"There was a sense of relief when the patrol left my village as they caused tension and anxiety with their demanding behaviour"
SEATTLE, USA – Many years ago when I was a small boy in the highlands of Enga, a kiap and his patrol erected tents and camped at my village for several days.
A policeman bought kaukau and greens from our women with payment made in salt and tobacco.
Fear was driven into us that the kiap and his team might hurt or take us away, so I never got close to the camp site and for hours watched all their movements from a safe distance.
Continue reading "My first kiap encounter" »
Constant patrolling made pre-independence administration very effective. The district commissioners kept up pressure to make sure boots were always on the ground
TUMBY BAY - Before independence in Papua New Guinea what are now the provinces were called districts. Each district was headed by a district commissioner, who pretty much had free reign to run it as he saw fit.
Each district was divided into sub-districts within which were several patrol posts. The sub-districts corresponded to what are now called provincial districts and electorates.
The sub-districts were under the charge of assistant district commissioners who also had a lot of freedom to decide how they ran things as long as they kept the district commissioner informed and on side.
Continue reading "“No need for a patrol report, old chum"" »
Porap Gai - "If the judiciary punished the guilty more honestly then there would be less or no violence"
LAIAGAM - The Papua New Guinea government needs to establish firmer law and order.
I am not a politician, I am a pastor. I have the pastoral responsibility for the innocent lives so often lost.
Lack of discipline is of concern due to the wantok system. There must be better rule of law in place to allow everyone to live in security.
Continue reading "Tribal conflicts burden wild west Enga" »
Moses Havini, a Bougainville Interim Government / Bougainville Revolutionary Army representative at a crisis rally in Sydney around 1997
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - The 1974 book, ‘Bougainville Nationalism: Aspects of Unity and Discord’, tells of Bougainville’s first taste of a referendum in 1969 and anticipates similar political trends as we march into the window of November’s referendum on our political future.
The book, written by Alexander Mamak and Richard Bedford with support from Bougainvillean leaders the late Leo Hannet and the late Moses Havini, describes how the earlier referendum was the direct result of a 1968 meeting in Port Moresby of some 23 Bougainvillean students attending tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea.
Continue reading "The legacy of Bougainville’s 1960s struggles" »
It is believed that the Lapita people, who inhabited PNG for perhaps 2,000 years before moving on, were great navigators.
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is blessed with a diverse culture and heritage. But where do these amazing cultural values and behaviours come from? How did they originate and evolve? Not much is known about the prehistory of PNG.
Written records go back to the 1500s when Portuguese sailors named the island Ilhas dos Papuas, the land of the fuzzy-haired men.
Continue reading "50,000 years of culture & heritage" »
Major Donn Young - who died with Major Bill Benn in 1943 when their bomber crashed in the Owen Stanleys
DIANA STANCY CORRELL | Military Times
VIENNA, USA - A World War II Army Air Corps aviator has been buried at Arlington this week with full military honours — thanks to the dogged efforts of a Philadelphia businessman who made multiple treks to the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
The remains of Major Donn Young were originally found more than 20 years ago by Fred Hagen, a Philadelphia construction company owner who originally went looking for the remains and aircraft of his great-uncle, Major Bill Benn in 1995.
Continue reading "The finding of Major Donn Young, aviator" »
Kiap Harry West on patrol, 1950s
In the early afternoon
We crested the ridge
The sergeant and I
Behind us the mountains
Citadels of the Min
Before us the great plateau
Rolling green and unknown
Hiding the elusive Kanai
Our ragged patrol
Weary and footsore
Followed the river
And there in the longhouse
Under a blue black sky
Shivering and frightened
The past met the future.
Continue reading "Contact patrol, Western District, 1970" »
Negotiating bride price on Bougainville
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - Indigenous Bougainvillean wealth was different from what we practice in this era where Westernisation has so disrupted and polarised our societies.
In that context, the three ‘G’s colonisation presented us - God, Gold and Glory - need better alignment with the traditional culture of bride price we still practice.
Continue reading "Bride price needs re-examination" »
Half a century of madness
Abused and shattered and torn
Half a century of chaos
Of living in the shadows
Half a century of sadness
And rivers of tears for precious lives lost
When will the morning star fly free?
Continue reading "Fly the Morning Star" »
“Nothing makes me happier than to lift up the glorious flag of a thousand tribes here in the heart of New York City"
WABAG - My mind was blown away to see the young man display the Papua New Guinea flag on Times Square in New York City during recent independence day celebrations.
The choice words he used to express his genuine love for this country truly touched my heart. And he was a foreign national.
Continue reading "Sharing culture with foreign friends" »
TUMBY BAY - I like reading autobiographies and biographies, especially those relating to writers.
I recently finished reading a biography of Joseph Heller, the American author of several novels, including the famous Catch 22.
In the process I discovered that Heller was influenced by a book written in 1923 by Jároslav Hašek called The Good Soldier Švejk.
Continue reading "The funny business of editing" »
Rose & Peter Kranz wedding ceremony in Port Moresby's Botanical Gardens
MORRISET, NSW - Seasoned PNG Attitude readers may remember us, Rose and Peter Kranz.
We met in Papua New Guinea and in 2007 were married in Simbu bilas in Port Moresby’s botanical gardens.
Not long after we moved to Australia and all was going well until Rose was diagnosed with ovarian cancer some five years ago.
Continue reading "Everything’s coming up Rose’s" »
Alphonse Mek - "Marape is our country’s prayer answered – the leader who emerged after eight years of dejection"
ENGA - Since James Marape, this son of a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, became prime minister of this blessed nation, there have been many criticisms, denunciations as well as condemnation on the subject of his theme to make it “the richest black Christian nation in the world.”
The theme is not new, because God has already blessed this nation more than the rest of the Pacific island nations as well as at a global level.
Continue reading "MPs should not condemn Marape’s dream" »
Treasurer Ian Ling Stuckey - "The former prime minister Peter O'Neill has left PNG with an illegal debt legacy"
IAN LING-STUCKEY MP
| Minister for Treasury | Extracts
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s budget deficit had climbed to K4,636 million – the legacy of former prime minister Peter O’Neill.
Budget deficits add to public debt. This means the O’Neill regime’s policies were going to add another K4,636 million to public debt in 2019. PNG’s public debt was therefore going to increase to an extraordinary K33,045 million.
Continue reading "The true state of PNG’s budget" »
NATALIE WHITING & SUE LANNIN
| Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract
Link here to the complete article by Natalie Whiting and Sue Lannin
PORT MORBESBY - There is potential for another "regional crisis" in the Pacific if the people of Bougainville vote for independence but are unable to reach an agreement with the Papua New Guinea government to ratify it, a Lowy Institute research paper is warning.
The people of Bougainville will head to the polls next month and they will have two options on their ballot papers: greater autonomy or independence from PNG.
Continue reading "'Crisis' if PNG doesn't ratify B’ville result" »
David Kitchnoge - "PNG does have options and we need to go into negotiations knowing what they are"
PORT MORESBY - The fact that the International Monetary Fund admitted its failure in its assistance to Greece showed it was willing to learn from its mistakes and avoid the pitfalls in similar cases.
The key is always that, whatever solution Papua New Guinea adopts to get our economy going again, would be a negotiated outcome with multilateral financial institutions like IMF.
Continue reading "PNG has options to solve its budget crisis" »
Adam Smith did not envisage a world dominated by huge, impersonal corporations but understood the economic and social dangers they posed
ADELAIDE - Like Phil Fitzpatrick (‘Is moral capitalism even possible?’), I have been thinking about whether capitalism can ever be conducted in a moral and ethical way.
And like him, I can remember another time and place where the absence of great corporations meant capitalism worked along the lines foreseen by Adam Smith when he wrote ‘Wealth of Nations’.
Continue reading "Capitalism: No morality outbreak any time soon" »
A memoir for generations ahead
From some of us were here before
Before PNG was born a nation
When new languages arrived,
twisting tongues and minds
Whites, our dead returned from spirit world
Tapa, leaf, grass replaced by foreign skirts
Yes, when these things happened
Some of us were here
Continue reading "In living memory" »
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - In 2012, while I was still studying in Madang, I read a newspaper report saying that Bougainville president John Momis and his wife’s names were missing from the election common roll and thus they could not cast their votes.
Real bad! Who did this shit and why?
Now this year, just before the set date of 26 September for all independence referendum voters to have enrolled, I did a final check and I saw that my wife did not have her name registered.
Continue reading "Bougainville needs credible referendum turnout" »
IPSWICH - On arrival in Papua New Guinea in January 1980, I was posted to Laloki Plant Quarantine and Horticultural Research Station as horticulturalist with the then Department of Primary Industry.
It was about 20km from Tabari Place in Boroko which at that time was the main shopping centre for Port Moresby residents. Burns Philp, Steamships and Carpenters all had supermarkets there.
Recently, on a recent business trip to Port Moresby, I decided to drive to Laloki to see if my old house was still there. It was and a few of my old workers were there to greet me.
Continue reading "Remembering the boy on the postage stamp" »
Ben Packham - journalist with The Australian newspaper and plenty of PNG experience
| The Australian
CANBERRA - A review of Australia’s annual $578m aid program in Papua New Guinea has warned law and order is deteriorating, corruption remains rife, and “weak” governance continues to hamper basic service delivery beyond the capital, Port Moresby.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade review found the performance of Australia’s biggest country aid program was falling short of expectations and “restorative action” was necessary.
Continue reading "Call for more aid as PNG faces corruption crisis" »
Digging for gold near Panguna - "We dig for gold everywhere. And those who can't dig watch like eagles"
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - There is no other place in Bougainville I can compare with us, the Panguna people, when it comes to loving and dealing with money.
We in Panguna have eagle sharp eyes and razor sharp claws to catch and attack money.
We make peace with money and we destroy harmony with money. Money is us.
Continue reading "Panguna people & the money syndrome" »
TUMBY BAY - Leonard Fong Roka has suggested that rather than being exploited by domestic and international forces an independent Bougainville needs a form of moral capitalism to succeed and achieve its destiny.
Is such a thing as moral capitalism possible or is it too late in the day to create the conditions where such a thing might exist?
Continue reading "Is moral capitalism even possible?" »
Ancient Lapita pot
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PORT MORESBY - Clay pots in many parts of Papua New Guinea are household items and people say they enjoy food cooked in clay pots.
In the Markham valley, the signature clay pot, or ‘gurr’ as we call it, is on the fire every day of the week.
Continue reading "3,000 years of pottery show who we are" »
Robin Murphy - the Queensland construction entrepreneur began designing bridges in PNG in 1963
KEITH JACKSON with thanks to Rob Parer
Link here to a video of Robin’s early days in PNG from 1963-69. https://vimeo.com/177157110
This second video, titled ‘Overcoming the odds’, tells the story of the building of four Oro bridges in 2014-16. https://vimeo.com/226839061?ref=em-share
BRISBANE – The founder of Brisbane-based Canstruct Pty Ltd, Robin Murphy OAM, started his career in Papua New Guinea in late 1963 a week before me.
He had recently graduated as an engineer and soon found himself designing and, not long after, building bridges.
Continue reading "Robin Murphy OAM, the bridge builder" »
Scott Waide (standing) addresses James Marape (far right) - "Issues that we have raised and continue to raise. Blockages that need to be addressed"
| My Land, My Country
On Friday morning, prime minister James Marape called members of the media and public relations practitioners to a breakfast meeting in Port Moresby. It was the first time the media was able to interact with the prime minister directly outside usual operations
PORT MORESBY - Prime minister, thank you for this opportunity to talk to you directly.
I want to raise a few issues that we have raised and continue to raise. I want to also points out blockages that need to be addressed.
Continue reading "Prominent newsman’s candid remarks to PM" »
LUFA - There's disagreement about whether Papua New Guinea is rich or impoverished.
Many people, including leaders like Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and current prime minister James Marape, support the view that we are in fact rich.
Many others, including myself, differ. We believe Papua New Guinea is a poor nation.
Continue reading "Rich paradise or poor third world nation?" »
Albert Schram - "The human spirit craves for liberty and justice. Both have a strange way of being unstoppable in their paths"
The last of three articles based on Chapter 4 of Dr Schram’s memoir, ‘Experiences of a Vice Chancellor in Papua New Guinea’. Link here to read the full chapter
“Our lives are a battlefield on which is fought a continuous war between the forces that are pledged to confirm our humanity and those determined to dismantle it; those who strive to build a protective wall around it, and those who wish to pull it down; those who seek to mold it and those committed to breaking it up...." (Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Kenyan writer and academic)
VERONA - Despite the disastrous economic situation in Papua New Guinea while I was UNITECH vice chancellor from 2012 to 2018, and the far from propitious operating environment, we were able to produce many positive changes at the university.
Continue reading "There cannot be peace without justice" »
Captain Philip Emeck
I wrote this poem as a condolence message for the late captain Philips Emeck’s funeral, and also in memory of his untimely death on Friday 13 September 2019. He came from Enga, the first pilot from Laiagam to fly helicopters. He died when his aircraft crashed in a strong wind - PG
Philip was a senior captain, to fly around the world
Always in a cheerful mood, rarely did he frown
He was our genius pilot, ours and all the people’s
His ethos left behind as a legacy for the children
Continue reading "Rest in peace, our captain" »
This unpleasantness again I fear is here
An unwelcome guest into my house
Who stands still, quietly, at my back
On tired floors squeaking like a mouse
Caresses me soft behind my neck
The whispered sounds burn in my ears
And chill the blood coursing through my heart
Causing my eyes to look behind my skull
A fruitless search that piques no sense
Only to see and hear nothing instead
But this unwanted visitor’s presence
Who still follows and will never part
| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute | Extract
Link here to Sidney Jones’ complete article
SYDNEY - Violence has swept across Indonesian Papua in the last six weeks, starting with racist taunts against Papuan students in East Java, and moving back to Papua where protests against racism turned into larger pro-independence demonstrations.
On 28 August, police opened fire on demonstrators in Deiyai, a remote district in the central highlands, after an Indonesian soldier was killed by an arrow. Eight Papuans died from gunfire.
Continue reading "Violence in Papua could get worse" »
Cultivating kaukau in the highlands - there are 1,000 varieties of sweet potato in PNG alone
TUMBY BAY - According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the sweet potato is the world’s seventh most important crop in terms of the weight of food produced.
Sweet potato was first domesticated in the Americas more than 5,000 years ago but didn’t reach Papua New Guinea until about 500 years ago.
When it did it created major shifts in settlement patterns and accelerated population growth.
Continue reading "Could PNG’s kaukau crops be threatened?" »
PORT MORESBY - It is now getting on for three years since that funeral one wet January afternoon in 2017.
Time was the thief he always suspected her to be; taking his friends, taking his wife; then taking him.
Sorrow crept at the corners of his mouth, dragging them down, but he held back the tears as the white hearse purred its way slowly up the narrow road leading to the Bomana prison gates.
Continue reading "The prison officer’s last parade" »
Albert Schram's doctorate was four times legitimised - by the awarding entity in Europe, twice by independent inquiries in PNG and once by a PNG court - but its veracity was constantly questioned by political enemies who wanted him out
The second of three articles based on Chapter 4 of Dr Schram’s memoir, ‘Experiences of a Vice Chancellor in Papua New Guinea’. Link here to read the full chapter
“There are some people, be they black or white, who don’t want others to rise above them. They want to be the source of all knowledge and share it piecemeal to others less endowed” (Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Kenyan writer and academic)
VERONA - People have asked me if standing up against corruption and speaking truth to power was difficult. For me it never was. We all know what is right and what is wrong.
Continue reading "PNG’s odd racialised post-colonial morality" »
Albert Schram and graduates - 50% of highlands' university students are unable to pay their fees on time
ALBERT SCHRAM | Edited
The first of three articles based on Chapter 4 of Dr Schram’s memoir, ‘Experiences of a Vice Chancellor in Papua New Guinea’. Link here to read the full chapter
"We think of politics in terms of power and who has the power. Politics is the end to which that power is put" (Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Kenyan writer and academic)
VERONA - I want to thank my more than 7,000 followers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for their encouraging comments on this series, and Keith Jackson for publishing the short versions.
Continue reading "Delusional O’Neill's calamitous legacy " »
Leonard Roka on the shore at Kangu - looking across to the Solomons triggers thoughts of the small friends who helped Bougainville achieve its post-crisis peace
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - The population of Bougainville is around 300,000 so, when looking at other small Pacific island states and their standard of living, the province’s development does not need a mine operating at the scale we knew at Panguna before the Bougainville conflict.
All of us know that the Papua New Guinea government does not clothe us, it does not feed us and it does not protect us.
Continue reading "Bougainville: If it’s to be capitalism, let it be moral" »
Jack Golson (second left) and Philip Hughes (second right) with workmen from Kuk village, 1974
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PORT MORESBY - The history of agriculture in Papua New Guinea goes back about 10,000 years, with the country recognised as one of the global birthplaces of plant domestication.
The Kuk swamp in the Waghi valley of the Western Highlands has provided archaeological evidence of the agricultural practises of the people of that time, who probably first occupied the region 50,000 years ago.
Continue reading "The unearthing of 10,000 years of agriculture" »
Leonard Roka - "We have paid a heavy cost for development on Bougainville over the past 50 years – too big a cost to now fall into a pit of corruption"
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - As a cocoa farmer and education entrepreneur in Panguna without official responsibilities in the Autonomous Bougainville Government or public service, I have no influence over the decisions my necktie-wearing, long-sleeved and shiny-booted bureaucrats take in their fine Buka offices and elsewhere in the province.
But I can talk as a Bougainvillean who endured the pain during the 10 year civil war after 1988 and who strongly desires to see my Solomon Island of Bougainville progress to nationhood. That is our goal and we have paid for it with our tears and our blood.
Continue reading "Bougainville’s freedom depends on killing corruption" »
Phil Fitzpatrick - "Universities have slowly evolved into commercial enterprises. Their function now is money-making"
TUMBY BAY - The re-entry of Captain Bougainville (Leonard Fong Roka) on the scene and his report of what he is doing and why is a lot more significant that one might realise.
He and his family seem to be tackling one of the greatest banes of today, greed and the mindless pursuit of money, with education.
One of the advantages of a good education is that it develops the capacity to think. Or at least that used to be the case.
Continue reading "Education's good, but it has to be right" »
Senator Reynolds makes a sick girl smile (Alexander Nara)
PORT MORESBY - The geographical coordinates 6° 32' 0" South and 145° 37' 0" East were deemed to be somewhere in the centre of Papua New Guinea’s sovereign landmark.
An internet search revealed these satellite coordinates referred to 2,110 square kilometers of rugged mountains and narrow valleys covered with dense tropical jungle.
Continue reading "High level journey to Okapa’s back page" »
Inside the John Roka school, but "the able population tilts each day not to education but towards where it smells the money in the burrows"
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA – No, I’m not lost from my PNG Attitude family; just accumulating more energy living in the midst of the corporate-mining-politics ridden Panguna mountains trying to educate my young people in a little early childhood institution.
It’s known locally as the John Roka Memorial School and was established by my siblings in honour of our West New Britain father, John Roka, killed by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in that terrible civil war.
Continue reading "We stripped & skinned; but money’s not security" »
In the classroom at Pakura Primary School
SHILA YUKULI PAIA
ADELAIDE - Every now and then I frantically try to write something that will provoke educated discussion. And what better a subject than Education itself.
Nelson Mandela - a great man of wisdom, charisma and grace - taught us that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” What did he mean?
Continue reading "A decent education is a human right" »
Vinzealhar Nen speaks at the United Nations in New York (UN Photo by Laura Jarriel)
| UN News
NEW YORK - A young advocate from Papua New Guinea has painted a vivid picture of the dangers facing small island developing states as the world warms and the seas rise.
Vinzealhar Ainjo Kwangin Nen was speaking to delegates at a major United Nations summit in New York on Friday looking at the progress and pitfalls of small island states facing climate change.
Continue reading "PNG delegate makes plea to UN on climate" »
TUMBY BAY - Bernard Corden, in commenting on Chris Overland’s article about neo-colonialism, made an interesting point about indoctrination as a function of education.
For the ruling classes in any political system - be it democratic, autocratic or totalitarian - inculcating an ideology in the young is an invaluable tool in exercising and retaining power.
Continue reading "Contrarians & writers needed more than ever" »
Fr Giorgio Licini - "It is outrageous what is being done to refugees in Manus, Port Moresby and Nauru"
FR GIORGIO LICINI
PORT MORESBY – Yesterday was World Migrant and Refugee Day and a message from Pope Francis to mark the day was particularly meaningful for our part of the world.
The words of the Pope help uncover a sense of truth about what has been going on for the past six years in Nauru and Manus.
Continue reading "The festering wounds of Manus and Nauru" »
Referendum commissioner Bertie Ahern and PNG prime minister James Marape. Ahern wants the referendum to be "a joyful celebration"
NOOSA - The chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, says the “world is watching Bougainville” as it prepares for a referendum on its political future.
And he says he wants the process to be “a joyful celebration”.
“I congratulate the two governments and the people of Bougainville for reaching this historic point,” Ahern said.
Continue reading "‘World is watching Bougainville’, says Ahern" »
A shortcut through the sago swamps in MV Aveta, about 1970
ADELAIDE - Daniel Kumbon’s enjoyable article on his visit to Kerema brought memories flooding back to me.
In August 1969, a little over 50 years ago, as a brand new Assistant Patrol Officer, I was posted to the Gulf District (now Province).
In those days, being posted to the Gulf was regarded by many young kiaps as a fate worse than death.
Continue reading "Kerema: Dispela lapun i lukim tu" »
Paul Kastas & his wheelbarrow load of yakait seedlings - just 10 kina each
PORT MORESBY – Just recently I was proud to see Paul Kastas at Waikele Market in Port Moresby.
I knew him because many years ago he used to sell Enga Nius for us on the streets of Wabag. We lived in the same location at Aipus in Wabag town.
Now, here at a market in Moresby, he was selling something very important in Enga society - yakait (also known as tokak) seedlings.
Continue reading "Engan yakait seeds selling like crazy in Moresby" »
Simon Jackson - on a trajectory to have his music heard by a lot of people
| Indie Band Guru
NEW YORK - Love Is Love (listen to the full album here) is the latest release from Papua New Guinea-born, New Zealand-dwelling songwriter and producer Simon Jackson.
Jackson is a melodic rock specialist with an evocative sound influenced by the Beatles, Elton John, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Southern and Aussie rock.
His songs are based around the acoustic guitar and Jackson’s own life experiences here on Planet Earth.
Continue reading "Jackson’s deft poetry on new ‘Love Is Love’ album" »
The original Kaiapit bell, 1943. Read the story behind the image at end of article (Australian War Memorial)
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PORT MORESBY - To tell a classic story that happened nearly 100 years ago is almost impossible to weave together today.
As close as I could get was to discover a source from 20 years after the event. My grand-mama, born around 1939 and who lived through World War II, related to us kids this account that was passed down from her father.
Continue reading "The story of Belo - Maus Bilong God" »