Assoc Prof Steve Mullins, a historian at Central Queensland University, is travelling halfway round the world to the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland to begin unravelling an intriguing piece of PNG’s early colonial history. In the island’s small museum, he will be given access to a 120-page manuscript written by Andrew Goldie in 1881.
Goldie was one of the first Europeans to live in Port Moresby and from about 1875-90 was the most significant collector of PNG natural history specimens and artefacts for Australian museums. Apprenticed as a gardener in Scotland, he migrated to New Zealand in 1862 and spent ten years as a nurseryman. After collecting botanical specimens in the South Seas, he shifted his attention to PNG, collecting until his death in 1891. His possessions, including an unfinished manuscript, were then sent back to Millport on Cumbrae.
Prof Mullins believes the Goldie manuscript may be a unique window on the Papuan past. His aim is to bring Goldie’s manuscript to life by editing a book containing an annotated and illustrated version of the original hand written manuscript. It will also catalogue the 130 or so Goldie items held by the Queensland Museum.
“Until now very little has been written about Goldie [who] is particularly interesting because he was a commercial rather than a scientific collector,” Prof Mullins says. “Because he opened Port Moresby’s first trade store, Goldie knew everyone on the … south coast, and by annotating his manuscript we hope to coherently link up with their histories.”
Source: ‘Rare New Guinea manuscript comes to light’, The National Weekender, 20 June 2008