China, Daru & the fisheries business
A signature in the sand

Vin Smith, one of the best, dies at 90

Vin & Rita Smith with Bob Cleland  Rabaul  October 2010
Vin and Rita Smith with Bob Cleland,  Rabaul,  October 2010


SYDNEY - Ernest Vincent (Vin) Smith, who saw notable service in Papua New Guinea as a kiap before independence and a senior public servant after, has died on the Gold Coast aged 90.

In two separate stints totalling 39 years, Vin served PNG with distinction and was admired for his coolness under pressure and great good humour.

The South Australian born Vin had only recently left school when he commenced his training at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in July 1949 to become a patrol officer .

At the end of the Short Course five months later, he flew to the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea on Christmas Eve 1949 as a fully-fledged Cadet Patrol Officer.

Wreckage of the crashed Dornier (Kaad Family Album)
Wreckage of the crashed Dornier (Kaad Family Album)

Vin served two terms in the Milne Bay District at Losuia and Samarai followed by a couple of terms in Manus, before being posted as Assistant District Officer in Madang in June 1964.

Just three months later he was a passenger in a single-engine Dornier that crashed on take-off from Tauta airstrip.

Pilot Ray Jaensch did not survive and District Commissioner Fred Kaad suffered a severe injury to his spinal cord, rendering him a paraplegic.

The passengers in the rear of the aircraft - Vin, Dr Laurence Malcolm and Patrol Officer Tony Cooke - were severely shaken but not seriously injured.

Vin Smith concluded his first Papua New Guinea career with half a dozen years as Deputy District Commissioner in Rabaul, resigning at the end of 1977.

Vin Smith  1949
Vin Smith, ASOPA, 1949

Six years later, footloose in Australia, he returned to PNG with the blessing of Michael Somare as a senior public servant.

He left PNG for the second and final time in 1994.

He and his late wife Rita lived at Mermaid Waters on Queensland’s Gold Coast

Vin Smith was a mighty man. He will be remembered for his friendship, his humour, his achievements and his deeds.

Rest in peace, old friend.


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Bob Cleland

Really sorry to see you go, old friend. Fortunately, memories remain of the events we did together over the years. RIP.

Chips Mackellar

Vin Smith has left on his last Patrol
To the place old Kiaps go.
It is a Patrol Post up there in the Sky
With old friends whom he will know.
Kiaps all, who heard the call
To administer PNG
Are needed now to help the Lord,
To govern Eternity.
He needs old kiaps to help his quest
To administer the Land of Eden
And build the roads and do their best
To Judge with decisions even.
So Vin's passing has not caused us pain,
It wasn't sad for him to die,
For we will meet him once again,
In that Patrol Post in the Sky.

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