Top engineer suspended after blowing whistle on inflated contracts
Francis Nii laptop appeal exceeds target in less than 24 hours

The picture's story: A memorable moment in PNG-Oz relations


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

Journey amongst friends
Writers Francis Nii and Daniel Kumbon (front), Martyn Namorong (third left) and Rashmii Bell (second right) in a group with three Australians who contributed to PNG independence and who never left their friends in the lurch - Murray Bladwell, Bob Cleland and Rob Parer

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Rashmii Bell

A wonderful occasion it was, especially with the fine gentlemen Francis has mentioned.

Murray and Joan Bladwell I have the pleasure of having lunch dates with every few months.

In between I receive regular emails of advice, words of encouragement and general reading from both, as well as from Bob and Rob.

Last year Bob orchestrated a few opportunities for me to practice my public speaking which was nerve-wracking (haha) but much appreciated.

In 2018, Bob has already been across my computer screen suggesting ways we might create opportunities for more PNG writers to experience literary events in Queensland.

All three men contribute silently behind the scenes. Solid role models. An association and friendship to treasure, always.

Daniel Kumbon

Francis, the Independence celebrations I saw in Port Moresby and meeting our generous wantoks in Brisbane and Sydney seem to have happened only yesterday.

Thanks for the reminder. And thanks to Paga Hill Development Company Ltd, Professor McKinnon, Keith na olgeta gutpela poroman bilong mipela ol PNG pipol.

Mathias Kin

Indeed a great combination.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)