New Guinea Company

Flag of the German New Guinea Company

From 1884 to 1899 the Protectorate of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago was administered, on behalf of the German government, by a private company, the New Guinea Company (Neuguinea Kompagnie). The Berlin-based company hoped to make profits using local land and labor to produce copra, cocoa and tobacco. When the first company expedition reached Finschhafen, on the north coast, in November 1885, they were welcomed by the village people as relatives who had returned from the dead. Initially the villagers along the coast on which the company was establishing plantations willingly cleared land in return for metal axes, beads and mirrors. However, they soon lost interest in European-style work and also resented the increasing alienation of their land. The company then imported laborers from adjacent islands and Southeast Asia. Between 1891 and 1896 three-quarters of these laborers and many Germans died from malaria, dysentery and influenza. The Company also tried to enforce completely unrealistic bureaucratic procedures. The enterprise failed to attract German settlers and the company collapsed. The German government took over the administration of the Protectorate in 1899.

1895 20 Mark gold coin issued by the German New Guinea Company for use in German New Guinea

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