First Rotary Club of Each Country



Brief histories of the first clubs of each geographic regions or countries

Rotary Club of Port Moresby, the First Club of Papua New Guinea

Rotary International District 9600

A Part of Our History of Rotary in the Pacific Region

See also, Rotary in Papua New Guinea

Many men and women have ideals, and Rotary is an ideal in action. The element that fires that action is the same today as it was fifty years ago when Mike Woods, a former member of the Rotary Club of Bournemouth in the UK, arrived in Port Moresby and decided that it was time to start Rotary in Papua New Guinea.


The Rotary Club of Port Moresby was chartered on 19 September 1957.

Port Moresby and the other clubs in Papua New Guinea therefore, are the only clubs in this district that do not have the Rotary Club of Brisbane as their earliest ancestor.


Today the Rotary Club of Port Moresby is alive and well. Whilst the Club has always been active we will concentrate here on the last twenty years of the Club’s history.

1984 saw the second year of President Daryl Nathan’s time in office. This was an important year in Port Moresby’s history as Papua New Guinea’s National Parliament was opened by HRH the Prince of Wales. While in Papua New Guinea, the Prince officially opened the Red Cross Special Education Centre.

The 1984 changeover saw a pioneer in PNG’s computer industry, Bob Ajax, accept the President’s chain, to be followed by John Furby of Port Moresby Freezers. John unfortunately passed away in 1996, but is remembered by many as having his own special seat at every Rotary meeting. 1986 saw another Steamships employee, Gordon Morgan, take over the reins of the Club. Shell PNG’s property manager, Trevor Aropa became president in 1987 and planning took place for Port Moresby’s most ambitious program ever – an International Air Show. This came together in September 1988 as the Club celebrated its coming of age. The Rotarians in Ian Harvey’s year underestimated the enthusiasm of the average Papua New Guinean when it comes to aircraft. It was estimated that more than 10 000 pushed their way past the two Rotarians at the gate. At K2.00 entry fee, this was a lot of money lost!

The colourful Shailen Mehta assumed the role of president in 1989 and Port Moresby’s fundraising efforts was boosted by the arrival of Jumbo Tennis. K25, 000 for six hours work! Accountant David Hyde saw the nineties in for the Club, and he was ably followed by Phil Parnell. To this day nobody knows what Phil Parnell did in his day-to-day job with Mitsui!

By now the Club was running an annual RYLA course with an instructor coming up from Australia. Martin Hovey from the Bankers College took office in July 1992. Grahame (almost got it right) Kell of Boral fame was our next big boss. Standing in the wings but not being idle was Richard Knox, the pioneer of Rotary Against Malaria. Richard, later to become DDG, was a dynamic president with a passion for Rotary. Ron Seddon also a future Assistant Governor, succeeded Richard and continued with the RAM concept, finally getting the Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 1997.

Fundraising continued and Port Moresby Rotarians were now running RYLA. Rio Fiocco, another member of the RAM team and another future Assistant Governor, became president in July 1998. "AusAid" adviser Tony Milan donned the chain in 1999 and DIK, going into the Port Moresby General Hospital, got a big boost. Dale Palmer and Tony Wabiyaui took the Port Moresby Club into the twenty-first century.

Paul Constable was our 2001 president and started off the Careers Expo. It was attended by some 7,000 school-leavers, and continues annually. Exxon Mobil’s Roger Thornton got the very successful school desk program, with more than 3,000 new school desks being delivered to Papua New Guinean schools, into Port Moresby’s calendar. President Richard McCarthy continued the school desk drive in 2003. Using his forestry contacts Dick managed to get DIK out to the most remote villages in the Central and Gulf Provinces.

The first female president, Monica Salter, takes the Rotary Club of Port Moresby into the Rotary Centennial year. Many centennial projects have been planned, including the re-opening of the Port Moresby library, the naming of Paul Harris Drive through PNG’s international airport, complete with 100 trees. The replacing of the clock tower in the CBD, as well as the provision of ambulances to St John Ambulance Brigade and a new bus to Cheshire Homes are more of the Club’s centennial program.

President Monica and Lee Ticehurst are organising the Centennial Kokoda Track Walk in April 2005. February will see the Rotary Clubs of Port Moresby and Boroko working together in a month of ‘Celebrating Rotary’. The birthday of Rotary will be celebrated with a State dinner at PNG’s Parliament House, hosted by the Prime Minister. This will mark the start of the month of Rotary Celebration, culminating in the Centennial Ball on Saturday 19 March 2004. Rio Tinto’s Paul Coleman is in the wings as President-Elect and he will have a hard act to follow.

The Rotary Club of Port Moresby continues to celebrate Rotary and raise funds from Jumbo Tennis, Defensive Driving, RYLA, a Rotary Golf Day, and a Games Night. The Club’s main programs are the school desk program, greening Port Moresby, City Mission, Hospital Visits, Early Learning Centre, Donations in Kind and Rotary Against Malaria.

Written by Robbie Orr.


The Rotary Club of Port Moresby has over the years, given birth to all other clubs in the country, albeit with much assistance from Australian clubs, particularly those from District 9600.

acknowledgements to the authors of  "Spinning Wheels"
"Spinning Wheels" is a comprehensive book on the history of District 9600 and its member clubs,
which cover south east Queensland, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
This excellent history was a project of the District 9600 Centenary Committee 2004-05 which comprised -
Judy Magub (Chair), Henry Bodman, Beth Shaw, Rob Jeffery and Jane Anderson.


posted by RGHF Webmaster Greg Barlow. October 2008

RGHF Home | Disclaimer | Privacy | Usage Agreement | RGHF on Facebook | Subscribe | Join RGHF - Rotary's Memory Since 2000