Timothy Akis (c1944-1984), visual artist, born in Tsembagek, Madang District. Akis had little formal education and worked first on a coastal plantation where he learnt Tok Pisin. On his return to the village he became an assistant to anthropologists and naturalists and sketched plants and animals to assist in their identification. In 1969 he visited Port Moresby where he was encouraged by expatriate artist Georgina Beier. Forty of the drawings he produced in this period were shown as the first one-man exhibition by a PNGan. Between 1972 and 1984 Akis made several visits to the government-funded Creative Arts Centre in Port Moresby where he was provided with accommodation, food, a small living allowance, a work space and equipment. His drawings are based on the myths of his people and the plants and animals with which he was familiar. He worked rapidly, produced many detailed drawings and had several successful exhibitions.
Luigi Maria d’Albertis (1841-1901), an Italian naturalist and explorer who worked on the Papuan coast and Fly River between 1875 and 1877. Albertis collected, for scientific purposes, specimens of plants, mammals, birds, insects, and Papuan artifacts and skeletons. In 1876 he and his crew traveled up the Fly (flying both the British and Italian flags) for 45 days before being forced back by disease and a shortage of food. During this expedition he named the Victor Emanuel Range. His travels are described in his New Guinea: What I Did and What I Saw published in both Italian and English in 1880. He did not believe that Papuans had rights and collected material by force where necessary. The collections are housed in museums in Italy and Australia. They are of considerable scientific value and have been extensively studied.
George Ambo (1922-2008), the first PNGan bishop and archbishop of the Anglican church. Ambo was born at Kurous village, near Gona, in what is now Oro Province. He was educated at Anglican missions and trained as a primary school teacher at St Aidan’s College, Dogura, and for the Ministry at Newton College, Dogura. First consecrated bishop at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Australia, in 1954, in 1970 Ambo was bishop for the Northern Papua Region of the Anglican Diocese of New Guinea. In 1973 he became the first PNGan Anglican Archbishop. He was knighted in 1988.
Paulius Arek (1929-1973), public servant and politician. Arek was born in Wanigela, Northern Province, and educated at Wanigela Anglican mission school and Sogeri Education Centre where he completed a teacher training course in 1948. He taught in Madang, Northern District and Western District. In the mid-1960s he was president of the Northern District Workers’ Association and the Popondetta Workers’ Club and vice-president of the Higaturu local government council. From 1968 until his death in 1973 Arek represented a Northern District electorate in the House of Assembly. In 1969 he became the first chairman of the Federation of Workers’ Associations. Also in 1969 he was elected chairman of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development and traveled extensively within PNG canvassing the people’s views on the form of government the country should adopt. He also traveled overseas to look at the experience of other developing countries. In 1971 the House of Assembly accepted the basic recommendations of the Committee’s Final Report. In 1972 Arek became Minister for Information and successfully established the National Broadcasting Commission.
Alumu Bagita (c1896-c1970), Papuan policeman who worked for the trading firm Burns Philp in Samarai from 1912 to 1916 when he joined the Papuan police force. In 1922 he became a sergeant and for 40 years a member of the Criminal Investigations Branch. When he retired in 1966, after 50 years service, he held the British Empire Medal, the Australia Service Medal and the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Charles Edward Barnes (1901–1998), Australian minister responsible for PNG from 1963-72. Educated at Sydney Grammar School, Barnes served with the RAAF in PNG during WW II. He held the Queensland seat of McPherson for the Country Party 1958-74 and succeeded Sir Paul Hasluck as Minister for Territories from 1963-68. In 1968 the Territories portfolio was cut in half and Barnes was concerned with only External Territories (almost entirely PNG) from 1968 to 1972. Barnes discouraged the development of political parties. He believed that economic development was an essential foundation for political development. To accommodate the highlanders’ fear of being dominated by Papuans after Independence, he encouraged them to believe that Australia could delay independence for decades.
Alain Marie Guynot de Boismenu (1870-1953), A leading member of the Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in British New Guinea (later Papua) 1898-1945. In 1898 he established a Catholic mission on Yule Island, off the south central coast of Papua, and was appointed counselor to Archbishop Navarre, the Vicar Apostolic of British New Guinea. In 1900 he was consecrated as coadjutor bishop to Navarre whom he succeeded as Vicar Apostolic in 1908. Between 1910 and 1940 he established an administrative and financial structure under which the mission expanded from Yule Island and the Mekeo region of the Papuan coast to inland districts. He encouraged missionaries to evangelize areas beyond the stations and train local catechists usually in the vernacular. In 1898 there were five districts, covering 8,000 people, with an estimated 2,400 Catholics and 800 children in mission schools. In 1945 there were 11 districts, covering 65,000 people, with an estimated 23,500 Catholics and 7,000 children in mission schools.
Boismenu believed that mission schools should give a basic general education as well as religious instruction and teach the English language. He encouraged missions to teach the skills needed to build and maintain stations. In 1924 he established a technical school on Yule Island as a model for Catholic mission technical training. By 1932 48 graduates of Catholic technical schools were employed by the Administration and private enterprises. Schools were funded from Australian and European sources and subsidized by the Administration. In 1916 a training school for catechists was established and in 1933 there were 219 Papuan catechists. In 1928 he sent a Papuan, Louis Vangeke, to study in Madagascar. Vangeke returned as an ordained priest, the first Melanesian of any denomination in the colony, in 1937. In 1918 Boismenu founded the Handmaids of Our Lord which was developed by the French Sister Marie Therese Noblet between 1921 and 1930. In 1935 he introduced Carmelite nuns from France and the Philippines to found the first contemplative monastery. He retired in 1945 but continued to live in PNG until his death in 1953.
Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), French naval officer and navigator sent to explore the seas between the East Indies and the west coast of America in 1767. In 1768 he sailed in Solomon Islands and Louisiade Archipelago waters. He was the first European to sight Rossel, Choiseul, and Bougainville islands, all of which he named. He investigated New Britain and New Ireland and returned to Europe via the Dutch East Indies. His journey is recorded in A Voyage Round the World, 1766-9, J.R. Forster (ed), published in Dublin in 1772.
Nora Vagi Brash (1945- ), playwright and poet. Born into a Motuan family, Brash was educated at London Missionary Society schools, Port Moresby High School and Port Moresby Teachers’ College. She graduated from college in 1965 and wrote her first performed play while teaching at Kila Kila primary school. She received a Diploma in Teaching Techniques from the East-West Institute of Technology Hawaii Center in 1966 and taught at the Goroka Demonstration School from 1967-69. She obtained a Diploma in Journalism from UPNG in 1980 and a B.A. from UPNG in 1982. In the 1970s Brash lectured in puppetry, dance and drama at the Creative Arts School in Port Moresby and became Artistic Director of the National Arts School. She has also been an actress and directed plays. She has toured with the National Theatre Company in New Zealand, Nigeria and England, served on the board of the Theatre Company and the National Broadcasting Commission, and participated in writers’ conferences and literary selection panels at the University of Singapore, the Australian National University, the Commonwealth Institute in London and the Universities of Canterbury and Christchurch in New Zealand. Brash has lived in Nigeria, England, Singapore and Australia. Her plays include: High Cost of Living Differently, Which Way Big Man?, Black Market Buai, Sold Outright and Taurama. Her plays and poems have appeared in journals and anthologies.
George Brown (1835-1917), Methodist missionary in New Britain from 1875-80 and General Secretary for Foreign Missions of the Australasian Board of Missions of the Methodist Church from 1887-1908. After 14 years of missionary work in Samoa Brown established a station on York Island, New Guinea, where he landed with a group of Samoan and Fijian teachers in 1875. Until the arrival of Rev. Benjamin Danks in 1878 he was the only European missionary in the region. Between 1875 and 1880 he established stations in the Duke of York Islands, the Gazelle Peninsula and New Ireland. In response to the killing of a Fijian minister and three teachers in 1878 he led a punitive expedition in which a number of the local (Tolai) people were killed and villages burnt down. Investigations of the incident by the church, the British and German authorities, and the Western Pacific High Commissioner, cleared him of criminal charges. In 1880 he rescued many of the survivors of the abortive settlement scheme of the Marquis de Rays in New Ireland. The first three local preachers in his area were appointed in 1880. From 1887 to 1908 he was based in Sydney, Australia, as the General Secretary of Missionsa body concerned with Methodist activity in the South Pacific.
In 1890 Brown visited PNG in response to a request from Administrator MacGregor for Methodists to undertake missionary work in Papua. He was a party to MacGregor’s scheme to divide Papua into missionary “spheres of influence”the London Missionary Society (LMS), the Anglicans and the Methodists. In 1891 he supervised the foundation of a mission at Dobu Island. During three further visits to Papua he guided Methodist mission expansion and discussed missionary activities with leaders of the LMS and Lutheran missions. An Autobiography, based on his anthropological and natural history observations as well as his missionary experiences, was published in 1908.