Distinguished Service Award to Rev. Neville Threlfall – by Steven Gagau
At a recent Logohu Award Investiture Ceremony Rev. Neville Threlfall was honoured by the award of the Companion of the Star of Melanesia (CSM) for his distinguished services to Papua New Guinea (PNG), especially the New Guinea Islands Region, in the field of missionary work. It was awarded by the PNG High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency John Kali, on behalf of the PNG Government, Independent State of PNG and people of PNG.
The award ceremony was held at the PNG Consulate Office, Sydney on Friday, 17 March 2023. Present to witness the ceremony were Neville’s wife Margaret, Mrs Vavine Kali, PNG Consul Leo Oaeke, Jennifer Gagau and Steven Gagau.
It was indeed a great honour for the congregations of the Methodist/United Church he served in the New Guinea Islands of West New Britain, East New Britain and New Ireland Provinces and as Regional Secretary of the United Church’s New Guinea Islands Region. We are indebted to Rev. Threlfall for his great work in pastoral care and bible translations and his writings about the work and history of the early church and other influences in the New Guinea Islands region.
Rev. Neville Threlfall grew up in Western Australia and has been a minister since 1951, first of the Methodist Church and now of the Uniting Church in Australia. He went to PNG in 1961 to work for the Methodist Church and then the United Church there and in the
Solomon Islands. He was engaged in pastoral ministry at Nakanai in West New Britain, at Raluana and at Matupit Island in East New Britain, and at Kavieng on New Ireland. He also served as Regional Secretary of the New Guinea Islands Region of the United Church (1972–75 and 1979–80) and was engaged in literature and translation work. This included translation of the bible into Tinata Tuna (the language of the Tolai) and into Pidgin, and in historical research and writings. His late wife Roma supported him in all this work and taught in several schools. They returned to Australia in 1980, but Neville has made many working trips back to PNG after that.
His writings include the following:
One Hundred Years in the Islands: The Methodist/United Church in the New Guinea Islands Region, 1875–1975;
Mangroves, Coconuts and Frangipani: The Story of Rabaul;
Volcano Town: The 1937–43 Rabaul Eruptions, in collaboration with Dr Wally Johnson. (A sequel, Return to Volcano Town, is due to be published this year).
Edited: A Buk na Kakailai. A Hymn Buk in Tinata Tuna;
An Offering Fit for a King. The life story of Rev. Hosea Linge;
A Nilai ra Dovot (The Magazine of the New Guinea Islands Region).