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Bit na ta – commemorating a remarkable 100 years in Rabaul

RabaulDAVID BRIDIE

THERE’S a project with the unusual name of Bit Na Ta in which I’m involved with a number of Tolai people including historian Gideon Kakabin, musician George Telek and curator Lisa Hilli.

With initial funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, Bit Na Ta will look at 100 years of history and culture in the Gazelle Peninsula from 1875-1975 for an installation as part of the Nambawan Neighbours exhibit to be staged in October by the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.

The exhibition will feature film, music, sound, archival displays and the spoken word and there’s material that readers may be able to assist us acquire.

We’re keen to know the whereabouts of any footage, radio reports or newspaper articles of Gough Whitlam or John Gorton’s visits to Rabaul in 1969-70?

We’re also seeking articles written about the assassination of Jack Emmanuel and of the activities of the Mataungan Association.

The 100 years we’re covering in Bit Na Ta represent such an amazing century.

There was the six-day war between Talili and George Brown, the 1928 Rabaul wharf strike, three massive volcanic eruptions, six changes of ruling power (German, British, Australian, Japanese, Australian, PNG), the micro nationalist movements, the Kivung system, the Montevideo Maru, the Coastwatchers ….

Then there were the characters - Oscar Tammur, Richard Parkinson, Vincent To Baining, Damien Kereku, John Kaputin, George Brown, Wilfred Powell, JK McCarthy, it’s a long list….

And have you ever seen those photos of Rabaul in the 1960s that look like the main street of Lismore, NSW?

Anyway, if you can be of any assistance with this great project, it would be appreciated. Use the Comment link below to get in touch.

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