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Trainer of kiaps Tim Terrell dies at 90

Tim Terrell and two local kiaps on the first course at Finschhafen Training Centre
Tim Terrell and two local kiaps on the first course at Finschhafen Training Centre, 1960


TUMBY BAY - Former kiap Tim Terrell AM died in Canberra last Tuesday at the age of 90.

His passing is significant in the history of Papua New Guinea because he established the first training centre for local kiaps at Gagidu near Finschhafen in 1959-60, assisted by another kiap, Peter Foldi.

In July 1959 the Public Service Ordinance had been amended to allow for the appointment of suitably qualified Papua New Guineans into the public service in anticipation of self-government and independence.

Some 125 positions were created of which 12 were earmarked for local kiaps.

Several departments had already begun training programs but there was no program for kiaps. Tim Terrell was given the job of establishing it.

It was a big job. Not only had he to supervise the building of a training centre but he also had to plan a curriculum, write the teaching notes and look after the welfare of the young Papua New Guinean trainees.

He began by converting an old ex-Army barracks at Finschhafen into accommodation units and lecture rooms.

While the role of a kiap was attractive to many young Australian men it didn’t generally appeal to young Papua New Guineans, most were not attracted by the prospect of service at remote patrol posts in the bush.

There were six local trainee patrol officers on the first course and not many more on subsequent courses.

However, by the time the Finschhafen Training Centre closed in 1965 and the courses transferred to the new Administrative College at Waigani, it had graduated many of the men who would ultimately lead PNG to independence.

They included men like Basil Koe, Jack Bagita, Micky Rarua, Gorua Gomara, Jerry Nalau, Posa Kilori, Bernard Borok, Seaea Avosa, Joe Nombri, Jack Karukuru, William Warren, Cedric Tabua and Noel Levi.

All these men became District Officers, District Commissioners or department heads.

It was to Tim Terrell and his assistants, Peter Foldi, Terry Dwyer, Brian Jinks and Graeme Hogg, that they owed their success.

Charles Edward Timothy Terrell AM was born in Darjeeling in India in 1929.

His death notice reads: “Tim lived a remarkable life devoted to helping others all over the world, particularly the most vulnerable in Papua New Guinea.

“Tim was a gentleman, a man of integrity, commitment and humility.”


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Terence Kelliher

I can only repeat what I posted elsewhere about this man who, along with many others, had such influence on the evolvement of PNG development:

"In 1965 whilst waiting for the next intake of CPOs I was employed for 10 months as a Clerk in the Local Government Division in DDA HQ Konedobu under Commissioner Harry Plant, DDC Tom Leabeater and DO Terry Dwyer. We were soon joined by Ken Williamson as Deputy Commissioner and Senior LG Finance Officer CET 'Tim' Terrell and he and Terry Dwyer combined to train the first Regional Local Government Officers and District Local Government Officers who passed through our office in fairly rapid succession. It was amazing to observe the expertise of all these former field officers now dedicating themselves to the establishment and efficient operation of the revised LG system implemented by the LG Ordinance 1963.

All these men had different temperaments but what I remember most about Tim was his marvelous general knowledge, his steadiness under pressure, his unfailing politeness and quiet friendliness to all, and his patience and understanding with a very junior officer (me).

Vale Mr. Terrell"

Daniel Kumbon

This is news to me, Phil. I didn't know there was a Kiap school at Gagidu near Finschhafen.

There is so much information that is lost in Enga. With the destruction of the Archives section with all its old records many years ago there will never be any public records of the province. I gave 60 copies of Enga Nius I have kept to the PNG Collection of the National Library last Monday hoping to save information that might be valuable one day.

And you know, over at the National Archives building, I found startling information that PNG had one of the most modern plywood factories in the world after it was opened in 1954 at Bulolo. Owned by the Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Ltd, the company was running a profitable business exporting overseas timber products and plywood manufactured on PNG soil.

Now our forests are harvested without due care for the environment and logs shipped out to be processed elsewhere as if our timber products had never been processed here and exported.

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