deeds not words | wokim ino toktok

ACFID Membership Granted to the Kokoda Track Foundation

The Kokoda Track Foundation has been awarded Interim Full Membership status by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Executive Committee at their June 2014 meeting. The Foundation is now part of a network which unites Australia’s non-government aid and international development organisations to strengthen their collective impact against poverty.


The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is the peak Council for Australian not-for-profit aid and development organisations working to attain a world where gross inequali

ty and extreme poverty are eradicated. ACFID currently has over 100 members operating in more than 100 developing countries. ACFID’s members range between large Australian multi-sectoral organisations that are linked to international federations of NGOs, to agencies with specialised thematic expertise, and smaller community based groups, with a mix of secular and faith based organisations.

The Kokoda Track Foundation is also a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct, which is a voluntary, self-regulatory sector code of good practice. As a signatory the Foundation is committed to and fully adheres to the ACFID Code of Conduct, conducting its work with transparency, accountability and integrity.

“The Foundation is proud to achieve this significant milestone and delighted to be working alongside esteemed NGOs seeking to eradicate poverty.” says Dr Genevieve Nelson, executive director of the Foundation.

“We are committed to the aims and operating principles of ACFID including a human rights approach to development and the fostering of gender equality”

The Foundation is currently an Interim Full Member and anticipates becoming a Full Member in October 2014 at ACFID’s Annual General Meeting.

For more information visit the websites of the Foundation and or

An Update on the Kokoda College

collegeOctober 2013 marked an important month for the people of Papua New Guinea. Construction began on schedule for the Kokoda College, a state-of-the-art training facility based in Kou-Kou village along the Kokoda Track. The Kokoda Track Foundation’s most ambitious project to date, this College will train desperately needed elementary teachers, primary teachers and community health workers for PNG.

The rainy season arrived early this year in the Oro Province, causing some delays, however there has still been steady progress on the build. We currently have a team working tirelessly on the ground in PNG for the development of the College, and Petra Arifeae, our project manager, is also on site to oversee. The College is projected to open its doors at the end of 2014, and within its first 3 years of operation will train enough professionals to meet the needs of the entire Kokoda catchment area.

While the Kokoda College continues to remain our main focus, our other KTF projects are still going strong, providing support in education, health, microbusiness and community development across 40 villages along the Kokoda Track. Our annual Ralph Honner Oration Dinner saw fantastic results, and our ‘Krismas Givim’ campaign has recently launched for the holiday season.

As always, we are extremely appreciative to the Australian public’s generosity and support in the work that we do.

Painting a positive future for PNG

Jeffry Feeger’s colourful touch makes Foundation’s fundraiser most successful ever

Last Friday the Kokoda Track Foundation hosted its annual fundraising gala, the Ralph Honner Oration Dinner. The event is a celebration of the Foundation’s work as well as an opportunity to look to the future and help the Kokoda Track Foundation to continue their life changing work in PNG.

The evening began with a fantastic performance by PNG singer Ngaiire. Ngaiire, originally from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and now living in Australia and touring internationally, kicked-off the festivities with some of her finest songs.

The  leadership oration was delivered by the Foundation’s Ambassador, 93-year old Captain Bede Tongs MM. Prior to the oration, renowned PNG artist Jeffry Feeger was invited to create a portrait painting of Bede which he worked on throughout the night – the result was phenomenal. The painting was auctioned off for $6,700 at the end of the night.        

Patrick Lindsay, Chairman of the Foundation said: “The evening was a triumph on all fronts: technically, emotionally and financially. It was a wonderful showcase of the Foundation’s work, of our underlying purpose and of PNG’s great promise – as shown through the brilliant talents of Jeffry Feeger and Ngaiire.”

“And, of course, having our Living Treasures, our Kokoda veterans – highlighted by Bede’s spellbinding address – was the highlight of the night” he added.

The theme of the prestigious event was the Kokoda College, the Foundation’s newest and most challenging initiative. In an attempt to unlock the poverty cycle in Papua New Guinea, the Foundation is building a college in the jungle of PNG. The aim of the college is to train urgently-needed teachers and community health workers to educate and look after the next generation of young Papua New Guineans.

The Foundation raised an enormous $120,000 on the night thanks to the generosity of all who attended. These funds will make an extraordinary contribution to the Kokoda College and will provide training for many teachers and health workers for the Kokoda catchment region.

“This is our best result to date. We have had extraordinary feedback flowing in. The speeches from our PNG guests Rodney, Patricia and Junior resonated with all who attended as they witnessed them receive their awards of most outstanding community health worker, most outstanding teacher, and most outstanding student. It gave our guests a wonderful insight into our work.” Genevieve Nelson, Executive Director of the Kokoda Track Foundation said.

The Ralph Honner Oration Dinner was generously supported by Platinum dinner sponsors: PNG Tourism, Getaway Trekking and On Track Expeditions. An enormous thanks to our additional dinner sponsors including: Kirribilli Club, De Bortoli, Lion, One Water and Bianca Cardenas Photography.

A Week in the Life of a Kokoda Track Foundation Ambassador

Our 93-year old Ambassador and friend Captain Bede Tongs MM shares with us what an ordinary week as an Amabassador of the Kokoda Track Foundation entails:

“One thing about being an Ambassador for The Kokoda Track Foundation is there is no typical week.  A lot of things can happen in a week and there can be a lot of different weeks in a month, so it is best if I give an idea of what can happen.

Activities may be scheduled and unscheduled. Some are known weeks ahead and others  result from a phone call or an idea I have.

A very important aspect is getting out into the community to talk about the Foundation. I have found that Rotary Clubs are very interested in what we do so I have spoken at Tumbarumba, Jerrabomberra and Orange. Services Clubs are also interested and that has taken me to Goulburn and Dubbo. I have a friend who is the Scouts Australia International Commissioner so I have spoken to a gathering of the State and Territory International Commissioners.

I am pleased to say that a number of young people have been inspired by me before and after walking the Kokoda Track. This has resulted in a number of visits to Kapooka Army Camp to be there when they march out. I also attend training courses at Duntroon for Army Reserve Officers when they are role-playing the Isuarava battle on the Kokoda Track…

read more at the Kokoda Track Foundation’s website

Tickets sales stronger than ever Ralph Honner Oration Dinner 50% sold

Bede at KokodaThe Kokoda Track Foundation is aiming for another sell out for their annual fundraising gala, the Raph Honner Oration Dinner. Taking place on the 18th of October, the Foundation reports that half of the tables are already sold.

Genevieve Nelson, executive director of the Kokoda Track Foundation, said: “The Ralph Honner Oration Dinner is always a very special evening, it allows us to show our achievements and highlight all the work that still needs to be done to help the people of PNG.”

“I believe this year’s speaker, our wonderful Ambassador the 93-year old Captain Bede Tongs MM, is the big draw card. Bede will deliver the oration and will reflect on leadership and how this impacted his life during his time on the Track as well as after.” Genevieve continued.

The fundraising focus of the evening will be the Kokoda College – the Foundation’s most ambitious and biggest project to date. In a bid to break the poverty cycle, the Foundation is building a training College in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. The College will operate a School of Education and a School of Health and will train urgently-needed teachers and community health workers for the Kokoda region and PNG.

“We have raised the funds for the construction of the college, however we need further vital funds to operate the Kokoda College. We hope our guests will be generous. We look forward to making it one of the best events, for both our guests and the communities in PNG, who need our assistance so badly.” Genevieve concludes.

For more information or tickets for the Ralph Honner Oration Dinner please visit our dedicated event page.  For more details on the Kokoda College please go to

Foundation’s Ambassador 93-yr old Capt Bede Tongs MM calls on Australians to volunteer

Kokoda College site IMGP9779 copy

George Palmer 39th Bn, Patrick Lindsay, KTF Chair, Bede Tongs MM, 3rd Bn Garnett Tobin 2/31st Bn, George Palmer 39th Bn & Owen Baskett 3rd Bn

On 3 November last year, four Kokoda Veterans turned the first sod at the site of the new Kokoda College, which will be built by the Kokoda Track Foundation.

Today, some 8 months later, nine shipping containers are being packed by Tereno Constructions, the provider of the building materials, at their distribution centre in Ulladulla in NSW. The containers will be shipped to Oro Bay and then transported over land to Kou Kou village which is a 20 minute walk from the Kokoda plateau.

For the construction of the Kokoda College the Foundation is looking to engage a large group of Australian volunteers. For two months in October and November, our volunteers will work alongside local villagers from Kou Kou and construct the College – literally out of the jungle!

“Just imagine what could happen: the College is there in the containers, plans are laid out, and tools are in their boxes … and no one to build it. The old truism that many hands make light work applies here” said Captain Tongs.

It is planned to have seven teams to work on different parts of the College and to do the majority of construction in the months of October / November, before the rainy season starts. There will be about 40 volunteers in total, with groups of 6 staying in the guesthouses in Kou Kou Village for two weeks at a time.

During WWII there were 12 Battalions on the Track and these volunteer positions offer an opportunity for family and friends to return to where their fathers fought. The Battalions who fought on the Kokoda Track and Beyond were the: 39th, 53rd, 2/14th, 2/16th, 3rd, 2/27th, 2/25th, 2/31st, 2/33rd, 2/1st, 2/2nd and 2/3rd.


Bede inspecting the shipping containers full of building materials for the Kokoda College at Dalmeny NSW

“The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were there for us in 1942 and the work of the Foundation means that we are there for their families and descendants now ” said Captain Tongs.

“Access to an education and basic health care must be available to these villagers as near as possible to where they live.  The country is rugged and it is not easy to travel long distances to go to school or receive medical attention. The graduates of the College will make a huge difference to communities along the Track and, when the current short-fall is met, to communities in other regions of Papua New Guinea as well” he added.

On 2 July, Bede Tongs visited Dalmeny to see the building materials, tools and other resources for the construction of the College being packed into the containers. Bede, who turned 93 last week, is one of the Ambassadors for the Kokoda Track Foundation and is keen to see the College operating to educate much needed teachers and health workers.

The Kokoda Track Foundation is building the Kokoda College in October and November this year and making a vital contribution to improving the education and health standards of the Oro and Central Provinces in PNG. The College will train urgently needed elementary and primary teachers and community health workers who will operate the schools and aid posts across the region.

For more information regarding the Kokoda College, please visit

If you know of someone who was in the Kokoda Campaign but are not sure of their Battalion, a good place to start is the World War 2 Nominal Roll at Some Soldiers moved to different Units after the Kokoda Campaign, so you might have to do some more searching after looking at the Roll.


Bede’s Medals

Australia helping to build the Kokoda College

Think of Darwin, Hobart and Cairns. If you add every man, woman and child in these cities together you’ll reach around 500,000 – the number of kids in Papua New Guinea who are missing out on an education because they have either no school or no teacher.

This week the Kokoda Track Foundation took a major step towards addressing this sad situation. After three years of planning, we gave the green light to our most ambitious project to date, Kokoda College, the first teaching college to be built in the rural Kokoda region in PNG.

Kokoda College will be a game changer: it will be able to provide all the needed teachers and community health workers in the Kokoda catchment region within the first three years of operation. The college can then open its doors to students from around PNG, making an impact on the national shortage of teachers and CHWs.

We’ve created a special website, where you can check out all details of the college, including plans for the campus and buildings.

We still need the help of as many Australians and Papua New Guineans as possible. Please visit the website to see how you can make a financial donation to help us build and run the college. Or register your interest if you are keen to join our volunteer teams in October/November to help build it.

PNG is a mere 3.6km from Australia – our nearest neighbour – and yet of all nearest neighbours in the world, PNG and Australia have the greatest disparity of poverty and wealth. Our motivating aim is this: “They were there for us in our darkest hours… now it’s our turn to lend a hand.”

Listen to our Chairman’s interview with ABC’s Campbell Cooney for more information.

kokoda college project progressing

17th April 2013 Kokoda (Papua New Guinea)– The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) is progressing with its ambitious project to build a college in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. KTF’s CEO, Dr Genevieve Nelson, visited the site in Kou Kou village just outside Kokoda with volunteer engineer Morgan Sheehy from Partrigde this weekend.

Nelson said: “It is an ambitious project indeed. KTF has been operating in PNG for over ten years and we’re in constant dialogue with the local communities and PNG government departments about the most pressing needs of our region. 18 months ago we began making preparations to build the Kokoda College – a state of the art training facility that will train elementary and primary teachers and community health workers. To have Morgan visit the land was truly invaluable and we are now working together to ensure that we are ready .”

KTF started work on the Kokoda College early last year after thorough research showed PNG’s current education and health systems are not producing enough teachers and community health workers. Currently some 500,000 children are not going to school because of the lack of teachers. A similar situation exists in health and many aid posts and health centres across the nation are closed due to the lack of health professionals. There are currently about 10 Nursing Schools in PNG which are able to graduate about 300 community health workers each year. For a population of seven million people, that’s simply not enough.

“We are currently in the final stages of land registration, after which we’ll commence the actual construction of the college. The college will be built in a remote and rural area, and so you can imagine that there are a few hurdles to overcome. We are however aiming to open the College’s doors at the end of 2014.” Nelson concluded.

The learning programs for both the School of Education and Health are being developed by steering committees. Committee members are education and health professionals with extensive experience in both PNG and Australia.

The Kokoda College will be able to graduate 100 elementary teachers, 30 primary teachers and 30 community health workers each year. That is enough teachers and community health workers to satisfy the need of the whole Kokoda Catchment area in the first three years of operation. The College will then open its doors to students from other regions in PNG.

our biggest project yet

31st July 2012

CEO crosses the Track for the sixteenth time and gets green light for the build of the Kokoda College

As part of their ongoing operation, the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) team travelled to PNG in July 2012 to cross the Track and monitor the progress of their aid programs along the Kokoda Track. For Dr Genevieve Nelson, the Executive Director of the KTF, it was her sixteenth crossing, this time visiting around twelve of the 40 villages that KTF supports in the Kokoda Track catchment area.

The main reason for this crossing was to deliver three newly graduated community health workers to their respective aid posts. Supplied with a brand new emergency medical kit, Lance, Jackson and Collin were walked in by the KTF team and settled into their new health posts. Their much anticipated arrival made all three see patients from the moment they arrived.

“Every crossing has multiple purposes, but our community health workers were our main focus this time” says Nelson. “After graduating from their two and a half year course, they were keen to get started. It is great to be able to see how they are welcomed by the communities and seeing patients already.”

“I have been going to PNG for many years and it is heart warming to see that despite the many challenges, our aid programs are effective and benefit the ones that need it the most” Nelson added.

KTF also launched their second stage of the Pawa Givim Meri program. The program empowers women along the track, and giving them a chance to earn an income by developing microbusinesses. The first stage of this program was focused on food – microbusinesses and how to catering for the trekkers who come through the village. The second stage is focussed on selling and repairing solar lights.

“Earlier this year we hand-delivered 3,500 solar lights to all of the families along the Track. These lights have made a tremendous difference in the lives of people and are therefore very sought after” says Nelson.

In conjunction with eleven Women’s Groups, KTF developed a business strategy for the selling and repairing of the solar lights. The women in Abuari village put their newly acquired skills into practice straight away and sold three lights before the KTF team even left for the next village.

Following their crossing, KTF finalised arrangements with local communities at Kou Kou village – situated some 20 minutes walk from Kokoda – for the building of the Kokoda College later this year. The Kokoda College will be one of a kind – a college in a remote, rural area able to graduate enough teachers and community health workers to satisfy the need of the whole Kokoda Catchment area within the first three years of operation.

Patrick Lindsay, chairman of KTF said:”We are delighted with the go ahead as we strongly believe this College will be a game changer in PNG. We will be able to educate and train teachers and health workers for an area where the need is great. The aim is to start building in October, so we will be able to open our doors in February 2013“.

KTF proudly announced the launch of the Kokoda College at a fundraising event in Port Moresby.

community hall built in koukou

14th November 2011

In October 2011, the Kokoda Track Foundation engaged a team of 13 Aussie vounteers to construct a community hall in Koko village. The volunteers came from Sydney, Canberra, and the Shoalhaven regions in NSW and volunteered 2 weeks of their time to travel to PNG and construct the community hall. According to the local villagers, Koko village is the original site of Kokoda and is located approximately 2 kms north of the Kokoda plateau.

The hall took 10 days to build and required a massive joint effort from the volunteers as well as the local Koko villagers. The Foundation purchased a pre-fabricated kit hall from PNG Forest Products which was shipped to Oro Bay and delivered to Koko village by truck. Under the expert guidance of volunteer builder, Clint Davey, the hall was constructed in 10 days filled with Kokoda heat, sunshine, and the odd day of torrential rain! The hall also included two rain tanks so that the village no longer has to walk 5km to the nearest water source.

One of the key drivers behind the fundraising for the project was Shoalhaven man and ex-Kokoda trekker – Milton Lay. Milton has worked with the Foundation over the past 2 years to raise the funds we needed to purchase the hall, water tanks, and tools and to engage the volunteers. The hall was unveiled on the last night and handed over to the Koko community as the “Milton Lay Community Hall”.

The Foundation is using the hall for a range of community projects including a base for a travelling library, a homework club and upgrading centre, and a microbusiness training centre. We will also use the hall in 2012 to run teacher training programs for the elementary and primary school teachers in the catchment area.

“We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of this project” says the Foundation executive director, Dr Genevieve Nelson. “The volunteers all dedicated themselves to the project both financially and practically and after two weeks of extremely hard work the result is spectacular. This is the first project of its kind in the region and the villagers of Koko and the surrounding areas are extremely excited about the outcome”.

The Foundation began its Pawa Givim Meri project during the period that the hall was being constructed and ran small business workshops and cooking classes with the women’s groups from the region. On the last day of construction the women established the “Koko Cafe” and sold their snacks to the volunteers including Chilli Corn Fritters, Banana & Coconut Bread, and Pumpkin & Lentil Soup. The group earned K134 on the day!

The Foundation is extremely grateful to Milton Lay, Clint Davey and all of the volunteers for their enthusiasm and commitment to the project. We are also very grateful to the major donors who funded the project especially Tony Harbrow, Dorothy Kermode, Reg Kermode, and Marg & Ken Kermode. We are also extremely greatful to Higaturu Oil Palms who transported the hall from Oro Bay wharf to Koko village free of charge.