Article from: Australian Associated Press
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and rugby league have one thing in common - they're both ties that bind
Both ties were strengthened during a meeting on Tuesday between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his PNG counterpart Sir Michael Somare.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels are indelibly linked with the Kokoda Track, where Australian forces turned the Japanese drive towards
The poem ends:
May the mothers of
when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels
with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.
The history of Papua New Guineans in World War Two is more complicated; a story of confused loyalties, or none at all. Sir Michael, whose first schooling came from the occupying Japanese, knows this.
But the Kokoda bearers were special and they've become a potent symbol of Australian-PNG relations.
So Rudd announced, with Sir Michael beside him and two elderly angels, complete with feathered head-dresses in the news conference audience, that
About 55,000 carried supplies, built bases and airfields or evacuated the wounded and sick. Survivors, or their widows or widowers, may apply for a medallion.
"The medallions will feature the image of a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel helping a wounded Australian along the Kokoda Track - one of the iconic images of World War 2 and testament to the strength of the bond between our two nations," Rudd said.
Sir Michael welcomed the move, saying he was very proud to be in
But the Angels are small beer compared with rugby league.
Although the other codes are played, league - which was boosted by Australian soldiers during the war - is the game.
In its early years, anthropologists saw it as a substitute for tribal fighting.
It's now played almost everywhere. PNG has produced some notable players, such as former Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos winger Marcus Bai.
The Australian government, seeing it as both an important unifying force in a nation of disparate tribes and as a way to further strengthen ties between the two countries, has been exploring ways to develop the game and link it with
Now Rudd said he and Sir Michael were developing a plan to go to a ministerial forum in June.
Little of this is really new. What is new is the idea of linking access to league programs with primary school attendance. This meshes neatly with another major program to greatly increase primary school attendance.