The Papua New Guinea
Crest and Flag
The story of the crest and flag commenced during the life of the
first House of Assembly when the Select Committee on
Constitutional Development under the Chairmanship of the late
Dr. John Guise called upon the people and schools throughout PNG
for submissions about their country's flag. Hundreds of entries
were submitted which, due to time restraints, were handed over
to the Second Select Committee of Constitutional Development
under the Chairmanship of the late Paulus Arek.
Armed with this information The Committee in October 1970 had
its executive staff analyse these designs to find the most
suitable colours and symbols for a crest and flag. They found
the popular colours were gold, green and blue and the symbols -
birds, drums, spears and stars.
This information was passed to Mr. Holman, an artist with the
Dept of Information & Extension Services, for him to design a
crest and flag using these colours and symbols. The committee
ran with Mr. Holman's designs, a tricolour flag in green, gold
and blue with the Southern Cross and a white bird of paradise
superimposed The design was shown to the house of assembly on
the 17th November 1970.
Paulus Arek told the House:
The Committee will also seek the people's views on a flag and
a crest. The flag and crest do not represent the ideas of one
single person but rather have been designed taking into account
the overwhelmingly popular colours, designs and ideas submitted
by the people to your Committee.
Mr Speaker, with your approval I would like to show members of
the House of Assembly the flag and crest the Committee proposes
to show to the people. In relation to the flag -
The BLUE represents the islands of our country and the sea,
which surrounds them. The Cross lies above our whole country and
guides our people in their travel on land and sea.
The GOLD represents the coastal areas of our country, its past
and future mineral wealth and unity.
The GREEN represents the mainland and highland areas of our
country and a Bird of Paradise, our unique bird, is turned
towards the islands to represent one unified country.
your Committee proposes to make an extensive tour of the
Territory in January and February 1971. The people will be
shortly notified when the Committee will be visiting their areas
and will be provided with sufficient time to think about and
prepare answers to the Committee's proposals, the main ones of
which I have outlined in this statement.
The Committee divided into two groups to tour the country in
Jan/Feb 1971. As Deputy Chairman of the Select Committee I led
one of the groups. The people universally accepted the crest
although there was some parochial discussion about the design of
the spear and drum.
However, the people were quite outspoken when shown the proposed
design for the flag. Mostly they regarded the design as a
mechanically contrived outcome designed by the Select Committee
and not produced by a real person. It lacked warmth and
charisma. Our group visited Yule Island on 12th February 1971.
At the Yule Island meeting a schoolgirl, Susan Karike. a
pupil of the Catholic Mission School, gave me a revamped design
of the proposed flag drawn on a page taken from an exercise
book. It had instant appeal and I immediately thought, "This is
Susan replaced the tricolour by making the lower segment of the
flag black with the stars of the Southern Cross in white. The
top segment was red with the stylised bird of paradise in gold.
Susan described the colours as those most commonly used by the
people in their traditional ceremonies.
The Committee next met in Port Moresby on the 1st March to
consider the findings from its fact finding tour and finalise
its report. Both groups found that that the proposed flag was
not acceptable to the people as the flag for a future
independent Papua New Guinea and decided to recommend one of the
alternatives submitted to the committee during its tour.
choice was narrowed down to two designs. Susan's design I had
already presented to the meeting. The other, somewhat larger,
from a New Ireland group, was submitted by Mr. Wally Lussick.
The Committee adjourned that evening without having come to a
decision. I felt a little despondent, as I needed more than a
page from an exercise book to do full justice to Susan's design.
That evening Ross Johnson took the initiative and had his wife,
Pat, put Susan's design onto a piece of cloth slightly larger
than a tea towel. When this was shown to the Committee next day
a consensus was soon reached. Ross & Pat's flag gave support to
my presentation and the committee accepted Susan's design.
The Johnson Flag original
The report was presented to and adopted by the House on 4th
March 1971. It said this about the crest and flag:
crest suggested by your Committee is acceptable to the
majority of the people. Many groups particularly in the New
Guinea Islands region, submitted that some object
representing their particular area be represented on the
crest but it would not be practicable to include a
representation from all areas on the crest. As there was
widespread support for the crest as it stands, your
Committee recommends that it be adopted."
"51.The Committee suggested a flag for the country and
showed it to the people on its recent tour. Your Committee
received numerous representations to either alter the
suggested flag or replace it. Because of the wide variety of
views about the colour and design of the suggested flag,
your Committee has decided to choose one of the submissions
made to it on its recent tour."
"52.The Committee has chosen a design submitted by a young
Papuan girl named Susan Karike, In her submission to the
Committee Susan described the colours of the flag as being
the colours most commonly used by our people in their
traditional ceremonies. The Committee recommends that this
flag be adopted as the flag for Niugini"
Evans Pty Ltd of Melbourne supplied the first Papua New Guinea
flag. I offered it to Dr. John Guise, Speaker of the House, to
fly at the House of Assembly. He gracefully refused the offer as
he thought it was premature.
Mr. Les Johnson,
the Administrator flew this flag in front of his office in
Konedobu. It was the first PNG flag to be flown in the country.
I visited PNG in August 2003 and noted the respect shown to
their flag. This reinforced that the decision we made was the
Official Member, The Second House of Assembly, Territory of
Papua New Guinea
1.The Regional Member for
New Ireland; 2 Deputy Executive Officer of the Select Committee