Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stories of the New England diaspora 1 - introduction

From time to time I mention the New England diaspora, that large group who lived or were schooled in New England, but then left. No one knows how many of us there are, but in total there are probably more of us than those still living in New England. If you include our children, many more!

I thought that from time to time I should introduce you to some of that broader community, many of whom are still in touch. Apart from general interest, the series has another objective, to show you something of the New England depth that is so often ignored. You see, because we don't actually exist, it is easy to ignore us!

This photo comes from Paul Barratt. It's a scene from a 1965 rugby match between Wright College (UNE) and Armidale City. While I had given up football by this stage, something I regret, in pursuit of other things, I still have my Wright College jumper.

It's a very Armidale scene, isn't is? It looks cold!

As Paul noted on Facebook, taking the ball is Wright College Captain Philip Bailey, who after completing an Agricultural Economics Degree and a Dip. Ed. taught for a while at The Armidale School, then at Gordonstoun, then spent 25 years with Yehudi Menuhin. He has published a 2-volume biography of Menuhin, details of which can be found at In June, Richard Fidler interviewed Philip on ABC Radio about his experiences with Yehudi . You can listen to the interview here.

Looking again at the photo, the player with arm extending towards Philip is the late Jonetani Galuinadi. This next photo shows Paul Barratt and Jonetani when they both returned for graduation in 1967. That was also my graduation year. Dear, that makes me feel ancient!

Armidale's role as an educational centre drew many from outside to study there. Jonetani was one such, one of many Fijian students who came to the city. Many were strong Methodists, adding greatly to the cosmopolitan feel of the Methodist Youth Fellowship.  

After completed a degree in Botany, Jonetani became a plant geneticist for the Fiji Sugar Corporation, and then later was Chairman of the Fijian Public Service Board and then Minister for Agriculture in the Laisenia Qarase Government. Jonetani died in 2009, aged just 65. You can find a short Fiji Times obituary here.

The Lowy Institute has been running a Meet the Candidates series in parallel with the Papua New Guinea elections. One of the candidates covered was Sir Kina Bona KBE, who until this election was Chairman of the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission and Registrar of the Political Parties and Candidates Commission. Sir Kina was PNG's High Commissioner to London in the late 90s, and Public Prosecutor before then.

Dear that takes me back. Starting in the late 1950s, a number of PNG students came to The Armidale School for their secondary education. Sir Kina was one. There is now an active TAS alumni group in PNG.

Well, that's a start. More later. 

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