Previous month:
October 2007
Next month:
December 2007

26 posts from November 2007

We got on with the job and were grateful

Every group, if it is to be cohesive, needs a melder: that special person who values the group of work colleagues beyond itsHuts working life and supports it into the often richer times that follow. Who operates in a role that brings the group together – not once, but many times - to remember the good, laugh about the bad and forget old enmities, the trivial causes of which have long since dissipated. Roy Clark is a melder.

Roy’s specific area of meld is academic staff of the former Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education, now a campus of Sydney’s University of Technology. An official publication has it that “the Kuring-gai staff network has developed from the strong commitment of former staff members to stay in touch with colleagues and their professional lives”. But we all appreciate that commitment of itself is and achieves nothing. It’s the person exercising that commitment who maintains the relationships. And Roy is one such person.

Because Balmain was ASOPA’s, for want of a better and more acrid word, mentor; and because, in time, Balmain begat Kuring-gai; and because, in time, so many ASOPA lecturers continued and ended their careers at Kuring-gai, the affiliation between the two places was and remains very strong. In a recent letter to the network, Roy writes of his first brush with those weatherboard huts on Middle Head:

In 1965 I was appointed to Balmain Teachers College and was, within an hour of signing on - not a minute too soon after I took a quick look around the old Balmain college - and I was then sent over to the Australian School of Pacific Administration to train (Australian) science teachers for PNG in old army huts on Middle Head, Mosman. Incidentally without doubt the best place I ever worked; it was the mix of State and Commonwealth staff and the freedom allowed by the Commonwealth Principal, Jack Mattes, a lawyer. Jack took the view we were the professionals and he expected us, and left us, to get on with the job. I believe everyone did get on with their job and were grateful for the opportunities we were given there, even if the facilities were only basic.

Thanks for the memories, Roy.

From the archives - Ruth's wedding day

Wedding This wedding photograph from the Pacific Islands Monthly of July 1966 shows the celebrated ASOPA lecturer Dr Ruth Fink and her new husband Rev Sione Latukefu. The caption reads:

Most of Sydney’s Tongan community were at the wedding at Sydney University in June of the Rev Sione Latukesu (sic) and Dr Ruth Fink. The bridegroom’s parents came from Tonga for the ceremony. The couple plan to live in Tonga next year when the Rev Sione completes his PhD thesis at the Australian National University. Dr Fink is lecturer in anthropology at Sydney University. A Tongan choir sang at the Wesley College Chapel during the service and there was Tongan dancing at the big reception, which was attended by many academics from Sydney and Canberra. Chairman was the Rev CF Gribble, president-general of the Methodist Church of Australasia, who worked for many years in Tonga.

Sione Latukefu [1927-95], the son of an eminent Tongan theologian, was an expert on Tongan history and became a senior lecturer in history at the University of Papua New Guinea and a senior lecturer in Pacific history at the Australian National University. Ruth also taught at these universities.

PNG ponders the Rudd ascendancy

PNG prime minister Sir Michael Somare has congratulated Kevin Rudd on his election victory saying he’s looking forward to an early meeting with Mr Rudd to establish some understanding on the way forward for the two countries. “PNG has had a close and fruitful association with the ALP, dating back to former prime ministers Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and I’m confident we will progress this even further under Mr Rudd’s leadership,” Sir Michael said.

Meanwhile, the PNG Post-Courier has editorialised that Kevin Rudd is still largely an unknown quantity to his people and Papua New Guineans. “We are largely in the dark as to what Mr Rudd thinks about PNG. He has achieved fame in Asia and the Pacific for his fluency in the main Chinese language, Mandarin.”

“It will be something for Waigani bureaucrats and politicians to work out how focused the new Australian prime minister is on things Asian and how much time and attention he will give to our part of the world. In recent years, people like Mr Downer and the correspondents who shadow his footsteps have lavished words and money on the Indonesians especially and to some extent, the Chinese.

“Perhaps we have a small advantage though. Mr Rudd, while still an Opposition frontbencher, came to PNG and walked the Kokoda Track with Government Minister Joe Hockey. We hope that their down-to-earth experience of us, through the trek, will have given them a more sympathetic backgrounding than they would have received if they had gone the traditional VIP route at Waigani. Perhaps Mr Rudd will have something to say about the plans for mining next to the Kokoda Track by an Australian company. And the prospect of Papua New Guineans going to work on short-term visas to relieve Australian labour shortages.”

Member for Bennelong fondly farewelled

Clive_troy Clive Troy has been a senior Liberal Party member at branch level, but – as anyone who’s ever read one of his many letters to the Sydney Morning Herald would know - far from an unadorned admirer of local north shore Sydney Liberals like John Howard and Philip Ruddock.

In his younger days, Clive – who now has major trading interests in the Philippines – was a well-known name in PNG. We’d sit in our head teacher’s offices in the bush trying to decipher the latest Treasury circular on native teachers' rice allowances and, more than likely than not, Clive’s name would be at the bottom of it.

In a farewell statement to the outgoing Prime Minister, Clive mounted a one-man demonstration outside John Howard’s electorate office yesterday morning. I think you'll find his message to be pretty clear.

Labor’s new deal for the South Pacific

Foreign policy didn’t get much attention during the election campaign that ended with a decisive win to the Labor Party on Saturday, yet the new government has firm plans for improving relationships in a part of the world in which Australia has real influence, the South Pacific.

Since 2003 Australia has spent $1 billion on the security mission in the Solomons, yet relations are at an all time low. There have been four coups in Fiji in the last 20 years. The PNG relationship is worse than it has ever been, and there has been a ban on ministerial dialogue with Australia. An $800 million cooperation program with PNG is still not up and running.

Mcclellandr “Civil unrest and lack of respect for the rule of law in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea shows how unstable our neighbourhood is,” says Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman, Robert McClelland. “These fragile states don’t just constitute an arc of instability – this is our arc of responsibility. We need to focus our security and foreign policy resources on our region.”

McClelland believes Australia needs a major revision of strategy for how we deal with these fragile states. “They can quickly become economic basket cases, a haven for organised crime, terrorist training or influenced by other countries that don’t share Australia’s interests,” he says.

Now it’s in government, Labor will implement an Asia Pacific Partnership for Development and Security. The partnership will address the collapse in primary education and healthcare; provide aid for basic economic infrastructure including roads, telecommunications and clean water; address the problem of urban male youth unemployment through targeted public works; focus on good governance by training regional leaders and public servants; and provide security assistance to local police forces.

“As much as any other country we have the ability to make our region and the world a more secure, more affluent and fairer place,” says McClelland. “By donning the guernsey of a good international citizen we can once again play first grade - and deliver real outcomes that are in our own interests and in the interests of the world community.”

Karkar exploder temporarily laid low

Bill Wilson once told me the story of a thirsty Catholic priest on Karkar Island who experienced profound disappointment upon recovering from a protracted binge to find he’d consumed the church's entire supply of altar wine. The situation was saved by the local doctor ("a mad, mad Irishman," recalled Bill), who creatively developed a substitute using fruit cordial and surgical spirit, not an unknown act of pharmacology on outstations where the good stuff had been too greedily consumed.

At the time, Bill was working on Karkar with a tuberculosis control team. "The white population was mainly young, single, male and thirsty," he recollects. "A favourite Sunday pursuit was roaring around the island on motor bikes blowing up dunnies. I was introduced to the pastime and given the honour of carrying explosives and detonators while riding pillion behind a plantation assistant on a big AJC bike.”

As a medical assistant [liklik dokta], Bill spent time training to be a teacher at ASOPA only to find that his greater love was health and health education. Upon returning to Australia to live and work in Canberra, he dedicated himself to improving indigenous health as an officer of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands Commission.

Earlier this year, Bill – who is the longest serving member of the Australian Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs – was honoured by becoming a life member of that organisation.

Now Bill’s wife, Anita, informs me that our brother is in hospital having had a triple bypass yesterday. He was in good spirits before surgery, says Anita. “We have been to see him in ICU and all is well so far… There’s a challenging road ahead with lots of physio/cardiac rehab but everyone at the hospital has been great and very caring.”

I encourage you to send a message to Bill through Anita by emailing her here.

Frontier missionary: the insinuation of power

I really don’t know what the Lutheran missionary Wilhelm Bergmann (1899-1987) thought of us wild boys down on the outstation. He was 65 when I landed in the Chimbu in January 1964 and he’d been there since 1931, one of the first white men into the central highlands of New Guinea.

Kundiawa_2 Occasionally he’d wander down to the kunai radio shack near the airstrip, a tall and slightly stooped man who never really fraternised with us government officers. And I never saw his wife, Louise, although his daughter, Irmgard, was a nursing sister at Kundiawa hospital - a serene and pleasant woman, who would never join our parties but escape to the mission on the hill each evening.

Now it turns out – and I have Peter Salmon to thank for this – that Gabriele Richter of the University of Rostock in Germany has access to Wilhelm Bergmann’s 10 volumes of diaries and other texts he wrote about his time in New Guinea from 1928 to 1968.

In these volumes Bergmann describes situations of ‘first contact’, when the Western and Chimbu worlds collided and it was not yet determined how power between the two would be divided. Gabriele Richter writes: “In his autobiography, these moments appear as decisive experiences for him.” She says the Christian missions were not ‘innocent enterprises’ that eschewed power conflict and Bergmann’s writings tell how, step by step, he accumulated power and related it to religion.

Ms Richter will present a forum on Bergmann at the Australian National University on Tuesday 27 November between 11 am and noon. If you’re interested in attending, call Oanh Collins on 02 6125 3106.

Photo: Kundiawa from the air, Wikipedia

The first rays of a new dawn

I’ve written here previously of the efforts of some Bougainvillean media people - including former journalists Aloysius Laukai and Carolus (Charlie) Ketsimur and a small group of Australians with a background in PNG broadcasting, Martin Hadlow, Phil Charley and me - to establish a radio station on Buka Island in the north of Bougainville.

The gestation period of New Dawn FM, as the station is called, has been elephantine but, with funds now flowing from UNESCO (for studio equipment) and from the German government (for the transmitter), all is ready for the station to be established.

The name New Dawn really says it all. When the 10-year Bougainville war ended in 1998, 20,000 people had died and there were 40,000 internal refugees in a population of 160,000. Due to PNG’s own economic problems, there has been very limited progress in infrastructure renewal in the years since hostilities ended.

Aloysius_laukai As Bougainville slowly regenerates, it’s vital that its citizens have access to the mass media. That’s why we’ve been working to establish this commercial community FM station, which will provide an independent voice for a population trying to rebuild its livelihood and its sense of community.

Photo: Aloysius Laukai signs the memorandum of understanding at New Dawn’s new studios watched by the German ambassador and consul.

On the ASOPA Reunion, October 2007

Richard Clark (7th E Course)

The reunion in Brisbane in October was a huge success in terms of numbers that turned up at the dinner on Saturday night at the Sofitel. Almost all graduate years from the 1950s to the 1970s were represented and a very good address was given by Professor McKinnon who referred briefly to the E Course during his speech. It was good to catch with a number of people with whom I worked in PNG, as well as Asopians whom I have come to know from the reunion in Sydney several years ago.

Keith Jackson, as Chairman for the evening, was at his best and it was good to have several others such as Richard Jones (who had arranged a general invitation to E Course people) come and shake hands with me. Alas, the evening was too short and we had to leave early. But I did meet Bernie Houston (7th E Course) on the Saturday afternoon. He was waiting for me at the Novotel Hotel on our arrival and it was good to meet a fellow E Coursian after all these years. Bernie showed me the documents he has written on the E Course and they look impressive. However, he has computer problems and is finding it difficult at this stage to put the final touches to the document. I will keep in contact with him.

More E Course news here.

The sights & sounds of old New Guinea

Video Bill Bohlen’s passion for cinematography goes back a long way. When he and Diane lived in Papua New Guinea in the sixties, 16 mm and 8 mm cameras were part of the household equipment. Some of this footage shot between 1967 and 1969 has now been converted and posted on the You Tube website under the title ‘Papua New Guinea in the 1960s’. This now historic film is five minutes long and mainly features the colourful sights and sounds of the exotic Goroka Show.

It so happens that I was at this event for the weekend in question, sleeping on the dirt ‘floor’ of the Chimbu district pavilion and retain a vivid recollection of a plumed warrior using a bow and arrow to shoot a small pig in front of a horrified Queen Elizabeth II – with squads of kiaps running around aimlessly trying to figure what to do about it.

Bill’s video has many highlights, including a shot of possibly the last gentlemen in PNG to where a pith helmet. I really like Bill’s sound track, though, well compiled and very evocative of the time. Catch the video here. It really is a must see.

Ours was the year that was: 1963-64

Peter Plummer

Peter_plummer In January '63 I left Adelaide for Sydney, excited to be on my first Fokker Friendship flight. Up there, the beaches and Adelaide looked great and I was temporarily distracted from emotions of anticipation and anxiety. A day later to ASOPA, perched on a magnificent sandstone headland reaching into Middle Harbour, its nearby suburbs of upper crust Sydney - and their enormous influence on night life. ASOPA - a cocktail of course work, male bonding at the Mosman Hotel, parties, dinners and theatre, no time outs, no substitutes; the clock was always running.

1963 was filled with my first car (a '48 Morris Minor), the first ASOPA Revue The natives are restless (a sensation), Vietnam heating up, JFK assassinated, Pope John's proclamations, the emergence of The Beatles, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan. 1964 was very different: studies; highs and lows of courting Jan; Alice Springs for ten crazy days with John Waters, who had never been outside Melbourne and Sydney; the second ASOPA revue, If you can't beat 'em - eat 'em; graduation.

Many times over the past 40 years, I have contemplated the question of what ASOPA meant to me, and to all of us. Of this I am sure: ASOPA was unique among tertiary institutions - anywhere. Staff and students recognised the challenges to be faced on all fronts and stimulated in each other a laid back but committed approach that would stand us in such good stead when facing the exciting challenges of servicing the education effort in Papua New Guinea and the Northern Territory. All chose 'a road less travelled'. ASOPA was for me a time, a place, an opportunity, a flexible experience, a turning point, a time of clarification and focus.

Epilogue: I can recall landing in Port Moresby in the wet of January '65 and thinking to myself ‘This feels like home’ and it never ceased to be that way. I had arrived in God's little acre.

After 16 years in PNG, Peter moved to the Northern Territory, where he held a number of senior executive positions including CEO of Mines and Energy, CEO of Territory Health and CEO of the Department of Employment, Education and Training. He has now retired to the Sunshine Coast.

Passion, purpose in return to Rambutso

At the very beginning, Lynne Shori’s life was very different. She was born on Rambutso Island in PNG’s Manus Province in the 1960s: her mother from Rambutso; her father an Australian teacher who formally adopted Lynne after he convinced the village elders she would have a better life with him.

Rambutso Lynne grew up in Australia believing her mother had died at childbirth, until – in her early twenties – the true story was revealed. It took her another twenty years to built the courage to find her mother and connect with her island ancestry. Last April, Lynne’s partner, Ruud Dautzenberg, organised a journey to Rambutso and together they visited this remote and beautiful place. Lynne met her mother, Niakop Epili, grandfather and seven brothers and sisters for the first time.

The only source of money for the people of Rambutso is free diving for beche-de-mer. With stocks depleting from over-fishing, the local divers dive to increasingly dangerous depths in search of the precious ‘sea cucumber’. When Lynne returned home she learned her youngest brother, whom she had just met, had died while diving, leaving behind a young wife and two year old son.

Lynne and Ruud were immediately inspired to set up a charity to help the villagers of Rambutso. This was established in August with a mandate to secure the financial independence of the islanders whilst preserving their environment. Next March, to begin this process, Friends of Rambutso is organising a trip to the island, open to all people with a sense of adventure who are excited by opportunities for cultural exchange.

You can find out more at the Friends of Rambutso website here or email Lynne Shori here.

Photo: Rambutso sunset [PNG Development Bank]

45 years on, the brew’s still the thing…

Keating_et_al_1962 This photo was taken in a Sydney hotel in 1962. The relaxed youths are Cadet Education Officers of the ASOPA Class of 1961-62. They are soon to be despatched to various parts pf Papua New Guinea. Where beer will be harder to acquire. And more expensive. From the left, these young lions are Allyn Hicks, Allen West, Peter Stuckey, Ron Antoine, Rod Andrews, Peter Sealy and Leo Carroll.Keating_et_al_2007

The photo on the right was taken 45 years later, in 2007, during an ASOPA reunion at a leafy retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland. With the exception of Allyn Hicks, the line up is the same as in 1962. As is the enjoyment of a cold South Pacific beer.

Photos: David Keating, reunion convenor, ASOPA Class of 1961-62

Assassination threat on Somare

Pcsomare Rumours are sweeping Port Moresby of an assassination plot against Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, and authorities are treating them seriously. Police Commissioner Gari Baki told a press conference that he had “reliable intelligence” which police were assessing. ‘What I am saying is I don’t want to rule that assassination plot out.” Security has been stepped up around Sir Michael and his residences.

Asked about the source of the threat, Mr Baki pointed to the organisers of a cancelled march on Parliament to call on the Prime Minister to step down over the Julian Moti affair. He said: “You can guess where it’s coming from because it alluded to the mass demonstrations and issues of mass strike”.

Mr Baki said reliable Police intelligence confirmed assassination threats on the Prime Minister and senior elected leaders of the National Parliament and that Police and Defence intelligence were conducting surveillance and taking precautionary measures to establish the threats and maintain law and order.

[Sources: ‘PNG National’ and ‘Post-Courier’]

Ours was the year that was: 1962-63

Bill Welbourne et al

On a sultry sunny February day in 1962, a group of aspiring Cadet Education Officers squeezed into an old army mess hall at Middle Head for an introduction to what would prove a life changing experience. We were a different bunch, and therein lies one of the truisms of the whole ASOPA adventure - we were individuals. We came from far and wide across Australia, PNG and Nauru. Some were escaping home, others were into unsuccessful sorties in academe, a number were plain bored with public service life. There were those filled with religious zeal, others who genuinely thought teaching had appeal while some were hard pressed to explain why they were there at all. The common sentiment was the comfort of being 'the best paid cadets in Australia' - though our PNG colleagues much later shocked us with the news that they were paid half of what the rest of us received.

Village tourism struggles for funds

Bob Jenkins passes on an email from Aaron Hayes, Director of Ecotourism Melanesia, which arranged the Kokoda leg of Bob and Luella’s epic visit to PNG in 2005. “We were aware at the time that Aaron was operating a little more sympathetically towards the villagers along the track/trail than other organisations,” Bob writes, “so are happy to help out with his current predicament.”

It turns out that Aaron is seeking to identify private companies, individuals or organisations that might be able to assist he charity he founded in 2004 to facilitate the development of village tourism in PNG. Let Aaron take up the story. “The Community-Based Tourism Foundation helps village people to help themselves, by providing technical advice and training to show them how to operate village guest houses and other village-based tourism services like birdwatching and jungle trekking, so they can benefit from the growing number of tourists visiting PNG.

“The Foundation is currently in limbo after PNG government funds ran out last year and have not been renewed. Since the sector we service (poor village people) can’t pay for the services we provide, we now find ourselves having to solicit private donations - from overseas charities, NGOs and corporations, and even from individuals who have previously visited PNG as tourists - to keep the Foundation operating. This is the first time we have had to seek outside help.

“At the moment we are seeking small donations ($100 or so) to achieve our target of just $4,000 which will enable us to re-employ a national coordinator, get the phone reconnected and get our office functioning again. At the same time our coordinator can prepare submissions for ongoing support from donor agencies that fund ecotourism programs, such as the European Union and the UNDP Global Environment Fund. Once we establish relationships with a few development partners I am confident we will be able to attract long term program funds.

“My apologies for sending you this e-mail out of the blue but the desperate situation has prompted me to do whatever I can to keep the Foundation functioning.”

It seems to me, like it seems to Bob, that this is a worthwhile village-focused enterprise that deserves support. If you’re able to assist, email Aaron here and, even if you can’t, visit the Ecotourism Melanesia website here.

Langmore on Australia in the world

A long time ago John Langmore taught me economics at the University of Papua New Guinea. He’s now a professorial fellow in the Department of Political Science at Melbourne University and president of the UN Association of Australia. Between times he’s been a Federal Labor MP for 12 years (and a nemesis of Paul Keating) and Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development in the UN in New York.

On Tuesday 20 November he’s giving a talk in Sydney on Australia, our neighbours and global governance. A bit heavy for most people, perhaps, but if you’d like to attend drop an email to me for further details. John is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve known and is always worth listening to.

Ann Prendergast

Ann was born in Hay NSW in 1934 and grew up on a property 100 km out of town town. Her early education was through lessons mailed each week from Blackfriars Correspondence School in Sydney. She completed her secondary education with the Sisters of St Joseph at their boarding schools in Leeton and Goulburn. In 1953 Ann was awarded a scholarship to Wagga Teachers College, where she trained as an infants teacher.

After three years country service in her hometown of Hay, in 1958 Ann was appointed to Norfolk Street Infants School in Newtown and began evening study at Sydney University majoring in history and completing an honours year followed by an MA. In 1963 she was appointed to ASOPA, where she was a popular lecturer - her earnest and softly spoken style and pleasant good looks a constraint on even the most boisterous male students..

Ann was encouraged by Principal Charles Rowley to apply for a scholarship to the East West Centre at the University of Hawaii, established by the American government during the Kennedy administration to promote cultural contact between Asia, the Pacific and the US. Here, Ann began work on the culture and history of the Pacific. Her doctoral thesis was on the history of the early years of the London Missionary Society in Papua. She later spent time working in the archives of the Society in London.

Having finished her PhD in 1968, Ann returned to teach at Balmain Teachers College, later Kuring-gai College of Education, which was incorporated into the Sydney University of Technology. She rose to the position of Head of the Department of Social Science. In 1990 Ann retired after forty years of challenging, interesting and productive academic life.

Ann retains a lively interest in ASOPA affairs and was disappointed that physical immobility prevented her attendance at the recent reunion in Brisbane.

Source: Sophie McGrath in Newsletter (vol 6 no 1, April 2006) of the Golding Centre for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield NSW

Seeking highlands singsing audio

Siebrand_profile One of Siebrand Petrusma’s retirement goals is to convert his 8mm colour film footage of PNG during the 1960s to digital format and edit this to produce a DVD. As you might imagine it’s a major project but it’s one that will give his family and other people some idea of what an amazing era that was.

Here’s how you may be able to help. Some of the film was shot in the Southern Highlands and Siebrand is looking for an audio recording of a highlands singsing to be used as part of the sound track. So far, all his attempts have been fruitless. If you can assist, send Siebrand an email here or call him on 03 6248 1267. Oh, and while you’re at it, why don’t you drop into his blog samtingbilongmi here.

Hey, this is really good stuff

Time for some housekeeping. But first some bragging. Yesterday was our best day ever at ASOPA PEOPLE in nearly two years of publication. The record 139 readers surpassed Sunday's 135 and the two previous best results - 136 on each of 16 March and 19 October this year.

Translagoon Meanwhile, Ingrid and I are flying out to the Sunshine Coast in the morning for a week at our Noosa apartment at Sun Lagoon (left) and - without files and papers - I'll be dependent upon your feedback (send it here) to provide enough information to post regularly on the site from internet cafes. Time to be communicative ... informative ... creative. Over to you.

Strictly for the record – class handles

Asopa_years The Brisbane reunion handbook ASOPA Years included some wonderful information and anecdotes from the very beginnings of the School. One of editor Henry Bodman’s clever ideas was to work with contributors to create a catchphrase to characterise each of the fifteen Classes from 1957-58 to 1971-72 whose stories are told in the publication.

For the record, here they are:

1957-58          The original ASOPA chalkies

1958-69          The golden years

1959-60          Chalkies here to stay

1960-61          Last on-campus residents

1961-62          The ASOPA classics

1962-63          The reunion junkies

1963-64          The natives are restless

1964-65          The last of the primaries

1965-66          The first of the secondaries

1966-67          Quality with quantity

1967-68          The Moresby mafia at work

1968-69          Last of the 69ers

1969-70          To be reckoned with

1970-71          The penultimates

1971-72          The times they were a changin’

If you reckon your Class handle can be improved or refined, why don't you share your suggestion in the Recent Comments column. Click through on the Comments link below.

Larry’s ‘friendly art’ gives kids a chance

Santana Larry Santana [shown at work, left] is one of PNG’s best known painters and he has has a great talent for blending traditional with contemporary art. The traditions of PNG may be changing, but they live on in Larry’s imagination. His work is vivid and evocative but, despite his manifest talent, he struggles to make sales in a struggling PNG. But Larry has another reason to paint. His daughter Maureen, a journalism student at university, is finding it difficult to continue because she can’t afford the fees. So Larry has given Maureen three paintings to sell to anyone interested in helping her continue her studies.

“Larry Santana is my father and my inspiration for my journey in education,” Maureen says. Santana2 “Over the years I have seen him paint magnificent pictures with powerful interpretations of PNG going through change. But the style of his art changed for my father because he wanted my brothers and me to get an education and the only way to do that was to stop painting pictures that depict the negative implications of modern influence. His paintings now show the traditional life and landscapes with more of a friendly approach.”

If you’re interested in Larry’s art you can contact Maureen by email here.

November Mail has full reunion coverage

The November issue of The Mail newsletter, number 117 in the series, is now on this website. It has full coverage of last month’s Brisbane reunion and you can click through to it from the ASOPA People Extra section in the left-hand column.

We publish an extract from Dr Joe Pagelio’s speech on the expatriate legacy in PNG education and Dr Ken McKinnon, tongue slightly in cheek, tells why teachers should organise the Olympics. Former ASOPA lecturer Dr Dick Pearse tells why Middle Head’s light was shining for him. And Bill Welbourne offers his take on the big reunion while Henry Bodman writes on that great reunion dinner. We also cover Dick Arnold’s memorable welcome to reunionistas in Many heroes are seated before me.

There’s coverage of Ours Was The Year That Was: 1957 - Sue Ward Never a temptation to rest on our laurels; 1958 - Eric Johns Finding out what the challenge was all about; 1959 - Stuart Woodger In awe of what we’d signed up to do; 1960 Terry Chapman Living dangerously, last class on campus; and 1961 Ros Sharp et al The ASOPA classics.

There’s also Toktok Gris, plenty of news, coverage of PNG expatriate websites and, after The Mail’s last bumper issue, a bumper Feedback section.

ASOPA People Extra also now has the full archive of the 26 issues of the Vintage newsletter published prior to the 2002 Class of 1962-63 reunion.

Hell for the Yanks is Paradise for the rest of us

WALK INTO HELL Hell, a two-star rated adventure movie filmed on location in PNG and released in 1957, concerns the cultural clash between Australian adventurers and local tribespeople.

Steve McAllister [played by Chips Rafferty] is despatched to supervise construction of an airfield for an oil company. Steve’s hopes for peaceful co-existence with the natives are dashed when white hunter Jeff Clayton [Pierre Cressoy] thoughtlessly kills a sacred white bird.Walk_into_hell

The highlights include a skin-crawling snake attack and an authentic tribal singsing. Love interest is the beautiful expat medico, Dr Dumarcet [Françoise Christophe].

Fred Kaad, known to many of our readers, plays himself in the supporting role of a District Walk_into_paradise Officer. Rafferty both starred in and produced Walk Into Hell, which, in Australia, was released under the more benign title Walk Into Paradise.

But the scenes of bare-breasted women, axed from the US version, were mercifully left uncut for Australian audiences.

Australian documentary producer, Bob Connolly, says: "It's an entertaining film and an important one.

With its cast of freebooting prospectors, taciturn patrol officers, fiercely loyal native police and the awesome spectacle of 5,000 warriors massing in full bilas, the film is a priceless window back to a frontier era."

Walk Into Paradise, which contains wonderful footage of PNG highlands people and scenery even though the plot is predictable, is available for $40 from the PNG Association at PO Box 1386, Mona Vale NSW 1660.

The musty-sweet scent of our memories

Things work in strange ways. Yesterday Bill Welbourne emailed he’d read in ASOPA PEOPLE that Siebrand Petrusma had donated a collection of old Pacific Islands Monthly magazines to the cause. Did they go back to 1966, Bill asked.

PIM - now extinct – was a publication that one observer said provided “advertisements, photographs and stories that fuelled the idyllic image of these magic [Pacific] lands”. It turned out that a 1966 issue had published a photo of Bill and his son Tony.

In this lost article,” Bill wrote, “I remember seeing a photo of me as the South Pacific record holder and hot favourite for the 800 metres. The photo shows my two-year old son Tony handing me my athletic spikes.”

I leafed through the copies from 1966 that Siebrand had sent - some issues missing, some without covers - gently turning torn pages as the detritus of PNG fell on my desk – dust, grass fragments, small spiders. And all the while that musty-sweet scent of the tropics emitting from the newsprint. Until there, on page 24 of the December issue, was Bill’s missing photo.

Bill_tony_dec_66Jackson Wells Morris office supervisor James Cropper scanned the page and we sent the result to Bill, who was grateful and generous in his praise: “Thanks ever so much, Keith. The speed of your public relations set up amazes me. By the time I scratched my nose and put out the garbage, you had retrieved my lost photo which I have been wanting all those years.”

And how did Bill go at that second South Pacific Games in Noumea. Unfortunately three years of teaching in the tropics had taken their toll. In the 800 metres he ran 8 seconds off his best and was pipped on the line just 0.3 seconds adrift of Ellia Humuni of New Caledonia. Bill also won silver in the 400 metres hurdles.

Ours was the year that was: 1960-61

Terry Chapman

We lived on site at ASOPA for most of the first year and there were some fascinating experiences. A dispute arose when the students asked for another washing machine but were told there wasn’t enough room in the laundry. The argument was won for the students by Dick Rentoule when he took to the old brick and concrete wood fired copper with a sledge hammer.

There are dramatic memories of the famous police raid on the living quarters. A guitar singing session in Rover Leung's room was rudely interrupted by a gun-waving policeman looking for “the man with the gun”. He wasn't impressed when Paul Brigg said, “That's you, you fool, have a beer. It turned out that a CEO, being harassed by some intoxicated kiaps, had locked himself in a room with a rifle, which he used to further antagonise them by firing through the window. Apparently there were eight carloads of police involved.

Student A was summoned to Mr Rowley’s office to help him and woodwork lecturer Keith ‘Handy Andy’ Foster understand why Student A’s cane joint, awarded a distinction, was missing from the box of joints. In particular he was asked to confirm conviction that the joint with Student B’s name on it was actually Student A’s assessment task rebadged with Student B’s name. Student A did not agree and the threat to expel Student B evaporated when Student A expressed surprise that there were only 25 cane joints in the box from the group of 50 plus students.

We should have felt honoured to have James McAuley as our lecturer but unfortunately we did not get to know him well enough nor had we heard enough about his exploits to benefit from association with him. He described himself as a “man of the left” but we later learned he was fiercely anti-communist, prominent as an anti-communist during the cold war and a co-founder and chief editor of Quadrant magazine. He professed a great love for PNG, which he described as his “second spirit” home and it’s regrettable we gave him a tough time and didn't get to know him.

Brian Ross tried his psychology on us in a memorable way. He administered a test involving a very significant number of short answer questions with the results to contribute a major part of our yearly assessment. He failed to return the papers and was harassed by students with allegations that he had not marked them. He then awarded marks to only ten of those questions and announced the results. In response to the protests, he explained that the selection of the ten questions was so clever that the results reflected accurately the relative merits of the students. After being challenged, he announced he would put this to the test by conducting a brief survey. He named the seven students who had achieved the best results and asked them whether they agreed with the accuracy of his assertions. The seven all agreed that he was very clever and that the top marks were thoroughly deserved. If his aim was to teach us to be sceptical about the results of surveys, he was very successful.