POSSIBLY the largest two bodies of expatriates in Papua New Guinea prior to independence were the kiaps and the teachers.
They tended to be posted all over the country and often in the remotest areas. They had more contact with Papua New Guinean people at the grassroots level than any other group.
By the time PNG Attitude got going they were all either retired or on the cusp of retirement with time on their hands.
They were also at an age where many had become reflective, and a great deal of that reflection involved their time in Papua New Guinea.
If anyone from Australia was going to contribute to PNG Attitude it was this group.
Curiously, considerably more kiaps have done this than teachers. Considering that the blog began life as a newsletter for teachers this is even more puzzling. Why this has been so is a mystery; both groups have stories worth telling and to philosophise about.
In a broader context it has also been the kiaps who have produced more books, often self-published, about their Papua New Guinean experience. Perhaps it is because their past roles had more of a romantic and adventurous tinge.
In any event, this tendency to philosophise is a very significant factor on PNG Attitude.
On the one hand it feeds historical information to Papua New Guinean readers and helps fill the void caused by the lack of a f/ormal historical narrative in modern Papua New Guinean society, especially in its schools.
Whenever a kiap, and very occasionally a teacher, describes pre-independence life and events, they have attracted a large number of comments from both Papua New Guineans and Australians.
On the other hand these articles act as an ongoing stimulus for Papua New Guinean readers. Any gardener will tell you that well-fertilised soil will bear more bountiful crops than a barren tract, and the same principle applies to PNG Attitude.
I’m pretty sure that many expatriate contributors are aware of the proximity of this readership, even if unconsciously. It certainly colours many of the articles I have written for the blog. There are, of course, several Papua New Guinean contributors doing the same thing.
I particularly enjoy the role of gadfly, deliberately writing about contentious issues to generate comments. Some of the other writers do the same thing and in the selection of articles from other media sources for reproduction on the blog I know Keith often has the same thing in mind.
It isn’t seeking to sensationalise issues in the tabloid sense but laying out a basis for continued discussion; PNG Attitude is, after all, a continuing debate.
The biggest stimulant in a political and literary sense is the Crocodile Prize and the same principle seems to apply there.
I think it all works very well and enlivens the pages of the blog and contributes to its popularity.