Collier, John Alexander

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Authorized form of name

Collier, John Alexander

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  • John Alexander Kolia

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Dates of existence

1931 - 1993


John Alexander Collier (Kolia) was born in Sydney in 1931. He attended Sydney Grammar School and completed his secondary education in England in 1951. Having enrolled in a medical course at the University of London, he returned to Australia and commenced work in Papua New Guinea as a medical assistant for the Australasian Petroleum Company. After visiting London again in 1958, he returned to Sydney where he completed teacher training and took up a teaching position in New Britain in mid 1960, and in 1964 joined the Catholic Mission at Vanimo as a teacher. In 1966 he returned to Port Moresby. While teaching at Bavaroko, he enrolled in the University of Papua New Guinea, completing his BA (Hons) in 1971. He was awarded a PhD in 1975 for his research among the Balawaia people in the Rigo sub-district where he had been living in Tauruba village since 1972. At that time he changed his name from Collier to the phonetic form, Kolia. From 1971 Kolia was employed at the UPNG as a research assistant, but by 1973 he was mostly occupied in editing the journal Oral History. When the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies was established in 1974, it took over production of Oral History and Kolia joined its staff. Kolia became a naturalised citizen of newly independent PNG in 1976. His History of the Balawaia was published in 1977, followed by a formidable body of literary work: eight novels, several short stories, plays and long poems, and press articles on anthropological topics. He was also an editor of the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies journal, Bikmaus, and edited a collection of poems, Melanesian Thoughts and Words. He worked as a Project and publications officer at the PNG Institute of Technology from 1989 until 1992.


Sydney; Papua New Guinea

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author; editor; researcher; teacher

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Entered from deposit description on 21 May 2013




In Between: Cultural Ambivalence in the Novels of John Kolia, 1982 by Lyn Baer
National Library of Australia,

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