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Who, or what, was “The Northumbrian Kiap”?

By 2nd July 2018July 27th, 2023No Comments

Retired Guild Member Robert Forster has written an illustrated 300-page paperback documenting a dramatic seven years working in pre-independence Papua New Guinea (PNG) during the 1960s and 1970s.

Called The Northumbrian Kiap, the book is billed as “a unique and unusually angled tale of culture, isolation, identity and confusion”.

It covers Robert’s early life in rural Northumberland, the time he worked in PNG as one of the Australian Government’s Kiaps – bush administrators, and then the period immediately after he returned to the UK to begin a career in agricultural journalism.

“Rural living really did help me to understand the stresses felt by the newly discovered village people I worked with,” says Robert.

“There are encounters with beef cattle too but my personal engagement with rural Papua New Guineans is the real story and it was written by a longstanding BGAJ member as well.”

Robert was born in Northumberland and trained as a journalist before travelling to PNG as a footloose 21 year old in 1968.

He returned to Northumberland in 1975 but did not begin his career as an agricultural writer on the Hexham Courant until 1980.

Robert was recruited by Farmers Guardian in 1981 after which he became a freelance whose work included livestock correspondent for BBC Radio Four’s Farming Today.

In 1998, he became founding chief executive of the National Beef Association and retired completely just 16 months ago after giving up his subscription-only weekly Beef Industry News. 

Last year, Robert was presented with the Royal Smithfield Club’s coveted Bicentenary Trophy for lifetime service to the British livestock industry.

He was rewarded for his coverage of the BSE crisis with the RASE’s “Outstanding Communicator” certificate in 1997 and in 2008 was appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies (FRAgS).

Availlable for £12.99, The Northumbrian Kiap can be ordered through