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Nicholay Miklouho-Maclay IV to visit PNG next month

Nikolai-Miklouho-Maclay-by-Russian-artist-Konstantin-MakovskySIR PETER BARTER

THE great-grandson of the famed Russian anthropologist Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay (pictured) will visit Papua New Guiena next month.

Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay IV is a direct descendant of the naturalist, explorer, anthropologist and artist who first arrived in PNG in September 1871, landing at Garagassi Point and settling at Gorendu village on the Rai Coast of Madang.

Here he established an excellent relationship with the people and is anthropological work and diaries became widely acknowledged in Russia and around the world.

In September 1971, a delegation of Russians visited Madang on board a Russian frigate to mark the centenary of Maclay’s arrival, at which time a monument was established on the site of his house.

Subsequently Maclay’s diary was published, books about his work were written (including one by Mary Mennis), films were produced and Maclay became a household name in Russia and considered amongst the country’s most famous explorers.

The original site of the monument was threatened by sea erosion and, with the help of Valeri and Irma Sourin, a generous Russian couple, the Melanesian Foundation and the Madang Resort maintenance team, a seawall was built to protect the site and a new memorial stone put in place.

Papuan playing the flute by Miklouho-MaclayA small elementary school, the Maclay Memorial School, has also been built at Gorendu with material donated by Ramu Nico mine.

We have asked Gerhard and Herman Sieland to provide plans and budget for a double classroom and this has been submitted to Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay IV in the hope he can find funding in Russia. 

We are also waiting for the plan of a four-room guest house that can be enlarged if there is a demand for more accommodation.

A great deal of information is now available about Maclay’s work in PNG. He later married Margaret Robertson, the daughter of the first premier of NSW.  The name Rai Coast was given by Maclay and the Vitiaz Straits and Alexishafen were named after Russian frigates which brought him to Madang.


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Paulus Ripa

Fascinating. I read somewhere a long time ago that Maclay's grandfather was originally a Scot who fled to Russia after the Battle of Culloden (as was Norwegian composer Greig's maternal grandfather). Is that true?

"By all accounts, the Scottish lineage is a legend that (like many others) Nicolas didn't want to disprove. No documents exist proving it. Generally, the exact story of Maclay remains unclear" - Wikipeda

Hugh Tavonavona

That fascinating Russian - apart from the great work in recording the lives of the people at that time, he brought cattle (male and female) on his second trip and they broke down the fence that the locals built and escaped to the bushes.....

Michael Dom

Thank you very much for this fascinating history Sir Peter. There's a lots of history in PNG that needs to be preserved and revered.

I love reading stories like this which link us through historical figures of other countries and offer us a view of how we fit into world history.

I recently visited Vailima Estate in Apia Samoa, the home of Robert Louis Stevenson (poet and author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) until his death.

It was a special privilege walking around the restored family home and into his study, where I could picture him creating his masterpieces.

I have yet to post a story on that adventure.

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