On the whole question of Kuni relationship it can, I think, hardly be doubted that the Kuni have some characteristics which are clearly those of the Mafulu and other central mountain tribes, and others which are obviously those of the Papuo-Melanesians of the adjacent plains and the coast beyond; and the only question seems to be the nature and origin of the Kuni relationship to these two types of people. It may be, as suggested by Father Egedi, that they are actually a cross between these two mixed types; or, if the suggestion in my concluding chapter as to the possible presence in these Mafulu and other mountain people of Negrito blood be correct, it may be that the Kuni people are merely another result of the general Negrito-Papuo-Melanesian intercrossing, in which the Papuan and Melanesian elements have been more predominant than they have been with the Mafulu.
What is the origin of these Mafulu people, with their short stature, small and somewhat rounded heads, slight but active build, sooty brown skin, and frizzly hair, predominantly brown in colour, and with their comparatively primitive ideas of organisation, and simple arts and crafts?
The question is one of no mere local interest, as the answer to it will probably be the answer to a similar question concerning most, and perhaps all, of the other Papuan-speaking people of the mountainous interior of the Central District of British New Guinea, and may even be a key to the past early history of the entire island.
It has, I think, been hitherto believed that all these mountain people had a mixed Papuan and Melanesian ancestry; but it was impossible to be among them, as I was, for some time without being impressed by the difference in appearance between them and the people of the adjacent coast and plains, and suspecting that, though they had Papuan and Melanesian blood in their veins, there was also some third element there. And the name which obtruded itself upon my mind, whilst in Mafulu, was Negrito.
The dark skin and the comparatively rounded heads, and, I think, some shortness of stature are found elsewhere in British New Guinea; though shortness of stature and rounded heads are unusual, and, I believe, only local, and I do not know whether even the Papuan skin is ever quite so dark as that of the Mafulu people. But the almost universal shortness of stature, the comparatively slight, but strong and active, build and the brown colour of the hair seemed entirely different from anything that I had ever seen or read of as regards either the Papuans or the Melanesians; and all of these, coupled with the tendency to roundness of head, were consistent with a partial negrito ancestry.
Then on my return to England I learnt that dwarf people had been found by the recent expedition into Dutch New Guinea organised by the British Ornithologists’ Union. Dr. Haddon has expressed the opinion that these dwarf people and some dwarf people previously found by Dr. Rudolph Poch in German New Guinea are all negritoes, or negritoes crossed with Papuans.