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PORT MORESBY – Unlike the street in Port Moresby’s central business district, named after many prominent people of the colonial era, the suburbs have more local and traditional names.
The Koitabuans along with Motuans are the traditional landowners of Port Moresby, the Koitabuans hunters while the Motuans were more associated with the sea.
This is why a vast area of inland Port Moresby suburbs are Koitabuan names.
As luck would have it, we’ve found an interesting piece by Gobi Don Gureki, a Koitabuan, explaining the meaning of each name.
Koki was originally known by the Koitabuans as Koge sounded as’Koxe’ which is one of the clans of Kirakira village, a Koitabuan community.
Badili is also a clan name, originally ‘Badiri Vamaga’, also a Kirakira clan.
Korobosea village was a Koitabuan community with people mostly migrating from the Koiari tribes of Ogoni Gubini, Gorogaha, Iabagaha and Iarogaha.
‘Koro’ in Koitabu means wild fowl and ‘bosea’ is a basket.
The name Korobosea is said to have been coined when the chief of the village gave a basket full of wild fowl eggs as a gift to the United Church bishop in exchange for its first pastor.
This was after most of the ministers had declined to be posted to this village due to the widespread practice of sorcery.
Tokarara comes from ‘to Garara’ which means dog fight.
Gerehu is ‘kerehu’ – a place of war or warzone.
Boroko is the name of a tree in Koitabu.
Waigani is ‘vaiga’, a spear or weapon.
Hohola is ‘hohoa’ which means to swallow.
Morata comes from when the brother of a woman giving birth called in Koitabu, “Otadona au havara gahanu?” [what did she deliver?], the midwife replying, “Morauki manu”, which means, she’s got a son. ‘Moe’ is son in Koitabu and “’ata’ is male.
Paga means shoulder. Elders will tell you that Paga Hill was named by the colonial administration after one of its workers, wanting to have a look at Fisherman Island, looked over the shoulder of another employee.
Touaguba is an interesting one. Touaguba Hill was the highest point west of the CBD and men climb to the top of the hill and beat the kundu drum (toua). Guba means sky in Motu.
Feature Pic: C H Karius 1940