PNG Kiaps finally achieve recognition

THE Australian government has recently announced that former PNG kiaps will be eligible for the Police Overseas Service Medal.
PNG Kiaps finally achieve recognition PNG Kiaps finally achieve recognition PNG Kiaps finally achieve recognition PNG Kiaps finally achieve recognition PNG Kiaps finally achieve recognition

Published in the August-September 2012 PNG Report magazine

Those kiaps who served between 1949 and 1973 will now be able to apply for the POSM and the family of those kiaps who have gone on their last patrol may apply for a posthumous award.

For former kiap Chris Viner-Smith, this is a final vindication after many years of hard work. Viner-Smith has been working at obtaining some form of government recognition of the former PNG kiap's role for 11 years.

The intention behind this initiative was to have the Australian government actually recognise that the kiaps of PNG helped the local people emerge from the Stone Age into the Modern Age without excessive bloodshed and violence.

In effect, kiaps were the means whereby Australia directly assisted the people of PNG build a modern nation.

While kiaps were sworn, commissioned police officers who were in charge of rural police detachments, these field officers had many other duties however and on small outstations, these duties included providing almost all government services on a 24/7 basis.

Kiaps worked with PNG rural people without excessive use of force or violence. Outcomes were mostly achieved by discussion and persuasion.

An important aspect about this announcement is that Australia's involvement in preparing Papua New Guinea for nationhood prior to Independence in 1975 has finally had some recognition in the eyes of the Australian government.

PNG is our nearest neighbour and we have a shared history yet very few Australians know anything about the country or her people. Perhaps the next chapter in making sure our shared history is not forgotten might be a future PNG government recognising what the kiaps, Australian and Papua New Guinean, achieved for their nation.

Written by ex-kiap Paul Oates.

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