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Papua New Guinea – brief home to the remnants of the British raj


‘Tigi Adventures’ by Mark Ernest Young, self-published in Mysore, India, 2005, 171 pages with maps and  black & white photographs, AU$6 plus postage. Contact the author at

‘Gumanch’ by Mark Ernest Young, self-published in Mysore, India, 2016, 215 pages with maps and black & white photographs, AU$6 plus postage. Contact the author at

TUMBY BAY - Imagine this – you’ve led a very interesting life but you’re getting on a bit. You’ve got a mixture of memories and stories floating around in your head, some of them you know are true, some of them you think are true and some are in between.

There are only vague connections between these various stories and recollections but you decide to write them down anyway and arrange for their publication.

You’re a little bit out of touch; you still think Vanuatu is called the New Hebrides and is governed as a British-French condominium but that doesn’t really matter.

You’re also not too fussed anymore about the spelling of place names and other things but you have a good command of grammar which acts as a neat offset.

GumanchA large part of your life has revolved around plantations and the culture that accompanies them in several interesting places, including Papua New Guinea and India.

You have a great deal of respect for the old British Empire and what it once stood for and your values and perceptions of the world are still coloured by that view.

The two books you write go to one of those cheap Indian publisher-printers so the quality is not tip top, especially the second book, but the end products are still highly readable and have a certain charm and appeal.

Satisfied, you sit back and wonder what the world will think of them.

This is my impression of the evolution of Mark Ernest Young’s two books, ‘Tigi Adventures’ (2005) and ‘Gumanch’ (2016), named after plantations in the New Guinea highlands but not exclusively about them.

I may be totally wrong in my impression and no doubt I’ll be corrected if this is the case.

But I still recommend them to the readers of PNG Attitude.

Together the books give people who are interested in the culture of the short-lived colonial era plantations in the highlands of Papua New Guinea a glimpse of not only how they operated but also the mindset of many of those who were engaged in the endeavour.

Mark Ernest Young was born and brought up in Bangalore in South India and comes from a well-known Anglo-Indian family of Scottish descent. His father was a coffee planter in the Wynad (Kerala State) and later a police officer in Mysore State and subsequently served with the Metropolitan Police in London.

Mark was also a coffee planter in South India and in the New Guinea highlands. He once worked on a sheep station in Western Australia and later for Chrysler International in London.

What particularly intrigued me about the two books was the contrast between Indian plantation culture and the Australian version that briefly flourished in the New Guinea highlands.

Many of those Australian planters used expatriate managers and expertise from Africa, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Malaysia and India and no doubt the attitudes they brought with them from those places had an impact on the way the plantations operated in New Guinea.

The only real difference between the two was perhaps the absence of large carnivores in New Guinea like lions and tigers and the hunting and shooting culture that these encouraged.

Despite that difference, many of the other factors were similar and the attitudes the same. Both groups, at least in my view, seemed to consider themselves a cut above the run-of-the-mill and evolved a pukka sahib class of their own.

Reading the first book is great preparation for reading the second where the majority of the New Guinea stories occur.

Unfortunately, this second book, ‘Gumanch’, is much less well-presented and unlike the first is much more error prone.

I came across people I had known and this gave it a ring of authenticity and the priming from the first book made it a bit easier to understand.

Such was this effect I was inclined to forgive the rendering of place names like ‘Wahgi’ spelt incorrectly as ‘Waghi’ and ‘kunai’ spelt as ‘kunhi’ and people like Dick Hagon mistakenly called ‘Dirk’.

If you are just interested in reading about the author’s experiences in New Guinea you only need to read the second book, ‘Gumanch’.

The books are a little bit tricky to get hold of because they come directly from the author. Mine came in a package from Mysore neatly tied with string and I paid for them by sending money to the author’s cousin in Western Australia.

That aside, if you have an interest in Papua New Guinea and the colonial period, the books will sit well on your bookshelf.


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Lewis Mora

Dear Mr Mark Earnest - I am the landowner of Tigi coffee plantation and I want to redevelop the plantation back to how it was in the olden days.

But who owns the land title, how many times did Tigi coffee plantation pay the royalties to my grandfathers?

If you know any of those who keeping the customary land title than I need to know and get them back.

Lewis Mora

I am Lewis Mora, a landowner from Tigi coffee plantation land.

I am trying to get the land title of Tigi coffee plantation and re-establish the coffee.

So what I am looking for is the land title of Tigi coffee plantation and a developer who wants to work with me.

Feel free to contact me:

Phone: +675 72831599

Garrett Roche

Mark Ernest Young, I am sorry to have to inform you that Fr. John Bartoszek, died in Australia back in March of 2011. He was suffering from 'motor neurone disease' and had spent some time in Australia before passing away. He was 74 years old when he died.
I remember John well - also known by his polish name of Janusz - I visited him in Rulna in the lower Jimi, and enjoyed his company and his great sense of humour in the midst of difficulties.
After he left Rulna he spent some years at Kuli parish between Hagen and Minj.

Mark Ernest Young

Fr John Bartoshek was a Polish Catholic priest who had a small mission station in the then remote, wild Jimi Valley which was the next valley to the famous Tigi plantation in Baiyer Valley where I was managing this highly productive coffee plantation for the pioneer coffee planter John Dowse Collins.

Collins had opened up the Baiyer Valley and built a road, which was truly a tremendous task . Fr John invited me to visit his humble abode in the valley, which took me 10 hours of a most difficult gruelling trek before I reached Fr John's tiny station. It was the hardest day's work I have ever done.

Fr John was really happy to see me and I was greeted by about 100 of his school children. He lived a very difficult and spartan life in the Jimi and once a fortnight he walked into Tigi and then on to Mt Hagen to get his meagre supplies. He was truly a great person to endure such hardships.

He was very grateful as I gave him the best of food when he stayed with me as well as all our surplus building materials. I remember him telling me that he would be most grateful even if we gave him a rusty nail.

He was a really great person who endured extreme hardship. He was responsible for opening up his area of the Jimi.

I would be grateful if anyone knows his
whereabouts. You can contact me here by phone: +91 8861 427 498 or + 91 9945 161 371.

+91 is the assigned country phone code for India - KJ

Lewis Mora

Please can anyone tell me who owned Tigi coffee plantation from the 1970s to the 1990s. And who holds the land title now.

You can email me here:

Kunuma Bundia

Dear Mr Mark - Hope this note finds you in good health. I am desperate for some information on the Hagon family. Are you able to help?

Mark Ernest Young

Dear Mr Wallen - Many thanks for your kind enquiry. I am very happy that you live near Tigi Plantations Baiyer Valley near Mt Hagen and you are are a third year business research graduate .

I spent several years managing Tigi plantations and developed it into one of the highest yielding coffee plantations in PNG .

The owner Mr John Dowse Collins a very hard working person nephew of the early Highlands explorer, Mr Danny Leahy, who sadly contracted leukemia and passed away in Sydney.

His brothers Eddie and Rod Collins owned the famous company Collins and Leahy based in Goroka.

After John Collins died Tigi Plantation was unfortunately mismanaged. At that time his three sons John, James and Tony were too young to take over.

Should you require any further information I will be happy to assist you.

Jareth Wallen

Dear Mr Mark Earnest - I am very grateful about this post and comment about this Tigi Plantation. I am from that place and wonder why this plantation is not in operation now.

I'm currently a third year student and trying to do business research but couldn't find any articles online to do my research based on Tigi Plantation. I only came across the article published.

Thank you for the clarification. If you have any information please let me know. Thank you.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Please note that Mark's email address is actually, the one below is incorrect.

Fixed - KJ

Philip Fitzpatrick

I received the following email from Mark Young this morning and thought it worth posting to clear up a couple of my comments:

"I was requested by my then employer John Dowse Collins, owner of Tigi Plantations, Bayer Valley, Mount Hagen, to assist his uncle Danny Leahy to improve the coffee on his Korgua Plantation. Therefore I spent a few months with Danny on his coffee plantation.

"At that time, Danny was partially blind and deaf which was due to undernourishment during his early pioneering days. He was very kind, gentle and a very considerate person but where work was concerned, he was absolutely very strict! He always spelt the valley as Waghi! Perhaps, the name has since changed.

"Danny Leahy and his elder brother Michael Leahy were the first white men to enter the Waghi (Wahgi as it is spelt now) and to discover a new race of people in the early 1930s, whose existence was unknown to the outside world.

"I developed Tigi Plantations into the highest yielding coffee plantation in Papua New Guinea and in the Pacific. John Collins, sadly and unfortunately died of leukemia in the early 1970s. I still keep in touch with his widow Ann Collins who lives in Glen Haven, NSW. His sons Johnny, Jamie, and Tony have done remarkably well in shipping in PNG.

"I am well known to John’s brothers, Eddie, Joe and Rod Collins, owners at that time, of the largest trading company - Messrs. Collins and Leahy of Goroka. I was also well known to Young Danny Leahy and his younger brother John Leahy whom I stayed with at Asaro Plantations near Goroka for a short while.

"I am a very close friend of the Hagon family, but I changed Dick’s name to Dirk in the book on purpose so as not to disclose his identity. His real name, as not many people know, is Hunter Richard Hagon. He hails from a very famous West Australian family. His coffee plantation, Gumanch was the largest plantation in the Highlands.

"Later he went on to purchase many vast plantations plus went into mining ventures. He has spoken to me a few times a year ago, and was very interested that I should assist him in all his vast plantations. His former wife, Caroline Hagon now Caroline Laws is also a very close friend of mine and so also her lovely daughters, whom I have known from the time they were children. The Hagons were the first to receive copies of my book 'Gumanch'.

"Sir, I wish to inform you that copies my books 'Tigi' and 'Gumanch' can be ordered by email from or by Whatsapp (+91) 8861427498.

"I do hope the above clarifies some of your doubts and queries.

"With my warm regards, Mark Ernest Young"

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