There have been postal services in Papua New Guinea since 1885, so the 20th anniversary of Independence is actually the 110th for the Post Office! Papua and New Guinea were separate entities at that time, but postal services started in the same year.
In Papua, the service was an adjunct to that of Queensland in Australia, with mail being taken from Port Moresby by sailing ships to Cooktown. Queensland postage stamps were used. At Cooktown the mail was sorted and then sent on to its destination. Much of the correspondence of the early missionaries which can be read today in the archives and collections of libraries and museums around the world would have come out of Papua New Guinea in that way.
In 1901 the Papuan government issued its first postage stamps, and continued to do so until the war years. It began issuing pictorial stamps, which were to become a huge success with collectors, in 1932.
After the war, Papua and New Guinea Post Offices came under one administration. The present-day Post Office in PNG dates from that time. The first PNG stamps were issued in 1952.
Since then, the Post Office has gone from strength to strength. From its early days of being administered by Posts and Telegraphs the number of Post Offices in the country has increased from 42 to 87, of which 35 are official Post Offices fully owned by the Post Office, while the remaining 52 are agencies operated under contract to a local business firm or Government Department.
The services offered by today’s Post Office are extensive. It is possible to send a letter to even a remote address in PNG. First it will go to the nearest Post Office, from which it will be collected by contractors who come in to the Post Office from the remote areas. Often this service is performed by missions and other responsible organisations.
‘Salim Moni Kwik’ and ‘Kwik Piksa Leta’ are the titles in pidgin of two of the most popular modern services.
Salim Moni Kwik is the fastest way to send money to anywhere in the country. Money paid in at one Post Office can be paid out minutes later at another. Usually the sender will have phoned the recipient so that they are waiting, ready to collect. This method is generally preferred to that of sending postal orders through the mail, although these can still be purchased. Kwik Piksa is the Post Office’s public fax service, ideal for documents, certificates, bills, letters, photographs, maps and any other form of paperwork.
Kwik Piksa has transformed business operations in PNG just as the fax technology has everywhere else in the world.
While new services are appreciated by businesses and individual customers alike, some of the original services go on being extremely popular. Papua New Guinea stamps have been a great success with philatelists since the first pictorial issue put out by the Papuan Government before the war. There are 14,000 philatelists who are known collectors of PNG stamps, served partly by direct sales from Port Moresby and partly by agents, mainly in Europe. There are six new issues every year, featuring the work of many artists from PNG. The Independence issue has been designed by Banian Masiboda.
Information and communications services are often grouped for convenience under one administrative unit, although they consist of essentially different kinds of people and serve somewhat different functions.
In Papua New Guinea one ministry and one department has been overseeing policy relating to postal and telecommunication services as well as such technical matters as the allocation of wave-lengths. At the same time it deals with radio and television broadcasting and printed media like newspapers, books and government public relations material.