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Kevin Fitzpatrick
Kairiru Island
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In 1968, I completed my final year of secondary schooling in Melbourne, Australia. I intented to enter a teaching career. The secondary school I attended was run by the Marist Brothers.

One of the brothers, Brother Phelan, taught at that school, and was appointed as the head of St. Xaviar’s School on Kairiru Island, commencing in 1969. He asked me if I was interested in coming to teach during 1969. I had no formal teaching qualifications.

I did this, and spent the year (1969) at the school. I returned to Melbourne in 1970, trained as a teacher, and taught for 22 years. I subsequently left and opened my own business, which I still run.

I did not do a lot of traveling in PNG. The school, being a boarding school, drew its children from a wide area. I travelled up the Sepik River, and along the Northern coast, and of course, spent time in Wewak.

There was one other teacher from Sydney, Chris, who was at the school in 1969. I have had no further contact with him.

The Ki-43 Oscar was on the Island, at the end of the runway, adjacent to the school. I presume, that if you had been to the school, it may not have still been there. I have another photo showing the framework of a “seaplane” in the bush.

In my time on Kairiru. I did quite a bit of study on the history of the island, especially during WWII. Unfortunately, I do not have any documents, however I do remember reading many reports relating to the area at the time.
One report that springs to mind, but of which I really remember few details, was of a group of Catholic Nuns that were executed by the Japanese.

It amazed me at the time that the islanders had a very vivid memory of the war years, some 24+ years later. In 1969, there was a delegation from the Japanese Military, who came to Kairiru to exhume, and give a proper burial to Japanese soldiers who had died on the island during WWII. The sites where Japanese soldiers lay interred were remembered by the locals, and thus the remains were recovered.

This is a very brief summary of my time in PNG. Several years after returning to Melbourne, I completed a degree at one of our universities. I majored in histories, and studied anthropology, especially the history of both New Guinea and New Zealand. I am hoping to visit Kairiru sometime in the near future.

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