Wilma Salin and others - Oral History interview recorded on 30 March 2017 at Rabe, Tatau, New Ireland Province, PNG

Description

Mrs Wilma Salin talks about her memories of her late husband, Aisoli Salin, and she is joined and supported by her family members, Mr Alfred Lalu Salin, Mrs Rachael Salin and Mrs Rosie Salin.

Language

Interview

Warning: This site contains stories of war. Some of these interviews may include detailed and graphic descriptions of events and experiences that may be disturbing for some individuals.


Transcript:
[Interviewer]
Thank you, Salin's family and welcome to our interview, we are now interviewing the wife of late Aisoli Salin in her village where he was buried. And this interview is conducted on the 30th of April 2017. We will now start with Wilma, the wife of late Aisoli Salin. Please you can start by telling us your name.
[Wilma Salin]
My name is Wilma and I am the wife of late Aisoli Salin, we were together in the village and we got married just when he got a call for us to go to Madang. So my husband and I went over and lived at Madang, whilst there he was employed as an inspector and not a teacher, I usually stay back home while he goes out inspecting. We also travelled to Wewak and stayed there for a week following one of his calls. From after leaving Madang we went straight to Aisoli Salin's village and stayed there. Which later he was asked to go and manage a plantation at Maragon.
[Interviewer]
Did you follow him when he got the managing position?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes, we stayed at the plantation for quite a while then we returned back home when he got another call to go to the school.
[Interviewer]
Were the children born by then?
[Wilma Salin]
No.
[Interviewer]
It was just the two of you.
[Wilma Salin]
Yes, just the two of us, we came to Madang and left without any child, we returned home the second time then we had our first born son who grew up in the plantations.
(speaking in language 03:49-51)
[Interviewer]
Would you remember how many years you two were in Madang?
[Wilma Salin]
No I can't.
[Interviewer]
It's OK, and would you recall what year exactly the two of you went to Madang.
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
It's a very long time and I'm still not sure.
[Interviewer]
Alright please continue, so when he took the job as the manager you two had no children right? And after living the plantation where did both of you go, back home?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
They came back to Maragon plantation.
(speaks in language 04:39-46)
[Wilma Salin]
Alfred was born in Maragon.
[Interviewer]
When Aisoli was still the Manager?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
OK.
[Wilma Salin]
So we stayed, it wasn't for long he held that position, about a good number of months. Then I gave birth to Alfred which he grew up there until he was called to go and teach.
[Interviewer]
So did he remain as a teacher or was he called to go to another place?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
No he remained.
[Interviewer]
Was that the last call?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
Yes that was the last call.
[Interviewer]
And the rest of the other children you gave birth to then here?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
So you were the only one born there and the rest here.
[Interviewer]
Did he tell you about his stories in regard to his travel and written reports in the newspaper? The work within Kavieng or involving the government, did he tell you anything concerning that? Try ask your mum if she knows about his husband's involvement with the government.
[Wilma Salin]
He did work with the government as part of the Council which helped bring in the cooperatives into our society. (Alfred speaks in language)
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
When they stayed here together he would live and travel to Port Moresby to attend the Legislative Council.
[Interviewer]
When did he attend the Legislative Council, after you two left Madang and came home?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
Were the two of you traveling from Madang or from the village when you were attending the Legislative Council?
[Group]
(speaking in language)
[Interviewer]
Was just here?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
OK.
[Group]
(speaking in language)
[Wilma Salin]
We were at the school and he bought a plantation in the west coast which we travelled to later and stayed there.
[Interviewer]
West coast of Kavieng?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes, just towards the point over there.
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
West coast of Tatau, the plantation is measured 30 metres.
[Interviewer]
When did he do the payment, after returning from Madang?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
No when all the work was done.
[Interviewer]
You mean after he retired.
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
67, 68, 69 I think.
[Unknown]
Or it might be 70.
[Interviewer]
This plantation, is it still with you or have they sold it out already?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
There was a guy who took over the plantation.
[Interviewer]
But dad was the one who bought it?
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
As he grew old, new management took place. Some man took over his position and used his power to get the land for themselves. The land was leased to Aisoli Salin for 99 years and was still active. John Sandor the provincial minister of foreign affairs that time.
[Interviewer]
Thank you, anything else can you Wilma think of regarding your husband's story? Did he mention his story when he got lost out in the sea?
[Group]
(speaking in language)
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
That I haven't heard.
[Interviewer]
You don't know, it's OK.
[Interviewer]
When he comes home, does he tells you about the work he does in the Legislative Council? Anything about what they were doing, nothing?
[Wilma Salin]
Everything you talked about was never mentioned to us. He only briefed me about the agendas they discussed during their meeting.
[Interviewer]
But he doesn't tell you?
[Wilma Salin]
No.
[Interviewer]
Can you tell us a bit about the work he did in Madang? He was an inspector and according to his record he mentioned that he worked with the Methodist church. Please mention what he did in relation to the religion.
[Wilma Salin]
He started a church, a Methodist church with the workers because there wasn't any Methodist church back then. There were only Catholic, Lutheran, and the LMS. So seeing that he decided to start up the Methodist church where we all go for worship.
[Interviewer]
Were you also with him when he was working in the school up at Mt Hagen?
[Wilma Salin]
No.
[Interviewer]
Alright… what can you tell me about your husband, how you see he behaves and his attitude and characteristics in relation to his daily life and work? Please Alfred, tell her in your language.
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
(speaking in language)
[Wilma Salin]
When he was still a teacher and during the times he was still traveling to Kavieng back and forth, he always made sure he buys each and every one of us something including all our children. He always made sure all our needs are met and that we don't fall short of anything.
[Alfred Lalu Salin - son]
(speaking in language)
[Wilma Salin]
He also had other responsibilities from another wife and family nevertheless, he always remembered them.
[Interviewer]
Did he become angry at times?
[Wilma Salin]
No.
[Interviewer]
What about the children?
[Wilma Salin]
No.
[Interviewer]
Since he was your husband, do you think he influenced or changed your views towards how you look at things? Did he have any impact in your life? For instance you might say because of him I am able to do this and I've gained strength in these etc.…
[Group]
(speaking in language)
[Interviewer]
Is there anything else you want to mention concerning you and your husband?
[Wilma Salin]
Salin never gets angry like I said, he loves all his children very much and he always provide for them. He made sure that they are well settled after he is gone.
[Interviewer]
Did you know you married a very important and well respected man?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
You've seen him as a big man in the eyes of both the foreigners and locals. Anyone of you who'd like to add a few things regarding your dad? Or if Wilma wants to say something and children if you want to support your mother?
[Unknown Male]
Tell her about the war?
[Interviewer]
Were you there during the war?
[Unknown Male]
How small were you and did you see the planes?
[Wilma Salin]
I was there during the war but I was just a small girl. I remember seeing the planes, we would get really frightened and we would run away into the bushes and hide. We lived in the bushes, our house was built in the bushes, we were not allowed to light any form of fire during the day so we would only cook our food in the night. Soon war was over and we were asked to return to our villages, our fathers and mothers all returned and we were able again to make fire in our houses and gardens.
[Interviewer]
That was when you were still a small girl.
[Wilma Salin]
I was still a small girl and we came and stayed until the war ended. The Japanese were over at Simberi, they would take the men and enforce them into labour.
[Interviewer]
Continuing on with the interview with Wilma Salin, I will now ask her to continue on with her story.
[Wilma Salin]
We were together and seeing no source of income or means of education for his people in his village, he decided to bring the school to the village so the people may learn how to earn and sustain a living.
[Interviewer]
Did Mr Salin spend most of his time at home or work?
[Wilma Salin]
He normally attended to his work… (speaks in Tabar 1:16- 26)
[Interviewer]
And did you see the photo and did he tell you about the work?
[Wilma Salin]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
And has he mentioned anything to you concerning his important work?
[Wilma Salin]
He kept pondering upon what would happen next after his passing.
[Interviewer]
When he went to the Legislative Council, did he mention anything to you about what he was doing?
[Wilma Salin]
Could you be precise?
[Interviewer]
I meant when he worked for the government.
[Wilma Salin]
OK, they were planning to start up a co-operative right in the village.
[Interviewer]
Oh so that was it.
[Wilma Salin]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
Is there any more thing you would like to share concerning the life of Mr Salin, his behaviour, attitude and so on, anyone?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
I will tell you a bit about me, my name is Lalu Salin and I am Mr Salin's first born child from his second wife. I was born on the 28th, 1963 in Karanalibuik village Simberi island. I grew up as a child there and after four years… word came to dad (Aisoli Salin) that we will go and teach, so we left Simberi and went over to Tatau. He taught there for three years 67, 68, 69… after that we all stayed back home in the village.
We were still in the village when he got another call to go over to Port Moresby. He then took few significant men about three of them, namely Mr Wawa, Mr Emmanuel and the third who became very ill and couldn't make it. Over in Moresby he was presented a medal by the Papua New Guinean Government. That was done on his first trip out, on his return he bought a plantation situated on the west coast of Tatau in Kutimita. We were at Kutimita during that time and he bought the plantation from a Chinese man name Bruno. Also, during our stay in the newly bought plantation dad was appointed as a councillor representing the people in the Ward 2 Area.
I can still remember his fortnight, he would get K8 as his total package pay during his stay as Councillor. After being a Councillor for a good number of years he later joined and worked for the church, he would attend huge meetings or anything related to the church. So that was his story, we stayed until in 1941 he was called again to go to Port Moresby, this time he was knighted by the Queen of England and given a medal. That's where we saw the picture, he also went to the university of Papua New Guinea where he made a profound speech.
[Interviewer]
Would you remember who Mr Salin travelled with?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
Well, he went with mom and my younger brother.
[Interviewer]
So he did a speech there right?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
Yes he did, he also worked closely with Sir Julius Chan throughout his work. After his trip to Moresby he came back and stayed in the village.
But according to my father's personal references, he's a very humble person in the community. He was also very disciplined and strict, when he says to do something it is under his will and supervision that all things must be done on time as indicated. Through his childhood life he never got engaged in home or village activities such as gardening or fishing. He would read books all the time. Another thing I noticed about him was, he never used glasses to read books. Even though he was old, he would read books with his eyes. These are some big issues in his life.
When I was born, I became the first child of the second wife of my father. Since my father was the Chief in the village, I was given the (malagan) chiefly role to lead people when I grow up. I already have that obligation in my life.
[Interviewer]
So the chief title has already been given to you.
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
Yes, I got it.
[Interviewer]
Did he give you the title before he passed or died?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
He gave it to me.
[Interviewer]
How about education or school for you children?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
I have not completed school. I only did up to grade 6 and stayed in the village. (ah) When I grew up, I was not educated but this is how I worked with the government. The government boats would come bringing letters inviting us to go to Kavieng to attend meetings.
One thing that I have not shared is, there was a talk about something that is to come. (ah) A Council has been formed to make laws for Papua New Guineans to follow. As far as I am concerned, the law has been established during that time.
[Interviewer]
Were you there when the law went to the Legislative Council?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
Yeah – the law went to the Legislative Council before I was born.
[Interviewer]
Can you remember how your father died?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
He was … (pause) he was small … (pause) OK he was … (pauses)
[Wilma Salin]
No, he wasn't sick. He was getting very old and could not walk anymore so he slept all the time at home and passed away or died. He was not sick.
[Interviewer]
Who came for his funeral service? Did some government officials come to his funeral?
[Interviewer]
Was it just the family?
Would you like to say something about your father? Were you a small child or a grown man when your father passed?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
I was already a youth.
[Interviewer]
Were you married then?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
Not yet.
[Interviewer]
OK, how will you identify your father or what is your thought of him?
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
My father was a very old man and had some mental problems. He would walk all over the place in the village.
But when I was small, I would hear old men saying that my father was someone who can read. He used to spend most of his time reading.
Because of that he never used to spend time with us. The government would take him away to work for the government… (ah) New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan. I believe the Governor recognized what my father did for the country, New Ireland and the village. He was recognized by the government so he used to travel a lot.
Here is a short story I would like to add to my big brother's story … (ah) In 1981 I went with mum and dad as you can see from the photograph. I am standing in the middle of the two them … (ah) I cannot remember what really happened but many times he would attend important meetings and leave me at home as I was only young. Just like what my elder brother said, he would take him with him. One day dad went and gave a speech at the University. My elder brother accompanied him.
I can remember, one day we went to the Independence Hill where PNG got its independence. We also went to the parliament house which they started building. My father was a very busy man, never stayed with his family because of his work.
[Interviewer]
Didn't you want to say anything?
[Rachael Salin]
I want to say that all of us were in the village. He is someone who humbles himself and will come looking for us when he comes to the village. My two brothers have already mentioned, he is someone who likes to read newspaper and someone who would sit close to the radio to hear the news. This is what he did when he was home with us. He did not share or tell us what he had been doing, did not tell us about the meetings he attended, what the government was doing … This is the little story I want to share about our father.
[Interviewer]
Anyone else has any other comments?
[Rosie Salin]
I want to share something from …
[Interviewer]
Come a little bit closer.
[Rosie Salin]
I want to say something about dad when it comes to family. Our father was a very good person. He made sure that we had plenty of food and we were never in need of anything. He looked after us really well. He is also someone who loves others in the village. But there is one thing he would say all the time. ‘I want to die quickly, I do not want to live to hear and see what is coming later.' I think this is all I have to say.
Thank you.
[Interviewer]
Is there anything else you want to say? Does mum remember the day dad was taken away to be knighted … was dad happy or was he afraid?
[Alfred & Family]
(Local Dialect; 19:12 – 20:15)…
[Interviewer]
If you do not want to share the story, that is OK if you can't recall or remember.
[Wilma Salin]
(Local Dialect; 20:21-25)…
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
She will share it in the local dialect and I will interpret.
[Interviewer]
Ah OK, you can share in the local dialect.
[Wilma/Alfred Lalu Salin]
(Local dialect; 20:32 – 21:20)
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
When they were in the parliament house for him to be knighted, he was really dressed up. He was an old man but he really dressed up and went and got his medal and was knighted. There were two government officials but he was not afraid. When they called his name, he stood up and went to the front and received his medal.
[Interviewer]
Good. Is there any other thing you would like to add or are we coming to the end of our talk now. Father was not sick but was very old and passed on. Good.
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
Another thing I discovered about Salin's life was, he spoke with wisdom and was intelligent. He repeated some of the things he was telling us and he always talked about those things, ideas etc and he kept emphasising these points. His words seemed to be like prophesying what will happen in the future. He also talked in parables and his words were straight and did not beat around the bush. His words were like a sharp knife that would cut through vines and trees etc. Some of the things he expressed to us are now fulfilling right in our eyes.
[Interviewer]
Thank you so much.
[Alfred Lalu Salin]
He prophesised and often spoke in parables, He talked about things that would happen in the future.
[Interviewer]
OK thank you Salin family, thank you so much, we will end the conversation here.

Click to show/hide Additional Interview Details

Family Relationships

Interviewee

Wilma Salin
Alfred Lalu Salin
Rachael Salin
Rosie Salin

Interviewers

Interview Date

30/03/2017

Interview Duration

00:44:40:00

Interview Translator


Rights Holder

© Deakin University
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike licence

Files

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Citation

“Wilma Salin and others - Oral History interview recorded on 30 March 2017 at Rabe, Tatau, New Ireland Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed December 10, 2018, http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/425.

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