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The Legislative Council & the creation of the state of PNG

RayRAYMOND SIGIMET’s history of independence series – Part 1

AFTER the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army in 1945, an Australian civil administration in Papua and New Guinea took over from the military administration known as the Australia – New Guinea Administrative Unit, ANGAU.

This relevant legislation was the Papua and New Guinea Provisional Administration Act of 1945-46.

Later, the Papua and New Guinea Act of 1949 formally recognised the creation of a single administrative entity in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea under Australian civil rule.

This Act also provided for the creation of a Legislative Council and other areas of administration such as a judicial service, public service and local government.

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‘Unserdeutsch’ – PNG’s unique German-based creole language

German New Guinea stampDeutschland.de

“DU GEHT WO, Du essen was?” Anyone who speaks German will doubtless understand this question despite its somewhat clumsy grammar.

It is in fact German, however – or more precisely Unserdeutsch (Our German), a creole language that is at risk of dying out.

Unserdeutsch is now spoken by fewer than a hundred people – most of them elderly – in Papua New Guinea, and is the world’s only German-based creole language.

A language is described as creole if it emerged from several different languages.

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The red hole of Ambullua airstrip – a story of self-reliance

Airstrip maintenance, Ambullua, Jimi Valley, circa 1974GARRY ROCHE

AMBULLUA is an isolated mission station in the upper Jimi valley in Jiwaka Province; about five hours walk from Kol, the nearest government station.  

And if you want to walk down to the Wahgi Valley from Ambullua, you should allow yourself two days.

Because of this isolation, the Catholic priest who established the mission at Ambullua, Fr Joe McDermott, built and maintained a bush airstrip.

The approach to the strip was not great, pilots had to manoeuvre their aircraft with skill to touch down safely on the not-too-long and uphill runway where, like many of PNG’s airstrips, they could only land from one direction.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 11 – Vanimo

Map of north-west New Guinea (Bill Brown)BILL BROWN MBE

IT WAS May 1955 and I’d been on leave in Australia for six weeks when a letter arrived signed by Director of Native Affairs JK McCarthy.

The letter read: “Due to the exigencies of the service, it is now necessary that you take up duty in the Sepik District and not in the Central Highlands District.

"Your posting is to replace Mr TW Ellis who has been transferred to Madang for special duties. A warrant for Wewak has been authorised.”

I had reservations about the veracity of that letter. The Central Highlands had ceased to exist as a district in 1951, and I doubted I was going to replace Tom Ellis.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 10 – Incident at Obura

Obura patrols (Bill Brown)BILL BROWN MBE

WE ALL make mistakes, and Patrol Officer Bruce (BWP) Burge was no exception.

He was engaged on a routine task, revising the census in Baira village, when he heard about tribal fighting in which two people had been killed.

Accompanied by his small detachment of five police, he crossed to the left bank of the Lamari River to Atiera village, but by the time he got there the death toll had increased.

Four Obura and two more Atiera warriors had been killed.

That evening, Burge tried to convince the Atiera men that they should accompany him to Obura village to make peace. The next morning, when they refused to do so, he arrested the luluai and another man.

All hell broke loose; the Atiera warriors launched a fusillade of arrows at the patrol and the police returned fire.

Burge then made his second mistake.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 10 - Obutasa

Map of the Obutasa patrolBILL BROWN MBE

IN KAINANTU in late 1953, with Assistant District Officer Harry West returned from a long patrol to the Fore, I was planning a follow-up patrol to the Lamari, but it did not work out that way.

District Commissioner Ian Downs decreed that the Lamari patrol was to be delayed until after he had made an aerial survey of the area in the New Year.

In the late afternoon of News Years Day, Downs duly arrived in a de Havilland DH84 Dragon flown by Ray Harris, the boss of Territory Airlines.

The next morning, we took off with Harris in the single pilot’s seat in the nose of the aircraft, Downs and West perched behind him on bench seats on either side of the aircraft and me in the rear.

Downs and West could see some of the countryside ahead but I could only see a little to the side. That was odd, as I was the one who needed to see the terrain over which I was about to walk.

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The story how Aitape War Museum lost aircraft worth millions

B25 Mitchell Bomber 'Feather Merchant' at Aitape High SchoolROB PARER

OVER many years, American billionaire David Tallichet (1922-2007) was interested in the World War II aircraft left behind in the Sepik.

Tallichet, who made his fortune as ‘the father of the themed restaurant’, had piloted bombers over Europe in World War II and his post-war hobby was in restoring some of these aircraft.

He corresponded with me on a number of occasions and, coming from a family of aviators myself, I was always eager to help where I could.

There were other guys like him in the 1970s, such as John White from the Australian War Memorial who when in Aitape loved talking to Rev Fr Urban Reid, who as Flying Officer Danny Reid DFC was the only Allied pilot to shoot down of one of the Luftwaffe’s rarest aircraft, an Arado AR-234 jet.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 9 - Settling into Kainantu

Bill Brown as a young kiapBILL BROWN MBE

IN 1953, with my first Lamari patrol out of the way, it was time to get to know something about Kainantu.

With its vistas of rolling grassed hills, small casuarina-lined valleys, bamboo groves and, always in the distance, forested mountain ranges, it was different to anything I had ever experienced.

There were roads, a small expatriate community and a grass airstrip, just 1,190 metres long and 46 metres wide. The runway, on an east west axis, physically divided the community, a division that was engendered and emphasised by both law and policy.

The Native Women’s Protection Ordinance made it an offence, punishable by a fine or six months imprisonment, for an expatriate to permit a female native to be on premises between the hours of six o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in morning.

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Splendid images revealed from PNG’s post-war colonial period

Male Dancer (Cochrane)KEITH JACKSON

PERCY Cochrane (1907-80) and his wife Renata Cochrane (1919-83) lived in Papua New Guinea for 17 years from 1949-66.

Percy, a talented media professional, was to become Deputy Director (Broadcasts) in the Department of Information and Extension Services where Renata was a Publications Officer.

The Cochranes' work roles and private interests converged in their efforts to photograph, record and document facets of PNG’s cultural life, the work of the colonial Administration and the Catholic Missions.

After leaving PNG they continued to write and make films at the request of media organisations.

The Cochrane Collection was assembled by Renata Cochrane and her daughter Susan in 1981-82 and was given to the University of Wollongong in New South Wales in 1985.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 8 – Kainantu

Map - Lamari Patrol (Bill Brown)BILL BROWN MBE

1953 WAS a couple of months old and my wallet and pockets were empty. I had been on leave in Australia for five months and it was time to return to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

I needed a travel warrant, a permit to enter the Territory and a taxation clearance before I booked my flight. The first two were easy, involving a quick visit and a friendly chat, at the Sydney Office of the Department of Territories.

But the taxation clearance was tedious. A long queue, another form, and an interview to convince the Taxation Department I had earned no income whilst on leave and therefore owed no tax.

It was eventually sorted to their satisfaction and I returned to the Territory at the end of March 1953 on the regular Qantas service—a Douglas DC3.

The propellers of the two Pratt and Whitney engines pulled the aircraft along at 270 kilometres an hour and, with a refuelling stop in Brisbane, it took eight hours to reach Townsville for the obligatory overnight stop.

At dawn the next morning, I was on the same aircraft flying from Townsville to Cooktown, where the fuel tanks were topped up and we flew on to Port Moresby, almost 700 kilometres away.

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Bob makes sure Owen Stanley’s grave is no longer unmarked


IN JUNE last year, while researching the life of marine artist Sir Oswald Brierly, Bob Lawrence came upon the grave of the English mariner Captain Owen Stanley (1811-50), after whom the Papua New Guinean mountain range is named.

A former journalist in PNG, Bob is now managing director of Sydney-based Lawrence Media Services and last year he told how he found Owen Stanley’s final resting place in an unmarked and unkempt grave on a tract of land in the Sydney suburb of Cammeray.

Brierly was employed by Owen Stanley as an artist for his survey of the Torres Strait and the waters between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef.

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A colonial hand that rested but lightly upon the people


DEPENDING on your interpretation of history, the European Age of Empire lasted from around 1600 to the late 1960's, give or take a few years.

Over that period, the major European powers collectively extended their political, military and economic control over virtually the whole world. For good or for ill, vast numbers of human beings were subjected to an abrupt and often traumatic change process in what was a massive collision between cultures.

At its best, along with undoubted exploitation, European colonialism brought many benefits to its colonies in the form of education services, health care, transportation systems and so forth. 

At its worst, it brought unspeakable cruelty, deprivation and injustice. To say that the European colonial record is mixed is a major understatement and, very understandably, few if any of the colonised were terribly appreciative of the experience.

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Treasure trove: Kiaps patrol reports made available online

Bill Brown & policemen on patrolLIAM FOX | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

HUNDREDS of thousands of documents written by firsthand witnesses to Australia's colonial history in Papua New Guinea and the modern history of PNG have been made available online for the first time.

The documents are reports written by Australian patrol officers, known as kiaps, whose task was to extend the reach and influence of what was then the Australian administered Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

The reports have been collated into a digital format by the University of California San Diego and the National Archives of PNG.

University librarian Kathryn Creely oversaw the three-year project to digitise the reports from microfiche and microfilm.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 7 – Urun

Map  - Urun region (Bill Brown)BILL BROWN MBE

URUN Patrol Post, nestling in the Owen Stanley Range, was a long way from anywhere, and you could only get there by walking.

Assistant District Officer Galloway said the walk would take me three days and that, once at Urun, I would be there on my own for 12 months but I could return to Tapini for short breaks.

Nothing had prepared me for that long trek across the towering mountain ranges and the deep valleys that lay between.

Not for the first time in being reposted, I left gear behind. I knew if I reduced my chattels to only those I needed, I could get away from the slow-moving mules and just use carriers.

Everybody had warned me about climbing the Oro Spur track when the morning sun was burning, but a farewell party the night before had taken its toll and the loads and carriers were not organised until just after 9:30. We had barely squelched down the track to the river and started the climb out of the gorge when the sun struck.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 6 – Goilala


MY superior officer Malcolm Wright was promoted in 1951 and transferred from Kairuku Sub-District to Bougainville as District Commissioner.

Clarry (C. T.) Healy, Mick (M. J.) Healy’s elder brother, was coming to replace him.

Clarry was 45 and had the same small frame as Mick. They both had become Patrol Officers in the 1920s, but there the similarities ended. Mick dressed in stiff long whites; Clarry wore khaki. Mick was the epitome of respectability; Clarry was bit of a larrikin.

A few months earlier, as Gulf Division District Officer, Clarry had transgressed. He had given alcohol to a native,an illegal act, and had been demoted a rank to Assistant District Officer.

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Did Whitlam & Somare disenfranchise millions of PNGns?


HAVING studied history for the last 55 years or so, I have learned the wisdom of Oscar Wilde's famous aphorism that "the truth is seldom pure and never simple".

This is manifestly the case when it comes to Australia's relationship with Papua New Guinea.

I entirely agree with Ted Wolfer's central proposition that Australians were and remain woefully ignorant about Papua New Guinea.

As a young ex-kiap returning to Australia in 1974, I remember all too well that my experiences in PNG were regarded as being largely about police work. The true scope of the kiap's job was not understood, perhaps because there was no direct equivalent within the Australian workforce.

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Sir Julius Chan's take on a life in PNG politics

Playing the GameBILL STANDISH

THE Rt Hon Sir Julius Chan MP was Papua New Guinea’s prime minister from 1980-82 and 1994-97. He is the first PNG politician to have written a memoir, Playing the Game, since Michael Somare’s Sana, published in 1975.

After giving us his family and village childhood memories of the colonial era and those of his enjoyable secondary schooling in Australia, Chan’s book changes gear.

This is the first book covering politics from his first election in 1968 to his current position as Governor of New Ireland Province. It is very much his story, not claiming objectivity or comprehensiveness.

Chan thanks his ‘writer and editor’, journalist Lucy Palmer, and the book reads easily, rather like the spoken word. This book joins the current project of writing personal histories as a part of nation building, and is in fact the only book covering PNG’s last 48 years.

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The Bougainville Crisis and the Sandline mercenaries

Sir Julius Chan (Torsten Blackwood, AFP)STACEY N TARURA

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

THE Bougainville Crisis was the biggest conflict fought on the soil of Papua New Guinea since World War II.

It came about as a result of landowner grievances over unequal distribution of wealth and large amount of environmental damage caused by the mining giant, Rio Tinto.

As a result of relentless rebel activities on Bougainville, the PNG government under Sir Julius Chan resorted to hiring Sandline mercenaries of the Executive Outcome company, the latter being a sub-contractor of Sandline International.

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Chan has no regrets over handling of Sandline affair

Playing the GameJEMIMA GARRETT & ADAM CONNORS | Pacific Beat | ABC | Extract

PAPUA New Guinea's former prime minister Sir Julius Chan says that if he had been allowed to continue with the infamous Sandline operation to put down the Bougainville civil war in 1997, he would have been able to bring the island under control.

In his newly released autobiography, Sir Julius has revealed details about his harsh words with then prime minister John Howard over the hiring of Sandline mercenaries, and how he blamed the Australian media for inflaming opinion in PNG.

"I attended a private lunch with prime minister John Howard at Kirribilli House in Sydney shortly after the engagement of Sandline was revealed," wrote Sir Julius in the book, Playing the Game: Life and Politics in PNG.

"His attitude was 'Just get rid of these people. They should not be there.' He did not give me any reason for it.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 5 – Going solo

Kairuku patrol map



AT Kairuku, I was trying to learn Police Motu, the lingua franca in Papua, but not making a lot of effort.

There was no real need, everyone in the office spoke English: Bera Baupua, Philo Parau, even the office boy Leo Aitsi.

I was grinding through Percy Chatterton’s Primer of Police Motu, a tiny, 30-page booklet packed with grammar and lists of words. But it had been trimmed by his puritanical hand and was a tad uninteresting

My progress, or lack of it, was not good enough for war hero Malcolm Wright.

In short order, I was back on the mainland with three Papuan police, walking the East Coast road to the Sub-District boundary.

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The kiaps were not kops


IN APRIL 1971 Craig McConaghy and I arrested seven men for cannibalism, the first post-World War II arrest of anyone for this offence.

The adopted Queensland Criminal Code didn’t actually have an offence of cannibalism so we charged them with ‘unlawfully interfering with a corpse’.

We also arrested the man who had killed the man whose body was eaten. He was acting in self-defence and we charged him with manslaughter.

Both Craig and I were Commissioned Officers of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. It was one of the many roles that came with the job of being a kiap.

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Trim the cat: When Flinders found New Guinea was not Australia


WELL Sydney has a host of interesting places to visit for people who want to go off the beaten track.

There are the ammunition dumps at Middle Head, the old Quarantine Station at North Head where victims of cholera where imprisoned 100 years ago, the Chinese gardens at Botany, the convict rock graffiti of Parramatta and the secret sewers that lead from Moore Park into the heart of the city itself.

But I write today about two animals preserved in stone in good old Sydney town.

You can see them just five minutes’ walk from Town Hall - Queen Victoria' Scotty dog and Matthew Flinders’ cat.

Now I know Keith will be asking, "What's the Papua New Guinea connection?" (he is) - and I will come to that.

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The days when villagers & kiaps built PNG’s infrastructure


MY NOTES and sketches on road and bridge building in Papua New Guinea no longer exist.

They had been jotted down during our five weeks of practical training to become Kiaps at Kwikila at the end of 1969 (Paul Oates, author of With These Tools, and I were on the same course).

But I recently purchased, at bargain basement rates ($25 reduced to $13), the book Maker and Breaker by Army Engineer Lt John Grover.

The book, published in 2008, includes many diagrams on the subject of road and bridge building during the World War II battles at Kokoda, Buna, Wau, Aitape and Wewak.

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A Kiap’s Chronicle: 4 – Malcolm Wright

Malcolm WrightBILL BROWN MBE

IN May of 1950, acting Assistant District Officer John Gibson was on his way to Melbourne to get married.

It was to be a big wedding, and June was the society wedding month. Gibson was talking about getting a job with the United Nations; he said the UN paid tremendous salaries and offered wonderful travel opportunities.

I should have listened to him; another 28 years would elapse before I joined an international organisation and began to see the world.

So Gibson departed Kairuku on the Papuan coast and Malcolm Wright (pictured) arrived.  

A lowly Patrol Officer prior to the war, Wright had finished it as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Australian Navy, his outstanding courage and bravery as a Coastwatcher recognized by the award of Distinguished Service Cross.

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The lost photographs of my grandfather, Ivan Champion

Ivan ChampionROSS PLANT | Edited extracts

FOR the first 13 years of my life I lived in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. My family – the Champions - had a very long association with the country.

In recent times, I have spent a considerable amount of time scanning photographic negatives taken by my grandfather, Ivan Champion OBE, in the 1920s.

Over the past 95 years, these negatives remained in the bottom of suitcases and storage boxes and were not stored in ideal conditions.

I have tried over the past eight months to bring them back to their original condition using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

The most remarkable thing about them is that they were taken using a Kodak Box Brownie and the produced using river water in the wilds of New Guinea.

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A Kiap's Chronicle: 3 - Kairuku

Bill on hills above Kairuku, 1950BILL BROWN MBE

MV KINA entered Hall Sound just after dawn. Fifteen minutes later, the mainland was still on the right, but Kairuku - the government station on Yule Island and its long, dry-stone wharf - had appeared on the left.

That wharf would have been built by hand. A horrendous task in the sun and heat, with bare-footed labourers probably having to haul those large rocks for long distances, before they manoeuvered each one onto the reef, then manhandled and fitted each into an appropriate slot.

The wharf would have slowly emerged from the sea, gaining height and length, eventually extending to the extremity of the reef, but never quiet reaching very deep water.

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The bus that carried so many new kiaps

The kiaps Bedford bus finally expires (Chris Overland)CHRIS OVERLAND

BILL Brown’s memoir refers to an old bus in which he and other new Cadet Patrol Officers were transported  when they arrived in Port Moresby for the very first time.  

Both Phil Fitzpatrick and Paul Oates commented that they had been transported in a similar bus when they reached Moresby in 1969.

So was I and I happen to have a photo of the bus, taken when it expired on the road from Moresby to Kwikila.

The photo shows several of my colleagues entreating the driver of a passing Volkswagen to fetch help, while the bus driver tinkers ineffectually with the inoperative conveyance.

It may be of amusement and interest to PNG Attitude readers to see a photo of the bus that has stuck in our minds so vividly even after 50 years since we last rode in the blasted thing.

A Kiap's Chronicle: 2 - Port Moresby


WE were a mixed group on that flight to Port Moresby just before Christmas in 1949 - education officers, agricultural officers and 16 cadet patrol officers - and we were the only passengers on the aircraft, a Douglas DC4.

It was a charter, mainly loaded with cargo, and we obviously did not rate the best Qantas service.

The evening meal was basic, and as soon as the meal trays were cleared, there was no more service. The window shades were drawn, the cabin lights were turned off and the cabin crew vanished, not to reappear until just before dawn.

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A Kiap's Chronicle: 1 - ASOPA

Young Bill Brown as RAAF memberBILL BROWN MBE

IN December 1948, I was 19 years of age, and I had just spent the year at the Royal Australian Air Force College.

It had been a useless year for me. I wanted to learn to fly, but the Air Force wanted me to study, and they taught me: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English Literature, Air Force Law, Etiquette and the “Customs of the Service”.

From the classroom, I watched the Flying Training School recruits fly overhead. After only six short weeks of basic training, they were in the air. I would have to wait for three years.

Each morning, with the other 21 cadets, I spent an hour on the parade ground, learning to march, and drill with a rifle. Lectures followed, and then, late in the afternoon, sport.

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My father the cadet officer, and the rush to independence

Chief Inspector Joseph Muso Sigimet (retired) as a cadet, 1973RAYMOND SIGIMET

As told to me by my father, Chief Inspector Joseph Muso Sigimet (retired)

AFTER completing Form 4 (equivalent to Grade 10) at the Marist Brothers run St Xavier’s High School on Kairuru Island, East Sepik, in 1971, my father Joseph Muso Sigimet was accepted for teacher training at Kaindi Teachers College, near Wewak, the following year.

He was reluctant to take up the offer and decided to remain at Urip village near Dagua Catholic Mission.

This caused much ire and annoyance in his parents who said they had struggled to pay his school fees and he must look for a job instead of lazing around and doing nothing.

In mid-1972, while listening to Radio Wewak, he heard a Toksave from the Commanding Officer of Boram Corrective Institution that there would be a recruitment drive for high school leavers.

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The cemetery at Bomana: A very grave subject indeed

Bomana CemeteryPETER KRANZ

‘TAPHOPHILE’ is the name given to someone who takes an interest in cemeteries, tombstones or past lives. If that sounds too fancy, ‘tombstone tourist’ will do.

I must confess I am something of a closet taphophile. Not that I seek tombstones in closets, I just like to fossick around old cemeteries.

What I am trying to say is that there is a great deal of interesting history to be found in the dead and their memorials.

I used to live in England (Crowthorne, Berks, also home to Broadmoor) and our local cemetery had some interesting graves, including a cousin of Jane Austin and some unidentified French sailors from the Napoleonic wars interred with due ceremony but sadly unnamed.

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Solved: The long-standing puzzle of Dal Chambers & Paul Pora


THE late Paul Pora, three times Member of Parliament and founding chairman of Air Niugini, was the son of Australian patrol officer Dal (Dalkeith) Chambers.

Dal Chambers, who was officer-in-charge in Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands, had befriended a local Yamka (Yamuga) woman, Rok, a daughter of a Yamka Pepka man, Marai. Rok became pregnant.

In 1942, because of World War II, the Australian patrol officers including Dal Chambers (and his wife Joan) were ordered to leave Hagen.

According to accounts, the young pregnant Rok and three of her male cousins accompanied Paul Pora’s father on the journey to Goroka, but later turned back. Sometime later, Rok gave birth to a male child.

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Christmas cigarettes on Shaggy Ridge, December 1943

Troops bring ammunition to Shaggy Ridge, 22 January 1944. Ramu Valley is in the background [AWM]HAL HOLMAN

Shaggy Ridge was named for Australian soldier Captain Robert (Shaggy Bob) Clampett, whose company first reconnoitred the area. It was the site of several battles during the Finisterre Range campaign of 1943–44 as Allied forces attacked Japanese defensive positions blocking access to the north coast of New Guinea. In December 1943, the Australian 7th Division attacked….

WITHIN minutes shells began lobbing much closer to us, until we suspected that we had been mistaken for the enemy—or was it because the Japs were that close?

Now that we were fully provisioned, our burden weighed us down and slowed progress.  We managed to reach the river unscathed and crossed without drowning; the rest was smooth sailing but it took us two days to rejoin our forces.

We were there during the Shaggy Ridge battle; in fact we enjoyed Christmas Day on the slopes of Shaggy Ridge with traditional Christmas fare as supplied by the Army and Air Force, and generous contributions from the Americans.

The Yanks donated tobacco as a special request from us.  The average Australian, especially in wartime, preferred to roll his own cigarettes from fine-cut tobacco which he placed in the palm of his hand and rubbed to the right consistency.

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The spying game: My short & undistinguished career as a spook

Kiap Phil on the trusty HondaPHIL FITZPATRICK

IN 1970 I was seconded to the Security and Intelligence Branch of the Papua New Guinea Administration.

Kiaps [patrol officers] in the border districts of Western District and West Sepik District were rotated as cypher clerks through the branch in three month cycles.

It was also an attempt, I think, to make us aware of how the spooks worked so we could apply the learned principles to our dealings with West Papuan refugees and Indonesians.

Most of us saw it as an opportunity to play up bigtaim in the big smoke of Port Moresby.

The head of the Security and Intelligence Branch was an aloof, upper-class type, who had difficulty concealing his racism.

He seemed to be suppressing other things too but I could only wonder at these because he deigned only to speak to his second-in-command.

Any communications to the likes of me came down the line.

The second-in-command seemed to have stepped straight out of the pages of a Biggles novel and was very smart in an obscure sort of way.

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How kaukau created the Melanesian Way

PNG scientist Dorcas Homare (right) and an assistant with improved sweet potatoPHIL FITZPATRICK

I grow sweet potato as a ground cover in the shadier spots of my garden in Hervey Bay – places where the grass doesn’t grow - but I also dig it up to eat.

In Queensland and most Australian supermarkets and green grocers, an orange-skinned version is sold. It is very sweet and has the consistency of pumpkin when cooked.

Often they don’t call it sweet potato but kumara, which is a South Pacific Maori word.

Occasionally you can get a purple-skinned variety which has nice white flesh, is less sweet, pithier and similar to what I’m used to from Papua New Guinea. This is the main one I grow in my garden.

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The eclipse of PNG’s eight aims & the false dawn of informality

Conroy_JohnJOHN CONROY | Dev Policy Blog

LATE in the period of preparation for independence, a genuine Papua New Guinean voice emerged in the colonial legislature when Michael Somare’s Pangu party took power on the eve of self-government in 1972.

A consultant team, the Faber Mission, was tasked to recommend policies for an independent PNG. Keith Hart, originator of the idea of the ‘urban informal sector’, was a member of the visiting team.

Hart observed that economic informality, while emergent in rural areas, was still very largely absent from PNG’s urban areas. The Faber Report placed informality at the heart of its strategies for development, later encapsulated in PNG’s ‘Eight Aims’.

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“You stupid PNGDF!” The day of the bullets

Benjamin Heriberth NoibioBENJAMIN HERIBERTH NOIBIO | Bougainville 24

THE Bougainville Crisis led to our people becoming nomadic, migrating continuously from place to place to escape conflict and violence.

My family went into the mountains of Kokousino and Keremona. I was very little and I did not fully comprehend the severity of the situation.

What I loved most at that time was playing around the houses and, with other children, chasing grasshoppers in the field.

The only days when mama would stop me playing was when a dead body, either a Bougainville Revolutionary Army solider or a civilian, was brought to our village hideaway for mourning.

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Is this wartime Keravat graveyard still to be found?

Keravat graveyard 1936KEITH JACKSON

MARTIN Hadlow has been in touch wondering if any of our readers know if this graveyard is still in existence.

The photo is said to have been taken in 1936 at Kerevat on the Gazelle Peninsula.

It is believed that it shows the graves of the Australian soldiers killed in 1914 when the Australian Expeditionary Force fought and defeated the German garrison at Bita Paka which was guarding the strategically important wireless station.

If you know more about this graveyard, write a few words and send them to us through the Comment link below.

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Kiaps in Papua New Guinea: When boots on the ground mattered

From 'Kiap - Stories Behind the Medal' (Australian Archives)PHIL FITZPATRICK

FOR much of the time I was a kiap our department was called the Department of District Administration (DDA), a succinct and self-explanatory title.

Prior to that it had been called the Department of Native Affairs (DNA) and before 1956 the Department of District Services and Native Affairs (DDSNA), both also succinct but a tad politically incorrect if you were inclined to view it that way.

After 1972 the nomenclature started to change on a regular basis, a sure sign that the paper pushers and bean counters were in the ascendancy. It was about then that headquarters staff numbers began to swell at an alarming rate.

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From Stone Age to Modernity: PNG's wild ride into the future


IN his recent article about his visit to Flag Fen in the United Kingdom, Daniel Kumbon raised one of the more puzzling questions in history: why did Europe, not Asia, Africa or the Americas, become the crucible of modern civilisation?

As some commenters have already noted, the capacity to generate large food surpluses was a necessary prerequisite.

In turn, this allowed the emergence of a so-called "leisured class" of rulers and priests who had time to think about things like mathematics, science and philosophy.

It also allowed for division of labour, whereby certain individuals could develop high level skills in specific trades like metallurgy, pottery, stone masonry, carpentry and so on.

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Flag Fen & the rapid journey of a Stone Age highlands people


DR Francis Pryor, the curator of the excavation site at Flag Fen in East Anglia, UK, wasted no time to take us on an extraordinary journey – one that catapulted me back into antiquity.

Three thousand years ago, on this very site, was a Bronze Age village. All around the water of a shallow lake. People living on a man-made island built using thousands upon thousands of pieces of wood.

Living in smoke-filled thatched houses, these people were the descendants of Stone Age hunters and gatherers who had gradually settled on the land – planting crops and domesticating animals.

As they crafted axes and other tools from bronze, so the transition to the Bronze Age was made. This was a time of tribal societies where individual warriors ruled supreme. It began shortly after 2,000BC, and ended around 600BC with the widespread adoption of iron tools and technology. Flag Fen belongs to the Bronze Age.

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The backbone of PNG’s early years: the forgotten patrol carrier

Star Mountain CarriersPHIL FITZPATRICK

IN 1974 I was out the back of the South Australian Museum loading up a LandRover for a long field trip to Central Australia.

I was off to work with Pitjantatjara and Yankunytjatjara elders recording sacred sites threatened by mining development.

The destination was the Northwest Aboriginal Reserve, now the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands, and I was working for the quaintly named Aboriginal and Historic Relics Preservation Unit.

Just as I was manhandling a couple of heavy patrol boxes into the back of the Landie, a young anthropologist emerged from the back door of the museum.

“They’re neat boxes,” he said, “why are the handles so long?”

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PNG still feeling the effects of Australian colonialism

Nicholas FernsNICHOLAS FERNS | The Conversation

SEPTEMBER 16 was the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea. Celebrations were held throughout the country.

Australia was the country that granted independence to Papua New Guinea. For almost 70 years, Australia had maintained colonial rule over the eastern half of New Guinea. Unfortunately, this fact is largely absent in contemporary discussions of relations between the countries.

When Australia’s ‘colonial’ history is mentioned, it almost always refers to the period 1788-1901. Little attention is given to Australia’s 20th-century empire of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

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Although inadequately prepared, a resilient people built a nation

John Momis as a young MP - a founding father of PNGJOHN MOMIS | Extracts

WHEN Michael Somare and Gough Whitlam decided that Papua New Guinea would be given independence in the near future, the 15 members of the House of Representatives who formed the constitutional planning committee (CPC) were given the important task of making the independence constitution.

Because we wanted a home grown constitution, tailored to the specific needs and aspirations of our people we decided to conduct in my opinion the most comprehensive political engagement that any government had with its people in PNG.

Our constitution was not based on any one constitution of a foreign country. We did not send study groups overseas. When we needed to consider foreign model for adaptation, we brought in foreign experts to advise us and we picked and chose what we considered to be relevant.

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How PNG independence happened – 16 September 1975

Part of the crowd at Independence Hill on 16 September 1975.In 2009 former long-serving PNG district commissioner, DAVID MARSH, who died recently, reflected upon how that first Independence Day in 1975 took place.

WHEN in 1975 Gough Whitlam asked Michael Somare to provide a date for PNG Independence, Somare set the date and gave me the job of organising the events. We had 2½ months to do it.

Getting people to join me to get the job done was difficult. It had to be a PNG show, yet there was no expertise amongst the indigenous people, or the government for that matter, and government departments were reluctant to release their senior staff.

There were some early concerns over micro-nationalistic movements and cults that had sprung up, also emotional talk from University students.

But when I had a general picture in my mind of the ceremonies that were required, the people to invite, the security, transport, accommodation, and so on, I gathered a few staunch souls together and started on the detail.

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Never go back

Kundiawa Airstrip, December 1963 (Keith Jackson)PHIL FITZPATRICK

THERE are several Papua New Guineas.

The most obvious are the two different countries occupied by the educated elite and the rural-dwelling subsistence villager.

While these two different countries exist in real time, in the same place, and often merge into each other there is another Papua New Guinea, equally alive, that exists in an entirely different dimension.

This is the Papua New Guinea that exists in the minds of Australians and other expatriates who worked there prior to independence in 1975.

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Remembering the great Simbu leader, Kondom Agaundo

Kondom AgaundoMATHIAS KIN

KONDOM Agaundo was the son of a fight leader, Agaundo, of the Narku tribe. He was born at Wandi village probably in 1917. His mother’s name was Singa.

Agaundo died when Kondom was still young and the boy grew up with his mother’s people at Kogai near Kundiawa.

By the late 1940s, the young man was already outspoken and charismatic and much liked by his Narku people.  

In 1951, when he was in his thirties, Kondom was appointed a Luluai and became the kiaps’ favourite among all the other Luluais of the area.

He was a popular agent for the work of the kiaps and missionaries in the Simbu, Eastern and Western Highlands.

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The early Filipino missionaries & boat builder Francis Castro


HIS name was Francis Castro. A robust and sturdy man with strong hands. A boat builder of Cuban descent from the island of Panay in Antique Province of the Philippines.

During the 1880s, Francis Castro along with 13 highly trained Filipino catechists accompanied European priests headed by Fr Alain de Boismenu to Yule Island in Papua.

The other Filipinos were Marcello Fabila, Nicholas Albaniel, Juan Dela Cruz, Gregorio Toricheba,  Telesforo Babao, Gregorio Ramos, Emmanuel Natera, Diego Rendall, Bernadino Taligatus, Juan Malabag, Cirilio Espinosa, Anastacio Buen Suseso and Basilio Artango.

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Bongere & Bergmann & the beginnings of Kundiawa town


Kundiawa will be the scene of the fifth Crocodile Prize awards in a little more than two weeks from now. Eighty years ago it was not the bustling township it is today….

LOCATED under the corridor of a 500-metre high limestone outcrop stretching east to west in the north, Kundiawa town is a bustling town with an estimated population of over 15,000.

It is the capital of the Simbu Province and is home to the best hospital in Papua New Guinea. This story of the beginning of Kundiawa town starts 77 years ago under very unlikely circumstances, a meeting of two leaders from vastly different worlds.

In 1934, Chief Bongere of the Kamaneku tribe had a garden where today's Kundiawa Works Compound stands.

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The true inside story of the saga of the PNG flag

The 'Kumul' flagHAL HOLMAN | Extract from The Phoenix Rises Eternal

In this month’s Una Voce, the journal of the PNG Association of Australia, there is an article, ‘The PNG Crest and Flag’ by Geoff Littler. There is much more to this story, which we can reveal here…..

BECAUSE there was no course or school for graphic or commercial art in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea (as it was known then), I decided to introduce one; which I did with the help of the Adult Education Society.

There was a fee for persons outside our Department of Information and Extension Services but I offered my Papua New Guinean staff free access and ran periodic lessons for them during working hours.

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