Moses Seni - Oral History interview recorded on 3 September 2014 at PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Waigani, NCD, PNG


Mr Moses Seni tells the story of his grandfather Seru Sapate who worked as a carrier for the Australians during the Kokoda Campaign.



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.

Moses Seni. We are interviewing him at the National Museum on the 3rd of September, so Moses will be talking about his father, his grandfather, Seru Sapate.
Thank you very much National Museum and the team who are around here this morning. I would like to just brief story about how my grandfather was involved in the 1942 World War, how he became. But I won't really detail because some I might not know. So I will just say that my name is Moses Seni, and I would like to cover my grandfather, Seru Sapate, he was also one of the men who has been chosen to be a carrier in World War Two at Kokoda track where the war was on. And how he was being employed or being engaged to be in that war but he was chosen to be a carrier.
As some others have told stories like when war has been going bit tougher, and there was a shortage of carriers for the soldiers along the track, so they were starting to get in local people from around the Koiari area and my grandfather, Seru Sapate, was engaged to be a carrier there. So what he said about it, yeah it was tough, it was himself also, when he was in, when he first started to see the bombs and the guns out and the Japanese and the Australian armies and the Americans who tried to attack each other was very tough, no. He was experiencing what was happening, how the war was going on.
So he experienced also what war was at that time. But he was just only a carrier, but I will tell more what he was really doing when he was in there. I would like to say that he was to put him in this mission, recorded my grandfather Seru Sapate, also he was in at World War Two to be a carrier when some of the people don't know that from we, especially at upper Sogeri, Sogeri Valley, that they might know that there were some people there, especially when you see from the Sogeri plateau we almost about carriers who were in the field was about 1000 plus, I think from Efogi, especially from Sogeri Plateau itself, there was about 1000 plus, in that World War Two to be carriers and some went in there, in gun men or whatever they call it.
So I will say that my grandfather was one of them who was involved in there, to help the Australian army and the Americans to protect our land. Especially our land so that we could live safe now in whatever, whoever gets the country to be looking after us. As we have seen today especially resources in Papua New Guinea, minerals and whatever you talk about with our environments, that's why, so my grandfather was one of them who defended our resources from World War Two so as to be secure, from others who would come and will destroy the environment or something like that.
So I was happy when I heard that my grandfather was one of them, I think he was also you know, I learned as a grandson I was happy about him because he was also be naming there. Whether he just only a carrier but he did something for the country too, defending the country, and supporting the armies to Australians and Americans who were there. So when you see that I just see that just because the war is kind of tough because Australian army were getting short of manpower to defeat the Japanese because Japanese were at that Ower's Corner already just about 42 km they would be in Moresby.
But we were happy that our grand people were there to support the armies, to defend our area so we are now have the Australian government. So that's why the only thing I would like to say but as you see now when Australia bring like tourism whatever, .. Ausaid funds coming for tourism like this Kokoda track, we up at Sirinumu are neglected because I think the stories are not being told about some of our own people, our own men were involved in that war who were the carriers, but now as well you see, we are been neglected. There is no service from the war that is going up to, especially Sirinumu Dam and coming down to, what you see at another place called Donadabu.
That was a training base when the army was going through it, that's where all the young Australians were coming and training there and that was the base, training centre, Donadabu, and going up to [?] was the airstrip where the main base supply of the food was coming down. But now we look at that, they only focusing on the Kokoda track. So with that I would say that if whatever things come from Kokoda track whatever, can people just look back to us at Sogeri plateau and going up to Sirinumu so that we could be recognised as some of our grandfathers were also in the war to defend the country. I will say that. Thank you very much for interviewing.
Thank you. May I ask when how old were you when your grandfather passed away?
He just passed away recently, I think 2000 something. So I was just about 30 years, then he passed away.
So you had plenty of opportunity to hear his stories as an adult too. Did he, after the war, did he mix with other people who had also been involved like he had been? Was there the continuing friendships and so on that he had? Do you remember?
No, when the war was over, he just went back, and he was at home, was there with us.
And did he tell many stories or any stories about what his daily life was like? How hard it was, what fun or jokes they had, or anything like that?
Oh yeah he did tell some how from Buna to that, but I don't know where he really went and stop and came back. But he told about how some part of the Mount Koiaris when they came down he name part of the areas and how they live and how the war was going when they experience what war was.
Did you have a feeling when you were young listening to his stories, that it was not a very good experience, that he didn't like his time during the war or did he say the opposite? Did you think he was looking back to the good times?
Well he was saying that it wasn't really good because he was sad you know people like, he saw the dead bodies lying there, and like he said you know they were drinking the same water, something like that.
Did he say anything about the Australians that he worked with? Did he like them? Were they fair? Or were they not nice to him? Any of those sorts of stories?
Well he said they were fair, they were nice because what I hear and actually you know, I invited him and didn't actually sit and talk, but he said he was also in the carriers as well, so that's what I came to know, I like, his name that was also in that world war two.
Thank you very much for giving interview this morning. Thank you very much.

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“Moses Seni - Oral History interview recorded on 3 September 2014 at PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Waigani, NCD, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed June 16, 2024,