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One Thousand One Papua New Guinean Nights



A Masalai Made Three Islands
(Wantok 418, May 22, 1982, page 19)


By the shores of Kandrian in West New Britain [Province], there are three nice islands that stand in a row [Moewehafen People]. The three islands are the same size. Each is flat on top like an airfield. Before, they did not look like this. There was just one island and something divided it into three pieces.

This is the truth. The old people tell the story like this. A leader from a place called Ais [Island] sat down and told the story to a Wantok Newspaper reporter about this place. An old woman sat at the door of her house by the beach and told it too. The name of this woman is Selseme Martina.

The story goes like this. Long, long ago, there was a masalai man. He had huge bones. His name was Koran Rainge. He left the forest and came down to the place called Ais. This is a trick name because it was near a river’s mouth. The sea filled this [part of the] river, but when it rained, a big flood would come down from the forest and the water would be as cold as ice. [In Tok Pisin, ais means “ice.”] So that is how it got this name, Ais. The real name is Aruba.

Masalai Koran Rainge wanted to play a little, so he took his stone axe and cut a long island into three parts. Before, it looked like a long loaf of bread. The masalai cut it into the islands, Kangro, Pugi, and Aviglo. The masalai shoved them out fairly far into the sea, looking as if [it was the mouth of] a river. But it was not a river, it was just the sea. Today, the big ships come right between these islands.

After Masalai Koran Rainge had cut Aviglo Island, he wanted to go to other places in the Kandrian area. This time he wanted to cut Mount Aiwo. But the masalai woman from this part of the forest banished him. The name of this masalai woman was Arung. Arung was angry and told him that she did not like these islands. She wanted some mainland to remain. So now there is Kandrian, Aiwo and Yumelo [Iumielo].

The masalai man trembled and returned. His hard work made him weak and thirsty. So he came to the Ais River. This river is part sea water and part cold [fresh] water and the two waters mix together. After he drank, Koran Rainge wanted to clear the forest and make a garden. But the poor masalai had two kinds of water inside him. They fought and he was in pain.

He walked to the place where the sun rises and he loosened the pain is his belly. He was dying to urinate, so he urinated eight whole times, then he walked off. So now today, there are eight nice cold springs that come out of the earth in this area. The names of these eight springs are: Apolo, Ariep, Arunkenekit, Sikinlo, Amulo, and Atimere [Only six names were given].

Later, the masalai turned back to the Kandrian area and he began to urinate again. So in this area today, there are eight streams. Their names are: Ayalao, Amatun, Emilo, Auyamo, Kasiglo, Kalamlo, Aralo and Amalo.

Even though he urinated a lot, Koran Rainge’s illness was not over. He went back into the forest and died.

So now, people of Kandrian have three islands and sixteen cold streams, and they never drink from the River Ais.

[Selseme Martina (author)
Ais Island
West New Britain Province]


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© 1997 by Thomas H. Slone, translator.

Last modified January 8, 1997.