What the Names of POM Suburbs Actually Mean

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Unlike the street names you know in Port Moresby’s central business district, which is named after many of the leaders during the colonial era, the suburbs sound more local and traditional.


The Koitabuans along with Motuans are the traditional landowners of Port Moresby.  The Koitabuans were considered to be hunters while the Motuans 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 himself explaining the meaning of each name and as you will find out it is indeed an interesting read.


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 from Kirakira.


KOROBOSEA village a Koitabuan community with people mostly migrating from Koiari tribes of Ogoni Gubini, Gorogaha, Iabagaha, Iarogaha etc…


“KORO” in Koitabu means Wild foul, and “BOSEA”, is Basket. This name (Koro…bosea) came about when the Chief of the village, gave a basket full of wild foul eggs as a gift to the United church Bishop in exchange for its first pastor.  This was after most of them (ministers) had declined to be posted to this village due to the widespread practice of sorcery.


TOKARARA is “TO GARARA” which means Dog fight.


GEREHU is “KEREHU” place of war or, war zone.


BOROKO is a name of a tree in Koitabu.


WAIGANI is “VAIGA” the spear or weapon.


HOHOLA is “HOHOA” which means to swallow.


MORATA as I’ve heard is when a woman was about to deliver, her brother quickly called out in Koitabu…”Otadona au havara gahanu?” which means…what did she deliver?


The lady helping to deliver now known as Midwife replied… “MORauki manu”. Which means, she’s got a son. “Moe” is Son in Koitabu and “ATA” Stands for Male…now known as MORATA.


We’d also like to add the following:


“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 and was looking over the shoulder of another administrative worker, hence, Paga Hill.


“Touaguba” is an interesting one.  The word can be split into two – Toua and Guba.  From the words of some elders, Touaguba hill was the highest point within the west of the CBD area and men would apparently climb the hill to get close to the sky and beat the Kundu drum, hence, Toua.  Guba means sky in Motu.


If you have heard of any other interesting background stories in respect of names of places, comment below.