Tasman Oiko Orere - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG


Mr Tasman Oiko Orere tells the stories of his stepparents. His stepmother Naitameri Oiago Orere, was a laundry girl during the War. His stepfather Oiko Stanley Orere was initially recruited as a carrier but then became a member of the Pacific Infantry Battalion.



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.

Interviews at Beama village on 24 May 2014. The interviewee is Tasman Oiko Orere of Beama village and he is going to tell the story of his stepparents, starting with the story of Naitameri Oiago Orere, who was a laundry girl during World War 2. And his stepfather Oiko Stanley Orere who initially joined as a carrier but went on to become a member of the Pacific Islands Battalion.
Orere laundry girls. The ANGAU recruited and employed about 55 000 natives of Papua New Guinea to assist Australian and American soldiers in Papua New Guinea during World War Two. According to Maclaren Hiari’s research about thirty-one native women were employed to work as nurses and laundry girls in Port Moresby, Kairuku, Milne Bay, Oro Bay, Lae and Rabaul. One of these nurses was from Milne Bay by the name of Naia Garu, Gimulae, who looked after one Australian airman, Bill Walters, of Royal Australian Air force, who crashed in the waters near Kariloma Island [?] and rescued by the local people.
After that seaman rescue, Naiaa Garu risked her own life when she put Walters on her canoe and paddled across the sea and safely delivered to Royal Australian Air Force at Geni, in August 1942. At the end of the Milne Bay battle in 1942, the Australian army recognised Naia Garu’s courageous and selfless effort and presented her with the Long Service medal at Geni.
Beside the nurses, two Papuan women had been identified to have worked as laundry girls together with 118 Papuan men, 98 white men and women, at ten laundry facilities at Eroro between February 1943 and November 1945. These two Papuan women were Violet Jaupa from Eroro village and Naitameri Oiago Orere from Beama village. Both women were about twenty years old when they were employed by ANGAU to work as laundry girls.
The ten laundry facilities handled the capacity of 25 000 to 30 000 pieces of clothes per week, from seven European hospitals in Doboduru, Oro Base B area. According to ANGAU records, only one woman out the total of thirty-one native women lost her life during the war. It is not yet known which part of Papua New Guinea she came from.

Continue with the story of your step father, Oiki Stanley Orere.

My father Stanley Orere was a carrier around Oro Bay area, and joined the Papuan Infantry Battalion at Buna government station, and then up to Kokoda, back to Kikiri, to Ambasi, and back to Oro Bay during the war, Second World War. That’s all he told me the story of his engagement with the Papuan Infantry Battalion.

Did he give you other details like how the recruitment took place and his witness of what happened during the War, did he tell you any of these things?

Yes, he said that they were carriers and they, ANGAU picked the smart ones, the healthy, so that’s how he’d been picked to join with the Endegi, Victor, this [?]. So his regimental number was 142, 141 is Victor Endegi. And my stepfather’s war decorations were lost after he was deceased. I should have told you that brief story about how he’d been engaged.

Any actual stories about fighting, any story about the fighting?

No, he just went to Ambasi and back to Oro Bay, he was sort of a coastwatcher with Victor Endegi. They both worked together.

And what did coastwatching involve?

They keep on their eyes to see the enemies around. They found, they met enemies at Gona beach, they asked but they told the enemies that they were just the villagers, paddled from north coast towards Oro Bay. But their two guns were wrapped with the dry coconut leaves and put under the canoe.

Anything else you want to say?

I think that’s all I can say.

Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you sir.

[In Notu]

From Ambasi to Oro Bay, my stepfather and uncle, Victor Endegi, they met Japanese, the Japanese were searching them but lucky that they wrapped their two guns with dry coconut leaves, put them under the canoe. But the few females were on the canoe, but my stepfather advised them not to say anything. Even a word, no. My stepfather and uncle Victor, they had a word with Japanese. Said we are only the villagers, paddling from Ambasi to Oro Bay. So we’ve got nothing here. They pretend that way but actually they were part of the army, they were soldiers.
So they left them and they paddled all the way to Oro Bay, took them another two days to paddle, they spent the night at somewhere on the Sambogo, and then next day they arrived at Oro Bay. That’s all.

Because they were working as coastwatchers did they have to report what they saw?

That’s right, they reported to Colonel Smith, was the commander up at Eroro Creek, so all the reports were given to that commander.

It must have been a very terrifying time.

That’s right sir, they were very terrified and scared out there. They are brave enough to do their duty, I believe. At that time.

Did he ever fire his rifle in anger?

No. No he didn’t … anywhere. No, nothing.

When they spoke with the Japanese, when the Japanese found them on a canoe, what language, or how did they communicate with the Japanese?

They, broken, probably most they did action. But probably I think we all experience of that. If we have duty on that field, we have got to understand field signals, body message, things like that so that’s how they communicate with the Japanese.

Did he say how he was recruited to be a carrier, before he became recruited into the Papuan Infantry Battalion?

In this type of sisolo, we call sisolo [making a roof, yes] – so all that been taken up to Inota, all our papas and mamas been sent out to Inota, so all the soldiers and houses they used to make this roof. Up at Garawuji up on the highway so all that been shipped up to make houses for our natives to live in. So from there he was recruited with Victor Endegi. Victor’s number is 141, my stepfather’s was 142. The regimental number.

It must have been very hard work being a carrier.

I believe so, yes.

Did he have any injuries from his time?


He’s very lucky. Very fortunate. Thank you.

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“Tasman Oiko Orere - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed April 16, 2024, https://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/313.