General meeting October 2023
Nigel Pile—Papua New Guinea in the 1960s
Yankalilla Library Meeting Room
YDHS Vice-President Nigel Pile gave a brief history of colonial Papua New Guinea where, in 1966, as a young man of 21 years, he was a Patrol Officer (or Kiap) in the Eastern Highlands province. PNG became self-governing in 1973, and independent in 1975.
The former German colony of New Guinea was a United Nations mandated territory, following a League of Nations’ decision after the Great War, and that Papua was under the administration of Australia.
Goroka is the main town of the eastern province. Apart from patrolling, Patrol Officers had numerous administrative duties, including land settlements, as well as the powers of police, sometimes magistrates, and prison officers. Until they learnt Pidgin English, and some of the local dialects, they were reliant on interpreters in official relations with the local people.
During the time Nigel and his family were there, the Highlands Highway was extended to link major towns in the highlands to the coastal towns. There was a severe influenza outbreak and, at times, deaths due to childhood diseases.
Nigel finished his talk in Pidgin – what a fascinating language!