The Kiaps Compendium – Part 5: And then it was all over
The end of another era
Through the eyes of a Kiap, Bill Johnston
By 1975, kiaps like me were becoming a dying breed. These men had brought the country to the stage of law and order, introduced cash cropping, Co-operative Societies, Local Government Councils and encouraged some of the older leaders to become politicians. The men, who had respected and encouraged the decent and hard working citizens and established many a solid friendship with the indigenous people, and the men and women who had led by example and knew the strengths and weaknesses of the local societies, were labelled the old fashioned colonialists.
Some of these people opted out of the system. Others, realising they were out-numbered and had no hope of changing the direction being taken, paid lip service to what was happening. Others did the bidding of their political masters and some, seeing personal advantage in the new direction, gave it their whole-hearted support. A few, like myself did, to their best, the technical, non-political, non policy making duties to which they had been appointed.
When I arrived in Port Moresby in 1946, the then Administrator, Colonel Murray, and his wife had welcomed the four new Patrol Officers with afternoon tea and drinks at Government House. After thirty years, I have put my life on the line many times and Nance and I had given freely of our spare time to make the country a little better for us having been there. Nance with Native Women’s Clubs, the Girl Guide Movement, the Country Women’s Association, the Parents’ and Citizens’ Association, teaching Home Economics at a high school and myself with the Red Cross, Social Clubs, Parent’s and Citizens, the RSL, Sports’ Clubs and the Boy Scout Movement to name a few. We boarded the departing aircraft the same as a person who had been a casual tourist, to my knowledge, none of my colleagues were treated any differently. I honestly did not expect anything different as so many had departed before us that one more departure meant nothing. Qantas recognised us and gave us farewell gifts.
And so ended what had been an interesting and at times, an enjoyable experience. The hardships became blurred with the passing of time, the good memories remain clear. There possibly will never be a similar period in history that will be available for a person of my background to experience what I did. I consider that Nance and I were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live the life we did and as a member of the Anglican faith pointed out to a mission lay worker – ‘we should be grateful to the people that they were there for us to do what we did and not to expect any gratitude from those people we thought we were helping.