An Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee was established in 1947 to define the battles in the Pacific. Their final report in 1958 adopted ‘Kokoda Trail’ as the official Commonwealth battle honour which was awarded to 10 infantry battalions and the Pacific Island Regiment.
In 1972 the PNG Government gazetted the route from Owers Corner to Kokoda as the Kokoda Trail.
The Australian War Memorial adopted the name “Kokoda Trail’ for its Second World War galleries because of the official battle honours awarded in that name.
The author of the most definitive history of the Kokoda Trail (Stuart Hawthorne, The Kokoda Trail – A History’ Central Queensland University Press, 2003) recently wrote on the Australian War Memorial blog:
‘Exploration and development of the early parts of the overland route near Port Moresby began about 130 years ago. In this light, the campaign constitutes a very small part of the track’s history (about a third of one percent) yet the importance ascribed to the WW2 period often assumes a considerably high significance. Of course the Kokoda campaign is very important in Australia on many levels but notwithstanding this, I often wonder whether the presumption that our Australian perspective displaces all others and borders on the arrogant’.
If advocates of a different name wish to have it changed they should prepare a submission in accordance with the protocols of the PNG Government and forward it to them for consideration – after all they are the owners of the land. In the meantime the Australian Government and media should respect the deliberations of those who awarded the battle honour, Kokoda Trail, and the sovereign right of the PNG Government to name its own geographical features.