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THESE NATIVES EARNED OUR HELP

jjTHE statement by Sir Cosmo Parkinson that the war has brought about P no big problem affecting the Pacific islands will surprise those who ■ have had the opportunity of seeing life in the islands during the past :ifew years., Sir Cosmo, who is an acknowledged expert on colonial * administration, has just completed a comprehensive tour of British colonial possessions, and he was quoting the opinions of officials with whom he consulted. It is no doubt true, as Sir Cosmo remarked, that the natives who have been receiving wages beyond their pre-war dreams Hwill gradually go back to normal, but the transitionary period will prove '-as difficult as in more civilised countries. During the war the natives th 6 Pacific have, in the majority of cases, played a part that jjgoes beyond the contribution which might have been reasonably asked of them. The exploits of Fijian and Tongan combat troops are well i known, and Solomon Islanders, too, when given the opportunity, pert formed feats of gallantry that rank with any to tne credit of Europeans. If Sergeant-Major Busa, of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate Native jjPolice, when questioned by the Japs, refused to give any information. 'He was bayoneted seven times but kept silent, finally falling unconscious, i| Left for dead by his torturers, he recovered and was awarded the British jjMilitary Medal and an American decoration. Sergeant-Major Busa was only one of many heroes. The problem facing the colonial official may be divided into two l| sections. There is the settling down of the natives in Fiji, Tonga and certain areas in the other groups of the Western Pacific High Commission, where civilisation and education had reached a relatively high ' standard before the war, and where men and women have now become i accustomed to amenities which they will not willingly forgo when peace j returns. In these areas, where the village water supply, to name only ! one modern improvement, is frequently piped from the catchment area, the native family has developed in a remarkable way, and with Army education doing its share with the boys away from home the people j 'have become comparatively up-to-date. At the present time in these : areas the Government is trying to revive interest in village life, customs j and ways, but it is recognised that it will be some while before men i and women are reconciled to the necessity. for this move back to their ! 1 pre-war homes.

:| On the other hand the problem in the more primitive areas—the | New Hebrides, Solomon Islands and certain portions of the Gilbert and Ellice groups—requires a different formula. The war years caused a drastic pruning of Government services of all types, and in those areas actually under Japanese domination the services ceased. The natives naturally suffered considerable privations as a result of the enemy occupation, and it is to their credit that in most cases they remained ' loyal to the "Guvmint." As a matter of fact the longer the Japanese held a territory the more dissatisfied the local inhabitants usually I became, and lack of medical supplies and the impossibility of securing $ replacement clothing left them in a parlous condition. To these unfortunate people any change must be for the better, but their loyalty i| in face of danger has earned for them as their right' assistance on a much I greater scale than they enjoyed before the war. The unbiased observer I cannot but think that in the solution of these problems, all 'attributable | to the war, the colonial official has a job that will tax his capacity to : : the full. Sir Cosmo Parkinson's statement leaves an unpleasant feeling that the magnitude of the task ahead may not be properly appreciated [I by some of the men to whom the natives must look for their future if welfare. 1 ■ -

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19450730.2.33.1

Bibliographic details

THESE NATIVES EARNED OUR HELP, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 178, 30 July 1945

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641

THESE NATIVES EARNED OUR HELP Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 178, 30 July 1945

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