STEFAN ARMBRUSTER | SBS
Sir William MacGregor (1846-1919) - "....very much had the people of Papua New Guinea in mind"
PORT MORESBY - Australia’s long, deep ties with Papua New Guinea were celebrated at last weekend’s APEC meeting in Port Moresby and included the largest return of traditional artefacts by an Australian museum.
The decades long project involved thousands of PNG objects being repatriated to the National Museum, with thousands more still to go.
Everyday disposable items from PNG make up the MacGregor collection at the Queensland Museum, assembled more than a century ago.
Kari Thomas from the PNG community in Brisbane is at the museum contributing to the ‘kambek’ [come back] book to help interpret one of Australia’s great collections of PNG artefacts.
Holding a plain woven, palm-leaf bag that is more than 100-years-old, she was overcome with emotion. “Sorry,” she said with a tear in her eye.
"Because I’ve been in Australia for a long, long time, when I see these things, it takes me back home.”
Ms Thomas is from Hanuabada but in the decades since she came to Australia the palm leaf bags are now rarely made or used there.
This PNG collection consists of rare, fragile daily items sent to the museum by Sir William MacGregor, the colonial governor of Queensland colony of British New Guinea in the late 1800s.