PNG Independence Day - 16 September
The day Somare ignored a racist taunt

Hal Holman OL, OAM – honoured by Australia, now by Papua New Guinea

Halholman pic Tomorrow may be a big day for Papua New Guinea but it looms as an even bigger day for Hal Holman, because the man who designed the PNG Coat of Arms, who had a significant input in the design of the national flag and whose art and sculptures derive their beauty and energy from PNG is to become an Officer in the Order of Logohu.

The award is given for distinguished service to PNG, and it is beyond argument that Hal Holman has provided this – from his experience as a commando in World War II to his work as an official artist in the years around Independence to his contribution to public art in PNG since.

Hal Holman returned to Port Moresby in 1962 for what was intended as a brief visit. Instead he joined the Department of Information where, among his colleagues, was a young journalist named Michael Somare. Since then many PNG commissions have come Hal's way including a large bronze of Queen Elizabeth II, bronze busts of the six prime ministers of PNG since Independence and an eight-metre high stainless steel Bird of Paradise adjacent to Parliament House in Port Moresby. These are among many other Holman sculptures and works of art in the city.

Crest Hal was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2004 for his services to the arts as a designer and sculptor. The most recent PNG award gives him the unusual honour of being recognised by both countries. To suggest that Hal is delighted would be a grotesque understatement.

You can read Hal’s story of how PNG got its national flag here.

And something of his war exploits in the New Guinea highlands here.

And you can find out how you can acquire one of his works of art here.


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Hal Holman

Thank you so much, Keith, for a wonderful article! Many thanks. Hal Pal

Fiona Dimas-Herd

A fitting honour for an inspirational figure. We have had the pleasure of seeing Hal pass on his knowledge to a varied group of students. Hal has been teaching art to "Youth at Risk" as well as adults (studying to improve their literacy)at Hornsby TAFE for almost 20 years. Hal commits the same amount of energy and dedication to his teaching as he does to his sculptures and paintings. He has certainly passed on his enthusiasm to this lucky group of students!

Phil Charley OAM

What a great honour -- so well deserved -- for a truly remarkable man, Hal Holman. I've just re-read his account of the designing of the PNG crest and flag. Not only is he a great painter and sculptor, but he also writes with tremendous wit, flair and narrative ability.

Paul Oates

Reading Hal's account of the rainforest brings the old memories flooding back. The smell of rotting vegetation, the carpet of multi coloured leaves and the occasional coloured fruit that had been partly eaten and had fallen onto the path. The cries of birds far above your head and the greasy tree roots that you had to be careful not the slip on. The good humour of the local people and the camaraderie of the carriers on patrol. Only those who have been there seem to understand. Perhaps that's the problem in trying to convey history. You had to be there.

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