KOKI

One of the advantages of living in the suburb of Preston, in Melbourne, is that we have our own fresh produce market. If you hang around for long enough and late enough, you can pick up some real bargains, specifically on Saturday afternoons when the market is closing down for the week.

I got hooked on fresh food markets 40 years ago when I was living in Port Moresby and shopping at the Koki market was a weekly event. In those days, you could spend a couple of kina and walk away with a week’s supply of fresh fruit and vegies.

The big drawback to having a weekly market, however, is the number of cars it attracts. The fact that Preston also has a large shopping centre surrounded by acres of carparks means that the suburb is now officially the carjacking capital of Melbourne. We also get more than our fair share of shop-lifting and other forms of petty theft. It’s annoying to have that kind of reputation when you know that the vast majority of residents, stall holders and shoppers are law-abiding and peaceful.

I gather that Koki now has a similar reputation for being the carjacking capital of Port Moresby. I have also read claims that it’s not safe for tourists to enter the market without a guide. When I look at pictures on the Internet of Koki market and its neighbouring village as they look today, it’s not that side of them I see. Koki has grown and evolved into what has the potential to be one of the world’s great markets. It’s still picturesque but with a much more diverse range of merchandise than it had back in the old days. Koki village, too, is looking bigger and more prosperous.

Tucked away in my albums are some photos of Koki as it looked over 40 years ago and I’ve put them into this blog as a reminder to other old-timers of how it used to be. I hope they brings back some happy memories.

Final-Koki-market-for-web

Koki market in the seventies. The idea was to get there early and beat the crowds. The lady in the foreground has a basket of pumpkin leaves, which probably cost her 10 toea.

Another view of Koki Market in 1972. There was a police presence, but nothing heavy-handed.

Another view of Koki Market in 1972. There was a police presence, but nothing heavy-handed.

Koki-market-sellers-with-ch

Most of the market sellers were women who had come in from their outlying villages with produce from their own gardens. They brought their infants and toddlers with them but their older children were at school. I imagine that is still the case. It was and is a very family-oriented environment.

A baby asleep in a bilum bag at Koki market, while mum was busy selling sweet potatoes. A version of this photo ended up as a poster.

A baby asleep in a bilum bag at Koki market, while mum is busy selling sweet potatoes. A version of this photo ended up as a poster.

Koki village at sunset. A small coastal village in the 1970s has been transformed into a much larger inner suburb of Port Moresby.

Koki village at sunset. A small coastal village in the 1970s has been transformed into a much larger inner suburb of Port Moresby.

Koki-village-washing-copy-f

Sunny days and clear skies. Every day was washing day at Koki village and it is the gently flapping washing that I particularly remember.

Wedding-feast-Koki-village-

A Christian wedding reception at Koki village in 1971, or at least that’s how I remember it. In any event it was a joyous occasion.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “KOKI

  1. I remember the markets (1973-75) in Goroka and Lae where everything was in 10 cent lots (this is before PNG had its own currency). So you could get three tomatoes, or five potatoes etc for 10 cents a purchase. If I remember correctly the 10 cent coin was the preferred coin for every transaction, so you would get locals (Papua New Guineans) making big purchases with sacks full of 10 cent coins. I remember the markets as being friendly with lots of laughter. I always felt safe, but I understand things have changed.

  2. well over the last 35 years or so many development has taken place and quite settings has turn to busy commercialised towns and cities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.