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An oral history collection recording the memories and stories of Papua New Guineans about World War Two

Background image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial 071537

The Provinces

  • Milne Bay Province

    Milne Bay Province Map
  • Morobe Province

    Morobe Province Map
  • Central Province

    Central Province Map
  • New Ireland Province

    New Ireland Province Map
  • National Capital District

    National Capital District Map
  • Northern Province

    Northern Province Map

The five Provinces and one District that are included here represent different aspects of the War’s impact.

Some parts of PNG experienced savage fighting, as the front line pushed back and forth. The interviews from Northern and Morobe Provinces give some sense of what this was like for the villagers whose homes and gardens were destroyed, and who themselves faced grave danger from the fighting.

Other parts were occupied by Japanese forces for the whole of the War. The interviews from New Ireland Province talk about what this was like for the ordinary people in villages.

The enormous Allied bases at Oro Bay, Milne Bay, and on the Sogeri plateau profoundly influenced the people living around them. The interviews recorded in Northern, Milne Bay, Central and the National Capital District relate something of this impact on the local people.

Although the interviews inform us about some of the War’s impact on Papua New Guinea, countless other stories remain to be recorded for the benefit of all Papua New Guineans.

Background map: H.E.C. Robinson Pty Ltd, Map of the Territory of New Guinea administered by the Commonwealth of Australia under mandate from the League of Nations and Papua, a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, MAP, National Library of Australia, MAP G8160.
Derivative individual maps are based on this original artwork and may be re-used in accordance with the CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

The Voices

Stella Harika - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/harika-photo-2014.jpg

Mrs Stella Harika tells the story of her father Clement Harika who was too young to be recruited as a carrier. He helped distribute rations to the…

Janice Jorari - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2017 at Tatogosusu, Northern Province, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/jorari-photo-2017.jpg

Mrs Janice Jorari tells her story of fleeing the Japanese arrival at Gona, and being protected by the PIB and moved to another village until the war…

Naris Baiko - Oral History interview recorded on 14 June 2017 at Salamaua, Morobe Province, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/baiko-photo-2017.jpg

Naris Baiko tells the story of his experiences as a child during WWII.

Gerald Iwuga - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/iwuga-photo-2014.jpg

Mr Gerald Iwuga tell the story of his father Eric Iwuga who was initially recruited as a carrier but then became a member of the Pacific Infantry…

Norah Bate - Oral History interview recorded on 06 April 2017 at KB Mission, Milne Bay Province

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/bate-photo-2017.jpg

In this interview, Norah Bate talks about her mother who was a trained nurse during the war in Milne Bay, and her own early childhood memories.

Joel Enda Taira Sanata - Oral History interview recorded on 3 September 2014 at PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Waigani, NCD, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/sanata-photo-2014.jpg

Mr Joel Enda Taira Sanata tells his own story of being a child when Japanese forces cam to their village. His father Taira Sarua Sanata was taken by…

These stories bring to light many forgotten voices, the voices of the people of Papua New Guinea. Listening to them is a moving experience. Some of the people who contributed describe their own experiences during World War Two. In other cases, the voices belong to their children and grandchildren, who relate the stories that have been handed down to them.

Some talk about horrific violence and others are sad. These remind us that war is a terrible thing. All of the stories highlight the strength and resilience of the ordinary village men and women who endured so much when the War came to their country. They demonstrate that Papua New Guineans were capable of great creativity, courage, and leadership in the face of adversity. They inspire us to learn from the examples set by these ordinary people as we face today’s challenges.

Contact

Managed by Deakin University in close liaison with Papua New Guinea’s National Museum and Art Gallery. Supported by the Australian Government in partnership with Papua New Guinea.

PROJECT PARTNERS

Email

For questions related to the interview content or World War Two, contact nationalmuseum@museumpng.gov.pg
For technical assistance or questions about the site, contact pngvoices@deakin.edu.au
For questions about the research project, contact jonathan.ritchie@deakin.edu.au