By COLIN TAIMBARI
ON the evening of Monday, April 3, the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) launched its commemoration activities for the 75th Anniversary of the iconic World War 2 Battle of Kokoda.
Joining TPA in launching the Kokoda 75th commemorative activities were the committee agencies who have been part and partial in confirming dates for this important historical event were Kokoda Track Authority, Department of Conservation and Environment, Protection Authority, Kokoda Initiative, Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Battle of Kokoda was an epic war campaign that took place along the Kokoda Track – a historic early colonial mail and trade route that cut across the Owen Stanley Ranges traversing Koiari and Orokaiva territory passing through the borders of Central and Northern (Oro). The battle reached its peak in 1942 when Japanese soldiers forming part of the Axis powers successfully captured the beaches of Buna in Northern and were now half-way across Kokoda and en-route to capture Port Moresby.
The Australian and New Zealand military managed to counter the advance of the Japanese, but not without the support of the Papua New Guinean labourers who assisted by carrying supplies and escorting injured soldiers along the track.
Seventy-five years on PNG commemorates the historical event and honours the legends that emerged from the terrifying conflict especially the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, the ANZACs and the local militia who formed the Papuan Infantry Battalion. At the heart of the Kokoda 75th Anniversary campaign are the principles that have defined the Battle of Kokoda and the bond that links PNG with Australia and New Zealand – “Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice”.
TPA is partnering with the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) to facilitate and organise commemorative activities throughout the year for the Kokoda 75th Anniversary. Dates of particular significance include:
ANZAC Day, April 25th at Bomana World War Two Cemetery
National Remembrance Day, July 23 at The Ela Beach Memorial Park
Kokoda Day, Nov at the Kokoda Station and Isurava Memorial
Other commemorative activities for the Kokoda 75th Anniversary include exciting sporting activities for visitors and local track communities like rugby, netball, volleyball and an ultra-marathon. The ultra-marathon will see competitors run the course of the Track from Kokoda Station to Ower’s Corner.
TPA will also be working with KTA and its development partners to conduct project training and awareness along the track, including the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger support training, construction of cane bridges, instalment of standardised toilets, waste management and accommodation accreditation training for local campsite and guesthouse owners.
Kokoda is to date one of PNG’s biggest tourist attractions with over 3000 trekkers walking the 96 kilometre-long-route every year.
The Track’s appeal is its remarkable history, the mountainous rugged terrain, the scenic natural beauty and the unique culture of the local communities.
TPA also officially launched the Kokoda 75th Anniversary logo which will be used to promote the commemoration activities.
The colour green forms a huge part of the logo, signifying the natural beauty of the track. At the logo’s centre the silhouette of a “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel” and an Australian “Digger” face each other on top of a mountain representing the elevated terrain of the Kokoda Track. The colour of the sky forming the backdrop is that of the sun setting and the sun rising marking both finality and new beginnings.
While a red hibiscus – a flower identified with celebration, adornment and beauty in Papua New Guinea and the rest of Oceania sits at the logo’s middle.
TPA invites all Papua New Guineans and visitors to take part in the Kokoda 75th Anniversary commemorations as the event marks a significant event in the history of the nation, especially remembering national heroes like the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the ANZACs – not to mention celebrating the place where it all happened, the Kokoda Track – a place that continues to intrigue and challenge visiting trekkers seventy-five years on.
For a detailed program of the Kokoda 75th Anniversary events refer to the following websites: