Walkabout Long Chinatown


I’ve got a little record collection going on at home and besides the 12″ LP’s I also have a stack of 45’s. One in particular I have puzzled about because I have lost the actual vinyl and so only the cover remains. Also the only place I remember hearing this song was in high school where a Bougainvillean mate of mine used to sing the song when we were off to classes.

So just wondering is there anyone out there that may have a copy of this song? Or is there anyone out there willing to sell old PNG records?

The back of the 1963 cover reads:

The artists on this record are the Kopy Kats of Papua, New Guinea and Fred Maedola of Honiara, British Solomon Islands. Recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Papua, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service.

Cover photo of Trbriand Islands beach scene, Miline Bay district, New Guinea, courtesy Department of Information and Extension Services, Papua.

Produced by Charles Harley.”




47 thoughts on “Walkabout Long Chinatown

  1. Wokabaut is a Solomon Islands classic. When we run the workshop for recording musicians up there in October last year, we recorded a version (well – about 6 actually if you include the various mixes and remixes) for the Minister who opened and closed the event. Will see if I can track down an early version, but SIBC and IPNGS would almost certainly have copies I think.

    1. Hi there,

      You would not believe it, this jingle has been running over and over in my mind for the past 1-2 months.

      “Walkaboutee long Chinatown, lusim ting ting…” omg I grew up listening to that in Hohola POM….words havE since been forgotTen.

      I punched in the opening line in google and bang here it was!

      I too am looking for an mp3 copy, that’d be sweet. Let me know if anyone can help.


  2. Are the original Kopy Kats still around? Wondering if they ever contemplated getting together?

    Sorry for the ignorance they were before my time.

    My father had the exact replica of the above record album Walkabout Long Chinatown.

  3. i have been searching for the same original song from Solomons (Walkabouti long chinatown)..Grew up listening to them on the radio. I think it was 9PA or something like that. Does anyone have other oldies like Stalemates, Freebeats? would love to hear on you tube if you are able to upload them.
    thanks so much. Regards.

    1. Hi Maria.. Im Phil Neilson, I was a member of the Freebeats from 1966-1970. I have about 10 songs recorded by the freebeats in Port Moresby.

  4. Wakabaot long Saenataon was originally recorded in the 1950s by Three High Voltage Boys, where the author Edwin Sitori (who is still alive, by the way) was one of the participants. A very crude version of this song exists on CD (and probably, as pointed out by Denis Crowdy, in the vaults of SIBC in Honiara). I have a copy of it.

    It has been recorded in several different versions, but the most famous one would probably be the recording by Solomon Dakei and his Solomon Islanders.

    The song has been recorded in multiple versions, not only in PNG and SI, but also in Fiji by Sakiusa Bulocokocoko, who probably was the one who made it famous around the Pacific.

    The story of the song, which is a national treasure in the Solomons, can be found on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.

    Paal Haegland
    University of Bergen

      1. Hi Emmanuel,

        Sakiusa Bulocokocoko is one of the biggest artists to have come out of Fiji. He passed away in 2007, but his songs still live on in his native country (and in other parts of the Pacific as well). He popularized traditional Fijian songs, as well as record some more modern tunes.
        His version of this particular song is a more up-tempo rock version, rather than the more stringband/country recording that the song is most famous for in PNG and Solomon Islands.

        The Three High Voltage boys were the authors of Wakabaot long Saenataon, Mr. Edwin Sitori of Onepusu in the Are’are region of Malaita Province, Mr. Rone Naqu of Kolobangara, Western Province, and Mr. Jason Que of Vella Lavella, Western Province. They recorded the song in the early days of the 1950s (probably somewhere between 1952-55) in the studios of Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service (SIBS) – now called Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC).

        If you check out the music section of the Biukili blog, you will find an MP3-version of Solomon Dakei’s recording from the 1960s (or late 50s, I am not quite sure on the exact year).


    1. Wow – thanks to the Masalai for getting up this conversation about this brilliant song (and thanks to Paal whom I’ve not yet met but who was being praised by Professor Annelin Eriksen when I met her recently in Port Vila)! I just wanted add my little bit. In late 1969 Fred Maedola (BTW, could the SI Prime Minister’s Dept also honour this great Melanesian musician with photos and a biography?) also recorded a version with Viking Seven Seas which may be the version some of the contributors are referring to. Maedola’s version adds a verse about Koki Market in Port Moresby (clever marketing was around even back then – include place names [a very Melanesian song tradition] and increase potential listeners and buyers). I have the contact for the copyright owner of Viking Records recordings if anyone wants to get in touch directly.

      Michael Webb (The University of Sydney)

      1. Hi Michael,

        thanks for the update on Madola’s 1969 recording. And I completely agree with you with regards to the PM’s office giving praise to Maedola as well. He is by far the most popular Solomon Islands stringband performer, and his songs are still part of the Honiara consciousness even to this day (although the young people are not as familiar with him as they perhaps should have been). His songs “Dollar” and “Trabol Meka Long Taon” are legendary, and the basic themes of these songs still ring true in modern day Honiara.

        Wakabaot has been recorded in so many versions, and the song continues to be a legend in its own way, even 60 years later.
        I’ve heard stories of Solomon Islands delegations being greeted with this song when arriving in other Pacific nations, like Samoa. This goes to show the massive popularity of this song, and hopefully it will be given the prais it so definately deserves during the 2012 Pacific Arts Festival in Honiara.

        I had the good fortune to witness Mr. Edwin Sitori perform the song at the PM’s Christmas party in 2008 when I was in Honiara, and as luck would have it I got it all on video. It was magical to see and hear the creator play the song like it should be played.

  5. Greetings Paal!

    Would have loved to have been there to hear Edwin Sitori. And Maedola’s Taem Mi Sik long Namba 9 should also get a mention. On the subject of Walkabout, just yesterday I received an email from a Solomon Islander friend (offering yet another spelling … Wakabauti long Jaenataoni) who told me that his SSEC church friends use the song as a hymn, presumably with new words!

    I’d love to chat with you more about your experiences in Honiara and SI as they relate to music.


    1. Time Mi Sik… is also a classic. The problem is that these recordings are sometimes very hard to get a hold of, although many have now been digitalized as MP3s. Trabol Meka Long Taon is just one example.

      I think Wakabaot has more spellings than there are actual versions of the song.
      There are also a great number of explanations as to what the general theme of the song actually is. Some call it a war time song (Lamont and White in Island Encounters 1990:160), while others have made it into a more autobiographical tale. Sitori himself told me that it was a reaction to what he saw while on a walkabaout in Chinatown, and not so much about himself. While the story on the PMs website is yet again different from that.

      Whatever the actual truth may be, it is no doubt that it is a cultural treasure in the Pacific, and not just in SI.

      I’d love to discuss more with you on this subject, as it is extremely fascinating.

      1. Paal, please go on this is really interesting. I can’t believe a simple blog post has brought out so much history.

        Would be worth releasing a multimedia DVD, with pics, stories and all the versions of the song. Just to kick start some modern music histroy hunting

      1. Hi Emmanuel.

        I am currently finishing my M.A. thesis on the popular music of Solomon Islands, and Honiara in particular. The music history from 1945 to this day is an important aspect of it. This song is just one of many I am looking at, as well as the amazing diversity in the modern day music scene of Honiara.

        The history of this particular subject has never been recorded before, so it has been difficult to obtain information. Also most of the people from this era are no longer with us. Much of the history is therefore second hand information.
        It is such a fascinating subject to look into, and an important one as well. Considering the popularity of Solomon Islands music in Melanesia it is a shame that it has not been properly recorded in the past.


    2. Inspired by this conversation I have now uploaded the video recording of Wakabaot Long Saenataon on YouTube. It is too important not to be shared.

      The video is of Edwin Sitori, the composer, playing the song with modern Honiara stringband One Drop Band. Enjoy.

  6. No it does not. As it is an anthropological narrative, and not an ethnomusicological study, I did not record much of the music. I was more focused on the actual performers and their daily lives.

    However, it is a very intriguing idea you have, and I did think of it at one point. It would definately be something worth exploring further.

  7. This is exciting. Assisted the PM’s office on designing and creating their website. This thread inspired me to suggest that we put up a link called National Treasures on the website where we can have similar stories included. The story has been a source of inspiration for many Solomon Islanders when it was told. Paal, can we download that youtube clip and post on the SI PM’s website with the collection for multimedia?


    1. Ahhh Lynnold, great to hear from you again. Yes please do, the Solomons are quite unique and progressive in their musical talent, the more info out there the better 🙂

    2. Hi Lynnold,

      first of all, congratulations on the PM’s website. Great design and a great website all together.

      Feel free to download the clip. I was actually thinking of contacting the PM’s office to tip them of this clip, as it is something all Solomon Islanders should have knowledge of. This is part of the shared history of modern Solomon Islands.

      The history section of the PM’s office has been a great help, and I look forward to more stories being published on that site.


  8. Thanks Paal. Thanks Emmanuel,
    PM’s office has given the ok for a section solely dedicated to inspiring stories like Edwin Sitori’s. Someone is currently working on compiling a story about Fred Maedola and many other interesting stories for the website.
    Will download the clip, we currently have some photos from the same occassion on the website now.


  9. Living far away from the Solomon Islands (in fact northern Europe, i e Sweden), I sometimes play this wonderful song on my piano, both for myself and others. I visited the S Islands 15 years ago, and the best souvenir I brought home was this song, wich I learned from somebody who sang it with guitar.

  10. There is a secret behind this song that no one has thought of mentioning, Mr Sitori made this song concerning a girl that he liked, she was a chinese girl who lived at the bend in chinatown, she was raised in the Solomon Islands in the Western Province after her family sought refuge in the Solomon Islands escaping the japanese from the occupation of china, being raised as a solomon islander she was more of a western island girl than chinese and could not even speak chinese, they may have started a relationship together but to Mr sitori’s suprise she had left to live in the Shortland Islands afer marrying Mr Christopher Laore the son of a Shortland Island Chief, this song was composed when she had returned to Chinatown from the shortlands, after having a disagreement inside the house in chinatown she walked outside and kicked a bucket in her anger, Mr Sitori saw this and mentioned it in his song…. his song questions…why did u leave me( mani karange karange heti loosim mani)….. she was a girl from a different country (loosim home longtime)…and of course the kikim bucket parts…., he was concerned for her and her choice in marrying the shortland islander afer having given Mr Sitori the image of a relationship being between them.

    The Girls name was Lily Leong, she married Mr Christopher Laore, she became chiefly(queen) Lily Laore of the nuhu village of shortland islands, and all of the Shortland Islanders know of her, her son also called Christopher Laore is currently the Honorable MP for Shortland Islands 2011.

    Ask Mr Sitori about this and im sure he will tell you more about the real background to his song… a love song indeed.

  11. Yeah, just my thought, would be a great pacific (melanesian) movie… i actually knew the family while living in Koloale right next to Chinatown in Honiara, this is where Mr and Mrs Laore moved when they decided to settle down for a time in somewhere else other than Chinatown or the Short-land Islands. I was their neighbor and was surprised to learn of the origins of the song when at one instance there was a chance meet up between Mr Sitori and Mrs Lily Laore, i was at that time at Mrs Laore’s residence with her grandchildren who were my friends when Mr Sitori walked by through the neighborhood heading down towards Chinatown, they caught a glimpse of each other and he was happy to stop and say hi, generally catch up with each other, they looked like they knew each other really well and i also knew about Mr Sitori and his songs. After he left, one of Lily’s grandchildren asked who the man was?, she replied and said it was the guy who made the Wakabouti long Chinatown song, all the little grandchildren laughed and so i proceeded to ask why they had laughed, this is when they told me about how the song was made for Mrs Lily Laore and how it was a love song, at this point Mr Laore was listening from indoor and so i asked him if this was true, he replied that it was true and if it were not for Shortland Island blackmagic that he had used on her then she may have indeed ended up with Mr Sitori, and he smiled as if suppressing a joke like giggle. Since i knew the family quite well i then asked Mrs Laore if this was true and she replied indeed the blackmagic was true. The story goes something like this… The Shortland Islander the son of a Shortland Islands chief of the Village of Nuhu came to Honiara attracted by the growing township and all its happenings,he enlisted in the Royal Solomon Islands Police since he was in need of work, he spent his time policing while on duty and whilst off duty he would be the usual young Solomon Islander as Mr Sitori was at that time. Mr Laore was off duty and in plain clothes when he went into a Chinatown Shop, at this time every young boy in and around Honiara had heard of the beauty of this young Chinese girl who could not speak Chinese only Ranonga language of the west and also Pidgin English, she was basically a Solomon Girl, she worked in one of the Chinese shops to make some money and help out with her little sister and brother had already died and so they were being taken care and raised by local ranonga western people. She was working as a shop keeper when Mr Laore entered and asked for her assistance from the counter, Mr laore then said to her in pidgin that he thought she was beautiful!, to his suprise she replied also in pidgin swearing at him.lol
    At this point Mr laore was instantly in love and told her that if she would like to find him he could be contacted at the Police station where he worked, Lily continued to swear in pidgin at him and told him to leave but she could not understand why he had told her where she could contact him. Mr Laore as i already explained was the son of a Shortland island chief, the Shortland islands being geographically part of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands (some stupid colonial white dude annexed it!), therefore his dad being a Bougainvillian/Shortland islander taught him all that was to be known about all the customs and about using black magic, the village leaders made sure he had all the knowledge to become the future chief in the event that his dad the present chief passed, and therefore Mr Laore used his knowledge of the traditional black magic and before leaving the shop he had told Lily that she would come crying for him at this very same time tomorrow and in the event she could contact him at the Central Police Station where he worked….. and surely as he had said…the very next day and at the same time of day…she went crying to the police station, she was tended to by the white British officers there who could not figure out why she was stating that she was indeed crying for a certain Mr Christopher Laore who was a black man and her of a lighter color, at that time the colors did not mix accordingly to the British officers and they could not allow anything to happen between these two, the British colonial officers were shocked when she asked them to call for Mr Christopher Laore for the reason being thaT she wanted to marry him!!!

    My knowledge of the story stops here but from here on they fought the law by opposing its restrictions that black and white could not be legally registered and not allowed to marry..and they moved to the shortlands where she became the queen of a whole Shortland island village (chinese woman!) she learnt the language and customs and was treated with the highest authority as was her husband the chief, they had children together and they moved and lived in the Koloale part of Honiara and the Shortlands from time to time.

    This would make a great movie! all the facts can without a doubt be compiled by asking the children of Mrs Lily laore

    two of which are currently working in the Government of the Solomon Isands

    1. Honorable Christopher Laore MP for Shortland Islands
    2. Mrs Caroline Laore Commissioner in the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission of the Solomon Islands.

  12. Just another interesting fact for you…one of Lily Laore’s grandchildren Bernard Laore Vave along with his distant shortland island cousin George Kuper Jnr and two others… was the one who formed the original ONETOX band and he can be heard rapping in the song Ramukanji in english and also pidgin english plus shortland island language…rapping about the Maito of the Shortland Islands.

    I am trying to email him to ask for a picture of his grandmother ( Lily Laore) so i can send it to you…just so people know where the inspiration for WAKABOUTI LONG CHINATOWN came from.

  13. made a mistake in previouse post…

    “she worked in one of the Chinese shops to make some money and help out with her little sister and brother had already died and so they” …

    … sorry mistake here i meant to say because her mother and father had already died and therefore she was working to help her little brother and sister.And not that her brother and sister were dead.

  14. One of her sons Honourable Steve Laore became a member of parliament and died two weeks later. Honourable Christopher Laore was elected with landslide victory to replace him.

  15. I was living on Ghizo in the 1960s when I heard this song by Solomon Dakei. In fact one of the nurses, Hetti was part of the chorus. I am now teaching music in an Australian country town and I would like to to teach this ong to some of my students as a part of world music. I am finding it hard to obtain the lyrics. Can anyone help?

  16. Thanks Manu and to everyone for the fantastic historical background information to this song. I have fond memories of listening to Walkabout Long Chinatown and the wonderful music of the fabulous Black Brothers on NBC radio while growing up in the 80’s in Port Moresby. Brings back great memories.

    1. I have an LP with this song on it by a group called the Kopy Kats. On this recording they quite clearly begin with the words “Walkaboutee long Chinatown eh,” I have no idea what these extra syllables are.or if they are added to fill out the meter or if it is a local dialect. This is on an album on Viking called “TheNew Guinea Scene” Recorded in Port Moreby by the ABC and copyrighted 1963. Could someone write out the standard lyrics for this song and email it to sylehrman@gmail.com? I would appreciate it. It has to do with our little ukulele group looking for songs other than Hawaiian tunes, you see. Thanks.

  17. I have the words for the song which I learned to play while in the Solomon’s in the 1980’s.
    They are as follows :

    Wakabote longo china Toni

    Walkabote longo china Toni
    Market Kosi aga long kona
    Kikimu bakete enikaeni
    Mani karang,karange heti lusim mane

    Lusim hom (lusim hom)
    Long Taemu (long Taemu)
    Ting ting back (ting ting back)
    Long iu (long iu)
    Two years over mi no lukim yu
    Jasta why mi no lukim yu
    Nani karange, karange heti lusim mane

    Nomata mi sae longo Honiara
    Sainting mi Lus long taem long iu
    Bat sapos iu ting longo me
    Iu can wait for two years more
    Reremu come light sikini longo lelebeti

    These words were provided to me by the Solomon island quarantine staff I worked with for two periods of a couple of months. Wonderful people who loved to play and sing the custom songs.
    Another favorite was japani ha ha brilliant stuff especially when played by the bamboo bands.

    I have a lp recording of these songs which I must copy to cd.

    Cheers Gazza

    1. Hello and thank you very much for the words of this song. I used to sing it long time ago when I was living as a teenager at Aore SDA mission in the Vanuatus back in the late 70’s but lost my song book there. I live in NZ but yep I never forget the wonderful memories of melanesia.

    2. Thanks a lot for all that information about the Walkabout Long Chinatown song. I will have to digest it all and come up with a useful version. It is, to me, a bit sad to see that the string band style has fallen out of favor. There is something thrilling about it. I, however, play in a group of ukulele players and I have long told them that I prefer the Melanesian string band stye to the Hawaiian and they finally told me to get some tunes of shut up so I’ll bring them this one and George Telek’s Song about West papua and , perhaps another one or two. Thanks again.

  18. Wakabaoti longo chinataoni was first sang by Solomon Dakei and his Solomon islanders in the 60s. Dr dakei sang it with three other nurses and they are from the western province of Solomon Islands. The radio SIBC in Solomon Islands would have the original song in record player form.
    the words were

    wakabaoti longo chinataoni
    Makem kosi anka long kona
    Suti apu sekem hed kikim bakete enikaeni
    Mani karange karange hedi lusim mane

    Long yu
    Lusim Hom
    Long taem
    tuyas ova mi no lukimyu dastawae mi no laikem yu
    Mani karange karange hedi lusim mane

    Nomoata mi dae long Honiara
    Samting mi lus long taem long yu
    But sapos yu ting long mi
    Yu mas waet for tuyas moa
    Rerem kam laet sikini tololelebeti

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