Influential Bougainville politician, Theonila Matbob - Prominent in advocating that Rio Tinto should accept responsibility for cleaning up Panguna's devastating legacy
NOOSA – After several months of discussions Rio Tinto and 156 Bougainville community members, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, last week reached an agreement to assess legacy impacts of the former Panguna copper and gold mine on Bougainville.
The mine was operated by Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), then majority owned by Rio Tinto, from 1972 until 1989 when operations were suspended following guerrilla against the mine and a subsequent civil war.
Continue reading "Rio ready to deal with unfinished business" »
| Adventure Kokoda
SYDNEY - A 1,400% increase in the number of Australians trekking Kokoda after the opening of the Isurava Memorial in 2002 would normally be hailed an outstanding result for Papua New Guinean tourism and our shared wartime heritage.
But for Canberra based envirocrats, lurking within the corridors of the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts (DEWHA), it had all the hallmarks of an environmental Armageddon.
Continue reading "The Kokoda Trail & the enemy within" »
Marie Reay wrote the the first, book on women’s lives in the PNG Highlands. It was not discovered for 50 years (Noel Butlin)
Wives and Wanderers in a New Guinea Highlands Society by Marie Olive Reay. Francesca Merlan (ed). ANU Press 2014. 268 pages. ISBN 97819250212155 (paperback). Link here for free download
Marie Reay (1922-2004) was an Australian anthropologist, best known for work in the New Guinea Highlands. The manuscript for Wives and Wanderers was discovered in 2011, seven years after her death and 50 years after she had made her last amendments to it. Editor Francesca Merlan did a fine job in bringing it to publication and providing a valuable and stimulating Introduction. Some edited extracts follow - KJ
CANBERRA - Wives and Wanderers presents vivid, ethnographically based narrative of the lives of women of the Wahgi Valley in the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Marie Reay explores the experiences of courting, attraction, love, marriage, and the combination of male dominance and barely restrained female resentment and rebelliousness.
Continue reading "The book that went missing for 50 years" »
Power, privilege and office - Phil Fitzpatrick, like other kiaps, was a sworn commissioned officer in the field constabulary branch of the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary
TUMBY BAY - When living in the moment it is hard to be analytical. It’s only in retrospect that people start thinking about what they did and what they experienced.
For Australians in the pre-independence bubble that was Papua New Guinea in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the exotic lifestyle was fascinating and all-enveloping, particularly for those in Port Moresby and some of the bigger towns.
Continue reading "Power, hedonism & the best years of our lives" »
Adventures to be had. Exploring the high hills in the 1950s. Kiap Harry West OAM on patrol
ADELAIDE - I enjoyed Henry Sims’ recollection (‘Blunting a few, grilli & gumi races’) of the 'glory days' in Port Moresby.
Of course, life in Moresby was quite different from life on an outstation. The social whirl was rather restricted when the entire European population could be counted on one hand.
Continue reading "A privileged life with adventures to be had" »
Gagl Primary School in 1966 - playground, three classrooms, Wahgi Valley and Kubor Range
| From the Archive
NOOSA - My school teaching career lasted three years, entirely conducted in Papua New Guinea between the ages of 18 and 21.
It began late in 1963 with a memorable month-long fragment at Mandi in the Sepik, where at lunch a schoolboy would shinny up a tree with a machete, quickly extracting a choice coconut and then expertly slicing a penny-shaped drinking hole.
Continue reading "When the green eagle flew" »
Village Birth Attendants Ruth Natia and Mandy Namis - "If they say it’s budgeted for women, it doesn’t reach us. It gets lost somewhere in transition"
| My Land, My Country
LAE – I was working at Ngasuapum village along the Lae Nadzab highway in the Huon Gulf electorate that I came across the two hardworking women.
An old woman with grey hair was talking with another woman in her late fifties. Both caught my attention so, after my interviews were done, I called them and asked if I could ask them their stories.
Continue reading "PNG’s birthers: unrecognised & unresourced" »
| Australian Book Review
The late Clive James (1938-2019), born and raised in Sydney, wrote this review of The Best Australian Essays 2002 (edited by Peter Craven and published by Black Inc) for the May 2003 issue of Australian Book Review (ABR). James was a distinguished critic, poet, author, television performer and journalist. He moved to England in 1961 and remained, but with many visits back home. Among his countless publications are nine poetry collections, four novels, a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, five volumes of memoirs (most famously Unreliable Memoirs), and many collections of literary and television criticism. He wrote for ABR 20 times between 2001 and 2015. This review is an exemplar of superb essay writing - KJ
CAMBRIDGE, UK - After only four annual volumes, The Best Australian Essays has reached the point where the law of increasing expectations begins to kick in. By now the series has done so much that we want it to do everything.
Continue reading "A prosateur writes on best prosateurs" »
The Moresby Hotel, 1964
| From the Archive
MARCH 1968 – Life for us in Papua New Guinea began in a multiplex Single Officers Quarters in Gavamani Road, Boroko.
We had just arrived from a cold Tasmania and on our first night my young wife, like me, spread-eagled herself naked on the bed under the ceiling fan, too hot to be modest.
Continue reading "Blunting a few, grilli & gumi races" »
The New Great Game
ADELAIDE – So there is a contest between Australia and China (through surrogates Telstra and China Mobile) to buy the ailing Digicel Pacific’s mobile phone networks in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, Samoa and Vanuatu.
This is just another event in what seems likely to be a long and grinding war of economic attrition between the emergent authoritarian Chinese super power and its mostly democratic competitors.
Continue reading "Australia & PNG: Pawns in ‘The Great Game’" »
SYDNEY - I run a media, training and consultancy company called IndigenousX. It is 100% Indigenous owned and staffed.
We work on local, regional, national, and international projects; we run training workshops on anti-racism, digital strategies, and media training.
Continue reading "Identity & parlance: This is who we are" »
Haus Tambaran, Palambei, Middle Sepik. Duncan Gavin argues that PNG’s Parliament House should not be called a Haus Tambaran
| Aunamelo Independent Blog
MADANG – Papua New Guinea’s parliament house is one of the world’s most fascinating examples of public architecture.
The building incorporates various structural features found in PNG but the design that dominates is the architectural style of Maprik in East Sepik Province.
Continue reading "N’gego – Melanesia’s house of governance" »
Tailings waste flowing into Konawiru-Jaba River delta on the Bougainville west coast
| SBS News
BRISBANE - Multinational mining giant Rio Tinto has agreed to fund an independent assessment of the human rights and environmental impacts of its former Panguna copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville.
Rio Tinto abandoned the mine in 1989 during a brutal civil conflict on Bougainville and now no longer holds a stake after controversially divesting its shareholding to the PNG and Bougainville governments in 2016, rejecting corporate responsibility for environmental damage.
Continue reading "Rio agrees to review of Panguna impacts" »
Fiame Naomi Mataafa (UN Women, Ellie van Baaren)
| ANU Reporter
CANBERRA - In April, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa caused the political equivalent of an earthquake for Samoa.
The long-serving and immensely popular politician had taken on a political powerhouse in the country’s national election – and won.
Continue reading "A crack in the Pacific's glass ceiling" »
Digicel Pacific's billionaire owner Denis O'Brien knows he's selling an asset of massive strategic importance
NOOSA – As China Mobile lines up to swoop on Digicel’s mobile phone networks in the south-west Pacific, Australian security agencies are pushing hard to stop it.
The last thing they and their allies want in the fiercely-contested region is a Chinese telco giant taking over strategically important infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands.
Continue reading "Australia seeks to best China in Digicel deal" »
PNG prime minister James Marape receives 15 ventilators donated by the Chinese government
JULIA HOLLINGSWORTH & BEN WESTCOTT
CNN Digital Worldwide | Edited extracts
Link here for the complete analysis
HONG KONG - China and Australia have found another battleground for their deepening diplomatic standoff: the Pacific islands' pandemic response.
Canberra has hit back at Beijing's claims it is derailing the rollout of Chinese vaccines in Papua New Guinea, the most-populous Pacific nation.
Continue reading "Covid is now a China-Australia power play" »
Menya River (Brian Chapaitis)
PORT MORESBY - This article breaks down some of the myths used to justify the privatisation of customary land.
It makes clear that efforts to privatise land are not about development but about profits for corporations, financial institutions and already wealthy people.
Continue reading "Don't privatise our customary land" »
Cartoonist Mark David depicts treasurer Frydenberg and prime minister Morrison's flawed efforts in managing the pandemic and the economy
ADELAIDE – Keith Jackson has rightly written (‘Lethargic Australia drops ball on Covid’) that the Morrison government has failed dismally to do its job in relation to both quarantine and vaccination relating to Australia’s Covid pandemic.
The direct result of this failure is that the State premiers have had to do all the heavy lifting to contain the virus.
Continue reading "Neo-liberal dogma seen in Oz Covid failures" »
Loi Bakani - "The Bank of PNG disassociates itself from the statement made by FASU”
NOOSA – Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has strongly supported PNG’s financial regulator after Central Bank governor dissociated his bank from action it had taken to investigate possible money laundering.
TIPNG chair Peter Aitsi called on the government and the private sector to respect the independence of the Financial Analysis and Supervision Unit (FASU).
Continue reading "Transparency defends besieged regulator" »
Then Treasurer Don Polye refused to approve the deal and was sacked by prime minister Peter O’Neill. Polye is one of the few people to emerge with honour from the scandal
| Australian Financial Review | Extracts
SYDNEY - For the past four months, a royal commission into an eight-year-old deal most Australians have never heard of, in a country that rarely rates a mention, has been quietly chipping away.
Forced online by Covid-19, the inquiry into a $1.3 billion (K3.4 billion) loan extended by the Sydney office of UBS to the government of Papua New Guinea has heard from prime ministers, chief executives, a cabinet minister and top bureaucrats.
Continue reading "UBS's K210 million ‘excess’ on loan: expert" »
"We need to start thinking like the communities think. They do not perceive a conflict between their input and the delivery of essential services"
“People build their nation and transform their society by being active creators, observers and participants inside it” - Michael Dom, 'Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution', 17 July 2021
CAIRNS – That is a statement to agree with.
If we look at most cities and towns in Papua New Guinea, I believe we see ample evidence of participation within the boundaries of a particular vision of nation building.
Continue reading "How to avoid leaving behind PNG’s 85%" »
The orchestra performing for parliamentarians at Vanimo in 2019
| Sipikriva Girl | Edited extracts
BUTAWENG – The Queen of Paradise Orchestra was established beside the sea in idyllic Baro Village in West Sepik in August 2018
The orchestra and its classical music school are the brainchild of the religious family of the incarnate word working in Vanimo, who were inspired by a similar project in Venezuela.
Continue reading "The marvellous Queen of Paradise Orchestra" »
Highlands road at Oiyarip looking toward Mendi
FR GARRETT ROCHE SVD
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - My initial response to Jim Moore’s item, ‘Thoughts of Then, Now & Cultural Variance’, was to try to figure out which road Jim was referring to and what clans were involved.
Then Jim continued to discuss the appropriateness of the Western parliamentary system for an independent Papua New Guinea. So will I.
Between Mt Hagen and Togoba there are at least two roads heading towards Bukapena.
Continue reading "Roads connect but government can divide" »
NOOSA - The more infectious, faster moving Delta variant of Covid has been identified for the first time in Papua New Guinea.
The Delta strain is currently proving hard to control after breaking out in Australia’s two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. It has killed three people so far.
Continue reading "Lethargic Australia drops ball on Covid " »
Georgina and Ulli Beier returned to Nigeria for the Osogbo Awards in 1992 (Iwalewahaus)
NOOSA - Georgina Beier (1938-2021), called the ‘founding mother’ of contemporary art in Papua New Guinea, died in Sydney last Sunday aged 82.
Her husband, Ulli Beier (1922–2011), was a German editor, writer and scholar who pioneered the development of literature in Nigeria and Papua New Guinea.
Continue reading "Georgina Beier, art pioneer, dies at 82" »
Westminster system spared Papua New Guinea nothing, not even the Speaker 's wig
CLEVELAND – It has taken me a long time to reach an understanding of what the problem was leading up to Papua New Guinea’s independence.
At the time, in the 1970s, the thought process was that the Westminster system works for us in Australia, this we can impose this obviously working system as a unifying force for a people and their many hundreds of cultures.
Continue reading "System we gave PNG just doesn’t work" »
LAE - How do we return Papua Niugini to a culture of Melanesian cooperation and how can the common people make those in power behave responsibly?
According to the evolutionary perspective, the birthplace of democracy was the tribe. Indeed, tribalism is sometimes referred to as ‘primitive democracy’.
Continue reading "Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution" »
Road building, Pindiu, Morobe District, 1965 (Frank Haviland)
WARRADALE - In the late 1960s, as a young kiap based at Mt Hagen Sub-District Office, I was assigned to supervise work on a new feeder road.
It led off the Hagen-Togaba main road and heading north towards Bukapena in the Mul Council area, perhaps eight kilometres out of Hagen.
Part of the construction through a small hill had resulted in a cliff 10-15 metres high that had to be reduced to allow the road to be widened using the stock tools of the time - picks and long-handled spades.
Continue reading "Thoughts of then, now & cultural variance" »
CAIRNS – Michael Dom is right (Two questions long struggled with) in asking how can Papua New Guinea return to cooperation and how can the common people hold power to account and keep it responsible?
No one doubts the absolute necessity for a strong well-governed and administered political centre.
A modern nation state does not exist without it.
Continue reading "Needed: A compact between govt & people" »
Bank South Pacific in Port Moresby
| Investor Daily
SYDNEY - A Papua New Guinea-based banking group listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has caught the ire of the regulator for alleged serious breaches of Australia’s anti-money laundering rules.
BSP Financial Group (BFL), which listed on the ASX earlier this year, is the largest bank in PNG with branches in six South Pacific nations.
Continue reading "Big bank in money laundering claims" »
Sir Julius Chan, EITI secretariat head Lucas Alkan and New Ireland provincial administrator Lamiller Pawut
| PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
KAVIENG - New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan says a proposed law to promote transparency and accountability in mining and petroleum will keep everyone honest in the long run.
Chan made this remark when he opened the Extractive Industries Transparency Commission Bill consultation for the New Guinea Island Region.
Continue reading "Law to keep extractive industries in check" »
Forests Minister Walter Schnaulbelt was first to be vaccinated with the highly effective Chinese Sinopharm vaccine
NOOSA – Papua New Guinea began the rollout of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine on Tuesday, with Forests Minister Walter Schnaubelt receiving the first official jab.
China supplied PNG with 200, 000 doses in late June, with 2,500 doses already given to Chinese nationals in the country as a confidence builder.
Continue reading "Chinese vaccine starts mass rollout" »
Sweet potato farming in the Southern Highlands - communal sharing for mutual benefit is the Melanesian Way
LAE – Power, power, power. Yeah, sure.
In Papua New Guinea subsistence agriculture is a basic mode of living, resources are communally shared and political power is gained and maintained by the assurance of mutual benefit for all.
It can be challenging to understand that the infant national character (that which emerged through parliamentary democracy) doesn't know what to do about the vast wealth made available to it.
Continue reading "Two questions long struggled with" »
Fight against ruining the Sepik
Stop harm in the Sepik
PanAust, 1/15 James Street in Fortitude Valley
Pukpuk LV handbags along every alley
Another Burlington Arcade so trendy and chic
The Sepik – A South Pacific Amazon
Once pristine but no longer unique
Continue reading "Old FARTS and Little SH*TS" »
CAIRNS - Patrick Angrai’s article, Death of a Teacher, hit me hard too. Firstly sadness, then anger.
Death in childbirth, through lack of timely referral or resources, is so horribly common in rural settings and often goes unreported.
As Arthur Williams has said, how can this happen in such a resource rich country?
Continue reading "PNG must make people the centre of power" »
President Toroama addresses people at Buka's Bel Park after the Wabag leaders' meeting
BUKA – Discussions were “tough”, Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama has revealed after last week’s top level talks in Wabag with Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape.
Describing the leaders’ meeting in Wabag as “tough”, Toroama told a public meeting in Buka that Bougainville’s independence must be settled so the autonomous province can move forward.
Continue reading "Back our independence mission: Toroama" »
TUMBY BAY - In her 2020 book, ‘The Motion of the Body Through Space,’ the contrarian writer and novelist, Lionel Shriver, has one of her characters observe “that men in their teens and twenties are the most dangerous creatures on earth”.
“They’re competing for mates, and trying to establish dominance in the male pecking order.
Continue reading "Dangerous young men" »
In this second extract from ‘Learning to Be a Writer in Papua New Guinea’, Evelyn Ellerman writes of the emergence of student writers at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1967, which led to the development of a home-grown Papua New Guinean literature. Her paper was part of the University of Calgary’s ‘History of Intellectual Culture’ series. Link here to the complete paper - KJ
CALGARY - In the late 1960s, three principal publishing vehicles were associated with the University of Papua New Guinea's Literature Department.
Kovave, an in-house literary journal; Papua Pocket Poets, an in-house poetry series; and a number of externally published collections whose content was gleaned from the journal and the series.
Continue reading "Writing in PNG: Kovave & beyond" »
| My Land, My Country | Edited
JOSEPHSTAAL - Jerolyn Arimbandai was the only female teacher at the newly-established Catholic high school at Josephstaal in the Madang Province.
She was married to Steven Arimbandai, a Josephstaal man and also a teacher at the school. They had one child and were expecting their second.
Continue reading "Death of a teacher" »
Ulli Beier - "Drawing upon nearly 15 years of pioneering work in Nigeria, he had some notion of what he wanted to accomplish in PNG"
In this extract from ‘Learning to Be a Writer in Papua New Guinea’, Evelyn Ellerman writes of the establishment of the Literature Department at the University of Papua New Guinea in 1967, which led directly to the development of the first shoots of a home-grown Papua New Guinean literature. Her important paper was written as part of the University of Calgary’s ‘History of Intellectual Culture’ series. Link here to Ellerman’s complete paper - KJ
CALGARY - Since so few Melanesians could read and write, the first admission to UPNG was relatively small: in 1966 only 55 students registered.
Many of these students were required to take a bridging year in order to improve their grasp of English. A handful registered for the literature classes and began to write.
Continue reading "How PNG's first literary blossoming arrived" »
Russel Soaba wrote the first Papua New Guinean novel written specifically for his own countrymen
TUMBY BAY - It wasn’t until 1977 that a Papua New Guinean novel appeared that was targeted at Papua New Guinean readers, Russell Soaba’s Wanpis.
Wanpis (Tok Pisin for a person who is lonely or alone, like an orphan) is about identity and displays an angst that is quintessentially Papua New Guinean.
Continue reading "A brief history of PNG literature, Part 2" »
Dr Lance Hill - "Goodwill, combined with diplomacy and devotion to the PNG environment, saw him through”
NOOSA – Adjunct Professor Lance Hill, who dedicated 38 years to his scientific career in Papua New Guinea, died in Cairns on 1 July aged 76. The cause of his death is unknown.
Dr Hill arrived in PNG in 1970, soon after the establishment of the University of PNG, as a senior tutor in biology.
Continue reading "Lance Hill, scientist: a career devoted to PNG" »
TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea has a rich tradition of oral literature which exists to this day.
Vincent Eri’s work of 1970, The Crocodile, was the first novel by a Papua New Guinean, but it seems likely that the first book written by a Papua New Guinean came from the pen of the New Ireland writer, Ligeremaluoga (also known as Osea).
Continue reading "A brief history of PNG literature, Part 1" »
NOOSA – Late last week the Australian branch of the global organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) delivered a statement to the United Nations.
The statement was pointed and candidly offered some home truths about how the Australian government treats refugees and its own Indigenous people.
Continue reading "Australia tries to bluff world on human rights" »
Malcolm Fraser, prime minister of Australia, 1975-83, popularised the maxim, 'Life wasn't meant to be easy'. The issue of Bougainville independence is a vexing one for all PNG politicians
ADELAIDE – Martyn Namarong is quite correct in his commentary, ‘Bougainville highlights need for a new PNG’, both in his analysis of the Bougainville dilemma and his discussion of the implications for Papua New Guinea.
Denying Bougainville independence would be a catastrophe for PNG; while granting it independence will inevitably open up fissures in the wider PNG polity.
Continue reading "Bougainville was not meant to be easy" »
| Ples Singsing
“Remote models require assimilation. You can learn from the past with little risk of merely aping it as you might ape your contemporaries, or the generation just before your own. A young poet impatient with the assumptions and styles of the present might look for springboards and encouragements in another time” - Robert Pinsky
LAE - Our ancients understood the power of poetry, even if it remained undefined to them.
Their dramatic life events and emotional responses were encapsulated in naïve poetic authenticity and released during their chants and dance, sung tales and oration.
Continue reading "Young poets leaving no blank pages in history" »
Maev O'Collins - "Maev loved PNG, and this is seen in the many close friendships she developed over her years there"
MICHELLE NAYAHAMUI ROONEY
| DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - Emeritus Professor Maev O’Collins, an important person in the collective history of Papua New Guinea and Australia, has passed away in Canberra at the age of 92.
As well as Maev’s joyous and warm spirit, it was her relationships with many Papua New Guineans and her stories about her life and friends in PNG that are markers of the real friendship between the two countries.
Continue reading "Great friend of PNG, Maev O’Collins, dies at 92" »
The headline that James Marape condemned as 'misleading'
NOOSA – Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape has been forced to state publicly that at no point has his government agreed to Bougainville independence.
Marape has attacked the PNG Post-Courier’s reporting of his Wabag meeting with Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama, stating that “in no part [of our joint statement] is Independence mentioned."
Continue reading "Bougainville puts press in political crossfire" »
Martyn Namorong - "PNG needs a new Constitution that recognises the different tribal nations and empowers them with their full rights to self-determination within a political union"
| PNG Signal
PORT MORESBY - Will Papua New Guinea break up if Bougainville is granted full independence?
For some PNG leaders the threat of balkanization has shaped their attitudes towards Bougainville leaving the union of 850 tribes.
One of them is prime minister James Marape, who recently pleaded with Bougainville's leaders to take into consideration PNG’s fate when deliberating on the matter.
Continue reading "Bougainville highlights need for a new PNG" »
A glasmeri witch-finder repudiates her previous accusations against an alleged 'sorcerer'(Anton Lutz)
‘Sorcery accusation-related violence in Papua New Guinea: The role of glasman/glasmeri as catalysts of accusation and violence’ by Miranda Forsyth, William Kipongi, Anton Lutz, Philip Gibbs, Fiona Hukula & Ibolya Losoncz, Issues Paper 36, National Research Institute of PNG. July 2021. Link here to the full research report
PORT MORESBY – A National Research Institute report says many incidents of sorcery-accusation violence in Papua New Guinea are triggered by glasman or, less commonly, female glasmeri.
A glasman or glasmeri (witch doctor) is a person skilled in interpreting and using supernatural forces, including the identification of people who are sorcerers.
Continue reading "Report calls for laws against witchdoctors" »