Interview number 16 at Sogeri plateau on the 7th of July 2014. We have with us now Nuana Momoa of Manurinumu village, Sogeri. He's going to give us an account of his dad, Momoa Monobe, who was a carrier during the Second World War. You may start now.
When Australian army came and set up a depot, there was a depot, so they, he was a carrier there. He worked, he carried and he walked the track. And during that time, he walked, he was carrying a bag, he walked from Depot to Buna during that war.
And then during that time, even rain, they couldn't sleep. Sometimes they stand, they close their eyes, and then they got up they walked the track. And then when the war came back, they came back and the war went as far as Buna, they work, they walk, they carry things and then walk. But they didn't give up. And then it was, you know, very hard during that time. But today, today is good because we got everything here with us, like torch.
We walk the night, we got torch, but that time they don't have the torch with them. They just walk. And then my father, he went to Buna. There's a ship there. Ship. And he was standing there at the beach and then they blow that ship, that ship, it was at Buna, and then the Japs trying to come back and attack Australians, and then they said we go back, we go back to Kokoda, so they came back to Kokoda, and he settled there, and after that they went back again, so [pause]
The plane came.
The plane came and landed at Kokoda. And then they told him to get suitcase or bag and get on the aircraft and go to Australia but he couldn't do it. During that time. But it was, you know.. He was thinking about his wife, so he didn't go to Australia so he came back and settled at Manurinumu village.
OK so your father was married at the time the war arrived?
And he got two kids. Then he went to the war as a carrier.
Did your father tell you why the soldiers wanted him to jump on the plane and go to Australia? Was it just a sort of joy ride or ..
It was because they wanted to take them to the Australia. So he said well I have to go back and get my bag but he didn't go back and get his bag. He was thinking about the wife so he couldn't' do it.
He was thinking about his wife, he didn't want to leave his darling. I can understand that but maybe the Australians were so happy about how he worked for them so that they want to thank him by giving him a trip to Australia. Would you agree? Did he ever say anything like that?
I told him you should get on plane and go to Australia. He said I'll stay here.
Alright. You are his first-born son?
I'm the last born from the family.
So where did you get your father's story.
From your father? You were lucky.
You know what, during that time, he told us the story and then I was walking the trail, I was a porter and I walked the trail... It was very hard you know, I think back and I said, this is what they do during the war. I became a porter, I walked. It was good but that time, their times it was very hard.
Very different. Apart from the opportunity to earn a few kina on the track, did you have any other reason for wanting to be a porter on the track?
I want to look out for my family, that's why I walked the track.
Did you ever think about your father when you were on the track?
Yes, when I walked on the trail I was thinking about my old man. During the war, he do this. I said I mustn't do this any more. I'm not going to carry the pack and walk again the track, no. My father do it, and then apply to me again. It's really sad. I became a porter, and then from porter, I joined KTA, Kokoda Track Authority, I work for Kokoda Track Authority as a ranger.. I look after Ower's Corner.
You are now a ranger?
Lay off, O.R.
Alright. What do you think about war generally? What are your thoughts, what are your feelings about war? You heard your father's stories what do you think about war?
I didn't see the war, but I heard the stories. It was very hard, because of Australians, we stay in good. But if Japanese come and look after us, I don't think we gonna stay like this.
You're happy to see Australians coming back and walking the track.
Yes, I'm happy to see them because they are friendly people, sometimes they come, they talk to us.
You still helping the Australians when they come to walk the track? You give them foods to eat?
Sometimes they give me, sometimes I give them.
They give you cigarettes and you give them pawpaw for instance?
Yes, of course.
That sounds great. Anything else you want to add on to your father's story before we end? That will be all? [acknowledged] Thank you very much for your time then.
“Nuana Momoa - Oral History interview recorded on 7 July 2014 at Karakadabu/Depo, Central Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed September 23, 2023, https://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/264.