In 2002 when I started learning how to use internet and email to tell who is interested in hearing our side of the story of our struggle, I somehow got in touch with a man called Max Watts. Journalists ask millions of questions to get the story out, that was what Max did to me. From then onwards I got to know him and we kept in touch by email for seven years.
At the time I was working on my second album tittled “Bougainville Children”. I sent the master to a Recording Studio in Brisbane for mastering after dubbing 100 tapes. They charged me extra dollars, so I asked Max if he could be of assistance. He paid it with his credit card and emailed me: “No problem Clive, all is done. Give me a copy so that I can play it at the radio station.”
With all of his questions he used to send me words of encouragement. I used to think that Max was a young man of my age or of middle age. I only found out his age one day when he told me that his legs are giving him problems. In 2008 I contacted Rosemarie Gillespie or Waratah, who funded my first trip to Australia in July 2009. I met the man I had contact with since 2002 on my first day in Australia in Sydney. He came to the dinner and we talked and talked, mostly answering his questions. Nearly everyone at the restaurant were looking our way as he got a strong big voice.
One Sunday, I will still remember it, he hosted a lunch, invited his other friends and we had a wonderful time. That was where he introduced me to his friends who have become my good friends, without him I wouldn’t know these people. When I talked with him on the phone, he used to tell me: “If you need help please call me or let me know.” In June this year he hosted a big dinner for me, which I am sad to say turned out to be my last dinner with Max.
Towards the end of June he was driving me to East Lindfield and we got lost so that we had to go across the Sydney Harbour Bridge three times before he found the way, this was because we talked to much. I went to visit him when he got out from the hospital and he told me: “Clive those days are past and gone and what’s done is done.” The last time I talked to him was by phone in the hospital some days before he passed away , when Gordon emailed me and told me that Max got few days to live. I rang him to say hi, told him: “I am Clive” and he says: “You are lucky to get through the phone.”
Three days later I got an email with the message that our friend, comrade big Max had left us peacefully. I went to see and wrote something on his coffin and wrote down, “Tampara Max I will miss you”. Tampara in my mothers language means ‘thank you’. I went to his funeral and sang a tribute song for Waratah and Max. I was heartbroken as these two, who I both met and knew personally, apart from the politics and news stuff, left so suddenly.
I wish I could tell them in their living years, that they care so much, they love so much, they got a big heart for the suffering children, their dreams is to see the Indigenous children live in peace and harmony in their motherland.