The tribe that promised peace; & would kill to keep its word
PNG curbs foreign travel for ministers, officials

Barry Holloway, servant of PNG, dies in Brisbane at 78


Holloway_BarryI FIRST MET BARRY HOLLOWAY (1934-2013), then 28 but looking even more youthful, at a dinner party I attended with my mate Murray Bladwell in Goroka at the end of 1963.

We spent most of the evening discussing the forthcoming first Papua New Guinea general election for which Holloway (Olowei) was a candidate in an Eastern Highlands seat.

He immediately impressed me with his intellect, progressive attitudes and his commitment to the Papua New Guinean people and understanding of their society and needs in the face of rapid change.

Holloway also said that, if he won the seat, he would serve for one term before handing over to a Papua New Guinean candidate.

He did win, and four years later he honoured this pledge.

Holloway was an honourable man – and, as an expatriate and then a PNG citizen, he went on to a distinguished career in PNG politics.

Never eschewing controversy (it was not easy in those times for a white man to identify with the aspirations of Papua New Guineans) and demonstrating a continuing idealism, for six decades Holloway made a huge contribution to his adopted country.

The ABC’s Liam Fox wrote in 2009 of Holloway's early career….

Sir Barry Holloway was 18 years old when he arrived in Port Moresby in 1953, after responding to a newspaper ad seeking patrol officers in Papua New Guinea.

"We started a six-week orientation course. We were given basic multi-functional activities to do, such as learning how to map, how to handle government stores, and all sorts of clerical work which really dampened our spirits somewhat, because we were coming up for high adventure," he said.

After two years with a senior patrol officer on the island of Bougainville, he was sent off on his own to man a remote outpost in Madang province.

He was the police chief, magistrate, jailer and census taker.

Sir Barry recalls his first trip into an uncontrolled area to settle a violent dispute between two tribes.

"After three weeks, the whole crowd of about 600 to 700 would be massing around," he said.

"The other side would explain the past history of vendetta we disarmed them.

"We demonstrated the power of the .303 rifle by lining up about five shields, making a dum-dum out of a bullet, and showing how it would come out a great gap at the other side.

"Because to the people these [the rifles] were just sticks, and had no meaning until we demonstrated their power."

More than 1,000 Australian men worked as patrol officers between 1949 and 1974, paving the way for teachers, nurses and others to follow.

Remarkably, their duties were largely carried out through peaceful means.

Many kiaps, like Sir Barry, never left PNG.


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Peter C Suims OA

When I was living with my parents in nearby Devonport, we used to visit the Holloways at 'Armistead' where we learned of Barry's life.

As my dad Eric Sims was in New Guinea in the RAAF in WWII, Barry was interested to meet up when he returned to Tasmania.

On one of these trips (date unknown, but could be 1960's/1970's?) Barry brought with him a Highland headman (Ono, I think was his name?) and I was very impressed with this contact and with Barry's life.

Being a historian I would like to learn more about Barry's work and also his Blyth family connections.

Perhaps someone may recall the exact name of Ono and a date when they came to Tasmania. There would have been some reports in the local newspapers at the time and I will attempt to track these down.

I plan to attend the Kimberley Memorial Service on Saturday and there may be an opportunity to meet the family and pay my personal condolences.

Ian James

Barry was a chilhood playmate at Armitstead and Robinswood in Kimberley.

Some of my happiest memories are of holidays spent with Barry, his sister Pixie and their parents in the late 1930's and 1940's.

Then we went our very different ways and seldom met in the next 65 years.

Barry's passion for PNG and its people and his important contribution to the country will be long remembered.

Liz Holloway

He gave over 60 years of his life to PNG, and it could be said that the stress of standing for election once again he overloaded what had always been a strong body.

It could be said that he died for his beloved country.

Rest in peace at last, dear Barry. Your toil is over now.

John Fowke

Sir Barry Holloway’s funeral will be held at his birthplace in the town of Kimberley, not far from Devonport in northern Tasmania, and he will be buried beside his mother and father.

The ceremony will be held at 1pm on Australia Day, Saturday 26 January. Moi Avi will read the eulogy. Any contributions to the eulogy are most welcome by sending them to Arthur Smedley at [email protected]. Michael Somare says he will be there.

The family and Arthur are trying to arrange nearby discounted accommodation and a bus from the main accommodation venue to Kimberley. Arthur is very happy to provide information on the ceremony and logistics.

Jeff Febi

Sorry tru Papa Olowei.

We have many Bigmen in Eastern Highlands and you were the only Greatman.

We both spent sometime before and during the 2012 election talking about policies and other things. I will treasure them.

May you rest well!

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