ADELAIDE – I have to thank Chris Warrillow for correcting me as to the location of Sir Hubert Murray’s gravesite.
He saved me a frustrating visit to Bomana on my next trip to Papua New Guinea.
I’ll go to Badihagwa instead, bearing a K5 tradestore sarif to cut the grass.
The article prompted me to do some research on PNG’s heritage protection.
The Kuk Early Agricultural site was added to the World Heritage List in 2008.
The National Cultural Property (Preservations) Act and the National Museum and Art Gallery Act empower the National Museum to protect and preserve cultural and historical objects of particular importance to PNG.
I believe that Murray’s grave is of such significance to both Australia and PNG that it should be protected where it is as a heritage place.
Murray spent a lifetime of selfless devotion to the preservation of Papuan lands and the well-being of its people against predatory interests.
All Papua New Guineans - politicians and people alike - should know his story, and Australia too should be proud of this great man.
It should not be beyond the collective powers of the Australian and PNG governments to amicably resolve a land dispute over a gazetted government cemetery.
This could be a joint initiative of both governments to protect this site as an ongoing responsibility.
During my research, I was interested to find that seven sites, not including Bagihagwa cemetery, had been listed for Tentative World Heritage nomination in 2006.
A review in 2015 stated that no progress has been made on this matter. The seven sites are:
Huon Terraces. A remarkable sequence of spectacular and well-preserved coastal terraces at Sialum, which stand as testimony to the world’s geo-climatic history over the last 300,000 years and are considered the finest sequence of coral terraces in the world.
Trans-Fly. A site of outstanding conservation significance that includes the largest tract of savanna and grasslands in PNG.
Upper Sepik River Basin. This is one of the largest and most intact freshwater basins in the Asia Pacific region, the diverse habitats of which are globally significant. It is potentially one of the premier conservation areas of the world.
Kikori River Basin / Great Papuan Plateau. A diverse area of outstanding conservation value. Much of the Kikori is threatened by resource exploitation and development including logging, mining and hydrocarbon extraction.
The Sublime Karst - mainland section. The Hindenburg Wall and Muller Plateau remain significantly uninhabited and in a state largely natural and endemic to the geological instability of the country.
Sublime Karst - island section. Nakanai in West New Britain is immediately threatened and needs urgent action to protect its high conservation values.
Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges. The ranges through which the Kokoda Track passes is one of the most biologically important areas in the Asia Pacific. Extreme altitudinal and climatic variation have produced a rich variety of vegetation types from savanna to monsoon forest, lowland rainforest and cloud forest.
Milne Bay Coral Seascape. A mixed cultural and natural site comprising largely uninhabited coral atolls and islands with numerous coral reefs and Samarai Island, a PNG government declared national heritage island.
The lack of progress seemed to coincide with the death of Vagi Renagi Genorupa, the manager of the PNG’s National World Heritage Secretariat, who was an important guardian of the country’s natural heritage.
The will to undertake the necessary research to nominate these tentative listings for world heritage nomination seems to have faded, especially as a number of the sites are currently the subject of mining, logging, petroleum and fishing extraction activities.
It would seem a worthy aid project for Australia to offer to work with the PNG government to take the nomination process further.
Is there a 21st century Hubert Murray who understands the need to balance progress and preservation and ensure the PNG people do not lose their priceless heritage?
Download here: ‘World Heritage Tentative Listed Sites In Papua New Guinea: Report on a review of the sites’ by Peter Hitchcock and Jennifer Gabriel (January 2015)