POKOP OF POHYOMOU STEALS WATER FROM POKOP OF PWENET - excerpt from Stories Of Pokop Of Pohoyomou Compiled & Edited by:  Dr. Bernard Minol [with glossary]

Pokop Of Pohyomou Steals Water From Pokop Of Pwenet

another advernture story of this Manus historic cultural folk hero

One bright sunny day Pokop stayed at his home in Pohyomou and looked in all directions. After looking around he thought to himself: "Well, since it's a nice day today what place can I visit?"

He looked once more to the east and again to the south and thought "Who can I visit during this nice day so that we can sit together and have a nice chat?"

After making up his mind he put his betelnut, lime and mustard leaves into his little basket, slung it over his shoulder and left. He walked along the track until he reached Supkopou. From there he went past Parakoruh, up to Suponow, down to Pokaiparndruwin and along Ngololiu until he reached Pwenet. When he arrived Pokop of Pwenet greeted him, "Oh, boss of Pohyomou, you have come."

Pokop of Pohyomou replied, "Well, my cousin, I was at my home but since it is a nice sunny day I looked around and thought whom can I visit. The only person I had in mind was you and so I finally de cided to come and see you."

Pokop of Pwenet replied, "Yes, my cousin. Is your road short? And have I ever seen your place with my eyes? It's a beautiful sunny day and you just walked with ease along your track."

To this Pokop of Pohyomou said, "Yes, my cousin you say that as if you've seen it."

Saying that he entered the "men's house". He made himself at home and they talked leisurely. He talked on and on and then Pokop of Pwenet felt that he had better ask Pokop of Pohyomou what the real reason behind his visit was. He took his time and asked, "Well, my cousin, have you just come on a friendly visit or is there something important in your mind? You have never visited me in the past and the thought of what you may have in mind really weighs on me."

Pokop of Pohyomou replied, "Not to worry, my cousin.I haven't come to tell you or even ask you for anything. I haven't come to ask you for a pig or dog's teeth or a string of beads. I have nothing at all on my mind. The fact is that it's a nice sunny day and I thought t his is just the time to come and visit you at Pwenet."

Hearing this Pokop of Pwenet said, "My cousin I'm relieved to hear that. It's just that the whole atmosphere was tense and therefore I had to ask you a question. Now that you have told me your mind we can spend the whole day today here at my place." After a while he continued, "We'll stay here today and tonight. Tomorrow I will go to the market to get some fish for you, and when I return you can then leave for your home.''

Pokop of Pohyomou nodded and replied, "That is alright my cousin. We'll stay." Before getting onto anything else Pokop of Pwenet asked once more, "Are you sure you have no important business to talk about?"

Pokop of Pohyomou replied, "No, I have nothing important to talk about." To be sure Pokop of Pwenet finally asked, "Are you really sure you have nothing on your mind?" Pokop of Pohyomou assured him, "No, nothing at all."

Satisfied, Pokop of Pwenet went ahead and prepared their meal. After having their meal they sat there chewing betelnut, talking and generally enjoying the cool of the afternoon. Then interrupting th eir conversation Pokop of Pohyomou said, "My cousin we have had a good meal and everything else that you have provided is really great, but I would like to let you know that I am very thirsty." He asked this particular question because it had occurred to him during their conversation that this man's place was situated far away from any running water. Therefore hethought to himself, where does he get his water from? He planned to steal the water if it was somewhere near the house.

The water that Pokop of Pwenet used was just beside his house. He replied to the question saying, "My cousin, I have no proper container in which I can fetch water for you. Anyway, you stay in the house while I try to get some water for you." Pokop of Pohyomou was reallydetermined to find out where the water was so he asked, "But where is your water?"

Pokop of Pwenet was not taken in easily by an innocent question such as this. With every question asked his suspicions grew. He felt that something fishy was going on in his guest's mind. He replied, "This water is nowhere near here." Saying that, he left the house.

He walked down the track until he was quite a distance from the house, and then to convince his guest that the water was really faraway he yodelled once, "Yiooooouei!" He waited until the sound trailed away and then yodelled once more, "Yioooouei!" After yodelling twice he slowly walked towards the house.

Just a couple of metres away from the house he tip-toed quietly to the side of the house where the water lay hidden, and taking the bamboo which he had cut somewhere down the track, he began filling the water for his guest. As he was filling water the bubbling noise had already reached the keen ears of Pokop of Pohyomou who was lying on one of the beds inside the house.

When he heard the bubbling noise he mused to himself, 'Well surely I heard my cousin yodelling quite a distance from here. But what could be the cause of this bubbling noise? It sounds as if someoneis filling water! So he crept from the bed and peeped through a small ho le to see what was happening. When he saw what was happening, he said to himself, 'You eagle! You pretended to go far away and yet your water is just there in front of me'. After his wonderful discovery he returned to his bed and pretended that he had been resting there undisturbed.

When the host entered he told his guest, "My cousin I really sweated coming up those hills. And what's more I was thinking it's because of this water that I have left my cousin alone in the house!"

Saying that he gave the water to the boss of Pohyomou to drink. As soon as Pokop of Pohyomou finished the whole bamboo container of water he exclaimed, "Oh, my cousin, your water must be flowing from a beautiful source. It's a real hot day and after having drunk all of it, the taste can be compared to 'perei'."

After drinking the water they both sat down and continued with their conversation until it got dark. They did not sleep but talked on into the night and the early hours of the next morning. They only had a short sleep before the "chauka" gave its first call to announce the coming of day. On its second call Pokop of Pwenet woke up and told Pokop of Pohyomou, "My cousin, you stay here while I go to the market. When I return you can then make your way back to your home."

On his way to the market Pokop of Pwenet felt that something had gone wrong, because he felt sleepy, and when he walked his toes struck against tree roots. So he thought to himself, "Well, what has befallen my cousin? I might just as well return home and forget about going to the market". So he left his things on the track and hurried home.

Arriving home he was surprised to find that Pokop ofPohyomou was not there. But that was only the beginning. He looked around and almost convinced himself that everything was in order. When he wentto check on his water he was terribly shocked to discover that his waterwas missing. He cursed and then said aloud, "So this son-of-a-bitch has stolen my water!" He wasted no time but hurried down the track after Pokop of Pohyomou.

Pokop of Pohyomou could feel that the rightful ownerof the water was following him in hot pursuit. So he decided to get awayas fast as possible. He switched the water from one hand to the other and in doing so some water spilt beside the track. He turned around and ord ered, "If this is my water I want it to stay on this rock and may it haveno source and no outlet. May it never dry up during dry seasons I want Pokop of Pwenet to see this water and think that this is his water and that I have left without it".

But when Pokop of Pwenet followed after and saw the water he said to himself, "That is not my water. My water is very big. This is only a little bit of it. He has taken the rest". He followed him to Pohyomou. When he arrived home, Pokop of Pohyomou had already hidden thewater and was sitting in his house, looking very innocent.

As soon as he entered the house they started arguingabout the water. Pokop of Pohyomou defended himself saying that he did not steal the water. But Pokop of Pwenet said, "Yes, you're the only thiefwho stole my water. This can be proved by the fact that you spilt some o n the way."

Pokop of Pohyomou said, "Look, that does not prove that I stole it. If you really think that I took it then you may as well look around and see if you can find it. Where is it?" Pokop of Pwenet looked everywhere but could not find his water. He finally lost hope of retrieving his water and returned to his home at Pwenet. So the water remainedin Pohyomou owned by a new man. It has been there since then. People drink from it when they visit Pohyomou.

Kakah Kais - 1974




Aria - That's it. Lele equivalent is "akara"

Cut buai - An expression in Nali and Lele languages which literally means to distribute buai. When you get distributed a buai you accept the responsibility of bringing food etc to the feast or function.

Dranou - A Lele village on the Highway. It isabout half an hour's drive from Lorengau. Also spelt N'Dranou.

Hihisuu - A most important, or vantage, spot on a piece of land where a ritual dedication usually takes place before it is cleared for gardening. Usually the crop for the new garden is taro.

Kakiniy - This is the name of a small river on the South of Manus - in the Nohang area just west of Patusi and Old Pere. In the past it was an important market between the inland villagers and the Titans of Patusi and Pere.

Kaliu - A place in the Yiriu (Yiliu) village.It is near the famous Pokop haven of Pwenet.

Karuka - Rain coat made from pandanus leaf (Tok Pisin)

Kaluu - An old name of the mouth of river Lawes (Yowos, Yowes). In the old times an important market thrived there.

Kawar - Tok Pisin word for ginger

Keyau - This is a wooden bed for lapans or chiefly people. Occupies a prominent position in the men's house. Only lapan men's houses have rights to have Keyaus.

Konga - A fictional land and or place outsideof Manus where the dogs settled when they left Manus.

Kopou - A Nali village. It is towards the south coast, about half an hour by car from M'Bunai village. Sometimes speltKapou.

Koyau - A tapa cloth-like garment made from bark of a tree usually worn by women.

Kuiniy - I (will) eat it


Line - This refers to family, relatives. Family group

Liyiu - A term used in both Nali and Lele languages which refers to a certain type of bad spirits or devils.

Masah - A big feast in which the bride price is paid

Mwalah - Light shower. Rain which comes with the sun.

Nambuyum - Your wife or husband. Same as Nali

Nasi - Nali word meaning "grandmother". Lele equivalent is "tato"

N'Dau - Lele word for wild ton. Tok Pisin is pakpak

N'Drawiying - Head rest. Same in Nali/Lele

N92Drop - Manus woven basket. Lele equivalent is n'dop. It is also the name of the tree whose bark is used for the basket.

Nolou - Cordelyne. Tok Pisin name is tanget.

Par - Tree stump, trunk; stalk of a rope. Nali equivalent is "para".

Nosum - Your in law. Same in Nali but produced differently.

Pasinei - Platform used for ceremonial performance during masah and yon. Usually carved and decorated.

Pram - Lengths of valuable beads used in Manus as a means of exchange

Payai - Lele and Nali name for a creeper which is found throughout Manus. It is the most used creeper in the inland villages and both its leaves and sap have medicinal values.

Parahiy - Lele and Nali word for "ginger".

Pihin - Woman, girl. The term "pihi" means "woman of". Same in Nali and Lele

Perei - An edible substance obtained from shale and dried in the sun. A rare delicacy.

Pohyomou - A hilltop near the villages of Tingou and Yirngou. Traditionally famous because of its association with thePokop stories. Today they also call it Polomou.

Pwenet - Another hilltop associated with the Pokops. It is in the present village area of Sirah.


Rauhuh - A Nali word which means clearing theundergrowth. It is the first stage of preparation for a taro garden. Usually a task done by the women. In the Lele language the word is "tauhuh"

Saleu - An expression of yearning or missed opportunity in both Lele and Nali languages.

Salih - Nali word for staghorn. Lele equivalent is "silih"

Sinai - Nali word for devil. Lele equivalent is "sinei".

Sindrik - Word in Lele and Nali meaning to cut or snap

Sohol - Front and extended part of a haus boior haus marit. The Nali equivalent is "sohal"

Sohoniliu - Nali village which borders the Lele villages of Dranou Pnd Yirngou. Also spelt Sohoniriu.

Sumbrelendriy - A point along the Highway just before Pihpun village (Sapon). From the mouth of the Lawes River it provided an ideal spot to rest after the climb from the Kaluu market.

Tambu - 1. Brother/sister/father/mother in law; 2. Means forbid; 3. Valuable beads string together in different lengths.

Tanget - Same as nolou above

Tarau - Another place associated with the Pokops. This is the old name for the larger of the two N'Dropa islands.

Tatom - Your grand son or daughter; grandmother. Nali equivalent is "tuhum".

Tiyiy - Another creeper used in house building. It is stronger than the payai and can last for a long time. Nali equivalent is "taiyiy"

Toroko - Like this; this way. Nali equivalentis "toro"

Walah - Nali and Lele word for moon or areca leaf chewed with buai

Womolo - Two of you. Nali equivalent is "wamolu"

Wuloh - A Lele and Nali word for "thank you".

Yiringou - Last Lele speaking village on the Highway just after Dranou. Yiringou used to be a Nali speaking village. Sometimes spelt - Yirngou.

Yo - Me. Both Lele and Nali.

Yon - A big feast. Same in Lele and Nali. Similar to "masah" but for quite different reasons.

Yopai- Lele - Nali word for temporary bush shelter or leaves carried to keep dry from the rain.

Yowos - A river which starts at Yiringou and Tingou and empties into the sea near Yowes village. In the Nali speaking villages it is "Yowes". Tok Pisin is "Lawes"

Yukuyiy - A river in the South Coast where there was a famous market. It enters the sea between Sowou and Londruu villages.


Copyright © 1999 - 2002 Dr. Bernard Minol, University of Papua New Guinea

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Manus Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea location near northern Australia and south east of SE Asia

Pokop Stories
table of contents

Note - the printed and illustrated version of this book is available from the University of Papua New Guinea Press

In this book, Dr. Bernard Minol records not just stories about a historic Pokop but also introduces the readers into the cultural history of a section of Manus people.  People of Nali, Ere, Kele and Lelemasih identify with the stories.

see also