Migrants from the island of Karpathos were the first Greek settlers to establish a parochial brotherhood in Canberra and the surrounding districts in 1959.
The Karpathians of Australia, most of whom lived in Canberra, were instrumental in the drive to revitalize the island of Karpathos economically and socially.
The Karpathian migration and settlement in Australia took place in two stages:
The pre-World War II settlement (1935-1939); and,
The post-World War II (1946-1974).
Ninety per cent of the Karpathians who settled in Australia originated from two Karpathian villages – Othos and Pyles – the rest came from such villages including: Olympos, Volathas, Menetes, Mesohori, Pehadia and Aperi.
Manolis Tsiragakis was the first Karpathian settler in Australia. He arrived in Sydney in 1932 and worked in the service industry in Newtown. In 1935 Manolis moved to Queanbeyan and worked in the local cafes.
By the end of 1935 three more Karpathians arrived to apply their trades in Queanbeyan. They were Elias Sakellaridis, who played a leading role in the establishment of the Greek Community of Canberra and Nikolas Constantinidis and Ioannis Kostetsios . They helped trigger an inflow of Greek migrants from Karpathos during the years before World War II.
In 1936 Manolis Tsiragakis invited his brothers Vasileios and Constantinos Tsiragakis and his compatriot Antonios Papadopoulos to Australia.
Other Karpathian settlers who arrived during the following years included Minas Georgopoulos , Minas Patsourakis with his family (1937), Minas Constantinidis , and the brothers Andreas, Georgios and Elias Papoutsakis (1938).
By January 1948, another wave of migrants from Karpathos arrived in Queanbeyan. They were Constantinos Elias Mantinaos , Kalliope Mantinaos-Constantinidis , Minas Kamaratos and Minas Economides. Brothers Kostas and Chronis Haniotis, Minas Emmanuel Papadopoulos, Constantinos Hanouzas, Michael Xirakis, Ioannis Praxoulis, Ioannis Nikolaos Economides and Emmanuel Xirakis arrived between 1950 to 1960.
Constantinos Elias Mantinaos and Kostas Haniotis came to Canberra in 1951 and Georgios Zamalis, Georgios Leon and Nikolaos Lagonikos in 1952.
A group of community leaders headed by Nikolas Pahos, Georgios Leon and Constantinos Elias Mantinaos provided the impetus that generated the feeling amongst the Karpathian migrants that they needed to be organised collectively in order to assist their native island of Karpathos.
On 25 August 1959 they met at the café in Canberra, known as Leo’s Café (Northbourne Ave), which was owned by Constantinos Elias Mantinaos and Ioannis Minas Economides . Following an inspiring meeting they decided to call a general Assembly of the 80 families of Karpathians in Canberra and the surrounding districts to notify them about their plans and request their support.
A second interim meeting was organised expanding the number of participating members. The additional community members invited to attend included Emmanuel Xirakis, Antonios Papadopoulos, Minas Constantinidis, Ioannis Praxoulis, Michalis Vassiliotis and Georgios Economides.
The gathering decided to compile an interim Constitution before the First General Assembly of the members, which was called on 20 September 1959.
The Constitutional Committee comprised Antonios Papadopoulos, Minas Constantinidis and Ioannis Praxoulis guided by the motivating trio of Nikolas Pahos, Georgios Leon and Constantinos Mantinaos.
The inaugural Assembly took place at the Blue Moon Café in Civic and the Constitution of the Karpathian Progressive Association was passed.
The members elected were Nikolas Pahos - founding President, Constantinos Mantinaos - Vice President, Georgios Leon - Secretary, Georgios Economides – Treasurer. Emmanuel Xirakis , Frangios Diakovasilis and Mihalis Vassiliotis were elected Councilors.
Con Mantinaos who became the longest serving President of the Karpathians, maintaining that leadership role for over 20 years replaced President Nikolas Pahos four months after the first election.
The Karpathians also acknowledged the contribution of their female members, electing Fina Vassiliotis as their President (1992-1994) and Poppy Vassiliotis (1998-1999).
The Karpathian Progressive Association has served its Island with generous contributions. It was instrumental in assisting its island to refurbish its cathedral, restore its churches and provide for the earthquake victims in Greece.
They also contributed effectively in local Australian appeals offering substantial amounts for the building of the War Memorial in Canberra, the Hellenic Club and welfare appeals of the Greek Community of Canberra.
The stability of the Karpathian Progressive Association is mainly due to the strong resilience of its members and their social coherence.
(Extract from 'An illustrated history of Karpathians in Canberra 1959-1999')