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This article lists the colonial governors of Papua New Guinea, from the establishment of German New Guinea in 1884 until the independence of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in 1975.



(Dates in italics indicate de facto continuation of office)

New GuineaEdit

Hoisting the German flag on Mioko Island, Neulauenburg (now Duke of York Islands), Bismarck Archipelago on 4 November 1884.
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Samoan Islands (bordered in red), 1905.
The German colonial empire in the Pacific Ocean. German New Guinea is shown in brown.
League of Nations mandates in the Pacific Ocean. The Territory of New Guinea (bordered in green) is number 2.
Tenure Portrait Incumbent Notes
Commissioner of German New Guinea (1885–1887)
1885 to January 1887   Gustav von Oertzen [de]
Landeshauptleute of the German New Guinea Company (1886–1889)
10 June 1886 to 1 March 1888   Georg Freiherr von Schleinitz
1 March 1888 to 31 October 1889   Reinhold Kraetke [de]
Commissioner of German New Guinea (1889–1892)
1 November 1889 to 31 August 1892   Fritz Rose [de] Acting to 30 September 1890
Landeshauptleute of the German New Guinea Company (1892–1899)
1 September 1892 to 3 March 1895   Georg Schmiele [de]
3 March 1895 to 17 August 1896   Hugo Rüdiger
22 September 1896 to 13 August 1897   Curt von Hagen [de] Died in office
15 August 1897 to 11 September 1897   Albert Hahl First time, acting
11 September 1897 to 31 March 1899   Hugo Skopnik
In 1899, following the German–Spanish Treaty, the German Empire assumed direct control of the colony from the German New Guinea Company, appointing a governor.
Governors of German New Guinea (1899–1914)
1 April 1899 to 10 July 1901   Rudolf von Bennigsen [de]
10 July 1901 to 13 April 1914   Albert Hahl Second time, acting to 10 November 1902
13 April 1914 to 17 October 1914   Eduard Haber Acting
In 1914, as part of the Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I, an expeditionary force from Australia called the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) captured and occupied the territory following the Battle of Bita Paka and the Siege of Toma. In 1920, the territory was turned into a League of Nations mandate, administered by Australia, and formalized with the passage of the New Guinea Act 1920.
Military Administrators of the Territory of New Guinea (1914–1921)
11 November 1914 to 8 January 1915   Colonel William Holmes Killed in the Battle of Messines (1917)
8 January 1915 to 21 October 1917   Colonel Samuel Augustus Pethbridge
21 October 1917 to 21 April 1918   Seaforth Simpson Mackenzie Acting
21 April 1918 to 1 May 1920   George Johnston
1 May 1920 to 21 March 1921   Thomas Griffiths First time
Administrators of the Territory of New Guinea (1921–1942)
21 May 1921 to 13 June 1933   Evan Wisdom
13 June 1933 to 12 September 1934   Thomas Griffiths Second time, acting
12 September 1934 to December 1942   Walter McNicoll From 14 December 1937, Sir Walter Ramsay McNicoll; in Australia from 24 January 1942
24 January 1942 to 12 February 1942   Kenneth Carlyle McMullen Acting for McNicoll
Japanese Commanders of occupied New Guinea (1942–1945)
21 January 1942 to 1942   Tomitarō Horii
9 November 1942 to 13 September 1945   Hatazō Adachi Commander of the 18th Army
9 November 1942 to 6 September 1945   Hitoshi Imamura Commander of the 8th Area Army, based at Rabaul, in charge of New Guinea islands
U.S. Military Commanders (1943–1944)
June 1943 to September 1944   Walter Krueger Commander of the 6th Army
September 1944 to December 1944   Robert L. Eichelberger Commander of the 8th Army
Heads of the New Guinea Administrative Unit (1942)
14 February 1942 to 15 February 1942   George Wilfred Lambert Townsend Based in Port Moresby
15 February 1942 to 10 April 1942   Kenneth Carlyle McMullen Based in Port Moresby

In 1945, the Territory of New Guinea was merged with the Territory of Papua to form the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The merger was formalized with the passage of the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949.


The Territory of Papua (shown in green) with Queensland (shown in light green).
Flag of the Lieutenant-Governors of Papua between 1906–1946.
Tenure Portrait Incumbent Notes
Magistrate for Queensland in New Guinea (1883)
3 April 1883 to 2 July 1883   Henry Majoribanks Chester Police Magistrate on Thursday Island
Special Commissioners for Great Britain in New Guinea (1884–1885)
6 November 1884 to 2 December 1885   Peter Scratchley From 6 June 1885, Sir Peter Scratchley. Died in office
2 December 1885 to 1886   Hugh Hastings Romilly Acting
1886 to 1887   John Douglas
Administrator of British New Guinea (1888–1895)
1888 to 1895   Sir William MacGregor
Lieutenant-Governors of British New Guinea (1895–1904)
1895 to 1897   Sir William MacGregor
1898 to 1903   George Le Hunte
1903 to 1904   Christopher Stansfield Robinson Acting administrator
Lieutenant-Governors of Papua (1904–1942)
1904 to 1907   Francis Rickman Barton Acting. The territory was renamed from British New Guinea to Papua with the passage of the Papua Act 1905
1908 to 27 February 1940   Sir Hubert Murray Died in office
27 February 1940 to 1942   Hubert Leonard Murray Nephew of Sir Hubert Murray; acting
Military Administrator (1942–1946)
13 February 1942 to 31 October 1945   Major General Basil Morris Commander of the 8th Military District
Head of the Papuan Civil Administrative Unit (1942)
14 February 1942 to 10 April 1942   Sydney Elliott-Smith In Port Moresby
General Officers Commanding of the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit [ANGAU] (1942–1946)
10 April 1942 to August 1942   Kenneth Carlyle McMullen In Port Moresby
August 1942 to 24 June 1946   Major General Basil Morris In Port Moresby until October 1945, afterwards in Lae. Styled as Head of the ANGAU until 7 February 1944
4 September 1944 to 9 December 1944   Brigadier Donald Cleland Acting for Morris

In 1945, the Territory of Papua was merged with the Territory of New Guinea to form the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The merger was formalized with the passage of the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949.

Papua New GuineaEdit

The Territory of Papua and New Guinea (shown in green).
Tenure Portrait Incumbent Notes
Administrators of Papua and New Guinea (1945–1973)
31 October 1945 to June 1952   Jack Keith Murray OBE Provisional to 1 July 1949
July 1952 to December 1966   Brigadier Donald Cleland CBE From 10 June 1961, Sir Donald Cleland
9 January 1967 to 1970   David Hay CBE, DSO
1970 to 1 December 1973   Leslie Wilson Johnson CBE In 1972, the name of the territory was changed to Papua New Guinea[1]
High Commissioners of Papua New Guinea (1973–1975)
1 December 1973 to March 1974   Leslie Wilson Johnson CBE
March 1974 to 16 September 1975   Thomas Kingston Critchley AO, CBE Afterwards served as the Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea until 1978

On 16 September 1975, Papua New Guinea achieved independence following the passage of the Papua New Guinea Independence Act 1975. For a list of viceroys in Papua New Guinea after independence, see Governor-General of Papua New Guinea.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Papua New Guinea". 10 August 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2012.

External linksEdit