Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Industry, Innovation & Science

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Launch of Voices from the War —Papua New Guinean Stories of the Kokoda Campaign

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Australia’s Environment Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and Papua New Guinea Environment and Conservation and Climate Change Minister, the Hon John Pundari MP today welcomed the release of a new publication by the Kokoda Initiative on the Papua New Guinean experience of the Kokoda Campaign.

Launched at the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby, Voices from the War —Papua New Guinean Stories of the Kokoda Campaign, World War Two, is the first publication of its kind which tells the story of the Kokoda Campaign from the PNG perspective.

Based on over 70 oral history interviews, including interviews with Papua New Guinean Kokoda veterans and descendents, Voices from the War is a collection of the wartime stories and experiences of the men and women of the Kokoda Track region who supported and fought alongside Australian troops.

During the Kokoda Campaign of 1942, the Papuan Infantry Battalion and Australian troops fought the Japanese Army. This is a place where friendship, courage, endurance and sacrifice were demonstrated in times of great hardship.

“This publication takes us back to a time when an important and lasting bond of friendship was formed between the people of Australia and the people of Papua New Guinea. This is a bond that continues today. The Australian Government through the Kokoda Initiative is proud to support this very important project,” said Minister Hunt.

Minister Pundari said he was delighted that the project has recorded the experiences of Papua New Guineans during the war, and gives a voice to all Papua New Guineans who endured or recall the battles fought.

“Voices from the War honours our Papua New Guinean war heroes and tells their stories of courage, sacrifice, generosity and their fight for our nation’s freedom. We are proud of our forefathers’ part in the war and it is through their heroic actions that we enjoy the freedom that we all have today.”

“Oral histories play a fundamental role in shaping our society. They teach us of our past, make sense of our present and pave the way for our future. The beauty of these stories lies in their simplicity and ability to impart messages that strengthen our world views, bring meaning into our lives and keep our cultures and traditions alive.”

Funded by the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments, the interviews were conducted in nine different locations along the Kokoda Track and surrounding region. The interview team comprised of Papua New Guinean and Australian researchers, who visited remote villages throughout the region.

The Kokoda Initiative is a partnership between Australia and Papua New Guinea to protect the Kokoda Track, Brown River Catchment and Owen Stanley Ranges while improving the lives of the people living along the Track.

It represents the shared vision of both countries to promote the economic and social development of Kokoda communities while also protecting the important heritage values and history of the Track and its surrounding region.

For more information on the Kokoda Initiative go to http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/international-projects/papua-new-guinea

(ENDS)

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