PNGAA 68th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 28 April 2019, Address by Incoming President – MAX UECHTRITZ

It’s a privilege to be part of this association, part of this executive team (committee and sub-committees)—and to be entrusted with this role. I’m in awe of the personal blood, sweat and tears that so many people have put into PNGAA for so long—many in this room. It’s been (and is) the bond, the glue (the bridge) between the two countries we love. Something of a beacon—of respect and continuity in the relationship with PNG—where our governments and media have failed.
It’s been the guardian of history where many of our historians and institutions have failed. It’s been a brave and persistent agitator.
The Montevideo Maru campaign is a great example; PNGAA has helped provide comfort and closure to generations of families—an enormous effort, by so many, for so long.
PNGAA has been an educator, story teller and an archive, through Una Voce and its collection. Some of Australia’s greatest human triumphs and tragedies have happened in the country where you can walk or wade to at low tide. And those stories and experiences have been shared with Papua New Guineans. Shared, too, with the Chinese, the wonderful rainbow of nationalities that chose to make PNG their home from as far back as the mid-1800s.
So, PNGAA’s role is as critical as ever. We’ve got to keep telling the stories, keep unearthing new ones, keep recording them, archiving them, digitising them, making them accessible—for posterity. We’ve got to keep fostering and nurturing the relationship with PNG. We need to keep agitating —keep networking—keep at governments and institutions. No one else will. Despite everything, the rise of China, massive PNG population growth, the Australian media hasn’t lifted its gaze and game.
And I’m not telling you anything new when I say we need more members. So, personally, there is a lot for me to absorb and learn from all of you. I look forward (very much) to continuing the great legacy of PNGAA — and have fun doing so. ◆

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