A True Child of Papua New Guinea

Memoir of a Life In Two Worlds

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About the Book

Maggie Wilson was born in the highlands of Papua New Guinea to Melka Amp Jara, a woman of the highlands, and Patrick Leahy, brother of Australian explorers Michael and Daniel Leahy, who were among the first Australian explorers to encounter people in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, during an expedition in search for gold. Maggie’s life serves as a window into the complex social and cultural transformations experienced during the early years of the Australian administration in Papua New Guinea and the first three decades after independence. This ethnography—started as an autobiography and completed by Rosita Henry after Maggie’s death in 2009—tells Maggie’s story and the stories of those whose lives she touched. Their recollections of Maggie Wilson offer insights into life in Papua New Guinea today.

About the Author(s)

The late Maggie Wilson was the daughter of Melka Amp Jara, a woman of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and Patrick Leahy, older brother of Michael and Daniel Leahy, who were among the first Australian explorers to encounter people in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, during an expedition in search for gold.

Rosita Henry holds a chair in anthropology at James Cook University, North Queensland, Australia. Her publications concern relationships between people and places across Australia and the Pacific as expressed through the politics and poetics of public performances.

Bibliographic Details

Maggie Wilson

Edited and with additions by Rosita Henry
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7703-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3542-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Rosita Henry ix
Prologue • Maggie Wilson 1
Editor’s Introduction • Rosita Henry 3
1. Birth and Belonging 9
2. Tribal Threads: The Elti Penambi 15
3. Entwined: Law, Life and Land 24
4. Kuta Ridge: The White Man’s Station 32
5. My Village Childhood 39
6. Off to School 47
7. My First Return 54
8. Life with the Leahys 60
9. Australia in the 1970s 70
10. Picking Up Threads: Back to PNG 78
11. Motherhood: Bernadine 83
12. Working Woman 93
13. Tying the Knot 97
14. A Village Baby: Olivia 102
15. Here Comes Maki 112
16. The Gift of Nadia 122
17. Weaving Threads: Women and Politics 129
18. Making Pictures 142
19. Friendship Bonds: Haus Poroman • Rosita Henry 153
20. Mending Breaks: Haus Krai • Rosita Henry 169
21. Reflections: Tying Up Loose Ends • Rosita Henry 179
Chapter Notes 197
References 204
Index 207