Then, if we take the following statement made by the only prisoner taken at the time, we have the whole history of the events which took place up to the departure of the punitive party from Goaribari on board the Merrie England.
Statement of Kemere of Dubumuba, taken prisoner at Dopima, Goaribari Island: –
“The name of the village that I was captured in is Dopima. I, however, belong to Dubumuba, a village on Baiba Bari Island. I, myself, was not present at the massacre; only the big men of the village went. I have, however, heard all about it. My father, Marawa, sent me to Dopima to get a tomahawk to build a canoe. The name of the village you camped in the first night is Turotere. The first suggestion for massacring the L.M.S. party came from Garopo, off whose village, Dopima, the Niue was anchored. Word was at once sent round that night to villages in the vicinity to come to help. It is the usual custom for people of surrounding villages, when a large boat is sighted, to congregate in one place. The following villages were implicated: Dopima, Turotere, Bai-ia, Aidio, Eheubi, Goari-ubi, Aimaha, Gweari-Bari, Ubu-Oho, Dubumuba. The next morning all the canoes went off and persuaded Messrs. Chalmers and Tomkins and party to come on shore in the whaleboat. Some of the natives remained to loot the Niue. When they got on shore Messrs. Chalmers and Tomkins and a few boys entered the long house, the rest of the boys remaining to guard the boat. These last, however, were also enticed inside the house of pretence of giving them something to eat. The signal for a general massacre was given by knocking simultaneously from behind both Messrs. Chalmers and Tomkins on the head with stone clubs. This was performed in the case of the former by Iake of Turotere, in that of the latter by Arau-u of Turotere. Kaiture, of Dopima, then stabbed Mr. Chalmers in the right side with a cassowary dagger, and then Muroroa cut off his head. Ema cut off Mr. Tomkins’ head. They both fell senseless at the first blow of the clubs. Some names of men concerned in the murder of the rest of the party are: Baibi, Adade, Emai, Utuamu, and Amuke, all of Dopima; also Wahaga and Ema, both of Turotere.
“All the heads were immediately cut off. We, however, lost one man, Gahibai, of Dopima. He was running to knock a big man [Note: This must be Naragi, chief of Ipisia] on the head, when the latter snatched a stone club from a man standing near and killed Gahibai. He (Naragi) was, however, immediately overpowered. The other boys were too small to make any resistance. In the meantime the people in canoes left at the Niue had come back after looting her of all the tomahawks, etc. This party was led by Kautiri, of Dopima. Finding the party on shore dead, it was determined to go back to the Niue and kill those on board. However, the Niue got under way, and left, so they could not accomplish their purpose. I think the crew of the Niue were frightened at the noise on shore. Then Pakara, of Aimaha, called out to all the people to come and break up the boat, which had been taken right inside the creek, it being high water. This was done, and the pieces were divided amongst people from the various villages. Pakara is the man who followed and talked to you in the Aimaha Creek for a long time. Directly the heads had been cut off the bodies, some men cut the latter up and handed the pieces over to the women to cook, which they did, mixing the flesh with sago. They were eaten the same day.
“Gebai has got Mr. Chalmers’ head at Dopima, and Mahikaka has got Mr. Tomkins’ head at Turotere. The rest of the heads are divided amongst various individuals. Anybody having a new head would naturally, on seeing strange people coming to the village, hide them away in the bush, and leave only the old skulls in the houses. The same applies to the loot from the Niue.
“As regards the skulls in the houses, those having artificial noses attached to them are of people who have died natural deaths; those that have no noses attached have been killed.”
“Taken by me C. G. MURRAY, R.M., W.D.”
Reverend James Chalmers was born in Argyleshire, Scotland on 4 August 1841, and died on Goaribari Island, Papua on 8 April 1901, aged 59 years.
Reverend Oliver F Tomkins was from England and born on 5 March 1873, and died on Goaribari Island, Papua on 8 April 1901, aged 28 years.
L.M.S. – London Missionary Society
Goaribari Island is an island of southern Papua New Guinea, which is located in Gulf Province within the Gulf of Papua.