NOOSA – Fred Kaad OBE, pictured here with his close buddy Bill Brown MBE, has just celebrated his 98th birthday and it seemed a good opportunity today to link this with Papua New Guinea’s 43rd anniversary of independence.
Both Fred and Bill were significant contributors to nation-building in PNG after World War II and both rose to the distinguished rank of district commissioner, the senior field officers who directed the men known as kiaps who explored, pacified and administered what is now an independent country of eight million people.
After serving in the Australian Army in Papua New Guinea during World War II, Fred Kaad OBE joined the colonial Administration as a patrol officer in 1946, being promoted to district commissioner in 1960.
In 1964 Fred was district commissioner in Madang when the light aircraft in which he was flying crashed, fatally injuring the pilot and leaving Fred a paraplegic with third degree burns to both legs, continuing neuropathic pain.
Following a long period in hospital and convalescence, Fred found himself confined to a wheelchair. But it didn’t stop him embarking on a second and equally distinguished career. He completed a master’s degree through the University of New England and became a lecturer and course director at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney.
He remained in the same role when ASOPA was transformed into the International Training Institute, where, as a colleague of mine, he mainly taught project management to students from Papua New Guinea and countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean. He retired in 1985.
After retirement Fred worked as a consultant but found himself spending an increasing amount of time on honorary work in the area of spinal injuries as deputy chairman and director of Spinal Cure Australia and also as the long-serving committee member and patron of the PNG Association of Australia.
A little known aspect of Fred's career as a kiap was his cameo role in the 1950s PNG-based feature film Walk into Paradise (released in the USA as Walk into Hell) starring the then Australian movie idol Chips Rafferty.