The Story of Gavu   Told by Jakob Mua Laopu


Jakob Mua 1966



In February 1967, Jakob (Iakop) Mua of Gavu mens house recorded the story of the move of his ancestors from Lamogai ridge near the centre of New Britain to Gavu ridge which lies about ten miles inland from the north Kaliai coast. His account is a nasinga, believed by Mua and the other people of Gavu to the historically accurate. It goes as follows:


I want to tell you the story of my ancestors. They came from the Lamogai area, from two hamlets named Ruvualu and Akisuru. At this time there was a war and people fought constantly with spears. Finally a bigman named Avio called together all his brothers and all his children and he said, This is a time of sorrow for us. Our lives are not good and we cannot travel freely. Before we lived well, but now war has come to us and I am confused and uncertain what to do. What will become of us here? Id like for us to leave this place.


His kinsmen replied, Very well, you lead us and we will search until we find a good place to live. Avio replied, All right. Lets try it. Lets go." So he led his followers away from Ruvualu. They travelled, with the warriors carrying their spears and shields, until they reached a place where he told two men, You two stay here. I will lead the others still farther on. A bit later he told another man, You stay here. You marry and live here and later tell the story of my journey. This was at Noku. It was inhabited, so this man remained there. A second man remained at Viliku.


Then Avio took the rest of his kin and they continued on though the forest, crossing many rivers both large and small. Finally they forded a large river, the Vanu, and climbed to the top of Gavu ridge. When they reached the top he called his followers together and they looked back along their route. They saw that the place from which they had come was far away, so Avio said My children, I think we can settle on this mountain.


Now no one lived on the very top of this ridge, but on the side toward the Vanu river there was a village called Karahe, and on the side toward the sea there was a place called Gavu. Avio heard the voices of the Karahe people coming from the place near the Vanu and he said to his followers, "I'd like to stay here, but listen: someone is talking. This place is inhabited. We should leave, but where will we go?" They discussed the problem and decided to go down the slope toward the sea. So they moved onto the land that belonged to the true Gavu people who lived a little farther down the mountain. They went a short distance until they reached a place called Varvario. "Here! Lets stay here!"


So Avio directed his young men to begin clearing bush and cutting trees. That night they built rattan leaf shelters and slept, and at dawn they started to work again.


The bigman at Gavu, whose name was Kaoroko Parao, was out walking in the forest when he heard the sounds of stone axes ringing and falling trees. He exclaimed, "Who's that? Where are these people from? Ive not heard anyone here in our forest before. No! We are the only ones who live here. The people of Karahe live over there, so it is not them. Who are these people? I'd better go and find out who they are."


So he walked up to the top of the ridge and found them. They stood looking at each other, but neither understood the language of the other so they talked with their hands. Kaoroko Parao asked Avio's people, "Why have you come here?" Avio responded with sign language: "We came because many of our people men, women, and children died by the spear. We were being killed, so I gathered my people and we fled. We came to the top of the ridge and heard the people on the other side, but we thought that this place had no people. We came hoping to clear the land and live here in peace."


Then the bigman of Gavu, Kaoroko Parao, replied, "It's all right, brother. We have no close neighbours here. It's good that you have come. You folks live up here and well live down below. Our villages will be close to one another and we can be allies and companions." So they built good houses, they made gardens, and they established their new home.


Then Kaoroko Parao directed his followers to send women to marry into Avios lineage. After a while Avios wife had a son whom they named Kilovu. The name Kilovu means 'When Avio came he crossed many rivers.' On their trip, each time they descended a ridge they crossed a river, and then they climbed up the other side. They did this many times, and each time Avios feet splashed through they water as he crossed the river. This is the meaning of the name he gave his child. The name of my son shall be Kilovu in memory of my crossing many rivers.


When Kilovu reached adulthood he married a woman from Gavu and, when he reached full manhood, Avio died. Now at this time Kilovu had only one wife, so he sent for many women to come and marry him until finally he had nine wives. Then his thoughts turned to the village of Gering in Avelalu, and he asked for a woman there named Sisivua. He said to the people there, I wish to marry this woman and the people of Gering agreed. They brought her to him together with the masked spirit named Anisapa. When Sisivuas father was the bigman of Gering, Anisapa was treated as follows: if on one day it was fed pork, then the next day its mouth was rubbed with human flesh. They had to kill someone. Or, if was fed human flesh on one day, the following day they rubbed its mouth with pork. That was the practice associated with this mask. They did this in Gering and threw the bones into the hollow trunk of a tree named Noang. The trunk of this tree was full to the top with human bones because this masked spirit ate men all men.


They brought Sisivua and this masked spirit to Gavu for the wedding. As she brought the spirit with her, Kilovu announced a new custom. "All right, from now on when we feed the masked spirit all you women must run away. But my wife must remain with the spirit." This woman was from another place, and when she came she was not treated as the true Gavu women were. When it was time for the masked spirit to eat, the Gavu women fled. Only Sisivua remained with the men to feed the mask.


Some time had passed when one day Kilovu bought many young pigs and distributed them among his wives telling them, "You nine women can no longer live with me. You must go to the Pose river and live at Unloloi in Kaorai and feed the pigs there." He built a pig enclosure on this hill and sent nine of his wives there to feed the pigs. Only his wife Sisivua lived with him in Varvari in Gavu. Years passed as he waited for these pigs to mature and multiply. Now there were not just nine pigs. Instead of one pig, a wife might have one or two or more. He had also placed pigs with his kinsmen too. Finally, when the many pigs were numerous and large he announced a huge feast. He sent a croton leaf as a message to the place of his origins, to Ruvualu and Akisuru. So all those people came to Varvari in Gavu to attend the feast announced by Kilovu and held in honour of his father, Avio. As people came to the feast. They passed through many villages and invited all the people there to attend too. By the time everyone arrived at Gavu the forest was full of people. There weren't just a few in the bush; the forest was nothing but people.


The evening of the ceremony they began to sing and dance the murmur [mock warfare, dancing with spears]. It was late at night when a child -- not Kilovu's child but one of his group -- was kidnapped. The singing continued until dawn when Kilovu distributed pigs and food. The people took their gifts and began leaving, and the parents of the kidnapped boy began searching for him in vain. When they realized that he was not there people began to say,


"Oh, someone has stolen him." They followed the kidnappers and caught them about halfway down the road. "Why did you take this child?" they asked, and the kidnappers replied, "We must have him."


No! You must return him.


The kidnappers were insistent and they carried the child away. When they reached their village they sent word back to Kilovu, and he said, "It's all right. He is doing as I have done. The child may stay with you, for he is following back along my path and returning to the place of my origins. He may go back there for I will remain here."


When Kilovu's feast was over it was time for everyone to go home. However, nine men remained behind, for Kilovu had asked them not to leave. When everyone else was gone, he told the nine men, All right. Get ready. Then he called one of his wives. "Come and carry this mans food. You will marry him and you two will leave together" When those two had left, another man stood up and Kilovu called another woman. "You carry this mans food and you two go. She is yours. Marry her and you two go." So he distributed his nine wives among the men he had chosen.


In time Kilovu and Sisivua had three children: one son and two daughters. The sons name was Aplem Gileme. One daughter was named Masingle and the others name was Aituatua. Masingle married a man from the far side of Lumos where her descendants still live today. She bore Kilagi who was the mother of Silo who is still living. Aituatua married a man from Akivlik and she bore two sons, Tovola the oldest and Aresi. Gileme was the father of Laopu. Laopu was the father of Mua, Solou, Sieri, and Ponda: four sons. Thats the end of my story.