deeds not words | wokim ino toktok

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

Kokoda College initiative moving ahead

The Kokoda Track Foundation has announced its Board has given the green light to start the physical construction of the Kokoda College. This means the Foundation is moving ahead with its ambitious plan to build a college in the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

The idea to build this college originated about a year and half ago, when the Foundation realised that the shortage of teachers and community health workers was preventing the development of the communities along the Kokoda Track back.

Genevieve Nelson, executive director of the Kokoda Track Foundation, said: “When we started researching, we discovered that some 500,000 children are currently not going to school because of a shortage of teachers.”

“And in healthcare, things aren’t looking much better, with a severe shortage of community health workers for PNG’s population living in the rural areas” she added.

The Kokoda Track Foundation has been working in PNG for over a decade in the areas of education, health, community development and microbusiness supporting the communities along and around the Track. Building the College is a necessary step and the Foundation’s most ambitious project yet.

“It’s busy days at our Sydney office and our PNG project officers are in full steam.” Nelson comments.

“Sending engineers to Kou Kou village where the College will be built, to survey the land, liaising with the builders about how and when to start preparing the site for construction, shipping and transportation of the building materials and tools – all before we can start the actual construction.”

The Foundation is on track to open the College doors at the end of 2014. The College will be capable of graduating 50 elementary teachers, 30 primary teachers, and 30 Community Health Workers each year. That’s enough teachers and health workers to satisfy the needs of the entire Kokoda track catchment area within the college’s first 3 years of operation. Kokoda College can then open its doors and accept applicants from other regions throughout PNG.

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.

koukou community hall

17th January 2011

In 2011, the Kokoda Track Foundation and a team of volunteers and supporters will embark on an exciting initiative, building a Community Hall in the village of Kokoda. This exciting project will provide a hall and space that will be owned and used by the local Kokoda community. The community will use the hall for a range of purposes including a homework club for students attending one of the four schools in the Kokoda area as well as a space for women’s groups to participate in the Foundation’s Pawa Givim Meri microbusiness projects.

Last year, passionate Kokoda supporter and member of the Foundation – Milton Lay – approached the Foundation with a proposal to build the Community Hall for the village of Kokoda. Milton walked the Track in 2003 and fell in love with the Track, its history, and its people. In particular, Milton developed a strong bond with the village of Kokoda and has kept in touch with the community over the years. Milton joined forces with the Kokoda Track Foundation last year and since then we have spoken with key leaders and elders from the community about how best the project can assist them. The community told the Foundation that they want to build a community hall in the village that will be used and owned by the local villagers. In particular the hall will be used by local women to create and sell their craft and for the training of young people in the village via the Foundation’s education and microbusiness projects.

“The plan has been two years in planning already, and we are talking about a remote area with complicated logistics, so it’s a big call, but all we need now is money” says Milton. “At this stage, everything is ready to go – we just need to get our funds sorted and the exciting stuff can start, and hope that can happen at the end of April this year.”

The “exciting stuff” involves transporting a prefabricated hall structure to Old Kokoda Village and constructing it on-site with the help of local villagers and qualified volunteer labourers – hopefully within a short, 10-day timeframe.

“We are delighted to team up with such a passionate and skilled group of Australians who are committed to contributing back to the local communities after their life-changing Kokoda treks” says Genevieve Nelson, the Foundation’s executive director. “This project will make an enormous difference in the lives of the Kokoda community members and we are excited about this new building project for the Track”.

The Kokoda Community Hall will only be possible with the generous support of donors. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to the project please go to our online donation page. For more information about the project please contact Dr Genevieve Nelson by clicking here.