Urban litter
The distinctive dress code of those old colonial days

Matt Power, Kokoda veteran & PNG teacher, dies at 95

Bertha and Matt PowerROSS WILKINSON & KEITH JACKSON

MATTHEW (Matt) Power, 95, Kokoda veteran and one time headmaster of Kerevat National High School, died in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

Matt served with the Australian 2/14 Battalion in World War II. The battalion was among the first of the Australian Infantry Force troops to return to Australia from the Middle East.

It was sent to New Guinea to relieve two Citizens Military Force battalions, 39 and 53, which had confronted the initial Japanese invasion along the Kokoda Track.

At the height of the Japanese assault, Matt was severely wounded at Isurava on the Track. He carried a bullet in his back for the rest of his life.

He later served for some years during colonial days as a school teacher in PNG, including a period as headmaster of Kerevat in 1978.

With his wife Bertha he retired to their Mt Tamborine hideaway in Queensland to grow orchids and live a peaceful life.

In 2012, Matt returned to the Kokoda Track for the unveiling of a memorial to mark the 60th anniversary of the World War II battle.

The memorial at Isurava overlooks the Kokoda Valley and Matt said it was an important tribute:

"It is now something that the local villagers are going to host,” he said.

Matt Power was a great gentleman and it is sad to see another link lost with the crucial Kokoda battle that remains such an important shared icon in Australian and PNG history.

Comments

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Donald Daniels

Two vignettes of this wonderful guy, spring to mind.

1. When I was in my first year as a teacher at Malabunga in 1968, the Pomio students dressed me up as a Tubuan and I danced in the dark just as the Grade 7 kids were coming out of night study.

The Tolai students shrieked and fled into the bush and the Pomios doubled over in laughter.

I was hauled over the coals by headmaster Matt.

2. In 2000 the 2/14th and 39th Battalions went to the Isurava memorial dedication. I had established Port Moresby Grammar School by that time, situated, appropriately, on the site of the old Boroko RSL.

We decided to invite the old Diggers to the school to see what modern day PNG children were all about and for our kids to appreciate these old soldiers.

Very politically incorrect, I had two girls lead each of the old guys, hand in hand, on a tour of the school and then there was an assembly for the 1,500 students to meet them.

Their spokesman got up to give a talk and he told a story, not about the war, but about when he returned to PNG as a headmaster in East New Britain.

He recalled a young, long-haired, hippy type teacher who was always getting into trouble with the education authorities.

Then he turned around, pointed at me and said: "And that young raskol is now the principal of this school... Mr Don Daniels".

I can't remember who was more shocked at the revelation, the students, the staff or me.

Memories are good.

Michael Ralston | Past President

A gentleman and a scholar. The 2/14 Battalion will miss his wise counsel.

Barbara Short

Thanks for the information on the passing on my dear friend Matt.

I was his Deputy of Keravat in 1978, helped arrange his wedding at the United Church in Rabaul. I played the organ!
Many lovely memories.

His Christmas card this last Christmas was blank! So I guessed he was sick.

Yes, a great man indeed. I'll write to Bertha.

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