My mother, Eka Kama-Haro Kuku, 55, told me of her life growing up in Port Moresby. She was born at the Port Moresby General Hospital on May 13, 1965 to Kama Haro and Aiha Aee Kama. My mother said:
“My father was a carpenter and worked with Douglas Airways, patching up little planes that had holes in it.
He had been a resident of Port Moresby since the 1930s. My parents had an arranged marriage, so my mum joined him in the late 40s. My siblings and I were all born and raised in Port Moresby.
Sometimes I look at all the things happening around me and I wonder what went wrong?
There’s so much violence, prices of goods and services have risen, people are struggling to survive in the city.
My sisters and I used to go to beach in our short miniskirts. We’d go swimming and hang out with our friends and no one would bother us.
Women and girls would be in their bikinis and swimsuits just laying on their towels or beach bed under their big umbrellas.
Food was very affordable.
A cup of chips was just 60 cents and the cup was big…crispy crinkle cut chips and it would be served hot. Lamp flaps was either 50 cents, 60 cents depending on the size. Drumsticks were just 70 cents. All the kaibars were run by Australians and Germans.
On the weekends we’d go to the Papuan Theatre at town (where now the Town Bustop is). They showed movies during the day.
We paid $1.50 to watch or just $2.00 for the grand stage.
At night we’d go to the Badili Cinema (where the Cholai wholesale shop is now) or the one at Koki (near the Bustop area).
The gate fee was 40 cents.
After the movies we’d walk home, no one would harass us.
Our favorite lunch spot was a kai bar at Koki where now City Mission is.
They served the best rice and stew at that time… $2 or $3. And it was not like the rice and stew you get now from kaibars today. That rice and stew plate could feed a family of four. It was so big, the stew would be pouring out from that big round plate they served it on.
Drinks were just 20 cents and if you wanted juice it was just 10cents and they served it in big cups with straws.
Sometimes when our parents didn’t give us money, we’d resell the coke bottles. Four empty bottles were worth 20 cents. Or we’d just go to a shop and give them four empty bottles and they would give us a full bottle of coke.
At that time, it was just us up at TALAI, Gorobe and Youths from Hanuabada, there was no Vanagi Village at that time or even the Wanigela’s. They came and settled later.
Those days, we didn’t start school at a certain age. Instead we would put our hands over our head and if we touched our ears than we’d start school.
In 1970, I started school at the Salvation Army Primary School.
The school fee was $13. For Lunch we had either cheese sandwiches, ham sandwiches, fruits and juice for 20 cents.
Our classrooms have since been turned into homes at the back of the Salvation Army Property at Koki.
Now, I look at Port Moresby now and I am sad.
I don’t know what the future will be like, prices of goods and services are increasing.
Before, we could buy a lot with just a $2. Today, K2 can’t buy you much.
All canned meat were less than $2. Rabbit, beef, squid, all canned. With one $20 you could stock up for a fortnight. Rice Bags cost $5.
Even in the 1980s, after Independence, and we started using the kina. A rice bag cost K8 and chicken packets were K6.
Sometimes, I think back and I look at you, my children, my grandchildren, and I worry what the future will be.
Now life has changed.”