Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary



1ST JULY, 1889, TO 30TH JUNE, 1890;

10. ORDINANCE No. I. of 1890 provides for an Armed Constabulary. The number of the force must not exceed that fixed by the Legislative Council from time to time by resolution. Salaries and allowances to members of the force are subject to confirmation by the same Council. The Administrator in Council may make Rules and Regulations for the government and discipline of the force. These have to be laid before the Legislative Council, and are subject to disallowance by Her )fajesty. Members of the force are bound to perform within the Possession all the duties and functions that police officers aml consta,bles in the Colony of Queens- land are as such bound to perform in that colony. rrhey are also to execute any process and serve any summons or warrant sent to them for that purpose by any Court of the Possession. The members of the force have in the discharge of their duty the protection and indemnities secured to any constable or police officer in Queensland by the law of that colony. If the numbers of the force are not tilled up hy voluntary engage- ment, natives of the Possession of sound bodily constitution, between seventeen and forty years of age, and unmarried, are liable to be enrolled. :Members of the force are enrolled for not more than three years nor less than· one year. The Ordinance deals also with desertion, breaches of discipline, and prescribes how offences are to be tried.

Major General Sir Peter Henry Scratchley as   Special Commissioners, before he passed away, along with  and John Douglas who became MacGregor’s private sectary recommended, to assist in the pacification of British New Guinea the formation of a native police force. In 1890 Macgregor established the Papuan Armed Constabulary consisting of twelve Solomon islanders and two Fijians who were made non-commissioned officers. The first European named as Commandant was George Wriford.

The new Commandant George Wriford was provided with a house which would have also served as a Police Station at Ela Beach, five cottages were also built to accommodate the constables. A jail was also built at close proximity

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W O - L.L. Bell and his Constabulary


The Federal authorities are uneasy about the acting - administrator of Papua, Mr Staniford Smith. Nothing has been ascertained.
All that is known is that. Judge Herbert, the Chief Judicial Officer of Papua, is anxious owing to Mr Smith being a month overdue
in returning from an inland expedition.The Judge has proceeded to Thursday Island with the government secretary to arrange for three steam launches to proceed in search of the missing administrator who is accompanied by Mr Billson, a prominent member of the Argus staff, Mr Piatt, two Papuan officials and a party of twelve native police and fourteen carriers. The expedition left on November 18 and should have returned by the beginning of January. The object of the visit was a coalfield which had been discovered by Mackay and Little about 100 miles from the coast.

Papua has a white population of under a thousand, mostly officials, planters, and miners. It is divided into eight magisterial divisions, each tinder the charge of a   resident magistrate and assistant resident magistrates. These magistrates also hold"native magisterial .courts" within their divisions. Law and order is maintained by a force of armed native constabulary, num bering 210, and 424 village constables. For merely the village constables were recruited from prisoners .who had served long   sentences in gaol, where they were taught habits of, discipline, and very useful they have proved, too, in maintaining order when they returned to their villages, The constables are stationed at the head-quarters of   the various magistrates, or are employed under patrol officers;" The non-commissioned officers, (sergeants, corporals, and lance-cor porals) are all natives. A large portion of a magistrate's time is spent in travelling over his district visiting the native villages, and settling disputes between the various tribes; Away from the coast there are thousands of natives who have not yet been subdued, but they , are gradually .being brought under control. It Is when visiting these outlying districts that an official requires a bodyguard of armed constables tor his protection. The spice of danger in the work has an attraction for many young men, who find its charms more than compensate them for the loss of the advantages enjoyed by those who dwell in more civilized com munities. Between an official and his small force of armed constabulary.. the greatest confidence exists when they have been some time together, especially in an unsettled district. A whole squad have been knows to risk their lives In attempting the rescue of their white officer in a swollen streamy for, in the weird tropical country, floods are the dread 'of the explorer. Communication between the various divisions is carried out by means of the government yacht, Merrie England which Carries the Lieutenant- Governor on his visits of inspection, and transports officers, natives and stores from one port to another. The mail between Northern Division and Port Moresby, in the south, are carried by native once a fortnight in the manner shown in the photograph through the Gap in the main range, the journey being on of considerable peril.

Lenard Logan in ceremonial uniform in front of a  detachment at Konedobu with Papuan Armed Constabulary) in 1926

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Logan with RPC detachment. Anzac Day, Moresby  1938.

Logan in full ceremonial uniform.


Members of the Papuan Armed Constabulary that accompanied the patrol in the early days made a greater impression on the local tribe people than the Patrol officers themselves. Government officers tended to be somewhat aloof, so that it was primarily through the police that people experienced the force of the Government presence. But more importantly, members of the constabulary often proved the only the familiar social relationships that local people felt they had with the government structure of authority. European officers were shifted from one station to another every couple of years while the police tended to remain at one place for greater length of time. Thus, over time, as various patrols through an area, the local people might not see the same government officer twice but could become quite familiar with individual policeman who showed up in their villages again and again.  *


"Members of the Armed Constabulary have their faults,and some of these are rather serious; they are capable, for instance, of extortion and blackmail if they are not watched, and they are, to put it mildly, somewhat addicted to gallantry". (1)

Native administration became a rudimentary administrative device, And a system of police rule came into being, with white men holding an judicial, legislative and executive powers

The brass chain  was not an  adornment bilas (pidgin) to a police uniform which had been in continual use from 1890 the  brass chain, always worn on the left side and suspended from the cartridge belt, had served as hand cuffs,


Simoi (1877-1934)

Policeman, son of Gidau, was born at Katatai village, Kiwai Island, at the mouth of the Fly River, Papua. In 1898 he joined the Papuan Armed Constabulary comprising 110 Papuans, with Western ('Kiwai') division warriors notably prominent; they spoke English because of Torres Strait connexions. The Kiwai, said to be more fitted to exercise control of others than the majority of Papuans'—and they believed it. Simoi received ten shillings a month in his first year, then £1. He remembered being 'a lance-corporal when Queen Victoria died'.

In a highly effective force Simoi's courage and what Murray called his 'strong character' and 'marked personality' raised him quickly to sergeant. He took part in expeditions avenging James Chalmers and 'pacifying' mountain regions. In 1905 with Corporal Kaubu he was responsible for keeping the administrator, F. R. Barton, and Murray afloat when their whaleboat capsized at the treacherous Vailala bar. Simoi led the crew battling combers for nearly an hour before reaching clear water. 'In such perilous situations', said Barton, patronizingly, 'one sees the Papuan at his best. He rises to the occasion'. Murray remarked 'how extremely difficult it was to persuade these two Papuans that they had done anything worth talking about'.

Simoi, however, could not rise much higher. In 1905 when few Papuans could hold responsible jobs, he looked for better opportunities as an overseer (boss-boi) in the Central division of Papua but returned in 1912 to become a 'thoroughly dependable' sergeant-major at headquarters, Port Moresby, in May 1913 at £5 a month, training recruits as well as occasionally going on frontier patrols. Jack Hides saw him as 'soldierly' and 'lovable'. His failings, which were 'never of a mean rank', were cards and women. Recruits were wise to give him some of their first pay. Tall, well-built, with typically Kiwai-Semitic features and both ears in tatters, Simoi was yet the epitome of the 'Tommy sergeant-major', 'perfect in company drill', swaggering on parade with his sulu tucked short and cane underarm. 'What this? A bloody pumpkin?' he would ask, tapping a head. 'You think you can sit down all day like a white man?' In mufti on Saturday afternoons, 'like a staff officer in his car' taking salutes from every guard, he rode his bicycle out of town to chew betel-nut and play cards with Kiwai boss-bois.

As the oldest policeman and the first to reach warrant officer rank, he was honoured in the 'new issue' Papuan 1932 black and olive-brown five-shilling stamp. While on leave at Katatai he developed pneumonia. Brought to Daru for treatment, he died on 28 February 1934. He was buried at Katatai with full military honours, 'a compliment which, if he could have foreseen it', Murray wrote confidently in his annual report, 'would have more than made up for all the pains and inconveniences of sickness'. Papua had lost a loyal officer while he had lost a good friend.

Simoi (1877–1934)

by James Griffin

       Simoi (1877-1934  


Sergeant Gegera and three armed constables
Kerema 1931



Papuan  armed Constabulary, Abau Island, Papua  1915


 Prisoners at Abau gaol, on right (extreme) the double ironed and handcuffed man, is the one who killed the police  sergeant. May 1915.

George Ruthven Le Hunte, British New Guinea Lieutenant Governor, 1890, presenting medals to Sargent Sefa and Corporal Kimai of the British New Guinea Armed Constabulary, Commandant Alexander Duncan McNeil in attendance.

Papua Armed Constabulary Daru

Prisoners at Daru


Policeman from the Papua Armed Constabulary
 holding what looks like a decorated human head



Village constables were unarmed government appointees who performed police duties in their villages.
 These officials supplemented the police in the Papuan Armed Constabulary who were based at government stations.
To supplement the power of his Executive and Legislative Councils and officials
MacGregor appointed Papuan village constables, and recruited Papuans into the armed constabulary.



Village constable at Dilava village

Central Province
July 1921

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