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PNG history makers tell their stories on new website

Adjunct Prof Ian Kemish AM with the late Ben MoideUNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND

A NEW website hosting interviews with Papua New Guineans who were prominent around the time of independence from Australia in 1975 has been launched.

'PNG Speaks' (click on this link to visit the site) was developed by the National Museum and Art Gallery of PNG, the University of Queensland, Deakin University and the Australian government to preserve PNG’s oral history.

National Museum and Art Gallery acting director Senea Greh said ‘PNG Speaks’ provides important insights into how Papua New Guineans experienced the transition to an independent nation in 1975.

“This project comes at a time when we are looking back at PNG’s path to independence over the years since the end of World War II,” Mr Greh said.

“This is the subject of a major exhibition at the National Museum and Art Gallery, scheduled for later in 2017.”

Former Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Adjunct Professor Ian Kemish (pictured above with the late Ben Moide), said the people interviewed represented only a sample of the many people who had important views and recollections to share on the period.

“We recognise that, given the many thousands of Papua New Guineans who participated in the independence period, this website will remain a work in progress for many years,” Mr Kemish said.

Dr Anne Dickson-Waiko from the University of Papua New Guinea and Professor Musawe Sinebare from the University of Goroka also played significant roles in planning and conducting interviews.

“This project is an important element in a broader body of oral history research which sheds light on key moments in PNG’s rich history,” said Dr Jonathan Ritchie of Deakin University.

Sir Michael SomareThe people interviewed so far include Sir Michael Somare (left), former PNGDF Commander Ted Diro, journalist Biga Lebasi, former senior public servants Charles Lepani and Jean Kekedo, Papuan separatist leader Dame Josephine Abaijah and political scientist and former premier Stephen Pokawin.

The website also contains resources including a digitised version of ‘A Papua New Guinea Political Chronicle’ by Emeritus Professor Clive Moore and Dr Mary Kooyman of Queensland University. The paper provides detailed contemporary accounts of PNG’s political developments from 1967-1991.

“To better understand one’s history is to understand the opportunities of the future, which is why projects like this are so important,” said Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG, Bruce Davis.

He the High Commission was pleased to have partnered with organisations in Papua New Guinea and Australia to support the project.


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