‘Kokoda70′ is an initiative of Air Niugini and Network Kokoda. The commemorative period was lanunched by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill at Parliament House in Port Moresby on the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. The occassion was attended by The Hon Sir Mekere Morauta MP, Minister for Public Enterprise; the Hon Benjamin Philipp MP, Minster for Tourism, Culture and Arts; Governor of Eastern Highland Province, Mal Smith CMG, MBE, DFC, MP; Dame Carol Kidu MP; H.E. Ian Kemish, Australian High Commissiner, representatives of the PNG RSL, the Kokoda Track Authority and the Kokoda Initiative (AusAID).
The Prime Minister’s speech was delivered by Governor Mal Smith:
‘Distinguished Guests, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
‘Seventy years ago today Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour, Honolulu.
‘The attack triggered a military tsunami that spread across the Pacific and reached our shores in Rabaul six weeks later.
‘Papua New Guinea would never be the same again.
‘Although our Melanesian Island had been colonised by the Dutch, the British, the Germans and the Australians, few Papua New Guineans knew much about the world beyond our tribal borders in 1942.
‘We were not equipped for a war with modern weapons. We didn’t know anything about the new ‘invaders’ with guns, warships and planes from Japan, America and Australia.
‘It was not our war but we were quickly engulfed by it. [Read more...]