B’ville finance minister under pressure
Highlands mushrooms ready for market

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 26 – The plot against Bougainville

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The mining agreement between the copper company and the colonial Administration passed into law without the field officers in Bougainville being forewarned, let alone fully briefed


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - As far as my kiap colleague John Dagge and I were concerned, everything was going well around Barapina and Panguna.

We were not gaining acceptance, but the people were at least listening to our explanations about CRA’s prospecting activity.

Then, on 29 August 1967, the House of Assembly – Papua New Guinea’s parliament - passed into law a mining agreement bill between the company and the Administration.

It was only then that we discovered the document we had been given to brief the people had omitted some vital details.

This document’s worn and faded pages - rubber-stamped ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ in purple ink - still glare at me from my files:

“Before the Company decides to go ahead, both the Company and the Administration wish to have an agreement setting out the conditions under which the Company may operate. The terms have been under discussion this year. The Agreement is for the Administration to prepare. In order to assure the people and the Company that the Agreement is fully supported the Administration is going to ask the House of Assembly to ratify it by passing a special Bill.”

The facts were different. It was the CRA directors who wanted the agreement. Director Frank Espie introduced the idea to Secretary for Territories George Warwick Smith when he met with him in Canberra on 12 December 1965.

Following that encounter, Warwick Smith allowed Espie to raise the proposal with the Administration in Port Moresby in February 1966. But Canberra retained control.

Warwick Smith decreed that “discussions in the Territory on major issues will be entirely without commitment and subject to further discussions in Canberra.” Once again, Dagge and I had been misled.

On several occasions over the next 18 months, a small official delegation from the Territory flew south to Canberra to participate in meetings between CRA and the Territories Department.

Assistant Administrator Frank Henderson, Lands Secretary Don Grove and Division of Mines chief Ivo Wood flew to Canberra four times in 1966 (in March, June, August and October), and for three more meetings in 1967. Secretary for Law, Wally (WW) Watkins and Collector of Taxation Ray (RF) White were drafted to attend one meeting each in 1967.

They had little input, and they may have been outgunned. Hard-nosed Espie led the five-person CRA team, while assistant-secretary Gerry Gutman, the Territories Department’s front man in the wheeling and dealing was able to call on the considerable expertise in other Australian government departments to help bolster his arguments.

We in PNG were not aware that the Australian cabinet was involved, as its role was not disclosed. On 18 April 1967, the cabinet considered and approved Minister Charles (Ceb) Barnes’ submission on the agreement.

It was not until the House of Assembly debated the Mining (Bougainville Copper Agreement) Ordinance in August 1967 that the public learnt the nasty details.

The printed bill stated that, at any time up to the end of 1971, the CRA could apply for a special mining lease within its prospecting authorities. A lease could be in one or more parts and up to 100 square miles in area.

At any time the company could apply for other leases: for mining, treatment plants, town sites, ports, wharves, power stations, dams, roads, railways, tunnels, pipelines, transmission lines and for the disposal of overburden and tailings.

The sting lay in Clause 12 of the Ordinance: “The purposes of this Agreement are a public purpose within the meaning of any [Territory] law.” This meant the government could resume – compulsorily acquire – any land the company required for its mining operation.

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Map 1 - The Mainoki and Karato operations

Bougainville was outraged.

As if that were not enough, someone in either Canberra or Port Moresby ignored all the reservations I had expressed about exploratory activities at Mainoki.

They decided CRA could resume prospecting there and, adding to the affront, they added Karato, which lay further west in the Crown Prince Range.

Two years earlier, in July 1965, the Mainoki villagers had chased a party of CRA geologists off their land.

They were not violent, nor did they have to be. They had only to shout a few threats and maybe wave a bow and arrow or two for the intruders to flee back to Panguna.

On the advice of the Administration, the company stopped prospecting at Mainoki, Karato and Daratui. But Frank Espie was determined and on half a dozen occasions after the incident put pressure on Canberra for the company to be allowed to return to the area:

“The work at Panguna is well advanced. The lack of work in these other areas could cause the Company acute embarrassment if one of those areas proved to be more attractive. For this reason, the Company is keen to push ahead with geochemical sampling and perhaps drilling in these areas before further expanding the work at Panguna.”

At an earlier meeting in Canberra on 25 March 1966, when Espie enquired whether there was any way the geological team could get quickly into Mainoki, Karato and Daratui, he said the company was opposed to the use of force, by which he meant it did not want police protection.

But he must have changed his mind over succeeding months. When the CRA geologists returned to Mainoki, they were escorted by the most potent force of police that central Bougainville had seen.

John Wakeford, acting District Commissioner at Sohano, announced the strategy before he departed for Australia on recreation leave.

Assistant District Officer Chris (C) Warrillow [1] was being transferred from Mendi in the Southern Highlands to lead the operation. He and a detachment of 20 riot police, under Sub-Inspector Geoff (G) Brazier [2], would escort the geologists to Mainoki.

Only when that operation was successfully underway would Patrol Officer John (JW) Gordon-Kirkby [3] shepherd the geologists into Karato. Gordon-Kirkby was based at Boku in the Buin sub-district.

Ken (KA) Brown [4], who was acting district commissioner for three months while Wakeford was away, accepted Gordon-Kirkby’s assertion that he and two constables could handle the Karato exercise.

I was apprehensive. I knew Gordon-Kirkby had served his first term in Manus and had just commenced his second term in Bougainville. His career and his self-confidence reminded me of an earlier tragedy - the Telefomin massacre in 1953 when patrol officer Gerry Szarka, cadet patrol officer Geoffrey Harris and police constables Buritori and Purari were killed.

Coincidentally, Szarka had served his cadetship at Manus, and was in his second term when the Telefomin people went on their killing spree.

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John Gordon-Kirkby and friends, Baluan, Manus, 1965

Warrillow arrived in Kieta on Thursday 31 August 1967, and, reflecting on that time, has commented:

“I spent a week in Kieta in discussions with you [Brown] and others. I studied the patrol reports, circular instructions, and confidential files. And, as all my previous time had been in Papua, I boned up on the New Guinea law. I visited Barapina and Panguna by road – met with Dagge and Brazier – and I flew over the area in a helicopter.

“At the end of it all, I asked you were the Guava [people] like the Mekeo, or more like the Goilala. And I wondered how they compared with the Highlanders. My thoughts about your response, and explanatory description of the Guava, was: ‘Oh, what the hell would he know anyhow?’ At the time, I did not know that you had been stationed in Kairuku and Goilala. And, oh again, what was your response to my query? ‘Like none of them’.”

Warrillow drove up over the range to Barapina on 8 September 1967 and three days later set out with his team on the long trek towards Mainoki. He took and maintained the lead as the patrol followed the left bank of the Kawerong, crossed the river to Onovi and headed further west, deeper into the Crown Prince Range.

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Chris Warrillow, Kairuku, Central District, 1956

Because of his long aggressive stride the police dubbed Warrillow the Muruk (cassowary). Like that powerful and flightless bird, he was also hard-headed and determined.

The volunteers carrying the cargo were either too old or too young to obtain employment elsewhere, and soon fell behind the main group. After seven hours on the track, Warrillow was on his own when he walked into Kokomate village late in the afternoon.

Despite the approaching dusk and pouring rain, three village men volunteered to go to the nearby bush to find two long thin saplings for radio masts and to gather tent poles. Sub-Inspector Brazier staggered into camp just before dusk. The last carriers arrived in the dark at 7.15 and the camp was established an hour later.

Everyone was wet, cold and bedraggled. That was to be the pattern of life in those high mountains every afternoon over the coming months.

Early the next morning, a group of 26 village men confronted Warrillow and warned him they would not allow CRA to prospect on their land. They said they knew nothing about the mining laws and did not want to know.

He was dumbfounded when they told him they had said the same thing to patrol officer Cedric Tabua earlier in the year when he had visited to explain the new laws. They asked him why Tabua hadn't reported this to the officers in Kieta - but he had.

As Warrillow continued to try to reason with the men, people from nearby villages came to join the protest, the numbers swelling to around 110, 70 men and 40 women.

The arguments and discussions extended over three days. Lamoli of Mainoki, luluai Luau of Kokomate, Pagweri of Kokomate and Aitei of Paura had a lot to say, but it was local government councillor Luparabai who spearheaded the opposition.

He had walked a long distance from his village on the eastern side of the range to be here. When he spoke, he was at times almost incoherent but his main argument was clear. He told Warrillow:

“Our talk is not being sent to Port Moresby. We have complained to all the kiaps, mining warden McKenzie, the welfare officer and his missus [Judith Peters], but no one has ever answered. The big men in Port Moresby, especially the House of Assembly, do not hear our talk because you have kept your reports in Kieta.”

The arguments were still going four days later, on Tuesday, 12 September. On that morning, the people told Warrillow they would place more credence on his statements if they heard about the mining law and the agreement on their radios.

They did not have long to wait. Early next evening, the Administrator was on the air, speaking to the people of Bougainville from Radio Rabaul. Reporting to Canberra on 14 September, the Administrator telexed:

“I made a statement which was broadcast over Radio Rabaul last night laying down the rights and obligations of all involved in the Mainoki exercise. Police protection would be given to the exploratory parties if necessary. Patrol and CRA plans are to proceed at Mainoki as dictated by local events.”

That radio broadcast gave Warrillow another problem. Sub-Inspector Brazier and his 20 riot police were eager for action and ready to intervene. Some wanted to teach the protestors to respect the law, and were itching to throw some tear gas and maybe crack a few heads. They did not get the chance. Warrillow was in control.

Three days later, on Friday 15 September, Michael (MT) Lorenz, a 21 year-old CRA field assistant, arrived by helicopter from Panguna. The flight took less than 15 minutes. It had taken Warrillow and his team a full day to walk from nearby Barapina.

Over the weekend, Warrillow moved the group overland, passing through Sirowai and Mainoki villages to reach the high valleys further to the north. The mood in the area had subtly changed for the better.

The lululai of Sirowai offered his services as a guide and, as the group passed, handed out coconuts to drink. The carriers and police made three trips to shift all the gear – it was a two-hour trek each way – 12 hours in all. A few days later, after geologist Joe (MJ) Mooney flew in to Sirowai, the team was complete.

When a group of men representing the four villages (Mainoki, Kokomate, Paura and Sirowai) inquired about the company’s plans, CRA area manager Bishop and I attended a meeting that Warrillow organised for Thursday 21 September.

Although I had visited Warrillow two days earlier at the camp north of Mainoki, the meeting at the Kokomate rest house was to be a community affair. I was to explain the law and the government’s point of view while Bishop would tell the people what the company proposed.

It did not work out that way. When Councillor Luparabai attacked the government and its mining law, I responded. But he held the floor and delivered his last rant before departing back home. I had my say, but the CRA area manager did not get the opportunity to speak.

The stream sampling operations were barely underway on 5 October 1967 when Warrillow was beset by a galaxy of CRA visitors to the camp: Frank Espie from Melbourne, area manager Colin Bishop and geologists Hughes, Spratt and McNamara.

By this time, the strident opposition had declined. But even though village people were visiting and selling vegetables, it was still too soon to activate the Karato move. CRA and Canberra would have to wait until later in the year.

In the meantime, Gordon-Kirkby would travel to Barapina on Thursday 2 November, for a briefing on Karato. Warrillow would also attend.

CRA closed the Mainoki operation on 4 December. It was not as rich in minerals as the geologists had hoped, but could prove useful in the future.

Warrillow spent 84 days in the field - from 11 September to 4 December - on the Mainoki exercise. During that time, in addition to his main role of talking with the village people, he held regular planning meetings with geologists Hughes, Spratt, McNamara and Mooney).

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Bell 47G helicopter approaching one of  Chris Warrillow’s campsites (Chris Warrillow)

He accompanied Mooney and Lorenz on their stream sampling endeavours, he supervised the clearing of more than half a dozen helicopter pads, and he organised the construction of a handful of base camps. District Commissioner Wakeford would have been horrified [5].

Patrol Officer Gordon-Kirkby travelled by vehicle from Boku, then on foot, and finally by canoe to reach Karairo village on the west coast near Torokina. The journey took all of Tuesday 22 November 1967. The next day, he trekked for six hours to Karato, arriving at 2.30 pm, a day behind schedule.

Assistant District Officer Warrillow was already in the village, having flown by helicopter earlier in the day. He had already set up radio aerials and, using the portable transmitter, established radio contact with Barapina and Kieta. He had also already had an argument with the village spokesman, Siwapain.

Like John Dagge at Panguna and Warrillow at Mainoki, Gordon-Kirkby reported to me twice daily by radio. Those conversations – at 8 am and 4 pm, seven days a week – kept everybody in the loop, provided grist for my weekly situation report to Port Moresby and sometimes served as a way for us to let off steam.

At the end of the operation, Gordon-Kirkby compiled a longer than usual report that, at times, appeared a tad confused. It seemed incongruous that he reported his patrol as being well received when, after a one-hour talk with the villagers, he was threatened with eviction if CRA moved out into the field.

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Chris Warrillow on the radio schedule from Mainoki ,1967 (Chris Warrillow)

His description of the next morning’s events illustrated the people’s mood. Warrillow had just departed for the Mainoki camp when another helicopter arrived - the third for the day:

“As the machine landed, it was rushed by half a dozen men trying to reload the machine. There was hysterical screaming by women and menacing looks in the eyes of the men. ‘The battle of the cargo continued for some 10 minutes.’ The noise of the helicopter aggravated the confusion. I persuaded the leaders to act more rationally, to allow the helicopter to leave - but empty.”

Gordon-Kirkby said he tried to convince the people to allow the geologists to carry out their work but “the slight hope of success was smashed” by the arrival of a Kieta local government councillor, Kia of Karikobi, who “spoke with emotion and pent up hatred”.

Monday 27 November was the deadline for Gordon-Kirkby to gain the people’s acceptance. When he did not achieve that goal, I had no option but to initiate the action for his group to be withdrawn.

We held a planning meeting at Mainoki camp on Tuesday 28 November. Warrillow and Brazier were already there. Kieta ADC Wiltshire, John Dagge from Barapina, CRA area manager Bishop, geologists Hughes (from Melbourne) and Mooney flew in by the Bell 204B helicopter [6].

Early in the morning of Thursday 30 November, CRA deployed a series of helicopter flights to evacuate all equipment and personnel. Gordon-Kirkby and his group (including the CRA field assistant, Lorenz) walked out overland. Two police constables [7] and two men from Paura village, sent by Warrillow, acted as guides. The trek took almost six hours.

Gordon-Kirkby recorded that their departure from Karato was “marked by cordiality and a general round of handshaking” but he also wrote, “I was not given the opportunity to put these people to the test, to see if they would really resist us to the point of using force.… Our retreat from Karato was probably taken as a triumph by the people of Karato.”

If the Karato people saw it that way, they would not have done so for very long. On the following day, Friday 1 December, Gordon-Kirkby, Lorenz and 10 CRA labourers, accompanied by Sub-Inspector Brazier and 18 members of his riot squad returned to a temporary camp three miles from Karato village.

Four consecutive flights by the Bell 204B helicopter deposited a group whose strength would have overawed Karato village, population 93.

A two-day exercise saw the construction of a permanent camp while geologist Mooney and field assistant Lorenz went about their stream sampling operation without interference. The helicopter delivered supplies and visitors [8].

On 7 December, Gordon-Kirkby, Brazier and 14 police visited Karato village. In Gordon-Kirkby’s words: “to let the Karato people know that I was not fooling when I told them that I would call for [extra] police” and “to show the flag.” Only six men were in the village at the time.

Even before the camp had settled down, senior geologists Don Carruthers [9] and F Hughes flew up from Melbourne and were among the first visitors to the site, arriving on 6 December.

From then on, one joyrider or another would fill the vacant seat on almost every supply run from Panguna but would rarely descend the 200 steps from the helicopter pad to the camp.

Other visitors stayed longer. Acting District Commissioner Ken Brown visited for an hour or so on 9 December. Bob (RA) Hoad [10], District Officer in charge at Boku, walked in from the west coast on 10 December, stayed overnight and roamed around the area for several days.

Sub-Inspector Brazier and nine police were withdrawn to Barapina on 12 December, and CRA withdrew their staff to Panguna for the Christmas–New Year shutdown on 23 December.

Surprisingly, the most vocal objector to CRA’s intrusion, Siwapain, the Karato village spokesman, accepted their invitation to visit the Panguna operation over the Christmas break. He flew there by helicopter, stayed for a week and then flew back home.

Gordon-Kirkby and nine police remained on duty at Karato until 23 January 1968 for a lonely festive season. Then, on Christmas morning, Kieta ADC John Wiltshire arrived by helicopter with Christmas cheer and Gordon-Kirkby shared a celebratory Christmas luncheon with the police. The same group helped him while away the hours on New Year’s Eve by playing Monopoly.

Three weeks after the New Year, CRA closed down the Karato operation. Like Mainoki, the area did not promise the mineral riches of Panguna. On 23 January 1968 all personnel were evacuated by helicopter.

Like 1966, 1967 had been an ‘IF’ year in Kieta and around Panguna – a year of Ignorance and Fear. The ignorance resided in Canberra, where the officials advising the Territories Minister were still peering through White Australia spectacles and, with one exception, had never visited or been near the island of Bougainville.

The fear came from the Nasioi-speaking people who lived around Panguna and on the east coast of central Bougainville. They were frightened that CRA would destroy their most treasured possession – their land.

Only one of the three senior Administration officials who visited Kieta to look at CRA activities in 1966 had any impact on the Canberra bureaucrats, and that influence was minimal at best.

Tom Aitchison, the Assistant Director of District Administration, had made a hurried visit to Bougainville on 27 December 1966, travelled to Panguna and other parts, and flown back to Port Moresby. He descended on us again in February and March 1967 and twice more in June. On each occasion he issued orders and directives.

All that changed when Aitchison visited Kieta on 23 September 1967. He said he would not be visiting Bougainville again. He was sick of being Canberra’s minion. He was retiring to breed racehorses in Australia and intended to enjoy the rest of his life. He would be sailing home on MV Bulolo at the end of the year.

Administrator David (DO) Hay would miss Aitchison’s daily briefings on Bougainville and the situation reports he telexed to Canberra. Seeking to orientate himself to the island, Hay made his first visit to Bougainville on 18 October 1967, his wife accompanying him.

I met them at Aropa airstrip and William Poto drove us to Kieta in the battered Administration LandRover. We stopped outside town to allow Hay to don his World War II awards and campaign medals and his civil CBE [11]. He wanted to wear them for his inspection of the ceremonial honour guard.

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Administrator David Hay and Mrs Hay, Bougainville, 1967

Later in the morning, we took Hay on what I called my “two-day highlights tour.” The first day went as planned when we drove over the Crown Prince range to inspect CRA activities at Panguna.

However, the Administrator changed the second-day itinerary, insisting on a visit to Arawa Plantation before visiting St Joseph’s High School at Rigu and the Catholic Mission at Tubiana.

The Executive Committee handling the Bougainville situation [12] had suggested that Aropa or Arawa Plantations might be used to resettle people from the mine area, and Hay wanted to see Arawa for himself.

Two days was enough. Mrs Hay seemed to think our house too hot and our second bedroom too small – maybe she wasn’t one for single beds - and I don’t think she liked sharing the bathroom and our only toilet.

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Map 2 - The area covered by CRA’s application for a prospecting authority over northern Bougainville in 1967

On Friday 20 October the Hays flew to Tinputz where he talked to a meeting of Local Government Councillors about CRA’s latest application for a prospecting authority, “which embraced the whole of Wakunai/Tinputz/Kunua Administrative areas of 1138 square miles. [295,000]” [13] This area of about 2,950 square kilometres was almost a third of Bougainville. No wonder the people were anxious.

The Administrator knew I had accepted an invitation from Tinputz Council to discuss the issue with them at the beginning of the following week, and I was surprised at his decision to become involved at the grassroots level. I thought it demeaned his office.

When we discussed the visit, I told him I thought the councillors would not respond to his explanation that a large copper mine would help the nation develop – they would be too polite to tell him what they thought.

Dagge and I were by now accustomed to First Assistant Director of District Administration Tom Aitchison flitting in and out of Bougainville, cock-a-hoop and ostensibly in charge of Administration activity.

That came to an end when he failed to succeed to be appointed Director to take over from J K McCarthy. Minister for Territories Barnes appointed Tom (TW) Ellis, District Commissioner of the Western Highlands, to the role on 13 September.

The newly appointed Ellis said he was pressed for time when he descended on us in Bougainville in November. He wanted to see Panguna and surrounds. And he wanted to know all about the incidents that had recently occurred at Kokorei and Moroni.

John Dagge recalled the visit thus:

“On the day in question, with typical showers and mist, the helicopter arrived, and I proceeded to the pad. Ellis, of course, was first out followed by Bill Brown. Ellis stalked towards me and acknowledged my outstretched hand. ‘Ah yes, Dagge. Who f**ked this up?’

“Completely taken aback and with visions of the Number One Kiap inscribing my personal file ‘Never to be Promoted’ I managed to stammer out, ‘Well, Mr Brown was here before me, sir’. The betrayal was unworthy but met with Ellis saying, ‘Huh - get inside somewhere. I want to talk!’”

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Tom Ellis, Director of District Administration

Ellis and I left Dagge at Barapina and travelled back to Kieta. We talked until late in the evening. Ellis made things very clear. As far as our department was concerned, he was not waiting until Aitchison retired. He personally would forthwith assume control of CRA affairs.

John Wakeford, who was on leave, would not return to Bougainville. Des (DN) Ashton, now in Lae, would replace Wakeford as District Commissioner. A District Officer would be transferred from the Western Highlands to assist at Panguna, and ADC John Wiltshire would take over my role when I took leave in mid-December.

And, despite my protests, I would return to Kieta and the CRA role.

On 10 December 1967, I left Bougainville for a meeting in Port Moresby followed by three months’ leave.


1 - Christopher Warrillow was born at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England in April 1941. He would joke that he was given only one first name because in war-torn Britain his mother did not have sufficient ration coupons for a second. The Warrillow family arrived in Melbourne on the migrant ship SS New Australia on 21 August 1955 when he was 14. He became a cadet patrol officer on 14 August 1959. He was promoted to assistant district officer in December 1964

2 - Geoffrey (G) Brazier was born in England in May 1939, and arrived in Melbourne on the SS New Australia in February 1953. He left the Victorian Police Force to join the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary with the rank of sub-inspector in October 1965. He handled the Mainoki - Karato exercise with composure even though it was probably his first experience of such a situation.

3 - John William Gordon-Kirkby was born on 26 August 1936. His parents lived in Spain but went to Gibraltar so he would be born on British soil. Due to the political situation in Spain, the family moved to Tangier in Morocco in 1939. After schooling in England and national service in the Royal Marines, he worked in the tourist industry in Morocco until he migrated to Australia, arriving in Melbourne on 26 November 1961 on the P&O liner, Orsova. He joined the Papua and New Guinea Administration as a cadet patrol officer on 1 June 1964.

4 - Ken Arthur Brown was born in Dubbo, NSW on 23 June 1927 and joined the Royal Australian Air Force just before the end of World War II aged 18. Discharged from the RAAF on 9 April 1946, he became a cadet patrol officer in June 1947 and served in the Gulf, Western, Manus, Sepik and Central Districts before being transferred to Bougainville as Deputy District Commissioner in March 1967. As acting District Commissioner, he was involved with CRA activities from the beginning of September 1967 until the end of that year.

5 - Following Gordon-Kirkby’s patrol to Torokina in July 1967, Wakeford wrote to him saying “we must not associate ourselves too closely with the Company. Our job is to explain to the people that the Company was given the legal right to prospect through laws passed by the House of Assembly and that is as far as we should go.”

6 - The Bell 204B (civil version of the ‘Huey’ Iroquois helicopter famed for its role in the Vietnam war) carried 10 to 11 passengers.

7 - Constable Narokai, born around the late 1930s at Taroba village, Nagovis, South Bougainville, joined the Royal Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary in the 1950s. He spent his early years as a young constable at Mendi in the Southern Highlands and was transferred to Bougainville in 1967. He became Warrillow’s right-hand man and later worked with other kiaps in the lower tailings area.

8 - Warrillow expressed the view that the young geologists and field assistants “deserved praise for their fortitude and trust in us. They were either very naive or very brave to come pretty fresh from the south and be thrown into some testing situations.” From my perspective, geologists seemed to think they had a god-given right to trample the earth and dig up anything valuable that they found. Only two of them, Ken (KM) Phillips and Frank (FE) Hughes, were considerate and caring. Phillips was a newcomer and feeling his way. Hughes had been awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar for his exploits flying Lancaster bombers over Europe in World War II.

9 - Don (DS) Carruthers was chairman of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) from July 1986 to November 1992

10 - Robert Alexander Hoad was born in Newcastle, NSW, in December 1937, and studied engineering for a year at university before becoming a cadet patrol officer in February 1957. In 1965 while stationed at Taskul, New Ireland, he was promoted to district officer and was transferred to Bougainville in September 1967.

11 - David Hay was awarded a DSO and MBE in World War II and a CBE in January 1963 when he was Australia’s high commissioner in Canada.

12 - Assistant Director Aitchison, Assistant Administrator Johnson, Secretary for Law Watkins and Director of Lands, Surveys and Mines Grove

13 - Assistant District Officer Arthur Marks' field officers journal.


[Map 1] The Mainoki and Karato operations

[Map 2] The area covered by CRA’s application for a prospecting authority over Northern Bougainville

[Pic 1] Mining (Bougainville Copper Agreement) Ordinance 1967

[Pic 2] John Gordon-Kirkby and friends, Baluan, Manus, 1965

[Pic 3] Chris Warrillow, Kairuku, Central District, 1956

[Pic 4] Bell 47G helicopter approaching one of Warrillow’s campsites (Chris Warrillow)

[Pic 5] Chris Warrillow participating in radio schedule from Mainoki 1967 (Chris Warrillow)

[Pic 6] Administrator David O Hay and Mrs Hay, 1967

[Pic 7] Tom Ellis, Director of District Administration


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John Gordon-Kirkby

54 years later I still enjoy re-reading Kiaps Chronicle 26 once in a while.

I remember the events described so well by Bill Brown with nostalgic clarity.

There were tense moments, yet the good people of Karato and surrounds were almost always friendly, and generous with fresh fruit and vegetables.

They understood my predicament for I too was concerned for their land and the impact of mining on the Yaba Lambalamb rivers and the Empress Augusta Bay.

I note an absence of reference to the influence of the Roman Catholic missionaries for some of the tensions. The the message from pulpit was perhaps more influential than from the kiaps.

I was never bored or lonely. We played board games, went hunting and I pursued my painting. Some of these paintings are on my Facebook page.

Max Heggen

Been meaning to comment on your last chronicle chapter for some time, and have just got round to doing just that.

You may remember that when I first arrived in Kieta, you sent me off to Lonsiro where Chris Warrillow had already been camped for a few days. I think your instruction was for me to "make friends" with the people there.

After two or three days of wandering the village with Chris and talking to the residents (who seemed a little suspicious of me and my presence) Chris decided that there was nothing further to be gained by staying any longer, and a message was sent via the sked for a vehicle to meet us at the roadhead the following day.

The next morning we packed up, arranged the necessary carriers, and set off. During all of my patrolling experience to that date, my usual practise was to let the carriers lead the way, thus ensuring that both the cargo and the carriers arrived safely at our destination.

I was therefore a little surprised when Chris "bolted" ahead of the carriers, setting a cracking pace. I made no comment, but stayed on his heels right to the roadhead, which, to my failing memory, was only 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour's walk, adding further to my confusion as to why there was such a hurry. I was convinced that Chris was determined to 'try out' this new chum to see what he was made of.

Imagine my surprise when I read your latest chapter containing the description of Chris' walking style!

Chris Warrillow

As with earlier chapters it makes compelling reading, enhanced by your writing style. I hope your history will serve useful to balance up earlier writings of second and third hand accounts and views of history by the likes of some members of academia.

Of great interest to me is the insight into the conspiracy between Canberra and CRA and the bloody-mindedness of politicians, bureaucrats and large-company executives.

This is particularly galling to me having experienced the frustrations of lessons not learnt and continuing similar attitudes when involved with Ok Tedi and later the Chevrons and Exxons etc.

In the case of Ok Tedi it was particularly frustrating in so far as the Independent State of PNG carried on in the same way - both at national level and at provincial level. Have you ever read Richard Jackson's 'Ok Tedi The Pot of Gold'?

I was wondering therefore if you intended to continue your very reasonable 'attacks' on CRA to further expose the arrogance of its top men and down to some of its lower ranks such as geologists whom you, not unreasonably, accuse of believing it their god-given right to go and trespass on others' property in the pursuit of mineral wealth.

I had in mind my memories of Wakunai and Red River. After all the 'troubles' around Pangua, Mainoki, Karato, Atamo etc the bastards still went ahead and conducted that sneaky operation from offshore and used the MV Craestar to insert its geos behind the backs of both the Administration and the local people.

A disgraceful affair but, I suggest, a proud moment for you when you succeeded in ordering the Craestar to return to face the music after it snuck off and was half-way back to Rabaul!

Bill Brown

Greetings Diane Bohlen, and thank you for your comments on Chapters 1 and 2. They are greatly appreciated.

I knew your brother, David Speakman. Our paths did not cross until the 1970s but in his various roles as a kiap, and as deputy clerk of House of Assembly, he was respected and known as a great guy.

Philip Kai Morre

The pioneer kiaps in Bougainville did a tremendous job in consultation with the people, trying to explain mining and its impact.

It's only if Canberra and Port Moresby had listened to them and the concerns of the people that there would not be any problems - like the Bougainville crisis.

Canberra's approach was paternalistic, imposing their plans on a people they thought were still backward and would not understand anything.

However, the Bougainville people, much smarter, opposed the Panguna mine from the beginning.

Michael Lorenz

"Warrillow expressed the view that the young geologists and field assistants 'deserved praise for their fortitude and trust in us. They were either very naive or very brave to come pretty fresh from the south and be thrown into some testing situations'.” Thanks very much. :-)

Bill Brown

Thank you for your comment Peter, but please do not knock Jim Sinclair. Without his meticulous research and many magnificent tomes, the younger generations of PNG would not know their history and Australia would not have heard much at all about kiaps and their role.

Philip Fitzpatrick

You might have a point there, Peter. Jim's stuff is pretty anodyne.

I'm looking forward to the next episode when Tom Ellis get's involved. I suspect that's the point where bad gets worse.

Bill must publish his chronicle in some form or another.

Peter Sandery

I have often wondered why CRA needed a special act for its Panguna development and am now suitably enlightened.

Thanks Bill, for this chapter and all the others that contain gems of wisdom from the past which would have been lost had you not documented them.

I know this might sound terribly less than correct but, in my opinion, it is accounts like yours rather those of the likes of Jim Sinclair that will contribute more to the history of PNG/Australian relations.

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