This article was written before our quickfire appeal (update above) to buy Francis a new laptop computer, which will have a working screen and be with him in Kundiawa sometime next week - KJ
KUNDIAWA – This photo brings back fond memories of meetings, conversations and sharing a few drinks with some of the invincible spirits behind Papua New Guinea’s independence. Being with them in Brisbane 18 or so months ago was a moment of history for me.
On the left is Murray Bladwell, the man who contributed so much to the development of education in PNG including as headmaster at Chuave Primary School (now known as Bauvi) in the 1960s.
In more recent times, through his initiative and hard work, 11,000 library books and many items of equipment were delivered to Simbu schools in 2016 courtesy of the late, great Terry Shelley of Goroka and Toowong Rotary Club in Brisbane.
The man in the middle is Bob Cleland, former kiap and son of former Administrator of the Territory of Papua New Guinea, Sir Donald Cleland. When Bob was a patrol officer based at Watabung between Goroka and Kundiawa he built the section of the Highlands Highway through the jungle and steep valleys of the Daulo Pass, thus connecting by road the coast with Simbu and the rest of the highlands.
Like Murray, Bob’s connection with PNG exists to this day in the form of an annual award of K5,000 for heritage writing under the auspices of the Crocodile Prize.
The man on the right is Robert Lenton Parer CMG MBE, the surname synonymous with the development of aviation in New Guinea and also with the famed wartime photographer Damien Parer, who was killed in our country.
For most of his life Rob was a popular business figure in the Sepik especially around the Aitape region. He is a favourite son of the Sepiks and, if you ask where he is from, he will tell you he is from there. If you don't believe me, check his profile on Facebook.
My friends met this great men of PNG-Australia at the Harbourside Hotel in Brisbane while on a study tour in 2016 sponsored by Paga Hill Development Company.
The ‘engineer’ who made the whole trip possible was another great PNG-Australian, Keith Jackson AM, who has his own long story of association with our country and who is, of course, the publisher and editor of PNG Attitude.