation in the country, from which a revenue could be immediately obtained:—Timber, bêche-de-mer, copra-making, pearl fishing, &c.
The glowing accounts which have appeared in the newspapers of the prospects of the timber trade in New Guinea have raised expectations of a very sanguine nature. It is true that there are large quantities of cedar and malava (species of cedar) on the banks of the rivers in the west, in the Manu-manu district, and on the Kemp, Walsh, Edith, and other rivers; but it is not generally known that a very large proportion of this timber is so small as not to be of marketable value. As large quantities of cedar had been felled before the proclamation of the Protectorate by firms in Australia, permits were granted to remove this timber, but the felling of fresh timber was prohibited until the spot had been visited by Sir Peter Scratchley or one of his officers. The wisdom of this step was shown by the fact that large numbers of young cedar trees, too small for use, had been cut down in sheer wanton waste. To prevent this for the future, a Forester was appointed, whose duty it was to prohibit the felling of timber below a certain girth. It was stated, verbally, by an agent for an Australian company who had for some years past been engaged in felling timber in New Guinea, that out of 10,000,000 superficial feet of cedar and malava fallen, only about 500,000 superficial feet were of marketable value. He further went on to state that he did not think the future prospects of the cedar trade were hopeful, and that he himself would hardly be able to recover the money he had already spent in felling and removing timber. Besides the cedar and malava, there are, however, large quantities of india rubber trees, massoi, sandalwood, ebony, hardwood, tamonu, &c.,—especially in the district around South Cape, ebony grows in considerable quantities. Two or three large firms have invested capital in this trade in New Guinea. By one firm a number of Kanakas were employed, but hitherto no complications have arisen with the natives with regard to this industry.
Bêche-de-mer, or the sea-slug, which is an article de luxe among the Chinese, is to be found all along the coast from Port Moresby to Aroma, including Constance Island, Milport Bay, Milne Bay, Slade Island, Bentley Bay, and, it is believed, in some bays on the north-east coast. The number to be obtained, however, especially on the south-west coast, has materially decreased during the last few years. The profits are small and precarious, and a considerable amount of hardship has to be undergone in prosecuting the trade. There is also a further difficulty in some districts where the natives, through superstition, dislike handling the bêche-de-mer. It was estimated that the actual annual export in this industry amounted to about £8,000; and it was suggested that the revenue raised by a tax on this trade might eventually be considerable. The expense, however, of collecting this tax would absorb a large portion of the amount raised. It was the intention of Sir Peter Scratchley to establish a dépôt for this industry at Teste Island. An inspector was appointed, whose duty it was to report the number of vessels engaged, and the number of tons of fish exported. According to his estimate, there are now ten schooners occupied with this work, and the estimated amount of fish exported is about 500 tons. The persons engaged in this pursuit are, generally speaking, small irresponsible traders, who are constantly coming into collision with the natives with regard to payments, &c.
Copra is made by splitting open cocoa-nuts and drying them either artificially or in the sun. It is used in large quantities in Europe as an element in oil cake and other cattle foods. The localities at present suited for the manufacture of copra are on the south-west coast from Hula to Roma, all along the shores of Milne Bay, at Bentley Bay, and along the north-east coast as far as Dampier Straits, and many of the Islands of the D'Entrecasteaux and Louisiade Group. At each of these places cocoa-nuts grow in abundance, and could be purchased from the natives at a low price. It would, moreover, be very easy to induce them to plant more cocoa-nut trees, which, if planted in a certain manner, would bear fruit in three years. Thus, this industry is likely to yield a considerable profit to the individuals engaged in it. In order, however, to facilitate its development, it would be necessary to have a chain of stations at various points, whereby a constant supply of nuts could be obtained. The natives show themselves willing to work in procuring the nuts, and are often found trustworthy agents, and capable of rendering a correct account of any trade left in their hands for the purpose of purchase. In consequence of the moisture of the climate at Milne Bay and surrounding islands, there would be considerable difficulty in drying the nuts in the sun. As sun-dried copra is superior to the smoke-dried copra, it has been suggested that it would be more profitable to bring the nuts to Port Moresby, to be dried there by the sun, rather than treat them by artificial means.
The seat of the pearl fishing industry has hitherto been on the western extremity of the Territory, and occasionally large amounts of pearl have been collected. Quite recently, however, a large find of pearl was made in the Louisiade Group, and it is not improbable that this industry may assume much larger proportions, especially among the islands on the East Coast.
On the well-watered valleys of the Astrolabe ranges, and on the fertile areas distributed all over the Protected Territory, the following articles, for which a market could be found in the Australian colonies, could be produced without competing with colonial industries:—Cinchona, coffee, rice, on the hills, as in Java and Timor-Laut; and on the swamps, on the north-east coast, sugar, arrowroot, cotton (which grow wild), vanilla, tobacco, &c. In course of time, the natives themselves might be taught to cultivate these, and would return the produce to the Government, a certain portion being reserved as their contribution towards the expenses of Government, and the surplus being made over to them as wages.
The following are some of the natural articles of commerce already growing in the country, and capable of forming sources of revenue in addition to the industries mentioned above:—Nutmegs, ginger, pepper, indiarubber trees (those grow to a large size in the Tabouri district), spices of all kinds, sago, hemp, massoi bark (largely used for medicinal purposes), cocoa-nut fibre, sandalwood, saffron canes, rattan.
In some portions of the interior it would be possible to graze sheep and cattle—these might supply a local market—but the obstacles in the way of developing purely agricultural interests in the country, on account of the difficulties of communication, would be very great.
A central range of mountains running north and south forms the backbone of the Protected Territory. The highest point in this range is supposed to be Mount Owen Stanley, 13,200 feet. Leading to the base of this central range on either side, east and west, are a series of high ranges or spurs, whose sides are covered with dense tropical forest of a virgin growth. Interspersed among these ranges are open valleys, full of rich deep soil, table lands, patches of open country covered with coarse grass, and craters evidently formed by recent volcanic action. Many of the hillsides and valleys had been cleared, fenced, and cultivated by the natives. In some cases the ranges come almost sheer to the coast; in others, as at Kabadi, &c., the intervening land between the ranges and the coast is perfectly flat and open; while, again, at other places such as Kapakapa, Hula, &c., miles of gently undulating country, well watered, with patches of forest intervening, stretch far back into the interior from the coast. The character of the vegetation, especially on the coast, and in many cases of the soil also, is entirely Australian; towards the interior, however, it becomes more tropical, both as regards its character and density.
Part III.—Future Administration, Expenditure, etc.
Before any definite programme of administration for the Protected Territory can be laid down, two questions of considerable political importance must first be settled. In the first place, the status and authority of the Special Commissioner within the Protected Territory requires to be more clearly and definitely defined, and secondly, the present political relationship of the Imperial Officer administering the country with respect to the Imperial and Colonial Governments is a wholly anomalous one, and one which apparently will not prove workable. Under the present arrangement. New Guinea forms no integral part in the Anglo-Australian System.
With reference to the first point, namely, the authority and status of the Special Commissioner, the following is the conclusion of a legal opinion obtained from the Hon. Mr. Griffith, Q.C., Queensland, given as Q.C. and not as Premier:—
With reference to the second point, and especially the relation of the Imperial Officer and the Australasian Governments, the following is the written opinion of Sir Peter Scratchley:—
"What proportion of the expense of the cost of government will be borne by the Imperial Government? This is of paramount importance. If the whole of the expense is to be borne by the Colonies, the Imperial Government will practically have no control, and I foresee that a deadlock must eventually arise between the Imperial officer and the Australasian Governments."The exercise of tact, patience, and diplomacy will keep matters going for the first two or three years; but the deadlock will ultimately occur, as he will be dealing with half-a-dozen Governments, all holding more or less divergent views."
With regard also to the method of contributing, Sir Peter Scratchley writes as follows:—
"Until full information is given on all points, there is little prospect of a permanent settlement of the question, and the policy of the Australian colonies will continue to be of a hand-to-mouth character.
"The object should be to get the several Governments to propose acts of Special Appropriation to their local Parliaments, in order to permanently secure the contributions to be granted yearly to Her Majesty.
"An Act has been passed in Queensland, and, although that Government declines to increase its contribution, there is little fear of the Act being repealed."It is doubtful whether the other Governments will do more than vote the contribution yearly. If so, every year there will be discussions, more or less unpleasant, in the local Parliaments; and it will be difficult for the Imperial officer in charge to look ahead and establish an economical administration."
It has also been suggested that—
Pending the settlement of these important political questions. Sir Peter Scratchley had intended to restrain, as far as possible for the present, the indiscriminate influx of white traders until the necessary machinery for control over whites and natives had been established. In order to obtain this, he had proposed establishing a chain of Government officials at various points along the coast.
Each Sub-Commissioner would have to be provided with a house, a schooner or whaleboat, one trusty and reliable European, and a crew of Solomon Islanders or Fijians, who should all be married. The duties of the Sub-Commissioner would be—to act as port officer, health officer, &c.; to superintend all commercial transactions between natives and whites; to adjudicate on all cases arising between them and white men; to initiate the cultivation of grain for the natives; to encourage exports of natural products; to superintend and report upon all local industries; to control and advise all exploring expeditions in his district. The salary of the Sub-Commissioner should be at £400 a year. The establishment of these officers would be preparatory to, and a means of, systematically opening up the country, so that, when an influx took place, not only would it be possible to exercise control, but the lands best adapted for various industries could be at once pointed out.
After carefully considering all hydrographical, sanitary, and tribal conditions, it will perhaps be found that the best sites for these ports, which would be ports of entry, would be as follows:—Cornwallis Island, which would command the entrance to the various rivers on the Western Coast. The situation is healthy, and it is within easy communication of Thursday Island and Port Moresby. The central seat of Government would be at Port Moresby, for reasons mentioned above; and the Government Resident would have charge of that district from Hall Sound to Hula. Aroma would be another centre, extending over the Hood Bay district, and along the coast to South Cape. Dinner Island could be made another centre, to control Milne Bay, the Louisiade Archipelago, and the D'Entrecasteaux Group; while it might be found necessary to have an officer stationed at Rawden Bay, for the purpose of controlling the North-East Coast from Bentley Bay to Mitre Rock.
With regard to the natives, it had been Sir Peter Scratchley's intention to have formed depôts at these ports of entry, and elsewhere, to which the natives might be induced to bring trade. Regulations would be in force at these depôts controlling the prices to be paid to the natives, the method of conducting trading operations, &c.
As the area of square miles in the Protected Territory is estimated at 80,382 sq. miles, some portion of this might be handed over to a company for administrative and commercial purposes. It had been the intention of Sir Peter Scratchley to have encouraged in Australia the formation of a trading company on a basis somewhat similar to the British North Borneo Company. With regard, however, to the tenure of land by this proposed company, Sir Peter Scratchley consulted the experience of Sir F. Whittaker, whose opinion it will be pertinent to quote:—"I may say that, if the Australian Company is to be empowered to acquire and cultivate land, this would, I think, be very objectionable; in fact, would at once introduce into New Guinea all the objectionable features that have been incident to the colonization of New Zealand and Fiji, in an exaggerated form. If, on the other hand, the Australian New Guinea Company intends only to establish trading stations on sites to be held under license from the Crown, then I think it would be of great use in promoting the interests and civilization of the inhabitants, and therefore should receive encouragement and assistance."
Referring to the statement made by the Auditor-General of Queensland, 1st February, it will be seen that the amount received for the year 1884–5 was £15,171 the actual amount expended from 1st January, 1885, to 30th January, 1886, being £15,048. Adding £500 to this for outstanding accounts, tho total expenditure would amount to £15,548. It will be remembered that the amount £15,171 was the amount due from the Colonial Governments from 1st June, 1881, to 1st June, 1885. As the contributions for the year 1st June, 1885, to 1st June, 1886, have not yet been paid in, there is consequently a very considerable balance to the New Guinea account, and not a deficit as publicly stated.
Moreover, by referring to Sir Peter Scratchley's memorandum of 1st April, 1885, forwarded to the Governments of the Australasian colonies, it will be seen that he divided expenditure into three heads—(a) Capital, or first cost, to be raised as a loan; (b) Estimated expenditure for the first year; (c) Annual expenditure for years subsequent. Had he lived to have carried out this classification, which was approved of by the Colonial Governments, many of the items—such as building of house, &c.,—which, under the Auditor-General's Report, appear as annual expenditure, would have been charged to a loan or first cost account. In no way can the expenditure of the year from January, 1885, to January, 1886, be taken as the basis for future expenditure. The work done by Sir Peter Scratchley was preparatory and tentative. He states—"I consider that my duty is to examine and report upon the country for the information of the Imperial Government."
If any systematic administration of the country be attempted, the machinery of government will have to be increased, thereby involving increased expenditure both in—(a) Capital, or first cost; (b) In salaries of Government officers. The principal items under (a), or first cost, will be the building of the houses for the Sub-Commissioners along the coast, providing accommodation for native police, providing whale-boats, &c. The increased expenditure under Schedule B will be the salaries of the Sub-Commissioners and native police, the establishment of a regular mail service, &c. It can, however, be reasonably anticipated that the increased expenditure for administration will index a proportionate increased development of natural sources of revenue.
It has been confidently anticipated by those who have seen the fertility of the Protected Territory, and its capacity for producing articles of tropical growth, that it will ere long become self-supporting. Although in its present condition this, perhaps, would hardly be possible, yet the following methods of raising a revenue to defray local expenditure might be found practical and economical:—
(2.) License fees for the erection of smoke huts and copra stations.
(3.) Export duties on cedar and malava, at a fixed rate for so many 100 superficial feet of timber; ad valorem duties on sandal woods and black woods. With reference to this last duty, I may mention that one timber trader alone, if he had paid on his privileges according to Queensland timber dues, would owe the Government about £2,000. The Customs officers at Cooktown and Townsville might, with the consent of the Queensland Government, be empowered to act for the New Guinea Protectorate.
(4.) Funds arising from trading licences, judicial fees, harbour dues, and leases of certain unoccupied lands.
(5.) Import duties.(6.) Native contributions to the expenses of government. These would have to be paid in kind, and could hardly be calculated as a source of revenue for some years to come.
The question with regard to New Guinea which at present is most prominent is whether it can be made a successful outlet for capital, or, in other words, a commercial success. Before, however, considering this point, it will be necessary to recall the fact that New Guinea was primarily annexed for a strategical purpose. Its value to Australia in this respect has not been diminished by the fact that portion of the country has been ceded to Germany. Not only is the British territory nearest the Australian shores; but it contains the best climate, the finest harbours and ports, the most fertile lands, the largest rivers. The object, therefore, for which the country was primarily annexed has been obtained, and its strategical and negative value in this respect is not unfrequently lost sight of by those who only look for positive financial results.
The next point which demands attention is the responsibility which rests with the annexing powers with regard to the protection of the natives. Probably, in no country, and at no period of history, was there a more favourable opportunity for successfully adjusting the mutual interests of European and blacks than in British New Guinea. On both moral as well as politic grounds, it is essential that the natives should be protected, not only negatively from aggressive violence and usurpation on the part of the whites, but positively also from moral contamination and corruption. Regulations with regard to the introduction of spirituous liquors must not exist merely on paper—they must be strictly and rigidly enforced; and, as far as is practicable, the system of appointing teachers to official positions must be avoided. The following statement with reference to this question appears among Sir Peter Scratchley’s notes:—"The only hope of making New Guinea pay is the employment of the natives, who can, by patience and care, be trained. If they disappear, other natives will have to be imported. Putting, therefore, the protection of the natives on the lowest ground, it will be seen that it will be cheaper to preserve and educate them. New Guinea must be governed for the natives and by the natives."
The future of the country depends largely upon the attitude of the natives. If they are rendered either hostile or corrupt, then it will continue to be the hunting ground of needy adventurers or desperate speculators; if, on the other hand, they learn confidence in their rulers, then settlement in many parts is possible, and the country may become the regular source of supply of tropical products to the Australian markets. On this point, therefore, the duty of the Government and the interest of the speculator coincide, and if, in the scheme for the administration of the country, the positive protection of the natives be comprehended, the introduction of European capital will materially benefit them, will create in them a useful and willing instrument, and thus be the first means towards rendering financial success ultimately possible.
Briefly to summarize the foregoing points—
(2.) Having been annexed, it is the duty of the annexing power to protect the natives.
(3.) It is doubtful whether the country can ever be self-supporting, partly on account of the climate, and partly owing to the attitude and condition of the natives.
(4.) Nothing can be done towards systematically administering the country and developing its resources until it is made an integral part of the Anglo-Australian political system, and the position of the officer administering its Government, both with regard to the country itself, and also to the authorities to whom he is responsible, shall have have been more definitely determined.
G. SEYMOUR FORT.
March 30th, 1886.
- ↑ Since writing this the Rev. W. Sharpe has died from fever in New Guinea.