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‘BABY GARDEN’ CULT TAKES HOLD ON BOUGAINVILLE Movement mainly attracts young girls

By Gorethy Kenneth PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 28, 2010) - The infamous Hahalis baby garden cult may have been revived in Bougainville – a cult group that has a leader who claims he is Jesus and has the answers to everything in the region.

And it may result in a baby boom in the newly established autonomous region of Bougainville – something the Government is struggling to sort out with the current financial woes it is facing.

This cargo cult group, with a leader the same as that of Steven Tari of Madang, spend time worshipping and at the same time luring many Bougainvilleans, young and old, to join their group.

They claim they are the saviors of Bougainville.

Now with a huge following especially from young girls, the group activities are at their peak (in Buka in the past they used to call it "welfare.")

In the 1960s, the Hahalis Welfare Society movement and its "baby garden’’ caught world attention as the colonial police force sent riot police in to quell the movement, using the failure to pay head tax as the legal reasoning for police action.

The Post-Courier on numerous occasions has made appointments to talk to the current cult’s leader and an attempt over the weekend to have an audience with the so-called saviours failed. A note sent to them also came back with the response – "wetim early moning bai mipela singautim yu kam’’ (wait until early in the morning when we will call you to come) But word reaching the paper from those who are part of the movement claim that you have to seek permission from their highest worship before entering their "kingdom’’ or territory.

Situated in northern Bougainville, the cult group has been in operation since the beginning of this year.

The Post-Courier caught up with two of their members, a man and a woman who confessed that they met when they joined this cult group. When asked to detail what basic programs they do or what their daily program includes and also if it was the "baby garden’’ days revived - they said:

"Mipla lotu tasol na sampela taim yu husat nogat man or meri, yu kam na brukim skru bai bikman soim yu husat man or meri yu bai maritim long laip," the man (named) said. "Yes, em i olsem liklik baby gaden blong John Tiosin long Hahalis tasol em tu i narakain liklik. Gutpla yu toktok wantaim boss bilong mipla na save gut long olgeta moves na samting mipla wokim."

Translated: ‘’We just pray and sometimes, if you have no partner, come and kneel down and you will be shown your partner for life. Yes, it’s like the baby garden of John Tiosin and the Hahalis movement but it’s a bit different. It’s best for you to talk to our leader and find out all that happens within the group.’’

The couple who met at during one of their worship days said that they have a huge following and they have special worship days and special "play" days. When asked what play days meant, they just shrugged their shoulders.

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