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John Neitz, respected senior educator in colonial PNG, dies at 84

John Neitz in PNG
John Neitz spent 16 years as an educator in PNG, rising to the rank of superintendent

KEITH JACKSON | From Jason Nitz

SOUTHPORT, QLD - John Desmond Neitz was born on 22 June 1934 at Torwood in Brisbane and spent his childhood in the Currumbin valley on dairy farms operated on a ‘share’ basis by his parents.

He was educated at The Beeches State School, Currumbin State School, Southport State High School and Brisbane State High School.

After high school, John entered the teachers’ training college at Kelvin Grove in Brisbane and, in 1954-55, undertook a physical education diploma course at Queensland University.

He was posted to Kragra, near Chinchilla in Queensland, and in 1957 to Palm Island off the Queensland coast near Townsville. Here he befriended triple certificate nurse Dell Jackson, but she moved to Melbourne and John decided to pursue his career in Papua New Guinea.

But Dell was not to disappear and, on 16 December 1961, John was to marry her at St James Anglican Cathedral, Townsville.

In the 16 years between 1958 and 1974, John was first a teacher and then an administrator in the PNG Education Department.

He taught at Yangoru, Pagwi and Brandi Junior High School in the Sepik District, Malabunga Junior High near Rabaul and Milfordhaven Primary School in Lae. This was followed by various postings as an inspector of schools, district education officer and later to the high rank  of superintendent.

I had met John in the Highlands but saw more of him when I transferred to Port Moresby in 1966. He was a respected figure, being both an accomplished educationist and an amiable companion. Each week, along with other chalkies, we shared Friday afternoon drinks at the Ela Beach RSL where there was plenty of good gossip and raucous humour.

After 13 years together in PNG, at the time of great expatriate exodus from the soon to be independent colony (an historic error of Australia which had resonances still felt today in PNG), John and Dell moved to Sydney where they purchased a delicatessen and wine-retailing outlet at Avalon, a northern beaches suburb.

In 1980 John and Dell moved to Tamborine Mountain in Queensland and engaged in several ventures including avocado growing, real estate sales, local government representation (1987-1994) and real estate investment.

John NeitzSadly, in 2005 Dell suddenly died after knee surgery and John lost interest in avocado growing and decided to buy a motor home and travel.

In 2006 he met Lorraine, and together they enjoyed many trips in the motor home including to New Zealand. Not only did John gain a loving partner but he inherited two wonderful daughters, Kerryn and Jacqui, who made a major contribution to John’s lifestyle and care.

John later sold his farm and he and Lorraine moved to Capo di Monte where they lived until early 2018 when they moved to residential care at Southport.

Over the past six months, John’s health slowly deteriorated and he died at Southport Hospital in the early hours of the 23 April.


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Kenneth Wohlberg

I walked into the district education office to join the Australian public education service as an American.

John Neitz greeting to me was, "So you're the Yank!" I acknowledged the hello and began my new career with the PNG education department, first in Wabag as assistant headmaster and then in Kandep as headmaster.

How can I ever forget John Neitz. For me his was the welcoming I needed at the time. I was in such need of a person like him.

Three years later I served for five years at Goroka Teachers College. I will always remember John as my welcome to my new life serving the Queen and PNG. My heart is still there today.

Joe Herman

He came to our school at Laiagam in 1968. May he rest in peace.

Garry Roche

I do remember John Neitz in Hagen circa 1971. I only met him a few times, but he did have a good reputation in Education circles. One time I met him at the wedding of a teacher Peter Monagle who was teaching at Keltiga near Togoaba. May he rest in peace.

Jerry Theis

John was Dept. of Education 'Secretary' when I arrived in 1961. I received my Primary / Secondary Teacher Certificates. Lost track of him as he moved around but I pray God blesses with an eternal life of Happiness.

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