Lindsay Smith

Rookie (December 16,1939 / Mataura, Southland, New Zealand)

Hagen Magistrate - Poem by Lindsay Smith

In 1975 my wife & daughter of 2 years & I went to Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea. Locals in that area only saw their first European after WW2. We'd met Andrew Kei, in Port Morseby @ the Government accommodation.

We invited Andrew to bring his family for a meal soon after we arrived. He brought his wife & his mother to our place. His wife spoke English but his mother only spoke the local language.

Andrew was from the first group of young men who had been to high school in Hagen & because he'd done well academically he had been away to study law & had returned to serve his community.

Some of his judgements upset people & his car was often stoned. The police vehicles,4WDs were often stoned too.

Andrew's mother sat on the floor with our daughter who was crying & spoke to her in the local language gently. I asked Andrew what his mother was saying.

I noticed that his mother has some digits missing from her fingers as he translated & I asked what happened.

His mother realised that he was translating what she was saying so she explained that when Andrew's father had died she had taken an axe & cut off the first digit of her left thumb & she went on to explain that she had chopped off other digits when she lost various other members of her family.

We often stopped to talk with Andrew's wife & mother when we went to the open market to buy produce & we were well accepted by the locals.

I usually carried our daughter on my shoulders. One day when we were in the market she asked, 'daddy, why are the ladies touching my legs? ' I said, without thinking, 'that's to see if you'd be good to eat.'

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 2, 2012

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