Management Committee Update

2024 began at pace for the PNGAA Management Committee which had its inaugural meeting on 10 January with members hooked in from Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia!

The following week members received a letter urgently requesting volunteers for several gaps on the committee to be filled, to ensure the sustainability of the PNGAA operations.

Editor’s Resignation

John Egerton AM cost of

In December, John Egerton advised that he needed to relinquish the role after the March 2024 issue. John joined the editorial team for the December 2020 issue of PNG Kundu and will have edited fourteen of the quarterly issues of PNGAA’s magnificent journal, working with Production Manager, Jeannette Gilligan. We all know what an extraordinarily informative and entertaining read these pages are.

PNGAA is incredibly grateful to John’s passion, skill and endless efforts resulting in a highly-acclaimed international journal, regularly passed around and receiving praise. His insights on the committee are regularly sought and valuable and, together with wife, Robin, he is a good friend to us all.

We also acknowledge all the lovely comments that regularly come in about the journal. John has done an outstanding job for which we are truly grateful and we thank him.



New Editor & Secretary

Happily, we are delighted to announce that Christine Leonard (née Wall) will take on the editor’s role for the association. Christine was born in Rabaul and lived on Bougainville for many years. She has regularly attended the annual July lunch in Brisbane so put the date in your diary (28 July) and come along and meet her!

Christine will continue to be supported by Jeannette Gilligan, who does the wonderful production layout in each journal, and also Claire van Bakel, from Victoria, who has also been assisting, behind the scenes, on the PNGAA website.

Jane Rybarz kindly responded to our request for a replacement Public Officer. This is another one of those important ‘behind the scenes’ role for any association and we are grateful for Jane’s professional background and keen interest to be involved.

It’s very exciting to have these women on board assisting the PNGAA to continue running smoothly, and we thank them enormously whilst looking forward to working together.

Kylee Andersen has stepped into the Secretary/Admin role with a bucketful of fresh ideas and an enthusiasm that is an absolute delight to share. (See more HERE)

Whilst there is a lot of expertise on the Management Committee, the PNGAA urgently needs to fill two important voluntary roles—President and Events Co-ordinator (Sydney Area Environs).

Our association is unique and its main goal is to strengthen the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The only way an amazing association like ours succeeds is through the passionate, proactive and generous efforts of its volunteers! It’s a great team. Being flexible and a team player is vital. Please put your hand up! Contact Kylee or Andrea

January 2024 Committee Meeting

At the recent committee meeting we were inspired to hear from Membership Officer, Roy Ranney, that our membership is increasing! Just as we like it! A big, warm welcome to all new members! One of the great attributes of our association is the broad background of each of PNGAA’s members and the incredible knowledge base connecting PNG and Australia. So, keep talking our association up to encourage new memberships, and keep sending in your anecdotes and stories. All are welcome!

Many topics were discussed at the meeting, including selecting a speaker for the AGM on 5 May in Sydney; proposed Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status; the past and future budget (yes, some things are necessary!), which was clearly and concisely presented by Murrough Benson, and various aspects of the rapidly growing PNGAA Collection so capably handled by Cheryl Marvell.

There has been work on the website photo galleries with thanks to Roy Ranney and Claire van Bakel and, in November, PNGAA doubled the capacity of the website (which also enhanced performance) in a three-year package taking the association through to August 2026. The recent increase in subscription rates should address the underlying shortfall in funding to meet general operating expenses.

PNGAA Scholarship Fund

Potentially expanding the PNGAA Scholarship Fund has also been discussed. PNGAA supports continuing sponsorship of the current six students at Anguganak Junior High School for the 2024 school year on the same basis as in 2023; i.e., meeting the portion of their school fees not covered by the PNG Government as well as the cost of their books. We thank Glenda Giles, our representative in Wewak, and all donors to the scheme.

Coincidentally, on 10 January 2024 the PNG Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, announced that the PNG Government’s allocation for school fee assistance in 2024 would see a significant boost to K856.686 million [A$346.731m], marking an increase of K88.846 million[A$36m] from the 2023 allocation of K767.84 million. It is not yet confirmed, however, when the schools will be receiving the assistance which might vary from school to school.

PNGAA New Members

The committee welcomes the following new members: Anita Glenn, Pat Gray, Alex Harris, Ian Howie-Willis, Robyn Kemp, Gina Koczberski, Tempe MacGowan, Ann Mallard, Scott O’Reilly, Karen Paxton, Janet Pendrigh, Deborah Ritchie, Bob Schulz, John William Spillane Snr, Janet Watt (née McDonough) & Dianne Wellington.

PNGAA Website

Roy Ranney updated the committee on the large job involved in updating the PNGAA website. Late in 2023 our Membership Management Program on the website started making changes to programs which adversely affected the functionality of the website. PNGAA then acquired a new system, called MemberPress, which was installed on the website in December.

Following that, the entire database had to be migrated across to the new system. At the same time the membership rates for all members needed changing, and this occurred over the Christmas break. There were some early bugs which proved tricky for installation, but almost everything has now been resolved. The new program is significantly more comprehensive with better support than the old system. And did you know that members can contact other members through the membership area of the website?

We thank those members who were caught up during the changeover for their patience. And the PNGAA thanks Roy Ranney for endless hours sorting this out.

Dinners with a King and the Australian Prime Minister

2023 was a tremendous year for those connected with the Rabaul & Montevideo Maru Group. Following the expedition that found the ship after 81 years, Silentworld Foundation sponsored two dinners in November 2023 held in Oslo and Canberra, to honour the lost men, to launch two short films by Max Uechtritz, to present specially designed medals from Silentworld Foundation and to present the final complete dossier of the search expedition to each country.

John Mullen from Silentword speaking at the Oslo function

PNGAA congratulates Max Uechtritz on the production of the films, which were deeply emotional, highlighting the tragedy of the Montevideo Maru and the many descendant families touched by it across the nations, whilst also describing the search using some of the most sophisticated technology and machinery in the world.

Max Uechtritz and Andrea Williams were privileged to represent the PNGAA and attend these events as members of the Silentworld Foundation Expedition Team, which located the wreck of the Montevideo Maru in April 2023.

Andrea Williams spoke on behalf of the descendants at the dinner at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, following speeches by the Prime Minister, the Chief of Army and John Mullen. Photos for these functions courtesy of Silentworld Foundation.

And now…

The turmoil in PNG during January has been very disappointing, and we are thinking about how these underlying issues could be improved. Good relations and understanding between Australia and PNG are crucial and this is where the PNGAA can play a part.

PNG Fiftieth Anniversary

With PNG’s Independence milestone anniversary in 2025—yes, that’s next year—we ask everyone to think about how PNGAA could acknowledge this milestone and celebrate achievements of the Australian era in PNG up to 1975, together with the ongoing relationship. And how members—you—might help. Please email referring to ‘50th Anniversary’.

AGM Guest Speaker

Finally, PNGAA has invited a speaker from DFAT to the AGM in Sydney on 5 May to speak about our contemporary relationship with PNG, and to answer a few questions. It is more pertinent than ever with the current troubles in PNG and the 50th anniversary of independence in 2025 and we believe this will be of great interest.

Further information will be provided prior to the AGM.

Dear PNG Kundu Readers

This is my last note to you as the editor of our journal. The diversity of stories we have published has, I hope, properly reflected the range and richness of the PNG experience.

As I bid farewell to the editor’s chair, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to this vibrant publication. Putting together each edition has been full of challenges but, I hope, it has resonated with you, our readers. Anything I have achieved over three years has been part of a humble attempt to give back to a country and its broader community something in return for its enrichment of my life and career.

In leaving, I acknowledge, with gratitude, our ever-patient production manager, Jeannette Gilligan, the meticulous proofreaders, Murrough Benson and Andrea Williams, the support of the Management Committee and, of course, the contributors of all the stories.

Please treat the incoming editor with the same tolerance and understanding so that PNG Kundu can continue to beat out its messages.

John Egerton AM

Archivist’s Corner

Some Items Received Since the Last Report

  • The last of George and Edna Oakes’s books and artefacts were picked up by Ross and Pat Johnson from Dubbo and entered into the collection.
  • Diaries and personal slides from Archibald and Joanne Dixson who arrived in TPNG in 1951 where he was a mechanic and she a midwife. These items tell the story of how they met and of their time in PNG.
  • Photo album of the visit of Ester and William Harrison—members of the Burke Road Methodist Church, East Malvern, Victoria—to PNG 1922. Donated by Gwenda Smith née Hansen (granddaughter).
  • Black and white photos taken by Lance William Hageman between 1950 and 1959 donated by his daughter Kerry Johnson.
  • Assorted documents donated by John Goad—calendars and personal slides and Super 8 movies.
  • Anne Peters from Rabaul has sent in a CD of music.
  • John Egerton forwarded the books sent to the editor of PNG Kundu for review.
  • Four cartons of books from Mike Lean who passed them on from an old mate, Guy Potts, who has entered a care facility.
  • Jan Smythe donated two reels of a large format 16mm movie, The Mendi—Parts 1 and 2. This is a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation production and part of the series, The Nature of Things. First broadcast in 1974, and directed by Nancy Archibald, the program recorded some of the ancient culture and lifestyle of the Mendi people.

Does any reader have any information about the making of this program?

The list above is not exhaustive: other items have been received and not catalogued. Others are in the negotiation stage.

(Mob)  0438 636 132


Christine was born in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, and apart from two years at Cutarp Plantation on New Britain in the early 1960s, she lived in Bougainville until 1981. Her first job after finishing Year 12 in Australia was working in the district local government office in Kieta, reporting to Danny Duggan. A large part of Christine’s working life was in community development and international aid projects in the Asia Pacific Region with a special focus on PNG and the Pacific.

Christine has been a member of the PNGAA for the best part of a decade and attends functions in Brisbane when she can. She maintains close contact with people in Bougainville, returning there regularly until 2017.

A recent project saw Christine editing, and contributing additional stories to the memoir of the late Fr Franz Miltrup SM, a Marist priest who spent 50 years in Bougainville from 1938. She is drawn to social history and loves reading true stories set in PNG.

KYLEE ANDERSEN: Our New Secretary

A woman of Australian nationality, Kylee has a diverse heritage stemming from her Irish, German, Papua New Guinean and Filipino ancestors.

Her maternal grandmother was born on Aua Island in the Western Islands, while her grandfather hailed from the Morobe Province. Her grandparents’ journey began in 1922 when they were entrusted to the care of the Society of Divine Word Missionaries’ (SVD) Alexishafen Mission. In 1937, they exchanged vows in the Alexishafen Cathedral, which unfortunately fell victim to bombing during World War II.

In 1944, Kylee’s grandparents and their two eldest children were taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese. They were transported on the Yorishime Maru (Dorish Maru) and miraculously survived an attack by American bombers.

After spending a decade at the SVD’s Queensland headquarters in Marburg, the family returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the request of Bishop Leo Arkfeld SVD. Kylee’s grandfather was appointed as the production manager of the Marienberg Sawmill in the East Sepik Province.

Japanese destroyer, Akikaze

In 1943, Kylee’s maternal great-grandfather, who was of European ancestry, was executed by the Japanese on the destroyer, Akikaze.

 Kylee’s extraordinary upbringing took place in Marienberg and later Angoram, situated along the Sepik River, under the care of her grandparents, Pedro and Marie Babao. Eventually, her parents, Marie (née Babao) and Robert Magin, brought her back to Port Moresby for primary education at St Joseph’s Primary School. In 1984, they made the decision to relocate to Australia.

 Throughout her career, Kylee worked as a paralegal within law enforcement agencies, specialising in electronic document management and litigation support. She recently stepped down from her position at Living Child Inc., a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing maternal health services and training to traditional birth attendants and community health workers in the East Sepik Province of PNG. This region holds a special place in Kylee’s heart.

Aside from her professional pursuits, Kylee’s interests revolve around her three grandsons, gardening and her passion for collecting Oceanic art.

For the past two decades, she has dedicated her time to researching her family history, particularly focusing on vintage Papua New Guinea and German New Guinea.

Yorishime Maru victims’ memorial
at Alexishafen Cemetery

This led her to discover the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia (PNGAA) and closely follow their activities and collections. When an administration position became available, Kylee felt a strong calling to contribute to preserving the bond between the two countries and guiding the next generation to the Association.

Kylee’s plan is to assist the Committee, and members of the PNGAA in implementing modern governance and efficient business administration practices within the organisation


Worked for Burns Philp in Popondetta and Port Moresby from 1980 through 1987

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