IDRC Pan Asia Networking sponsorship


Home page

Manus province

continuing from Chapter 1

The Paliau Movement

  by:  Kakak Kais, Manus, Papua New Guinea April 1998

CHAPTER TWO:  Contemporary Piliau Movement:  the status quo

By:  Kakak Kais, Manus, Papua New Guinea
April 1998

The establishment of the Baluan Native Village Council in 1951 was followed immediately by the opening of a co-operative for marketing of copra and setting up of a trade store. All these developments together with Paliau's election as Council president tied him down with council work, thus interfering somewhat with his concentration on the work of the movement. This state of things, however, did not in anyway dim or eclipse the fact that the Movement was a part of him. In any case, due to his added responsibilities he did not give his full attention to the Movement's work and so it lost momentum and lapsed into dormancy. Although the other Wusiai and Matangkor villages which entered the Movement from 1950 onwards were provided the necessary briefings and guidance about 'the work of 1946' the initial fiery spirit of excitement had died down somewhat.

On 15 April, 1978 the Paliau Movement was once more given a new lease of life. The previous year Paliau's bid for election to Parliament had failed, however, and this was the sign that the man had lost the level of influence and authority that he once wielded. A young educated Mwanus, Paliau Lukas 10 played a leading role in the Movement's resurgence at this time and, it was he who, with Paliau Maloat's blessings, came up with an idea which materialised into Makasol, an acronym for Manus Kastam Kansol. The reason given for its formation was the realisation of the fact that majority of the Movement's adherents no longer stood in awe of 'the old man'11 as the authoritative charismatic leader that he once was.

Paliau Lukas says the Movement was, and still is, the Paliau Movement, but Makasol was a political wing of the Movement which aimed to rally people together as well as come up with an alternative form of government which was orderly and would ensure that basic services which was advocated in 1946, reached the grassroots people in the rural areas. The Movement was 'another eye of the Manus people to get the government on track and back into action' (OT: Lukas, 1996). What, perhaps, is meant by this statement is that the government should be running along the line that Paliau Maloat wanted and Paliau had always preferred the local government system which had a set of rules to guide people in their daily life as well as to steer the implementation of any development Programmes and projects in the community. The fact that people complained of goods and services not reaching them was read by the Movement to mean that there was no guiding rules and principles laid down to facilitate services to the people.

As stated in the 'Papa Kastam Tumbuna Rul', the Makasol constitution, the alternative government system advocated by the Movement would include the 'lapans' (big men) of each village playing a greater role in the running of the province. The provincial government would be made up of representatives who would be just 'mausman' (spokesmen) but with no real powers of their own. The powers of decision making would be given them by the traditional village lapans. Included in the gathering of lapans is the idea of 'pilapan' (high ranking women). If it ever existed in Manus, it must have been traditionally rare, taking note of the fact that Manus is a patrilineal society. But then, one must remember that this is part of the new way of doing things. Innovation enables the Movement to exist, thrive and move forward. The inclusion of pilapans is Paliau Maloat's and, therefore the Movement's recognition of the women's role in society and a way of raising their social status so that it encourages them to be more active in the community.

The spiritual component of the Movement was also revived, although it differed somewhat from the form it had at the beginning. It was in 1982 that Paliau Maloat came up with the concept of Win, Wang, Wong which, come to look at it, closely resembles the Christian Trinity. Why is this? The leaders of the movement including a number of adherents and ex-followers who were interviewed responded that they have no idea as to why 'the old man' came up with that concept. Paliau Lukas however, attempted an explanation by recalling 'the old man's' question "Why call the creator by the name given by foreigners? Why not have a name with which people would identify better?" (OT: Lukas, 1996). The 'old man' therefore declared that because God is spirit, and spirit is like the wind, logically he should be called Win. He is the breath in us which keeps us alive. Once the breath stops we are finished.

Jesus became known as 'Wang Yesus' and the third person of the trinity became 'Wong Holi Spirit').12 The doctrine of Win, Wang, Wong is published in a white booklet titled 'Kalopeu 13 - Manus Kastam Kansol Stori' which still retains the elements of the long story of God revealed at the launching of the Movement in 1946. One of the Movement's leaders, Peter Kuwoh, 14 claims this to be the creation story as seen by the Movement. His comment was "The Christians have their Creation in the Bible and we also have ours" (OT: Kuwoh, 1996).

According to Paliau Lukas 'the old man' wanted a religion which the Manus could identify themselves with it, fit into it, practice it, live it and fear it - unlike the christian religion were people only go to worship on Saturdays and Sundays but do not live out their faith daily in action (OT: Lukas, 1996). However, as it appears, the problem about appreciating the kind of religion that Paliau Maloat wanted is that unless one grew up within the Movement and clearly understands the man's ideas, the whole concept would appear rather remote and strange. This is because modern education is accompanied by the christian concept of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and, anything that deviates from this is considered as fake, false or devilish. But then again, the acceptance of any religion or religious concept or faith requires continuous propagation and proselytisation on the part of those who are introducing it. It must also be borne in mind that the Manusians like any other Melanesians, are pragmatic people and they need to see to believe. Religion must answer to their situations and needs.

The Catholic Liturgy which was used in the Paliau church at the initial stages was omitted in 1982 when the doctrine of Win, Wang, Wong was formulated and the name Win Neisen15 was coined. The adopted Catholic mass was replaced by a gathering of devotees known as Hamamas, comprising three parts - Hamamas, Study Group and Meeting; with Hamamas being the worship component of the whole gathering.

Today the adherents believe strongly that a better world and a better government is coming and that one must begin preparing now. The important part of preparation is to faithfully follow and live by the teachings of Paliau Maloat. A person ought to live in total harmony and unity with his neighbours. It is important that he maintains a clear thinking and that he is physically healthy. Man should be physically, mentally and spiritually healthy at all times because he is the home of the trinity - Win, Wang, Wong. Everyday one should spend at least two hours to think about the Creator Win, praise him and report (Pray) to him.

As a man lives his daily life there are six points of Paliau Maloat's teachings (may also be taken as basic rules) that must be followed or adhered to in order to live a fulfilling life whilst awaiting the coming of the new world. Firstly, a man must 'luk stret', which may either mean co-operation, paying attention or being obedient. Secondly, a person must love his neighbour. Thirdly, 'pilai' (joke) with cousins is allowed as it is considered healthy and it promotes as well as maintains healthy relationship among the family. This should also be extended to include joking and establishing friendly relationships even with enemies. Fourthly, 'tok tru' (truth) must be practised at all times. It means the state of not having to lie but more importantly it relates to the words of Jesus being the ultimate truth. In this case, therefore, a person is obligated to spend at least two hours daily to worship, praise and share Christ's word with others. In line with this the adherents of the Movement meet from 7am - 8am in the morning and 4pm - 5pm for daily Hamamas.

Fifthly, according to the Movement's definition a person experiences true 'hamamas' (happiness), if he faithfully keeps the preceding rules 1 - 4. Sixth is freedom (state of bliss) which just follows on from hamamas. Freedom means attaining a state of no sickness, hunger, aging or dying (OT: Kutan, 1996). These six basic points may be reduced to having the knowledge of Win and paying attention and being obedient - thus the foundation of real bliss.


It may be said that the Movement is at the cross-roads. There are various factors at play which may have some bearing on the activities of the Movement. As far as may be determined, there are two main catalysts - the existing religious groupings and the provincial government systems.

The provincial government - until the introduction of the new changes in 1996 - was almost always in opposition to the Movement. Perhaps, to put it the another way, the Movement always tried to make its views known but they were either not accepted or not recognised. If the provincial government recognised that the Movement had something to offer the people of Manus, the authorities did not show it. The provincial government from 1982 onwards was effectively under the control of Stephen Pokawin who had acceded to the post of premier soon after his election as the Member for Lele-Masih constituency. The government's unwillingness to consider the Movement's views was seen by the adherents and their leaders to mean that the authorities did not recognise their existence as useful constituents of the province.

Since the Movement was not getting any positive feedback it began to make some reactionary moves. The Movement disapproved of the introduction of the community government because they saw the words 'community' and 'communist' as being related in meaning. Based on this understanding and also because the Movement was not getting a fair hearing, Pokawin's government was branded a 'komunis gavman' (communist government). Pokawin was regarded by Paliau as someone who 'no save harim tok' (does not listen). The more the government was not prepared to give a hearing to the Movement's views the more determined the leaders stood to oppose the authorities. They even went as far as threatening to take over the provincial government buildings and install their own people in order to run their own system of government; in reaction to which the riot squad was called in from Rabaul to ensure that things did not get out of hand.

The strong stand taken by the provincial government only propelled the Movement leaders to encourage their adherents that they need to stand firm and provide an alternative. The government's uncompromising position was taken to mean that it was acting stubborn to cover up its weakness. In its estimation, the Movement believed that the then premier refused to accept advice from it because it would appear demeaning for him. He had to maintain a firm stand as a way of protecting his image as a leader and an educated person. As an educated leader why should he accept advice or guidance from Win Neisen (the Movement), particularly when the majority of the Manus people still regard the group as being cultist. So, this attitude coupled with the oppositional relationship between the two parties worked to the advantage of the Movement, in that the leaders were encouraged to mobilise their people and keep them together as a solid group. As the opposition continued, the Movement became more convinced that it is a force to be reckoned with.

The leaders managed to keep the Movement together, consolidated their efforts and, in the 1992 national elections, they formed the base on which Martin Thompson stood and entered the National Parliament as the Member for Manus Open. Of course, the idea of 'Titan for Titan'16 also helped in Thompson's success. While in parliament Thompson was a close confidant of Paias Wingti and the advisor-cum-legal counsel of the Wingti - Chan government at that time. The Movement claims that the changes leading to the institution of the new provincial government system was its idea which Thompson promised that he would convince both Wingti and Chan to have it adopted. The aim of the whole move was to use parliamentary legislation in order to make major changes to the provincial government system and in so doing, among other things, all premiers positions would automatically be abolished and in the process Pokawin would no longer be Premier for Manus. When the changes came about, the Movement patted itself on the back in jubilation. They were satisfied that through one of their leaders, Thompson, they had eventually succeeded in deposing someone who had opposed them for a number of years. Coincidentally, the provincial member, Arnold Marsipal, was a national government minister and so arrangements were made whereby Thompson became interim governor of the province under the new system.

The other main catalyst is the presence and the activities of various christian denominations and religious groupings in Manus. It may be recalled that when the Movement was launched in 1946 only the Catholics, Liebenzell Lutherans and the Seventh Day Adventists were active. Today, there is a proliferation of christian denominations and religious groups. However, the leaders of the Movement do not see this situation as a threat to its (the Movement's) existence. They take this as a positive challenge for them to stand firm on the Movement's teachings as expounded by 'the old man' - the teachings which they believe runs parallel to what the christian denominations propagate. They say that the fruits will tell as to who is right and should be followed (OT: Kutan, 1996).

Any adherent will proudly claim that crime statistics in Manus presently show that there is no record of anyone from the Movement communities being convicted and jailed for murder, theft, rape or any other crime. This, they say, goes to show that Christian denominations preach a lot but members of their congregations miserably fail to live according to the dictates of Christian ethics and moral principles. Christians in practice do not seem to show who they are and what they claim to be.


Two other movements stand to be compared with the Paliau Movement - they are the Tommy Kabu Co-operative Movement in the Purari Delta and the Yali Rai Coast Rehabilitation Scheme.

The records of their backgrounds show that the leaders where all policemen by training and had served in the force before WWII reached the shores of New Guinea in 1942. Each of them had also had some experience of having been employed as a labourer. Both Tommy and Yali attended mission schools whereas Paliau never had any classroom education. When the war came Tommy and Yali found their way into Australia in the company of Australian Army officers. It was in Australia that their eyes were opened to the whiteman's world. Paliau on the other hand could not get out of Rabaul and its environs. He served under the Japanese whereas Tommy and Yali served with the Allied Forces.

Separately, the three men had amassed alot of experience both before and during the war.

When the war ended in 1945, the three men returned home to their people with a new outlook to life. Each of them had a set plan as to what he would do for his community. Individually, of course, none of them was prepared to go back to the old way of life. Each of them had his mind focused on changes which would ensure that their people made a clean break from the burdensome traditional ways of the past and set them on the 'new way' towards the future.

Each man gathered around him, initially, a nucleus of right-hand men who assisted in the propagation and promotion of the 'new way' concept. Paliau made full use of the existing organisation of the people. There were other men who had taken initiatives for change and all he did was to get them together and provide the overall leadership role. For the religious component of his initiative Paliau had the advantage of the Catholic Catechists and the adherents of the Catholic faith. The Catechists provided the necessary manpower for him to propagate his version of the Christian religion. So although Paliau's aims were clearly secular the religious element was regarded as necessary for the achieving of the set aims and goals.

Tommy Kabu, like Paliau, initially gathered around him a group of young men who had had outside experiences both before and during the war, and were ready to assist in the institution of change for the better. They were known as the 'New Men' (Steinbauer, 1971:30). Kabu's initiative was "a movement which from the very beginning emphasised the practical aims - mainly economic development - and in which the cargo myth and cargo ideology up to now have not played any part at all." (Christiansen, 1969:49). While in Australia, he had learnt that what the whiteman enjoyed was achieved through sheer hard work. So for Kabu the new way towards achieving a lifestyle similar to that of the white man was through economic development, in the form of co-operative efforts of the six tribes of his Purari area.

Yali also had a nucleus of men appointed to assist him when he initiated the Rai Coast Rehabilitation Scheme. He was convinced that the white man would assist because he had received assurances from Australian Officers while he was in Australia, even though it was all war propaganda. He understood, of course, that what the whiteman enjoyed was gained through sheer hard work. But obstacles to Yali's scheme lay in the fact the Rai Coast and the surrounding areas had experienced many cult activities in the past, and his initiative was read by the people as another way of linking to cargo myths. His experiences in Australia had strengthened his belief that active effort and purposeful job should be carried out if his country was to reach the same technical material standards as the whites had, and he realised that this could not be done without their help (Christiansen, 1969:44). But in the end the scheme did not work out as initially envisaged mainly because his people believed in him as a cult figure and furthermore, his disappointment with the failure of promised help drove him into the arms of the cult oriented groups in the Rai Coast.

All three men - Paliau, Tommy and Yali - meant well for their people. They wanted their communities to experience a new lifestyle, but their problems lay in how to get there. Tommy Kabu did not realise that economic development involved a lot of expertise in management, technical and strategic planning than merely telling the people to get together and contribute agricultural produce for marketing to earn cash. Yali Singina himself did not realise that all the verbal excitement about natives being assisted to live like whitemen was all pure propaganda. Paliau Maloat was not ready to counter the influence of the Noise Cult which placed a black mark against his initiative and raised suspicions from both the missions and the colonial administrative authorities. The colonial administration, for its part, lacked the technical manpower and other necessary resources to support and guide these three men. On top of it all Paliau, Tommy and Yali did not realise that they were moving too fast to achieve change - much to the discomfort of the colonial administration and the missions.


In 1984 Paliau Maloat publicly declared that he was the 'last prophet' of the world, although what he intended this to mean is not clear (OT: Manuai, 1996, also OT: Lukas, 1996). He also told his followers that the province as well as the country was entering a crucial seven years period and that they should be ready. It was not clear as to what he was driving at, but everyone now knows that towards the seven-year period, on 1 November 1991, Paliau died.

Well before he died (he sensed that his time was near) he selected and appointed a number of faithful and educated young men, and charged them with the responsibility to hold the Movement together in his absence. This collective leadership 17 is made up of Kisokau Pochapon (President), Peter Nanu Kuwoh (Deputy President), Kisapai Kutan (Chairman - Hamamas), Harold Titley (Head Teacher), Noan Kanawi (Executive Officer), Martin Thompson (Legal Advisor) and Nauna Titley (President - Pilapan Club). Other members of the executive include Roy Peliokai, Andy Marsipal, Steven Lapeiap and Thomas Pokusman. It is interesting to note that he did not set any new goals and aims to be pursued by the Movement from now onwards. Upon their appointment the leaders were told that they had listened dutifully to his words and it was their duty to presently see 'that the provisions of the Las Save' (The last knowledge) are fulfilled (OT: Pochapon, 1996). The 'Las Save' contains Paliau's visions, thoughts and plans which materialised in the formation of the Movement and its development along the line of Nupala Pasin concept, and his teachings which are a guide for all adherents, preparing them for the new government of King Yesus and the ushering in of the new world order.

Basically, the 'Las Save' is broken up into three phases. Phase one covers development and progress from the launching of the Movement (establishment of local government - 1950; school - 1951; aidpost - 1952, co-operative society - 1953) 18 up till the attainment of nationhood in 1975. Phase two involves character building together with the pursuit of physical, mental and spiritual development of the person, while the last phase refers to the focusing on the new government, which will come into being, not in heaven but here in this world (OT: Pochapon, 1996).

When Paliau launched the Movement in 1946, he wanted his people to reach the stage where they would enjoy a style of living similar to that being experienced by the white man. He wanted the people to have their own government and run their own lives without being governed by outsiders, so this led to the local government being established. The Status of a single independent nation was achieved on 16 September, 1975 and Manus and other provinces have their own provincial governments. He wanted to see his people getting an education. In line with this a school was set up on Baluan 19 and today Manus may be said to be an 'educated' province. To take care of people's physical health he saw the need for health facilities to be set up in the community where the people are. An aidpost was built on Baluan. Today Manus is adequately serviced in terms of health services. He saw the need for his people to realise economic benefits by working together, and so the co-operative society began on Baluan. It was difficult to handle co-operative transactions although the purpose of the set-up was good.

Paliau's vision for his people to experience the comforts similar to that of the white man has been achieved to a great extent. Getting an education today is no problem. There are aidposts and health centres to cater for health needs. People are living either in houses made of semi-permanent or permanent materials. When travelling by sea they use outboard motors, and use cars, trucks and buses on land. But Paliau saw that something was still not right - and which should be made right. The Movement and its leaders must concentrate today on the character building. People still need to think straight as well as behave and do things in a way that ensures existence of love, peace and happiness within the community. The responsibility of the movement now is 'to train a person to live and do things like a human being' because if he does not then he descends to the level of an animal. This training begins with the adherents and their children (OT: Pochapon, 1996). The whole concept is really a perfectionist one and may appear somewhat difficult to achieve but 'the old man' felt that people did not seriously train themselves to live perfect lives and so be able to help others do likewise. There can only be peace and harmony in the community if a person learns to think right, talk right, behave right and treat others right. Whatever a person does he must always bear in mind that it is being done for the communal benefit.

Paliau had always wanted his people to practically live in unity and experience real oneness. He had looked forward to see people exercising respect for each other, listening to each other and caring for each other, but, alas, toward the end of his life it appeared that this was not so. The collective leadership of the movement presently has a major duty to fulfil in the area of character training and building, laying emphasis on morals and ethics. It is a daunting task to focus on perfection, or somewhere near there.  Will it be achieved?

CHAPTER THREE:  The movement and the future.  Will it survive and expand?

It would be well to briefly look back at the general atmosphere right after the war, when the people had just lived through an event which they had never experienced before in their lives. After the war they were placed in a situation where they were able to compare the pre-war conditions as against the experiences during the war in terms of the whiteman's behaviour, the material goods he possessed and his attitude towards the natives. They also saw and mingled with men of their own skin colour who behaved, lived and did things like the white men. The Manus people also compared their new experience with their traditional way of life and saw that there was a huge difference. Individually, therefore, they had their minds made up to be in possession of, as well as enjoy these material goods. The war had already prepared the soil for any initiative that points in the direction of permanently benefiting from these goods as well as knowing the source from which they came.

At that time the development and expansion of the Movement at the initial stages was helped very much by the introduction of the ideas from the Noise Cult. There were also people who were readily recruited to provide their services in the work of the Movement. Among these were the Catholic Catechists and those who had had employment experiences within the Colonial culture outside of their village environment. The general membership of the Movement had initially been adherents of the Catholic faith; meaning, they had already been given some insight as to what the introduced religion contains.

From its launching onwards, the Movement had only one inspired, strong charismatic leader who had vision and he 'save rot' (knows the way). The message behind the Nupala Pasin (New Way) concept was disseminated in a style and manner which appeared somewhat secretive right from the start. As such it built up curiosity among the people who were eager to know why there was so much secrecy surrounding this new initiative. The situation at that particular period of time made it possible for the rapid expansion of the Movement.

Manus today has come a long way in terms of economic, but more so in terms of political and social progress as well as spiritual development. Paliau Maloat, the Founding Father of the Movement has passed on from the scene, and the singular charismatic leadership has been replaced by a collective leadership of educated young men. Paliau's advice to the young leaders was that they should not try to proselytise for the purpose of increasing the membership or expanding the Movement's influence to cover new areas. According to Kisokau Pochapon, the collective leadership did ask 'the old man' for specific instructions to embark on spreading the Movement ideas and teachings to other Manusians who need to know about it.  His reply was a flat 'NO'. Pochapon quoted him as saying "You know my teaching. Keep them and guard them. If they (other Manusians) want to know about the 'save' (knowledge) which I have imparted to you, they themselves should come to you and then you can teach them. But they will know anyway - give them time".  This is Paliau's way of saying that other people will judge from the practical living style of the adherents as to what the Movement stands for. Again, Paliau's use of the method of secrecy or semi-secrecy is being maintained as a means of playing on human curiosity to know about the Movement.

And so, in line with 'the old man's' advice the leaders made an undertaking not to embark either individually or collectively, on membership recruitment akin to the Christian outreach programme. They will, however, continue to carry out religious instructions in schools, especially where their children are enrolled in great numbers. Since they have been advised not to push their ideas on other people outside of the Movement, it would appear that the group itself may exist but the question is, will it expand? There is no straight answer to this question, but there is one possible way - they (the adherents) have to practically live the Paliau teachings in their daily lives both individually and collectively; and in this way, perhaps, they may attract people into the movement. In any case, the internal population growth should be expected when the present young adult members marry and start families of their own.

Prospects for Survival and Expansion

Under the collective leadership each leader was given a specific area of responsibility (be it as president, teacher, executive officer, etc). Each one is expected to carry out his line of duty conscientiously and to the best of his ability in order to ensure the existence and expansion of the Movement. Collective leadership is new to the structure of the Movement, but then again it is part of the new way of doing things - a new style of managing, controlling and leading the Movement onwards. In this case, therefore, more heads are better than one.

It is indeed interesting to note how Paliau deliberately did not specifically groom one particular individual as his successor, even when he had all the right and authority to do so. Why did he not do it? Both his biological son John and adopted son Jim never took much interest in the Movement. But there was Paliau Lukas, Martin Thompson, Kisokau Pochapon and others who made themselves available. All those Movement leaders who were interviewed admitted that the 'old man' never confided in them individually as to who would lead the adherents in his place. They all acknowledge that Paliau's wisdom directed him not to appoint any one individual to singly assume the leadership role because none of them possessed the charismatic leadership qualities that he had. Furthermore, they all admit that 'the old man' was a class of his own - perhaps divinely inspired and appointed (OT: Kutan, 1996, also Pochapon, 1996).

Whether the young leaders read it or not 'the old man' had reasons as to why he could not appoint an individual leader to guide the movement single-handed. It may be assumed here that Paliau, over a period of time, had observed the young men himself and found that none of them possessed fully all the qualities of leadership that he exercised from 1946 right up to the 1980s. In fact "Paliau was a specially gifted leader. He had great energy, unusual organising ability and a remarkable gift for oratory." (UN Report on TNG, 1951:26) None of the young leaders possesses all these qualities individually.

Paliau himself also recognised that times had changed. Gone were the days when adherents would sit like statues and listen to him speak 'without batting an eyelid', as it were. Even in the early 1950's there were actually signs of dissension between the Wusiai and the Mwanus, and even among the Wusiai themselves; but Paliau was able to act quickly and decisively, and managed to get the situation under control. Whatever he said commanded respect and instant obedience. But Paliau knew that singular authoritarian leadership (emulating his style) of the Movement would not work in Manus in our present day and age. Perhaps, it should be stated here that collective leadership is a suitable and best option, particularly now that Paliau is no longer around. During his days as head of the Movement, the centralised authoritarian leadership was tolerated simply because it was his Movement, so to speak. However, with his passing it is considered wise to have a collective leadership with balanced representation of 'Mwanus - Matangkor - Wusiai', hence, the preservation of oneness among the adherents and consolidation of unity within the Movement.

The subject of leadership appears settled but the next question is, how will the Movement survive? There are a number of positive factors which may contribute towards the survival and existence of the movement. Firstly, the Movement's Nupala Pasin (New Way) concept has been and continues to be a vehicle for development and the drive forward. Along the line of existence there is always a new way of doing things - of addition of elements to or their subtraction from the Movement as an entity. The biggest positive factor in favour of the Movement is that it is not rigid - as far as possible it is flexible. Perhaps it should be staed here that the movement will soon go out of existence if it does have a totally conservative tendency. But upon observation of the movement's progress and development up to the present time, it may be safely stated that it (the Movement) is open to change, when and where appropriate. Because of its tendency to accept and accommodate change, the Movement is able to exist without being unnecessarily isolated from the rest of the community.

The second positive factor is the process of documentation of the Movement's ideas, beliefs and teachings for posterity. The leaders who were attentive to Paliau's words are intent on putting them in written form for the benefits of the future generations who did not have either the opportunity or the privilege of listening to 'the old man'. In fact, the process of documentation by the Movement has already started, in a way, with the publication of the 'Kalopeu: Manus Kastam Kansol Stori'. The third positive factor is the continuing emphasis on the instruction of the young generation who are children of adherents. These teachings become part and parcel of their overall education process so that they do not lose sight of what the Movement stands for.

The fourth positive factor in favour of the Movement appears in the form of what is known as Integral Human Development (IHD).  Under Pokawin's leadership in the former provincial government system a policy on IHD was formulated with the aim of basically attaining man's physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Putting it more simply, man needs a peaceful community to live in as well as have easy access to various social services facilities and amenities in the area of health and education. He may be able to produce enough food for daily home consumption but requires assistance in the area of cash cropping and other income earning activities. Man is also a religious being and, as such, must be assisted in his pursuit of spiritual fulfilment. All these ideas were in fact contained in the Movement's plans and programmes when it was launched in 1946 (Annual Report to the UN, 1952:276; Kanasa, MS, 1991:6; also OT: Pochapon, 1996).

The fifth positive factor appears to be contained in the new provincial government system introduced at the beginning of 1996, the aim of which is to eliminate bottle necks, thus facilitating flow of goods and services directly to the 'grassroots'. Both the leaders and the adherents emphatically claim that this was the Movement's idea and therefore its contribution, through the late Martin Thompson, towards better governance of communities nationwide. In as far as it relates to Manus, the Movement stands ever ready to assist in the administration of the new provincial government system and the implementation of development activities (OT: Pochapon, 1996; also OT: Kutan, 1996). Pooling all the positive factors together one can see that even if the Movement does not expand (following the Founder's last words), it appears to have the environment and conditions in which to exist and thrive.

Hindrances to Survival and Expansion

As far as the Movement leaders are concerned they do not see any negative aspects which may be considered as being possible threats to the existence and the progress of the group (OT: Pochapon, 1996). They hold this conviction because they appear to be sure that the adherents are solidly united. They stand on Paliau Maloat's claim of record achievements in terms of bringing development in the area of education, health, business and local government which eventually led to the independence of this nation. Despite this display of confidence it is safe to say that there are existing negative aspects which may prove to be of hindrance to the movement. It would be prudent, therefore, for the leaders to be aware of them.

One must begin with the existence and proliferation of Christian denominations and religious groupings in Manus. The presence of various christian denominations and their influence upon the Manus' population is a reality that should not be overlooked or passed-off as unimportant. The proselytising campaigns of these various christian denominations increased during the last ten years and stepped up particularly from 1990 onwards. 20 Leading in the area of outreach are the Pentecostal Churches and Holiness groups, with the Evangelical Church of Manus (ECOM), Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) and the Catholic charismatics also making contributions. All these groups adopt and follow a fundamentalist approach in the preaching of the gospel of Christ. They all strongly believe that the world is coming to an end 21 and, that born-again (regenerated) Christians have the responsibility under Christ's 'Great Commission' 22 to urgently reach out to both those who have heard of the gospel, but more particularly, those who do not know God. According to Christian believers the adherents of Paliau Movement are categorised as those who are lost and need to know about the salvation which God provided through his son Jesus Christ. 23 The Christians therefore feel the sense of absolute urgency and the moral responsibility to reach out to the so-called 'unchurched' and share with them that there is eternal happiness in heaven and one can only enter by faith in Jesus as 'the (only), way, the truth and the life.'24

The second aspect of possible hindrance of the movement is that of prominent people who were adherents at one stage, but who have since 'come to see the light' (OT: Pokanau, 1996). They have been converted to the Christian faith and are part of the efforts to make inroads into the Movement area. There are quite a number but, perhaps, the mention of a few will suffice to show us the existence of threats to the Movement from ex-adherents. One of these is Paliau Lukas, whose father (Lukas Chauka) was the first Mouk that Paliau Maloat picked as his right-hand man (OT: Lukas, 1996). Paliau Lukas played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the Movement in 1978. He left the Movement in 1985, a year after 'the old man' publicly declared that he was the last prophet of the world. He (Paliau Lukas) now worships with ECOM, having been vice-president of the church at one stage. He contemplates returning to the Movement, but this time with the Bible in hand to lead his people to the personal God of the scriptures (OT: Lukas, 1996). Paliau Lukas is known to be a strong willed person as well as a persuasive personality and, should he return to the Movement as he said he would, there is a possibility that he would cause a rift which the Movement leaders may find difficult to mend. There are other former adherents such as John Pokanau of Buke, a respected community leader and currently President of the ECOM; Peter Kanawi of Bunai, former Deputy Provincial Commissioner of Manus and presently pastors a group of his own people under ECOM; Francis Posanau of Pere, currently represents his people in the Provincial Government and is also an executive in the Catholic Charismatic group. One other former adherent who is in the Baptist pastoral ministry is Kumalau Tawali of Timoenai. These are influential personalities who can easily have an impact on people with whom they come into contact.

Modern education has played a very prominent role in the lives of the people from the Movement areas, many of whom have found employment in other parts of Papua New Guinea and reside outside Manus, only going home during recreation leave and christmas holidays. While residing in the urban setting they have their own interests to pursue, which may not always be in line with the Movement guidelines and teachings. It is true that most of them are raising families outside the village environment and they and their young children do not have the grasp of the movement's concept and teachings. The Movement's instructions on the moral and ethical standards appear convincing but the question is that the young generation of today who are taught on western scientific reasoning from a young age may find it difficult to compromise with or even accept the line of explanations offered by the Movement's teachers.

Another hindering negative aspect which should be taken into account is the attitude and stance of the provincial government authorities since the resurgence of the Movement from 1978 onwards. It must be noted that despite the change in the provincial government system, Stephen Pokawin continues to play a prominent leadership role at both the national and provincial level. 25 In addition there are prominent public servants within the provincial government who were pivotal in the government's opposition to the Movement's suggestions that it would run a better government than is presently the case.26 It may be assumed here that so long as Pokawin remains in the political leadership ranks and, so long as the senior ranking pro-Pokawin public servants are still around in the Department of Manus, the anti-Movement sentiments and attitudes will continue to exist, even if this is not displayed openly.

Above all this is the general opposition from the wider Manus population who regard the Movement adherents as an ostracised group. Those outside the Movement regard the adherents as a 'queer bunch' dressed in white with hibiscus flowers in their hair. This is indeed an unfortunate attitude which stems from a lack of appreciation, respect and understanding. Sad to say, people with such attitudes are typical of those who fail to mingle with the Movement's adherents in order to get acquainted with their situation and understand their hopes, dreams and aspirations. It is also typical of many who call themselves Christians and yet continue to adopt and display the 'holier-than-thou' attitude towards others.

The Manus population outside the Movement circle now and then refer to an incident in 1984 which placed the Movement in bad books. The occasion was when a young Wusiai man named Tommy Drohas who upon returning from Vanuatu, told the adherents that on one particular Sunday, they were all to dress up in the group's 'mode d'habille' and wait on the beach in front of the National Broadcasting Commission station, Lorengau. They were all to focus their attention on the horizon and watch out for a certain school of dugongs that would lead the cargo laden ships into the Seeadler Harbour. A huge crowd from the general public also gathered out of curiosity and everyone waited to see the repeat of the by-gone days. From morning until dark, they (adherents) waited in vain. Then, as it is characteristic of false prophets, Tommy had to quickly give an acceptable explanation for the failure of the arrival of cargo in order to ease the minds of the tired crowd. Of course, despite the non arrival of cargo the occasion rekindled in the minds of adherents of the excitement of earlier days, and so the event in itself became a morale booster instead of being a deflation of the 'ego-balloon'.


When the Movement was launched the aims were to make a clean break from the ways of the traditional past and, through the Nupala Pasin (New Way) advance socially, economically and politically towards a level of life being experienced by the whiteman. But the ultimate goal is the perfect and harmonious living which was initially experienced by Adam and Eve. To attain this harmonious state Paliau considered it important and indeed necessary to include a religious component to the Movement's aims and goals. The ultimate may only be reached through man's healthy spiritual development. This is probably why the 'Long Story of God' remained as a strong element of the Movement, to help the people understand that man will indeed enjoy a perfect life in the future through the continuous maintaining of his relationship with his maker. Tied up to this, is the fact that he must live a disciplined life in unity with his fellowman. He must 'think straight, look straight and live straight'. (OT: Pochapon, 1996).

When Paliau Maloat addressed the Fourth Waigani Seminar on 'Politics in Melanesia', he stressed four points which are quoted here from memory: 27

  1. Ologeta man i mas ting, ting, ting waintain i go long Papa God (Everyone should direct their thought in unison to God).
  2. Ologeta man i mas wok, wok, wok wantain. (Everyone should work together).
  3. Ologeta man i mas harim tok, harim tok, harim tok wantaim. (Everyone should listen to each other).
  4. Ologeta man i mas pilai, pilai, pilai wantaim. (Everyone should relax and have fun together).

Throughout the development of the Movement, even though it lost momentum and was less active from the mid 1950s onwards, the adherents generally did not lose sight of these points, because they contain the elements of the new way. In any case the new way involves oneness, unity, co-operation, obedience, respect, self-reliance, communal efforts and all those other elements which, together evolve towards perfection. 28

Paliau, through those four points, clearly lays out his emphasis and focus on man and his efforts to deal with his human needs and condition. It is man who must make the efforts in order to better his condition so as to reach new heights in life. But man must initiate action all the time. The first step a man must take is to establish his spiritual linkage with his maker. He should direct his thoughts and make it a habit to think clean, clear and straight all the time. Once his link with his maker is in good order he must cultivate love, respect and obedience. In fact these are qualities which each person should cultivate individually.

Since individuals live together in a community, it is necessary for them to share their thoughts with each other so that they know what makes the other tick and thus rid of any barrier of suspicions or negative inclinations. In this way the element of respect is established, maintained and enhanced. Living together in a community requires everyone to work together, pooling all their resources for the benefit of everyone. The art of individuals listening to one another and being obedient to each other is important if there is to be harmony in the community. Things get done when there is obedience. Paliau also recognised that life should not be dull. It is important to have fun, relax, unwind and cultivate friendship. This should not necessarily be limited within the circle of relatives - it should be extended to others within the community and even to those outside who may not be so friendly.


Without any doubt, Paliau Maloat was a gifted individual- perhaps specially inspired to improve the lot of his people economically, socially and politically. (OT: Kutan, 1996; also Pochapon, 1996)  From the time he was orphaned, and throughout his teen and adult life, he was always observing and questioning.  From his observation and experience, one thing became confirmed in his mind - that there had to be a better way forward for his people.  He was clear in his own mind that he was the one who must take the initiative and lead them forward along the new path.  The birth of the Movement was the result of a process - that of his observations and experience from the age of seven years until 1940 - a period of 26 years!

There were two very important things that Paliau strongly believed in; they were self-reliance and self-determination. He believed in the 'do-it-yourself' concept. He believed that the native should not wait for things to be done for him, but that he must take the first step forward and stand up for himself. Economic self-reliance was one aspect of Paliau's vision for his people. In line with this he established the revolving fund. 29 He himself had experienced what money could do - it had the purchasing power to acquire new material goods and it kept a person out of jail. He may have already assumed that it was the money which enabled the whiteman to live the way he did. But it involved work; and self-reliance had to do with hard work. Paliau observed that the same energy which was being poured into numerous wasteful traditional feasts could be harnessed in a better way. Equally, the same labour that was being put into working copra for the whiteman could be redirected into a gainful purpose for both the individual and the community.

Paliau wanted co-operatives to be set up so that people in the community as a whole could economically benefit as equals. As the village community involved a whole group of people living together it was only logical that they should all develop and advance together. The various co-operative ventures which he saw in Port Moresby during his first education tour in 1949 helped to strengthen his resolve to move forward through self-reliance. His development programmes and initiatives also contained the need to have communal food supplies. In this case the mental and physical energy which was wastefully applied in the past could be redirected towards producing enough food for everyone's need - feeding both the able-bodied as well as the old, lame, blind and those others handicapped in various ways (OT: Lukas, 1996).

Paliau advocated also for the introduction of formal education and health services. He stipulated that both were indeed necessary in terms of integral human development of his people. In order for his people to be firm in self-reliance they had to have the necessary education so that they could meaningfully participate and advance in the new way towards the goal of living and enjoying the lifestyle of the whiteman (OT: Lukas, 1996). The physical health care for his people was considered important if they were to live healthy lives and contribute meaningfully towards the upkeep of the community in which they lived. As a result of his initiative both a school and an aidpost were set up on Baluan.

Paliau also pushed for self-determination for his people, which was perfectly in line with his concept of self-reliance. After his education tour of Port Moresby he returned home and initiated a kind of local government for his people. As a result of this initiative the colonial administration had to chip in quickly and formally set up the Native Local Government Council in June, 1951 on Baluan Island. The system was to later on cover the whole of the Admiralties with Paliau taking the front-line role in political leadership. His attachment to the idea of self-determination was, for the colonial administration, too fast and too early - even unrealistic at that point in time. It may be assumed that because he was full of confidence, enthusiastic and appeared resolute in his moves to implement his plans and programmes, the colonial administration feared him in the negative sense. The authorities feared losing face if they did not adequately contain and, perhaps, restrain this 'unschooled' native and slow down his progress (OT: Lukas, 1996). Even though the goals of the Movement were ostensibly secular Paliau kept in mind the significance of the spiritual element because the ultimate goal of peace, harmony, freedom and perfect government - the blissful state - depends on it. Spiritual development of his people was therefore important. This explains why, when the Catholic priest turned the Mouk people away from celebrating christmas at Sapokeleheu, Paliau took immediate steps to establish his own local church so that his people's spiritual needs may be catered for (OT: John Paliau, 1996). Spiritual discipline was of such importance that time of worship was arranged to take place everyday - with one session in the morning and another in the afternoon.30 According to John Pokanau when Paliau church came into being everything about it, except the name, was Catholic. But as time passed the people's focus was slowly turned away from God and centered on the Movement Founder. This may be attributed to the influence of the bad spirits (OT: Pokanau, 1996). But the twists and turns of the spiritual element, for Paliau, assists very much in the character building of an individual while he lives in our present society. (OT: Kutan, 1996).

According to the Movement leaders what Paliau envisaged in his secular programme have been achieved. Manus now is a political entity as a province with her people enjoying the whiteman's material wealth, although the real oneness which he showed in his model composite villages of Bunai and Peli Kawa does not seem so today. Manus people now enjoy the benefits of good education, but little did Paliau know that the problem of drugs would be a cause for great concern in schools today. The people today enjoy travelling by modern mode of both land and water transport. The Manus people have come to benefit from the vision, initiatives and effort of one man who showed them the new way of doing things. Paliau has now gone, and the Movement is now under collective and representative leadership. The adherents are still united and being guided by the same principles that took the Movement forward from 1946. Certain changes had to be made in order that the Movement may continue to exist and thrive. Names such as Makasol and Win Neisen are taken on to boost the spirits of followers but the Movement is still the Paliau Movement - no one has the right to change that. The name Win Neisen may in fact be the last name as the people prepare for the coming of the new and perfect government under the kingship of Yesus. Until the coming of that awaited day, the Movement adherents have the responsibility of character building and living in a way which symbolises the perfect blissful life of abundance that will be established not in heaven, but here on earth.

© copyright 2000 - Kakak Kais, Manus, Papua New Guinea
April 1998

Christiansen, P. (1996) The Melanesian Cargo Cult. Copenhagen: Dangrafitk.

Kanasa, B. (1991) Paliau Maloat: Tribute to a Reformist Manuscript.

Maher, Robert F. (1985) "Tommy Kabu Movement of the Purari Delta" Oceania, Vol. 29, pp.75-95.

Maher, Robert F. (1956) New Men of Papua: a Study in Culture Change Madison: University

Mead, M. (1977) Letters From The Field, 1925 - 1975. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

Mead, M. (1956) New Lives For Old: Culture Transformation - Manus, 1928 - 1953. London: Victor Gollancz.

Maloat, P. (1970) "The story of my life from the day I was born to the present day" in Marion Ward et al (eds) Politics of Melanesia: Papers Delivered at the 4th Waigani Seminar.

Otto, T. (1992) "From Paliau Movement to Makasol: the Politics of Representation." Canberra Anthropology, Vol. 15:2 pp. .

Pokawin, S.P. (1980) "Wing, Wang, Wong: Developments in the Paliau Movement" in Wendy Flannery (ed) New and On Going Religious Movements in Melanesia. Goroka: Melanesian Institute.

Ryan, R (ed) (1972) Encyclopedia of Papua New Guinea. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. Vol 2 pp. 695 - 700.

Schwartz, T. (1962) Paliau Movement in the Admiralty Islands, 1946 - 1954. New York: American Museum of Natural History. Vol. 48:2.

Steinbauer, F. (1971) Melanesian Cargo Cults: New Salvation Movements in the South Pacific. London: George Prior Publishers.

Trompf, G.W. (1991) Melanesian Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Trompf, G.W. (1994) Payback. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Worsley, P. (1957) The Trumpet Shall Sound: a Study of Cargo Cults in Melanesia. London: McGibbon and Kee.


© copyright 2000 - Kakak Kais, Manus, Papua New Guinea
April 1998

to return to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 click here

This is a prototype web site ©2000  You can contact site administration team by email.

Site News