Chapter 12: Wautogig on Huraimbo

Wautogig land boundaries in the centre of the village are reasonably clear and precise, but on the outer boundaries, where they adjoin other villages, they are often vague and imprecise. Much seems to depend on the relations between different persons of Wautogig and the neighbouring villages, namely Bogumatai, Kwangen, Walanduom, Savakun, Wambia, Kotai, and Coduokum. The present Wautogig village site on Huraimbo is located on land owned by Bogumatai and Kwangen people. The Kwangen people own the land up to Kwingara creek. They own Omokoropa Mountain, including the Kwingara saddle and the present graveyard, where the Catholic church once stood. The cemetery location is a part of the Kwingara lands, now owned by my daughter, Justina Parisingien Naorokobi. Her grandfather, John Sakangu, gave her the name Parisingien along with the land. In return we gave K700, one pig, some chickens, and other food in thanksgiving.

From the saddle at Kwingara all the way to the end of Wautogig, the land where Wautogig now stands was originally owned by various families of Bogumatai village. The land was given to Təmaɲe of Ɲumiəduokum-Kərapehem. But Təmaɲe did not take ownership of the land. Instead, his cousin-brother John Nindim took control of the land. The land was paid for with a pig given by Taramap’s father, Horiwaken, along with some yams.1

It is not known exactly how much of the Huraimbo lands were actually given away. But today, all the land now settled by Wautogigem are presumed to have been given to them. The village runs along a southwest-to-northeast line for about 300 metres, with houses along the sides of an open middle open ground, and the Catholic church located in the middle. Most of the houses are located to the west side of the road.

When the Huraimbo lands were given to Təmaɲe, the water rights over Meibək creek were not given away with them, although the right to cut or harvest the sago that grows there was.2 Maibek runs northward, away from Wautogig, discharging into Banak river at the foot of Omokoropa mountain and flowing into the Bismarck sea. On the east side of Huraimbo another creek runs in a southeasterly direction. That creek is known as Bunuwon. It is owned by Walanduom people but is effectively controlled by Wautogig. Towards the northwest is a primary school, on land also believed to have been given to Təmaɲe.3

The present village site stands like a person facing Bunuwon creek. There are two arms held together stretching upwards. There are two legs, each with houses built on it. The widest area is about 100 metres, in the middle, with the church as the heart to the centre-left. On the right side and continuing from the leg to the right arm are houses.4

Along the west side runs a barit or drainage ditch that takes water from the top end of the village down to Koguba creek, which discharges into Meibək. Meibək discharges into Banak river. The westward arms represent John Baiwog’s house, along with those of Otto Sengu and Pita Robui. The body then continues west to my land at Udit and then Gori to the southwest. It is believed that the land where the houses of John Baiwog, Otto Sengu, and Leopold Robui now stand were never a part of the land given to Təmaɲe.5 They are a new extension to Wautogig.6 Similarly, the parts of the land where my house is now located down to the houses of Felix Natukur and Joseph Wanowi, forming one of the legs, were never allocated to Təmaɲe. These lands were garden lands or otherwise regarded as yagus, wasteland.7

The village follows a narrow ridge for about 300 metres. The ridge falls away into Bunuwon creek on a 50-60 degree cline. The land falls even more steeply down to Meibək creek. That fall, into Hobibeim, is almost 90 degrees. The main line through village then runs along the ridge westwards passing John Baiuog, Otto Seingu, and Peter Robui’s houses. From that ridge along the southwesterly direction, the road goes until Udit where Anton Narokobi’s house and lands extend for around 15 acres. At Udit, my sister Veronica had a house, but she was there as a caretaker only, not as an owner.

The Narokobis’ land falls away at Udit as you pass Peter Həbəhəm Yauieb to the south. On the north side the land falls steeply to Udit creek. The road follows the ridge along a southerly direction until it meets and crosses the headwaters of Mɨgɨp Creek. There it rises gently, passing the most recently built Catholic church building, and continues along Urumih (Gori) through Gabut’s land, now occupied by Haien, past Worebai’s house, and past Peter Wiyənarə’s house along the ridge.8 9 To the south there a steep slope down to Urieb creek.

There is heavy concentration of people on Huraimbo proper, from Ignas Baiwog to Peter Robui. Then, between Peter Robui’s place and Udit, the land is empty. At Udit, there is my sister’s house (Hombuai) and Peter Həbəhəm. No one lives between Həbəhəm and Gori. But at Gori lands, we have the Catholic church, Clement Haien, and the Worebai family. Down toward the coast, in the region of Meibək creek, live the Francis Nindim family and the Francis Piyel Yehaipim family. These Wautogigem have been welcomed by the Kwangen and Bogumatai communities.10 They have cocoa plantings and coconut palms that are owned by different people, although the Nindim family claims the land. It was first owned by the Bogumatai people, who were allies Kwangen.

From Meibək settlement the road goes northwards, past Kwangen settlement (the home of Peter Sak) to the West Coast highway through Kosibagu11 settlement, through Bərənugoro past the clinic and continuing to Banak top-up school.12 13 TThe road continues northeastwards to the Banak village seashore. Banak is a Sausa-speaking village but it belongs to the Cemaun or shark affinity group, the same as the Arapesh villages of Dogur, Kotai, and Wautogig.

It is on the Banak coast that the Kadaim family have now settled, though they were originally from Wautogig. They migrated there four generations ago and have fully integrated into the Banak community. It is unlikely that the descendants will return to Wautogig. So it can be seen that Wautogig nation now spreads across Huraimbo, Urumih, Meibək, and Banak. In terms of chronology, Wautogigem first settled at Banak village.14 The next settlement was on Huraimbo. From there, some moved to Bogumatai. Nɨmbojuor and Narokobi settled first at Koropen, later at Kujuworɨbet and Bərənugoro, and next to Meibek, and in recent times at Udit and Huraimbo.15


1 The name of the pig that was given on this occasion was Idumaus. Listen.

2 Jacob speaks with the support of all present to make the correct assertion here. Narokobi originally wrote that the water rights were transferred but the sago rights were not. Listen.

3 The school was later moved up to a more central location in the village. Listen.


5 There is strong agreement with this statement. Listen.

6 Jacob Sonin explains what it means that they are a "new extension". Listen.

7 While there are some questions about which particular parcels were or were not part of the land originally promised by Bogumatai, there is agreement that the Wautogigem have use rights over the land they are on, and that after fifty-some years of occupying these lands, the villagers' relations with Bogumatai are not strained. Listen.

8 Julius Yehaipim proposes to correct the name Gori that is now commonly used to describe this location. The real name of this area is Urumih. All present agree that this an important correction. Listen.

9 Tony Nindim explains why Urumih got the nickname Gori. Listen.

10 This is describing places in Kwangen and Bogumatai where Wautogigem have settled. Listen.

11 Narokobi originally wrote “New Town” here, but those listening say this is just a nickname; the real name is Kosibagu.

12 Jacob Sonin, Tony Nindim, and Julius Yehaipim try to describe the location of Kosibagu and Bərənugoro. Listen.

13 Tony Nindim describes the location of Kosibagu. Listen.

14 Jacob Sonin explains that after the war, his father and Bernard’s father came to Koropen, at Banak. His father then moved up from there. Listen.

15 Udit and Həraimbo were added to the list of sites the Wautogigem moved to by Jacob Sonin. Listen.

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