Small Steps Along the Way
By Paul Oates
Download 'Small Steps Along the Way' by Paul Oates
PHIL FITZPATRICK WRITES:
I had the pleasure of editing this book by Paul Oates about his experiences as a kiap in the formative and crucial years just before independence. What struck me about Paul’s account are the similarities with my own experiences as a kiap. I don’t doubt that other old kiaps will make the same observation.
This commonality of experience is important to record, both in its mundanity and in its exceptionalism. The simple day-to-day activities of a kiap in Morobe can speak volumes, not only about how and why things were done but also about the overriding motives of the Australian administration and the ordinary Papua New Guineans who were effected.
The detailed descriptions Paul offers are unique to that period and will never be repeated. They range from building his own house and garden to the construction of bridges, roads and airfields. In every account there is a palpable sense of innovation and making do under an austere and ignorant hierarchy in Canberra.
There is also a profound sense of two disparate groups, expatriates and locals, working together hand-in-hand for a common cause. Paul’s easy-going relationships with the people he’s working among shines through his writing in a way that every old kiap and PNG lapun will recognise.
Apinun tru John,we seemed to have had similar aspirations in the cattle industry.
You should try my book 'Phascogales' about our efforts with Queensland Droughtmasters.
You can find a review and more details of Paul's third book, 'Phascogales and Other Tales: A Queensland Tree Change', here:
https://www.pngattitude.com/2020/06/the-art-of-tree-change.html - KJ
Posted by: Paul Oates | 10 January 2022 at 01:43 PM
Apinun Paul, reading your notes inspired me to make contact.
I remember meeting you in Wau when I was courting Sharon and now many years hence we produce tropical natural grass fed beef on the Atherton Tablelands, something we did in Central Province for 20 odd years.
But despite strong support from my colleagues, and friends in the RPNGC, we eventually got destroyed by the almost total lack of law and order.
Geoff Vaki, Andy Bawa, Paul van Stavren, Bruce Inch, Sam Inguba, David Tasion, Graham Inui and countless other loyal officers, NCOs and members did their best to maintain the rule of law we maintained before, during and for a diminishing number of years post Independence.
Like many of us I believe I have two homelands, but after 43 years service I now reside in the country of my birth, and think of the country of my heart!
Happy New Year.
Posted by: John D Mudge OL MBE MES CStJ Dip AO CTM | 10 January 2022 at 10:25 AM
Thanks for your comments Bob. When Phil prodded me into publishing some of my unpacked memories I expected a few 'ho hums' and not a lot else.
I'm delighted to be able to entertain someone else with some reflections from a half century ago that still seem like yesterday.
Before our fraternity completely disappears, my hope is that both the PNG people and Australians can get to know each other better and form a strong relationship based on our shared history.
We are after all, next door neighbours sharing an increasingly troubled world.
Posted by: Paul Oates | 31 May 2021 at 03:05 PM
Paul, what a memory your book has been. I too was in Lae in that same period. I worked at the National Bank of Australasia Limited from September 1971 until I returned just under two years later to Sydney, Australia.
The National Bank had just built a new Branch in Lae that I had the opportunity to move into shortly after I arrived.
One of my very close friends in Lae, was a kiap by the name of John Bradbury who worked at the Government Administration Office there. John was also a pilot and I flew with him a number of times out of Lae.
I have long left Australia, travelling to North America in September 1973 and then to Canada. 48 years later I am still in Canada however we did return to Australia in November 2017 for a remarkable 'home reunion'. Some of those names mentioned I remember as many of the places mentioned.
While in PNG I flew up to Ambunti in the Sepik for a week and then was in Mount Hagen and many times to the SIL Base at Ukarumpa.
Wonderful to read your delightful book.
Posted by: Bob Petras | 31 May 2021 at 12:49 PM