The true story of ASOPA’s interregnum
Kerr-Jackson correspondence continues

Historic contest for PNGAA election

This month’s contest for the presidency of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia is said to be the first in the 57-year history of the organisation. The two candidates who have so far nominated for President are electrical retailer and oyster grower Chris Johnston and me. The PNGAA executive committee has yet to announce what form the election will take.

My credentials statement is available in the ‘PNGAA Election’ section of ASOPA People Extra at left. You can find readers' comments on my candidacy under Recent Comments at right. Other information about the election will be published as it is received from the PNGAA.

If you're a PNGAA member, I am seeking your vote for me as president of an association capable of effectively linking its history with the strong future direction canvassed in my statement in the 'PNGAA Election' section.


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Colin Huggins

I enjoyed reading Ann's endorsement of Keith for the position of President of PNGAA. Keith's endeavours leave me breathless.

On Wednesay 23 April, nine of us (so far) are meeting for another of our get togethers. We go to the Sofitel for what is referred to as the ‘Blue Rinse Lunch’. As we all qualify, we get a week’s supply of food of the highest quality for only $35 pp. Some dear old ducks have been going to this since the concept was started when it was the Sheraton - 20 years! Needless to say bookings are essential and to be made well in advance.

Dick and Josephine Arnold, Henry Bodman, Bill Welbourne, Bill and Diane Bohlen, Joe and Kathryn Crainean and myself are starters. We have these every couple of months - it is a great time to see each other and reminisce. We meet in the Whistle Stop Bar about 11.30am and then proceed to the new Thyme Restaurant for the lunch. We let the dear old pensioners Blue Rinse Brigade get settled first. Some of them would be well and truly in their 90's but, boy oh boy, can they eat!

Ann Prendergast

It gives me much pleasure to write in support Keith’s nomination for President of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. I first met him as a student at ASOPA in the 1960s and over the years watched with interest as he pursued his career in education, communications, and public relations.

Since my retirement I have renewed my acquaintance with him and have been particularly impressed by the way he has worked to bring together those of us who have worked, or have an interest in Papua New Guinea. Keith has done this through his newsletter, his web site and personal contact. Lately there has been his effort to preserve the ASOPA site and his submission to a Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee suggesting it be used to provide short courses for Pacific Island students.

Keith’s work in Papua New Guinea and his continued interest in events there are eminent qualification for the position of president. But more important is his care and concern for the people of Papua New Guinea and for those who have worked there.

It is one of the privileges of my years as a teacher to have met Keith as a student and now to recommend him for this position.

Bill Welbourne

Today I have forwarded to the PNGAA Secretary my proxy supporting your endorsement for President of the PNG Association of Australia. If you get the nod it will be a big tick for our ASOPA training which prepared and forged us to take on the leadership roles which are ongoing for the development and support of PNG.

You have been a significant achiever in the development of the ASOPA website which is now an important forum for the interaction of people and friends associated with the former Australian School of Pacific Administration. More recently you have pioneered and lobbied key support for a School of the Pacific to be established in the now vacant ASOPA site at Middle Head.

You would be a worthy successor to Harry West and I wish you every success.

Just one question though Keith. You were an undernourished 1st year Cadet Education Officer way back in 1962 when you decided to flat with me… So was it my cooking that built you up to take on these important responsibilities?? You never know the importance of a good chef!!!

Paul Oates

As a member of PNGAA I would be very happy to add my enthusiastic support to your nomination for President of our Association. To maintain the passion and interest in helping the people and nation of Papua New Guinea after so many years, is an essential ingredient for a successful PNGAA President. I believe you wholeheartedly fulfil this criterion.

The future of the PNGAA must be to look forwards and not backwards. We can however hope that as an association, our collective knowledge and experience of PNG may enable us to be of some use in helping our nearest neighbour. We also hope to foster close ties between our two countries and to build a collaborative bridge between the peoples of Australia and PNG.

Clearly, your newsletters and personal contacts have demonstrated that you meet this requirement. Good luck and best wishes.

Dave Kesby

Keith has had a long history with New Guinea in a variety of ways. He has viewed it with fresh eyes as a young teacher recruit being tossed into a brave new world. He then saw New Guinea with fresh eyes in the media observing, reporting and connecting with the many facets of life and people living there. So he is a teacher, a writer, a communicator and has proved to be a leader in both thought and deeds.

In deeds and leadership, he was able to draw together a disparate group of ASOPA people into a reunion, with his newsletter and musings convincing even the most reluctant ones to land in Port Macquarie to find a familiar face underneath the craggy lines and greying temples. The reunions keep coming.

In thought, he has a vision for the future of New Guinea, a future that seems lost to many.

So he is a PR man without the shiny talk. His talk is of generosity and bringing people together to value the history, reminisce about it, but move on to build a future for New Guinea. His leadership of this the PNG Association of Australia will drive this future.

John Hey

I really don’t know where you get the time. You are doing a great job making it possible for us to remember a far away time. So much has happened in PNG since we left (not much of it good). I am always sad for what I thought was Paradise Lost. Valasi and I were sorry to miss the re-union but remain grateful for your efforts to remind us of old times and faces. Good luck with the election.

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