Northern Province

Flooded creek in Northern Province

PNG’s Northern Province (often called Oro Province) encompasses the northern slopes of the central dividing range, the Owen Stanley Range, and the swampy, low-lying coastal plains that are split by several fast-flowing rivers.

Even before the outbreak of War in the Pacific, the lives of people from Northern Province – Northern District in that time – had been disrupted. In June 1940, the Papuan Infantry Battalion had been established, and many of its first soldiers came from around the Buna-Gona area on the coastal plains. This region was also the first part of the Territory of Papua to experience invasion, when elements of the Imperial Japanese Army landed there on 21 July 1942.

The fighting that followed spread rapidly inland as the Japanese pushed the outnumbered Papuan and Australian defenders back to Kokoda and across the Owen Stanley Range, on their way to Port Moresby. The tide turned later in 1942, with the Japanese retreating from the Australian advance along the Kokoda Trail, and later, with the arrival of American units, culminating in the Battles of Gona, Buna, and Sanananda.

From late 1942 until the War’s end in 1945, although the fighting had moved away from the Northern District, the large Allied bases at and around Oro Bay brought thousands of Australian and American servicemen and women. As well, the District received continuing attention from the Japanese who conducted repeated air raids on the airfields and dock facilities that were established there.

Many of the District’s men were recruited to serve as carriers or in other capacities for the advancing Allies, meaning that they were away from their villages for long periods, and the Northern District also furnished a substantial part of the Papuan Infantry Battalion’s complement.

Items in the Northern Province Collection

Lomas Tomu Ani - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Lomas Tomu Ani tells the story of his father, Osborne Tonu who was a member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion, and his mother, Ruth Ani who was a laundry worker for the Allies during World War Two.

Rolf Asi - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Rolf Asi tells the story of his father Asi Fere who was a member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion during World War Two.

Robert Michael Banaga - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Robert Michael Banaga tells the story of his grandfather Augustine Angaro Simbiri who was a member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) and was involved with the first PIB action of the War, at Awala on 23 July, 1942.

Grace Bauba - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
Mrs Grace Bauba tells the story of her father Bauba Avea who at the start of the War was working as a plantation overseer at Awala. He escaped the advancing Japanese, with the plantation owner Mr Clen Searle and was taken to Australia, where he…

Ivan Bohura - Oral History interview recorded on 3 July 2014 at Kovelo, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Ivan Bohura tells the story of his father, Mealo Iluvi and his uncle Kesia who worked as a carriers for the Australians during the Kokoda Campaign. Mr Bohura also speaks about the Lost Battlefield.

Gai Able Bonga - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Gai Able Bonga tells the story of his father, Able Bonga who was a policeman during the War and his uncle Uticus who was the housekeeper for Captain Hall.

Matthew Flenders Borari - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Matthew Flenders Borari tells the story of his uncle Gomba who was a member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion. He also speaks of his father and mother and how his mother had to protect him by constantly moving to get away from the bombing during…

Godfrey Daima - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Godfrey Daima tells the story of his father and grandfather who worked as carriers during World War Two for the Australians and Americans.

Lancelot Dauma Jr - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Lancelot Dauma Jr tells story of his grandfather Alwin Darisupa Diambu who with his brother, Mapusa Dandusei, were recruited by ANGAU to work as labourers and carriers with the American allied forces during World War Two.

Michael Esoma - Oral History interview recorded on 3 July 2014 at Kovelo, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Michael Esoma speaks about his experience during the War working as a carrier for the Australians during the Kokoda Campaign.

Lindsay Farari - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Lindsay Farari tells the story of his father, Farari Amopa who worked as a carrier during World War Two.

Benson Gadova - Oral History interview recorded on 3 July 2014 at Kovelo, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Benson Gadova tells the story of his father Gadova Sopa who was a village leader and worked as a carrier for the Australians during World War Two.

Stonewigg Haita - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Stonewigg Haita tells the story of his father-in-law, Haita Perija and his brother Heviki Perija who worked as carriers during the battle of Buna-Sanananda in 1942 when the famous George Silk photo of George Whittington and Raphael Oembari was…

Carson Hanana - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Carson Hanana tells the story of his grandfather Omota Tarawo who worked as a carrier during the battle of Buna-Sanananda in 1942. His grandfather also worked with the American and Australian engineering units to construct roads, bridges, and…

Stella Harika - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
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 villages affected by the War. He also help with the clearing of ammunition after the War.

Maclaren Hiari - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Maclaren Hiari tells the story of his father, Jude Siroro Kure Hiari who was recruited by ANGAU to work as a carrier during the Kokoda Campaign.

Sarah Sau Hiari - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
Mrs Sarah Sau Hiari tells the story of her father, Simon Ovamene who worked as a carrier for the Australians during the Kokoda Campaign.

David Gill Ipumi - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG
Mr David Gill Ipumi tells the story of his father Ipumi who joined the police in 1935. During the War he worked in Wau and Bulolo, as well as behind enemy lines in Salamaua and Lae, reporting on Japanese movements. Later in the War he served at Oro…

Dennis Itari - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Dennis Itari tells the story of his grandfather, Soni Goto who worked as a carrier during the battle of Buna-Sanananda in 1942 when the famous George Silk photo of George Whittington and Raphael Oembari was taken.

Max Itolo - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG
Mr Max Itolo tells the story of his father Corporal Inta Derajinga who was a member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion during World War Two.

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