CHIEF INDUCTION CEREMONY, Wangawanga village, Middle Fly District

The Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae GCL GCMG, presented the ‘Orders of Papua New Guinea 2021 Independence Honours Awards’ to 14 recipients at Government House in Port Moresby on Thursday 28th October. Among them was Ian Roger Middleton, the founding Chief Executive Officer of an independent Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF).

Mr. Middleton received the “Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia” (CSM), the second-highest award in PNG, following the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL).

The CSM award is for his service and dedication over more than 15 years to community development, especially for the CMCA people associated with the Ok Tedi mine in Western Province, in pioneering commercial aquaculture in PNG, and his dedication to improving elementary education. For establishing agribusiness opportunities for smallholder farmers across Western Province and constructing more than 20 elementary classrooms through his private foundation, the Liklik Skul.

Ian shared the following reflections with the Fly Breeze: “My love of Papua New Guinea began from my very first year of life in 1969, on Kar Kar Island where my ‘was mamma’ watched my every move and eagerly taught me ‘tok-pisin’ and ‘waskia’ (one of two local languages spoken on the island) as I grew. Against many protests, eight years later my parents insisted I speak English whenever in our family home, a precursor to going to boarding school in Sydney and my multi-linguistic, multi-cultural upbringing was determined. I have always wanted to share my knowledge and experiences with rural Papua New Guinean’s, from stories of Australia to teaching the coastal village people of Madang how to grow out barramundi in ocean cages. My desire to help others eventually led me to the mining industry and Western Province where I have spent the last 15 years, including 11 years as the former CEO of Ok Tedi Development Foundation. Now an advisor, my time with OTDF has been a life-changing experience and the more than 140,000 mine-impacted communities I serve have become my extended family. A family that inspired both the evolution of the WestAgro program to build community financial independence and the Liklik Skul Foundation, which to date has renovated or built as new, 21 elementary school classrooms across the province. These experiences have inspired my Master’s degree by thesis at the University of Queensland and it is evident that there needs to be a greater focus by government and extractive companies to achieve improved community-driven development outcomes. I am hopeful that my research and the lessons learned from OTDF build an evidence base that informs PNG Mining Policy and enables the necessary changes that are required. I am humbled and very proud to be awarded by the PNG Government and thank the ‘Department of Minerals Policy and Geohazard Management’ for the nomination. This recognition would not have been possible without the support of many individuals at OTML and OTDF, especially my wantok Musje Werror, the people of Western Province, and of course the steadfast support of my loving parents, wife and children to whom I dedicate this honour, thank you all”.

Some highlights have included;

  • Establishing a CMCA Trust Investment portfolio that to date has earned over PGK65 million for future generations
  • A 5 year Middle and South Fly Health development program that saw Western Province improve from second last to fourth-best across 22 Provinces
  • Establishing the largest number of Flexible Open Distance Education (FODE) facilities for any Province across PNG
  • Facilitating a leading global mining industry Women’s empowerment program, including the establishment of CMCA Women’s Associations
  • Facilitating the construction of the Ningerum footbridge across the Ok Tedi River and rehabilitation of the Aiambak to Lake Murray, and Ningerum to Pampenai roads
  • Writing the WestAgro Master Plan and founding WestAgro Holdings to guide the CMCA’s agribusiness program, setting in motion a sustainable legacy for Western Province
  • Founding Chairman of the Liklik Skul Foundation, established in 2013

Following a 2-year induction process, one of my greatest achievements was becoming an honorary Chief of the ‘Crocodile Clan’ in the lower Middle Fly in 2020

Papua New Guinea’s national honours and awards system, known as “The Orders of Papua New Guinea”, was formally established in 2004 by authority of the Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth, including the independent State of Papua New Guinea.

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