"The mob was yelling and screaming behind us, carrying bush knives and spears. It wasn’t a good time to stop, so we kept driving, keeping a couple of hundred metres ahead of them. Then the chopper squeezed between the trees and landed on the road. I scrambled aboard. It had been a close call, and my non-smoking resolution fell by the wayside yet again."

It was July 1992, and a long way from Andi’s beginnings in the leafy suburbs of Christchurch, New Zealand. He’d been an unexceptionally wayward young man, aimless, feckless, reckless and likeable. By 1965 he’d danced the twist, been sacked as a garbage collector, fallen off a precipice, decided against becoming a mercenary, and arrived with  his wife-to-be in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Andi had little time for the expatriate community and their Somerset Maugham life-style. He found a flair for trading, and developed a special affinity with the Huli people of PNG’s Southern Highlands. He might still be there if CRA, a transnational mining company, had not found gold at nearby Mount Kare. It triggered a gold rush of Klondike proportions. By mid 1988 thousands of people were taking gold worth tens of millions of dollars from Mount Kare’s cold, black, glutinous mud, under truly appalling conditions. There were no medics, no law enforcement, and no Government presence.

Andi was there, and the Huli people trusted him. They asked him to help them negotiate equity in the mine CRA planned on their land. In the end they won 49 per cent of the project, but had to compete with the unscrupulous outside opportunists that Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu later branded as ‘spivs, crooks and carpet baggers’. Alongside these were politicians, a major Port Moresby legal firm, and Australian mining companies more adept at litigation than exploration. They all wanted slices of the pie, and set about getting them by exploiting a small group of discontented Mount Kare landowners.

Andi stood between the opportunists and the wealth they wanted to seize. Between 1990 and 1993 he was subject to personal attacks, public humiliation, death threats, and serial legal actions alleging impropriety, dishonesty and fraud. He saw dirty tricks, duplicity, greed and corruption on a scale he had never imagined. Many of the attacks were orchestrated by a former journalist and failed Australian mining entrepreneur named Denis Reinhardt. Reinhardt had learned the politics of power in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland, and was a personal friend of Papua New Guinea’s soon-to-be Prime Minister, Paias Wingti. It became a zero-sum, winner-take-all battle, but in the end there were no winners. CRA surrendered in 1993, the Government changed, and Reinhardt was ordered out of the country.

This book is Andi’s story of the Mount Kare saga, told from the inside. But it is more than biography, or a ‘Bumper Book for Boys’. It exposes the consequences of applying Western remedies to Melanesian problems, the destructive activities of outsiders in Australia’s Pacific Rim nations, and the greed, graft and corruption that these engender.

Mount Kare Gold Rush is an intriguing and controversial historical account of enduring value. It will rise to the scrutiny of historians and the challenge of time, and has been published using the finest materials to ensure its place in the best private and public libraries.

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