For Papua New Guinean born John Eggins a youth exchange to Laurieton in the 1970s opened doors to many opportunities

 RETURNED: John Mekinz - known now as John Eggins -came back to Laurieton for a visit. PHOTO: Laura Telford.
RETURNED: John Mekinz - known now as John Eggins -came back to Laurieton for a visit. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

For John Mekinz - known now as John Eggins - Laurieton and the Camden Haven hold a close place in his heart.

Born in Papua New Guinea John had the fortune of being picked to begin his high school education abroad.

In those days Papua New Guinea was not its own independent country and so a collaboration between Rotary and the governments of the day resulted in students being sent to Australia for some of the high school education.

"I don't recall having an option to choose where I went the Rotary Clubs organised that and the next minute I was in the Camden Haven," John said.

"My trip was unique in that most students were sent to a boarding school but I was sent to live with a family. The Eggins family welcomed me into their home and even now they are like family."

John said he attended Kendal District High School completing Form 1-4 before returning to Papua New Guinea in 1973 shortly before the country gained independence.

"I have great memories of my time in Laurieton," he said.

"I was welcomed and had lots of friends at school. I played rugby with the boys and really embraced my new life in Australia.

"At that time the club had made their project supporting me and I always felt welcomed in town."

Upon his return to him homeland, John wanted to ensure the opportunities he was given in Australia were not wasted so embarked on higher education before graduating university as a journalist.

"I was on radio for 10 years reporting on a range of different things from social to cultural to political and economic matters," he said.

"In 1987 television came to Papua New Guinea and they were looking for reporters who knew the local area and so I made the change.

"I have filmed documentaries and covered all kinds of events across the country and through it all I really tried to ensure that I was making the most of my opportunities to make my family in Australia proud.

"I really was a pioneer in the media industry over there having worked in both radio and television and although I have recently retired I am now a consultant."

John said over the years he has kept in touch with his Camden Haven family and they have even come and visited him in his hometown.

"I have been really lucky that some of my Australian family have been able to come and visit Papua New Guinea and see where I live.

"It is so nice to be able to come back and talk to the Rotary Club of Laurieton about my trip and see catch up with some of my friends again."