Research in Motu, October–November 2021

Report by Onu Kere

Motuans are a group of Austronesian speakers whose villages are scattered along the south coast outside of Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby. They are mostly known for their famous hiri trade expeditions which are no longer practised today.

Motuans are closely interlinked with Koitabuans in customs and culture, although they speak different languages. The Motuan language is also known as Motu. Much of the modern-day lifestyle that Motuans live is strongly influenced by the London Missionary Society (LMS). The LMS prohibited most of the Motuan traditions such as feasting, tattooing, and the use of magic spells.

Most of the songs sung by the Motuans are hehona, which were associated with the now-extinct hiri. This exchange system was a very significant part of the Motuan tradition.

The Researcher

Onu Kere researched the Motu recordings in the True Echoes project. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Papua New Guinea, majoring in Political Science.

Recordings

Many of the songs heard in the old recordings are no longer sung today. The new recordings made show a variety of present-day styles of music, such as church hymns and hehona. Most are sung in contemporary style with the influence of Western music.

Ba Kara Maoro (No. 168)
Porebada Womens Fellowship
Recorded 5 November 2021 

Motuan Hymn sung in the United Church. Hymn can be found in the ‘Ane’ Hymn Book in the Motu language of Papua New Guinea. Performed by Porebada Womens Fellowship including Lahui Arua (Tarupa), sung in the Motu language.

1. Ba goada balaheni,
Oi na a hidimu Iesu ese,
Ena gaukara ba rakalaia,
Aneru ese bae itamu tao.

Chorus:
Oi, oi, ba vareai,
Oi, oi, ba heduru,
Oi ba gaukara,
Ba hebamo.

2. Ba goada momokani,
Se gaukaramu ba dekedia,
Sibomu ba gima hanaihani,
Ba gini tutuka ela mase.

3. Ba gaukara balaheni,
Dirava ese e itamumu,
Emu hededegwa negadiai,
Baine beiamu maoromaoro.

4. Ba henari ba lalokau,
Iesu na oi baine abimudae,
Ena gwauhamata gabuna ai,
Una na oi emu mauri hanai.

Chorus:
Oi, oi, ba goeva!
Oi, oi, ba moale!
Oi ba hisidae!
Hanaihanai!

(Be very strong
You have been chosen by Jesus Christ
To fulfil his will
The angels will guide you)

Chorus:
(You, you, be part of it

You, you, give a hand
You must do your work
Be a friend)

(Be very strong,
Be there for the weak,
Be courageous always,
Stand strong till death.)

(Be strong and loyal
The Lord is watching you
During your times of trial
He will be with you)

(Be caring be loving,
Jesus will welcome you
Just as he has promised
That life everlasting is yours)

Chorus:
(You, you, be perfect!
You, you, be happy!
Rejoice!
Forever.)

Historical Recordings

The following cylinders were researched by Onu Kere from the Alfred Court 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:
C80/1062Koitapu sentences and Motu HymnAhuia Ova (speaker, singer, male)Port Moresby, British New Guinea6 July 18981. Announcement: "Koitapu sentences and Motu Hymn." 2. Solo male speech. 3. Unaccompanied male vocal solo.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise due to light mould on cylinder.Koitabu and MotuField recordings; Speeches; HymnsRay, Sidney3'01"Alfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition, British New GuineaBrown wax cylinderAlfred Cort Haddon 1898 Expedition (Torres Strait and British New Guinea) Cylinder CollectionBritish Library
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
C80/1456Lakatoi SongUnidentified (male chorus)Port Moresby, British New Guinea20 June 1898 – 6 July 18981. Announcement: "A Lakatoi Song." 2. Unaccompanied male vocal group.Reasonable quality recording but with weak signal and surface noise.Motu (archaic language)Field recordings; Sailing; TradeRay, Sidney2'20"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

The following cylinders were researched by Onu Kere 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:
C62/1415Waura KoitaKabur (singer, male)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "Waura, a Koita song, sung by Kabur[?], Port Moresby, October 1904." 1. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. A song sung at dances and feasts.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise.KoitabuField recordingsSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'40"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
This song is discussed and may be transcribed in Charles G. Seligmann, 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge University Press, 1910:151-152.
C62/1416Poru KoitaKabur (singer, male)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "Poru, a Koita song, sung by Kabur[?] October 1904, Port Moresby." 2. Male vocal solo with percussion accompaniment.Good quality recording but with some surface noise.KoitabuField recordingsSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'29"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
This song may be discussed and transcribed in Charles G. Seligmann, 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge University Press, 1910:151-152.
C62/1417Berasi KoitaUnidentified (male chorus)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "Berasi - the Koita garden fencing song, sung at Port Moresby, October 1904." 2. Unaccompanied male vocal group. A song sung while fencing gardens; also a funeral dirge.Good quality recording.KoitabuField recordings; Garden fencing songSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'51"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
This song is discussed and may be transcribed in Charles G. Seligmann, 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge University Press, 1910:152-153.
C62/1418Ehona Lahato KoitaIgo Gow (singer, male)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "Lahato song, Ehona, sung by Igo Jow[?], Port Moresby, October 1904." 2. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. An ehona song. There are two photos of Igo Gow in the British Museum (Oc,B119.43 and Oc,B119.52).Reasonable quality recording but with some distortion.Koitabu or MotuField recordings; Trading song; Voyaging songSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'43"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
This song may be discussed and transcribed in Charles G. Seligmann, 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge University Press, 1910:152.
C62/1424Hara Tabo StoryAhuia Ova (narrator, male)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "The story of Hara Tabo, told by [indecipherable], Port Moresby, October 1904." 2. Unaccompanied male speech.Good quality recording.KoitabuField recordings; SpeechesSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'28"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
This story is transcribed in Charles G. Seligmann, 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge University Press, 1910:183-185.
C62/1426(Solo) Kaime – Gore. A.H.DUnidentified (singer, male)Port Moresby, British New Guinea5 January 1904 ?1. Male vocal solo, accompanied by percussion. This is probably a historical ehona song concerning Kaimegore, a man who sailed a lakatoi canoe as part of the hiri trading voyage.Good quality recording.Motu and/or KoitabuField recordings; Trading song; Voyaging songSeligman, Charles Gabriel2'11"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
Transcription of song in F. R. Barton's chapter in Charles Seligmann 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge Universtiy Press, 1910:117.
C62/1437Galo Galo. MotuUnidentified (male chorus); unidentified (percussion)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "Galo Galo, a Motu song, sung when hauling captured dugung alongside the canoe, Hanuabada, October 1904." 2. Male vocal group with percussion accompaniment. Moto is presumably a typographical error and should read Motu. A dugong hunting song.Good quality recording.MotuField recordings; Dugong fishing songSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'41"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
C62/1438Bogi BadaUnidentified (singer, male); unidentified (percussion)Port Moresby, British New Guinea5 January 19041. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. 2. Male vocal solo with percussion accompaniment. This is a historical ehona song concerning a lakatoi canoe trip as part of the hiri trading voyage.Reasonable quality recording but with surface noise.MotuField recordings; Trading song; Voyaging songSeligman, Charles Gabriel2'36"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
Transcription of song in F. R. Barton's chapter in Charles Seligmann 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge Universtiy Press, 1910:116.
C62/1439Kaime Gore / Gaigo LelovaUnidentified (male chorus); unidentified (percussion)Port Moresby, British New Guinea5 January 19041-2. Male vocal group accompanied by percussion. This is probably a historical ehona song concerning Kaimegore, a man who sailed a lakatoi canoe as part of the hiri trading voyage.Reasonable quality recording but with some surface noise.Motu and/or KoitabuField recordingsSeligman, Charles Gabriel2'34"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
Transcription of song in F. R. Barton's chapter in Charles Seligmann 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge Universtiy Press, 1910:117.
C62/1451Various calls. KoitaUnidentified (singer, male)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "[indecipherable] calling to [indecipherable] to be brought to [indecipherable]. 2. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. 3. "Hunting call, returning to village after catching fish." 4. Unacc. male vocal solo. 5. Call given from [indecipherable], signalling return of Lakatoi." 6. Unacc. male vocal solo. 7. "Call from [indecipherable] for folk to come and take baskets containing yams and portions of fish." 8. Unaccompanied male vocal solo. Calls related to hunting, fishing and sailing.Good quality recording.KoitabuField recordings; SpeechesSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'34"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
C62/1452Ehona KoitaIgo Gow (singer, male)Port Moresby, British New GuineaOctober 19041. Announcement: "Ehona, a Koita and Motu dirge, sung by Igo[?], Port Moresby, October 1904." 2. Male vocal solo, accompanied by percussion. An ehona song. Reasonable quality recording but with weak signal and some distortion.Koitabu and/or MotuField recordings; LamentsSeligman, Charles Gabriel3'50"Daniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904Brown wax cylinderDaniels Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea 1904 Cylinder Collection (C62)British Library
This song may be discussed and transcribed in Charles G. Seligmann, 'The Melanesians of British New Guinea', Cambridge University Press, 1910:152.There are two photos of Igo Gow in the British Museum (Oc,B119.43 and Oc,B119.52).

These include all recordings identified as Motu, as well as Koita ones, because of the possible sharing of genres. Unidentified recordings also were included.