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Old Samarai

Valasi (Sparks) Hey was at ASOPA in 1960-61 and later married John Hey (1961-62) with whom I shared a memorable Christmas in Goroka in 1963. Valasi writes: I was fascinated by your descriptions of places on your trip around PNG. You mentioned Samarai and how things were falling to pieces. My rellies lived in the islands from 1912. The following is a description from my mum’s memoirs of Samarai in May 1932.

Samaraiisland "Two days later we approached Samarai having passed through Buna Passage -very rarely attempted by ships and only at high tide. As we approached a rain squall developed and all the people waiting on the wharf disappeared under large black umbrellas. The monthly arrival of the steamer brought all the island's inhabitants down to the wharf. My sister-in-law and her husband Norman Izod, an engineer, were there. Behind them were the houseboys who seized our luggage and followed us up the hill to their home.

“Samarai was very tiny - one could walk around it in 20 minutes, but it rose up into a hill like formation and the houses were spaced round the two hills. There was one wharf for the steamers and two very long narrow wharves stretching out into the ocean, with a small building at the end. The constant stream of natives along this roused my curiosity until Norman told me they were the natives sibodias or 'small houses’.

“There were no vehicles just a pleasant wide path of coral going around the island from which went the paths to various houses. There was a hotel, a bakery, Norman Izod's engineering workshop, the Burns Philp and Steamships Trading Company's stores, a church and a hospital on one of the hills. The hospital was old and antiquated and the floors riddled with white ants.

“My sister-in-law’s garden was a wonderful setting of terraces and she had two garden boys working all the time. She also had a half-caste housegirl called Silitoi who kept the whole place spotless. They had a beautiful home and successful business. My brothers were the first white twins born on Samarai at the end of 1932 - they were premature, not expected to survive, but did.”


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Vicki Breen

Can anyone help? I was born in Samarai hospital in 1949 and am having great difficulty obtaining a copy of my birth certificate.

Is there still a functional hospital In Samarai? Any ideas where I might obtain this please? The Port Moresby civic registry is uncontactable.

Many thanks in advance.

Louisa Wesley

Hi - I am looking for the Alquist family who lived on Samarai Island round 1969-1970s before Independence.

Judy Lewin

Hi Nigel - Your mum did respond, but no one could help.

I am in the process of trying to get birth certificates etc from Port Moresby as my father in law and his siblings were born on Samarai (1917 onwards), but he was told all papers were destroyed around before World War II.

It has been a long time since Ii have worked this branch of the family tree.

Nigel Hey

Hi Judy, did my mum ever respond to you? Let me know if she didn't and I'll remind her.


After coming across your site while looking for info on Samarai,i was wandering if you could tell me where i might find out about families that lived there around 1916-1925awaiting your reply

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