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02 October 2018


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The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) funded by DFAT denied my sole and rightful authorship of 'Butterflies Along the Track' - the children's book to commemorate the 75 year anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign.

Instead, KTF chose to place only their badging and use my title for the book's front cover. My name was nowhere to be seen. I was given the consolation of a thanks for "artistic guidance" in the inset page.

Despite my ongoing (+12 months) public requests for a formal apology, Genevieve Nelson has refused to acknowledge KTF's gross error in erasing my authorship.

I was not commissioned, nor was I invited to received royalties when KTF made an attempt to retail the book via their website. I consider this a clear case of exploitation of indigenous knowledge, skill and talent.

The then deputy Australian High Commissioner Bronte Moules was equally resistant when I raised my concerns with her about what I believe to be KTF's unethical conduct.

You can read more on this issue via a series of articles published on PNG Attitude including this:

By the way, "state of the art facility" is misleading. I taught at KTF's college in KouKou in July 2017. Unless they now have full running electricity, septic toilets and showers and chairs and tables for all students in all their classrooms, and an indoor cooking facility for their College kitchen, it remains a very basic compound.

Even Sefoa Primary School (Tufi coastline) has benches for all students to sit on in the classrooms. I taught there in May 2017.

Unfortunately most people would not realise that the Kokoda Track Authority (KTF) has no connection with the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF ).

In 2003 the PNG government established a Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority (the KTA) as a statutory government body of the Koiari and Kokoda local-level governments to manage the emerging Kokoda trekking industry and ensure local villages across the trail received shared benefits from it.

Unfortunately it has not worked out as it was envisaged as you can see in the article.

The Kokoda Track Foundation is an international aid organisation working in Papua New Guinea. The foundation was established in 2003 and supports the indigenous people of that country.

The Foundation provides education, health, and community service programmes such as disaster relief, microbusiness promotion and sustainable ecotourism.

History of the Kokoda Track Foundation

The Kokoda Track Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that works with the communities living along and around the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Following its formation in 2003, the KTF funded and prepared a Strategic Plan for Tourism for the Kokoda Track. The Kokoda Track Foundation lobbied for, and on 11 June 2003, the PNG government established, the Kokoda Track Special Purpose Authority (KTA).

The KTA's first action was the development of an ecotrekking strategy to enable the people along the track "to optimise the benefits from tourism and enable them to take a leading role in their own development".The Foundation initially started provided young children in PNG with school scholarships.

The chairman of KTF was author, journalist and TV presenter Patrick Lindsay and Dr Genevieve Nelson is the executive director. A board member is Bill James (co-founder of Flight Centre).

The foundation currently works in four main areas: education, health, community development and micro-business.

It has achieved amazing results in all these fields and also Disaster Relief,Teacher Training, Fred Archer Leadership Scholars Program, 5,000 Solar Lights for the villages along the Track and the state-of-the-art training facility Kokoda College based in remote Kou Kou village Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Scholarships.

The Foundation supports elementary, primary, secondary and tertiary students with Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Scholarships.

The scholarships cover students' tuition fees, educational resources and uniform, food, and boarding (where applicable). In 2014, the foundation provided more than 450 students with scholarships.

Very disappointed to learn that KTA's CEO has left office without acknowledging or replying to my email regarding my extensive list of concerns following my August 2018 end-end trek of the Trail.

In the same way I am disappointed that today marks exactly one month since I emailed PNG's Secretary for Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (CEPA) with the same concerns. I had assumed he would be receptive to a PNG trekker's views.

I can only hope that PNG NMAG can take some form of leadership in insisting the voices of the stakeholders (ie Trail communities, PNG Carriers, ethical trek operators, provincial government) are not only consulted but are also included in the implementation of the military heritage plan.

Which, by the way - I am curious to know who in the working group of this plan has actually trekked the Trail from end-end with no helicopter rides in between.

As when hardy venturers first traversed to headwaters of rivers of Oro in search of ore, the visitors were mining their own business; their goal was gold.

As with all ventures at mining, a question rising beyond the period of ‘carry-out’ wealth, is of whether there is value to be derived from further ‘carry-in’ wealth.

From 1890s, folk living along Oro rivers were and still are unable to entice much of ‘carry-in’ wealth.

From events of 1942, folk identified as proximate to parts of paths between Moresby and Buna have sensed a ‘carry-in’ weald of influence and intrusion, yet little of sought wealth and less that is shared.

As where with Potts an invasion was fought to point of exhaustion, a point made clear by Lynn is that a ‘carry-in’ – ‘carry-out’ contusion is no small bruise of ruse atop misconstrued ideological inroads. Contesting commerce and dismissive dialogue incur injury to the body of concept, inhibiting distribution.

Awaiting entrepreneurial adventure are other Oro treks, peaking at Sumbiripa or crossing its crevassed watercourses or visiting battlefield beaches, walks of a level beyond Kokoda (well…north of), and all accessible via the new Girua airport. Catch a connecting flight at Jackson Airport, thus avoid Moresby.

This is a disturbing situation Charlie, and one which could easily be remedied by a little bit of encouragement from our federal government.

We now have a new hands-on prime minister and a couple of notable ex-diggers in parliament, for example Senator (ex Major General) Molan and former SAS Captain Andre Hastie.

They could go into DFAT and knock a few heads together and get something done. Have you tried contacting them?

I was part of a so-called social mapping exercise some four years ago. What I saw and heard from the village people was quite 'interesting' despite millions of kina pumped into various Kokoda Trail programs.

The blame is squarely on the Australian and PNG governments and the bureaucratic system set up with the people (both Australian & PNGeans) who run these programs.

My father lost his father when he was five years old in 1945 (in that war) and is buried at Sangara.

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