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Video clip synopsis – A look at the life and death of West Papuan independence leader, Chief Theys Eluay.
Year of production - 2003
Duration - 5min 7sec
Tags - colonisation, indigenous cultures, Indonesia, nationalism, Papua New Guinea, self-determination, see all tags


End of a Dream

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 dream_pr.mp4 (37.8MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 dream_bb.mp4 (17.8MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

About the Video Clip


End of a Dream is an excerpt from the documentary Land of the Morning Star made in 2003.

Land of the Morning Star
The western half of the island of New Guinea has been known by many names including Netherlands New Guinea, West Papua, Irian Jaya and Papua. Narrated by Rachel Griffiths, Land of the Morning Star reveals the rich and turbulent history of a troubled country, swept up in the power-play of international politics. It highlights the role of the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, Indonesia and the UN at crucial points in the country’s history. And, by providing a background to this complex story, helps us understand this extraordinarily beautiful but strangely forgotten land.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


The principal focus of this Preliminary topic is that students apply historical enquiry methods within a range of contexts to investigate key features, issues, individuals, groups, events, concepts and other forces from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The syllabus prescribes that students undertake at least two case studies with at least one from Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and Central/South America. This study is from the Pacific.

This Digital Resource can be used to achieve the following Outcomes (of selected studies from the eighteenth century to the present):

P 1.1 describe the role of key individuals, groups and events
P 1.2 investigate and explain the key features and issues
P 2.1 identify forces and ideas and explain their significance in contributing to change and continuity
P 3.1 ask relevant historical questions
P 3.4 identify and account for differing perspectives and interpretations of the past

In respect to what students learn to, this clip gives students the opportunity to assess the forces for change and continuity within Papua.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


Since World War 2 in the aftermath of colonial rule, various Pacific islands have been included as part of newly independent nations even though the peoples living there may not share ethnicity, culture or a strong historical connection to the newly formed central authority. Sometimes, as with the case of Papua and Indonesia, what was shared was the colonial master — in this case the Dutch.

The Dutch had undertaken to let Papuans decide whether to be incorporated into Indonesia or to be independent. In what was named an ‘Act of Free Choice’, just over 1000 selected Papuans voted and the rest of the people were excluded from the ‘democratic referendum’. Papua became the 26th Province of Indonesia in 1969. Since then Papuans have complained that the vote was not an act of free choice. They want the one-person one-vote referendum they believe they should have had in the past.

The case of Papua outlines the difficulty of drawing together disparate peoples into new nation states where cultural and historical ties are tenuous and fear and mistrust reign.

In June 2000 the Papuan People’s Congress declared the independent state of West Papua and elected Chief Theys Eluay as its first president. In November 2001 he was found dead in his car and later a group of Indonesian Special Forces soldiers was found guilty of his murder. The Indonesian government had in October 2001 passed a special autonomy law giving the Province a greater say over the way its resources are managed, to try to placate a separatist movement.

Today Papua continues to be an Indonesian province.

Classroom Activities

  1. Through reflection and further investigation – identify the various reasons why the government of Indonesia wishes to retain Papua as part of the Republic of Indonesia. Consider the legitimacy of each reason and be prepared to share with your classmates the reason you consider the most legitimate and why you selected it.
  2. There are many groups who believe Papua should be independent. Investigate and identify through a media search on the internet – the various reasons why they believe this. Consider the legitimacy of each reason and be prepared to share with your classmates the reason you consider to be the most legitimate and why you selected it.
  3. What leadership characteristics of Theys Eluay may have contributed to him being murdered by a group of Indonesian Special Forces soldiers?

Further Resources


Go to Pacific Stories Learning for Interactive Compass Map with facts about the Pacific region.

For interview transcripts, books and references for this Digital Resource go to Pacific Stories, choose Land of the Morning Star, select INDEX, and go to MORE INFORMATION.