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34 posts from February 2009

Sweeping Keravat history on the way

Barbara Short

In about mid-2006 I decided to take on the task of trying to put together a book on the history of Keravat School and its ex-students. One of the first persons I contacted was Sir Paulias Matane, Governor General of Papua New Guinea, who was able to help me to locate two of his teachers from back in the early 1950s, Bill Wilson in Western Australia and John Bowden in Adelaide. I also decided I would write an introduction that would cover the start of formal education on the Gazelle and my friend, the Rev Neville Threlfall, a great historian, was very helpful.

Bill Wilson wrote his memories and John Bowden (Keravat 1954-1965) wrote many pages of memories of his long time at Keravat. He also sent many excellent early photographs. After a while I realized that there were certain things which these good people had forgotten and contacted Loch Blatchford, with the request for help for information on the 1950s in TPNG. I was amazed to find that he had photocopies of Education Department documents from this time and he sent me copies of all that were relevant to Keravat.

Later I was in contact with Denis Donohoe, who taught at Keravat in the 1960s, and who put me in touch with Professor John Cleverley who sent me a copy of what he had written about the history of education in TPNG. With all my own books on the history of TPNG and these marvellous resources from Loch Blatchford and John Cleverley, I was well equipped to try to understand what it was like back in the early days on the Gazelle both before and after the Second World War.

Over the years I have also had a number of other teachers from the 1960s helping me, especially Tony Baker, John Stolz, Alistair Whittred, John Close, Ben Sheelings, and later Geoff Pope, in Melbourne, Bob and Helen Creelman in Sydney and Dave Keating in Brisbane. Between the lot of them I acquired copies of the early Kokomos, 1960-1965 and many old photographs.

I was very fortunate that Peter Routley (headmaster 1975-77) was able to write extensively about his time at Keravat while on a cruise through the Middle East.  Other teachers from those times - Maurice Wilson and Nigel Gregory in Brisbane, Patrick and Barbara Rohde in Wales, Bob Roberts in Nambour and Janet Holst, Professor of English in Oman - have all added their memories and helped me to write about that period. I have also made good use of Kokomos, the Keravat Mirror and Wawarikai from that time.

I have been in touch with Matt Power (headmaster 1978), now living on Tamborine Mountain, who has helped me with 1978, and with Richard Jordan (headmaster 1979-80), now living in a rainforest in Bellingen, who has helped with the period when he was headmaster.

Many students have contributed to this book in one way or another and I list the ones I can recall here: Paulias Matane, Joe Agavi, Robert Bino, Ida Ariha Bulina, Olive Tau Davis, Margaret Embahe, Sue Emmanuel, Steven Gagau, Rena (Doisen) Gonduan, Emil Kasir, Alphonse Kaskol, Mai Kauvu, Mark Kime, Mannen Kuluwah, Rodney Luana, Cornelia Maino, Dr Billy Manoka, Nelson Paulias, the late Soni Powai, Aisak Pue, the late Lohia Raka, Janet Rangou, Dr Mathias Sapuri, Dr Josephine Saul Maora, John Tenakanai, Dr Jennifer Viia and Pala Wari. Many others have offered to write something but due, no doubt, to their busy lives have not found time to contribute.

During 2008 Keravat National High School was often in the newspapers. In February government officials were shocked at the state of the school, in April classes were suspended and Bob Webb and I wrote separate letters to The National newspaper appealing for help for Keravat. Also in April a P & C was formed and in June a Keravat Alumni Association was set up with Sir Paulias Matane as its Patron.

I would also like to thank Keith Stebbins, and Andrea Williams and Keith Jackson from PNGAA, for their help and my husband, Col Short, for his loving support and constant help with all the technical aspects of producing a book.

I dedicate the book to all Ex-Students of Keravat High School – TUUM EST!

Barbara Short’s book is nearing completion, and at 330 pages looks like being a pearler. It takes the history of Keravat from the beginning to the 1980s. Evidence of the extent of Barbara’s research is seen in the detailed  Acknowledgement, only part of which is reproduced here. We will publish the full Acknowledgement in the March Mail newsletter. PNG ATTITUDE will advise readers of publication details for Barbara's book later in the year.

February’s ‘Mail’ is now in your inbox

The Mail for February was emailed to subscribers this morning and is now on site. It contains all the usual features - Mauswara, News, Comment and History – together with the results of our first readership survey.

Among some of the more noteworthy responses from readers:

I like the contributions by our peers, keeping us up-to-date with their activities. Unfortunately, some of these scribes seem to be holding back of late – Ian McLean

It is up to date with current issues. It is forthright and puts all points of view. It is about the right length. It follows up issues. And it’s available to everyone on line - Chris Viner-Smith

For a volunteer effort which I suspect is almost 100% Keith Jackson’s work, The Mail is an astonishing publication. It is most professional in its compilation and production - Rei Fehlberg

I find it extremely readable and a way to keep a tenuous check on what my old friends are doing in their lives now. Also a way to see just how things are progressing in another country that was for so long a part of my life - and which helped to shape me as a person. And, to a lesser extent, it allows me to indulge in a little nostalgia - John Segal

It arrives regularly to keep me in touch with what's going on in PNG and (unlike many other newsletters) it's literate! - Jane Belfield

It’s a more balanced source of ex-PNG-expat news and interest than the others currently available. The emphasis on ex-chalky-talk is understandable seeing that the founder and most of his contributors to date are ex-teachers. It’s well-produced and it’s free - John Fowke

This most worthy monthly compilation has been through a few phases and changes of direction since its inception. We all know why The Mail started and I do not think we should ever lose sight of that. I am also aware that if you had to rely on personal contributions from Asopians solely then the publication would have starved to death long ago. I, for one, really look forward to receiving my monthly edition of The Mail. I would like to read more personal tidbits/articles from fellow Asopians but I confess I am as bad as the rest when it comes to actually contributing something - Bob Davis

I like the read, I like the comments from the various people. I like the conflict that arises from time to time. I like following the journeys that people’s lives have taken. I gave the best part of 16 years of my energetic years to PNG and do not regret one minute of it. When I returned to Western Australia I felt I had made a contribution, even if it was as simple as teaching a Bena kid in the Eastern Highlands how to slot the Steeden over the black dot. The read gives me a sense of kin - Val Murphy

Thanks to these people and to all the other folks who contributed to the survey.

Rule glitch may stymie PNGAA reform

Members of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia will not be allowed to vote by post on the most important change in the organisation’s history: a thorough revision of its objectives and Constitution. This places a great burden on plans to reform the organisation to equip it for a more relevant and sustainable future.

Earlier this month, the PNGAA national committee delayed the annual general meeting until June to allow new rules to be implemented, including one allowing postal voting for the committee. But the NSW Associations Incorporation Act, under which the PNGAA is established, doesn’t provide for a postal ballot for the special general meeting that will held on 26 April to vote on the changes. The current rules of the Association state that “all votes shall be given personally or by proxy”.

What this means is that the 75 percent majority required to achieve constitutional change needs to be garnered by personal attendance at the meeting held on Sydney’s upper north shore or by proxy voting. This poses a huge hurdle for change in the PNGAA unless determined action is taken to inform members and to get out the proxy vote.

The PNGAA committee has only one honourable course to take in this matter: after resolving to recommend a ‘yes’ vote to the membership, it must post proxy forms and a supportive explanatory statement to all members to enable them to exercise their vote.

By all means let the opponents of change cobble together a ‘no’ statement of their own – and post that to members too. At least this would bring them out into the open and allow members to properly evaluate the thinking that lies behind their determination to hold back the PNGAA.

Papers available to PNG Attitude readers

Loch Blatchford, author of the mighty Blatchford Collection and recent gold medallist in his age group (Methuselah class) at the Queensland triathlon championships, has an offer for readers who like to keep abreast of developments in Papua New Guinea.

Loch has two papers available for free email distribution if you'd like to get hold of them. They are Achieving a Better Future: A National Plan for Education 2005-2014 (148 pages) and PNG’s Medium Term Development Strategy 2005-2010 (91 pages).

You can drop an email to Loch here if you’d like him to send you copies.

Country Life: The goanna and the hare

Goanna_Hare Paul Oates

I was sauntering to the barn when I heard the mickey birds (you may know them better as noisy minors) going berserk. That’s always a sign of a predator.

Racing to the scene, I saw an adult hare behaving strangely and, even though it saw me, it didn't immediately run away. It was then I heard the sound of a young hare in distress.

Arrk, arrrk, arrk!

I took a closer look, expecting the juvenile had caught its leg in machinery or perhaps a fallen branch. The distressed adult hare was rushing hither and thither. At something. I thought: "Snake!"

But what leapt out of the grass, to scurry up a broad-leafed ironbark, was a large goanna with the young hare in his mouth. He wasn't taking any chances I might rob him of his catch, which he carried clear to the top of the tree.

Ex-Kiap, Cocos Island administrator and all round good bloke, Paul Oates, from time to time brings not so serene visions of reality to these Notes.

Fires: A friend in need is a friend indeed

It’s one thing to kick the tin when you’re loaded with cash and it’s quite another to do the same when you’re on struggle street. Papua New Guinea has shown clearly what a great friend of Australia it is by its generous response to recent natural disasters in Australia.

Last week the PNG Government gave $2 million for bushfire and flood relief and this has been followed by various amounts of money raised by groups and communities right across the country.

The small township of Vanimo near the Indonesian border has donated $5,500 to the Victorian bushfire appeal and staff of the National Research Institute on Friday donated K7,575 to the PNG Red Cross Australian Disaster Appeal Fund.

The Morobe provincial government has made a K100,000 donation. Secretary-General of the PNG Red Cross, Esmie Freda Sinapa, said donations to the Red Cross stood at K32,000 on Friday afternoon.

Jim Robinson, a divisional head at NRI, said it was touching to see average Papua New Guineans digging deep to donate. “It’s not the monetary value but the support that really counts,” he said. Australia's High Commissioner to PNG, Chris Moraitis, said he was moved by the donations.

Morobe Governor Luther Wenge said: “On behalf of the people of Morobe province, we sincerely express our sorrow, and also express that we are totally in heart with you in your suffering, we know very well that no human action will bring you to where you were in-full before the fire. We pray and offer our comfort and give the understanding and the blessings you need at this time.”

Footnote: The Exclusive Brethren Church, which is a client of my company Jackson Wells, yesterday donated $3 million to the Red Cross Appeal. The Church has just 13,000 members – men, women and children – in Australia.

The strange story of Bishop Ambo

Ambo_George Most of us who served in Port Moresby in the sixties and seventies would remember George Ambo, the bright and personable clergyman from the Northern District who never shied from admitting that his grandfather was a warrior who practised cannibalism.

With his brother, he was ordained a priest in 1958, two years later becoming the first Papuan bishop and a knight. In 1983, Sir George Ambo was appointed the first indigenous bishop of the South Pacific.

George retired in 1989 but, in a startling sequel to his distinguished clerical career, he was later excommunicated from the Church after shacking up with former Anglican mother superior, Sister Cora, and setting up a cargo cult.

The two of them founded the Puwo Gawe [‘come see’] Ministry after Cora claimed she saw spirits of dead relatives returning to their land with large quantities of goods. She believed a new better world was coming where inequality, suffering, and death would stop.

But now all is forgiven. “Ambo was a great man whose intentions were always to help," the Bishop of Popondota, Joseph Kopapa, has said. “He wanted to help Anglicans who had drifted away from the Church.”

George Ambo died in July last year aged 85, reconciled to his Creator and the Church and having apologised for his cargo cult involvement. “His name was cleared of any taints at the reconciliation process," said Bishop Kopapa.

Source: ‘Anglicans forgive PNG cargo cult leader’ by Ilya Gridneff, AAP, 30 January 2009

Votes loom as major test for PNGAA

At the Holman investiture on Friday, I was bailed up by a number of people who asked what was happening in the PNG Association and the PNGAA Reform Group. So I thought it was time, as best as I can, to provide an update.

The first and important news is that the PNGAA national committee has decided to separate the special general meeting (that will vote on the matter of constitutional change) from the annual general meeting (that will elect new office bearers). The SGM will be held in late April while the AGM is now to be held in June. This is a smart move.

It will allow any changes to the constitution to be bedded down well and truly before the annual general meeting, an important one being to limit the size of the national committee to ten, probably still a bit big but a welcome measure given the bloated and unwieldy 17-person group the organisation has been lumbered with in the past.

A significant challenge for the SGM, as I have mentioned in these Notes previously, is to secure the 75 percent majority of voting members necessary to obtain constitutional change and a new focus for the PNGAA on the Australia-PNG relationship. This is a considerable hurdle to transforming the Association into a more focused, relevant and sustainable organisation.

Implicit in this challenge is the opportunity for PNG ATTITUDE readers to vote in the postal ballot that is expected to be conducted in April and to ensure constitutional change. If you’re not a member, go to the PNGAA website and join for $20, which also puts you on the mailing list for the Association’s excellent quarterly journal, Una Voce.

The PNGAA Reform Group, under Phil Ainsworth’s leadership, will work with progressive committee members to try to get the constitutional changes through. It will also endorse candidates, especially from outside Sydney, for the June election. This has been made imperative by the committee’s failure to allow the membership to vote on whether or not they want State branches.

Part of the national committee’s dysfunction in the past has been its incestuousness: the same people from the same part of Sydney squabbling over the same personal issues for too many years. It was my ill fortune to walk right into the middle of this mess. It seems it is now up to the members to resolve matters by ensuring that the national committee becomes truly representative of the composition of the entire membership.

More reports from time to time as events unfold. And, if you have any questions or observations, please use the Comments feature on this site.

First state visit as sun sets on Somare era

Head In the nearly 34 years since Papua New Guinea attained its Independence, there has never been a State visit to Australia by a PNG Prime Minister. Now it seems, this April, Kevin Rudd is about to make good this deficiency. Michael Somare – nearing the end of a stellar political career and truly the father of his nation – will visit Canberra where he is expected to address the Federal Parliament.

This is the latest step in the growing closeness of the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, a relationship blighted since Independence by benign – and sometimes deliberate – neglect on the part of Australia. Sure, we have always provided budget support funding and we have sent (not always the most culturally aligned) aid workers there, but we have not built a relationship worthy of the name at the political or civil level.

In March last year, in one of his early foreign policy initiatives as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd paid the first state visit any Australian leader had made to PNG. At the time, Michael Somare said: “In the past few years things have not worked out as we’ve expected. The relationship was more or less deteriorated... There was no common understanding, mutual understanding ...”

And that statement said it all: it was as serious an indictment of the Howard Government’s attitude to Australia’s nearest neighbour as you would want to read.

And what was happening at the political level was reflected at the civil level. In 2006, PNG High Commissioner Charles Lepani told Hamish McDonald of the Sydney Morning Herald: “…the older generation of Australians with close contact has gone. A lot has depended on the very robust friendship that existed in Australia up to independence. There is nostalgia among the old hands but they can’t offer much today, they’re dying off. There needs to be more people interested… After all, the Australian taxpayer is paying for it.”

Today, of course, the PNG Association – in the face of considerable pushback and vitriol from some of its members - is moving to set the civil relationship to rights. In April it will ask its 1,600 members to vote for a constitutional change that will place furthering the relationship between Australia and PNG right at the top of its agenda. This change needs a 75 percent 'yes' vote to succeed. The vote will take place at about the same time Michael Somare pays his final formal visit to Australia as head of state. There is a wonderful symmetry about this.

If you support the strengthening of our relationship with PNG, and you’re not a member of the Association, join now, and make sure the organisation reorients itself to this new position. If the vote fails it is a dead set certainty the PNGAA will have failed. The only reasonable alternative in that case will be to form a new organisation that will undertake this necessary task. But it seems to me to be far easier to reform what already exists than to start anew.

You can join the PNGAA online for just $20 by visiting its website here.

Holman investiture a first for Mido


Mido has stood at 144 Military Road, Neutral Bay, for 46 years – but had never witnessed a scene like this. The Chinese restaurant where Chappo is reputed to have flavoured up his sweet and sour pork with ketchup in 1963, the year its opened, staged its first investiture when Hal Holman [seen above with wife Jo] was invested into the Order of Logohu by Papua New Guinea High Commissioner, Charles Lepani.

Yesterday’s award ceremony was conducted before 25 friends and family and covered by PNG and Australian media. Making the award, Charles paid tribute to Hal’s association with PNG, which goes back for more than 65 years when he operated behind enemy lines in the Ramu Valley with his ‘Blue Devil’ commando unit and joined the US Marines for the landing that liberated Rabaul.

Charles said that Hal’s contribution to PNG through his design, sculpture and art extended to the present day. He offered a special accolade, and the gratitude of the people of PNG, for Hal’s design of the National Crest.

In response, Hal said “this is the greatest day of my life”. He said he had been honoured by his own country, but receiving one of PNG’s highest honours was even more special.

PNG kicks in 500,000 kina for NRL bid

Richard Jones

The push for a National Rugby League spot for Papua New Guinea by 2012 has received another boost.

PNG Prime Minister Michael ‘The Chief’ Somare has contributed 500,000 kina ($290,000) to assist his country’s bid to have a team in the NRL within three years.

Rugby league has long been PNG's national sport. Indeed, it is the only country across the globe to adopt the code as its national game.

Two league heavyweights are backing the PNG bid. Gold Coast Titans’ chairman Paul Broughton and league great and Queensland coach Mal Meninga are supporting the initiative.

PNG Deputy Prime Minister Puka Temu says his administration has approached private enterprise to help achieve the necessary criteria for entry into the competition.

“Imagine a PNG team in the NRL. Imagine the opportunities and imagine the strengthening of the PNG-Australia relationship,” he enthused. “To have our very own NRL team would unite the whole country.”

PNG educ'n 1964 – new stresses appear

Loch Blatchford

1964 is another crucial year in the development of Papua New Guinea’s education system. With national independence looming and pressure growing to create an indigenous elite (although few are bold enough to express the policy so bluntly), quality in education begins to be more crucial than quantity.

Furthermore, the acceleration of indigenous personnel through the senior ranks of the service – again in preparation for independence - generates challenges and stresses of its own.

Higher education is again prominent, with the Currie Commission submitting its report in March and the International Bank for reconstruction and Development submitting its final report in September. The Currie recommendations follow the Department of Education’s own proposals, including a Form IV leaving certificate followed by a preliminary year at University. Accordingly, Director of Education Les Johnson has no particular criticism.

The Department of Territories, however, procrastinates over implementation, convening many meetings to discuss the implications of the report. There is much criticism in the newspapers about delays in getting on with Currie’s recommendations.

The IBRD report spells the end of the quest for universal primary education. It recommends the rapid expansion of secondary education and greater economies in delivery. Expansion is to be restricted and concentration placed on quality not quantity. When this is announced, the Highland members of the House of Assembly protest. Education is less developed in their districts but expansion is to be restricted. Where there is great pressure for new schools, Johnson suggests, if the village provides the buildings, the Department will transfer a teacher from a large school by postponing a preparatory intake.

The ‘E’ Course for primary teachers ceases for Administration trainees at the end of 1964 and the curtain is drawn on primary teacher training at ASOPA: the 1965 student intake will be for secondary trainees.

Problems continue with the executive development of indigenous officers – types of courses and how to secure promotion in competition with expatriate teachers. The Public Service Commissioner asks the Director of Education for a confidential list of positions that the Minister can gazette for preferential appointment of indigenous officers. Attempts are made to involve more indigenous participants in District Education Committees. The Senior Officers’ Course is extended to one year. Some expatriates object to indigenous supervision.

Secondary enrolments are above estimates and procedures are introduced to enable Junior High School pupils to transfer boys to Sogeri and Kerevat and girls to Busu to boost prospective university enrolments.

The House of Assembly is expanded with a large increase in indigenous membership in preparation for self-government. The Tertiary Students’ Federation, with Ebia Olewale as president, is established and the Department is supportive of a teachers’ union being formed.

There is another milestone event in 1964: John Natera graduates in Agricultural Science at an Australian university, the first Papua New Guineans university graduate.

The Blatchford Collection summaries covering policies and events in the Papua New Guinea education system in 1964 are now on site under ASOPA PEOPLE EXTRA.

Hal Holman OL OAM: PNG honours a unique contributor to its iconography

Crucifixion This is a special week for Hal Holman. But first, let me recap his story.

After war service as a commando in New Guinea, which included operating behind Japanese lines on the mainland and being attached to the American marines who landed in Rabaul, Hal used his demobilisation grant to earn a Diploma of Art at East Sydney Tech.

Not long after he travelled to the sub-continent to spend three years as art director for the Advertising Corporation of India in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.

Upon his return to Sydney, Hal spent the next six years designing for the film industry: producing sets and working as an animator on thirteen short films.

During these years he began portrait painting and also created a number of murals including four at the Shoal Bay Country Club Hotel in NSW – who, upon the old building being demolished recently, had him recerate the murals for the new hotel.

Somare Hal moved to Port Moresby, initially working as an illustrator with the Department of Education, where he and I worked together for the first time – Hal designing and drawing, me writing and editing. He was then promoted to the position of Senior Artist for the PNG Government, in which role he designed the National Crest and was influential in the design of the National Flag.

Hal also designed and illustrated innumerable maps, posters, pamphlets and publications while continuing to produce numerous portraits and paintings of the bird of paradise. During this time he designed the uniforms for the PNG Constabulary Band.

After leaving PNG in the early 1970s he turned to sculpture, producing a one-tonne metal National Crest for the PNG Supreme Court building, bronzes of all six PNG Prime Ministers since Independence, a bust of Queen Elizabeth II and many examples of public sculpture around Sydney.

Pastel Warrior Now in his late eighties, Hal is still hard at work. His most recent sculpture, of the late General John Baker for the Australian Department of Defence, will soon be unveiled in Canberra. And more commissions continue to flow, including from PNG.

On Friday, surrounded by his family and his mates, Hal will be formally invested as an Officer of the Order of Logohu by the PNG High Commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani. Strangely, but fittingly, the short ceremony will be conducted at the Mido Restaurant in Sydney – where Hal and his comrades meet from time to time to discuss the state of the world.

Crest Hal received recognition for his work by the Australian Government five years ago when he received the Order of Australia medal, and now he is being honoured by his second country, PNG. It’s apt that Logohu is the Motuan word for bird of paradise, the beauty of which Hal has captured and shared with so many people and the grandeur of which he has highlighted in the PNG National Crest.

So very well done, dear friend, so very well done.

Artwork: [1] Self portrait. [2] Detail from bronze of Sir Michael Somare. [3] Pastel Warrior. [4] National Crest of PNG.

Howie: from ASOPA to Aussie wildlife vet

Josephine Asher, ninemsn

Howie_Peacock A peacock, duck, turtle and a koala joey are among the patients one volunteer vet has treated this week amid Victoria's bushfire-ravaged regions where a million animals are thought to have perished.

Dr Howard Ralph — a human doctor, vet and burns specialist — has taken time away from his vet surgery in Braidwood in southern NSW to treat the feathered and four-legged victims of the tragedy.

"In a bushfire such as this most creatures involved in it will end up dead. The ones that do survive — whilst they're injured they are treatable," he told ninemsn.

"Most of these creatures will do well. But for some it could be many weeks before their burns are healed and they can go back to the wild."

Dr Ralph — a volunteer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) — estimates he has treated about 40 animals including horses, dogs, dingoes, goats, koalas, a peacock, turtle and a duck since arriving in Whittlesea four days ago.

Most were being treated for burns and injuries sustained while frantically trying to escape the fire.

Howie_Wallaby "When they're caught up in the melee of the fire they often end up with puncture wounds, eye injuries and head injuries," Dr Ralph said.

A woman who lost her house but survived with her dog thought her beloved pet peacock had perished. That was until she saw it at Dr Ralph's temporary clinic on television on Tuesday night.

"Someone found it and brought it to one of the rescue shelters," Dr Ralph said.

After being treated for a toe injury, the peacock was sent to carers and it will eventually be reunited with its owner and canine friend.

A koala with her joey was admitted to Dr Ralph's temporary clinic yesterday. The mother was suffering burns to her feet, dehydration, exposure and lack of food.

"She was in severe trouble last night but she's looking a lot brighter this morning," Dr Ralph said.

But there were of course some animals who had to be euthanased.

A wallaby whose eyes had been destroyed from severe burns around the face had no possibility of surviving.

"Unfortunately we had to give up on her," Dr Ralph said.

"I always feel sad for these animals so dependent on the environment. They don't ask for this on their lives… they just suffer the consequences," Dr Ralph said.

"If I can do something to alleviate the stress and suffering of these animals… that's why I'm in this line of work."

Dr Ralph has attended wildlife rescue operations all over the world including in Borneo but has previously worked as a doctor and anaesthetist in Sydney and Canberra and at Moruya Hospital.

He is currently setting up Southern Cross Wildlife Care in Braidwood in southern NSW.

Source: ‘Four-legged fire victims rescued’ by Josephine Asher, ninemsn, 14 February 2009

Tempus fugit and all that…

It’s a melancholy thought, but the death of Syd Neilson is another reminder that we are beginning to lose more of our erstwhile and esteemed colleagues to ill health and the great Behain. All the more reason, I suppose, for a renewed focus both on comradeship and on what may be our legacy.

Taken by this thought, I penned a quatrain:

Away they march, our onetime peers,
Who preceded us by so few years,
And who now inspire this simple text -
There they go, and we'll be next!


Second reunion blitz planned for Brisbane

Colin ‘Huggiebear’ Huggins is on the reunion trail again with plans in gestation for a major gathering of ASOPA cadet education officers in October 2010. The Brisbane Sofitel and Novotel have been placed on alert and pencils are being sharpened and budgets scratched out as I write.

“Of all places in Australian cities,” runs Huggins’ spiel, “these two hotels stand out for the easiest accessibility from train, bus and air travel. They may appear to be pricey but when you add the travel costs they become cheap.” And this clincher: “We are all getting on in years and weariness - so why not another big bash? Before the tap on the shoulder from above!”

Early responses to Colin’s proposal have been positive and PNG ATTITUDE will keep readers advised of progress as planning develops.

On a sad note, Ian Robertson reports that former senior education officer Syd Neilson has died at Alexandra Headlands in Queensland. The funeral service will be at St Mark's Anglican Church, Main Street, Buderim at 11 am on Wednesday.

Our readers involved in bushfire response


Ex-Kiap and leader of the Kiap Recognition Project, Chris Viner-Smith, is a volunteer with the Australian Capital Territory Bushfire Task Force and has just got back home after spending five days fighting the Victorian fires at Murmungee near Beechworth.

After getting a mere 15 hours sleep between Sunday morning and Thursday night, Chris has hunkered down for some well merited rest.

Chris_Commsvan The photos here were taken by Chris; the lower one shows him standing in front of the Task Force’s fire communications unit.

Meanwhile Rod Hard reports that Channel 7 News in Sydney featured a couple of segments showing the work being done in the bushfire areas by Dr Howard ‘Howie’ Ralph [ASOPA 1962-63].

Howie, who is both a medical specialist and a veterinarian, has a passion for Australia’s native animals. He’s been in Victoria tending to animals (native and domestic) injured by the fires.

“He certainly has a presence with the white hair and beard,” says Rod, “and came across as good as, if not better than Dr Harry Butler. It is easy to see where his passion lies. Best wishes to him...he is doing are great job.”

PNG ATTITUDE pays tribute to Chris and Howie for their sterling service to the community in the Victorian bushfire tragedy.

French firm rips off the PNG 'bilum'

The Tubuans & Dukduks blog has revealed that a French firm – calling itself Bilum and claiming its creations are “eco-ethical fashion” – has taken out a patent on that working accessory of women throughout Papua New Guinea, the bilum. The firm produces bags and accessories using recycled advertising banners and manufactures straps and handles from recycled car seatbelts.

Unfortunately this so-called “eco-ethicality” doesn’t extend to real life true to goodness ethics, such as the reluctance that might be felt before ripping off a national cultural icon, claiming it for yourself and inducing some patenting authority to go along for the ride. This is poaching pure and simple.

Rick Brittain, a Cairns’ man works in PNG, said: “My original concern was that the name ‘bilum’ has basically been monopolized and has been removed from its PNG roots. I met with Helene [the firm’s owner] earlier this year, and found out that the company she operates is a predominantly non-profit, recycling centre, using people with special needs to manufacture her bilums. Good luck to her, and I have no problem with that, and she is a genuine lady with genuine concerns for our planet.”

That may be the case, but surely Madame Helene went a step too far when she took out the patent on the name 'bilum'.

You can read more on the Tubuans & Dukduks blog at

Promise to facilitate visas not honoured

Reports from Port Moresby reveal that, despite last year’s Federal Government commitments to facilitate the acquisition of Australian visas in Papua New Guinea, applicants are angered and frustrated by bureaucratic delays.

“It is quite clear that the Rudd Goverment's new policies have yet to flow through to the Australian High Commission at Waigani,” said one commentator, quoting a comment by Duncan Kerr, parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, in December 2008 that the Australian Government was building immigration staff numbers and skills in PNG to reduce visa processing times.

“For too long there has been an unbalanced relationship between what is said will happen, and what actually does happen,” said an observer. “Mr Kerr is perhaps blind to what occurs on a daily basis at Waigani. Give the people of PNG a fair go! “

Still on the trail of Eric Miller QC

Philip Selth OAM

I am back again looking for more help in my research into the life of Eric Miller QC (1903-1986). After two years slog I have finally traced Miller to two trials on Nauru in 1948 and 1949 arising out of the Chinese labourers 'riot' in June 1948 . Miller appeared (successfully) at the two murder trials when local policemen faced murder charges. The defence counsel was Tom Crawford QC.

At the first trial at the end of 1948 the presiding judge was Chief Judge Frederick Beaumont Phillips from PNG.  The second trial was presided over by Justice William Ballantyne Simpson from the ACT. The trials followed a report into the disturbances by Edward Taylor MBE.

I am trying to find information on the two trials (there seems to have been little press reporting - I can find only a brief reference in Pacific Islands Monthly to the first trial). I am also trying to find a biographical account (obituary?) for Taylor.

Are you able to point me in the direction of material on the trials and Edward Taylor?

Readers are asked if they can help Philip in his pursuit of the Eric Miller story. Philip is Executive Director of the New South Wales Bar Association. You can contact him at [email protected]

UQ scores World Press Freedom Day

In a first for Australia and the Pacific, Queensland University has won the right to host the World Press Freedom Day conference on 3 May 2010. UQ's conference will focus on freedom of expression issues in the Asia-Pacific region under the headline theme, 'Freedom of Information: The Right to Know'.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said UQ was proud to support UNESCO's efforts to uphold and engender public accountability and media freedom. "UNESCO is the only UN agency with a mandate to defend media freedom, and too often it has cause to condemn the deliberate killing of a journalist or journalists," Professor Greenfield said.

Planning for the event is underway, with PNG ATTITUDE contributor Associate Professor Martin Hadlow putting together an organising committee, including senior media industry representatives. UQ celebrates its centenary in 2010 and its journalism school is Australia's oldest.

Friends all over the place: bits & pieces

BILL WELBOURNE writes that he sold his Mount Cotton home in Brisbane as he embarks on a move to Victoria where he has strong personal and family connections. “Brisbane has been my home since 1976 after returning to Australia from PNG,” says Bill. “It is difficult to leave Queensland as part of my heart belongs here and I feel I am a fully qualified Queenslander after 33 years. My son Andrew and daughter Angelique as well as six of my eight grand children are firmly entrenched Queenslanders. My deceased wife Pam and eldest daughter Julie-Anne are buried here. I also have my many friends, particularly those formed through ASOPA who settled here after our years of teaching service in PNG.”

“I noted on most of the Victorian number plates a slogan: ‘VICTORIA - The Place To Be’. But I now question that slogan after the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history with all the bushfires. Perhaps it should be ‘VICTORIA – The Smouldering State’? Some of you may be question my wisdom but I will have the company of two doting granddaughters and a very dear friend.”

KATHRYN AND JOE CRAINEAN rejoin the grey nomads and hit the road to give Australia a major going over tomorrow. You can keep up with their travels on their Kermit blog site at Kathryn writes: “In the words of Numbers 6:24-26, we are assured of His hand over our travels.” And for the unBiblical among you, the citation is: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." Go well, good travellers.

COLIN HUGGINS is also deeply engaged in travel pursuits from his Brisbane base. In his case the focus is on maintaining contacts with former ASOPA buddies. Colin has just been to Ballina to see Brian Smith, who’s doing well, as is soon off to the South Australian bush town of Burra to catch up with Val Rivers.

Colin will also be staying withy us in April as he visits Sydney for the annual general meeting of the PNG Association. Methinks it would be a good idea to nominate Colin for the national committee of this organisation. He’s a great networker and the Association could do with some Queensland blood.

ASSOC PROF MARTIN HADLOW has drawn my attention to the Myer Foundation Melanesia Program, an initiative of the Lowy Institute. You can visit the website at - it is rich in PNG references.

According to the InstituteAustralian aid has not been effective in helping the Pacific Islands region make significant progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The focus of aid on improving public sector capacity and governance has not stimulated sufficient private sector participation to meet the development aspirations of Pacific Island populations.” There’s much more similar material on the site.

Richard closer to story than ‘Bulletin’

Henry MacD Bodman

I am relieved that my fellow ruckman of Sydney University days (and well known PNG League aficionado) ‘Richard the Dick’ Jones has, in his recent piece, resisted entering the same state of orgasm adopted by the Gold Coast Bulletin in the matter of Amua Parika’s budding stardom.

In the article, extolling the promise of this young Papuan beanpole, the Bulletin’s sports writer referred to “the first (Rules) ‘international’ played between the Gold Coast and  Papua New Guinea in 1971.” The story goes that a former Surfers Paradise premiership player, Clive Foster, was field umpire of this ‘international’ game at the Lex Bell Oval on the Isle of Capri and remembers “most of them (PNG players) did not even wear boots and most spoke pidgin English”. He also remembers “the fact Gold Coast won easily”.

Richard the Dick also refers to the Gold Coast Rules “bond”and a “series of internationals”. I wonder about these.

As a member of an “end of season” club trip to the Gold Coast in 1971 a game was played as Clive remembers, but the “PNG players” were a mix of club senior and reserve players - predominantly expatriates with Australian playing experience. There were also a couple of players of PNG birth – two of them on their way to the VFL grand final at the MCG – hosted by the St Kilda Football Club.

As part of the selection process carried out by the PNG A. N. F. Council, I can assure readers that those selected to be the country’s flag bearers in Melbourne during “the last week of September” were selected as much on their ability to “sell the PNG image” (in English) as their ability on the field. Both played in the Gold Coast “friendly”in football boots and would not have used pidgin as members of a predominantly Australian team.

Thus, the so called “first international” was merely a club end of year trip with a social game played by a scratch Port Moresby Club side.

The easy win to the Gold Coast is also a long way off the mark. The scratch side led all day and in 25th minute of a final 20 minute quarter (no time on) the bell was rung the moment the Gold Coast kicked a goal to “win” the game by less than six points.

On the matter of “internationals”, games against Cairns, North Queensland and Townsville were played in the mid fifties - as soon as the Papuan Australian National Football League was established. But the ”PNG sides” were selected only from the Papuan competition. Internationals?

Henry Bodman was a distinguished aerial ping ponger from the New Guinea side and also a pioneer in establishing and developing Australian Rules in PNG

Kiap recognition project takes next step

Viner_Smith  The Office of the Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary, Senator John Faulkner, has agreed to meet with ex Kiap representatives, including Chris Viner-Smith [left],  who are seeking to hain official Commonwealth Government recognition for former PNG patrol officers.

Martin Bonsey, senior adviser to Senator Faulkner, has said that he and officers of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be pleased to meet with representatives to discuss issues which have been raised in correspondence with the Minister.

The meeting, scheduled to take place in Canberra in late March, provides the best opportunity so far for some form of official recognition to be given to former Kiaps. Senator Faulkner himself recently wrote that “the story of patrol officers is certainly an extraordinary one and one that deserves a higher level of consciousness than that which exists in contemporary Australian society.”

And Dr Hank Nelson, one of Australia’s most eminent historians, has said of Chris Viner-Smith’s submission on the question, “You make a good case”, adding, “It is difficult to know something of the work of the Kiaps without becoming an admirer of their work.”

Then there’s that wonderful quote from British war hero and one time Australian Governor-General Viscount Slim, who said to Paul Hasluck in 1960: “Your young chaps in New Guinea have gone out where I would never have gone without a battalion and they have done on their own by sheer force of character what I could only do with troops. I don’t think there’s been anything like it in the modern world...”

So in late March, Chris Viner-Smith and I and perhaps one other will assemble in Canberra to see whether we can bring success to this pursuit and more meaning to those words. I’ll keep you informed.

Photo: Chris Viner-Smith, ‘volunteered’ by his SES Commander to represent the Pialligo Unit at a photo shoot for the ACT Storm Safe campaign.

NGVR/PNGVR supports PNGAA reform

The Management Committee of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and Papua New Guinea Rifles Ex-members Association (NGVR) met on 31 January to discuss the PNGAA Reform Group and its intentions. NGVR President, Phil Ainsworth, also Convenor of the PNGAA Reform Group, said it was important to canvass the Committee’s views. An e-newsletter was also sent to 110 Association members. The responses received have been positive and confirms the Committee’s views.

Although most of the members are not members of PNGAA, and were not aware of recent developments, the Committee gave its support for the following reasons:

Object 2 of NGVR’s constitution concerns the promotion of a close relationship with the people of

Papua New Guinea

. One of the purposes of the reform group is for PNGAA to have a similar object and actively pursue it; Object 6 of NGVR’s constitution is to affiliate with other organisations which possess similar aims.

The PNGAA has a growing Australasian wide membership around 1,600 people with an affinity with PNG. It has a great quarterly journal “Una Voce”. If the restructure is successfully accomplished, the PNGAA is likely to be a firm ally and supportive of NGVR’s activities. Additionally, the Committee supported any change which would incorporate democratically elected office holders including committee members.

Of kulau, crabs & the Cocos Islands

Paul Oates

When I first arrived on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, I remarked to my then wife about how, ever since leaving PNG, I had pined for fresh kulau. Fortunately there are lots of coconuts in the Cocos Islands, which were named after the native coconut palms.

The Clunies-Ross family, after bulldozing almost everything else into the sea, had planted as many coconuts trees as the place would bear. Two ironwood trees had survived and started seeding, encouraging us to try propagate them further. Then, when the Australian Government bought out Clunies-Ross, the coconut trees went feral. By 1990, the island's vegetation consisted mainly of fallen coconuts, sprouting coconuts, mature coconuts and real old trees that dropped about a dozen nuts every month.

You could estimate fairly accurately how old a tree was by its height. Each successive hurricane levelled some trees and their replacements could never catch up in height. There were survivors that went back to the 1903 hurricane that were probably the best part of a hundred feet tall.

Robber_Crab_lr One of the other things these are famous for are crabs in all sorts of colours and sizes. Land crabs, coconut crabs, hermit crabs, sand crabs, mud crabs. In 1838, Charles Darwin had called in. The coconut crabs were so plentiful that you had to watch where you put your feet or you could get a nasty nip. Their flesh was so oily that when the sailors cooked them, the oil would be scooped off the surface of the kettle and used as a lubricant.

We didn't know it at the time that all the coconut crabs on the main islands had been killed and eaten by the locals. What we thought were crabs eating the fallen coconuts turned out to be rats.

Anyhow, enough background. We were sitting down to lunch when the inevitable thump occurred in the yard. "Quick!" said my wife, “Go and get it before the crabs steal it."

So away I dashed in my fearless hunter/gatherer role and grabbed the freshly fallen nut, shooing away scores of blameless land crabs. Now the hard part. After half an hour and a gallon of sweat, I managed to get the husk off using an iron stake someone had left in the ground. Breaking open the nut, I proudly produced the meat but of course this wasn't a PNG kulau. This was a Cocos Islands nut.

The results of my labours, upon being tasted, produced a rather indifferent, ‘Well, it’s OK, but nothing to write home about’. I returned to work in a lather of sweat and pondering my wife’s lingering disbelief about the taste of fresh coconut.

A complete command of the local lingo

Paul Oates

I see that MacAir in Queensland has recently rolled over, which reminds me of a story. A young pilot, Robin, had been Qantas trainee of the year but they downsized Qantas and Robin had to wait until his name came up. So he took a temporary job with MacAir in PNG.

Robin was pretty much into correct elocution and became good pals with Peter, the local council Kiap at Kabwum, originally a Pom. Robin and Peter decided to meet up in Britain when on leaven and tour the country. First day they landed at a quaint little English pub on a lovely sunny afternoon. Imagine it. Climbing roses on white washed walls; horse brass and hunting scenes.

Walking through the front door, Robin, feeling au fait with the local customs, said to Peter, "I'll order, if you like". Approaching the bartender, he declaimed in his best, toffee nosed accent, "Ay'll have two paints of Watneys best bitter, puh-leeze!"

A wizened old bloke at the end of the bar unwrapped himself from his beer, leapt to his feet and with tears in his eyes said, "G'day, Aussie, 'ow are ya' mate?"

There's a real job of work to be done

I’m doing it tough in Noosa at the moment and, from my peaceful perch at Sun Lagoon, I watch the yin and yang of the PNGAA debating its future. Chips Mackellar - who I have never met but admire a lot because of the power of his prose - has pondered whether the Reform Group represents a ‘chalkie takeover’ of the Association. I can tell Chips that, no, it does not.

Chips has also observed (quite reasonably) that what the current PNGAA committee proposes is what the Reform Group is asking for. By and large this is true. But, unfortunately, what the committee and reformers want – despite their alignment - is not necessarily what they will get.

The PNGAA has resisted real change for a long time, despite what some of its most worthwhile servants desired, this notwithstanding the name change a few years back from Retired Officers Association of Papua New Guinea to Papua New Guinea Association of Australia.

It will take a massive 75-25% majority of voting members to institute even the most modest changes when the constitution comes up for member review in April. If these changes do not succeed – then the PNGAA will remain on furlough. Perhaps forever. A backwater of pleasant nostalgia and not much else.

The Reform Group wants to ensure that members become engaged with the PNGAA. It wants to get some real and beneficial change underway. It wants the PNGAA to be representative of all its members, to put the Australia-PNG relationship somewhere near the top of its priorities, to emerge as a sustainable organisation and to open its hearts to Papua New Guinean residents of Australia in the same way it has opened itself to other people.

So, Chips, there is a real job of work to be done. And I reckon, now you've built all those roads in PNG, it’s one you ought to sign up for.

PNG Bisnis looks south for advertisers

Rivu_Moale  Moale Rivu [left] has been acknowledged as one of Papua New Guinea’s achievers, innovators and role models as well as a dedicated journalist and his efforts to establish the magazine PNG Bisnis, in a difficult environment for this type of publication, ranks as another significant contribution to the PNG media.

The magazine is published bimonthly and provides business and financial information for small firms. Ten issues old, PNG Bisnis circulates 2000 copies and is distributed to all government ministers, provincial governors, MPs and heads of government agencies as well as readers like you and me. It's also extending its reach beyond small business and into the corporate sector.

Bisnis_Cover A growing list of advertisers – including ANZ, Ports PNG, National TV Service, Telikom and BSP Capital – shows that Moale has worn out a bit of shoe leather doing his marketing. Now he’s looking for some advertising support from Australia and the company I chair, Jackson Wells, is hunkering down to offer this.

 “The information in PNG Bisnis is just what entrepreneurs need to reach their market and enhance business profitability,” said one Port Moresby commentator, Reginald Renagi.

“I was impressed with its content and quality of the publication, and highly recommend the magazine to the public. It is a must read business magazine for not just business people, but those interested in what is happening in our small to medium business sector in PNG.”

Every couple of weeks from now Moale will write for PNG ATTITUDE on business in PNG and, if you’re able to provide him with an advertising lead, I’m sure he’ll be deeply grateful. You can do this by emailing him here.

PNGAA committee opts for some change

Detailed proposals for constitutional change in the PNG Association have just been published on the Association’s website by the PNGAA management committee following its meeting on Sunday.

The committee unanimously accepted recommendations of its own constitution (rules) review committee and these will be put to the PNGAA membership in the form of a postal ballot to be distributed with the next issue of the journal, Una Voce, late this month.

“The review was instigated by the former President and the Review Committee has taken on board much of his input and input from other Association members as well as broadening the scope of the review,” the announcement says. The result of the ballot will be announced at a special general meeting scheduled for Sunday 26 April.

The announcement notes that changes to the constitution must be passed by a 75% majority of members who vote. This is a significant hurdle and emphasises the need for the recently established PNGAA Reform Group to continue to mobilise members in support of change.

The management committee has also agreed to the Reform Group’s request to hold, if required, a postal ballot for management committee positions. Nomination forms will be distributed with the March 2009 issue of Una Voce and, if more than one nomination is received for any position, postal ballot forms will be distributed to members in time to be returned before the annual general meeting on 26 April.

In knocking back a widely supported proposal to establish State branches where there was a mood to do this, instead opting for a weakened “recognition of regional groups”, the committee has failed to confront the need to ensure the PNGAA develops as a truly national organisation.

However the PNGAA Reform Group’s intention to stand candidates for the committee from around Australia, if successful, will significantly remedy this deficiency.

Among the main constitutional changes being proposed to members by the PNGAA committee:

§          Limiting the size of the management committee to 10 members.

§          New objectives for the Association including a prominent position for strengthening the Australia-PMG relationship.

§          A full postal vote of all members where required.

§          Recognition of regional groups of members rather than moving immediately to a formal national association with State branches. The intention is to have one committee member handling State liaison.

Country Life: Where's the antechinus?

And now a change of pace. PAUL OATES in rural south-east Queensland writes of some native Australian animals you may never have encountered.

Arnold_Oates_280109 Arriving home after Rotary there was a bettong calmly feeding near the front gate and three hares gambolling in the distance. As I write this, I can hear the metallic 'chink' of a black breasted quail out there in the darkness along with the usual insect noise and night birds.

Occasionally a spur-winged plover's alarm call rings out through the night. Probably a hunting fox or a dingo has disturbed them as they search for nesting ducks down around the large dam.

I helped unload a hay wagon this morning and have to admit I'm not as young as I used to be. We have been receiving welcome light rain and the country is green again. Happy cows and full watertanks.

The phascogales are scooting around outside the windows catching insects attracted by the lights.

Last night my better half spotted a mouse in the kitchen (a big fat one, I was informed). The hunt was then on ... but when 'the mouse' finally emerged from beneath the refrigerator and I’d had a good look, I saw it was an antechinus.

"Oh!" she said, after I explained, "you can't harm it, it’s a native animal."

Antechinus "Yes," I said, knowing that antechinus eat insects and small lizards and frogs, “and the good news is it won't eat any of our food so there's nothing to worry about. It's just one of our native carnivores."

For some reason, my dear wife didn't seem to be quite so reassured as she went to bed. Probably lost something in translation.

Photo: Top - Dick Arnold with Paul Oates, holding a native beerbi schoonerus. Whistlestop Bar, Brisbane, January 2009 [Diane Bohlen]. Bottom - An antechinus searches for a way through the window [Paul Oates]

Reform group issues 10-point program

The grassroots group seeking to reform the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia has issued a ten-point program to guide its activities leading up to and beyond the April 2009 Association election. The statement, authorised by convenor Phil Ainsworth, has been sent to hundreds of PNGAA members and other people known to have a close affiliation with PNG.

The statement says the PNGAA Reform Group will field a full panel of 17 candidates at the next Association election due in April and has invited existing committee members who agree with its objectives to join the group.

The policy issued today calls upon PNGAA Reform Group candidates:

(1) To instill a spirit of reform in the Association in support of the proposed objectives, especially that of promoting and encouraging a close relationship between the people of Australia and the people of Papua New Guinea.

(2) To commit to the continuing growth and expansion of the Association.

(3) To perform the duties of a member of the committee in a collaborative and harmonious way.

(4) To embrace the interests of all members including people who need support and who want to avail themselves of fellowship and social networking as well as people who want to realise other goals through their membership.

(5) To encourage Papua New Guinean residents of Australia to join and become an important part of the Association.

(6) To adopt and faithfully implement new objectives proposed for the Association.

(7) To make the national committee a body representative of the broad membership of the PNGAA irrespective of factors of geography, vocation and demography.

(8) To encourage any current Committee member who feels comfortable in joining this Reform Group to do so.

(9) To ensure that the 2009 election for PNGAA committee members is conducted by a postal ballot of all eligible PNGAA members.

(10) To ensure the Reform Group’s panel of candidates seeking election to the national committee of the PNGAA at the April 2009 election agree to give effect to these objectives.

The columns of PNG ATTITUDE are available for readers to comment on this issue. If you wish to get in touch with Phil Ainsworth personally, you can send him an email here.

Papua's Parika: from Moresby to MCG

Richard Jones

Parika_Amua The Australian Football League's newest franchise on the Gold Coast has signed star Papua New Guinea player 17-year-old Amua Parika from Port Moresby. Parika started training this week in preparation for the 2009 TAC Cup under-18 competition.

Parika was spotted by seasoned AFL scouts when he spearheaded the PNG Mosquitoes to victory over New Zealand in last year's International Cup grand final. The International Cup is contested by 16 nations in which Australian Rules is a developing sport.

It has been a meteoric rise for the 190 cm Parika. From Moresby to the MCG, no less.

Former Melbourne AFL club captain Gary Lyon praised Parika in various segments of the Footy Classified show televised on Channel 9. And Gold Coast recruiting chief Scott Clayton said there was "plenty to like” about the athletic Papuan. "He can jump and he looks like he's going to be a reasonable size. It's now up to us to develop him. We're excited about Amua," said Clayton.

The promising young forward has something of a footy pedigree. His uncle, Navu Maha, had a run with the old South Melbourne team (the club on which the Sydney Swans is based) while his father, Amua senior, was a star with the Port Moresby Mosquitoes. Tragically, Amua senior was stabbed to death in a village fight in 1995.

The Gold Coast's newest signing says Hawthorn 100-goal full-forward Lance Franklin is his idol.

The bond between Papua New Guinea and the Gold Coast stretches back to the 1970s. From the early 70s a series of Aussie Rules 'internationals' were staged. In more recent times a number of PNG teenagers have played for Coolangatta in the AFL Queensland second division competition and two of them – John James and Donald Barry - are currently with Division One club, Aspley.

Phil Ainsworth – profile of a reformer

Whistlestop Phil Ainsworth, who last Wednesday was appointed to lead the PNGAA Reform Group as it seeks to engender a new mood of unity, harmony and reform in the Association, is a founding partner and long-serving Managing Director of King and Co, a leading Queensland commercial and industrial property company. He also has other business interests in Queensland.

Phil was in PNG for 21 years from 1960, serving through Independence and post Independence before retiring to Brisbane, his hometown, where he took up a cartographic position in the Department of Forests assisting in the mapping of PNG forest areas. In this role, he was involved in the production of the first true topographical maps of PNG. He also began a cartographic course for Papua New Guineans at the Forestry School in Bulolo.

After graduating in Economics from Queensland University, Phil was involved in PNG forestry project negotiations before moving to the Central Planning Office in 1972. He stayed with this organization until 1981, serving under its head, Charles Lepani, present PNG High Commissioner to Australia.

Phil established King & Co in 1988 and it quickly became a leading player in South East Queensland's commercial real estate market. This company’s expertise have made it a respected authority in this field. Phil is also credited with strongly influencing the debate on transport in South East Queensland and he is a respected analyst on the relationship between the commercial property industry and major transport infrastructure.

For the past four years Phil has also been the President of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles Ex-Members Association Inc, which has a strong track record in working with Papua New Guinea to ensure that the contribution of this group is recognised and remembered. Phil’s association with the military began when he was obliged to undertake National Service training in 1955. He transferred to the CMF at about the same time he was commissioned in the Artillery Corps in 1959.

As soon as he was appointed to PNG, Phil transferred to the PNG Volunteer Rifles, an Australian CMF unit, as a platoon commander in Port Moresby. He recalls as perhaps the most satisfying part of his military service being in 1964 when the integration of Papua New Guineans into the PNGVR occurred.

When the PNGVR was disbanded in 1973, just prior to self government, over 80 percent of members were Papua New Guineans and the first commissioned officers had been appointed. Phil transferred to the military reserve in 1968 with the rank of Captain.

Phil has been a member of PNGAA since October 2008, about the time he first made contact with the organisation concerning the proposed Montevideo Maru Memorial at Subic Bay. He became interested in joining the Association because of the restructuring proposal he read about on the Association’s website. Although the NGVR/PNGVR Association is working positively to benefit relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea, it would always be limited because of its nature.

The renewed PNGAA seemed to him to be an ideal vehicle for building the relationship: a fairly large and growing Australia-wide membership; an excellent journal; and, above all, a broad community of people who had an affinity with Papua New Guinea and who seemed committed to develop and build meaningful engagement with our nearest neighbour.