Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary 




 The Katakatai fermentery incident

Maxwell R. Hayes,


Derek Bell’s report concerning the murder of Jack Emanuel on 19 August 1971 and the trial of the accused (Una Voce, December 2008) reminded me of a previous occasion during the cocoa fermentery troubles on the Gazelle Peninsula during the late sixties and the early seventies during which the Mataungan Association (MA) formed in May 1969 by Oscar Tamur (died 1991) and John Kaputin sought to ‘take over’ several Chinese owned fermenteries.*On the occasion which involved me I have referred to my personal diary for dates and recollections of the events as they unfolded in March 1971. For some months I was acting as the Chief Licensing Inspector and in early March was in Rabaul conducting applications for liquor licences at the Licensing Commission hearing and enjoying being back after nearly five years absence from this (then) lovely town.Very early on Saturday morning 6th March I was awakened by a constable and told to report to the police station with my camera. Presumably my presence was required as a photographer, the other member at Rabaul with photographic experience, Inspector E. C. Miles, then being on leave.With a large police party I left for the Katakatai fermentery at 4am arriving about an hour later to be joined with police riot squads from the Tomaringa Police Barracks. It was rather like a siege situation with police and native workers within the fermentery and a lot of angry Tolai Mataungan natives at the ‘perimeter’ threatening to take the fermentery by force. A terse situation remained for several hours, during which sling shots were fired and stones were thrown at police who retaliated with tear gas on several occasions. Around midday Oscar Tamur, one of the founders of the Mataungan Association, with a small group of other members made signs that they wanted to enter the fermentery. During the course of the morning’s events I was continually taking photographs of the events as they unfolded.The group of angry Mataungans was permitted to enter, after leaving any weapons outside the fermentery, and Oscar and the group confronted Jack Emanuel, the ‘special duties’ District Commissioner assigned to the East New Britain District. Oscar was ‘bel hot tru’ (extremely angry and on the verge of being out of control). From a distance of some six feet, while taking photos, I saw Oscar with his right index finger physically jabbing Jack’s nose as they faced each other. Oscar was ranting ‘Jack, someone's going to get killed’ over and over numerous times, with Jack saying ‘Calm down Oscar, let's sort this matter out’. This very volatile situation continued for some 15 minutes or so during which Jack tried to calm Oscar down but met with no response. Oscar or one of the MA group may also have said ‘Jack, you are going to be killed’ but in Oscar’s ranting and the general melee it was difficult to say. Eventually Oscar and his group of MA members left the fermentery and the remainder of the afternoon became a waiting game. Perhaps the MA felt that they had made their point with Jack and there was little action except for sporadic verbal threats. I was permitted to return to Rabaul about 6pm.I was instructed to return to the fermentery at 6am on Sunday, the police riot squads, other officers and native police remaining at the fermentery overnight. Sunday saw a completely different aspect as there was not a single Mataungan in sight so by 2.30pm I returned to Rabaul and processed the photographs in the police station dark room before returning to my duties with the Liquor Licensing Commission.
When I saw Jack at the fermentery it was the first time I had seen him in about four and a half years. He had lost some weight; his clothes seemed to hang loosely on him. He did not appear a well man to me, but was very pleased to see me again. He told me that he was not a happy man and was happy to confide in me how much he missed Alma, his wife who died on 18 June 1965. He had remarried before I saw him in 1971 and he discussed this with me. On a personal basis his first wife, Alma, and my late wife Betty, were nursing sisters together who gathered frequently at the New Britain Women’s Club and we four all joined together for social events.

 Jack, as a Deputy District Commissioner and later as a District Commissioner, enjoyed an especially good relationship with police which, due to strained relationships and rivalry existing between departmental heads and lesser ranks, was not always cordial. Jack was born on 13 December 1918 and joined the Administration of TP& NG on 24 August 1946. Prior to going to the territory he had served, as far as I know, for around a year with the New South Wales Police Force, then joining the New South Wales Fire Brigade. It is interesting to note in the records of the Rabaul European Cemetery the entry referring to Jack as ‘Captain, ex-serviceman and District Commissioner’. I have checked the Australian War Memorial nominal roll of those who served in World War 2, but can find no entry for Errol John Emanuel. He was a particularly fine and highly principled dedicated member of the Administration and I am proud to have called him a friend. English authoress, Marion Hebblethwaite has published a complete 9 volume work on winners of the George Cross entitled ‘One Step Further’ and the events of August 1971 are recorded on five pages in volume 3. Jack also appears on a plaque in the names of George Cross winners in the George Cross Park, Blamey Crescent, Campbell, Canberra. As to the George Cross awarded posthumously, it is known that it was sold by his second wife in an  English auction.
During the early 1960's, my late wife, Betty, was in charge of admissions and outpatients at the Nonga Base Hospital. On the many occasions on which I collected her after work, I often dialogued with William Taupa Tovarula her main clerk and the convicted principal offender in the murder. I often perused Taupa's personal responsibility, the very large admissions register entered by him in perfect copperplate writing. He also spoke and wrote some German and I suspect that he was older than the mid 40's age referred to by the trial judge. I am not aware as to why he was dismissed from the public service prior to subsequent events as I was not then in Rabaul, and I do not propose to comment on Taupa’s involvement in the murder and trial well covered by fellow police officer, Derek Bell, It is interesting to note that one of the defending counsel in the trial of the accused was Eric Charles Ernest PRATT a RPNGC officer between April 1959 and February 1964 when, after attaining a law degree, transferred to the Crown Law Department and then into private practice later becoming a District Court Judge in Queensland ).,
*The history of the Tolai Cocoa Project (ably run by Ken Gorringe and George Dunn) which aimed to better the prices paid for cocoa beans to local Tolai cocoa producers, but in one small up front payment and a larger later payment when the forward cocoa price was declared, instead of one cash payment from non native owned fermenteries, is a matter which someone should write about.





Mick Gallon with unknown Cadet Officer



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