PNG Honours Uniting Church minister
The Papua New Guinea Government has honoured a retired Uniting Church minister for his work as a missionary. The government’s 2020 New Year Honours Awards included the Award of Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia (CSM) to Rev. Neville Arthur Threlfall “for service to education and the community as a Methodist Pastor in East New Britain and New Ireland, and for his work on the revised translation of the Bible and a number of publications including The Story of Rabaul.”
The Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia is one of the highest in the PNG Honours system. It is conferred “for distinguished service of a high degree to Papua New Guina and Melanesia, sustained over a period of fifteen years.” Rev. Threlfall served as a missionary in PNG from 1961 to 1980.
Since 1980, Rev. Threlfall has made a number of working trips to PNG, and continued work on the completion of the Bible in Tinata Tuna (the language of the Tolai people of East New Britain), as well as the writing of books and magazine articles on PNG history. He now lives on the Central Coast with his wife Margaret, in Uniting’s retirement village Nareen Gardens, Bateau Bay.
The award was supposed to be presented to Rev. Threlfall at Government House in Port Moresby in July, but the restrictions on international travel, and requirements for quarantine, prevented him from attending. He is waiting to hear if it can be conferred in Australia by Papua New Guinea’s Consul-General or High Commissioner.
Rev. Threlfall told Insights that the award came as a surprise.
“I was surprised and somewhat overwhelmed to receive news of the award. It is of course pleasing to have my work recognised, but quite unexpected to receive such a high honour,” Rev. Threlfall said.
“The award really recognises not only my own work, but that of my late wife Roma, who supported me in my pastoral work and in my historical researches and writing about Papua New Guinea. I have indicated something of her share, in the Dedication and Introduction of my latest book, on the history of Rabaul.”