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From back then: Historic PNG film footage uncovered


NEWCASTLE - I have had all my old New Guinea films, shot in the early 1960s, expertly digitised by the Australian Film and Sound archives.

I am now editing them, adding captions and putting them, about five or six minutes at a time, on my Facebook page.

Here are two shorter clips of several films taken in Papua New Guinea from 1961 to 1963. Part of my job at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in Sydney was to take students to PNG for practice teaching experience.

I can’t remember the exact location of this segment, but we were told of a dance festival happening in a village in the hills behind Rabaul. There are wonderful body decorations and costumes. The beat was provided by a drum and stick ensembles.

The green hair was provided by shaving green bamboo stalks. In the second group dance he fellow with the whistle was controlling the whole thing.

An added attraction was ‘arm whipping’. Long reeds were used and a loud crack was achieved. Prizes of coconuts and taro were awarded to the winning dancers.


Life can be very interesting. When I edited the second video above, I thought I should contact the principal of Sogeri National High School, which it features.

Here is the principal’s reply to me that I’ve just received:

Dear Les - It's so good to hear about your visit to Sogeri 60 years ago in your young days. I am not sure how many of those students captured in the video participating are still alive today.

We also have a teacher from Australia who comes to Sogeri from time to time. She was a former teacher. The last time she came was in 2016. Her name is Marjorie Walker. She maybe living in Brisbane or Melbourne.

Les, Sogeri is completely different from what you saw 60 years ago. Of course the environment hasn't changed much but what we do in the school has changed a lot. The cadet program was already done away with so many years ago.

The gymnastics ability of the students in the video was fantastic. I couldn't even believe these were Sogeri students! I thought I was watching some performers at the Olympic Games! Sadly we don't have these activities, let alone our students being good athletes. We probably are concentrating too much on academic matters which has killed some of the students' natural talents and abilities.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, and keep me updated. Warm regards form Sogeri National High School.

So rewarding!


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