AMplify ep 38: Michael Mel

By: Alice Gage, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 27 Feb 2018

West Pacific Collection Manager Michael Mel takes Kim McKay back to his homeland in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Michael Mel

Michael Mel
Photographer: Abram Powell © Australian Museum

Michael Mel grew up in an idyllic village in the Goroka region of Papua New Guinea. In this episode, the AM's West Pacific Collection Manager describes the food, home and community life of his childhood.  

Michael recalls how his parents experienced the arrival of the first white people to the village.

"It was in 1933 that the Leahy brothers headed up into the Highlands. They were gold fossickers. They set up a whole mining structure there and started to dig. Following the gold fossickers came the missionaries... A lot of changes happened – the emergence of alcohol, cash economy, paid employment and of the local economy. It was challenging times but also very exciting.

"People started to become aware that the world was now defined in a different way. Days and night were not necessarily days and nights in the old way, but they were days of the week when you had to work or didn't have to work. It was a completely different system... you couldn't get away from it."

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