Air Niugini is promoter of Kokoda anniversary

National, Normal

The National, Thursday 08th December 2011

AIR Niugini will be the official carrier and promoter of the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign, according to Public Enterprise Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.
He said it was an initiative of Air Niugini and Network Kokoda in conjunction with the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia to mark the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign.
He said Air Niugini had a number of initiatives to maximise awareness of the anniversary, including the creation of a dedicated website ( and the creation of a “flying billboard” on the side of a Boeing 737 showing the map of the Kokoda trail. It was along which the battles of 1942 were fought.
“Since the opening of the Isurava Memorial a decade ago almost 30,000 Australians have trekked across the Kokoda Track to walk in the footsteps of the soldiers who fought along it in 1942,’’ he said.
“Their journeys have created a trekking industry that has generated K100 million over the past decade and provided direct employment for Papua New Guinea guides and carriers.
“This amounts to 60,000 employment journeys for guides and carriers and 210,000 night camping for local landowners along the trail.
“Kokoda has become more than a pilgrimage for Australians. It has become an important means of maintaining national bonds of friendship.
“There is a realisation that many Australian trekkers would not be able to complete their pilgrimage without the selfless support of their PNG guides and carriers and the warm hospitality of the villagers along the trail.
“Australian troops came to the same realisation in 1942. Without the support and sacrifice of our legendary Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, the tide of war would not have turned and the Australian flag would never have been raised on the Kokoda plateau on Nov 3, 1942.
“The flag-raising ceremony symbolised the brotherhood forged between us in the darkest days of the Pacific War – a brotherhood founded on respect, fortitude, shared sacrifice and selfless compassion.
 “As time slowly steals the survivors from our midst, we owe it to them to ensure their service and their sacrifice is never forgotten. It should be a source of pride and inspiration for future generations of Papua New Guineans.
“Kokoda has come to symbolise the special bond between Australia and Papua New Guinea. We work together to overcome adversity.”
Australian parliamentary secretary for Veterans Affairs Charlie Lynn, who has walked the trail 50 times, said over the past 10 years, 30,000 Australians had become ambassadors of this symbolic place after walking the trail.
“Our aim with Network Kokoda is to preserve their memories through promotion of war time relics and sights. We make sure the identity and the stories are maintained,” Lynn said.
Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish said every year the Australian government gave K15 million to Kokoda so that the trail was maintained through the appropriate authorities and agencies.