The purpose of our proposal to have ‘Kokoda Day’ proclaimed as a day of commemoration in PNG was to honour the legacy of PNGs wartime carriers who have never been officially recognised for their service or their sacrifice – no medal, no certificate, not even a ‘thank you’ note!

It was resubmitted to the National Executive Council in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the campaign in 2012. According to one Minister in attendance a group from the Sepik region believed ‘Kokoda’ was getting enough publicity and it was amended to ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angel Day’

This immediately killed any potential to promote pilgrimage tourism in PNG.

It also killed off any potential to use the occasion as a promotion for philanthropic support from past trekkers, RSL clubs and subbranches and Ex-Service Organisations.

As a result village communities across the Trail have missed out on at least $1 million (K2.4 million) per year for community development since 2012.

This is unfortunate because the marketing value of ‘Kokoda’ now has equal billing with ‘Anzac’ in Australia whereas the term ‘fuzzy-wuzzy angel’ is virtually unknown and would be widely regarded as a negative patronising term.

So, virtually nothing happens in PNG to commemorate the raising of the Australian flag on the Kokoda plateau on 3 November 1942; the official legacy of their wartime carriers continues to be ignored; no funds have been raised to marshal philanthropic support in their honour; and a major opportunity to promote pilgrimage tourism in PNG has been lost.

So, it’s to be – It’s up to PNG!