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A tale of 3 families who found new life in PNG

Three families, seeking new lives of adventure and fulfilling careers, look for a paradise and find it in Papua New Guinea, experiencing the best and worst of times



Papua and New Guinea Life Stories by Hans von Chrismar, edited by Rita Spence. Windmill Publishing, 2022, 246 pages. ISBN-10.‎ 0645522007. Purchase here from Amazon: Paperback $77.04. Kindle $9.99

SYDNEY – ‘Life Stories’ traces the lives of three families that came to the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea: a Chinese family, a Dutch family and a British family.

It describes the traumatic effects of the Japanese occupation, which isolated the Chinese family for three years on a small island off the coast of Wewak.

CoverThen, in 1962, President Soekarno's sabre-rattling abruptly ended the idyllic lifestyle of a Dutch family in Merauke in what was then Netherlands New Guinea.

The family fled to Port Moresby and worked in the construction industry, building roads and airstrips in places like Misima and Bougainville.

The British family, disillusioned with their lives and careers in Peterborough, United Kingdom, looked for a paradise.

They found it in Papua New Guinea, working in education and experiencing the best and worst of times.

The result is a fascinating book about Papua New Guinea at a time that was exciting and full of challenges.

The families adapted to life in PNG and learned to tackle development in a uniquely Papua New Guinean way.

There is also a intriguing diversion into cultural aspects of the Asmat people in Dutch New Guinea and a detailed analysis of Michael Rockefeller's disappearance in 1961.

All the stories are set against a historical background and the attitudes and situations surrounding the three families at the time.

Link here to read the first pages of 'Papua and New Guinea Life Stories’

Hans von Chrismar lived and worked as an indent agent in PNG from 1969 to 1974. He returned in 2006-07 working for an international aid organisation


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Philip Fitzpatrick

You're right, Keith. I had a look inside the book on the Amazon website.

It's also got a pretty amateurish layout.

Reads well from what I could see though.

Any progress on a review of Ian Kemish's book, The Consul?

Nothing submitted for review, so I guess the answer is 'no' - KJ

Philip Fitzpatrick

Sounds fascinating but that's an extraordinary price for a 250 page paperback.

I suspect it is an outcome of all the colour plates that embroider the book - KJ

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