Vale – Una Voce June 2015

BARTLETT, Enid Ann Edgeworth (née Saunders) (1 February 2015) | BEADLE, Doreen (6 April 2015) | BRIGGS, Margaret Jacquelyn (29 November 2014) | DOWLING, Joan |  (21 April 2015) | FILAN, Dennise Margaret (31 October 2014) | FOPP, David Anton (8 March 2014) | GRAY, Dennis (14 February 2015) | GRAY, Geoffrey Michael Peter (6 February 2015) | HEAD, June (23 November 2013) | KUHN, Reinhard Martin (12 March 2015) | McKENZIE, Geoffrey Francis (22 March 2015) | MULLINS, Norman Edward (2015) | NITSCHE, Joachim (Joe) Josef (22 November 2013) | PIKE, Melba (Mel) Esme (28 January 2014) | ROWE (nee Dallas), Janet (13 February 2015) | SHAW, Joseph (22 October 2014) | STUNTZ, John Ronald (21 February 2015) | WILKINSON, Florence (8 August 2014)


Joachim (Joe) Josef NITSCHE (22 November 2013, aged 80)

Joe Nitsche was born in Teheran, Persia (Iran) on 17 February 1933. During World War II, his family, together with other German and Austrian families, was expelled and the men sent to Russia or Australia. Joe, with his mother and younger sister, returned to Germany. His father spent the war in an internment camp in Victoria, while Joe and his family lived in Angemunde, Germany. After the war, Joe’s father stayed in Australia and in 1949 the family was reunited in Sydney.

Soon after they arrived in Sydney, his father, Hugo, went to work as an Agricultural Officer in PNG where Joe’s mother, Flora, joined him after the children went to boarding school.

Joe attended St Gregory’s College in Campbelltown, then studied Agriculture in Gatton, near Brisbane. In 1954 he went to PNG as an Agricultural Officer.

Joe lived in a number of places in PNG, including Kainantu, Kapagery and Goroka. He loved his life there, particularly in Goroka. His final job as National Coffee Co-ordinator involved travelling across the Highlands, quarantining plantations with diseases, training local people to grow coffee commercially, etc.

After Independence and a number of break-ins at his home in Goroka, Joe retired and returned to Australia in 1984, moving into his house in Killarney Heights.

In Australia, Joe became involved with the ROAPNG (now PNGAA) in 1984. He was Secretary From June 1987 to June 2001 he was the Secretary and remained on the committee until June 2009. He significantly increased the membership, spent much time folding, wrapping and posting Una Voce, and was involved in every function and most activities.

Joe was a former PNGAA committee member and served as Secretary for many years. He continued on assisting with posting and packing of Una Voce. Dearly loved brother and brother-in-law of Gisela Elizabeth and Terry. Much loved uncle of Karen, Stephanie, Matthew and their families. Sydney Morning Herald

Note:  Joe was in PNG from 1957 to 1984.  He worked with DASF in Eastern Highlands and Central.  Joe was available for co-option to the Committee April 1986 (see Una Voce June 1986.) He was appointed Secretary in the 1987 AGM.

Joe died three months after being diagnosed with cancer which he’d thought he’d beaten six years earlier.


Melba (Mel) Esme PIKE (28 January 2014, aged 78)

Mel Pike passed away at Redcliffe, Brisbane. She was the widow of Senior Superintendent James Rennie Pike, RPNGC, and is survived by three daughters and their families.

I best knew the Pikes when I was stationed at Lae in the early 1970s where Mel worked at ABCO Transport and later at NAMAU. Maxwell R. Hayes


Doreen BEADLE (6 April 2015)

Doreen, wife of Frank Beadle, passed peacefully away on Monday 6 April 2015. They had 71 years together.



David Anton FOPP (8 March 2014, aged 85)

David Fopp came to Papua New Guinea in 1966 on secondment from the Commonwealth Department of Territories in Canberra. During many years there he worked in Port Moresby for the Information and Posts and Telegraphs Departments in administrative and training fields. He loved PNG and many local people benefited from his guidance. As a young man he contracted poliomyelitis but this did not stop him from playing basketball in his early years and enjoying a remarkable theatrical career. He not only appeared at the Arts Theatre in a number of plays but he also directed such masterpieces as Chekov’s A Month in the Country. On radio he played many leading roles and will be remembered for his performance in Queen Emma, a long running serial directed by Peter Trist. David was also an astute collector of art and works from his collection are to be hung in the National Gallery in Canberra. Originally from South Australia, he was a long-time resident of Canberra where he made his home and in two separate gatherings his ashes were scattered in both locations. Ray Watson


Joan DOWLING (21 April 2015, aged 94)

Joan Dowling passed away peacefully at her Kenmore home on Tuesday 21 April 2015.


Enid Ann Edgeworth BARTLETT (née Saunders) (1 February 2015, aged 82)

Ann Bartlett was born in Kavieng New Ireland in 1932. Her parents were Enid Gladys and Frank Riviere Saunders, who moved to PNG soon after the First World War to operate copra plantations.

With the start of World War II, Ann and her mother and brother were evacuated to Australia. During the Japanese invasion of Kavieng, she lost her beloved father. The circumstances of Frank Saunders’ death remain unclear, but his loss greatly affected her and she sought answers about his loss for the rest of her life.

She was educated at SCEGGS, Moss Vale and eventually she became a PE teacher at Sceggs Redlands at Cremorne. In 1955, she married John Bennett and had three sons.

She had an amazing and active life and was involved with tennis clubs, Probus clubs, and Women Welcome Women Clubs. This reflected her passion for travelling and meeting other women.

She joined the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society which was great comfort for her as she came to terms with her father’s death in World War II. PNG became a big part of her life especially during the last ten years. She was always searching for answers to Frank Saunders’ death. Being able to relate to other families with stories similar to hers gave Mum comfort and helped her deal with her loss even after so many years.

Ann and two sons went to Kavieng in 2007. The Memorial in Kavieng to the New Ireland and New Hanover civilians (including the Chinese) killed in World War II with Frank’s name on it brought back many memories and tears and gave Mum and her family a physical connection with her father and our grandfather.

She leaves three sons: Peter, Michael and Robert Bennett.

Mum, we love you, we celebrate your life and we will always remember you. Ann Bartlett’s family


Margaret Jacquelyn BRIGGS (29 November 2014, aged 87)

Margaret and Don Briggs, 2002

On 6 August 1927, Mum was born in the Lady Bowen Hospital, Spring Hill, Brisbane. Her parents were Margaret (née Shorter) and Arthur Evans who lived in Main Street, now known as Wallcott Street, in St Lucia.

Her parents parted in 1929 and Mum remained with her mother.

Later her mother married Percival Cheetham (also known as Spot) and Mum soon became a sister to Annette; John; Karen; and Christine (who are all here today). This is where the Cheetham dynasty began.


When Mum was 15 she was officially adopted by Percival Cheetham; they lived at Goskar Avenue, Alderley.

The Cheetham and Briggs families came together through business connections between Spot Cheetham and Harry Briggs (Don’s father), with Harry recuperating in the Cheetham family home following his rescue after the Japanese invaded Rabaul.

Harry and Lilian Briggs managed Londip Plantation outside Rabaul before and after WW2 and this is where Dad spent his childhood years before going to boarding school at Churchie in Brisbane around 1935. The Cheetham family brought him home with them on many school holidays.

Mum spent her childhood years around Newmarket, Windsor, Wilston and The Grange at various convent schools where she was class captain, excelled at team sports in particular vigaro and tennis, and finished her scholarship year.

You may have guessed, this is where the Briggs dynasty began.

On school holidays when Dad was invited out, apparently on more than one occasion, Mum would chase him around the house trying to kiss him: we are absolutely sure Mum did this only to embarrass him as he was quite a shy boy and she was a tomboy! It wasn’t till later when Dad dressed in his army uniform that he seriously caught her eye.

Mum left school around 15 and her first job was working in a wholesale florists called Cranfields. Firstly as a “go for”/cleaner/packer and soon moved up to the counter and preparing arrangements. She soon took a position as a sewer for Carlile and Malouf clothing factory in West End, Brisbane; within a short time she had graduated to a cutter/designer/sewer. This is where she honed her skills which eventually meant she was able to make her entire wedding party’s frocks, including her own; her maid of honour; two flower girls and her mothers and future mothers-in-law. She later opened her own frock salon in Rabaul.

In 1949, Mum and Dad were married at the St Columbus Church, Wilston, Brisbane. In that same year they decided to return to Rabaul in the Territory of Papua New Guinea where they spent several months with Grandpa and Grandma Briggs at Londip Plantation until eventually they moved into Rabaul to settle.

Their first house was near the Rabaul Police Barracks: a small tarpaper house with push out windows (no security) and cement floor! A humble home, their first piece of furniture being a car bench seat. I think at this point Dad was telling Mum their stay in Rabaul would only be for a few months; however their stay would eventually be for 47 years. Dad started at the Works Department and Mum worked in her frock salon.

Before too long Lorraine became a twinkle in their eyes, being was born in 1952, 18 months later Meredith was born in 1953, 14 months later Gae in 1955 (that’s 3 girls under the age of 3) and 3 years later I came along in 1958.

Shortly after Gae was born Mum began full time work to support Dad in providing for the family. She worked for the next 31 years right up until her final job with PNG Customs. Her various jobs included Shop Assistant for E.D. Clarke; Assistant Librarian, Rabaul Library; Cashier and Assistant Pay Mistress, Comworks; Customs Clerk, PNG Customs Dept.

She worked so we four Briggs kids could go to private school in Brisbane, Loreto College and Churchie. Although Mum would anguish about sending us away to boarding school she was always absolutely thrilled to see us return home for May, August and Xmas holidays.

We teenage kids certainly let loose on these returns:

Hiding boyfriends who accidently slept overnight at home. (Mum would stuff pillows under the girls sheets so if Dad checked it looked like the girls were back home in bed.)

Driving Mum’s V6 Torana at 100mph along potted bitumen roads, blowing Dad’s RMI fuel bill out of the water.

Bringing back new expletives we learnt at boarding school.

Cranking the music so loud it could be heard several blocks away.

Showing mum how when you lit TNT left over from the war it made a really good flash.

All the things that teenagers do.

Every time Mum was quick to defend us when Dad got cranky.

Mum’s dressmaking skills again shone through when she was able to make her daughters’ wedding dresses; evening dresses; baby clothes; christening gowns, etc. etc.

Mum was a keen and very good tennis player (for many years playing A grade competitioin tennis); she was also a self taught, keen golfer but a not so good one. I remember, she had a fairly terrible swing.

Whilst the kids were at school here in Brisbane, Mum and Dad developed an extensive network of good long time friends. Many gourmet dinners, and since restaurants were few and far between, Mum would fully cater and entertain Dad’s business guests. She was a fantastic cook and always prepared to try something different.

Mum also put up with Dad coming home late on more than a few occasions from the New Guinea Club. On one occasion Dad was late, Mum yelled from the lounge “your dinner is in the oven”, and as Dad discovered it was—a salad.

In the early 90s they bought a beautiful house at the top of the hill in Earle Court, Tallai, on the Gold Coast. Dad commuted back and forth to Rabaul for the next few years but in the end their “go pinis” was precipitated by the eruption of Tavurvur in 1994. Tallai days were happy for Mum, she loved being back “down south” close to her family and extended family.

Mum enjoyed her travel with Dad, to the UK, Europe, South East Asia and the odd cruise here and there.

They eventually moved back to Brisbane in the very late 90s, to Hanworth Street, East Brisbane. It was to be a short time in Brisbane for Dad and he passed away in 2002 at home and surrounded by his family. That was probably Mum’s saddest day.

In 2007 Mum turned 80. She always claimed her body didn’t take well to climbing over the eighties. She battled various conditions during her 80s, but every time she put up a great fight. Rainy mostly cared for Mum on a daily basis during these final years and it’s thanks to her Mum recovered from many of her setbacks.

We were so lucky to bring her home to Rainie’s home where she was nursed by Meredith, Gae, Rainie, Emma and Lexi. She received many visits from friends and relatives and was surrounded by the sounds of these visitors and family and ordinary household noises that reassured her that she was very much loved.

Mum put in a great fight to the very end.

Good bye Mum. We’ll love you always.


Dennise Margaret FILAN (31 October 2014, aged 68)

Dennise was born on 4 April 1946, the first child of Bob and Joyce Worthington, who lived in Greenacre, Sydney. She trained as a nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, graduating with excellent results, and then trained in midwifery at The Canterbury District Hospital.

On a working holiday with friends, Den visited Mount Hagen in New Guinea. They found the Mount Hagen Hospital pretty primitive. It consisted of a series of unlined single shell fibro dorms with concrete floors. Hygiene was a weekly hosing of the floor, beds were old army cots and mattresses were flattened cardboard boxes. Equipment was fairly primitive and Den’s practical nature came to the fore when she invented a number of items for surgery.

Soon after arriving Den met Mark Filan in Hagen and swept him off his feet. They married in Sydney on 15 November 1969, and returned to Mount Hagen.

Den ran the First aid Post at the 1970 Mount Hagen Show, a task requiring diplomacy, skill and calm under pressure.

Den worked as the Regional Leprosy Control Nurse which involved inspections of Leprosy colonies in very isolated locations, notably Togoba. She was later Sister in Charge of Surgery at Mount Hagen Hospital and when Mark was transferred to Port Moresby, she transferred to the Taurama General Hospital, where she was in charge of the Premature Babies Nursery.

Den and Mark’s son Seamus was born on 16 July 1973, just after Mark was finished his PNG contract. They moved to Canberra, where Mark was appointed to the new Australian Institute of Criminology and they enjoyed their first own home. Felicity and Michelle were born in Canberra.

In 1979 they moved to Melbourne, where they built a home in Mitcham and in 1984 Den returned to nursing. In 1990 the family moved to Bendigo, where Den joined the then Mount Alvernia Hospital.

About six years ago, health problems curtailed Den’s professional life. She underwent spinal surgery and bilateral hip replacements and in 2009 she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She demonstrated strength of will, courage and sheer determination.

Den passed away at St John of God Hospital, Bendigo on 31 October 2014. She will be known as an irreplaceable friend, wife, mother and grandmother, and will not be forgotten.


Dennis GRAY (14 February 2015, aged 71)

It was sad to hear of the passing of Dennis Gray. I never met Dennis but had several conversations with him, and was the fortunate recipient of several disks of remarkable film and photographs which he was kind enough to send.

Dennis was a pilot and a member of the remarkable Gray family that has seen three generations of pilots flying in PNG. It was Dennis Gray who compiled the amazing pre-war cine film of his uncle, a pilot with Guinea Airways, and added fascinating commentary, along with a compilation of period photographs. Dennis himself became a pilot with Ansett and flew in PNG in the 1970s. It is in his care of this unique history and commentary that his love of flying in PNG and strong family connection can be seen.

The Courier-Mail tribute states: GRAY, Dennis Charles Late of Narangba. Passed away peacefully at home, 14 February, 2015. Aged 71 Years Beloved Son of Chas and Tess (both dec’d), cherished Husband of Margaret, loving Father of Paula and Jeremy. Friend to many.

He and his family lived and flew over many interesting times and places in PNG history, particularly aviation, and we owe him a debt of appreciation for capturing this history so that others too can appreciate it. Vale Dennis. Robin Mead

Dennis got in touch with me a few years ago after finding me on Schoolfriends Reunited. We had PNG in common and also we both went to Stafford State School in Brisbane.

He wrote a book about growing up in the 50s. He was so funny. He wrote as he spoke, like an awful young boy. Apparently he had had a posh English accent once upon a time, but had had it beaten out of him.

Dennis sent me chapters thru via email and I laughed and laughed. Apparently some people were not quite aware of what he was doing and were correcting his English and spelling!

I knew Dennis was not well. He had cancer and was trying every available thing the oncologist would give him!

I met Dennis and his wife Marg at Aspley for lunch March last year 2014. He presented me with THE BOOK….Eenie Meenie Miney Mo. I received comment and thanks inside. I was so happy for him.

We continued to email—the subject line ‘still ere’ made me smile each time—but I knew it was getting close. He was trying to get his papers in order: another book about PNG. Said he would send me a copy. We discussed the after life, etc. He didn’t believe! I hope he has found out that I was right and he was wrong!

He was pleased to lie back and listen to his family in the kitchen all working and talking together. He said, “They are working as three and not four. That is good, I know Marg will be ok.”

So … not much about PNG or the airlines, I’m sorry. He also gave me a couple of DVDs of early aviation in PNG which I treasure. His family were in Wau pre-war and got out in 1942 when the Japs came. His father William [Bill] and Uncle Charlie were also pilots.

That is about all I can say about Dennis. but he was a lovely man and I liked him. Susan Hertrick


Geoffrey Michael Peter GRAY (6 February 2015)

Geoffrey Michael Peter Gray was born on 26 April 1938 in Hampstead, London, and when a baby, lived with his mother in Liverpool. A very young Geoffrey was admitted to Nazareth House, an orphanage in Ditton, in April 1943. When his mother Ivy returned to take him home in 1947 she was told he had gone to Australia. No notice, no advice. No discussion. Only a ‘disappearance’, which Geoff’s Aunty Molly told him ‘almost demented’ his mother. Ivy died from peritonitis in 1960 without ever finding her son Geoffrey, who had been taken without her consent and, even worse, her knowledge.

As happened in those days, Geoffrey found himself heading for Australia on the MV Asturias, arriving in Fremantle on 22 September 1947. He was nine, and finger-printed on arrival. This forced migration was part of the Commonwealth Child Migration Scheme, and sponsored by the Catholic Council for Child Welfare. Back at Nazareth house, the boys were asked: ‘Who wants to go on a holiday to Australia?’ and furthermore, it is a place where they could ‘ride a horse to school and pick fruit off every tree’.  Seductive, eh. This later turned into the phrase ‘oranges and sunshine’, which became the title of a film based on the pioneering reunion work done by Margaret Humphries under the Child Migration Trust—but that is another, and very long, story.

Geoffrey was taken with many other orphan lads of his age to what was then called Clontarf Boys’ Town, where he lived at the mercy of the Christian Brothers from 1947 till 1955, when he moved to Sydney and in 1956 to Melbourne, to study and train as a Brother. Late 1956 found Geoffrey back in Perth. I don’t know when he adopted the phrase, but from somewhere around his early adulthood he referred to himself as a ‘retired Catholic’!

So, from living in Claremont and being a junior clerk in a State Government office in the Terrace, Geoff moved on to the year 1960 when he applied for teacher training in Papua New Guinea, and flew to Port Moresby and then to Rabaul in October, where his six months’ training began. Once graduated, Geoffrey spent the better part of ten years teaching in small schools in the highlands of New Guinea. It was during this period that he fell deeply in love with Goroka, after which town his house and car are named.

Geoffrey then spent around four years working in what would later define his professional life: ‘industrial relations’. He stuck up for workers on plantations who worked long hours for miserly wages and were mostly treated very shabbily. This period of 14 years all up defined Geoffrey’s life and remained his major passion and conversation for the rest of his life. He had thousands of stories and told them to anyone who would listen. With independence looming in 1975, Geoffrey returned to Australia in 1974 and decided to study for a BA at the University of Western Australia, during which period he bought a newsagency in Nedlands but as he often professed, he had six or seven years of not working.

Meanwhile, in 1972, Geoff took off for England, his first homecoming since being so crudely exported as a young, fragile lad in 1947. He knew that he would never meet his mother Ivy, but the shock of seeing her grave was substantial and distressing—and as with other tough times, it left a searing, branded memory. He had a few more trips back home, and was delighted to reunite with long-lost first cousins and, as more years passed, those women especially who worked tirelessly to reunite British Child Migrants with their families.

Geoff became without any doubt the most passionate, articulate and committed person in the whole of Australia—and perhaps the world—to put himself out on a very long limb and, for decades, write deeply-felt letters to the press and politicians, and to make extremely well-argued cases to government, including the British House of Commons and the Australian Parliament, as well as to numerous individual politicians and others of capacity and influence. Geoff had the gift of oratory or, as they say, the gift of the gab. He became very well known for his advocacy, and was invited along with Margaret Humphries to meet the Governor-General when he (Bill Hayden) awarded Margaret an Order of Australia for her services to British Child Migrants (or, as Geoff called them, ‘lost children of the Empire’).

When the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established a couple of years ago, Geoff was among the first in Australia to register and was given a private hearing in Perth with two Commissioners: a very difficult, painful and tearful experience for him. But as with all else, Geoff told it as it is—or was. They were very shocked and saddened to learn of just what he went through at Clontarf, and how he remained so deeply distressed and lifelong-afflicted by their brutality: emotional, physical, and sexual.

Geoffrey took his new degree off to Tasmania for two years, and returned to Perth where he took up a position of CEO or Secretary of the Bread Bakers’ Association, where he stayed for 12 years and made lasting friendships among the bakers across Perth.

Geoff then established an unfair dismissal practice: if you Google you will find it still exists on the world wide web: Unfair Dismissal Help Service, rated five stars! And further: Industrial Relations Hotline Service, the advertisement for which sits immediately below that for Ken Trainer. Geoff worked closely and often in the WA Industrial Relations Commission and, indeed, received a beautiful letter in December 2012 from Mr Tony Beech, the Chief Commissioner, stating among other things:

I am aware you are held in high regard by the Registry staff for your courtesy and good manners when dealing with them and this is much appreciated by them too.

(W)e recall the many times during conferences when you have referred to Mick Jagger and the words “You can’t always get what you want” and we have appreciated your efforts in trying to reach an agreement on behalf of your clients.

I was also touched that you asked me to comment upon a submission you intended to make to the UK enquiry into British children forcibly sent to Australia which concerned your own circumstances. It gave me an insight into you as a person which others may not have seen, and I thank you.

Along the way, Geoff acquired two godchildren, firstly Timothy Brownfield and later, Amy Sheppard, who became much loved and significant figures in his life.

I was driving Geoff past Kings Park on the day he died, and he reminded me that he used to run through there on his way to work in the city. From Claremont. Another exceptional skill possessed by a man with too many to catalogue here. He sometimes boasted that he used to beat the train to the city—regrettably, the time for empirical confirmation of that extraordinary feat has long passed!

Now to the end: Friday the sixth of February, 2015, a few very long and painful days ago. Geoff had an appointment with a ‘psychogeriatrician’ in Nedlands at midday, and at around 10.30 am he was shaved, showered, freshly-dressed and raring to go for this critical appointment, made to assess his cognition and capacity for independent decision-making. We had a great yarn on the drive from Yokine, and I then sat nearby and read a book while Geoff spent just on two hours with the specialist. He emerged looking very positive, with a decent glint in his eye, if feeling dog-tired (a familiar accompaniment for those with Parkinson’s). On the drive to Geoff’s home in John Street, Mount Lawley, he told me that the doctor asked at some stage, a question with figures in it, to which Geoff responded: ‘My specialty is in the social sciences, not mathematics’! A brilliant, incisive sense of humour to the end.

We spent around an hour at John Street and then departed for my place, where Geoff sat on the front verandah eating icecream, drinking real tea and playing with his beautiful Kelpie, Daulo, named after a mountain pass in New Guinea and who lives with us these days. All of his many fine canine friends over the decades (including when Geoff lived in PNG for 14 years) had such names: Asaro, who died two years ago, got her name from a valley in New Guinea. Indeed, from Daulo Pass, one looks down into Asaro Valley. Like Geoff himself, they formed the best of mates, with deeply enduring bonds. I noticed that after returning to the verandah from doing something inside, there was a smudge or three of what appeared to be licked-up ice-cream on the verandah. And the dog had a smile on his face!

So, to the inevitable, and a soft but urgent phone call around 12.30 am Saturday morning: ‘Allan, Geoffrey has passed away’. Geoff left these mortal coils just before midnight. The rest of that awful night passed very slowly, but Geoff went very peacefully, very quickly, and looked like he had decided to move on. It was finally time to go. He was relaxed. One very experienced aged care nurse told me that she had never seen such a peaceful, easy passing in all of her years in aged care. As always, Geoff chose his time, and he chose his style.

A remarkable life, lived to the full, initiated with State and institutional brutality, climaxing with seven or so years of Parkinson’s and its awfully debilitating effects (both from the brain wastage itself and the tough medications designed to enable some shadow of a former physical life to be lived), but most significantly, leading between these dreadful bookends, a brilliant life with amazing jobs, and dedicating himself to justice, due process, and procedural fairness (he loved that term), forcing responsible others to face up to their moral and legal obligations. Making stuff happen.

And relentlessly pursuing the rights and betterment of others who, like himself, endured far more ugliness and avoidable sorrow than what any person should ever have to endure. Geoff’s 76 years were filled with amazing, loving friends from all over Australia and the world, his Canadian first cousin Tom, two godchildren and exceptional neighbours, who doted on him hand-and-foot and took him into their hearts and lives and homes. As Geoff did for them.

Farewell Geoffrey, from all of us here and from all of the many people who would be here today if they could be. You have been and remain, deep in our lives and hearts and minds, embedded in our memories, deeply loved—and awfully, dreadfully, terribly missed. Allan Padgett


Reinhard Martin KUHN (12 March 2015, aged 74)

Reinhard was born in Leutental, Germany. With his wife Elisabeth, he migrated to Australia in 1960. In May 1966 they moved to the Eastern Highlands District of PNG, where he worked at Henganofi.

In 1968 they leased a coffee plantation, Abiera, near Kainantu. With PNG moving to Independence they left in 1974 and returned to Germany. They found the European winters too severe so after a year or so they returned to Queensland, where they built a fabrication business, producing steel frames for sheds and houses in Mackay. In 2007 they moved to a small agricultural block at Koumala where they produced avocados and mandarins.

Reinhard died on 12 March 2012 at Mater Private Hospital, Mackay, after a long illness. He is survived by Elisabeth, his wife of 54 years, a son, Martin, and his family.


Geoffrey Francis McKENZIE (22 March 2015, aged 90)

Well known former, New Guinea and Rabaul identity Geoffrey McKenzie passed away in Sydney in the early hours of Sunday 22 March 2015, following a stroke. Geoffrey was born in Echuca, Victoria on 3 August 1924, the youngest of 8 children, and left home at the age of 10 to go to boarding school at Xavier College in Melbourne where he remained until aged 17, and straight out of School, enlisted in the RAN. (His three brothers Bill, Duncan and Hugh had already joined the RAAF.)

Midshipman Geoffrey McKenzie was transferred to the United Kingdom, to the Royal Navy, posted to submarines, commissioned, and served in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean: initially on the famed HMS Seraph, and subsequently on the HMS Scorcher. At the conclusion of the war in Europe, he returned to the Pacific and served in New Guinea waters, in command initially of HMAS Air Faith, and subsequently of HMAS Air Foam, both Miami-class air/sea rescue vessels.

After discharge in 1946, he returned to New Guinea, and from his Rabaul base became involved in the underwater salvage of brass from wartime wrecks in southern Bougainville. He met and married Gwen Lazarus and together they started Rabaul Stevedores. The Company’s operations were extended to Madang and Lae; Geoffrey travelling to those ports to personally supervise the stevedoring of China Navigation Company vessels. At Kieta he undertook the unloading of the heavy-lift equipment for CRA initial operation.

He invented the ABILIFT for transporting containers on shore. It was a frame which fitted over the container and balanced on two big wheels in the centre. It was moved using a tractor or forklift lifting one end.

His managerial skills, stevedoring expertise, and specialist interest in palletised and container shipping brought him to the attention of Edward Scott (head of Australian based subsidiary of the British company, John Swire & Sons) who had similar interests, leading to McKenzie being invited to join their board when he sold Rabaul Stevedores to Steamships Trading Company, prior to leaving New Guinea during the 1980s to retire in Australia. In retirement he lived both in Sydney and overseas.


Norman Edward MULLINS (2015)

“God has been on my side”

From Damian:

1922 was another significant year in the history of the world.

Insulin was first used to treat diabetes, Johnny Weismuller was the first to swim 100 meters in under 1 minute, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen and Qantas Airways began service, to name a few.

But the best thing that happened, on 14 October of that year, was that Norman Edward Mullins was born.

His parents Florence and Edward were working class people who lived in Coburg, a suburb of Melbourne. The eldest child of eight, Norman was given a lot of responsibility from a very early age.

Dad was seven years old when the Great Depression began and with it came many hardships.

Dad told us many stories from his childhood, including the one about the day, during the depression, when his mother asked him to go to the shop with one shilling, to buy a tin of salmon for his father’s lunch. On his way he met his mate Lenny O’Mara, who had a go-cart. The errand was quickly forgotten as Lenny and Dad played for hours up and down the street on the go-cart.  Eventually Dad remembered what he was supposed to be doing and put his hand into his pocket to get the shilling, but it was gone.  He went home and told his mother that he had lost the shilling and she said, “Well your father has been home for lunch and all I could give him was bread and lard”. This was a harsh lesson for Dad. He would often say to us: “If you are going to do a job do it straight away and don’t fiddle around because if you do, something might go wrong”. Dad was 14 when the depression deepened. His father lost his job and his mother told him they had no choice, but to take him out of school. He would have to help the family by earning an income. Norman got a job as a courier with the ES and A Bank, delivering messages, parcels, etc., in the CBD of Melbourne. He would ride 12 km to the city and back each day, not to mention all the riding he did while he worked. At this time he also elected to take himself to night school so that he could continue his education.

At the age of 18, Dad clapped his eyes on a pretty girl and thought to himself  “God is helping me here today, because she’s the girl for me”. They would see each other at church dances and talk to each other, but when Dad used to see mum on the train, he was “too shy to talk to her most of the time”. They would exchange smiles and a few words here and there. At that time Mum had another admirer, affectionately named Weasel. Weasel took Mum to the pictures and Dad thought if Weasel can do it, so can I, and that is what gave him the courage to ask her out on their first date. To this day, we all thank Weasel that we are here today.


Towards the end of the 1930s, war was imminent so, at the age of 18, Dad enlisted in the Army and was sent to New Guinea. Still a shy innocent young man, his first letter to Mum was signed “Yours sincerely, Norman Mullins”. In 1942 Dad fought in the Battle of Milne Bay. He was later injured in the Marlo River whilst trying to dodge Japanese bullets and was hospitalised for 3 months. Towards the end of the war, he was also badly burned when the Japs raided an airfield and 3 x 44 gallon drums burst into flames. It was after this and months in hospital, that Dad was forced to return to Australia.

Upon his return to Melbourne, he married his sweetheart, Therese, on 28 September 1946 at St Paul’s in Coburg. He was 23 years old.

Dad and Mum went back to live in Papua New Guinea, as Dad saw it as a place that had “good law and order and there was plenty of work available”. In their early married life, they lived in various parts of the territory including Lae, Daru, Bougainville, and Kavieng, during which time Helen and Joan were born.

The family moved to Goroka in 1952 where Dad purchased five acres of land on the edge of town, fondly known as Okiufa. Dad built a house and together he and mum established a coffee plantation. The property had a picturesque view that overlooked the Bismarck ranges. The family had a wonderful 18 years in Goroka, during which time Damian, Sue, Margaret, Judith and John were born. We lived a blessed life and formed many life-long friendships, which we have maintained to this day.

Dad worked for the Australian Government and was put in charge of the Highland Native Labour Scheme: organising the indigenous labour to build the roads and infrastructure for the highlands. 

Dad was very involved in the community in Goroka. He was one of the organisers for the annual St Pat’s Ball and every year, for about a month before the ball, life in our home was a torture. We had to keep deadly silent or out of the house altogether, while he recorded the music for the ball, using a microphone and a tape recorder with reel-to-reel tapes.

Dad liked talking about his time he spent fighting in the war in Papua New Guinea. We would sit around for hours on the timber floors in our Goroka home and listen intently to the many stories he related to us. There was no TV, only the ABC radio and records to entertain us, when Dad was not telling war stories.

Every two years the family would travel to Melbourne for a 2-3 month holiday. It was on one of these trips that Dad, Mum and Cassie, Mum’s sister, visited mum’s mother, who was 103 years of age at the time. Nanny was lying in bed with her eyes closed. Cassie lent over her and said, “Do you know who I am?” to which Nanny replied “No”, “Well I’m your daughter Cassie,” she said. Then Mum asked the same question, to which Nanny responded, “No”, so Mum had to explain, “Well I’m your daughter Therese”. Then it was Dad’s turn. He said, “Do you know who I am?” She said “Yes, you’re Normie Mullins!” She could not recognise her own daughters but remembered Dad. He had the ability to leave an indelible impression upon people.

Dad had many hobbies and interests. He was obsessed with the story of the Shroud of Turin and could tell you anything you wanted to know about this subject. He was interested in world history, and considered himself a bit of an expert on Islam and the Quran. In Goroka and here on the coast, he built hobby sheds and would spend hours building, mending and admiring the many model aeroplanes and trains he put together. In the old days he restored old motorbikes and would take us all for rides. We relished this opportunity to have one on one time with him.

In 1969 the family moved to Rabaul and then to Port Moresby in 1972.

From John:

In 1975, after 30 years in Papua New Guinea, Dad took the “golden handshake” and retired to Mount Gravatt in Brisbane. Little did he and mum know, but the space invaders were about to arrive. Some of us kids decided we wanted to move in with them. Dad realised that the opportunity for romance would be seriously diminished and within no time decided that he and Mum would leave us there and move to the Gold Coast.

Dad & Mum eventually settled at Port Drive where they have had 35 wonderful years together, living a very fulfilling and busy life. Dad was Chairman of the National Civic Council and also instigator and Chairman of the Knights of the Southern Cross in Surfers Paradise. When he wasn’t busy with that work he was always writing letters to Politicians, Local Counsellors and Parish Priests, offering advice on how things should be done the right way, which was of course, his way. In his spare time he was reconditioning second-hand lawn mowers and washing machines he picked up from the local dump, to give to Vinnie’s to help families in need.

Dad was, first and foremost, a wonderful husband to Mum and treasured her dearly. He was always very proud of the family. As children we always felt very loved, safe and secure. He was a wise and intelligent person who made his way in the world, despite his lack of education. He was blessed with a positive outlook on life, he was organised, devoted to his faith, and had an amazing ability to cope with hardship.

Most of Dad’s adult life was plagued with back pain from a war injury about which he rarely complained.  In his final days, as the cancer took hold of him, he did not complain once. On my last visit to see him (on the afternoon of Mark’s funeral) I asked Dad how he was and he said, “I am all right, don’t worry about me, just focus on Helen”.

We are overwhelmed, Mum, at the way you have taken care of Dad. When we tell people that our 91-year-old mother has been the carer for Dad throughout his entire illness, they are truly amazed. You have done it with such grace, love and kindness and we have you to thank for keeping Dad in our lives for so long. Many were the times that we heard Dad calling out “Tessio” and Mum would come running to answer his every need. Us kids would often visit home and when Mum and the girls were yacking in the kitchen, we would hear dad say “Permission to speak”, and put his hand up in the air, so that he could put his two-bobs worth in.

We would like to thank Father Tim Harris who, in his busy schedule, found time to visit Dad at home and in hospital to give the last rites. We can assure you, that this gave Dad great comfort and was very important to him.

We would like to thank you all very much for coming here today and for the various ways you have given us your friendship, and supported Dad and our family over the years. A special thank you to the wonderful Ozcare nurses who have visited our home and attended to Dad’s needs during his illness and provided Mum with so much support.

When summing up Dad’s life we can quote directly from him, “God has been on my side and I feel so blessed to have had a wonderful wife in your mother and a lovely family”.


Janet ROWE (née Dallas) (13 February 2015, aged 79)

Janet was born at Wynyard, Tasmania, on 22 February 1936. She was the youngest of four children born into a pioneering family at Detention River in the North West of Tasmania. The family of Dallas were of Scot descent and had immigrated to this area around 1850. They remained in the district in the same location for over 100 years. A history of the family was written by one of Janet’s uncles and reflected a tradition of community service of which she and her siblings were justly proud. Her father was a local government councillor for some 29 years. These qualities of service and care for others were virtues that Janet absorbed and lived by from an early age.

In her late teens Janet commenced a nursing career as a general nurse, training at Latrobe Hospital in Tasmania. In her final year she topped the State in her subjects with strengths in Theatre Nursing. Nursing continued to be her interest over the years. On one occasion she was instrumental in saving the life of a neighbour farmer who suffered life threatening injuries while using gelignite to remove stumps on his property.

She and Barry were married at Ulverstone, Tasmania, in 1962 and celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary in December 2014.

While in Papua New Guinea at Port Moresby, Waigani, 1967 to 1977, Janet undertook volunteer work with a Not for Profit organisation, Cheshire Disability Services, which provided rehabilitation services to people with disabilities drawn largely from less fortunate families. It was possibly this experience which led her to apply to work at ‘Rosine’ in Mt Evelyn after returning to live in Lilydale, Victoria, in 1977. The focus of ‘Rosine’ was in meeting the needs of profoundly handicapped children, an area of nursing to which Janet was wholly committed

Janet was the proud mother of three children, Tom, Sam and Jenny. She celebrated the arrival over the years of six grand-children. She had a deep compassion for all living things and at Lilydale nurtured a miscellany of goats, cows, pigs, geese, chooks, ducks and turkeys, not to mention a wide variety of wild birds, some of which fed from her hand. A brain tumour was diagnosed in late October 2014 and the family cared for her at home at Lilydale until her death. Her gentle spirit will live in our hearts and be a light to guide our pathway. Barry Rowe


Joseph SHAW (22 October 2014, aged 84)

Joseph Shaw’s wife Margaret said: Living with Joe Shaw for 62 years was not always plain sailing, but it was never boring!

Joe’s parents, Bella and Packy Shaw, were Scottish immigrants to Wonthaggi, Victoria. Joe was born on 27 January 1930 in Collingwood, Melbourne. He was the youngest of five boys.

He met and married Margaret in Yarrawonga. While working he completed his senior studies and then studied law and accounts by correspondence.

In 1961 Joe moved his family to PNG. His work as a clerk to the Public Trustee took him all over the country, investigating property disputes and dealing with complex legal wranglings.

For the family it was an idyllic and wonderful upbringing with friendships at school and in the Catholic community and it was here that Joe developed his passion for squash.

Joe coached David Palmer (a junior squash player rejected by the Australian Institute of Sport) to became a World Champion, multiple British Open winner, US Open winner, Hong Kong Open winner and dual gold medallist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Joe conquered the Kokoda Track on many occasions and immersed himself and his family in PNG culture. He taught them to have the greatest respect for the indigenous peoples of PNG.

With Independence in 1972, Joe returned to Australia and worked for Medibank, starting as a clerical officer and ultimately creating his own department, Fraud Investigation.

Squash coaching became his career and here he left a legacy.

Joe took on the leadership of the Mt Gravatt walkers’ group and stood up for the rights of the residents and workers at the retirement village. His generosity with his time and expertise will be remembered by all.

In mid-September 2014 Joe was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away six weeks later.


John Ronald STUNTZ (21 February 2015, aged 86)

John Stuntz passed away on 21 February 2015, in Angeles City, Philippines, aged 86 years.

John had a very successful and rewarding life in Papua New Guinea. He loved that country: he was fluent in Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin and married a lady from a prominent family from Hula Village whom he described as “the love of my life”.

John spent his early days in the Sydney beachside suburb of Freshwater. He was a successful student and attended the then selective entry Canterbury Boys’ High School.

He was also prominent in sports, representing in Junior Rugby League, amateur boxing, beach sprinting and surfing.

When aged twenty years he was selected as a Cadet Patrol Officer and went to Papua New Guinea in 1949. He subsequently served in the Morobe, Northern and Milne Bay Districts. He did a lot of good bush patrolling, particularly in the then uncontrolled area around present Menyamya. He was also involved in the rescue operations following the Mt Lamington eruption.

In 1955, John resigned from the Administration and purchased the Mariawattte copra plantation located on the south east coast of Papua. He remained on Mariawatte for the next twenty years.

In this period John contributed to public life, serving as an appointed member of the Legislative Council, and then as the elected member for East Papua Regional Electorate in the first House of Assembly.

As a prominent MP (and Deputy Speaker), John also served on a number of important committees that formulated recommendations pursuant to the oncoming self government and independence of Papua New Guinea.

John eventually relocated to Port Moresby where he became involved in property investment and the administration of local rugby league clubs and the Papua New Amateur Guinea Boxing Association (which awarded him life membership).

It was then that he met and married Wari Numa from Hula Village.

In 1979 John and Wari left Papua New Guinea and settled in the Sydney beach-side suburb of Manly, where John re-established ties with the local surf and skiff clubs.

In 2007 Wari passed away following a long illness. John then decided to leave Australia and to resettle in Angeles City in the Philippines. John hoped to enjoy a happy retirement amongst an esoteric group of expatriates but mainly comprising US military retirees. John subsequently married a Filipino lady, Ms Tess Genambiang.

Unfortunately John contracted a number of debilitating illnesses which left him bed ridden for the past few years and to which he eventually succumbed.

To the end John maintained a rigorous and disciplined intellect and personality. He maintained he had no regrets and that he had: “lived a wonderful life”.

He is survived by wife Tess and daughters Julia and Jana in the Philippines, another daughter Beverley, and two adopted sons Kopi and Peter. Harry Redmond


Florence WILKINSON (8 August 2014, aged 95)

Florence’s husband Ernest was with the PNG Health Department from 1930 until his retirement in 1962. Following their marriage, they lived in PNG from 1946 to 1972. From 1955 they lived in Goroka where Florence was a welfare officer for the Eastern Highlands District from 1957 to 1972.

She managed the PNG netball team for the South Pacific Games in Port Moresby in 1969 and she started a cottage industry in the Eastern Highlands District, importing rubber dolls which local women’s groups then dressed in their traditional village attire.

Florence and Ernest also lived in Rabaul and Buka and after Ernest’s retirement in 1962 they built the family home in West Goroka.

She is survived by her son John, daughter Anna, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. John Wilkinson


June HEAD (23 November 2013, aged 77)

June was born in Melbourne in 1936. With her husband, Rob, she served from 1962 to 2008 in PNG, translating the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, into four dialects of the Kaugel language group.

June and Rob had two children, Peter and Nola, and eight grandchildren.

As a dedicated member of the Wycliffe family, June will be dearly missed.

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