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2 April 2011

Vince and Inger and Maria Gozalbez

Hello from Inger and Maria Gozalbez

We recently found this site and were delighted to read about the news from Bougainville, and the memories and personal comments from members of the Bougainville Copper community.

Vince Gozalbez joined a contractor in Bougainville late 1969 and Maria and I joined him early 1970 to stay for approximately 6 months which turned into 6 years! Vince was employed by BCL at the end of 1970 and worked in the Panguna workshop as a head of heavy equipment mechanical engineering, until we left in May 1976.
We first lived in Camp 5 (also known as Nairovi). We later moved up to Panguna, before finally settling in Arawa in 1971 opposite the Bovo school, where Maria was a pupil. I started the Boutique Bougainville (high fashion!) together with Pam Coale and moved the business to Arawa centre when the shops were built.
Vince was an eager sailor and active in the Kieta Sailing & Cruising Club from the start. He was also a keen member of the Arawa Hash House Harriers, and a Founder Member of Hash House Harriers, Bougainville Island.

We have many fond memories of our time in Bougainville - a beautiful island and surroundings which we were fotunate to explore with sailing friends. I now live in Sweden, and Maria in England.
We remember Pam and Bob Coale
Fred and Gretchen Brost
Trevor and Melody Schultz, and many, many more.
Would love to hear from you all from that time in Bougainville.

Harry Baxter

I was delighted to find your Bougainville site. Didn' find my name on the Honour Roll tho'.

I believe I was the 7th Bechtel employee to arrive on the Island back in 1969. By the time I left in 1972 I was the longest serving.
I was made redundant after having a beer with a senior American Bechtel project manager called Ray Bradfield, up in Panguna when he declared that he was the longest serving employee........I had to tell him that I had arrived 2 weeks before him.................He didn't like that one little bit. Funny that!

I was, at the beginning employed as a draftsman, later as a Civil Field Engineer (More money!)

Three days after my arrival the then Project Manager Jim Barnett along with a surveyor, the Aussie District Commissioner, myself, a PNG Police Inspector and approx 130 armed Riot Police went in and took Loloho plantation from the Rorovana villagers. It was quite a day.

After that I was given the job of designing the layout of both the expatriate and indigenious camps at Loloho.
Each day I would leave my Police escort under a canoe tree and trudge to and fro through the acres of bracken fern and coconut trees, getting a feel for how I could best use the area for a 1000 man expatriate camp and a 1700 indigenious camp.

The project manager Jim Barnett told me to cut down/bulldoze around 2000 trees. I really didnt like the idea of destroying this beautiful area. So, in between the time when Jim died tragically in Panguna from a Brain Haemorage and the arrival of the new Project Manager, I cut down only 60 trees to make way for roads. Dongas were being installed and there was no turning back.

One particular day when I went further than usual around the headland towards Rorovana village, I heard voices coming from the beach. I really wanted to meet the Rorovanans so I kept walking through the trees until I was well past them, then got on to the beach and walked back towards them.

There were three adults sitting on the sand with a bunch of pickininies playing on the edge of the bush. The adults consisted of two young men about my age and one lapun.
As I came abreast of them, I asked could I speak with them? One of them who later turned out to be a firm friend as time went by ,was
Willie Bele.
Sitting with them I tried to explain that I would deal with their land as carefully as possible and that if I didnt do the job then someone who would no be so carefull might come along. I also told them my name.
Willie was thoughtfull and silent for a moment before saying " We already know who you are and It's alright......we wont kill you"
I was pretty grateful. All the time they were watching me and I had never once seen them.

Bougainville was for me the greatest experience of my life.................Many stories...........

I returned in 1977 on holiday and again a few times during their conflict with PNG around 1990. I entered illegally from the Solomons.
At that time I took a lot of video footage which was aired on Channel 9 A Current Affair featuring Yana Went and ABC 7.30 report.

The Channel 9 footage featured the Armoured Vehicles which the BRA and myself built up in the Pit Mine Workshop. Now a story!

I am now living in western Australia and still have contact with the people of Bougainville.

I hope this reaches you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards