Sir Peter Barter, great figure in PNG, dies at 82

Sir Peter Barter and Sir Michael Somare at a Divine Word University function in Madang (Garry Roche)

GARRY ROCHE – posted on PNG Attitude blog

MAYNOOTH, IRELAND – Sir Peter Barter, 82, who passed away in Cairns after a short illness on Wednesday 22 June, was well known and respected as a politician and businessman.

It is widely acknowledged that he achieved much in his time especially for both Madang Town and Madang Province.

Certainly the Peter Barter I knew was a good man.

Sir Peter Leslie Charles Barter GCL OBE was born in Australia but later became a naturalised Papua New Guinean citizen.

He attended Newington College in Sydney before training as a pilot and flying for Qantas Airways.

He established, owned and operated the popular Madang Resort and, as early as 1980, created the Melanesian Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which invested in remote communities that had shown great hospitality to tourists and other visitors.

Sir Peter was elected Governor of Madang Province in 1997, serving a five year term.

In 2001, he was knighted for his services to PNG and the tourism industry.

While in parliament he also served as Minister for Health and Minister for Bougainville Affairs.

In this latter role, he played an active and fruitful part in the process of reconciliation following the Bougainville civil war of the 1990s. He was highly regarded and trusted by both sides.

In addition to his political and business activities, Sir Peter was a long-serving member of the Governing Council of Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang.

It was through my own involvement over many years on the University Council that I got to know him.

About four times each year between 1998 and 2013, I travelled from Mt Hagen to Madang for meetings of the Council, and was pleased to associate with Sir Peter at these meetings.

Quite often, if there was no accommodation available on the university campus, several of us Council members would be lodged at Sir Peter’s Madang Resort.

I only have good memories of those times.

Peter BarterSir Peter rarely missed a Council meeting and he genuinely seemed to enjoy the opportunity of mixing with people from different backgrounds and discussing matters relating to education and the university itself.

The Council included people from industry and the academic world, and from different faith backgrounds, not only Catholic but also from the Lutheran, Anglican and United churches.

Sir Peter participated in Council meetings in a polite and serious way and his contributions were always worthwhile.

He never tried to browbeat or be officious. I would describe him as being genuinely humble in his contributions to our meetings.

So I only have very good memories of Sir Peter.

My condolence goes to his family members.

You can all be so very proud of the late Sir Peter Barter.

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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