Research in Hula region, November - December 2021

Report by Fa’afo Patekalani

Hula is a recent name for the people who call themselves Vulaa and Iru Vulaa (lit. ‘Point Vulaa’ of the (Hood) point). They are also called Bulaa by Motu speakers. Vulaa is the term used by speakers to refer to firstly the language they speak; to themselves as a people, ethnic group, or community; and to the physical location of the village.

The Hula people live along the coast of the Hood Point area of Central Province, and traditionally have depended on fishing and trading fish with their neighbouring agriculturalists. They engaged in vili expeditions to provide fish for those left behind in Motu villages while the men were away on hiri trading expeditions to the west. Today there is frequent movement between villages and Port Moresby. Christianity has been a presence since 1876.

Hula (Vulaa) is an Austronesian language, spoken by over 5,000 people.

Fa’afo Patekalani researched the Hula recordings in the True Echoes project. She received her BA and Honours degrees from the University of Papua New Guinea, an MA from the University of York (UK), and also pursued PhD studies at the University of Otago (New Zealand). Amongst other jobs, she taught for many years at UPNG.

Recordings

Because so many of the old songs in the True Echoes project are now no longer sung by people today, many new recordings were made to show present-day styles. These include different styles of singing performed at funerals, ute, and other hymns. The church is a very important part of Hula life, and this is reflected in the materials performed.

Hula Interview 2 (Warimbo), Session 2
Recorded on 24 November 2021
19 minutes 17 seconds

The four respondents did not recognize the songs (C80/1465 Dugong Fisher’s song) and said that they have never heard them, nor heard their fathers sing them. They pointed out that if they were taught to the present generation, they could be revived and sung.

Vulaa Ute Singing Group – Explanation of Venu Aimo e Lapu aimo and performance of Rakaveaina
Recorded on 25 November 2021 in Hula, Central Province

Vulaa Ute Singing Group, a local group that comprises ordinary men and women (15 people) who share a common interest in singing Ute songs. Many of them continue their parent’s legacy as Ute singers. As a group they also sing other songs especially Peroveta, Gospel and Hymns and are often invited to perform at events such as Church activities, individual birthdays, funerals, baptisms, weddings, among others.

This video includes an explanation of the song Venu Aimo e Lapu aimo and a performance of ute song Rakaveaina. An ute song can function to celebrate, serenade, lament, dream, remind, express emotion, state history, worship God, and is therefore a memorable and an important part of Vulaa social and cultural life.

Ute is a genre of traditional/folk Vulaa music characterised as a song composed about almost any topic in life – a person, significant event (e.g. a cricket game), subject/topic, God, emotions, wars, memories, reflections, etc. There is usually no use of musical instruments and the song is sung by either one person, two people or a whole group. An Ute song has a particular singing style/tune/tone that has not changed for some time.

Historical Recordings

The following cylinders were researched by Fa’afo Patekalani from the Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder Collection (C80 British New Guinea).

British Library shelfmarkRecording titlePerformer nameRecording locationRecording dateContent descriptionPerformer descriptionRecording notesLanguagesGenreRecordistRecording lengthRecording tripDescription of cylinderCollection titleCylinder locationImages of cylinder containers / documentationRelated print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication:
C80/1455Hymn 41 GloryUnidentified (male chorus)British New Guinea27 May 1898 – 1 October 18981. Unaccompanied male vocal group.Reasonable quality recording but some surface noise.Field recordingsRay, Sidney2'12"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaBrown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1457HymnUnidentified (male chorus)British New Guinea27 May 1898 – 1 October 18981. Unaccompanied male vocal group.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise.Field recordings; HymnsRay, Sidney2'13'Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaBrown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1458Hymn No.23 WarehamUnidentified (singer, male)British New Guinea27 May 1898 – 1 October 18981. Unaccompanied male vocal solo.Reasonable quality recording but with some surface noise.Field recordings; HymnsRay, Sidney1'50"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1459Lekuleku by Gima, Chief of HulaGima (singer, male, chief of Hula)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea10 June 18981. Indecipherable announcement. 2. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. "On 10 June, Ray noted in his diary that he persuaded [Gima] to sing some Lekuleku into the machine” (Ray 1898–1899:59). A leku was a war song according to Kolia (1975:187).Reasonable quality recording with improving signal strength, but also with surface noise.HulaField recordings; War songRay, Sidney2'44"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaBrown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
Kolia, John. 1975. A Balawaia Grammar Sketch and Vocabulary. In Studies in Languages of Central and South-East Papua, edited by Tom E. Dutton, 107–226. Pacific Linguistics, C 19. Canberra: Australian National University.
C80/1460Dirge of Hula WomenUnidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea4 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. Announcement: "[indecipherable] song, Hula." 2. Unaccompanied vocal group with male solo. 3. Unaccompanied vocal group.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise due to mould on cylinder.HulaField recordings, LamentsRay, Sidney3'19"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1461Hymn HulaTakai (singer, female)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea4 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. Announcement: "Hymn, sung by Takai, [indecipherable]. 2. Female and male vocal solo singing in harmony. 3. Unaccompanied female vocal solo.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise due to mould on cylinder.HulaField recordings; HymnsRay, Sidney2'44"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1462God save the Queen HulaTakai (singer, female)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea6 June 18981. Unaccompanied vocal group. On 6 June, Ray noted recording “God Save the Queen by Takai” (Ray 1898–1899:50) (British national anthem).Reasonable quality recording but with some speed fluctuation and surface noise.Hula and/or EnglishField recordings; National anthemsRay, Sidney1'56"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1463Hymns at VatorataUnidentified (female chorus)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea?3 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. Indecipherable announcement. 2. Female vocal group.Poor quality recording with weak signal and heavy surface noise due to mould on cylinder.HulaField recordings; HymnsRay, Sidney2'41"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1464Dugong Fishers' Song [1]Unidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea4 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. Announcement: "Dugong fishers' song. Hulaa." 2. Unaccompaned male vocal group.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise due to patches of mould on cylinder.HulaField recordings; Dugong fishing songsRay, Sidney2'00"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1465Dugong Fishers' Song [2]Unidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea4 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. Announcement: "Dugong Fishers' Song. Hulaa." 1. Unaccompanied male vocal group.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise due to patches on mould on cylinder.HulaField recordings; Dugong fishing songsRay, Sidney2'10"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1466Hula HymnUnidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea4 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. "[indecipherable] song of Hula, British New Guinea." 2. Mixed vocal group, singing version of 'Onward Christian Soldiers' in harmony.Reasonable quality recording but with some surface noise.HulaField recordings; HymnsRay, Sidney2'32"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1467Canoe Song and Leku Leku HulaUnidentifiedHula, Central District, British New Guinea13 June 18981. Indecipherable announcement. A leku was a war song according to Kolia (1975:187).HulaField recordings; Canoe song; War songRay, Sidney2'30"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
Kolia, John. 1975. A Balawaia Grammar Sketch and Vocabulary. In Studies in Languages of Central and South-East Papua, edited by Tom E. Dutton, 107–226. Pacific Linguistics, C 19. Canberra: Australian National University.
C80/1468Kangaroo Hunting SongUnidentified (singer, male)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea9 June 18981. Announcement: "A hunting son, Hula." 2. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. “In the evening Ray phonographed 3 native songs in the school-house” (Haddon 1898–1899:114). Ray noted that he obtained 3 records, “a Lekuleku (ballad), a song sung by men when fishing for dugong, and a hunting song sung when hunting Kangaroo” (Ray 1898–1899:58).Reasonable quality recording.HulaField recordings; Wallaby hunting songRay, Sidney1'56"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
C80/1481Lekuleku HulaUnidentified (female chorus)Hula, Central District, British New Guinea4 June 1898 – 15 June 18981. Announcement: "[indecipherable] Hula." 2-3. Unaccomapanied female vocal group. A leku was a war song according to Kolia (1975:187).Poor quality recording with heavy surface noise and weak signal.HulaField recordings; War songRay, Sidney2'30"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaLight brown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
Kolia, John. 1975. A Balawaia Grammar Sketch and Vocabulary. In Studies in Languages of Central and South-East Papua, edited by Tom E. Dutton, 107–226. Pacific Linguistics, C 19. Canberra: Australian National University.

The following cylinders were researched by Fa’afo Patekalani from the Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to British New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62).

British Library shelfmarkRecording titlePerformer nameRecording locationRecording dateContent descriptionPerformer descriptionRecording notesLanguagesGenreRecordistRecording lengthRecording tripDescription of cylinderCollection titleCylinder locationImages of cylinder containers / documentationRelated print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication: Related print publication:
C62/142113 Ariparla kulaaUnidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New GuineaJuly 19041. Announcement: "Ariparla, lament for the dead, sung round the body for the first 24 hours. Kulaa." 2. Unaccompanied male vocal group singing in harmony.Good quality recording.HulaField recordings; LamentsSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'15"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
C62/1422Roro KulaaUnidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New GuineaJuly 19041. Announcement: "Roro. A kulaa song, sung only by the older folk of both sexes." 2. Unaccompanied vocal group.Good quality recording.HulaField recordingsSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'15"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
C62/142316 Palarupu KulaaUnidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New GuineaJuly 19041. Announcement: "Palarupa. Sung by successful [?] homicide, [indecipherable]. Kulaa." 2. Unaccompanied male vocal group.Good quality recording although with some surface noise.HulaField recordings; Sung after homicideSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'04"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
C62/142514 Kele kele KulaaUnidentified (male chorus)Hula, Central District, British New GuineaJuly 19041. Announcement: "Kele kele song sung in Naka'ana's [?] house, before the turtle neck was put upon the canoe. Kulaa." 2. Vocal group singing in harmony, accompanied by percussion.Good quality recording, although track 2 begins and ends with repeating grooves.HulaField recordingsSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'10"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
C62/149115 Leku Leku KulaaUnidentified (chorus); unidentified (percussion)Hula, Central District, British New GuineaJuly 19041. Announcement: "Kwaipo Liku Liku, adopted and sung by the Kulaa." 2. Vocal group accompanied by drumming and clapping.Good quality recording, although some surface noise.HulaField recordingsSeligman, Charles Gabriel2'49"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Light brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library

These include all recordings identified as Hula, as well as unidentified recordings.