Vale June 2012

CAVILL, Ona Roma, née Varoneckas  (3 May 2012) | COLLIS, Edward (Ted) Gordon  (24 August 2011) | DEASEY, Marjorie (May 2010) | DENNIS, June Patricia (6 January 2012) | DOWNES, Barry (20 February 2012) | GREATHEAD, Nell (February 2012) | HIGGIN, Ted | HURRELL, Lloyd CMG, OBE, MC (24 May 2012) | HUXLEY, Lee (12 January 2012) | JOHNS, Billy (1 May 2012) | KESBY, Dave (29 April 2012) | LUTTON, Wesley | MACGOWAN, Kenneth Hamish (Ken) (11 April 2012) | MAGUIRE, Phillip John (28  February 2012) | NEILSEN, Glen Frederick  (11 March 2012) | NELSON, Hyland Neil (Hank) (17 February 2012) | ORWIN, Ronald (Ron) George (14 February 2012) | PERMEZEL, Dave (12 April 2012) | RING, John Patrick (12 February 2012) | SHANAHAN, Pat, AO, RFD, ED (22 April 2012) | SZENT-IVÀNY, Maria Louise (née Csikszebtsimoni Lakatos) (9  March 2012)


Albert Lloyd HURRELL, CMG, OBE, MC (22 May 2012, aged 96)

Our family’s relationship with Lloyd Hurrell lasted professionally for ten years—from 1965 to 1975—but as a friendship it lasted much longer than that.

He was the first Chairman of the Coffee Marketing Board in Papua New Guinea and in that capacity we first met him on the Goroka Air Strip in 1965 when he helped us off the plane. It was a free and easy airport those days no security or restrictions. I remember him saying, “You weren’t afraid to come here with Sukarno threatening to invade us?” (Sukarno was the corrupt and rogue leader of Indonesia in those days, a “sabre rattler” who constantly referred to PNG as East Irian, and many believed he was planning an invasion of the Territory.)

My husband was appointed as the first Executive Officer of the newly formed Coffee Marketing Board and it was obvious to me from that day onwards Lloyd cared a great deal for our welfare. He was particularly concerned about our five young children forced to live in an upstairs apartment with nowhere for the children to play. As soon as he could push it through Government circles a four-bedroom house in a large garden was built especially for the Executive Officer and his family.

My husband said that in Lloyd’s role as the Chairman of the Coffee Board he was completely and absolutely committed to the task of steering the Coffee Industry from its infancy in 1950 through to Independence in 1975.

It might be interesting to note that the Coffee Industry was one of the most successful undertakings in the world that turned thousands of indigenous subsistence farmers into wealthy men in such a short period of time. This success was in no small way due to Lloyd’s untiring, dedicated, intelligent and enthusiastic support.

Lloyd was a humble man who never wanted to acknowledge the credit he deserved. His constant efforts to understand the industry he steered saw him reading everything he could find to assist him both as a coffee planter himself and in his administrative role. When he was awarded the OBE for his work with the industry he told my husband: “This award is typical of what they say about this thing.  OBE stands for ‘other bugger’s efforts’ and it should also be given to you because without ‘your help I wouldn’t have been able to do this.”

Lloyd Hurrell was a sensitive, caring man who was a gentleman in the true sense of the world, emboldened by old fashioned virtues and a work ethic that was hard to find amongst men of European origin who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea before, during and after World War 11.

Lloyd was a vital cog in the machine that helped turn a land of tribal people into an Independent Nation.  His family and those who knew him in his glory years will sorely miss him.
Margaret Bluett

HurrellLloyd Hurrell was born on 20 November 1916 at Wingham, NSW; he had three brothers, Les, Dick and Frank. He graduated from Hurlstone Agricultural High School where he was awarded the McKern Scholarship for all round ability, character and leadership. He was a good scholar and a fine athlete; representing the school in rugby league, cricket, swimming and boxing.

In 1936 he graduated from Armidale Teachers College and commenced his short career as a teacher at Adaminaby and Bombala Schools. After a season as a professional footballer at Maitland, Lloyd followed his brother Les to PNG as a Patrol Officer which started his long and illustrious relationship with the country and the people.

At the beginning of WW2, both Lloyd and Les enlisted from Rabaul and they became part of the 4th Reinforcements 2/31st Battalion. Captain Lloyd Hurrell served in the Middle East and New Guinea. He was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry on the Kokoda Track. His brother Les was killed in action at Gona. Lloyd was injured badly and while recuperating in Australia met and married Margaret Crowther. Margaret became his partner in every adventure that they had in their long life together.

At the end of the war Lloyd and Margaret returned to New Guinea where he resumed his occupation as a patrol officer. Initially he served in Salamaua, Morobe, Mumeng, Finschhafen and Bogia. In 1950 Lloyd was chosen to establish a new Patrol Post at Menyamya. He led a party of 13 native police and 157 carriers. Lloyd loved his time at Menyamya and always kept a close link with the people from there. In later years Lloyd employed many people from Menyamya on his coffee plantation. He was then transferred to Wau as Assistant District Officer.

Lloyd did not enjoy this as much as he had the patrolling and decided to purchase land in Wau. He planted coffee and had cattle and poultry on the property called Kosali. In the early days he grew vegetables to supplement his income. Lloyd’s younger brother, Frank, joined him to live in Wau. He purchased a dairy and went on to own many other businesses in Wau. The brothers were very close and their children had an idealistic time growing up in Wau. Lloyd began to look at the broader picture in New Guinea. He became influential in the Highland farmers and Settlers Association and in 1960 was elected as member for New Guinea Coastal in the Legislative Council. He served until 1963 and was Deputy Chairman of the Select Committee for Political Development in 1962, which laid the framework for eventual self-government and independence. He also held the position of State President for the RSL in 1967 and 1968 as well as holding office in his own Sub Branch in Wau. Lloyd was appointed Chairman of the Coffee Marketing Board in 1965 and held that position until 1979 when he sold Kosali plantation to the local people. During his time in the Coffee Marketing Board he worked hard to ensure the future of coffee growers in Papua New Guinea. He moved to Lae where he was a director of SP brewery. Lloyd became a citizen of PNG.

Lloyd was awarded an OBE in June 1969 for public and community service and in 1980 was created a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of S Michael and St George for distinguished service to he coffee industry. The Coffee Industry Board Room is officially named the “A L Hurrell Board Room” and his photograph still watches over the decisions being made about the coffee industry.

In 1982 Lloyd and Margaret moved to Australia although their hearts have always remained in Papua New Guinea. Margaret survives Lloyd and lives at Tweed Heads. Four of Lloyd’s five children were born in Papua New Guinea and still have strong ties to the country. Lloyd Hurrell had an amazing life and he was an extraordinary man who will be missed. 
Sue Spargo


Ronald (Ron) George ORWIN (14 February 2012, aged 84)

Ron was born in Elsternwick, Victoria and educated at Brighton and Caulfield Grammar. A member of the AIF from 1946 to 1948, Ron served with the Australian Contingent (Cipher Unit) of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan.

After leaving the Army, Ron spotted an advertisement for Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea and began a career that spanned 25 years with early postings in the Sepik. It was while at a course at ASOPA in 1955 that Ron met Shirley Leese. They married in December 1955 before returning to his first posting as a married officer to Ihu. Over the years, Ron, Shirley and their family lived at Baniara, Trobriand Islands, Minj, Kokoda, Mendi and finally in Port Moresby. Like many expats, Ron chose the “golden handshake” and returned to live on the Gold Coast following PNG’s Independence.

In the early 1980s, the Orwins relocated to Melbourne where Ron worked as an officer with the Australian Protective Services until his retirement and subsequent “final posting” in Loganlea, Brisbane. As the National Secretary, BCOF Executive Council of Australia, retirement was a full time commitment in their endeavours to ensure members’ recognition for services and entitlements. As a result of his work for BCOF, Ron was nominated and awarded an Australian Centenary Medal.

The last three years presented lots of major health problems, but Ron just dealt with each new challenge with dignity and resolve. Ron passed peacefully at Greenslopes Private Hospital with Shirley, as in their life together, by his side. Ron is survived by his wife Shirley, his four children Suzanne, Stephen, Brett and Andrew, and his five much loved grandchildren, Annice, Britany, Chanel, Mitchell and Kristin.
Suzanne Johnson (née Orwin)


Edward (Ted) Gordon COLLIS (24 August 2011, aged 92)

After serving in the AIF overseas in England and Papua New Guinea, Ted was approached by his Colonel to return to PNG to help rebuild Lae. He worked in the sawmill at Yalu and Lae and then moved to Bulolo to take charge of the nursery for the Forestry Dept. After 30 years (1975), he retired to Bribie Island with his wife Norma and two children Cheryl and Greg. For the last 20 years he and Norma resided at the RSL Retirement Village. He enjoyed an active life in the community until the last 18months when he suffered mini strokes and leg ulcers.

He is survived by his wife Norma, children Cheryl and Greg, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-granddaughters.

Cheryl Collis


Ona Roma CAVILL, née Varoneckas (3 May 2012, aged 74)

Born on 14 September 1937. Resident in PNG from 1962 in Port Moresby and Mount Hagen, leaving in 1974. 


Marjorie DEASEY (May 2010, aged 99 years)

No further details available.


Barry DOWNES (20 February 2012)

Barry was a former kiap in PNG – no further details available


Nell GREATHEAD (February 2012, aged 95)

Nell was the widow of pioneer kiap George Greathead who retired as District Commissioner in Goroka and established one of the first coffee plantations in the Highlands in the Asaro Valley.

An interesting story about George Greathead can be read HERE



No further details available


Lee HUXLEY (12 January 2012)

No further details available


Dave KESBY (29 April 2012, aged 68)

No further details available


Rev Wesley LUTTON

No further details available


Dave PERMEZEL (12 April 2012)

Dave Permezel was born in Queenstown, Tasmania, where his father was a Bank Manager. He was educated there and in Launceston. He went to PNG as a Cadet Patrol Officer at the age of twenty, and served in several districts, including the Southern Highlands, New Ireland, Morobe, Milne Bay and East Sepik. He established the patrol post at Kandep, now in Enga Province. I believe his last posting was as Deputy District Commissioner in the Western District. After retirement he managed and co-owned a coconut plantation in southern New Ireland. From there he moved to Madang where he worked with Graham Tuck in the training college for local patrol officers.

Dave was a keen sailor, and while based in Lae built a sailing boat based on the Ware Island cutter design. I believe he subsequently sailed it to Madang, Wewak and Manus.

After leaving PNG Dave moved to the Northern Territory, where he worked as a field officer with the Department of Local Government, based in Katherine, Nhulunbuy and Darwin.

Dave was a natural linguist and spoke French and Bahasa fluently. His last years were marked by a succession of health problems, all of which he bore stoically. He died peacefully in Royal Darwin Hospital. He is survived by his wife Maria from Aitape, and his three sons Stephen, Christopher and Andrew. He was cremated at a private ceremony in Darwin on 18 April, and in accordance with his wishes his ashes will be scattered at sea off Aitape.

He was a good friend of mine, and his erudition and dry sense of humour will be sadly missed.
Patrick Somers, Darwin


John Patrick RING (12 February 2012, aged 80)

John joined the RPNGC in July 1961 after an eight-year career in the Victoria Police in which he served in uniform and as a member of the Consorting Squad in the CIB.

His first posting to PNG was to Kokopo where he spent four months before being transferred to open the station at Keravat where he stayed for four years. He retained fond memories of Keravat although it had its moments and he wasn’t afraid to tell a story against himself.

In an attempt to apprehend a peeping tom who had been active in the town, John positioned himself and his native police in strategic hiding spots around the area at night. Unfortunately he discovered too mate that his own allocated position was on top of a fiery ants nest. Although they nabbed the peeping tom, he later admitted it wasn’t his most memorable “pinch”.

Acknowledging local practice he once arrived home with a small crocodile which had been presented to him as a gift by a local village chief. After he explained that it would have been offensive not to accept the crocodile his apprehensive family asked him what he intended to do with it. He told them he thought he might put it in the bird cage.

“What about the birds?” came the shocked reply.

“They’ll just have to fly higher.”

He later told them he’d in fact released it in a swamp not far from the house, which hardly set their minds at rest.

Moving to Lae in 1965 he joined the Special Branch ( sometimes referred to as the ASIO equivalent) at a time of Confrontasi by the Soekarno regime in Jakarta. Presumably their role was to keep an eye on any local “political problems” which might develop, along with what was happening on the other side of the border, although he never talked about it much. But while he took his Special Branch role seriously, he wasn’t above exercising his healthy sense of humour when the opportunity arose.

On one occasion he asked the local editor of the Lae Times Courier if he could interview the incoming crew of the regular Merpati Nusantara DC3 to see if he could glean some information about reported unrest in Sukarnapura in recent days. As he explained, it would be difficult for him to do it but easy for a journalist, who might get a story out of it anyway. He also asked whether it might be possible for a picture to be taken of the airline’s pilots “for his files”.

After an interview with the pilots in their room at the Cecil Hotel, the reporter couldn’t believe his luck when they agreed to a photograph in front of their aircraft before they departed next morning. Intending to keep the photo opportunity as a surprise for John, the reporter kept the next morning’s rendezvous to himself and duly walked the full length of the Lae airport flight line next morning to take the shot. Later that day our intrepid newspaper man went around to the Special Branch office to part with the few tidbits of information he’d received about any across–the-border problems and announced proudly he’d managed to take a photograph as well.

“Yep, I know”, came the quick reply, quietly sliding a black and white photo of the reporter, camera in hand, blithely striding towards the Merpati DC3 that morning.  His Special Branch offsider Buka had been hiding behind a croton bush outside the airport fence.

Since John himself was already known locally as 007, thereafter the reporter unfortunately earned the title—at least in the Special Branch—as 006 1/3.

John took over as OIC Lae police in January 1969 and, for interest, his notes show the following people on the staff, presumably on or around that time: Pat Barry, W.J. Jackson, Steve Watkins, John Biggs, Andy Sterns, Bob Daniel, Peter Lenehan, Mike Grant, Ron Curtis, Peter Hewitt, Rogers, Stone, Read, Pearson, Fred Towner, Mick Gallen, Robbie Robertson, Vern McNeil, John Monk, Fred Thompson, Spencer, Mike Cowell.

He was transferred to Kieta in October 1969 and after a short stint there retired from the RPNGC and subsequently joined Bechtel-WKE handling security and Industrial relations on the Bougainville Copper project.

He returned to Australia in 1972 and subsequently went on to work with Bechtel in Victoria, South Australia and Pannawonica in WA until, in 1981, he seized the chance to return to PNG with Bechtel at Kiunga on Stage 1 of the Ok Tedi construction project, then it was back to Millaa Millaa in Queensland, before returning again to Port Moresby as Human Resources Manager for Chevron Niugini P/L.

John and his wife Marion retired in 1994 before settling first in Anglesea, Victoria, and later Aspendale Gardens and Keysborough.

Although generally a person who talked rarely about himself (very few knew of his three commendations for criminal investigative work as a detective in the Victoria Police Consorting Squad), he made no secret of enjoyment of the PNG years and the many friends he made there, both expat and local.

While ill health in recent years reduced his mobility, it didn’t stop him keeping a close watch on events in PNG, a country for which he retained a great affection.

He is survived by his wife Marion, a former wife Nan, son Trevor and daughters Jennifer and Maree. A former wife Jean, and a son John, predeceased him.
Jim Eames (006 1/3)


June Patricia DENNIS (BURGIS) (6 January 2012, aged 92)

June was born on 26 June 1919 at Ryde Private Hospital. She had a large loving family and grew up in Sydney. When June was a young woman she modelled for David Jones before the war and was asked to go to France to model; for those of you who knew June you would understand that, she was a beautiful woman, but the impending war put a stop to it. During the war she worked for the British Admiralty Office and the US Army Office.

June met Peter (John Clifford Dennis) just back from the Desert and married in 1944. In 1946 Michael, their first child, was born in Sydney and three months later June and Michael sailed up to New Guinea on the MV Montoro, the first commercial run to PNG since the war. I remember her telling us the ship was full of young war brides and their babies and when they arrived in Lae the Japanese POWs were being used as labourers in cleaning up the war torn town. Peter and June lived in Bulolo for a couple of years and Margie was born at Wau hospital. (Incidentally, Margie became the 6th generation Islander, with Peter’s long family history in the Fiji Islands.) Peter’s great aunt was the wife of the second Governor in New Guinea, Sir William McGregor.

June and Peter then moved to another opportunity in Rabaul to develop a cocoa and coffee plantation at Keravat just opposite the Keravat Agriculture Station. This plantation was called Kareeba and they literally carved the plantation out of the jungle. The environment was tough and hard and June lost four children due to rough roads, snake bites and floating down a flooded river on a bamboo raft to get to medical attention in Rabaul. Finally, after staying at the Ascot Hotel [on the site of the current Rabaul Hotel] for weeks beforehand, Jenny was born in 1958 safely!! Despite the isolation they made many lifelong friends and had a very interesting life. The three of us would never have wished for a more amazing childhood. June then worked in Burns Philp in Rabaul, which she loved, and everybody would remember her vivacious laugh. In this position she excelled, becoming the buyer for Mikimoto pearls and French perfumes for Burns Philp.

They then moved to Port Moresby for a couple of years while Peter worked for DASF before retiring to Mosman NSW in 1975. When grandchildren were being born in South Australia they moved there to be near them. In 1980 Peter died, so June moved back to her beloved Sydney before returning to Adelaide again when she fully retired. She lived in her independent unit at Kalyra Belair right up until she had her stroke and two years later passed away on 6 January this year.

Always a cheery and positive person who loved life despite the hardships: a typical type of lady who lived in New Guinea in the early days, they were a special breed!

June is survived by Michael and Annie, Margie and David and Jenny. Her five grandchildren, Sarah, Jodie, Sean, James and Simon and six great grandchildren. Loved by many, missed terribly.

Margie Lindsay


Billy JOHNS (1 May 2012)

Bill was a Tasmanian and was originally a timpanist with the Tasmanian Orchestra. He was Chief Pilot for Territory Airlines in the mid-1950s, then went to MAL which became Ansett-MAL, then to Air Niugini when the National Airlines was formed (in 1972?) where Bill flew DC3s, Fokker F27 and F28 aircraft. Upon retiring from Air Niugini, Bill flew King Air airline aircraft for Flight West Airlines in Queensland in 1987 and 1988.

Bob Fulton


Maria Louise SZENT-IVÀNY (née Csikszebtsimoni Lakatos) (9  March 2012, aged 92)

Wife of Dr. Joseph Szent-Ivany, (Entomologist DASF) resident in Papua New Guinea from 1957 to 1966

Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1919, Maria Szent-Ivány spent some of her childhood in Czechoslovakia where her father was a Military Attaché, and shorter periods in France and Switzerland. She matriculated in Miskolc, Hungary, and attended a prestigious graphic art school, which eventually led to her career as a scientific illustrator. In 1940 she married Dr JJH (Joseph) Szent-Ivány, an entomologist (see his obituary | ), but WWII separated them for twelve years. In 1944 even scientists were called up for service so Joe went to war. He visited Maria and their two children, Ildikó (Ildi) and baby Joseph in January 1945. It was the last time he saw baby Joseph. The end of the war saw him in Germany, but he could not get home as previous trainloads of repatriated people disappeared into Siberia. Joe came to Australia in 1950 then in 1954 he went to TPNG. Meanwhile, back in Hungary, Maria lost her baby son, found their apartment war-damaged and stayed with extended family in the country. In 1947 we moved to Budapest where I started school. Meanwhile the communist regime confiscated everyone’s property so Maria’s parents and aunt and uncle came to Budapest and we all moved in together. In 1951 we were sent into internal exile. By this time Maria was established as one of the top scientific illustrators in Hungary, but after more than two years of hard manual labour she lost her touch. Fortunately with time and support from the publisher she had worked for she recovered. By 1956 she had a number of natural history books to her name both with black and white illustrations and colour plates. Her illustrations also appeared in textbooks. I was very proud of having my mother’s name in my school books.

Then came 1956. We stood up to the Russians and demanded that they leave. They withdrew. The euphoria was overwhelming. Then Suez. The Russians returned with a vengeance, while the world’s attention was somewhere else. It was the end of everything, our dreams of independence and our hope of reuniting our family in Hungary. It was also a new beginning. Maria decided to take action and flee her homeland, leaving everything and everyone behind, including her beloved parents. We escaped with her brother and family to Vienna. She had her fears. She left her homeland, perhaps forever. After 12 years and a million miles away, would she and Joe still work out?

Maria and Joe were reunited on 1 March 1957 in Melbourne and after a week there and a week in Sydney we flew to Port Moresby on a DC3 doing an ear popping milk run. We arrived in Port Moresby at 6 am in pitch dark and the heat and humidity hitting us like a brick wall at the door of the plane. Will we ever get used to this? Having been cheated of a normal family life in their prime, Maria and Joe spent the next 31 years in perfect harmony, sharing their work, their faith, their adventures, their very “Hungarianness” in a culture different to their own. In PNG Maria was drawing maps in the Lands Department, but also continued her illustrating whenever she could. Once she received a UNESCO commendation for her work.

Maria loved her time in PNG. She adored her tropical garden. Coming from a landlocked country she was amazed at the experience of living on an island. She loved and understood the indigenous people. She loved the diversity of the expats. Shortly before they went finish Maria’s father came to visit them. He had been Prime Minister of Hungary for a short time during the war: now, 20 years later he visited this tropical paradise most Europeans at the time could only dream of. Unlike Maria, he enjoyed the climate.

In 1966 they retired to Adelaide to be near family. Maria continued her illustrating at the Herbarium and at the Waite Institute. One of her biggest projects in Adelaide was the Solanum book with over two hundred illustrations. Maria and Joe undertook several study trips after retirement to the British Museum and at the Wau Ecology Institute of the Bernice P Bishop Museum of Hawaii, of which Joe was an associate. Maria assisted him in the preparation of insects as well as illustrations. In Wau the Institute established the Szent-Ivány  Laboratory in their honour.

They embraced their new homeland and made their contribution to PNG and to culturally diverse Australia. Maria was an understanding, loving, supportive and caring person and everyone who knew her loved her. She is greatly missed by family and friends in Australia, Hungary and the United States.
Ildi Wetherell, daughter


Hyland Neil (Hank) NELSON (17 February 2012, aged 74)

Professor Hank Nelson of the Australian National University died in Canberra on Friday 17 February after a long battle with cancer. His was a life focussed on both Papua New Guinea and Australia, and it was the relationship between the two that nourished his intellect. His books, including Black, White and Gold: Goldmining in Papua New Guinea, 1878-1930 and Taim Bilong Masta: the Australian involvement with Papua New Guinea, established for him a reputation as the foremost historian of Papua New Guinea. His work on Australian involvement in the Pacific War and the impact of that war on the peoples of Papua New Guinea drew upon and refined his skills in oral history, as with the 1982 documentary Angels of War, which won awards both from the Australian Film Institute and at the Nyon Film Festival in Switzerland. That work led to his involvement in the preparation of displays and sound archives of the Australian War Memorial. Hank Nelson wanted history to serve a broader purpose, and he wrote not just for his colleagues or his profession but for a wider public. His three books published by the ABC and the associated radio series exemplified this approach, above all Taim Bilong Masta: The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, ABC, 1982, which told the story in large part through people’s reminiscences.

Hank Nelson was born on 21 October 1937 in Boort, country Victoria. His parents, Hyland and Hilda, were farmers and his brother John and two younger generations still work the same farm. Hank was educated at Boort Higher Elementary School, Kerang High School and then the University of Melbourne. He first became a school teacher at Numurkah and then Rosanna High Schools before being appointed as a lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1964. Then commenced what was to prove a life-long association with Papua New Guinea. Hank was appointed to the Administrative College in Port Moresby in 1966, and in 1968 moved to the new University of Papua New Guinea. That university had still to be built, and when he arrived he taught students in the preliminary year in sheds at the showground with his characteristic blend of straightforwardness, imagination and high expectations. His students in the late 1960s were to become Papua New Guinea’s first governing elite. One of them was Charles Lepani, now PNG High Commissioner to Australia.

Hank was appointed to The Australian National University (ANU) in 1973. He once joked that Australians were such a rarity in the ranks of historians at ANU that his position had to be due to affirmative action. That was typical humility. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was a splendid historian, equally at home with the detail of Papua New Guinea’s history and with theories of political power or the dynamics of group identity. He was proud of his rural origins and drew upon them in With Its Hat About Its Ears: Recollections of the Bush School. And his interest in the experiences of those at war inspired his book Prisoners of War: Australians Under Nippon.

His background was the foundation of his research, and it helps to explain his concern for the place of the common people in history. He was a firm empiricist, but one who happily engaged with global themes, such as Francis Fukuyama’s perspectives on state-building or Paul Collier’s analysis of the causes of poverty amongst the”‘bottom billion”.

In recent years, as Chair of the ANU’s State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program, he was always on the lookout for seemingly small incidents that gave a window through which to look at wider trends, and that would reveal something about how political power worked in Melanesia: letters to the newspapers, for example, which he used as a way of understanding the frustrations and hopes of ordinary Papua New Guineans in a country where government has delivered much less than promised at independence. He had no time for sloppy or badly-conceived work but was the first to praise first-rate work, generous to colleagues in a profession where generosity is often missing.  For that reason he served as a solid mentor for younger scholars at ANU, and an inspiration to fellow senior colleagues. A lively strain of common decency also made Hank a much-liked colleague and friend.

Hank became a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Member of the Order of Australia. He kept writing until close to the end, with a series of articles for Inside Story about the crises of the Somare government in PNG, a paper on “Comfort women” in wartime Rabaul, and another on the perils of labelling states as having “failed” in the Pacific. He was a firm advocate of straight talking and solid prose, with no fluff around the edges. He was possessed with a great sense of the urgency of scholarly research in Melanesia, and of how much still needed to be done. It is a tribute to Professor Nelson that he contributed so much of what has been done. He is survived by his wife Janet, his children Tanya, Lauren and Michael and his grandchildren Rachel, Jack and Eliza.

Jon Fraenkel, Stewart Firth and Bryant Allen State, Society & Governance in Melanesia program Australian National University


Glen Frederick NEILSEN (11 March 2012, aged 73)

Glen completed a fitting and turning apprenticeship in 1957 with the Main Roads Dept at Rockhampton, and was employed with Main Roads as a mechanic from 1954 until 1964. He went to PNG in 1965 as a mechanic with the Public Works Dept. He was at Rabaul, Lae, Madang, Wewak and Port Moresby where he was Plant Superintendent, Plant and Transport Branch, Dept of Works and Supply HW Boroko. Glen then worked for the Catholic Church doing property maintenance of their buildings in Port Moresby, and later for private firms. He left Port Moresby in December 2003 and retired to the Gold Coast. Glen passed away peacefully at Burleigh Heads.

Barry Smith


Phillip John MAGUIRE (28  February 2012, aged 86)

Phil Maguire – the ABC’s Voice of the New Guinea Islands

One of the best-known and most-popular voices on radio in PNG prior to independence, Phil Maguire has died at his home at Atherton in Far North Queensland after a second battle with cancer.

A New Zealander, Phil joined the ABC as an announcer in Brisbane in 1956, two years later taking up a position hosting the Breakfast Program on the ABC’s 9PA Port Moresby. He transferred to Rabaul in 1964 as Regional Manager of the ABC’s New Guinea Islands Service 9RB, remaining there until Independence in 1973 when he handed over to local announcer Robin Papat, who he had groomed to become the ABC’s first-ever indigenous Regional Manager.

As well as being 9RB’s Regional Manager, Phil also hosted a weekly program of jazz and other music from the 1930s to 1950s, of which his knowledge was encyclopaedic (he had had his own jazz group in New Zealand when in his 20s.) Off air he was involved with Rabaul Rotary, enjoyed holding court daily after work at the New Guinea Club, and loved model trains.

On his return to Australia in 1973 Phil was appointed the ABC’s Regional Manager Cairns and on his retirement in 1983 he and his wife Aileen (who had run New Guinea Travel Service in Rabaul during their time there,) opened a cat boarding facility at Kuranda which they later sold to long-time Rabaul friends, Peter and Julie Cohen.

Phil also hosted a weekly radio program AM with PM on FM at Cairns and later a local program in Atherton for five years until he was 81, choosing music from his extraordinary collection of several thousand LP and 45rpm discs and CDs.

He gave away his collection of model railway engines and a library of model railway books and magazines to fellow buffs, but continued to help others building model railways.

Phil was first treated for cancer seventeen years ago and believed he had beaten it, but was diagnosed again late last year and he passed away on 28 February this year. He is survived by his first wife Cushla with whom he reconciled several years ago following the passing of Aileen in early 2002, and also of Cushla’s second husband some years ago.

David Ellis


Kenneth Hamish (Ken) MACGOWAN (11 April 2012, aged 72)

Ken was born in Rabaul in August 1939 and lived an extraordinary life.

In December 1941, Ken was evacuated from Rabaul on the ship Macdhui, along with the women and children of the New Guinea islands. The ship took them to Cairns and then Ken and his family travelled to Adelaide, remaining there for the duration of the war. Ken’s father was the Deputy Director, Public Works, in Rabaul before WWII when he became involved with the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles medical corps. Trained in medical procedures he assisted in the formation of the “Chinese Ambulance Auxiliary Detachment” which became part of the NGVR. Distrustful of what would happen after the Japanese invaded, his father escaped along the south coast of New Britain and then by pinnace and small boat to Samarai. In Samarai he was picked up by a Catalina flying boat and transferred to Port Moresby and, later, Townsville.

Ken’s family returned to Port Moresby in 1947 and from 1959 to 1963 Ken was involved with the PNGVR during the period of the Indonesian confrontation. During 1964 he became involved with the Archbold Expedition for the American Museum of Natural History. He became a reptile collector, shooting crocodiles and selling their skin, with the carcasses being given to the local community as food. His adventures were immortalized in the magazine of the World Explorers Club, of which he was an elected member.

His work took him deep into the jungles of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu and led to many interesting findings, including a number of crashed aircraft. In 1971, Ken found a B17 bomber that had crashed into a swamp during a bombing raid over Rabaul. It became known as the “Swamp Ghost”. He found a Catalina flying boat in 1994 which had crashed in 1943 and there were still six sets of human remains on board, which were returned to the USA for burial.

He also found numerous war relics which he donated to the Wacol War Museum in Brisbane and collected a wide range of memorabilia including parts of planes, guns and wood and stone artefacts. He was involved with post-war Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles.

Ken had many overseas adventures over the years but, after purchasing a cattle property in Vanuatu in 1985, he called Vanuatu and Airlie Beach home. He held a number of exploration, investigation, administration and management roles in a variety of companies, including BP, US Steel, CRA, BMR, Kennicott Niugini Mining on Lihir Island and Vanuatu gold.

Ken’s niece, Annette Raff, fulfilled one of Ken’s lifelong wishes by completing a book of his father’s escape during the war, using his father’s original diary and information collected by Ken about this great escape. He was able to see the completion of the book before he died. Ken’s dream, before he came ill, was to collate his photos and movies and produce a documentary about his adventures.

He will be sadly missed by family and his many friends, neighbours and colleagues in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

Our Uncle Ken was an extraordinary man and his visits to us were always filled with amazing stories of wild jungle adventures, crocodile hunts, New Guinea, plane wrecks and vivid descriptions of his family’s life before the war. He arrived unannounced and departed suddenly. We rarely knew where he was or what he was doing, but his visits were looked forward to eagerly.
Information from City Life Magazine April 2011 and Donna Horn, Julie Roffmann And Annette Raff (née MacGowan)


Pat SHANAHAN, AO, RFD, ED (22 April 2012, aged 82)

Pat Shanahan spent more than 50 years as a lawyer and judge. He was a District Court judge for 26 years having been appointed in October 1972 as an Acting Judge. Judge Shanahan was appointed as a judge of the District Court in December 1972 as the first resident District Court judge in Rockhampton.

He served as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea in 1973 and an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1991 and 1992.

After he retired Judge Shanahan served on several commissions of inquiry for the state government and the Queensland Law Society and for many years was the chair of the Covert Operations Committee. Judge Shanahan served in the Australian Army Legal Reserve from 1949 to 1984 and was awarded the Efficiency Decoration and the Reserve Force Decoration. He rose to the rank of colonel and at one time was the Regimental Colonel of the Royal Queensland Regiment.

After retirement he maintained a keen interest in military history and was made a life member of the Victoria Barracks Historical Society. He had a great interest in gardening and photography.

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