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Indigenous Peoples of Papua

Māori TV Investigates Indigenous Issues in West Papua

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Karen Abplanalp with children at Kimbin village, Wamena, West Papua - Jubi

Karen Abplanalp with children at Kimbin village, Wamena, West Papua – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi/ Asia New Zealand Foundation – Assisted by an Asia New Zealand Foundation media travel grant, Māori Television’s Native Affairs producer and cameraman Adrian Stevanon and freelance photojournalist Karen Abplanalp travelled to West Papua, Indonesia in August. They were the first New Zealand television crew to visit the province in 50 years.

In the days leading up to our assignment to Papua, a lot of their work colleagues were asking where they was going and why.  Their reply was generally met with a confused look followed by “Papua? Is that in Papua New Guinea?”

The lack of knowledge and public awareness about a territory so close to Aotearoa is actually quite remarkable.

If you don’t know where Papua is, it’s located just north of Australia – the province occupying the western side of the island of New Guinea. The region is largely referred to as ‘West Papua’ by western countries, although the area is actually divided into two separate provinces of Papua and West Papua.

It’s a resource-rich land that has been governed by Indonesia since 1969. The province boasts the world’s largest goldmine, and one of the world’s largest rainforests. There has also been a bloody struggle for independence since Indonesia took over governance of the territory from the Dutch.

Since the Indonesian takeover, West Papua has also tainted by allegations of wide-spread human rights abuse, and environmental destruction.

For more than 50 years, West Papua has largely been a no-go zone for foreign journalists, and after three years of trying our Native Affairs team was finally granted a visa to enter. This was a unique opportunity that had to be accepted.

Flying into the capital of Jayapura, the thing that hit us first is the size, and the beauty of the place from above. On the ground, one of the first things I noticed was the fusion between Asia and the Pacific. The number of indigenous faces at the airport was dwarfed by those from other parts of Indonesia who now call West Papua home.

Jayapura itself is bustling metropolis, with a population of over 300,000. The level of development was not unexpected, but the size of the city sprawl was, as was the quality of the infrastructure – which was certainly better than we had anticipated. The military presence was noticeable, as too the interest from locals to our presence on the street with a TV camera.

For a place that has a somewhat violent and dangerous reputation, our experience was safe and enjoyable.

Jayapura is a great place with great people, but it’s also a place that’s grappling with some challenging social dynamics.

West Papua has an indigenous population of around two million people who speak more than 270 different languages.

They travelled to the highlands, where the vast majority of indigenous Papuans live. Their aim was visit some villages involved in a New Zealand aid project that’s focused on the growth and commercialisation of crops, in particular kumara or ‘ubi jalar’ as they call it in the Highlands.

There are many traditional and cultural similarities between Māori and the Dani people we connected with. From the way they greet guests, and cook their food, to the traditional gods they worship, the cultural parallels are clear to see.

The concerns around colonisation felt by the locals we met echo the sentiments felt here by Māori. The loss of traditional knowledge and culture was by far the greatest concern for the village elders we spoke to.

Adrian Stevanon and Karen Abplanalp describe their trip to Papua.

“As youth from the villages get educated and migrate to the cities in search of work, few are willing to return to the hard graft of village life. So much of the village way of life operates around working the land and their crops. The Indonesian influence of rice is strong, with free rice delivered to villages by the government; many villagers don’t see the value in continuing to grow their traditional crops,” said Adrian.

“We were told this can lead to a break down in the functioning of the village, and lead to issues of alcohol abuse and domestic violence.   Traveling to the highlands and connecting with some of the indigenous people of West Papua was such an incredible experience. Their hopes and dreams and dreams for their kids are the same as ours, so too are the dreams of the kids. One teenage boy we spoke to said he wanted to be a pilot, another girl wanted to be doctor so she could help the sick in her village. Both spoke about the struggles of life living in a poor community. The irony is, theirs is a resource-rich land, with a third of Indonesia GDP coming from Papua alone. Its promising to see the Indonesian government loosen their grip on the province and allowing foreign journalists to enter, we hope this continues,” Karen added. (*)

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Papua Governor: No more conflicts in Puncak Jaya

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Illustration of Mulia City, Puncak Jaya Regency. – Jubi / Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said Puncak Jaya District there should not be a stigma for Puncak Jaya District as a conflict area because it is not a killing field. In contrary, this area is safe and peaceful.

“I governed this region once, so I know what people want. For that reason, I ask the local government officials to be able to take care of the community so to avoid more conflicts,” told Enembe to reporters on Thursday (09/13/2018) at the Office of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP).

Furthermore, the governor said to avoid conflicts between different tribes and groups; the government officials should not also act to represent their personal or group interests.

Separately, Papua Police Deputy Chief the Brigadier General Yakoubus Marjuki said that the police always try to use a subtle approach to solve conflicts in Papua.

“This is our commitment because we want every region in Papua to always be safe and peaceful including in Puncak Jaya.” (*)

 


Reporter: Roy Ratumakin

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Arts & Culture

Jayapura presents Tanah Merah Maritime Festival in November

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The coastal indigenous dance performed at the Tanah Merah Maritime Festival last year. – Jubi / Engel Wally

Sentani, Jubi – the Local government of Jayapura District started a campaign introducing the Maritime Festival of Tanah Merah (FBTM) that will be held from 19 to 21 November 2018 in Entiyebo, Tablanusu Village, Depapre Sub-district.

FBFM, which held in 2014 for the first time, is part of the annual tourism agenda of the local government along with the Lake Sentani Festival.

The Acting Head of Culture and Tourism Office of Jayapura District Benyamin Yerisetouw said his office has campaigned about this event to some village heads and community leaders in the five coastal sub-districts within the district.

“Our target is, by 19 to 21 November, all communities can participate in this event, in particular, those from the coastal areas, as well as domestic and international tourists,” Yerisetouw explained when met in his office on Friday (9/14/2018).

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Indonesian Commerce of Chamber and Industry of Jayapura District Hengky Yoku said the economic development of the local community relies on its potential resources.

“This area has many activities which can promote the cultural history of the local community. When this comes in forms of festival or performance, there is an economic value that resulted from transactions of local community and visitors who attend the event.” (*)

 


Reporter: Engel Wally

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Arts & Culture

Taparu in Kamoro socioculture

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Kamoro women when sorting out sago caterpillars. – Jubi / Doc

Mimika, Jubi – Each clan in Kamoro has ‘taparu’ or a specific location as a place to find food sources when they encircle rivers and mangroves in the lowland estuary of Mimika District.

A Dutch anthropologist J Power states ‘taparu’ is a local terminology emphasizing the relations of land and its inhabitants. “There are also the names of surrounding neighborhoods taken from the ancestral names,” as written in a book “Taparu Fratri of Mimika-Kamoro ethnic groups in Hiripau Village, East Mimika District, Mimika Regency”, by Dessy Pola Usmany et al. from the Ministry Education and Culture Directorate General of Culture Papua Cultural Value Conservation Center, 2013.

‘Taparu’ itself is more related to groups who inhabit within this region or surrounding environment as Kamoro people always encircle the river and sago forest for catching fish or gathering food. Everyone knows their own ‘taparu’.

‘Taparu’ in Kamoro language means the land, while Sempan people call it ‘se iwake’. If someone wants to mark the land he passes in gathering food, he solely adds the prefix ‘we’ such as tumamero-we and efato-we in Omawka village.

Similarly, people in Nawaripi village also do the same. Their areas are including Tumukamiro-we, Viriao-we, and Iwiri-we. All of these names reflect the relationship between the land and inhabitants.

Meanwhile, like the majority of Kamoro people, Ojibwa people believe in the power of their late patrilineal clan that depicted in the symbols of animals. The anthropologists call these symbols with totems which mean a belief that embodies a symbolic representation of society.

Unfortunately, today taparu also face the severest challenges of sedimentation due to tailings of mining activity that cause the silting of river and discolouration of Mollusca habitat in the estuary of Mimika District. (*)

 

Reporter: Dominggus Mampioper

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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