BY PETER KRANZ
THE BOLUMINSKI HIGHWAY is the main land transportation route in New Ireland. It runs from Kavieng for 193 km down the east coast to Namatanai.
From Kavieng it is a sealed road for around 120 km until Bol village, and from there it has a crushed white coral road surface.
Originally named Kaiser-Wilhelm-Chaussee during the German protectorate, it was prosaically renamed the ‘East Coast Road’ in 1921.
After PNG gained independence it was renamed again, this time after Franz Boluminski who was the German District Officer from 1910 until World War I.
Boluminski was one of those weird ground-breaking heroes and eccentrics of colonial times. He was born in Graudenz, Prussia - and may be a distant relative of mine.
He served in the German Army in German East Africa and in 1894 went to work for the German New Guinea Company at Astrolabe Bay near modern-day Madang.
In March 1899 he transferred to the German colonial service and was posted to the new station of Kavieng. In 1910 he was promoted to district officer.
His major feat was the construction of the road along the north-east coast of the island. He made each village along the coast build and maintain a section. This eventually became known as the Boluminski Highway But, while he realised a grand vision, he was guilty of using virtual slave labour to build the road.
At the same time he established copra plantations connected to the highway and this made New Ireland one of the most profitable parts of German New Guinea.
Franz Boluminski died of heat-stroke and is now buried in Bagail Cemetery in Kavieng.
Photo: Scene from the highway (Barbara Short)