Vale June 2004

BAKER, Graeme | BOURNE, Neville | CHARLES, Alan  | CHIVERALL, John Arthur,COLEMAN, Frank Robert | DROVER, Dr Donald | DUTTON,  William “Bill” | HUGGINS, DenisKNIGHT, StanleyLANG, Malcolm “Mal” | MANN, LadyMcGRATH, DavidNITSCHE, FloraPALMER, Gwen Esther | SIAGURU, Sir AnthonySTEVENSON, BeatriceTOMASETTI, William Thomas,WALKER, Muriel | 


Graeme BAKER (21 February 2004, aged 61)

Graeme went to PNG in 1967 to work in the Department of Primary Industry as an Entomologist. His first posting was to Popondetta where he was involved with the outbreak of the Pantorhytes weevil on the Soldier and Smallholder Settlements in the Northern Province and some in the East New Britain area. He also worked in the Milne Bay, Morobe and Western Highlands Provinces, mainly on grasshoppers and other pests.

He commenced work as a locust and grasshopper entomologist with the Department of Agriculture, NSW, at the Biological and Chemical Research Institute, Rydalmere in 1975 and remained there until its closure in 1997.

Graeme recorded the history of all outbreaks of plague locusts and wingless grasshoppers in NSW. He had incubation rooms in the Institute where he bred parasites and recorded information on their behaviour, etc. He was well known for his research work on the effect of parasitic nematodes on grasshopper populations in Australia. Graeme was at all times very conscious of the environment, although not entirely against aerial spraying of insecticides; he was aware of the damage it could cause. He was principal and co-author of over 30 advisory publications, for one of which, a book on Scelio, the publishers were awarded the Warkley Award for the best scientific book of the year. Graeme was also invited to many countries around the world to present papers on his findings.

Graeme’s other interests included art – he enjoyed painting for relaxation, was a good photographer, loved writing short stories and had a wide interest in real estate. A valued committee member of PNGAA, Graeme also designed the cover on our book Tales of Papua New GuineaJoe Nitsche and Ray Pigott

Neville BOURNE (12 May 2004)

Neville, a former Member of Parliament, passed away in Port Moresby. He became the Member for Menyamya in 1982 and held that seat for two terms. He also had the position of Minister for Transport.


Alan CHARLES (7 March 2004, aged 78)

Alan was born and educated in Goulburn, NSW. He won a Department of Agriculture cadetship, earned his BScAgr with first class honours from Sydney University in 1948, and won an award to earn his MSc from Cambridge. While he was studying in England his fiancée, nursing sister Gwen Guymer, went over to join him and they were married in Cambridge.

Alan returned to work for two years as an agronomist with the NSW Dept of Agriculture before going to PNG in 1953 as Economic Botanist in DASF. In his 18 years service with DASF he rose to the position of Assistant Director (Research and Surveys), and was acting Director on a number of occasions. He built up and improved the research capabilities of his division and contributed significantly to the crop development programs that assisted both smallholder and plantation production and the introduction of new industries in tea, sugar, oil palm and pyrethrum. Outside work hours he was active in the formation and development of the Boroko Baptist Church and MAPANG missionary guesthouse.

Returning to Australia in 1971 he served the rest of his career with CSIRO in Canberra, rising to the position of Manager, Policy and Planning, of the Institute of Animal and Food Production and Processing, responsible for more that 1500 staff, including more than 500 scientists. He retired about 1990. In recognition of his outstanding work in agriculture and research administration, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology.

In his retirement he gave rein to his sense of adventure in several demanding trips, hiking in the Himalayas, to Macchu Pichu in the Andes, and through the mountains of Patagonia (at age 77!); white water rafting in Africa; and cycling 800km through southern China.

He is survived by his wife Gwen, two daughters, a son and eight grandchildren. Arthur Charles


John Arthur CHIVERALL (20 April 2004, aged 68)

John was with the Department of Education in Port Moresby, later moving to Brisbane. John is survived by his wife, Clare, and their children Anthony and Paula. Info from The Courier Mail, 24 April 2004


Frank Robert COLEMAN (11 February 2004, aged 66)

Frank first went to PNG in 1956 after training at ASOPA. After a week in Port Moresby he was sent to Rabaul and after some time there was transferred to Madang. From Madang he went to Wewak as Collector of Customs where he stayed until 1970. He then went to Lae to take over as Collector when Jack Goad retired.

In 1962 he married Shirley and eight years later their twin daughters were born. This caused much excitement in Wewak as they were the first European twins to both survive for many years. Shirley worked at Haus Wireless. Frank was the first Collector of Customs to be replaced by a local officer and the family left PNG in May 1975, settling in Chatswood where Shirley remains today.

After Frank retired in 1994 he did some voluntary work with the Vietnam Veterans and the Chatswood RSL. Frank always remained very interested in PNG as he had enjoyed his time there. He is survived by his wife Shirley, two daughters Yvonne and Ruth, their husbands and three grandchildren who were his pride and joy. Shirley Coleman


Dr Donald DROVER (15 March 2004, aged 76)

A respected member of the PNGAA Committee, Don grew up in Narrandera. He later graduated from the University of Sydney with a BSc degree, continuing on to the University of Dundee in Scotland. He then became Senior Lecturer in Soil Chemistry at the University of Western Australia in Perth during which time he published around 40 technical and research papers and was awarded his Doctorate. In 1960 Dr Drover became Professor of Agriculture, Biochemistry and Soil Science at the University of Khartoum in the Sudan, spending five years there. In 1966 he became Foundation Professor of Chemistry at the newly established University of Papua New Guinea.

Donald and Christine were married in 1969. The following year Don was the Organising Secretary for the 42nd Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science held in Port Moresby. He was awarded the Papua New Guinea Independence Medal in 1975 for his service to the University of PNG. After leaving PNG in 1981 Donald held positions in Darwin, Sydney and Perth. In addition to being a fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and Chairman and Sydney Chairman of London based Royal Society of Arts he was an executive member of a Sydney Rotary club which developed a project called Preserve Planet Earth. Brimming with understated dry humour, Don’s international academic successes never overtook the importance of his Narrandera roots. Donald’s wife, Christine, predeceased him. He leaves behind his three children, Alison, Camilla and Angus and three grandchildren. Angus Drover

William ‘Bill’ DUTTON (15 February 2004)

Having grown up on his parents’ farm at Maleny, Queensland, Bill joined the 5th Light Horse (later to become the 5th Motorised Regiment). Advancing his age from 17 to the required 18 years, he enlisted as a Trooper to commence military training and was subsequently posted to New Guinea with the 19th Brigade where he saw action in various areas along the North Coast of New Guinea.

After his discharge in 1946 he embarked on a career of contract building in Western Queensland before taking up an appointment with the Commonwealth Department of Works (CDW) in 1950. Whilst with CDW he received postings to Losuia, Samarai, Rabaul and Kavieng where he was involved in building projects. In 1955 he secured an appointment as Building Inspector with the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) and shortly after was transferred to Madang. In 1956 he joined the Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (PNGVR) and served with this unit until 1961 when he returned to Port Moresby.

In 1961, whilst on leave in Brisbane, Bill married Sister Vivienne Champ. They returned to Port Moresby and took up residence in a DCA ‘Hawksley’ in 1st Street, Boroko. In 1966 they moved to Perth, Western Australia, where Bill had been promoted to Chief Building Inspector. Another promotion, in 1969, saw Bill back in Brisbane where he subsequently had considerable input into the construction of the new Brisbane airport. Retiring in 1984, he was able to indulge his passion for fishing. Bill is survived by his wife, Vivienne and children William Jnr and Anne Marie. Jim Dutton

Denis HUGGINS (22 March 2004, aged 79)

Denis grew up in Ashbury and when he completed his schooling he began an apprenticeship training to become a Fitter and Turner. He was 15 years old when the Second World War began. When the war ended, Denis travelled to Rabaul to attend the wedding of his sister Peg to Matt Foley. He then worked as a mechanic for Matt in his hire car and trucking business. He met and married Pauline; Ray was born and as a family they remained in New Guinea for 30 years, only leaving after Independence. Denis and Pauline then moved to Sydney where they ran two service stations. After Pauline’s death in 1981, Denis moved to Caboolture to be with his New Guinea mates. He would frequently tell his visitors stories about life in Rabaul.

Denis was always fascinated by advances in technology and, a few years ago, bought a computer and tried to learn as much as he could by reading books and joining a computer club. Also, he was always willing to help out those not as well off as himself – he spent several days a week assisting with Meals on Wheels in Caboolture. When he moved back to Sydney recently he donated all his furniture and household goods to the Salvation Army and the Vietnam Veterans Association. Denis is survived by his son Ray and his family. Extract from eulogy as read by Neil Hickling


Stanley KNIGHT (16 April 2004, aged 77)

Stanley went to the District Office in Rabaul in 1946. In 1948 he transferred to Daru for two years from where he went to DASF in Port Moresby until he left PNG in 1955.

Malcolm LANG (16 March 2004, aged 72)

Mal spent most of his youth in the Bathurst district where he developed a love for an independent outdoor lifestyle and the natural environment. After attending boarding school in Sydney he joined the PNG Administration as a Cadet Patrol Officer in 1953. He remained in the public service in PNG for an unbroken period of thirty years. When he declined a further contract in 1983 he was Advisor to the fledgling Central Province Provincial Government. His achievements whilst participating in initial contact patrols in the Koroba area of the Southern Highlands in 1956 were described in books written by Jim Sinclair, and many will remember the wonderful dustcover photograph of Mal leading a patrol down the broken bottle country of the Strickland River Gorge. Mal continued to work in PNG until 1990, for a company which provided labour and camp management facilities for international oil companies.

In 1970 Mal completed, mainly by correspondence, a Bachelor of Laws degree with the University of Queensland although he never subsequently attempted to practice it. He also became a licensed pilot and was always a keen sportsman, even representing New Guinea against Papua in Rugby League.

After retiring to Manly he enjoyed a full and varied lifestyle, part of which was being involved with the surf and sailing clubs there. He maintained his proficiency in the French and German languages by borrowing books from the local library as well as maintaining a strong interest in matters historical, political and environmental. Mal is survived by his partner, Elizabeth, and his son, Scott. Harry Redmond


Lady Yvonne Ella MANN (20 April 2004, aged 89)

Devoted wife of the late Sir Alan Mann former Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea. Much loved Mother of Vanda, Elizabeth, Caroline and Trischa. The Australian, 23 April 2004


David McGRATH (March 2004, aged 46)

David went to PNG at the age of three with his parents and spent 15 years there. While living in Goroka he was the only non-indigenous member of the First Goroka Scout Troop and this experience was always special to him. Ten years after leaving school David started an Asian Studies degree and became fluent in Mandarin. He then helped build Australia’s relationship with China through his diplomatic postings and work with the Department of Foreign Affairs. He was instrumental in the successful bid to provide $25 billion of Australian gas to China which, at that time, was the biggest resource contract in Australia’s history. He returned to PNG in 1998 as a diplomat and was married in 2002. David frequently visited his mother, Laura Webb, in Perth. David is survived by his wife Annmaree. Info from The West Australian, 19 May 2004

Flora NITSCHE (21 May 2004, aged 100)

(The following was written by Flora’s son, Joe, to celebrate Mutti’s 100th birthday)

Mutti was born in Selecia, Germany (now Poland). She was the youngest of four girls and two boys. As a young girl she moved to Alt Kuenkendorf, a small village about 80 km from Berlin, to be governess to the children of her sister Eva. There she met her husband to be, Hugo. In 1932 Mutti made a long and arduous journey alone through Poland, Russia, along the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan to Tehran to marry Hugo, who was working there. This was where Gisela and I were born. In 1941 our parents decided to return to Germany as the Russians were advancing, but this changed dramatically when my father was interned by the British. The trip back to Germany was horrendous; the Russians plundered, leaving us with only the clothes in which we were travelling.

We returned to Alt Kuenkendorf, and moved later to the nearby town of Angermuende; but by 1945 the Russians were again approaching so women and children were evacuated – in our case to Duingen, which was later part of West Germany. It was a difficult and stressful time for my mother, having to cope with food and clothing shortages, living in crowded accommodation while trying to do the best for her young family, never giving up. With no close relatives and my father away she lived in an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.

In 1949 our family was briefly re-united in Australia before my father departed to PNG to take up his appointment as an agricultural officer. Our mother followed later and they lived at Aiyura Agricultural Station in the PNG highlands. It was a happy time, and many of the friends they made there were here to share her birthday with us. My father retired in 1964, and sadly he died in 1965. By then I also was a didiman in PNG, and Gisela was married to Terry – they were both teaching in country NSW. Mutti lived on her own until 1998. She had three grandchildren, five great-grand-daughters and one great-grandson. We say OUR MUTTI was the best. God bless her.

Mutti thoroughly enjoyed the celebration of her birthday, but unfortunately developed pneumonia a few days later. Sadly, Mutti passed away on Friday 21 May 2004.

Gwen Esther PALMER (23 April 2004, aged 78)

Gwen Esther, late of Southport, Wynnum and formerly of Lae, Papua New Guinea. No further details – Info from The Courier Mail, 24 April 2004


Sir Anthony SIAGURU (16 April 2004, aged 57)

Sir Anthony, a PNGAA member, was a former prominent Papua New Guinea MP and anti-corruption campaigner, and a member of the first class to graduate in law from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1971. His great contribution to the development of PNG began with his pioneering role in becoming the first secretary in the newly established Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade both before and after Independence. He continued to hold many roles in the private and public sectors as well as in the community; also being a leading company director and lawyer. Sir Anthony was elected to parliament in 1982 and served in various ministerial posts until 1987. In 1990 he was knighted for his contribution to public and community service. In that year, too, he became the highest ranking PNG diplomat as Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

Sir Anthony is survived by his wife, Lady Whilhelmina Siaguru, and sons Steven, Stanley and Daniel. Info taken from Post Courier and Brisbane’s Sunday Mail


Beatrice STEVENSON(12 March 2004, aged 77)

Beatrice, who worked for Treasury, originally came from Hobart and married John at the Rabaul Memorial Church in July 1963. In recent years they lived at Wyong. She is survived by husband, John, and sons Martin and Alan. John Stevenson


William Thomas TOMASETTI (4 April 2004, aged 85)

Bill joined the PNG administration in early 1946 after distinguished wartime service with the 2/22nd Commandos behind enemy lines in Timor, and first served in the Morobe District. Of academic inclination he became a specialist in Community Development and from 1960 to 1962 trained at London University and had comparative experience in India and the Philippines.

His 32 years in PNG were split evenly between practical grass roots work amongst the rural people and academia. He was a field officer from 1946 till 1963 and then with the Administrative Staff College till his retirement as a Senior Lecturer in 1978. In the middle of this period however he had 5 important years as Dean of Students at the University of PNG, when he did much to bridge the cultural gap between the student body and the diverse academic staff.

In his long retirement at Wentworth Falls, Bill involved himself in local affairs and for a time was President of the Upper Blue Mountains Area Health Board. He also translated Professor Peter Lawrence’s book Road Bilong Cargo into Pidgin English. Bill was very proud of his competence in both the Pidgin and Motu languages. He is survived by his wife Fredagard, and daughters, Josephine and Stephanie from his first marriage to Leslie. Harry West


Muri WALKER (15 April 2004, aged 87)

Muriel, wife of member John Walker, had two spells in PNG. The first was in 1947-48 when she joined Johnnie in Port Moresby after several months’ separation. They lived at “Taldora” out near the aerodrome and had legendary “dings” most weekends. Daughter Susan, just over one, was very spoilt by all the men separated from their families, but it was a difficult time with not much fresh meat and vegetables. “Taldora” had wooden shutters, cement floors, no ceilings and an outdoor dunny, so it was hardly a palatial residence; nevertheless it was a very happy time. Muriel loved the climate and lifestyle of PNG and was very happy to return in 1957, when Johnnie was posted by DCA to Lae. They lived in Coronation Drive (13th Street) and enjoyed sundowners at the Lae Club and catching up with old friends from Moresby. Susan finished primary school and had two years of boarding school during their stay. Later on Susan and family returned to Port Moresby and Muriel and Johnnie were able to visit and see how things had changed. Susan Woodward

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