Celebrating PNGAA’s 70th Anniversary with a Tropical Christmas Lunch ANDREA WILLIAMS
Fifty guests enjoyed mingling and chatting at PNGAA’s celebration of its seventieth anniversary and its annual Christmas Lunch on Sunday, 5 December 2021. Whilst a smaller number than usual, following months of lockdown in Sydney due to COVID, the spirit was even more buoyant.
PNGAA President Chris Pearsall welcomed everyone, including special guest, Roxanne Pouru, President of the PNG Sydney Wantok Association, and wished the beautiful and delightful Libby Cadden a very happy 105th birthday for 9 December.
Following a delicious lunch Roxanne, who specialises in community consultation and engagement, explained how the work of the Sydney Wantok Association helps PNG students assimilate into the community in Australia, and how valuable the Australian/PNG network is as our associations all work together. Together with former president of the
Sydney Wantok Association and former PNGAA Management Committee Member, Steven Gagau, PNGAA’s current committee hopes to expand this vision with Roxanne and other affiliated associations.
The PNGAA was also pleased to be able to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of this unique association, and during the year editor of PNG Kundu, John Egerton, had delved deeply into the association’s history to find out about PNGAA’s founding committee and its early days. Reading this story in the December 2021 issue of PNG Kundu is intriguing! John kindly shared some of this research with guests at the lunch.
It often happens that we know little about the varied background of some of our members and what inspired their own lives in PNG, and so John was asked to share some of his own background. John was enticed to PNG with his first job after completing veterinary science at university. He began working with pigs and became involved with Sir Edward Hallstrom’s challenging sheep project at Nondugl in the Wahgi Valley.
John expanded on the fascinating backgrounds about those who saw the huge need for the PNGAA (then called the Retired Officers’ Association of Australia), and were inspired to formalise it. Seventy years later here we are! An Australian/PNG national organisation with a geographically and professionally broad network of people who come together because our lives have been forever touched by living or having an interest in PNG. We thank John for his interest and tenacity in ensuring the association has its early history on record.
What is important now though, as John emphasised, is our future relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, including the Pacific islands. PNGAA’s Management Committee will have a focus on this as we move forward.