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June 2007



Keith Jackson

BRISBANE REUNION organisers expected that by mid June they would achieve their commitment to the Sofitel by signing 180 people for what has been termed The Grand Reunion Dinner. “It is hard to realise this has been achieved,” says organiser Colin Huggins. “Money seems to be flowing in and when [treasurer] Dick Arnold returns from R & R he'll update me after he splutters himself silly with delight.” A fantastic achievement.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Martin Hadlow of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland tipped us off to a revealing article on the love life of Margaret Mead. An extract in this issue of The Mail.

PETER FARRANT is trying to get in touch with Harry Hoerler who was mate on MV Polurrina where Peter’s older brother, Maurice George Farrant, was ship’s engineer. Maurice (also spelled Morris) was killed when the vessel sank in 1963. If you have any knowledge of Harry, could you contact Peter at [email protected].

BILL WELBOURNE has been trying valiantly to drum up starters for the inaugural ASOPA Golf Day, but the swing and duff brigade seem less than enthusiastic. “Fitting golf into the social program will have most of us falling asleep by the time Doctor Ken delivers his oratory,” predicts Bill. Though he’s not given up entirely. “I’m committed to the golf challenge if other tragics want a game. But I believe there will be few takers. And I'll definitely need an afternoon nap.”

LOOKS LIKE the reunion will benefit from a big turn out of former ASOPA lecturers. At this stage it seems Dick Pearse, Les Peterkin, Noel Cislowski, Ann Prendergast and Ruth Fink-Latukefu will be able to see what fine pillars of the community their erstwhile scholars became.

INGRID JACKSON is coordinating a project on behalf of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to preserve the spirit and something of the substance of ASOPA. But she needs your help to build a case. Can you…..

  • Offer reasons why ASOPA/ITI should be considered a site of significance.
  • Provide information about comparable institutions in other countries.
  • Advise her of photographs, documents or other memorabilia you have that a research centre may want to scrutinise (not keep).

We need to assemble a persuasive argument to establish a meaningful case for why and how ASOPA should be commemorated.

You can help keep the memory alive by writing to Ingrid at Apartment 901, 206 Ben Boyd Road, Cremorne 2090 or emailing her at [email protected].


Bill Welbourne

The reunion committee had a successful trial run of the RiverCat crawl to check out times and restaurants for the October reunion. Fourteen of us met at the Whistle Stop Bar near Central Station for coffee and scones. Captain Colin Huggins looked a little anxious until key team member Henry Bodman arrived spot on the 11am deadline. (Neither Huggie or Hen believe in mobile phones.)

We set off across the city and boarded the CityCat at Riverside Wharf for a pleasant run downriver to Brett’s Wharf and returned to South Bank Wharf. Here we strolled through picturesque parklands exploring the restaurant choices. We chose Lebanese cuisine.

Henry, Paul and Ed managed to give us the slip but were easily discovered by Colin's brother, Graham, enjoying an amber fluid at the Ploughman's Inn. (As I said, Hen does not believe in mobile phones).

At day’s end we agreed that our October visitors will experience a memorable weekend with plenty to see and do in sunny springtime Brisvegas.


Henry Bodman

For the record, The RiverCat Crawl was a complete success. The turn-up included Eddie Brumby ex Melbourne, Colin Huggins, Dennis Burrell, Bill Welbourne, Paul Brigg, Dick and Jo Arnold, Justine Finter, Therese Scott, Bill and Diane Bohlen, and Graham and Gail Huggins. At The Whistlestop we had a convivial cup of coffee and ambled off to the Rivercat stop, where we arrived after a very comfortable walk of 10 minutes from The Sofitel (4 minutes for people trying to prove how fit they are).

Pensioners $2, others $4, and we were on our way to the Hamilton terminus and then back to Southbank. An hour of pleasant chit chat and observation of Brisvegas from the river. (We might look into a dedicated Cat if we get 100 or more starters, and I expect this number at least.)
Arrived at Southbank in typical pleasant autumn Brisvegas weather and tripped through the myriads of eating places (very cheap nibbles to very classy).

While the main body continued its foraging, three or four worthies slipped into The Ship Inn for a schooner or three and all agreed that life doesn't get much better than sitting in the sun at Southbank Brisvegas on a pleasant autumn day sorting out the woes of the world and reminiscing of past good times at ASOPA and in PNG.

Thus 13 October looks like an amble to the Cat and a forage through Southbank. It can cost as little as $2 for the day for those who don't want to spoil the evening feast at the Sofitel.
The markets at Riverside look like the way to go for those in need of another amble on the Sunday. Everything points to a relaxed, casual and thoroughly enjoyable three days.


Henry Bodman

BOB DAVIS, Rod Hard and I put in a few useful days in Alstonville late last month. Over a beer at the quaint Alstonville Pub (one of two drinking holes in town) Sleuth Moose revealed the results of a search of the electoral roll.

Word was that Brian Desmond Smith, the object of the expedition, had worked at an Alstonville club but initially we had no joy despite hanging around the streets of the town in a most unseemly way.
We decided to repair to Ballina where there was a second Brian Desmond Smith – and, lo, the man in all his glory. Brian informed us he’d only recently enrolled to vote so we’d been lucky.

Off to the RSL to catch up on what had happened since our last encounter too long ago. The Smoth is on the ball and you wouldn't pick he’d had a stroke if you didn't know it. Would you be surprised to hear that we rehashed the ASOPA stories, to the delight of all? We were thrilled by our success and The Smoth will join us in Brisbane in October.

After dropping off Smoth, we taxied home. I never thought of Sleuth Moose as diminutive but, seeing him cowering in the corner of the passenger seat of that taxi beside a bloke who was three times his size, I felt my education was complete.


Jim Toner

Christian Arek was a Northern District policeman. As a constable, he took part in the first skirmish with Japanese invaders at Buna in July 1942 and, in 1943, retrieved the remains of Lucian Tapedi, Anglican martyr, for Christian burial.

Ten years later, by now a bemedalled Sergeant-Major, he was in London marching with the RPNGC contingent in the Coronation parade. A half-century on, Christian’s daughter, Elizabeth, has written from Brisbane to say she seeks "a thin paperback book about the war heroes of PNG". She says: "Recalling slightly, there was one about a PNG woman who transported injured Australian soldiers in her canoe".

Eric Johns (ASOPA 1958-59), Bill McGrath [ex-kiap of the Pacific Bookhouse], David Wetherell [academic researcher into eastern Papuan affairs], Max Harris [ex police inspector and RPNGC historian] and Colonel Maurie Pears [authority on the Pacific Islands Regiment] have all been approached but the book can’t be found.

The search is now thrown open to all lapun chalkies who might have used or come across the book during their time in PNG schools. Please respond to Jim Toner at [email protected].


Keith Jackson

Luke Sela died in Lorengau early this month at the age of 64. As I remarked to PNG Media Council boss, Justin Kili, who brought me the sad news, all our lives would be poorer if people like Luke didn't stroll into them from time to time.

Luke Clement Sela OBE, was a Manus Islander who attained the heights of media influence in PNG and never once betrayed the cause of freedom and fairness. A statement from the Media Council said: “Luke was the rock of PNG journalism, a man of great courage, determination and conviction to a free media in PNG.”

Luke was editor of the Post-Courier for 14 years and finally retired in 2000. “He laid the foundation for and set the benchmark for professional and fearless reporting of PNG affairs by an independent media,” said the Media Council

“He never saw himself as a friend to those in power and neither did he consider himself to be their foe. His no-nonsense approach to reporting won him great admiration. Luke was always unapologetic for the views and stands he took on many national issues. He always did what he believed to be the best for his country.”
You can’t ask more of a journalist than that.


Keith Jackson

At ASOPA, thanks to lecturers like Ruth Fink who tolerated our youthful foibles with angelic patience, we acquired a grounding of sorts in anthropology. Central in this learning was the work of Margaret Mead, especially her books Growing Up In New Guinea (1930) and, to a lesser extent, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928).

My good friend Prof Martin Hadlow at Queensland Uni has referred to me an article in the London Review of Books (vol 29 no 10, 24 May) by Adam Kuper, a professor of anthropology at Brunel University. Kuper’s piece (‘Putting things in boxes’) reveals a side of Margaret Mead that, back then, we never suspected.

Prologue: Margaret Mead (1901-78) married three times; first to a theological student and later to anthropologists Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson. Now read on…..

The day before Christmas 1932, Mead and Fortune left to take a holiday at the government station at Ambunti and look for a new research base. On their way up the Sepik they stopped in Kankanamun, where English anthropologist Gregory Bateson was camped. Fortune and Bateson had been fellow students at Cambridge but Fortune, who saw himself as a colonial outsider, was wary of Bateson, the son of a famous Cambridge biologist.

Mead was enchanted with Bateson. “He's six feet four and yet has all the slender unplaced grace of the most complete fragility,” she gushed in a letter.

Mead and Fortune set up camp on the shore of Lake Chambri near Bateson's field site and began a four-month study of the Tchambuli.

Bateson was astonished by their research methods. “They bully and chivvy their informants and hurry them till they don't know whether they are on head or heels,” he wrote to his mother. “But in the end I was converted and I am going to do some bullying too.”

The three anthropologists visited one another frequently, often talking through the night “cooped up together in a tiny eight-foot-by-eight-foot mosquito room,” Mead recalled, “analysing ourselves and each other as individuals and the cultures we were studying”.

Debates became more and more passionate and the emotional temperature rose. Mead and Bateson became lovers. “In the last year I've tried monogamy pretty hard - and I did have the sense that a part of me was going numb,” Mead wrote. “I've given monogamy a pretty fair trial – and found it wanting - and now it's fair for [Fortune] to try my culture for a change - if he can do so without violence to his own temperament.” But Mead knew, Fortune was jealous. “These last months have had all the quality of near madness,” she reported. “Gregory and I fully expected that the most possible outcome would be that Reo would shoot me, then Gregory, then himself - and there was nothing we could do - except try to hold on patiently from day to day.”

Fortune was certainly capable of running amok. He assaulted Mead, who was pregnant at the time and had a subsequent miscarriage. Mead told him he was such an aggressive man that he should go off to study warfare in another tribe.

He obliged, and when a runner came with a letter from Mead announcing she was going off with Bateson, he reacted accordingly. “What would you have done?” he later asked rhetorically. “I took my rifle and shot a native on the opposite hill.”