The access road to the proposed Panguna minesite was the locus of most of the resistance action by landowners in 1969. At the copper company's insistence the colonial Administration began to harden its stance on forcing the people to comply
BILL BROWN MBE
THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - I thought Administrator David Hay’s decision to send a ‘welfare group’ - a team of outsiders – to visit Panguna for a week or two in May 1967 was extraordinary.
He told the Canberra bureaucrats that their task was to seek “further information about the people’s views and attitudes and the possibility of improving the Administration’s image.”
What made his statement bizarre was that only six weeks earlier he had directed Patrol Officer John Dagge and me to ignore the people’s protests and escort personnel from mining company CRA across the Kawerong River.
He must have realised that operation would have besmirched the Administration’s image beyond repair.
During the following weeks the villagers vented their displeasure. On a single night the wooden pegs that had been precisely positioned by surveyors around the Moroni hillside in a week-long operation were removed and dumped at Barapina on what we termed the parade ground.
Up the road at Panguna, a stack of cement posts was smashed to pieces in an overnight raid and dumped on CRA’s doorstep.
To the south of Panguna, at Deomori, Marist Father Woeste was accused of helping CRA and told that, as his mission station was on native land, he should follow the people’s wishes or get out.
The people around Panguna were still seething in the last week of May, when Terry Daw (1), Judy (JK) Peters (2) and Lukas Waka (3) arrived in Kieta to carry out the Administrator’s task of ‘improving the Administration’s image’.