Obituaries Feed

The man who was there when PNG needed him

Peacock png
Andrew Peacock and Julius Chan, Sydney, 1980


NOOSA - Andrew Peacock, who has died aged 82, as Australia’s Minister for External Territories was instrumental in gaining Australian acceptance for independence in Papua New Guinea.

In 1972, then Australian prime minister William McMahon made Peacock, then aged 32, Minister for External Territories, a position that gave him responsibility for bringing Australia's colonial possession, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, to self-government.

Continue reading "The man who was there when PNG needed him" »

Australia records gratitude to Grand Chief

Hon Scott Morrison MP


Motion to acknowledge the life and service of the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare delivered in the Parliament of Australia by Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison on 16 March 2021, as recorded in Hansard.

CANBERRA - Mr Speaker, I move that this House acknowledge the passing on the 26th of February 2021 of Papua New Guinea Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and place on record its gratitude of his long-standing and respected relationship with Australia and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Continue reading "Australia records gratitude to Grand Chief" »

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare: a reflection

Paulini Mango
Pauline Wapen Mango, a third grader at Lahara Avenue School in Boroko, recited a poignant poem at one of Grand Chief Somare's haus krais


PORT MORESBY - The tears kept coming as I saw two elderly men - same age, same height - smile and hug each other tightly, as best friends do after missing each other for a long time.

And indeed, they were best friends – two of Papua New Guinea’s founding fathers, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Sir Julius Chan.

I was at Kavieng airport in New Ireland and they probably suspected this would be their last time to meet, then wave farewell forever.

Continue reading "Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare: a reflection" »

Convenor of famed Pacific lunch dies at 85

Over 840 issues between 1931 and 2000, Pacific Islands Monthly became the ‘bible’ of the South Pacific. In the mid-1960s it also spawned a famous lunch that outlived the magazine and continues to this day. Ruth Burleigh contributed greatly to upholding this tradition


SYDNEY – Ruth Jedlin Burleigh (née Palling), who died on 19 February, was born in Sydney in 1935. Her father was a teacher (later principal ) at the Scots College Junior School and the family lived on campus.

Ruth trained and worked as nurse at the Children’s Hospital until she married Steve Jedlin, whose family operated stock feed mills in Sydney and later Fiji.

Continue reading "Convenor of famed Pacific lunch dies at 85" »

Death of Dr Harry Beran: Oceania scholar

Dr Harry Beran interviewing residents of Egum Islet  Milne Bay  2017 (Luke Wong)
Dr Harry Beran interviewing residents of Egum Islet,  Milne Bay,  2017 (Luke Wong)


Dr Harry Beran was born in Vienna in 1935 and migrated to Australia in 1957. He obtained his PhD from the University of Sydney in 1974 and taught philosophy at the University of Wollongong until his retirement in 1998. Harry was a frequent visitor to Papua New Guinea and wrote numerous publications on its art. In particular he was a scholar, author and collector specialising in the Massim culture of Milne Bay Province - KJ

PARIS, FRANCE – We have lost a treasure, a library, a friend.

Early one morning in Cambridge, England, Harry Beran left us to go study the ancestors on that little island just beyond the horizon where we cannot see him anymore.

Little do the spirits there know what awaits them.

Continue reading "Death of Dr Harry Beran: Oceania scholar" »


| Academic Nomad

the sun did not rise as it used to
it knew it won’t shine on you
the heavens above mourned heavily
its tears rushing down streams
sweeping away all in its way
the clouds are low today
as if they want to get a glimpse of you
laying in your bed
to make sure it truly is true
that you are no more

Continue reading "Sana" »

Our Chief has gone: The Michael Somare I knew

Michael Somare talks to Cr Chris Gryllis of Orange and me (Ingrid Jackson)
Michael Somare talks to Cr Chris Gryllis of Orange and me at the PNG high commission in Canberra, 2009 (Ingrid Jackson)


NOOSA – The great nation of Papua New Guinea is in shock and in mourning following the death just after midnight yesterday of its founding father, Sir Michael Somare, long known as The Chief.

Somare was 84, a considerable age in PNG, but his mark on the nation he brought to creation seemed so indelible that he, like it, might last forever.

Continue reading "Our Chief has gone: The Michael Somare I knew" »

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare dies at 84

Michael Somare and Gough Whitlam on Independence Day  1975 (Whitlam Institute)
Michael Somare and Gough Whitlam on Independence Day,  1975 (Whitlam Institute)

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA – With the death of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare – the man who led Papua New Guinea to independence in 1975 and became Papua New Guinea’s longest-serving member of parliament – the Pacific has lost one of its most prominent and respected leaders.

Somare was born in 1936 in Rabaul, where his father was serving as a policeman in the colonial administration, but returned to his father’s home province of East Sepik at an early age.

Continue reading "Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare dies at 84" »

Eulogy in honour of the late Sir Mek

Mekere Morauta & James Marape
The late Sir Mekere Morauta and prime minister James Marape

| Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea | Edited

I delivered this short eulogy in honour of Rt Hon Sir Mekere Morauta at his funeral service on Friday. It is short and succinct. No amount of words can adequately describe this huge persona - JM

WAIGANI - I stand today sadly to offer tribute to this great man who selflessly gave his life in service to Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Eulogy in honour of the late Sir Mek" »

Marj Walker, respected Sogeri teacher, dies at 84

Marj Walker
Marj Walker and students pose outside the Sogeri High School Museum


NOOSA - Marjorie (Marj) Walker, a highly respected teacher at Sogeri national high school, died at Mount Waverley in Victoria on 31 December aged 84.

Marj was the head of expressive arts at Sogeri from 1972-85 and made a number of return visits to Papua New Guinea over the years including one in 2013 to meet former students.

Continue reading "Marj Walker, respected Sogeri teacher, dies at 84" »

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.

Continue reading "Vin Smith, one of the best, dies at 90" »

Loss of an outstanding leader: Sir Mek dies at 74

Sir Mekere Morauta
Sir Mekere Morauta - "Your People Mourn"


NOOSA – The Rt Hon Mekere Morauta KCMG (popularly known as Sir Mek), Papua New Guinea’s prime minister from 1999-2002 and regarded as one of its greatest constitutional and economic reformers, has died from cancer in Brisbane aged 74.

His wife, Lady Roslyn Morauta, released a brief statement saying, “It is with the deepest sadness that Roslyn and James Morauta announce that their much loved husband and father, Sir Mekere Morauta KCMG, died peacefully in Brisbane on Saturday 19 December”.

Continue reading "Loss of an outstanding leader: Sir Mek dies at 74" »

Death of General Michael Jeffery at 83

Marlena and Michael Jeffery
Marlena and Michael Jeffery

| President, Papua New Guinea Association of Australia

SYDNEY –A great Australian, former governor-general, Major-General Michael Jeffery AC GCL CVO MC, died on Friday at the age of 83.

General Jeffery had a close association with Papua New Guinea as the last Australian commanding officer of 2 PIR and as co-patron of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia (PNGAA) since 2003.

Continue reading "Death of General Michael Jeffery at 83" »

Commodore Sam Bateman's 'heart for the PNG Navy'

Commodore sam-bateman
Commodore Sam Bateman - a leading maritime strategist and friend of Papua New Guinea

| President, Australian Naval Institute | Edited

SYDNEY - On 18 October 2020 Commodore Sam Bateman AM, RAN passed away aged 82. He was one of the leading maritime strategists of his generation and has left a significant legacy.

During two stints in Papua New Guinea between 1967 and 1975, Sam was senior officer of the PNG Patrol Boat Squadron, where he knew Colonel Reg Renagi, and was later Naval Officer in Charge, Port Moresby, and Director of Maritime Operations in PNG.

Continue reading "Commodore Sam Bateman's 'heart for the PNG Navy'" »

For God, country or what? Kumaniel’s war

Nepe Kumaniel and familyDaughter Nancy (PNG meri blouse & fedora) & Nepe with family members, 14 August 2015. Nepe is survived by 5 children, 19 grandchildren, 29 greatgrandchildren and 1 great-greatgrandchild (left of Nancy)


FIFE, SCOTLAND - The Oral History Project of Papua New Guinea’s National Museum & Art Gallery and the Military Heritage Project are essentially a national search for common identity and, dare I say, a national consciousness, in a country where divisive diversity is the norm.

The former participates in this search through a blending of different stories while the latter does so through the preservation of the materiality of World War II.

Continue reading "For God, country or what? Kumaniel’s war" »

An adventurous and rich life – John Philip Fowke

John Fowke
John Fowke


BRISBANE - My father was a big man, a tall man, a loud man, a funny man. A man with many moods, many strengths, and the usual amount of weaknesses.

He asked me to officiate at his funeral party, and so that means here I am, struggling to express my thoughts about a life lived, a rich, adventurous life.

As I collated my thoughts in the days following his death, I was struck by how many people loved and respected my father, but also how many different people he was to others.

Continue reading "An adventurous and rich life – John Philip Fowke" »

Nahau Rooney: A life of achievement & controversy

Nahau Rooney
Nahau Rooney - worked to catalyse the constitutional promises of equality, participation and a focus on rural development

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Trailblazing, hardworking, audacious, always vivacious and at times controversial – some of the descriptions offered of Papua New Guinea and Manus pioneering woman in politics, Nahau Rooney, who passed away on Tuesday 15 September, aged 75.

Nahau Rooney was one of only three women elected at PNG’s first post-Independence elections in 1977 to its 109-member national parliament, where she served as the regional member for the province of Manus.

Continue reading "Nahau Rooney: A life of achievement & controversy" »

John Fowke, rough-hewn sage, dies at 81

John Fowke - astute critic and interpreter of the Papua New Guinean condition


NOOSA – John Fowke, an erstwhile contributor to PNG Attitude and forceful critic of what he (sometimes unfairly) perceived as humbug and banality, has died in Brisbane aged 81.

Fowke went to Papua New Guinea as a Cadet Patrol Officer aged 21 in April 1958.

In 1962 he changed career direction when he was appointed a Cooperatives Officer, working in the Goroka region.

Continue reading "John Fowke, rough-hewn sage, dies at 81" »

The suffering and death of Francis Nii

The late Francis Nii - showed us what was meant to be an authentic human being


KUNDIAWA - A giant has fallen, his sufferings and distress he has lived. He is gone to his Father’s House where there are many mansions.

It was Sunday 2 August that I visited Francis Nii for the last time at around 11.30 am.

I saw him in so much pain and with complications such that his survival looked grim.

Continue reading "The suffering and death of Francis Nii" »

A more pleasant fellow not to be found

Liz and Chenz at a reunion in 2011
Liz and Chenz at an ASOPA class  reunion in 2011


NOOSA – When the message circled the globe a few times and finally landed in my inbox it brought the gloomy news that Barry Whitby Vincent had died last Sunday. He would have been close to 80.

My immediate thought was of a young man with a friendly grin. A more pleasant fellow than Chenz not to be found.

Continue reading "A more pleasant fellow not to be found" »

Francis Nii, eminent literary figure, dies in Kundiawa


NOOSA – Francis Sina Nii, the author, publisher, mentor and literary innovator, whose promising career as a banker was cut short in a vehicle accident that rendered him a paraplegic but who became a towering figure in Papua New Guinea literature, died yesterday afternoon at the age of 57.

Francis had been in ill health for some months but surviving crises was not new to him as he had fought many battles in his three decades in his bed in the critical care ward of Kundiawa General Hospital.

From this unlikely location he wrote articles, and a novel, often with no technical assistance other than a mobile phone.

Continue reading "Francis Nii, eminent literary figure, dies in Kundiawa" »

The white man's ghost

Laurie Meintjes and family  1988
Laurie Meintjes and family, 1988


Laurie died on 15 July 2019 at his home in Cooranbong NSW. He was a kiap, teacher, writer and poet. This article, taken from his memoir ‘Pretzel Legs’, was published in PNG Attitude on 25 January 2011. There are copies of ‘Pretzel Legs’ available on e-bay, for example here

COORANBONG – He said he had never seen a White man's ghost and I told him he was lucky; that a White man's ghost is very bad business. His eyes widened.

It all began earlier that morning when I emerged from the hauskiap and saw the clay figurine glaring up at me through cowrie-shell eyes from the bottom step. Someone was meddling with my karma.

Continue reading "The white man's ghost" »

Trainer of kiaps Tim Terrell dies at 90

Tim Terrell and two local kiaps on the first course at Finschhafen Training Centre
Tim Terrell and two local kiaps on the first course at Finschhafen Training Centre, 1960


TUMBY BAY - Former kiap Tim Terrell AM died in Canberra last Tuesday at the age of 90.

His passing is significant in the history of Papua New Guinea because he established the first training centre for local kiaps at Gagidu near Finschhafen in 1959-60, assisted by another kiap, Peter Foldi.

Continue reading "Trainer of kiaps Tim Terrell dies at 90" »

Good people we lost: Our 2019 obituaries

BurkePNGAttitude's obituaries column does not purport to be comprehensive, but we always publish what is submitted as a permanent record of people, very often people known to us personally, who mostly had close links with Papua New Guinea. In this feature we have reduced the length of the tributes but provide a link to the original along with the writer's name - KJ


Clarrie Burke - teacher, academic, humanitarian / by the late Murray Bladwell

Continue reading "Good people we lost: Our 2019 obituaries" »

The day that Libby died

Ingrid at 65
Keith, Ingrid and Libby - we shared many good times and, with Libby coming from a family of restaurateurs, many good lunches


NOOSA - Ingrid’s mum Libby died early this afternoon.

Libby was 94, a venerable age, and had been in pretty good health until a fall,  two broken vertebrae and great pain compromised that about three weeks ago.

She was born in Prague in 1925, where her parents owned restaurants and lived a reasonably comfortable life until the Communists took over Czechoslovakia after World War II.

Continue reading "The day that Libby died" »

Death of veteran actor Albert Toro

Albert Toro with Elizabeth Tsitseka in the film ‘Tukana-Husait I Asua’
A recent photo of Albert Toro with Elizabeth Tsitseka, who played Lucy's mother in the film ‘Tukana - Husait I Asua’


DEVARE, BOUGAINVILLE - I was in the garden planting aibika last Wednesday when my sister approached and asked if I had heard the news.

When told me that Bougainvillean actor Albert Toro MBE had died, I was shocked and stared at her in disbelief.

My heart sank as I reflected on what Albert had contributed to Bougainville and Papua New Guinea and how he had mentored some of us. The tears fell from my eyes.

Continue reading "Death of veteran actor Albert Toro" »

RIP Murray Bladwell: Man of Simbu

The Brisbane Gang
The Brisbane Gang - Murray Bladwell at left with hands on Francis Nii's shoulders. These writers and their supporters ensured the PNG writers' appearance at the Brisbane Writers Festival was a roaring success


The funeral of Murray Bladwell, our dear colleague and a great friend of Papua New Guinea, will be held this coming Friday at 11am at Centenary Memorial Gardens, 353 Wacol Station Road, Sumner in Brisbane

KUNDIAWA - Death is part of the life cycle mankind must go through, but the passing of both a friend and a good person is an especially painful loss.

When I read Keith Jackson’s obituary about the passing of Murray Bladwell, shared by Robert Parer on his Facebook page, my heart stopped beating for some seconds.

Continue reading "RIP Murray Bladwell: Man of Simbu" »

My mate, Murray Bladwell, dies in Brisbane

Murray & Keith
How it always was - and how it always should be


NOOSA – Murray Bladwell, one of the loveliest men I have known, and our relationship had been close for 56 years, died in Brisbane this morning after a short illness.

At this moment in the cycle of grief, when a close friend has died suddenly, the mind struggles to sort the terrible reality from the expectation that such a staunch and solid figure will always be around.

Continue reading "My mate, Murray Bladwell, dies in Brisbane" »

ECG scientist James Wagiebu dies at 61

James Tawila Wagiebu
James Tawila Wagiebu - a pioneering medical technician whose death leaves a big gap in PNG's health service


PORT MORESBY - Hela has lost one of its most dedicated, committed and humble public servants with the death of James Tawila Wagiebu (1958–2019), the most qualified Papua New Guinean echocardiographer.

And, with his death, echocardiography services in PNG have come to a temporary halt as an urgent search for a replacement continues.

Continue reading "ECG scientist James Wagiebu dies at 61" »

Russell Kranz, evangelist & artist, dies at 94

Peter and Russell Kranz
Peter and Russell Kranz


NOOSA – Pastor Russell Kranz, who died yesterday at the age of 94, was a church leader, composer, choirmaster, talented watercolour artist - and a good man

His legacy is one of love and achievement.

He is also the father of PNG Attitude contributor, Peter Kranz, whose words have so often stirred and delighted readers of this blog.

Continue reading "Russell Kranz, evangelist & artist, dies at 94" »

Kiap, broadcaster, author: Graham Taylor dies at 90

Graham Andrea 2015
Graham Taylor with then PNG Association president Andrea Williams in 2015


ADELAIDE – Kiap and broadcaster Graham Taylor died on Sunday at the age of 90 after being afflicted with prostate cancer for more than 20 years.

Graham was a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea in the early post-war period, transferring to the ABC to produce its ‘native people’s program’ and establish 9RB Rabaul before continuing his career in Australia where he reached a senior level in the organisation as general manager for South Australia.

Continue reading "Kiap, broadcaster, author: Graham Taylor dies at 90" »

Howard Richards: Barngarla man rediscovered his own culture

Barngarla Elders 2007
Barngarla elders in 2007 - Eileen Crombie (Antakarinja advisor), Lorraine Dare, Howard Richards, Linda Dare, Harry Dare and Eric Paige


TUMBY BAY - They’re burying Howard Richards on Thursday. Howard was a Barngarla man from the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

He was part of the stolen generation, taken away from his family as a child to grow up in a boy’s home in Adelaide.

I worked with Howard and the Barngarla people on their native title claim for many years. Their lawyer, Philip Teitzel, died a few years ago.

Like Howard, many of the Barngarla had been taken away from their families as children and in the process lost their connections to their culture and their land. It’s a common story in Australia.

Working with Howard and the other Barngarla men and women on the native title claim was a learning experience for us all. Together we scoured old government records, anthropological works and old newspapers to re-discover Barngarla culture.

Continue reading "Howard Richards: Barngarla man rediscovered his own culture" »

William Adrian (Bill) McGrath – kiap & bibliophile – dies at 86


PORT MORESBY - Bill McGrath, who died on Tuesday after a long illness, went to Papua New Guinea on 16 April 1953 as a 20 year old cadet patrol officer - 66 years ago.

He later transferred to the Royal PNG Constabulary as a police officer before moving to the Lands Department under the renowned Ivan Champion where he was involved with the purchase of land for the Rouna hydro-electric scheme.

He also worked with Champion at the Land Titles Commission and was a consultant and adviser on land matters throughout the Pacific islands.

After leaving the public service he returned to PNG from time to time to advise mineral and petroleum exploration companies on land matters.

Continue reading "William Adrian (Bill) McGrath – kiap & bibliophile – dies at 86" »

Eric Tapakau – skilful communicator who loved Bougainville

Eric Tapakau
Eric Tapakau was deeply committed to the betterment of Bougainville and its people 

DENIKA SEETO | Communications Manager, Bougainville Copper Ltd

BUKA - Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) lost both a dear friend and esteemed colleague with the untimely passing of Eric Tapakau on 19 May after a brief illness.

Eric, 44, was a highly regarded member of our Bougainville team having joined the company in September 2017 as media and communications adviser.

As a testament to his capabilities and leadership, he was quickly promoted to a senior project officer position just four months later.

One of Eric’s great qualities was his natural affinity with people and his ability to effectively engage with those at all levels of the community. He was deeply committed to the betterment of Bougainville and its people and had earned widespread respect.

Those who knew him best, including former work colleagues and school friends, recall how people loved being in Eric’s company. He was warm and welcoming and, also possessed a quick wit and wicked sense of humour.

ET, as he was affectionately known, was able to lighten the mood of any room no matter the situation and it was often hard to keep a straight face when he was around. 

Continue reading "Eric Tapakau – skilful communicator who loved Bougainville" »

Dikana ‘Ten Gun’ Boge – great team man who never let you down

Dikana Boge
Dikana Boge - a great team man always firing on all barrels


BRISBANE - One of my most treasured possessions is a photo of the 1976 Kumuls and there, sitting next to me in the row at the front, is Dikana ‘Ten Gun’ Boge.

Dikana was five-eight and I was halfback, and we had also played in those positions for the Papua New Guinea Southern Zone representative rugby league team when we won the inter-zone championship that year. Although I say it myself, I think we were a great combination.

Dikana was fierce, fearless but almost always smiling.

When we last met in Hanuabada almost 14 months ago, it was an emotional reunion.

The ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program had decided that I should do one last TV program on Papua New Guinea and while we were in Port Moresby, Dadi Toka Junior arranged for us to catch up.

Continue reading "Dikana ‘Ten Gun’ Boge – great team man who never let you down" »

Doug Robbins dies - ex kiap & contributor to PNG Attitude

Doug Robbins
Doug Robbins - wherever he was, in Papua New Guinea, in his home town of Springwood or in PNG Attitude, a great contributor


NOOSA – I have been deeply saddened to learn of the death of Doug Robbins, a former patrol officer and, in recent years, a prolific contributor to PNG Attitude.

Doug died in Springwood in south-east Queensland on 8 May, his last article for the blog being published just last month.

Much of Doug’s writing was about the Northern (Oro) Province and the experiences of he and his wife Annette there in the 1970s.

What I did not fully appreciate was how Doug and Annette  had remained committed to that part of Papua New Guinea right up until his death.

Doug wrote on his Linked In page, “Since 2009 I have worked in a volunteer capacity with Gangai Kokona together with his associates in Port Moresby and his extremely efficient teams in the villages.

"Specifically this involves pursuing Gangai's passion for eco-enterprise for the people of PNG. I know Gangai's family and people from over 40 years ago.”

And Gangai has written: “Doug shares my passion for the protection of nature and all its providence, however his wealth of experience in outback eco-tourism surpasses anyone I have met.

Continue reading "Doug Robbins dies - ex kiap & contributor to PNG Attitude" »

How prime minister Bob Hawke became a PNG chief

Somare and Hawke
Grand Chief Michael Somare and Chief Bob Hawke in 2009 - became good friends establishing PNG's trade union movement and fighting for better public service wages


NOOSA – In 1966 I was transferred from my remote bush school in the highlands to Port Moresby to edit the school magazines.

At this time the headquarters of government in Papua New Guinea was an untidy collection of wartime army huts in the harbourside suburb of Konedobu.

In one of these was located the Education Department’s publications unit, of which I was a member, and right next door was the colonial Administration’s industrial relations office.

This office was one of Bob Hawke's bases during his PNG union days.

At the time he was the man responsible for wage arbitration in the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

It was an influential role and a stepping stone to the leadership of the ACTU, Australia’s peak union body, of which he was to become president in 1969 and from where he achieved high public profile and, eventually, the prime ministership.

Continue reading "How prime minister Bob Hawke became a PNG chief" »

John Neitz, respected senior educator in colonial PNG, dies at 84

John Neitz in PNG
John Neitz spent 16 years as an educator in PNG, rising to the rank of superintendent

KEITH JACKSON | From Jason Nitz

SOUTHPORT, QLD - John Desmond Neitz was born on 22 June 1934 at Torwood in Brisbane and spent his childhood in the Currumbin valley on dairy farms operated on a ‘share’ basis by his parents.

He was educated at The Beeches State School, Currumbin State School, Southport State High School and Brisbane State High School.

After high school, John entered the teachers’ training college at Kelvin Grove in Brisbane and, in 1954-55, undertook a physical education diploma course at Queensland University.

He was posted to Kragra, near Chinchilla in Queensland, and in 1957 to Palm Island off the Queensland coast near Townsville. Here he befriended triple certificate nurse Dell Jackson, but she moved to Melbourne and John decided to pursue his career in Papua New Guinea.

But Dell was not to disappear and, on 16 December 1961, John was to marry her at St James Anglican Cathedral, Townsville.

In the 16 years between 1958 and 1974, John was first a teacher and then an administrator in the PNG Education Department.

He taught at Yangoru, Pagwi and Brandi Junior High School in the Sepik District, Malabunga Junior High near Rabaul and Milfordhaven Primary School in Lae. This was followed by various postings as an inspector of schools, district education officer and later to the high rank  of superintendent.

Continue reading "John Neitz, respected senior educator in colonial PNG, dies at 84" »

Angra Bill Standish & Simbu: We remember our good friend

Bill memorial
A memorial for Bill Standish will be held in Canberra this coming Monday. Instead of flowers, the family wishes that donations be made to Médecins Sans Frontières at


KUNDIAWA - It was no ordinary hauskrai. Under the mango tree at the Riverside Hotel it was special.

Special because there was much laughter, and fun, and also solemn moments. Young and old came from far off places in Simbu – many of them I knew, others I had never met. They were all friends of Bill Standish.

Angra Bill’s brothers and sisters. His namesake and his wife Sue’s namesake from Mindima village came. We all came together to celebrate the life of a great mate, a teacher, a mentor, a brother, a father and a namesake.

Bill Standish’s good friend Steven Gari came with his family from Asaro in the Eastern Highlands Province. They brought with them a big pig for the celebration.

Others came with vegetables, bananas, avocados, bread, frozen meat and more - everybody brought something for the barbecue. There was lots of food.

We displayed a blue trampoline as a sign of a true hauskrai. But unlike the usual crying house in Papua New Guinea that can go on for many days, this hauskrai only lasted just four hours.

Grown men broke down before they uttered a word and others who assembled could not hold back their tears.

We live in a society where emotions are never far from breaking point, especially at gatherings like this where we mourn the departure of loved ones.

Continue reading "Angra Bill Standish & Simbu: We remember our good friend" »

The death of Dr Bill Standish is a great loss to Simbu

Bill Standish
Bill Standish


KUNDIAWA - I have been emailed by my friends at the Australian National University that the academic, Dr Bill Standish, died in bed two days ago.

He was a great friend of Simbu and Papua New Guinea and this is a great loss to me and many good people in Simbu who knew him closely.

He had been involved in Simbu for nearly 50 years and we are putting up a hauskrai at my home or at the Riverside Motel in Kundiawa.

Bill had written so much on the Simbu, particularly on its elections and politics, since 1972.

Continue reading "The death of Dr Bill Standish is a great loss to Simbu" »

Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko – pioneering gender academic

Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko 2
Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko

CATHY KEIMELO | Gender in PNG Research Program

PORT MORESBY – As a teacher, advocate, mentor and silent achiever, the late Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko (1950-2018) will be remembered for her contributions to the advancement of women in Papua New Guinea.

Hailing from Wagawaga in the Milne Bay Province, Anne was born on 15 May 1950, the fourth child of five children to Osineru and Doreen Dickson.

From humble beginnings as a six-year-old school girl at Kwato Mission, Anne continued at Port Moresby High School and later attained a Diploma in Secondary Teaching at Goroka Teachers College.

From 1971 to 1973 she taught at Kilakila High School, during this time marrying John Kaniku, also a teacher, and had two sons.

Juggling motherhood and work, in 1974 Anne joined the University of Papua New Guinea as a professional assistant in social science at the Teaching Methods Centre. Concurrently, she studied part time for a Bachelor of Arts, graduating with first class honours.

Continue reading "Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko – pioneering gender academic" »

Former PNG national court judge Jeffrey Miles dies at 84

Jeffrey Miles
Former ACT Chief Justice Jeffrey Miles (Rohan Thomson)

RICHARD REFSHAUGE | Canberra Times | Extract

You can link to the full obituary here

CANBERRA - A common stereotype of a judge is of a distant authoritarian who imposes severe prison sentences, often accompanied by a tongue-lashing.

While the Honourable Jeffrey Miles AO, the Australian Capital Territory’s second chief justice, who died on 11 February aged 84, could and did impose long sentences when deserved, his love of nature, his commitment to social justice and his devotion to his family showed that this eminent citizen and jurist was more human - and humane - than the stereotype.

He made a really substantial contribution to his family, his friends and to the Australian community.

Continue reading "Former PNG national court judge Jeffrey Miles dies at 84" »

Graham Pople dies in Cairns – one of PNG’s first elected MPs

First suits
New MPs John Pasquarelli, Simogun Pita, Sinake Giregire and Graham Pople show off their new suits - tailored free of charge to wear in parliament - soon after their election to PNG's first House of Assembly in 1964


TOWNSVILLE – My long friendship and onetime political partnership with Graham Pople MBE has ended. My old buddy died in Cairns earlier this month.

He was 83 and had been ill for some time.

Graham and I were amongst Papua New Guinea’s first parliamentarians democratically elected on a common roll.

PNG’s first election, involving the entire adult population of the then Australian territory, was held in February-March 1964, 55 years ago.

Graham Pople, Keith Tetley, Keith Levy, Barry Holloway and I were five white men elected to what were described as parliament’s ‘open seats’ (that is, open to all comers, black, white or brindle).

The House of Assembly was a 100-member chamber which, apart from open seats, had ‘special seats’ reserved for expatriates and ‘official seats’ reserved for white bureaucrats appointed by the Australian Administration.

Continue reading "Graham Pople dies in Cairns – one of PNG’s first elected MPs" »

Death of 'the missionary with a compassionate heart'

Fr Adrian Meaney
Fr Adrian Meaney MSC

STEVEN GAGAU with Keith Jackson

SYDNEY - It is with great sadness that I share the news that Rev Fr Adrian Meaney MSC passed away aged 85 around 11:00pm on Thursday night last week.

Adrian was ordained together with his brother Basil in Brisbane on 29 June 1961.

He spent many years in the Northern Territory, especially in Alice Springs, and also many years in Papua New Guinea, especially in Bereina and Port Moresby, including work for the Papal visit in 1995 for the beatification of Peter To Rot.

Known as "the missionary with a compassionate heart,” his principal focus in more recent years was the MSC Mission Office in Sydney, which he founded to help the poor in developing countries with potable water, medicine for TB and HIV patients as well as scholarships for children.

Adrian visited and worked in 60 countries. Among the many other activities, he directed a 10-day retreat and workshop for parish and prayer leaders of the Marshall Islands in 2008.

Continue reading "Death of 'the missionary with a compassionate heart'" »

Gus Bottrill OAM dies at 94 – a splendid man in war & in peace

Bottrill & Michael
Gus Bottrill receives his OAM from Dr Ken Michael, Governor of Western Australia, in 2008


NOOSA - When Angus Matheson ‘Gus’ Bottrill was awarded the OAM in September 2008, the citation read “for service to the indigenous community, particularly through research and assistance with land title claims”.

It could have gone much further because as a soldier, kiap, court officer and advocate for the rights of indigenous people, he was a man of high values and exceptional dedication to his fellow humans.

Gus Bottrill has died in Perth at the grand age of 94. I knew him only in Rabaul in 1970, when he was a kiap engaged fully in the civil unrest at the time – a stocky man of avuncular demeanour and unflappable disposition.

Those times, which ended in the murder of a district commissioner, unsettled us all. For Bottrill, they would also have offended his sense of propriety about how human relationships should be conducted.

World War II broke out in 1939 and, as a student at Christian Brothers College in 1941, along with his mates Terry Murray and Ted Fitzgerald, Bottrill joined the air cadets. When they all turned 18 in 1942, his mates joined the RAAF and were killed as air crew gunners in Europe.

Continue reading "Gus Bottrill OAM dies at 94 – a splendid man in war & in peace" »

Jon Bartlett, patrol officer 1963-81 – a life of family, friends & fun

Jon Bartlett
Jon Bartlett - a good life

COLIN MIDDLETON | Edited extracts

NEWCASTLE NSW - Jon Bartlett was a country boy from Wagga, whose family antecedents were Irish and Chinese.

Asked why he spelt his name without the ‘h’ of ‘John’, he said he liked swimming and was an admirer of Jon Henricks, the Australian Olympic and world swimming champion and changed the spelling of his name to match.

Jon was a self-effacing and caring family man of considered thought. He loved music, food, cooking, beer, fun and laughter. He had a keen sense of humour and had an infectious laugh.

After school, Jon worked for a time with the Dalgety wool company in Wagga. He enjoyed his time with them in the saleyards which taught him many things about stock and especially working dogs.

Jon joined the Papua New Guinea Administration in the last permanent patrol officer intake of 1963 – probably completing the one month ASOPA course before a month-long orientation in Port Moresby before his initial posting to the Kainantu Sub District.

Continue reading "Jon Bartlett, patrol officer 1963-81 – a life of family, friends & fun" »