First impressions of Koiari and Orokaiva villages along the Kokoda Trail give little hint of the complex relationships that exist within. The simple life of building, gardening, cooking, nurturing, teaching and healing is underpinned by the complexities of clan relationships and the influence of missionary pastors, traditional lululais’ and sorcerers.
Elders maintain their distance and examine trekkers with furrowed brows and quiet curiosity as they arrive, collapse, rest, hand out a few balloons, ask a few shallow questions, shake hands, and wave goodbye. Most elders speak Motu, some speak Tok Pisin, but their English is often poor or non-existent. This limits their communication to friendly smiles and a wave of the hand. But mostly they just look. (more…)
Kokoda trekkers are the basic building block of Papua New Guinea’s most popular tourist destination. They are also the most neglected.
Any business, industry or service provider who dared treat their customers with as much contempt as the Kokoda trekker receives would be placed in the hands of a commercial undertaker in a very short period of time. (more…)
The news that the interim Executive Officer of the PNG Kokoda Track Authority, Annette Dean, quit her job and returned home to Tasmania is no surprise. She cited death threats, corruption and daily demands for money as the normal challenges she faced in her job. She needed a security escort to get from the carpark to her office in Boroko each day.
Annette’s credentials for the job were never in question but whoever made the decision that a white woman could work effectively in the KTA office environment in Boroko was naive in the extreme. They certainly did not listen to her predecessor, Warren Bartlett. (more…)
A post by Sandy Lawson
In 2006, because tourist numbers on the Kokoda Track were rising rapidly, I outlined (on invitation) a proposal to animate community development. Based on local agriculture, it recognised that for tourism to be sustainable and welcome, it must engage the interest of the villagers along the historic trail. It must give them power as custodians of their land to explore new ways of using their land by carefully exploiting opportunities offered by a growing tourist industry. They must reap a real benefit. (more…)
On 12 October 1972 the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ was proclaimed in the Government Gazette of Papua New Guinea. This proclamation has never been amended or rescinded so the official name of the track over the Owen Stanley Range between Owers Corner and Kokoda is ‘The Kokoda Trail’.
The custodian of Australia’s Military History, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, revisited the debate in 2002 after some new-age historians argued it should be referred to as the ‘Kokoda Track’. The official historian at the War Memorial concluded that the term ‘trail’ was favoured by a majority of veterans and because it appears on the battle honours of units who served in Papua in 1942. He concluded that the official designation for the track is ‘The Kokoda Trail’. (more…)