During the period 2004 – 2008 Kokoda tourism was managed by an expatriate CEO, Warren Bartlett, with a part-time office assistant.   Bartlett was a former Patrol Officer (Kiap). He had worked in PNG for 39 years – was a skilled Government administrator, was fluent in Tok Pisin, and had an empathetic understanding of the Melanesian Way.

The Kokoda Tourism Authority which was proclaimed in 2003 was required to be self-funded as neither the Australian nor PNG Governments were willing to provide any financial support.

The Board of Directors, appointed by the Minister for Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs approved a salary of K25,000 ($12,000) for Bartlett and a part-time secretary.   During Bartlett’s tenure Kokoda trekker numbers increased by 424 percent from 1074 in 2003 to 5621 in 2008.  

His duties during this period included processing all application for trek permits; meeting the demands of up to 80 Kokoda tour operators; 12 subsistence village communities; more than 100 landowners; and National, Provincial and Local Level Government officials.  

He trekked across the Trail to meet with villagers, organized village-based workshops, assisted campsite owners to build toilets, delivered bread ovens to villagers and published annual financial reports.  

But after income from trek permits began to flow, he had to deal with corruption and threats of violence from within his own Board of Directors.  

This chapter provides an insight into his dealings with Government and bank officials to protect the funds meant for village communities from his own corrupt officials.