Maria von Trapp

The question has been asked: Was a member of the famous von Trapp ‘Sound of Music’ family on the E-Course teacher training program in Rabaul, New Guinea. The answer is ‘yes’ and here’s the story.

Maria_von_trapp Ingrid Jackson writes: Maria von Trapp, who completed the fourth E-Course, was the stepdaughter of the Maria of Sound of Music fame. Her autobiography ‘Maria’, which I bought in 1973 and still possess, includes two Papua New Guinea chapters - ‘A New Mission’ and ‘The Native Chant’ – together with a photo ‘Maria and native child’ [left].

In 1956 the Trapp Family Singers had toured Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Their Sydney host was Archbishop Carboni, the Vatican’s representative in this aprt of the world. The archbishop was reportedly “very much concerned about the great success Communist agents were having all over that vast territory” and the von Trapps promised him they would go to the islands and start lay missionary work.

In 1957 Maria von Trapp (the one depicted by Julie Andrews) toured PNG with her friend, Franz Wasner, to scope the project. Father Wasner and Maria had jointly started the Trapp Family Singers in 1936. Maria visited Budoya, or Bwaioia, on Fergusson Island, Rabaul, Wewak, the Sepik and the Highlands.

Stepdaughter Maria (b 1914) and children Rosemarie (b 1929) and Johannes (b 1939) had just arrived in PNG. Maria and Rosmarie taught "the little ones" and tended the sick in villages while, among other chores, Johannes built a church and two schoolhouses. He remained in PNG for four years, Rosmarie for five and Maria for a dedicated 30.

Maria now lives in Stowe, Vermont, in the USA. Rosemarie continues to travel extensively as a missionary. And Johannes runs the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.

Maria_f_von_trapp_accordian Noel Ryan posted this comment on ASOPA PEOPLE a couple of months back: Maria [seen on album cover with piano accordion], a Catholic missionary, was on our 4th E-Course. A book, ‘The Trapp Family on Wheels’, tells briefly of Maria, Rosmarie and Johannes joining the mission at Budoya (Bwaioia) on Fergusson Island.

Maria is now 92 and living at the Trapp family lodge in Vermont. I didn't know her background when I was on the E-Course, where she was a nice unassuming lady of 47. She kept mainly with the older folk; our interest was in getting down to the Cosmo and the Xavier dances. It wasn't until about 1966 when I saw ‘The Sound of Music’ that I realised who she was.

I wrote to Maria a few months ago and she replied saying she was thrilled to receive the first letter she'd ever got from a fellow E-Courser.


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Daniel Leonard Ballif


Susan Young

I was born on Samarai, PNG and my father, Russell Young was the Bank of NSW Manager appointed in his first managerial position with the bank to oversee the introduction of decimal currency 1964 - 1966. It must have been Rosemarie who was one of his customers he spoke of.

Arnold Mundua

As a kid I used to hear of a 'Misis Val Traut' taking charge of the mission's clinic (Toromambuno) near our village in the early 1960s. Could this be the same Maria von Trapp mentioned here? Or has Maria ever worked in Simbu around that time (late 50s and early 60s)?

June Sinclair

I met Maria in Port Moresby in the 50's. I was at Ela Beach Primary school and entered a talent quest which the local RSL staged.

I was a tap dancer doing a Christmas number (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer). Maria had also entered the quest ... and won. She played the recorder as I remember. I came second.

I met her again in Rabaul when she was in a concert with ballet dancer Dorothy Fifield in 1962. At that time I was married and my husband was the government engineer surveyor in Rabaul. I had my new baby and we lived at the foot of Matupit - a live volcano which shuddered every afternoon at 2pm when I was giving the afternoon feed.

Sitting in the rattan chair I would watch our tall white standard lamp sway from side to side and listen to the glassware tinkling.

After Rabaul we went to Madang where my daughter was born and I slept with a small pistol (teargas) under my pillow. I bought it from Frog Evans the harbour master and his lovely wife Ula.

Maureen Wari

Read just in February the story of the Trapp Family Singers, the story which inspired The Sound of Music.

The book is written by Maria Augusta (stepmother of the Von Trapp children) and gives an account of their singing in the States (after leaving Austria) to make ends meet.

It is a fascinating story as it tells what really happened (not all of it was portrayed correctly or completely in the movie).

Further research showed the younger Maria Franziska was a missionary in PNG but that was about all.

I read this post and all these comments and can't believe that four out of twelve of the famous family who were real survivors because of their faith and will to survive anywhere, did live in PNG!

There is such a good vibe surrounding this family and sure is humbling to know they came to serve us.

Thank you Von Trapp Family!

A J Lambo

I just watched a BBC program about the von Trapp Family. Excited (and surprised) to find out that Maria, now 97, lived and served in PNG.

My daughter, 3, loves the 'Sound if Music'. We attended a musical and her mum bought her the DVD - that was why I watched. I am humbled...

Diana Donigi

So many of us have connections to Maria! Whilst posted to the UN, my husband and I visited Maria in Stowe; she was delighted to see us and thought Peter was the first Papua New Guinean to step foot on their mountain! She was (and still is) remembered as a warm caring person. Twenty five years ago, I met her in the overseas section of the PNGBC on my way south to hospital with my baby daughter, and there in the middle of the bank she and her offsiders formed a little prayer circle and prayed for us! She also mentioned the risk of having artifacts in the home (which may have been responsible for my daughter's sickness), but that's a whole other story!

Rob Parer

In 1956 (?) I remember Baroness von Trapp and her private chaplain coming to Aitape in the West Sepik to stay with the Franciscans for a few day. They called in to have morning tea with us.

Some time later the Apostolic Delegate from Australia, Archbishop Carboni, also stayed with the Franciscans at St Anna. He was a huge, wide man.

The Friar's cook knew about Bishops but had never heard "Archbishop" before and after he had helped heave him up on to a wartime jeep, he just shook his head and turned around to Fr Dennis Dobson OFM and said he knew why they called him As-Bishop!

Mary Mennis

I met Maria von Trapp also known as plain Maria Trapp when she was doing the E Course in Rabaul. My mother was friends with her step-mother, the subject of the Sound of music. Later in 1980 we lived in Boroko near Maria and often saw her and had many adventures.

Charly Conquest

Hello - I am researching a film for the BBC about the real story of the von Trapps.

We are working closely with the family to make this film, and would love to include information about their time as missionaries.

We have already interviewed Rosmarie, Maria and Johannes about it, but would love to know if anyone had photographs, or memories they wished to share of the family.

Please contact me on:

Rosemary Flood

I remember meeting Maria Von Trapp and her brother and sister at Saint Pauls School, Bomana, near Port Moresby in 19557/58.

They taught us the Moari Poi dance. I can still do that today, can anyone relate to this?

I would love to buy the book, 'Maria' please let me know where I can purchase it.

Rose Flood nee Regione

Jim Johnson

I rebuilt Maria von Trapp's stone bread oven at the Budoya mission station in exchange for the help given at the birth of my daughter there in 1975.

I had sailed there a few months before and stayed at the tip of the island, once known as Llewellyn Point, on part of the Kedidia Plantation, and left in March 1976.

The beautiful people in the nearby villiages and our time there are some of the fondest memories of my life.

I plan to return on my new sailboat, and want to contact someone there so that I might perhaps help with some medical issues or education. Does someone know who I can contact?

Jim Johnson

Reginald Renagi

A very interesting story. It reminds of my schoolboy days in the 1960s.

After swiming in the harbour main wharf area (many tourist ships used to berth there), we would all go watch "The Sound of Music" (starring Julie Andrews) on Saturday arvo matinees at the old Papuan Theatre in downtown Port Moresby.

Alas those good old days of public family cinemas in Port Moresby are now gone forever.

Dianne Hollamby

I met Maria during my stay at Esa`ala where my husband was a Patrol Officer. During that time we had twin boys who passed away soon after birth.

Maria, and indeed the Roman Catholic Mission Sisters at Budoya, were amazing, considering the conditions so long ago.

Our babies Timothy and Michael were laid to rest near the Church on Budoya.

Maria took photographs for our parents, and I still have them today. Thank you again Maria, Sister Benedicta and Father Moore.

Andrea Loidl

It's true: On the second photo you can see Maria Franziska and Rosemarie.

But on the first photo you can see Maria Augusta, not her step-daughter Maria Franziska.

Noel Ryan

The book "Maria: My Own Story" which Ingrid Jackson refers to in her entry is actually by and about Maria the stepmother and the photo is of the stepmother as well, not about Maria Fransciska the e-courser and missionary. I recently came across a copy of the book and discovered the discrepancy.

Andrea Loidl

It's so great to read some informations about Maria Franziska von Trapp and Rosemarie von Trapp. Agathe, Eleonore and Johannes are also still alive now. I'm very happy.

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