by Quinton Alomp – EMTV, Port Moresby
A historic chair presented to the Rigo district council in 1966, by Sydney’s Lane Cove Council, has faded with time but it reminds current leaders of the relationship they had in the colonial year.
The chair’s seat was broken and is collecting dust inside the Kwikila Local level government President’s chamber.
But, the chair holds a special place in the history of Rigo district.
On February 8th1966, two Rigo councillors, Tom Abe, brother of Dirona Abe (a pioneer clerk of the newly formed Rigo District Council and a member of the Legislative Assembly) and Enoka Tom, went to Sydney, Australia to receive the chair.
During their visit, the two Papuan men impressed thousands of Sydney residents who witnessed the occasion.
Abe and Tom spoke English fluently, to the amazement of Australians.
In return of the chair, residents of Rigo district gave two “Dubu”, a traditional chieftain design curbed on tree trunks, to Sydney’s Lane Cove Council as a reciprocal gesture of goodwill and friendship.
Accounts of the ceremony in writing are still on the walls of the President’s chamber in Kwikila.
Kwikila was the first government station established in the 1820’s. It has a strong history with the Australian Colonial administrators.
Exchange of gifts, including the chair and “Dubu” signifies friendship locals in the then Papua province and their colonial masters enjoyed.
Today, the PNG-Australian relationship is more stronger. But, calls are made to the National Government to build a proper house in the district where historic items can be stored.
Gigo Central LLG President, Freddy Silona, said they have plans to open the Ghost track used by the Americans during 2nd World War.