Story and picture by OSEAH PHILEMON
THE sign board outside an office in Lae has faded – a sign that it has never been repainted since the office was set up many years ago.
It reads: Department of Education – National Archives Branch.
It is, of course, the national archives office for Lae and Morobe province and is a section within the provincial administration.
The outside appearance of the building would easily mislead the public into thinking it was a rundown place that meant little or nothing to ordinary people.
However, this is an important public office that serves an important purpose.
In the building are records and files containing information on the history of the government in Morobe and Lae areas dating back to the time of the colonial era.
It is a collection of history about Morobe province that is available for those seeking to know more about the history of the province.
Throughout Papua New Guinea, not all provinces have archives to keep old Government records.
Many important files are simply thrown away without any thought of having them archived.
The Office of Libraries and Archives has, for many years, been working with provinces to set up their own archives to keep old records.
Unfortunately, many important Government records in the provinces (and national level) have long disappeared either through negligence or deliberately by people not wanting to keep the records.
In the Lae archives building, many of the files belonging to the former kiaps (patrol officers) and district commissioners are stored.
The sad story is that like most other provinces, the files of early Morobe leaders are not kept.
Archives serve an important purpose in the history and life of any nation and Papua New Guinea is no exception.
The records and old files that are kept there preserve the story of a nation. It is a source of information about the life of a nation or province that cannot be found anywhere else.
Many provinces forget to store their old records and as a result are losing their own history, leaving nothing behind for the younger and future generations who want to do research into the various aspects of the Government work in a province or country.