Tairora - Orientation

Identification. The Tairora live in the Kainantu District of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Group names and place names are usually the same; for example, "Tairora" (or "Tai-ora") is the name of a phratry, settlement, and creek near the present-day town of Kainantu. This designation was generalized by Europeans in the 1920s to include all of the much larger ethnolinguistic group.

Location. Tairora speakers occupy about 1,035 square kilometers of the region south and east of Kainantu, at 145°45′ to 146°15′ E and 6°15′ to 6°45′ S. With annual rainfall of 220-250 centimeters, the region is a catchment area for the Ramu and Lamari River headwaters. The terrain is highly diverse, with large, open grassland dominating the northern basins at elevations of 1,625 to 1,880 meters above sea level, and steeply incised forest- or grass-covered ridges in the south, where the Kratke Range culminates in Mount Piora, at 3,450 meters. The climate is fairly uniform throughout the Region, with cool nights, warm days, and relatively wet and dry seasons that alternate with the southeast and northwest monsoons, respectively.

Demography. Current estimates for Tairora speakers place the population at about 14,000, reflecting a steady, if slight, rate of increase since European contact. Nowadays, sizable numbers of Tairora, especially from northern settlements, emigrate to the towns of Kainantu, Goroka, and Lae.

linguistic Affiliation. Tairora, with at least five dialects, is a member of the Eastern Family of Non-Austronesian Languages in the East New Guinea Highlands Stock. Many Tairora are bilingual with neighboring languages (Agarabi, Auyana, Binumarien, Gadsup, and Kamano in the north; Awa and Waffa in the south) and currently most males and younger women are fluent in Tok Pisin. Summer Institute of Linguistics translators have produced a considerable amount of religious and educational material in Tairora, but the number of people who are literate in their own language is still fairly small.

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