Henry To Robert

Henry Thomas To Robert (1942-), former Governor and Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Papua New Guinea. To Robert was born in Kokopo, East New Britain (ENB) and educated in ENB, Australia, and the University of Sydney from which he graduated B.Econ. in 1965. He became Assistant Research Officer with the Port Moresby branch of the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1965, Deputy Manager of the branch in 1971 and Manager in 1972. When PNG attained self-government in 1973 he was appointed Governor and Chairman of the Board of the Reserve Bank of PNG, a position which he has retained. Since 1973 he has been Chairman of the Management Board of the PNG Bankers’ College. From 1980 To Robert has been President of the PNG Amateur Sports Federation and the PNG Olympic and Commonwealth Games Committee. He was knighted (KBE) in 1981.

Luís Vaz de Torres

Luís Vaz de Torres (fl. 1605-1607), Spanish navigator. In 1606 he showed that New Guinea was separated from Australia by sailing west along the south coast of New Guinea, through the strait which bears his name. The result of this expedition was not known to other navigators until 1762 when the Scots geographer, Alexander Dalrymple, discovered, in Manila in the Philippines, a letter from Torres to the King of Spain. The letter, dated 12 July 1607, records the route taken and includes observations of the people and terrain of the south coast of New Guinea. Almost nothing is known of Torres’ life outside the years 1605-07.

Louis Vangeke

Louis Vangeke (1904-1982), first PNGan bishop. Vangeke was born in Beipa, Mekeo, Central District. His father was a sorcerer and his mother died in childbirth. He was brought up by Irish nuns and educated at St Patrick’s primary school at the Yule Island Catholic mission. In 1920 he joined the Little Brothers, the first indigenous Catholic order. In response to a papal call for the training of indigenous clergy Vangeke was sent, in 1928, to study in a Jesuit-run seminary in Madagascar. His training began at lower-secondary level and it was not until 1937 that he was ordained as the first indigenous Catholic priest. His studies included Latin, French and philosophy, as well as English, and when he returned to the colony better educated than most whites there was considerable expatriate resentment towards him.

However, Vangeke was approved by the Administrator, Hubert Murray, who waived the racially discriminatory liquor, clothing and curfew regulations to enable him to perform his religious duties. In 1941 he was admitted to the Sacred Heart Order and spent most of his ministry among the Kuni people. In 1955 and 1969 he traveled to Europe. In 1970 Vangeke went to Sydney during a visit by Pope Paul VI by whom he was consecrated titular bishop of Culusi and auxiliary bishop of Port Moresby. In 1976 he was made bishop of Bereina where he lived until his death. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by UPNG and knighted in 1980.

More on Louis Vangeke: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/vangeke-sir-louis-15893

John Waiko

John Douglas Dademo Waiko (1944- ), historian, politician and writer. Waiko was born in Tabara village, Northern District (now Oro Province), and attended Anglican primary schools and Anglican and Lutheran secondary schools. In 1967 he entered the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) from which he graduated with a B.A. (Honours) in History in 1972. He gained an M.A. from the University of London in 1973 and a Ph.D. from the Australian National University in 1983. Waiko was the first PNGan to be awarded a Ph.D. in social sciences.

Waiko was a research fellow, lecturer and senior lecturer in the History Department of UPNG until appointed Professor of History in 1986. He was the first PNGan professor at UPNG. From 1988-90 he was seconded from UPNG to become the first PNGan Director of the National Research Institute. In 1992 he was elected to the national parliament to represent an Oro Province electorate and appointed Shadow Minister for Education and Science.

Waiko has served on many academic and government boards and committees and presented papers to numerous regional and international conferences. He has written plays, short stories and poems and a number of articles, or chapters, for historical, social and cultural publications. His published fiction includes The Unexpected Hawk and The Old Man and the Balus. His main historical publication is A Short History of Papua New Guinea. Waiko was also an Associate Producer of an autobiographical award-winning documentary film Man Without Pigs.

Gough Whitlam

Edward Gough Whitlam (1916- ), Australian lawyer and politician. Whitlam was the parliamentary leader of the Australian Labor Party from 1967-77 and Prime Minister of Australia from 1972-75. In 1965 he predicted that PNG could become independent by 1970. Charles Barnes, conservative Minister for Territories, believed that independence might not come for several decades. When Whitlam visited PNG in 1969 he antagonized many white expatriates by supporting the PANGU Pati demand for early independence. He continued his support for PNG nationalism when he became Prime Minister and committed Australia to continue providing substantial financial aid. He warmly welcomed Independence in September 1975.

Paias Wingti

Paias Wingti (1951- ), politician and businessman. Wingti was born in Moika, Western Highlands, and educated at Mt Hagen Community School, Mt Hagen High School and UPNG. He graduated B.A. in Economics and Political Science in 1976. In 1977 Wingti was elected to the House of Assembly to represent a Western Highlands electorate. He was Government Whip in 1977, Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation (March 1979-February 1980), Deputy Prime Minister (August 1982-March 1985), Minister for National Planning and Development (August 1982-November 1984), and Minister for Education (December 1984-March 1985). Wingti was a member of the PANGU Pati until March 1985 when he defected, formed the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and became leader of the Opposition. He defeated Michael Somare on a vote of no confidence and became Prime Minister from 1985-87. He was reelected Prime Minister in 1987 but defeated on a vote of no confidence in 1988. After the elections of July 1992 he was reelected Prime Minister (by the casting vote of the Speaker). In September 1993 he resigned while the House of Assembly was in session and was reelected minutes afterwards. Wingti’s ploy to preserve his position against a vote of no confidence for a further 18 months was challenged by the leader of the Opposition who argued that this action was unconstitutional and took the issue to the Supreme Court which rejected the challenge.

Yali Singina

Yali Singina (c.1912-1975), a post-World War II leader who attempted to improve the material and spiritual lives of the people of the Rai Coast, Madang. Born in Sor village, Rai coast, Yali first worked as an indentured laborer in the goldfields and then as a hotel waiter at Wau. He attended the Rabaul Police Training School in 1937 and was employed in the Administration police force. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and sent to Australia for training. During the war Yali served with the Allied Intelligence Bureau of the Australian Army where he was apparently told that PNGans who cooperated with the Allies would be rewarded after the war. He was promoted to sergeant major – the highest rank awarded a PNGan in the Australian army.

Yali fought with the Australians against the Japanese throughout the war. After the war he returned to the Rai coast and established a Rehabilitation Scheme which he and his people hoped would be funded by the Administration as a reward for their wartime services. Yali encouraged the people to build European-style houses and villages, cease fighting, establish businesses and plant cash crops. When the Administration failed to provide the support that the people expected Yali became disillusioned, renounced Christianity, and became the leader of a cargo cult. In 1950 he was jailed for five years for incitement to rape connected with the cult’s sexual practices. Yali was president of the Rai Coast Local Government Council from 1964-66 but failed to win a seat in the House of Assembly in 1964 and 1968.

More about Yali: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/yali-12084