Vale June 2010

BOWDEN, JohnCLARKE, Edward Donald (Don), PhC, MPS |  DIERCKE, Chris |  HOLLAND, Mabel |  NARAKOBI, Bernard Mullu |  PURCELL, John Henry |  ROGERS, Ronald Thomas |  STUART-RUSSELL, Margaret |  TATTERSON, Peter Leonard |  THOMSON, Neville 


Chris DIERCKE (31 January 2010, aged 62)

Chris was born at Vunapope Mission, Kokopo, and raised in the Gazelle Peninsula, on Induna, Reiven, Takubar and Rapopo Plantations, run by his father, Rudi Diercke. Chris was schooled in New South Wales, Australia, and graduated to become a teacher. Chris was soon promoted from classroom teacher to Principal where he succeeded in the role for nearly thirty five years. Chris was one of the finest, most successful educators to work for the Department of Education, retiring in 2008 after an extremely fulfilling career. As a result of many major achievements, he was a recipient of Australian Council of Education award. 

Chris’ love, passion and knowledge for Papua New Guinea was extraordinary. Being a direct descendant of Phoebe Parkinson and with Phoebe’s sister Queen Emma being his Great Aunt kept Chris busy, as he educated and informed many about the history of his family which he loved and respected dearly.

In 2007, Chris returned to PNG for the first time in nearly thirty years and since then d the country upwards of three times a year. Chris worked so hard in his retirement to help and support the PNG community in any way possible: teaching literacy and numeracy to children, educating the locals about the history of his well known and respected family, and lifting the country that he loved so dearly in any way he possibly could.

Chris played an enormous role in the development of the Lark Force Wilderness Track (LFWT) in East New Britain. His easy manner enabled him to connect with Lark Force diggers and their family members and he was fascinated with their history, regularly presenting the Lark Force story to service clubs and interested groups. He carried the role of PNG representative of the International Porters Protection Group, an NGO aiming to protect the welfare of porters worldwide. His mentoring role with the LFWT porters will be one of his many legacies. Chris’ energy greatly inspired the work of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society of which he was a committee member. He worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the role played by civilians and the 2/22nd Battalion in defending New Britain and New Ireland from the Japanese invasion of 1942.

Chris was a highly respected committee member of the PNGAA from mid-2009 and had been giving valuable assistance with the PNGAA website. Chris always put the well being of others before himself, and those lucky enough to have known him will tell you he was a kind, sincere, honest and caring gentlemen who loved his family, his home country of PNG, and loved helping others. He leaves a wife Peta and four children Nathan, Emma, Kurt and Ryan. Kurt Diercke


Margaret STUART-RUSSELL (30 October 2009)

Margaret and John Stuart-Russell had a long connection with Burns Philp and Samarai. Peter Dowling


Mabel HOLLAND (7 February 2010, aged 90)

Mabel grew up on several small crop and dairy farms in the 20s and 30s. Living conditions were basic and every family member had to work. As a twelve-year-old Mabel had to be up at 4.30 am, catch and saddle the horse and bring in the cows. Mabel left school at 16 and went to work as a cook on a cattle station. This is where she met her future husband, Frank. They married in 1938 and set off on the SS Montoro for New Guinea. Mabel and Frank fell in love with Rabaul. Frank found work and they moved down the south coast of New Britain to Wide Bay. Their home was built from native materials, split bamboo for the floors, plaited sac sac for walls and grass thatched roof. 44 gallon fuel drums were used for water storage and, of course, there was a deep pit toilet. In early 1939 Mabel returned to Australia to have her first child, but because of trouble with the Mokolkol tribe, she was not permitted to return for 12 months. Her 21st birthday was spent huddled under a bed with her two children as the Mokolkol conducted a raid: the two bull terriers kept the raiders at bay until Frank came home. While at Wide Bay it was Mabel’s job to send daily weather reports to Rabaul on the tele-radio. In August 1941 the family moved to Pondo Plantation on the North Coast of New Britain, a large plantation with its own timber mill, workshops, electric generators and a freezer. Immediately after the declaration of war with the Japanese in December 1941, all women and children were evacuated from New Guinea. The first part of Mabel’s  journey  with John and Anne was by boat from Pondo to Rabaul, and then by aircraft from Rabaul to Port Moresby and Cairns. This was a trying time for families in these circumstances and Mabel did not know what had happened to Frank until three months later. Mabel and the children returned to live at Toboi, on the shores of Simpson Harbour, Rabaul on Christmas Day 1946. There was still war devastation everywhere: trucks, jeeps, tanks, piles of Japanese rifles and the wharf and harbour were a mess with bombed and sunken ships. There were about 10,000 Japanese prisoners still in Rabaul and they were used to help clean up the mess. The house at Toboi had a tin roof, tar paper walls, shutters, a cement floor and electric lighting. Fruit and vegetables were available at the bung (market). Burns Philp sold frozen meat from the shell of a store that had been bombed during the war.

Mabel learnt to drive an old wartime Willeys Jeep whilst living at the Warangoi River. This enabled her to run into Rabaul for shopping and to socialise with her friends at the New Britain Women’s Club. In 1948 her husband Frank was awarded an MBE for his wartime rescue operations in New Britain, his service in ‘Z’ Special Unit in Timor, and for service in Borneo. In the early 60s Frank and Mabel purchased a citrus orchard at Howard in Queensland and the couple decided to return to Australia a while later. Back in Australia they received a letter from the Vatican thanking them for all the help and assistance they had given to the Vunapope Mission. Mabel often remarked on how fortunate she was to have led such a varied and interesting life. She is survived by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. John Holland


Ronald Thomas ROGERS (3 January 2010, aged 68)

Ron died after a long illness at Golden Beach, Qld. After service in the Plymouth City Police from 1960-1966, he migrated to Australia and joined the Queensland Police Service briefly before joining RPNGC on 8 August 1967. He served at Moresby, Bomana, Lae, Goroka, and Rabaul and, on expiration of his six year contract on 7 August 1973 at rank of Inspector (3/c), returned with his family to Queensland. Between 1975 and 1984 he served with the Royal Australian Air Force as a Sergeant in the Air Police unit and later worked with Wormalds Security. He is survived by his second wife of 33 years, Joy, and two sons. Max Hayes


John BOWDEN (27 October 2009)

John was born at Laura, SA, in 1932 and later attended Adelaide High School and Adelaide University. After he gained his BSc in 1953, he applied to work as a teacher in the Territory of PNG. He first attended ASOPA in Sydney and in May 1954 set off for Rabaul. He ended up teaching at the Keravat Education Centre. The students included Paulias Matane, Alkan Tololo, and Ronald ToVue, and many other excellent students now well known in the history of PNG. Sir Paulias Matane, the present Governor General, remembers his teacher John Bowden as “a brilliant teacher, tough but fair, who was an extremely hard worker, not only in the classroom but also in the gardens, and that he was interested in the community as a whole”. He says “he put a lot of sense into me.”

John taught at Keravat for 5 years then had a year at Tusbab High School in Madang. He returned to Keravat to be Headmaster, 1960-1965. These were very important years in the history of Secondary schooling in the Territory, and Keravat was the first high school in New Guinea. In 1965 a group of twelve boys including Bernard Narokobi, Pearson Vetuna and Minson Peni, sat for the NSW Leaving Certificate, while another 30 boys including Rabbie Namaliu, William Kaputin, Sinai Brown and Kubulan Los sat for the new NSW School Certificate. Many of these Keravat graduates from 1965 went on to universities in Australia and to UPNG. Since Independence many of John’s pupils have played a major role in the running of PNG.

John married Helen Lawrence, a teacher at Tavui, in 1961 and by 1965 they had a young family so, after 12 years in the Territory, they decided to return to Adelaide. Here John took up a job teaching Maths and Science at Prince Alfred College and he remained there for 25 years. He was a very kind and thoughtful husband and parent, and a teacher to the end. John is survived by his wife, Helen, and his three children Judith, Christine and Simon and their families. Barbara Short (neé Neasmith)


Bernard Mullu NARAKOBI (9 March 2010, aged 72)

The late Dr Narokobi served as a Member of Parliament: Member for Wewak 1987-1997; Government minister: Minister for Justice (1988-92), Agriculture Minister (1992-94); Attorney-General; opposition leader (1998-2002); speaker and, most recently, the PNG High Commissioner to New Zealand. Educated in both PNG and Australia, Bernard graduated in law from the University of Sydney and went on to play a significant part as an architect of PNG’s National Constitution. He was involved in the Bougainville talks against secession in 1975 and later during the 1989 crisis. He developed the Melanesian Philosophy course at the University of PNG. Dr Narakobi in an extract from his book The Melanesian Way (1980) made ”no apology for the controversies he stimulates in his aim to involve Melanesians, from the grass-roots to the elites, in the conscious shaping of their own identity, culture and nationhood.” PNG Law Society President, Mr Kerenga Kua commented that Dr Narakobi ”has set a very high level of moral, ethical and professional standard and all young lawyers should aspire to set such standards.”

The following comments are taken from the June 2010 Una Voce, page 7:

Paul Harricknen, writing about his time as a student of Dr Bernard Narakobi, said:

‘I remembered his answers to one of his critics against Melanesian philosophy that how can there be a “Melanesian way” in a country and region of many different cultures and languages. His answer was quite simple and yet quite difficult to grasp by the critics – “that (of many cultures and languages) in itself is the Melanesian way”.

PNG Law Society President Kerenga Kua said:

the Melanesian Way ideology was intended to enable PNG to forge its own unique path of development or as a compromise to blend the PNG ways, customs and practices into the western lifestyle, customs and practices.

Dr Narokobi took that philosophy with him, even to the bench where he served as an acting judge for a short while and during that term he firmly held the view that there was an important role for our customary laws to play amongst the laws of this country.

Dr Narakobi in an extract from his book The Melanesian Way (1980) made

no apology for the controversies he stimulates in his aim to involve Melanesians, from the grass-roots to the elites, in the conscious shaping of their own identity, culture and nationhood.’

Another extract says:

There are those who are so ill-informed, simplistic and narrow minded as to believe Melanesians have the choice between the so-called “primitive” past of our ancestors and the “civilized and enlightened” present of Western civilization. The choice is in fact more complex than this. The secret to that choice lies in the dual pillars of our Constitution. These pillars are our noble traditions and the Christian principles that are ours now, enhanced by selected technology. It is my hope that we would not blindly follow the West, nor be victims to technology and scientific knowledge. These belong to human kind. They are not racial or national. It is the same with music and good writing. These are physically located in time, place, and people, but in their use and enjoyment, they belong to all. Thus it is with Melanesian virtues.


Edward Donald (Don) CLARKE, PhC, MPS (23 January 2010, aged 81)

Don was born in Brisbane shortly after his English parents settled there. He studied Pharmacy at the Brisbane Technical College, worked for a time at the Brisbane General Hospital, and then spent two years as Chief Pharmacist at the Base Medical Stores in Rabaul. He then accepted an offer from Steamships Trading Company to open the first post-war pharmacy in Rabaul in a corner of their new store. The business thrived and in 1962 he built Rabaul’s first modern pharmacy next door to Steamships. Don employed both expatriate and Tolai salesgirls: he usually had four or five storemen and five or six salesgirls plus a book-keeper/office girl as well as another Pharmacist. This was when plantation owners provided medical care to their labourers, often numbering over 100.

Don’s customers were from all over New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville. In 1969 he and pharmacist Mike Wilkinson opened a pharmacy in Kavieng and later in Aropa when Bougainville began operating. Don quickly became involved in Rabaul’s commercial and social life as the town underwent a big increase in population and commerce. He had a good rapport with his customers: expats, Chinese, Ambonese, mixed race, Tolais and people from the mainland. He was appointed a member of the Rabaul Town Advisory Council and a Magistrate of the Children’s Court (both Government appointments). He was President of the Chamber of Commerce several times and was a Police Reservist during the Mataungan troubles. As well, Don took an active part in practically every voluntary organisation in town. He had many interests including travel and photography, and was an avid collector especially of coins, books and artefacts. In 1982, after 30 years in the business, Don sold up and he and his wife Margaret retired to Queensland. He is survived by Margaret, three children, and nine grandchildren. Margaret Clarke


Paula WOLFF (aged 97 years)

Paula was born on Lungatun Plantation in New Hanover, German New Guinea, on 5 April 1912 to a German father, Fisher. Paula and her sister, Annie, were educated at Vunapope Mission with the German nuns. Paula had been a nursemaid to Marjorie Ross’ family prior to their 1941 evacuation but stayed in Rabaul to care for her husband Otto and their daughter Marie Louise. Paula suggested her sister Annie be evacuated with Marjorie which she did. Paula moved to Cairns in 1980 and in recent years had been living in Golden Grove Home, Southport, Qld. Paula’s funeral was on 31 December 2009. Jan Dykgraaff


Peter Leonard TATTERSON (7 January 2010, aged 66)

Peter grew up in the Gippsland area of Victoria. At 18 he went to PNG as a cadet patrol officer with the 1962 course. His first posting was in the Sepik Province, at Angoram, and at Imonda, a patrol post on the then PNG/Dutch New Guinea border. Foot patrols would last anything from two weeks to three months, dealing with issues such as health, law and order, and political education. Peter helped establish local government at Imonda. In late 1966 he returned home to marry his high school girlfriend, Merrilyn Bond. A posting to Karkar Island was followed by one to Rabaul where he was transferred to Vunadidir Local Government Training College as a lecturer. In late 1973 he returned to Madang as an adviser to the Ambenob Local Government Council. As PNG drew closer to Independence in 1975 the Tattersons decided to return to Australia. His work in PNG had given him a commitment to local government and he had been studying part-time to become a town/shire clerk. Peter worked with local councils eventually becoming chief executive of the South Gippsland Shire when four councils were united into one. Peter had an irrepressible sense of humour. With a touch of the larrikin and a fine sense of the absurd he was a delightful source of one-liners. Peter is survived by Merrilyn and three daughters, Shannon, Abbey and Holly. Melbourne Age, 10 February 2010


John Henry PURCELL (17 April, 2010, aged 79)

After service in the Queensland Police Force between 16 February 1948 and 3 October 1955, he joined RPNGC on 7 October 1955 as a Sub-Inspector and served at Port Moresby and as a/Inspector at Wewak in charge of the Sepik police district. With the formation of the Corrective Institutions branch within the Department of Law, he was promoted to Superintendent within that branch on 13 August 1959. His first appointment was to Boram, Wewak, where he introduced farming, animal husbandry and similar interests  in making prisons self sustaining.

During his years with Corrective Institutions he travelled widely within PNG and was an Australian Government advisor on prisons and penal reform to Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Fiji and the British Solomon Islands. In 1970 he represented the Australian Government at the 4th United Nations Congress on treatment of offenders at Kyoto, Japan. He was promoted to and retired at the rank of Commissioner, Corrective Services and returned to Australia around the time of PNG Independence in 1975. After retirement he was appointed Executive Director, of the Australian Crime Prevention Council where he remained for some 10 years before retiring.

He leaves his wife, Marcia, and children Madonna, Michael, Patricia and Francis.  Max Hayes and the Purcell family


Neville THOMSON (5 April, 2010)

No further details available.

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