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Pre 1945


For a comprehensive overview of exploration in New Guinea before 1828, see Papuaweb's digital version of Wichmann's 1909 account in Nova Guinea, Vol.1 (text in German).


Migel Rojo de Brito visits the Raja Ampat Islands, the MacCluer/Bintuni Gulf, and North Seram in a search for gold. [jt]


VOC begins sending expeditions to the Moluccas and the so-called Papuan Islands. [jt]


Jan Carstensz travels from Aru to West New Guinea to find a passage north to the Pacific Ocean. He glimpses snow-caps on what he believed to be the mountainous interior of Seram. [jt]


Tasman explores the western shores of West New Guinea for the VOC on his voyage back from New Zealand. [pd]


Captain Frederik Gommersdorp lands at Rumbati at the Onin Peninsula. Perhaps Antony Adriaansz. Multum was there before because upon his return to Banda in 1656, Multum told that he had lived on the Karas Islands at south coast of the Onin Peninsula for three years. [jt]


The Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) recognises the sultan of Tidore’s (nominal) sovereignty over the island of New Guinea and thus gains the rights to collect labour and forest products from West New Guinea. [jt]


Willem Buis, together with Multum, travels to Onin to collect manpower. [jt]


Council of Justice, Nicolaes Vinck does a preliminary survey of the north and south coast of what later is called the MacCluer Gulf. He lands at Goras, Sekar, and Patipi at the Onin Peninsula. [jt]


Captain Johannes Keyts travels with three ships to Onin, visits the Arguni Bay and places VOC flags at Fatagar and Kilbati. [jt]


William Dampier lands at the Karas Islands, travels around the island of Salawati and maps the strait between the islands of Batanta and Waigeo. [jt]


Corporal Wiggers joins a hongi raid to Onin during which 178 people were captured, 53 are killed and three villages are burned. [jt]


Captain John MacCluer maps the MacCluer Gulf. [jt]


The sultans of Ternate and Tidore agree that the west coast of New Guinea falls under sovereign authority of the sultan of Tidore, which marks the first formal Dutch claim on this land. [jt]

1824 March 17

Treaty of London in which the Dutch and the British agree upon division of the Indies. The Dutch get Sumatra, Java, Maluku, West New Guinea, and the British get Malaya and Singapora and retain an interest in North Borneo. [pd]


Triton expedition to New Guinea leads to the construction of the fortress Du Bus and the first Dutch settlement, Merkusoord, in the Triton Bay. Within a few months the fortress and the settlement are attacked by local people and after eight years of suffering from diseases and regular confrontation with the local people, the Dutch left the place in 1836. [jt]


Governor-General J.J. Rochussen decides that the 141st meridian marks the eastern border of Netherlands New Guinea. D.J. van den Dungen Gronovius travels around the coast to place escutcheons. Leading a large hongi fleet, he also travels along the north and south coast of the Kepala Burung in 1849. [jt]


Dutch government restricts hongi raids, fully banning them six or seven years later. [jt]


Beginning of missionisation of West New Guinea. The German missionaries Carl W. Ottow and Johann G. Geissler land on the island of Mansinam in Cenderawasih Bay. [jt]


Lieutenant F.R. Toewater goes on a mission with the vessel ‘Phoenix’ to punish the villagers of Kapitoear and Sisir at the south coast of Onin who are suspected of resistance and theft to the disadvantage of VOC traders. [jt]


Dr H.A. Bernstein collects material culture for the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden. He visits the islands of Batanta, Salawati, Doom, Ram, and Tjiof and Remu and Cape Sele at the mainland. [jt]


First official inauguration of an Arguni raja at Tidore. [jt]


Government commissioner P. van der Crab and botanist J.E. Teysmann travel to Onin and into the MacCluer Gulf. Van der Crab reports that many traders from Seram are active in the Bintuni Bay. [jt]


Former Resident J.C. Coorengel travels into the MacCluer Gulf and visits rajas along the coasts of Bintuni Bay (Bergh 1964a: 32).


The botanists Odoardo Beccari and Luigi d’Albertis visit the Arfak mountains in the north-east of the Kepala Burung. [jt]


The pearler Captain Edwin Redlich on the brig ‘Franz’ sends his first mate and seventeen men off in two small boats at the south-west coast of the Kepala Burung on 12 November. In December, the raja of Salawati reports to Redlich that they had been killed and eaten by people on the Klabra River. [jt]


The naturalist Adolf Bernard Meyer claims to be the first to have crossed the isthmus that connects the Kepala Burung with Kowiai and Onin. [jt]


The British and German governments acknowledge the 141st meridian east as the western boundary of their possessions, accepting the Dutch assertions of 1828. [jt]


Former Resident of Ternate, F.S.A. de Clerq travels with the ‘Java’ to West New Guinea and visits the south coast of Bintuni Bay. [jt]


Establishment of government stations in Manokwari and Fak-fak. [jt]


Inspector P.E. Moolenburgh crosses the isthmus that connects the Kepala Burung with Kowiai and Onin. [jt]


The linguist J.S.A. van Dissel organises three trips across the Onin Peninsula/ [jt]


J.W. van Hille, Inspector of Fak-fak and first government official of western West New Guinea, explores (partly together with the commander of the vessel ‘Jawa’, J.N.W. Kuyl) the north coast of the MacCluer Gulf. [jt]


Assistant-Resident F.H. Dumas at Fak-fak appoints two Onin leaders to serve the government at Yahadian (Kais River) and Segei (presently Inanwatan) with a platoon of armed police men at their disposal. [jt]


Revolt in Bira (now Inanwatan). [jt]


Missionary H.D. Starrenburg of the Utrechtse Zendingsvereniging travels through the MacCluer Gulf and the Bintuni Bay to Fak-fak. [jt]


Missionary J. van Muijlwijk settles at Fak-fak to co-ordinate missionary activities in west West New Guinea. [jt]


The Utrechtse Zendingsvereniging missionaries D.C.A. Bout and J. Wetstein travel to Bintuni with the vessel ‘Jong-Holland’. [jt]


Construction of the Boven Digul internment camp for Indonesian nationalists. [jt]


Beginning of oil exploration in the MacCluer Gulf area with Babo as base-camp. Oil was also found near Klamono (Western Kepala Burung), followed by Mogoi in 1939 and Wasian in 1941, both in the east of the Kepala Burung). [jt]


The Officer in Charge for the Sorong region, S. van der Goot, explores the northern Kepala Burung and travels across the Kladuk River to the Klawilis Rivier down to the south coast. Van der Goot returns to the area with the Denison-Crockett expedition to Sainkeduk (where the Crockett family stayed). [jt]


Establishment of the Central Kepala Burung garrison in Mefkadjim (Ayamaru) under command of the military captain, G.F. van Duin as of March. [jt]


‘Discovery’ of the Baliem Valley by the Richard Archbold expedition. [jt]


S. van der Goot and Inspector Meylinck travel from Amberbaken at the north coast of the Kepala Burung to Ayamaru and from there to the west coast. During this trip Meylinck is killed by a shot from his own gun. [jt]


Successful strike of oil in Mogoi, near Bintuni. [jt]

1940 May 15

Netherlands Indies government declares a state of siege, and places the Indies on a wartime footing. [jt]


Successful strike of oil in Wasian, near Bintuni. [jt]


Occupation of most of the northern parts of West New Guinea by Japanese troops. The head of the Ayamaru sub-division, W.F. van den Berg, manages to stay aloof from the Japanese. In the North-western Kepala Burung, Sergeant M. Kokkelink and Sergeant-Major P.P. de Kock, successfully hide despite an unremitting Japanese hunt. [jt]

1944 April 22

Allied forces retake Hollandia [pd]

1944 May 9

Japanese commanders surrender and withdraw from West New Guinea. A Dutch appeal to offer resistance to the Japanese is followed by many local leaders throughout West New Guinea. In a couple of months the people chase away or kill all the Japanese in their regions. [jt]

1944 June 4

Japanese start a counterattack on Biak and the islands is finally cleared from Japanese on 8 September [pd]


Proclamation of independence of Indonesia by Sukarno and Mohammed Hatta on 17 August. [jt]

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