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Remembering footie, politics & John Kaputin

Sir John Kaputin's plaque in the PNG Sports Hall of Fame. The distinguished politician and diplomat was a champion athlete and footballer


BARDON, BRISBANE, QLD - I hope readers of PNG Attitude will be able to help me get in touch with Sir John Kaputin, who I understand lives on the southside of Brisbane.

Sir John and I have a bit of history. In 1960, when I spent my third year as a Patrol Officer based in Madang, I played rugby league.

I recall one particular game against a team from Port Moresby where my opponent on the wing was a young John Kaputin.

From memory, he was the first Papua New Guinean to play senior rugby league in Port Moresby, and he was quite a footballer.

I was a pretty good runner in my youth but Sir John left me standing. He was incredibly fast and I didn't stand a chance.

A few years later, around 1966-68, I was the Senior Local Government Officer for both East and West New Britain districts.

I was based in Rabaul and involved in the proposal to convert the Gazelle Peninsula Council into a multiracial body.

This became an instigating factor in the formation of the Mataungan Association and the unrest and troubles that ensued in the following years.

Some years later in 1974 I met the late Harley Dickinson (1938-2008) in Goroka.

Harley was an interesting figure who returned to Australia in 1976 to get a law degree and become assistant secretary of the Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers.

In 1982 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the Liberal member for South Barwon.

But back in 1974, we were both kiaps. When we met, Harley told me he’d read an article in an academic journal in which John had mentioned me as a main figure in the establishment of the new multiracial council that has caused so much trouble in the Gazelle.

John had been opposed to this development and, of course, he went on to become a senior politician in PNG and a diplomat of great distinction.

I’d like to get in touch with Sir John and would appreciate e it if someone would give me his contact details.

I'm writing my memoirs and if we can meet over a cup of coffee for a chat about rugby league and the PNG politics of the time it would be both an enjoyable and helpful encounter for me.

I contacted the PNG consulate in Brisbane but unfortunately they can't assist.

Perhaps PNG Attitude can do the trick.


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Ian Robertson

Sir John attended Clarrie Burke's memorial gathering on 21 February 2019. He was accompanied by his wife Leila Kaputin.

He informed the gathering that he was living in Brisbane at the time due to the availability of health care in Brisbane. Sorry, I have no idea what suburb they were living in at that time.

The two Kaputins living in WA are most likely the sons of Sir John and his first wife Christine Lake.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Will, according to the White Pages there's a J Kaputin in Western Australia (14 Mcguire Mews, Rockingham, 6168, Tel 0895282169).

If it's not John it might be a relative who can point you in the right direction.

Geoff Hancock

No responses to date, Will.

You could try messaging John's sons on Facebook.

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