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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.


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Everlyn Singas

Hi everyone... I'm one of the proud ex-Kerevat students (passed out 2007).

By reading all the comments posted on this website, I am really happy and at the same time sad. It brings me fond memos of my two years attending Kerevat.

According to the comments posted by Victor Romanyshyn, those two stuffed Kokomo birds are still in the library; in fact, located at my best study area in the library.

Keep this site rolling!

Victor Romanyshyn

Hi Barbara - Unfortunately, it's only now that I happened to come across this website as I might have been able to contribute some useful information/stories to your book on Keravat school.

My wife and I both taught science there in 1972. The Kokomo was the school emblem and being a taxidermist (long standing hobby), I stuffed two of the birds for the school which were left on display in the school library. I wonder if they are still there? John McCarty was the principal at the time.

That year the student body was deployed to clear an area for a school garden which grew some of the basic vegetables - sweet potatos, bananas etc - for the school mess hall.

The reason I found the website was because I was surfing for information on the school as we were thinking of coming back for a visit in the next year or so, and I need names of students that were there at the time. If you have any such information I would really appreciate it.

Regards, Vic & Bev Romanyshyn
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
[email protected]

Reginald Renagi

A great interesting project on Keravat by Barbara Short. Looking forward to reading some gems of what life was like in those days in a school where many notable PNGeans attended.

Well done Barbara and keep up the good work.

Mrs Barbara Short

Hi Ray,
Send me an email at [email protected] and I will give you Keith's email address. I write to him quite often.
Barbara Short

Ray Harvey

Hi Barbara
Not sure if you can assist me?
I worked in Port Moresby 1968-1974 and during this time played in a band with Keith Stebbins.

I would like to catch up with him and was wondering if you had a contact address/email etc for Keith? If not, any suggestions where I may enquire please?

Thanking you in advance.

Hope you are well.

Ray Harvey (Tasmania)

Mrs Barbara Short

Hi Ann,
Throughout my book on Keravat High School I have made various references to the Keravat "A" Primary School and there are a couple of photos. Often the teacher was associated with the High School. If you want a copy send a cheque for $40 to Mrs Barbara Short, 27 Chesterfield Rd., Epping 2121, and I'll post you a copy.

Ann Clancy

Hi Barbara

I attended Keravat "A" Primary School with three of my siblings in 1965. I'd be interested in any history you have of this school

Ann Clancy

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