First European Contact
First European Contact in Mount Hagen, WHP, Papua New Guinea
In 1933 Mr.Jim Taylor, an administrator (kiap) with two other gold explorers namely Mr. Mick and the Mr. Danny Leahy with their families arrived as the first white men to settle in Western Highlands Province. They made their first camp in a village called Kelua near the township of Mount Hagen. The first white men settled in Kelua because of the pleasant topography.
The village people did not accept them as they were total strangers but others believed that their dead ancestors and relatives have returned to visit and live with them. There was a strong feeling of anxiety, acceptance and confusion. Some men approached them with axes and spears with the intention to steal their properties and belongings but unfortunately two of their men were shot. One man was seriously wounded and the other died instantly due to loss of blood. The village men realized that these white men were powerful so they resolved to make peace with them.
They exchanged salt; axe blades and kina shell for food. The exchange of traditional food with steel axe and salt cemented their relationship. The white men and the people cleared the grassland and built an airstrip in preparation for the smaller planes to land. The first aircraft landed in Mount Hagen on the 10th April 1933. People were very terrified when they witnessed a strange flying machine (big bird) landing on the ground and the noise it produced. Some people even dashed into the nearby bushes and went into hiding. The Catholic (Fr. Ross) and the Lutheran missionaries (Rev. Brekman, Strauss & Witzerom) arrived in 1934.