Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Alola community museum and trade center officially opened

The Alola community along the Kokoda Track now has a proper museum to preserve the area’s military heritage and promote tourism and livelihood opportunities along the track.

The building was officially opened by Northern Governor Hon. Gary Juffa MP on September 25, at a ceremony also attended by Sohe MP Henry Amuli, Director of the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) Dr Andrew Moutu, CEO of the Kokoda Track Authority Julius Wargirai and representatives of the Australian High Commission.

Funded by Australia through the Kokoda Initiative and in partnership with NMAG, establishment of the museum and trade centre followed extensive consultation, with the building constructed with the assistance of the local community.

Australian High Commission Minister-Counsellor Andrew Egan thanked the community for their support and spoke of the strong historical connections between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“This building is a symbol of the bond between Australians and Papua New Guineans forged during the Kokoda campaign,” said Mr Egan.

“The involvement of local people has been an important way to not only preserve the military heritage of the area, but to also provide livelihood opportunities during the construction phase and into the future.”

Northern Governor, Gary Juffa, Australian High Commission Minister-Counsellor Andrew Egan, Director National Museum, Dr Andrew Moutu and other dignitaries gathered with the people outside the newly opened community museum and trade centre in Alola Village, Northern Province.

The museum displays a range of World War II military artefacts collected from the local area and is a key part of the National Museum and Art Gallery’s Military Heritage Management Plan for the Kokoda Track region.

According to NMAG Director Dr Moutu, “These artefacts are touchstones that provide a direct link to past events and the stories of those events passed down to today. The NMAG is working with communities to ensure such artefacts and their stories are protected for future generations.”

An open-air community trade centre is also attached to the museum, providing a space for villagers, particularly women, to sell souvenirs and refreshments to the 3,500 trekkers who walk the track each year.

Museum curator Ivan Senisi is pleased to have a safe and secure place to display the military artefacts found by his father over a 20-year period after the end of World War II. Before the new structure was built, Ivan’s wartime collection was housed in a small hut made of bush materials.

“I am feeling good and happy with the new museum. It is good for trekkers to see the history of the area and the battles that were fought on this land.”

A similar facility in Efogi in Central Province was officially opened on ANZAC Day April 25, 2019 and the Buna museum and trade centre on the north coast will follow soon.

The Kokoda Initiative is a long-standing partnership between the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea supporting remote villages along the Kokoda Track as part of its continued commitment to provide communities with better access to quality health and education, protect the environment and improve track safety for locals and trekkers.

Northern Governor, Gary Juffa, accompanied by Australian High Commission Minister-Counsellor, Andrew Egan and Director of National Museum, Dr Andrew Moutu officially cut the ribbon and unveil a plaque to signify the opening of the community museum and trade center.

For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100