Report on the Sixth  SOGERI  REUNION   2006

held at South West Rocks near Kempsey, NSW  –  September 29 to October 1

NOTE:   This successful event was the last in the present series of Reunions.  If other ex-staff or students would like to take the initiative to organise the next reunion, we would be happy to share our expertise and contacts.  Another possibility is to organise smaller get-togethers in one State or one region of Australia for a special occasion such as the Anniversary of the foundation of the School or the PNG Independence Celebrations.  Please keep in touch!

Here is a personal report from one of the participants on the 2006 Reunion 2006  –  29th September to 1st October, 2006:
Another bi-annual Sogeri School Reunion was held, this time at South West Rocks near Kempsey. Since we had enjoyed the previous Reunion at Yatala in 2004, We set off to meet old friends again.  Formalities began with  the evening meal in the restaurant with dessert, tea/coffee in the Conference Room before retiring. We were pleased to find a number of “old” friends, colleagues and members of PNG-Australia associations in Queensland and NSW.



We met up with everybody for the Saturday morning session on “Papua New Guinea Today” and a presentation on PNG’s success in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne (see below).  Some prominent people who recently visited PNG talked about their Sogeri School experiences and Melbourne participants gave us details with photographs of the Games and the many sports and civic-social activities associated with that<><>.  Throughout the Reunion we could drop into the Conference Room with the opportunity to browse over the memorabilia people had brought and videos taken by visitors to PNG in recent years.  On the Saturday evening we enjoyed a formal dinner of Indian cuisine in the restaurant, which was a happy and jovial time.  Near the end there was the traditional quiz, which customarily has been held at Sogeri Reunions, on the history of the Sogeri School and PNG in general.   On Sunday morning we were treated to a very nice “brunch” in buffet style while we said our farewells and had our group photograph taken by the proprietor of the Motel.  Then it only remained to book out of the motel and start off, in various directions, for the drive home after a great weekend….

Team PNG at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne – March 2006.

Yes, it was a most exciting time in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games, especially to meet the PNG competitors and team managers at the Welcome and Farewell ceremonies.  Out of 71 countries, PNG scored 18th place and did well winning 2 medals.  There was a massive adrenalin rush when Ryan Pini (swimming) and Dika Toua (weightlifting) won their gold and silver medals respectively. The email systems were in full swing. It was great to meet the team members personally and the Farewell Party was an amazing experience with a chance to congratulate all the competitors. Other than the medal winners mentioned above many obtained good results and some were very close to winning a medal. A top crowd favourite was 23 year old Sapolai Yao from Chimbu who sold chickens to raise some money to get a bit of training in Brisbane. Up against Craig Mottram, with legs half as long, he completed his event with a PB although he still had a lap to go when the race was over. Peter Juni gave a scare to Australian. Lawn Bowls champ Kelvin Kerkow by beating him in the preliminaries.

Our PNG High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Charles Lepani and the Mayor and staff of the City of Port Phillip (St Kilda area) were great hosts for numerous functions going back to the middle of last year. With assistance from Harrison Bein (from Sepik, who was temporally on the staff of the City of Port Phillip), members of the PNGAAV, the Middle Park Bowls Club and numerous individuals, PNG certainly was recognised leading up to and during the Games.


Report on the Fifth   SOGERI  REUNION   2004

Beenleigh-Yatala, July 30 to August 1

The Sogeri Reunion, to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the school, was held on the weekend of Friday July 30 to Sunday August 1, 2004 at the Beenleigh-Yatala Motor Inn, about halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.    The Reunion was attended (whole or in part) by 62 people and was considered very successful.  Participants were from the Sogeri, Iarowari, District and Plantations covering periods from the 1950’s to the present, and had come from all over Eastern Australia (including two families from Tasmania), from Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom.  It was also nice to have the company of a number of young adults who had grown up as children on the Plateau.

This photograph was kindly provided by Richard Johnston (Sogeri 1966 to 1972), who attended the Reunion with his father Ted Johnston.  Ted was at Sogeri Plantation over the periods 1940 – 1972 and 1982.  It is one of a series of digital photographs taken by Richard during the Saturday Lunch at the Peters Riverside Residence.  Not all Reunion Participants are in this particular photo, because people were moving around and some were behind this camera ready with their own cameras…..!

We started on Friday evening with a Buffet Dinner and many hours of meeting old friends and socialising.  Then on the Saturday morning there was an extremely interesting information and discussion session on “Papua New Guinea Today”, led by a panel of four participants who had very recently been in PNG.  While it is recognised that PNG has serious problems, especially in the way the Government functions, all presenters agreed that they continue to have faith in the ultimate strength of the People of PNG.


One of the Highlights of the Reunion was the long Lunch at the idyllic property of Russ and Robyn Peters (who were at Iarowari and Sogeri 1964 – 1966).  Living a short drive from the Motel, they have a fabulous entertaining garden on the bank of the Logan River.  We are very grateful to Russ and Robyn for making this available and thank them for all the hard work they put in preparing good food, drink and the Sogeri 60th Birthday Cake!  In the photograph on the right, kindly provided by Ruth Blackburn, the Birthday Cake is being cut by Keith Blackburn (Sogeri Staff 1953 – 1956) and Kari Moipi Thomas (Sogeri Student 1971 – 1972).


On Saturday Afternoon we returned to the Motel for more get-togethers and to look at the many memorabilia that had been contributed.  There were family and school photo albums, old and new school magazines, newspapers and books and old Territory Administration and PNG Government publications relating to Education, etc. and even some of the prizes awarded to the winners of competitions at the Papuan Agricultural Show from the very early days when this was at Sogeri (that was before the Show went to Waigani and later to Moitaka).  There was also some very interesting material about Keravat NHS, which began in 1945.  Not many people realise that Keravat is almost as old as Sogeri, although its programmes over the decades were often different

<>The Main Reunion Dinner on Saturday Evening was enjoyed by all and made a bit more ‘challenging’ by the Sogeri QUIZ arranged by Christopher Martin with the help of others (including Lance Taylor’s ‘History of Sogeri’ Book as a source of some tough questions!).   The Reunion concluded on the Sunday Morning with an sumptuous extended Breakfast (some would say Brunch) and farewells.  Many old bonds were reinforced and new contacts made.  The facilities, good meals and friendly staff assistance at the Beenleigh-Yatala Motor Inn helped to make this a good time for all.

Past Newsletter May 2003

Dear Sogeri Friends,

Greetings to everyone.  It is now more than 6 months since that memorable weekend at Canberra,  September 27-29, 2002, for the fourth Sogeri Reunion and the Launch of Lance Taylor’s History of the School.

A thank you to the Hon. Renagi Lohia and the staff at the PNG High Commission for all the help they gave to make it possible to have the Book Launch in the Haus Tambaran.

Thanks to all of you who have sent in messages to say how well you enjoyed the weekend and the feedback on Lance’s book has also been encouraging for Lance and also the team who worked on getting it out and the long process of marketing the book. We are close to getting an affordable outlet arranged for purchases to be made by the thousands of Ex Students in Papua New Guinea. Some books are already available  in PNG and we look forward to a suitable marketing program.

The 60th Anniversary of the commencement of the Sogeri School will be June 4  2004.
The plan is to meet the last weekend in July 2004 at a location just south of Brisbane. A group of people are looking for a suitable venue and a further newsletter later in the year should have the details. We understand that some UK people are planning to join with us for Sogeri’s 60th year and as most of them are still in the work force, July is their long holiday time.

It was a delight to meet the then Principal of Sogeri, Ms Lillian Ahai, at the Reunion in Canberra.  Lillian gave an informative talk about how the school is striving hard to keep up the excellent traditions of the past but the structure within the Education System has changed somewhat the present status of the school. Sogeri now caters for mainly Central Province students with a mixture from other provinces where the family is Port Moresby based.   Lillian thanked everyone present for their part in building the name of Sogeri in the past and for their present continued interest.

Lillian Ahai told us of the new School Library that has been built and it was decided to start a Library Fund to help the school purchase new books. If you were not at the Reunion and would like to have a chance to donate to the Sogeri School Library Fund please make use of the form found here.

Apart from Sir Paulias Matane, the Reunion attendees who had been at Sogeri at the earliest time were the Blackburns who were at Sogeri in the early 1950’s.  As this newsletter goes to post Keith and Ruth Blackburn will be celebrating their Golden Wedding. We congratulate them and wish them many happy years together.

PNG FORUM  –  Organised by Australian Volunteers International and our ABC’s Radio Australia
At very short notice the two above organisations managed to get 130 passionate PNG Nationals and ex PNG Expatriate workers to the Southbank studios of the ABC on Wednesday April 2, to hear the Hon. Lady Carol Kidu speak on some of the present day issues in PNG.  Questions were put to a panel which included Anna Solomon (Sogeri 72-73) and Tapora Isorua (Sogeri 83-84).  Lady Carol was on her way from a Conference in Canberra to Malaysia and it was possible to divert to Melbourne for a few days.  The attendees were from all walks of life and times in PNG.

The sales are going well.  We have moved about one third and with availability in PNG outlets we hope to move the rest soon.  If you have not yet ordered your copy, please use the Forms later on this page.  If you already have a copy, print out the form and pass it on to someone else. We appreciate the efforts of those of our number who have passed photocopies of order Forms and news of the book to others who have then sent in their order.

For those who are on the Internet we must repeat that there are excellent links so you can get ‘hot off the press’ news of the present situation in PNG
Post-Courier  Newspaper Post-Courier
The National  Newspaper National
Sadly, we read recently that the third Newspaper: The Independent   (earlier The Times of PNG), put out by Word Publishing, stopped publication in June 2003.  For more information, SEE HERE

Another very good source of information about people, places and events in PNG is UNA VOCE – the very informative quarterly newsletter of the PNG Australia Association (formerly ROAPNG, the ‘Retired Officers Association of Papua and New Guinea’) based in Sydney – which also gives notice of our Sogeri Reunions.  These newsletters contain 50 to 60 pages of current News, interesting Historical stories, Book reviews, Reunions and Obituaries.  The obituaries cover notable Papua New Guineans and expatriates of all periods.  The June issue each year has a list of members. If you wish to know more write to PNGAA, Box 452, Roseville, NSW 2069.

GARAMUT is the newsletter of the Gold Coast PNG Club which also gives lots of news about people who used to work in PNG.   For information and a membership form contact:  The Honorary Secretary,  The Gold Coast Papua New Guinea Club Inc.,  Box 951,  Surfers Paradise, Queensland  4217

We hope this finds you well and we look forward to hearing from you and any suggestions or news items will be appreciated.

Report on the Fourth Reunion held
27 to 29 September 2002 in Canberra

The 4th Sogeri Reunion was held in Canberra, which was chosen as the venue as the long anticipated 50 years History book: SOGERI -THE SCHOOL THAT HELPED TO SHAPE A NATION  was to be launched at the famous ‘Haus Tambaran’ at the Papua New Guinea High Commission.

     The new Sogeri Book is now available from all Brian Bell Stores throughout PNG !

About 60 people from Papua New Guinea and most States of Australia attended the weekend of activities.  Many arrived already on the Friday, and the Friday dinner already had a lot of atmosphere with old friends and colleagues renewing contact and exchanging memories.  Many people brought along books and photo albums from the old days which created considerable interest.

The main day, Saturday September 28 commenced with a session entitled ‘PNG Today’ with talks by Brian Elliott, (Ex Head of English and now living in Madang), Sir Paulias Matane (Ex Student of Sogeri and an author and elder statesman), Herb Golightly (Past Principal of Sogeri and presently with AUS AID in Lae) and the present Principal of Sogeri, Mrs Lillian Ahai.  The session was most informative and interesting for those of us who had left PNG 20, 30 or 40 years ago.  The photograph on the right shows Mrs Lillian Ahai and Mr Renagi Renagi Lohia:

At 2.30 pm the Reunion Group, plus more people from the ACT, attended the Launch of Lance Taylor’s History of Sogeri. The Haus Tambaran provided the ideal atmosphere for the Ceremony (see photograph on left) and His Excellency Renagi Lohia, the PNG High Commissioner to Australia, spoke of the significance of the Sogeri School towards the development of PNG as an Independent Nation and he launched the book.  Mr Lohia was himself a student at Sogeri in the 1960’s.

The day rounded off with the Official Reunion Dinner in the evening at the Reunion venue – The Garden City Motel in Narrabundah.  At the dinner Dr Michael Webb, Music teacher at Sogeri in the early 80’s led the assembled company in the SONG FOR SOGERI  written by Howard McDermott for the 40th Anniversary in 1984 and it is still sung at the school for Graduation Day and special occasions.  Michael also, at short notice, led everyone to sing the Iarowari School Song of the 1960’s.  Iarowari is now a separate Provincial High School but in the 60’s Sogeri and Iarowari formed one institution. Also at the dinner Lance Taylor and Chris Martin ran one of their unique style of PNG/Sogeri Trivia Quiz much to the amusement of everyone.  After the Dinner Mrs Ahai gave an excellent talk on the Sogeri School today.

All who came enjoyed the weekend. The next Sogeri Reunion, planned for late July 2004, will celebrate the 60th Anniversary.

A few more group images from the  2002  Reunion
kindly provided to us by Russ Peters  (Thank you!)

Order Form for the Sogeri Book:

SOGERI The School That Helped to Shape a Nation
A HISTORY, 1944 – 1994  by Lance Taylor

The good news is that the long awaited History of Sogeri was launched at the last Sogeri Reunion in Canberra.  It has 340 pages text and includes over 130 photographs from the wartime days to the present.  The retail cost of the book is A$40.00  but will be available for ex-staff, ex-students and friends of the school at A$30 plus postage and handling (see form).

Lance wishes to sincerely thank you for your help in his research for this book. In fact so many people gave information, anecdotes, loan of photographs and offered points of history or just moral support that it has become a real team effort.

The Photograph  on the left shows the author signing books at the Canberra launch.   Now the team effort extends to selling the book.   See these Media Reviews  for some observations on the book.  If you wish to order a copy/copies please use the form below or phone if you have any queries.   The book has a Foreword by Sir Michael Somare, founding Prime Minister of PNG and himself one of the early students at the ‘Papuan Central School, Sogeri.

 Click here for a printable Book Order Form in HTML


 Click here for a printable Book Order Form in Word
(If it does not open in your browser, please download it first.
File is in MS Word 6  –  use Word or WordPad to open it)

     The new Sogeri Book is now available from all Brian Bell Stores throughout PNG !


For Memories and Photographs from earlier Reunions
see lower down this page or  click here

Past Newsletter May 2002


Our next Sogeri Reunion is to be held on the weekend from Friday  September  27  to Sunday  September  29,  2002.  Last September you would have received the update of the plans for the 2002 Sogeri Reunion. Now we would like to ask you to register for the planned weekend. All the earlier details about the venue, the PNG High Commission etc. we can still confirm as correct. As registrations come in we will be happy to provide you with further details of the weekend programme.

The Garden City Comfort Inn (A ‘Flag’ Inn)

As we are required, by The Garden City, to pay a meal charge deposit 12 weeks prior to our Reunion we would like you to send a quick reply to say you are definitely coming and follow up with your meal package payment by the end of June. Our arrangement with The Garden City is for us to collect the meal package costs and for individuals to make their own accommodation bookings stating that you are part of the Sogeri Reunion Group.  (Enclosed in this mailing is a sheet showing the benefits you can gain if you stay at The Garden City, the venue’s features and facilities and the Free call number: 1800 675 622.)

Also if you know of anyone else who may be interested in coming to all or part of the Reunion please let Marj have a contact address or photocopy this one yourself to give them.

MemorabiliaThe participants at Maroochydore in 1999 were delighted at the range of memorabilia, old photos, current and old videos, newspapers and magazines which were brought and put on display. please think about what you could bring to Canberra which would be of interest to others. It may have lain at the back of a cupboard for 40 years and yet now could re-kindle memories of the ”old days” for others.

Past Newsletter  August  2001

Our last newsletter reported to you about the 1999 Reunion at Maroochydore. This letter will give an update on the plans made so far for the 2002 Sogeri Reunion to be held from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 September 2002 in Canberra.

Chris and Marj drove to Canberra in April this year to join Robyn and Jeanette to check out and negotiate with the staff of the “Quality Inn Garden City”, Jerrabomberra Avenue, Narrabundah in Canberra as a suitable venue for our next Reunion. The Garden City is in a very convenient location for our purposes as it is near the PNG High Commission, also near a golf course and 5 minutes drive from the centre of Canberra.

We are pleased to confirm that the PNG High Commissioner, the Hon Renagi Lohia has agreed for us to use the Haus Tambaran on the Saturday afternoon of our weekend . We are working hard to have Lance Taylor’s History of the Sogeri ready to be launched at that function.

Robin’s careful research into the various Term Dates of all states for 2002 enabled us to make the choice of dates that suited best for the Reunion. A bonus for all those travelling to Canberra for the Reunion is that the Floriade Festival is on at that time.  Before Easter next year we will send you an invitation and application form for the Reunion

We were most encouraged to receive so many positive comments after the mailing of the newsletter with its news of the 25th Independence Celebrations. Thanks also to those who contributed to the costs of sending out the newsletter. Also thanks to Herb Golightly for sending some newspaper cuttings some of which we have copied for this mailing.

Lance Taylor’s book on the History of the Sogeri School (1944 – 1994) is progressing well. We are hoping to launch the book officially at the Reunion in Canberra in 2002. The book will have over 250 pages of text, numerous pages of photos and an index. We are working hard to have it ready by the next Reunion as a launch at the PNG High Commission in 2002 would be most appropriate. However, by then some important factors need to be resolved like finding a suitable publisher, cover design, title etc.. It  is hoped that Lance will be back to Australia within the next 6 months so that movements can be made on the publishing of the book.

The Foreword of the book is written by Sir Michael Somare, following correspondence with himself, his daughter Bertha and his research staff.  In a recent telephone call from Sir Michael to Marj he confirmed his on-going interest in the School and stressed that, despite the passing of time, he remembers being at Sogeri, his teachers and sports coaches, very well and sends his best wishes.

OBITUARY  :  Norman Holtham        (by Warwick Richmond)Norman Holtham took up his post as Principal at Sogeri National High School at the beginning of 1975 after the retiring Principal, Malcolm Gordon returned to England. My friendship with Norman dates from this time.  As his Deputy for this exciting year when PNG celebrated its Independence I present the essential focus of his legacy as an educator.  Norman’s previous leadership was at Kerema High School where he suffered the tragedy of the death of his daughter.  At Sogeri he quickly established a clear vision for the campus in continuing the national leadership which had shaped its educational credentials since its inception as the first fully national school.  Norman displayed a deep and abiding commitment to the cultural diversity and artistic splendour of  Sogeri students who represented the separate provinces in one school.  His wife Jean was a key member of the Expressive Arts Faculty teaching staff and was a powerful link to Norman’s reverence for indigenous culture.
In 1975, and indeed in 1999 when I last saw him, Norman exuded a boyish charm with a keen sense of wit and occasion; his laugh was always reassuring despite the obvious suffering he and Jean were harbouring. His perceptive understanding of human nature and realistic expectations of his students were always paramount.
After leaving Sogeri, Norman and Jean travelled widely. They spent some time sailing the Mediterranean in a cruising catamaran which Norman purchased in Malta. Norman and Jean then took up an Education post in Peru where they adopted a daughter, Elena. In the early 1980’s they returned to PNG to accept a post as Principal at Holy Name School at Dogura. Finally they settled in Somerton in Somerset, England where they set up a small business. Their dreams were dashed by the economic rationalism of the Thatcher years and the business closed. 
When I met Norman again in 1999 he was seriously ill and but a shadow of his old self. His indomitable wit was still evident even though his laugh was much weaker. He proudly displayed his sailing exploits and his pride in the educational achievements of his daughter, Elena. Before our return to Australia in June a phone call to bid a fond farewell revealed his recent passing. Norman was a man who reached great heights and had a great sense of adventure whose last days were spent in humble circumstances surrounded by the love and care of his family. Vale Norman


OBITUARY :  Sir Les JohnsonThe Sydney Morning Herald of September 5, 2000, published an Obituary for Sir Les Johnson, KBE. Sir Les, who died at 84 years, was best known as the last Colonial Administrator of PNG from !970 to 1973.  However, Sir Les also played a big part in the development of Education of which his highest post was Director in the 1960’s.  Whilst in that job as Director of Education Sir Les was very much in favour of the creation of the University of Papua New Guinea. He is reported as being a “conciliator and honest broker”. Later he was involved in AUSAID and 2 diplomatic posts, for the Australian Government, overseas. Sir Les and his wife Dulcie always identified wholeheartedly  with PNG. Their interest in its affairs and friendships formed there endured  throughout their retirement years in Canberra.
Sir Les and his wife Dulcie worked unstintingly for the development of PNG but he considered that Australia shed its colonial burden too hastily to ensure reasonable stability.  Sir Les Johnson was a Western Australian brought up on a farm. He was Knighted in the PNG Queen’s Birthday honours list in June 2000 with a KBE after receiving the CBE in 1976. His wife Dulcie predeceased him  on the last day of 1999 and Sir Les is survived by his daughter, Fay, and his son, Ian. 


First woman principal to head Sogeri – This was a heading we came across on the web page of the PNG Post Courier on Friday Jan 11 2001:  There was a (very unclear) photograph with the following caption:
“New principal of Sogeri National High School Ms Lillian Ahai (right) makes a point in her speech to farewell her predecessor Arnold Lakamanga at a brief ceremony at the school yesterday.  Mr Lakamanga is leaving for further studies in Australia. Ms Ahai is the first woman to head the school.  (AURI EVA picture)”

Followed by a short article:  “First woman principal to head Sogeri”.
A Bougainville woman made history yesterday when she was appointed to lead one of the country’s oldest educational institutions.
Lillian Ahai, 44, from Morokaimoro village in Siwai, Bougainville, was officially made the principal of Sogeri National High School at a low-key ceremony at the school witnessed by the media and school staff.  She is the first woman principal of Sogeri since its establishment in 1948 and also the first in any national high school.
Ms Ahai took the reins from Arnold Lakamanga who is leaving for Australia.  She has a great deal of experience in teaching at both provincial and national high schools.   In the last three years,  Ms Ahai held the position of deputy principal (administration) at Sogeri.  “This is a big achievement not only for me but for all women in PNG.  I would like to take this as a breakthrough for women in a male dominated society, she said.  Ms Ahai used the occasion to appeal to all former students to come forward  with donations to help build new classrooms.
She said the school needed more than K2 million to build about 12 classrooms to replace the rooms that were gutted by fire in April 1997.  The rooms were used to teach Social Sciences, Economics, English and Expressive Arts.  The rebuilding of classrooms is one task that Ms Ahai has set for herself.

(Footnote to this article: the school is in fact older than stated above, the first educational institution at the site having been established in 1944)

Following reading this article Marj wrote to Ms Ahai, sending her a copy of our last Reunion newsletter, and recently received an enthusiastic letter of reply which tells of some positive activity.  Ms Ahai took Marj’s letter and the Reunion newsletter to the Ex-Students Committee meeting and our past students were delighted that a large group of their teachers and others meet every few years for Reunions “down south”  (Let’s hope some will be able to come to Canberra in September 2002).  Many of these past Sogeri Students now have  top jobs in the public and private sectors and in their spare time are working towards helping the school with fund raising occasions. Their plan is to upgrade facilities and create new projects  like a modern High Tech Library. The first fund raiser at the Airport Hotel (previously The Gateway) brought in money to purchase computers.

We look forward to hearing more good news from the school.  The next fund raiser will be in the middle of October 2001.

Sir Mekere Morauta at the Sogeri Singsing on 8 September 2001 – The most recent Sogeri Singsing was a great success, judging by an extensive report in the Post-Courier, and what the “Drum” described as “the worst traffic jam you’ve seen in a one horse town”!  In recent years the Singsings are held at the School, so that many hundreds of Moresby people come up to the Plateau for the day.   The Drum also made a few comments on the state of the road, which will be a familiar tune to our Reunion newsletter readers…….!  The guest of honour was Sir Mekere Morauta (a former Sogeri student himself) who officially opened the new Library, and confirmed the major support generated by ex-students committee, chaired by Jamie Maxtone-Graham, in achieving these renovations. He gave an inspiring speech (“it is full steam ahead”) on restoring efficient government and (again) boosting education, where he also asked for support by Community self help.  Altogether there is a lot of positive news coming from the School this year.

Anna Solomon – Anna was a Sogeri student of 1971/72 and has worked for Word Publishing which includes the Times newspaper and now The Independent where she is Editor in Chief. After hearing Anna talking on an ABC radio programme and seeing her on a TV news item showing Sean Dorney around the Printery, we made contact and she also replied enthusiastically.

Misty Baloiloi and Philip Siaguru – Those of you who were at Sogeri in 1972 – 73 will remember Misty as a charming young Milne Bay student who displayed many gifts including acting and singing. He had the lead part in a Musical which Sogeri students performed at Monash University in 1973. More recently Misty has been back at Monash to study in order to return to the University of Technology in Lae as Vice Chancellor. During Misty’s study leave Dr Philip Siaguru (also a student at Sogeri, in 1978-1979) acted as Vice Chancellor.  We wish them well in their academic careers.

Ralph Saulep – Those of you who came to the first Reunion at Mulwala will remember Ralph Saulep (Raphael to those who taught him at Sogeri in the late 70’s). He now lives and works as a lawyer in Port Moresby and is president of the PNG Cancer Relief Society, a group   who are fund raising  to have a fully equipped ward for cancer patients   at the Port Moresby General Hospital. We wish Ralph all the best in his professional work as well as the charity cause he is working for.

Dame Rachel Cleland – Dame Rachel was invited back to PNG for the 25th Anniversary Independence Celebrations  in September 2000. Dame Rachel was able to keep up with those much younger in spite of her 94 years. She was impressed with the progress and development since her initial arrival in PNG 50 years ago with her husband, Sir Donald. She was so happy and honoured to be able to celebrate with the people she worked with for so many years.
In an interview with the Post Courier on September 14, 2000 she said, “I love you all, I bless you all, I congratulate you. I think you are all terrific people, and I feel  you’ve turned a very difficult corner. I’m  sure you’ll make wonderful strides from now on”.  Who better than Dame Rachel to be at the Celebrations to represent all those who spent many memorable years in PNG and we all echo her sentiments.
Another honour bestowed on expatriates was for Sir Silas Atopare, the Governor General to send Certificates of Award to a number of expatriates for their part in leading PNG to Independence in 1975. It is believed that some people on our newsletter mailing list were recipients and we congratulate them.

For those who are on the Internet we can recommend the following links so you can get daily direct ‘hot off the press’ news on people, happenings and the present situation in PNG from a range of web sites listed on the page:  PNG & Sogeri Home Page

An excellent source of information about expatriate and national people who work(ed) in PNG is “UNA VOCE”, the very informative quarterly newsletter of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia (previously the “Retired Officers Association of Papua and New Guinea”) based in Sydney.  These newsletters are packed with interesting news about PNG today, Historical stories, Book reviews, Reunions, Obituaries, etc.  If you wish to know more write to the association at  PO BOX 452,  Roseville, NSW 2069.

We send our greetings to all of you on our mailing list and again we would really welcome any news items, directly or indirectly related to Sogeri, or any suggestions about the newsletter and in particular any suggestions and bright ideas about activities that could be included in our next Reunion – September 27 – 29, 2002  –  weekend programme.

Past Newsletter  July  2000

A LOOK BACK:  The 1999 Sogeri Reunion, held at Maroochydore in October 1-3 last year, was an enjoyable weekend attended by people from most States of Australia and PNG.  It was once again a great time to reminisce about the good times we had in PNG with plenty of storytelling, videos and lots of photographs and books – old and new and other memorabilia.  In particular thanks to Alistair and Leila Whittred for showing us the video of their recent trip to post volcanic eruption Rabaul and to Gladys Jago for bringing the display of Rob’s art work.  Thanks to all others who brought things along for our interest.

Thank you to all those who were able to come to share their memories and friendships.  Once again the Reunion provided the opportunity for “old” PNG “hands” to look back on their time in PNG and consider how their experience has had a lasting effect on their lives and also on those indigenous people whom they worked with.  Thanks also to people who were able to drop in if even only for a brief time or for one of the meals.  One of the more interesting features of our Reunions is that the Ex-Sogeris cover a 50 year span of service and experience in PNG. At all 3 Reunions we have had at least one or two persons with Sogeri connections who are still working in PNG and who bring along recent newspapers and magazines.  This is our link with what is the real present situation in PNG.

THE NEXT SOGERI REUNION:  Robyn and Jeanette, in Canberra, have been putting quite a deal of consideration into finding and negotiating for the most appropriate venue for the next Reunion in 2002.
Amongst these considerations has been the possibility of arranging for part of the programme of the Reunion Weekend to be held at the PNG High Commission. The High Commission building, which is in the form of a Haus Tambaran, would make us feel very much at home.  As arrangements re-venue and dates etc. become clearer we will keep you posted.

The following enclosures were sent with this July 2000 Newsletter
(you can read these by clicking on the underlined text):

The printed Newsletter we sent also included a ‘pointer’ to world wide web pages, available from the main page:   PNG & Sogeri Home Page    Please let us know of additional  Sogeri / Iarowari / PNG pages of interest.

Otherwise a very good source of information about expatriate people who worked in PNG is the quarterly newsletter of the ‘Retired Officers Association of Papua New Guinea’ based in Sydney: ‘UNA VOCE’   which also gives notice of our Sogeri Reunions.  These newsletters are 50 to 60 pages of interesting Historical stories, Book reviews, Reunions, Obituaries and the June 2000 copy has the annual list of members.   If you wish to know more, write to:    ROAPNG,  Box 452,  ROSEVILLE,  NSW  2069.

We are sad to inform you that Mrs Dorothy Dench passed away in Ballarat, Victoria early this year.  Dorothy had some health problems over recent years but when Marj and Alfred called in on her she was always cheerful and so interested in everything.  John pre-deceased her several years ago and we have fond memories of the both of them at the 50th Anniversary Reunion at Mulwala.  John was at the Police Training Depot at Sogeri in the 50’s and later  in Port Moresby whilst Dorothy played a big part as a nurse at the Janousek Clinic and later in Port Moresby.  Their personalities were always a bright light at Sogeri get-togethers of recent years.  Our sincere condolences to  the family.

On a recent trip to Western Australia Marj and Alfred paid a visit to Dame Rachel Cleland who at 94 is still showing amazing strength and vitality.  She asked to be remembered to you all.  We can always count on Dame Rachel to reply to our Reunion newsletters as she has been getting them from the start (1993), in fact she was sorry to miss last year’s weekend at Maroochydore as her trip to Brisbane for a Family occasion was a month earlier.

HISTORY OF SOGERI   Lance Taylor’s book on the History of the Sogeri School (1944 – 1994) is progressing. We are hoping to launch the book officially at the Reunion in Canberra in 2002. The book will have over 250 pages of text, numerous pages of photos and an index. We are working hard to have it ready by the next Reunion as a launch at the PNG High Commission in 2002 would be most appropriate. However, by then some important factors need to be resolved like finding a suitable publisher, cover design, title etc.. It  is hoped that Lance will be back to Australia within the next 6 months so that movements can be made on the publishing of the book.

We hope this finds you well and we look forward to hearing from you and any suggestions or news items will be appreciated.

A few Memories from previous Reunions

Group photograph from the Third Reunion in Maroochydore in 1999

The Third Sogeri Reunion was held over the weekend of Friday October 1 to Sunday October 3, 1999 at the Maroochy River Holiday Resort, near Maroochydore on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, just north of Brisbane.  A total of 51 people attended all or part of the weekend, many old friendships were renewed and new contacts made.  There were a wide range of people from the four schools: Sogeri and Iarowari High and the A and T Primary Schools as well. Plus people who worked and lived on the District’s Plantations, Elcom and other organisations.  As always, we were able to bring together some people who had not seen each other for decades, or who had only ever seen each others’ names in reports.   There was also a wealth of very interesting information on display thanks to many people bringing photographs (good old ever-lasting black and white and also many colour), school magazines, old newspapers and also (this week’s ! ) current editions of Papua New Guinea newspapers, plus an 8 mm movie from the 1960’s era and a number of videos. Many people took photographs at the Reunion and exchanged addresses.  This 3rd Reunion was organised by  Marjorie Walker, 03 9803 9071; Christopher Martin 03 9596 4860; Cleo Pashen 07 5448 1587;  John Stolz 07 5493 7028;  Lorraine Roberts 07 5441 5976

The Reunion Mob

Group photograph from the Second Reunion in Nambucca Heads in 1997
[This 1997 photograph provided by Ken Watson]

Group photograph from the First Reunion in Mulwala in 1994