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My PNG: 40 years of beauty and respect

Recent Comments frequently enjoys readers’ contributions that are passionate and full of insight. But this, by ARTHUR WILLIAMS formerly of New Ireland and now of Old Wales, was special...

Williams_Arthur I FELL FOR a beautiful, young New Irelander and we mostly enjoyed 17 years of married life together.

At first I was known by the white expats of Kavieng as the ‘white kanaka’ but when we remained together through good and hard times their initial silly attitudes changed.

It was the pre-Independence, so naturally a few ‘black power’ males resented our relationship.

I readily accepted a mostly lovely extended family with my mum and dad-in-law; perhaps the best this world could provide.

I was proud, from my meagre resources, to help the young ones of the family through their schooling and was always available for them to seek my advice, which they often accepted but sometimes rejected too.

It cost me over the years, but what is money for? Mind you, I not merely inherited a clan but also a whole tribe who I grew to love and miss in my lonely retirement in UK.

Plenty of them accepted and respected me enough to trust me with being their Provincial Assembly Member.

On the death of my wife I was traditionally expected to remarry into the same matrilineal clan and did so ~ despite my greying hair.

She too, like her sister, was a real beaut and we enjoyed ten years of marriage registered both customarily and by our church.  Alas, perhaps the age gap was too large for our relationship to be sustained and so I lost her and have been separated now for too many years.

We met cordially when I lived in Kavieng a few years ago and our teenage daughter is currently living with me.

Do I regret my 40-year connection with PNG? No! It made for a fulfilling and often useful life among great people.

I believe I did it the right way by marrying my island girls rather than having temporary relationships with one or more before leaving PNG for good and with mixed race kids left behind who too often are not even recognised by their so sad dads.

At a grassroots school meeting at Taskul in 2007, the subject of condoms and AIDS was discussed, without prior knowledge of the people attending.

I was delighted to hear the unanimous opinion of the meetings was that condoms promote immoral behaviour and that it is far better to be faithful to your one spouse.

These were not only Catholics but also people from the nearby United, SDA and Pentecostal Church communities. It was great to hear the islanders supporting my basic marital belief too.


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Tiffany Martin

I'm currently writing a novel set in PNG and am keen to include two love stories. One I'd like to explore is interracial, to demonstrate some of the cultural differences and also the ethics that you touch on (contributing to the community).

If you have first hand knowledge of this and would be interested in sharing some of your stories/insight please contact me at [email protected].

I spent some of my youth in PNG and my uncle died up there in 1978 (as a pilot for Talair). The novel will be influenced by his story with an Australian missionary posted in the highlands as well.

Peter Warwick

Arthur - So very good to read your happy and love filled life story, in contrast to the sometimes dissolute marriages we see.

Some people are bitter when a relationship fails (like me), but you soldiered on and achieved happiness and contentment.

Well done, may your daughter learn from you, and I wish you well.

Bruce Copeland

Mr Williams - You remind me of an old friend who worked with me many years ago at the RAAF School of Languages. He was a high school teacher in East New Britain.

While a teacher, he fell in love with one of his students. But she did not know how he felt towards her until the day after graduation when
he asked her to marry him. She accepted. They married and came to Australia where he became an officer of the RAAF.

My friend was a valuable member of staff in preparing Defence Force personnel as he had a non-military outlook and explained much about
culture. He told of the custom by which a PNG person could not speak to an in-law except indirectly.

His mother-in-law never spoke to him in her life. She might say to her daughter “Ask your husband to pass the salt”. He was not able to talk to his sister-in-law but that was forgotten about when they moved to town.

The family lived on the Gold Coast as of a couple of years ago. They are proof of a mixed race marriage that really worked. His children
are grown now. They are probably grandparents. A touch of class

Joe Wasia

Arthur - You wasted no time during your early years here in PNG.

You made great contributions to the PNG population and our human resources. Many mixed race people are intelligent in many aspects. Thanks for that.

Great love story...

Ed Brumby

Many of us will stand accused, justifiably, of wallowing in nostalgia and melancholia drawn from those halcyon days when, like Arthur, we lived and loved (and lost ...) adventurously.

Thank you, Arthur, for sharing your great big love story. Many of us can connect with it, in ways that others may struggle to comprehend.

Diane Bohlen

Similar story to that of Wes Rooney on Manus Island.

Arthur probably knew David and Ann (Speakman) from Kavieng.

Love these biographies.

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