Sweetember 16: Poetry for PNG’s Independence Day
Limitations of law, human nature & the word of God

Sound & light: My fireworks for Independence in 1975

Bird of Paradise fireworks, Independence Celebrations, Goroka, 1975TREVOR FREESTONE

THE SIXTEENTH OF SEPTEMBER was the day Papua New Guinea gained Independence.

Australians and Papua New Guineans had their thoughts about the timing and other changes made prior to Independence.

But come 16 September these thoughts were put aside because it was time to celebrate a very historic moment.

I had been repatriated in February 1975, before Independence Day, and returned to Australia.

Before I left, however, the Goroka Independence Committee asked me if I would return to stage a fireworks display for the people.

I readily agreed. After all, my purpose of working in PNG was to eventually see this wonderful country gain Independence.

Independence Celebrations, Goroka, 1975As soon as I settled back in Australia, I designed the fireworks show and ordered the explosives I required.

I wanted to design a unique show which would highlight this auspicious day.

Once I placed the order, the explosives were sent to Lae as deck cargo as they were too dangerous to be allowed to travel in any other way.

Then late in June, my wife Anna and son Alfred returned to Goroka with me.

The Minogere Hostel owned by Goroka Council provided me with free accommodation, while Anna and Alfred went to Watabung to stay with Anna’s family.

Hamamas fireworks slogan, Independence Celebrations, Goroka, 1975First I had to go to Lae to collect the explosives and accompany them to Goroka. Then I had to find assistants to help put the show together.

Fortunately the Goroka Technical College agreed to let 10 of their students help me.

We made the frames for the fireworks and then attached the fireworks.

This was a huge undertaking and the students worked hard. They even welded the mortars for the aerial shells.

Then came the big day and we had to erect the frames at the same time avoiding all the fascinating activity going on around us.

The show went well and everyone cheered until their throats were sore.

The flag in fireworks, Independence Celebrations, Goroka, 1975The highlight was the fireworks display of the new Papua New Guinea flag.

There were more than 1,800 fireworks attached and the frame stood four metres high.

And that’s how Independence Day in Goroka went off with a real bang.


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Steve W Labuan

Trevor Freestone - Congratulations and thankyou for such an award winning state of the art contribution in 1975.

The past, through visual presentations such as this, surely does impose a rareness of difference for present Papua New Guinea.

Many an Australian were there for us in their own ways around PNG there and then, and all along even till today, and for them PNG is always thankful to Australia.

This is the kind of special relationships we must always re-visit, and speak of time and time again every year on the 16th of September.

Happy 38th Anniversary PNG.

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