Flat hopes for a mission at Nongkripilru

by bzephyr

Part 4 in the continuing short history of the Goiniri Onnele people of Papua New Guinea as reported to me last week by Goiniri Bible translator Dominic Pusai…

A number of years after World War II, the Catholic Church had a mission station at Sissano along the coast, and the priests there were looking to establish another mission station inland among the Goiniri Onnele. So the Goiniri people moved again to an area where an airstrip could be built in order to service the potential new mission. This place is called Nongkripilru, which appropriately means “flat edge of a hunter’s bow.” During the Australian administration of Papua New Guinea, a patrol officer’s outpost was established here, a “haus kiap.”

It was decided, however, that an alternative mission station would be established in the lowland Onnele village of Romei. From this central location, the new mission could reach further into the Torricelli Mountains where the Goiniri people lived, among other Onnele peoples. In the early 1950s then, the Goiniri people first attended schools run by the Catholic Mission. This was the first time they started learning the pidgin trade language, and it was then that they were first taught about the Word of God. But it was in a new and foreign language. And to receive this new learning, students had to come down out of the mountains from their new home at Nongkripilru. The airstrip was never built.


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