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93 posts from September 2012

Now the Jackson line cements a true Melanesian link

Melinda and McLaren Webster


MY PATERNAL AUNT MARJORIE and her husband Bob, late of Cooranbong in NSW and wonderful people, turned to Seventh Day Adventism in the 1950s

That side of our family remains securely within and firmly committed to the Church.

Today, at the Woollahra Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sydney, Marjorie and Bob's grandson, Maclaren (the son of Carol and Neville Webster of Dubbo), married Melinda Pomat.

They are gorgeous.

Melinda is the daughter of Chalapi Pomat who lives in Newcastle, NSW, and his wife June, who lives in Honiara.

Melinda is a high school teacher and Maclaren works for property company Jones Lang Lasalle.

Chalapi, an occasional contributor to PNG Attitude, is originally from Manus and June is from the Solomons. He is a senior mechanical design engineer at the prominent engineering, procurement and construction firm WorleyParsons.

The Jacksons are delighted to share a family with this great couple and we wish them the very best and most fulfilled future.

My dodgy back prevented me from being there in person (not in spirit), but I was well represented by Ingrid, who took the photo.

Are we witnessing the total demise of the tuna?


The total demise of the tuna,
Could well nigh just be sooner,
If some overfish,
To put your tuna on their dish,
And create just an empty Neptuna.

LIKE MANY OTHER PEOPLE TODAY I’m contemplating a small can of overseas produced tuna to spread on my sandwich for lunch.

That act alone puts me at the top of a food chain that extends far out into the Pacific Ocean. Yet is this the real food chain and, if so, can it be effectively managed?

Let’s examine this part of the food chain as we know it. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by microscopic algae (phytoplankton) in the oceans that are then eaten by plankton.

Plankton are then eaten by small baitfish and sardines. Sardines are then eaten by larger carnivorous fish like tuna.

Tuna are then caught and eaten by humans. But is the food chain actually a food cycle? After all, humans then produce carbon dioxide.

Tuna are pelagic fish that travel vast distances in the world’s oceans. While the fish are mobile, they do tend to stick to fixed migration patterns that roughly equate to the seasons in each hemisphere.

Each ocean (Atlantic, Indian, Pacific) seems to have its own particular varieties of tuna and there are a number of different species.

By far the most desirable species of tuna are Bluefin, then Yellowfin and then species like Skipjack coming in a definite third.

Given that tuna range across many national maritime borders and the open ocean, there can be no defined ownership of this resource.

Nevertheless, the areas where tuna spawn and grow are often within national boundaries and this aspect could be better investigated and policed if there were resources made available and an appropriate national will.

Recent claims that a tuna spawning area in PNG could be affected by the effluent being discharged by some mining companies seem to have been dismissed by authorities.

It goes without saying that all important national food resources should be protected and managed so that the resource is used in a sustainable manner and available for future generations. Yet have the available lessons of the world's tuna fishing up until this time been fully understood and appreciated?

Nations in the South Pacific have previously been so concerned about the sustainability of tuna stocks that they imposed self fishing limits on their national fisheries.

The PNG Fisheries Department previously claimed that they would not allow any increase in tuna fishing until a detailed investigation and research had been carried out on the sustainability of national tuna stocks.

Yet how could any one nation ensure sustainability of tuna resources without a comprehensive international investigation and agreed regional policing?

Continue reading "Are we witnessing the total demise of the tuna?" »

A poet’s journey 2: What are poems about?

Michael DomMICHAEL DOM | Winner of the 2012 Crocodile Prize for Poetry

A POEM CAN BE ABOUT many small things in our lives that, when gathered together, reveal something far more enlightening about our state of being.

Each word adds a new meaning, each sentence creates another dimension, and each stanza is a whole different experience.

And it is while reading such poetry that we may see our own reflection, even as we peer through this window into each other’s souls.

Take a ‘love poem’ or romantic verse for example. This may be the easiest type of poem to write because love is such a powerful emotion and demands an expression from us as writers, which we all respond to very deeply.

Usually the love poem is about passion that one feels for another person. But what about the mundane things in life that two lovers may share, that don’t necessarily have that ‘romantic quality’?

A poem may express an emotion, but a poem should be more than emotional expression. A poem should not only move the reader, it also should “stand still”. As Archibald MacLeish wrote about modern poetry, “A poem should not mean / But be”.

This poem was inspired by the woman I like and James St Nativeson’s poem, Things I like.

The poem consists of seven five-line verses with ten syllables in each line and as an added challenge it was written to exactly 300 words in length in order to fit within the required word limit of the Crocodile Prize competition.

Things I like which you make so

For my fiancé Isidora Ramita, whose birthday and engagement anniversary I missed in September due to work commitments

Michael and IsadoraI like the scent of citrus, freshly cut,
when I am reading in the lounge, and you
are in the kitchen preparing our lunch;
which is just tinned fish, tomatoes and bread,
with extra butter, the way you make it.

I like the sound of ice, in a glass cup,
when you bring me fruit juice and Panadol,
to ease the high fever I am running;
which is malarial of course, and bad,
but you make it alright to be unwell.

I like the touch of satin, and your hand
on my cheek, when I play at being asleep,
but I’m spying beneath drowsy eyelids;
which is silly, when you know it’s an act,
but you make it a moment we both like.

I like when you enter, while I’m hiding
behind the bedroom door to surprise you,
and you don’t see me until it’s too late;
which sometimes makes you very cross with me,
and then my peace is when you make it so.

I like all the glass stuff, which we both own,
like the glass table where we eat and work,
and the glass vase that we put flowers in;
which are not cheap, like we say we can be,
but our life is dear the way we make it.

Window of Opportunity - Michael Dom's PCI like private thoughts, popping in my head,
with a look in your eyes or a slow dance,
while our favourite music is playing;
which is not always, but often enough
to make it something to look forward to.

I like falling asleep, on the sofa,
with you, while the movie plays itself out,
so we have to watch it over again;
which is what happens when we’re good kittens
and time is as good as we could make it.

Pastor Buka Paul: A New Guinea jewel


Kambubu Adventist Secondary SchoolAROUND 1938, A 16-YEAR OLD BUKA YOUTH, Paul, and a friend sailed from their island of Bougainville to big New Guinea with Seventh Day Adventist missionary A J Campbell to begin the adventure of their young lives.

Landing at Salamaua, they walked with a team of village-recruited carriers to the newly formed mission post of Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands where they were to serve as general helpers for the newly appointed European workers.

Buka Paul proved to be a faithful employee and felt called to become a missionary himself After attending classes at Putput (later to become Kambubu Adventist Academy), chanting arithmetic tables and absorbing Bible stories to Grade 3 level, he was sent to a village near Omarau to teach under the direction of a senior Mussau Islander.

Because Paul was single and did not speak the local language, he failed to impress the older people. But the children loved him dearly and gained an appreciation of the gospel story.

Kamito, the village sorcerer, scolded the children and threatened to poison Paul's food, claiming no one could survive such strong poison. Paul assured Kamito that God would preserve his life and there was nothing to fear.

The work of God expanded rapidly and a new mission station was established at Bena Bena west of Kainantu when Sakimau, another worker from Mussau was attacked and died on the track while bringing supplies from Madang. Then Kuka, also from Mussau, disappeared mysteriously after accidentally killing a pig. Later it was discovered he had been murdered.

In 1942 the Japanese invaded PNG and all European missionaries were evacuated to Australia. Buka Paul was commandeered as an army cook.

Then a drought lasting 18 months set in, storage water ran out and creeks dried up. The military doctor asked Paul if he and his worshippers ever prayed for rain. Paul replied that they could, and if God saw fit to send rain He would.

So the doctor requested prayer. This was Friday, the sun was still shining but as it neared the west, the church bell rang for opening Sabbath worship on Saturday. Four boys and several mothers and children filed into Kainantu SDA Church sang some hymns, read a scripture and prayed earnestly for rain.

Soon after, dark clouds rolled up the Ramu gorge and rain began to fall, continuing all through Sabbath until the tanks were full and overflowing. From then on many soldiers attended church receiving messages from natives who had previously been in darkness.

Continue reading "Pastor Buka Paul: A New Guinea jewel" »

A poet’s journey 1: How to behave in poetry

Dom_MichaelMICHAEL DOM | Winner of the 2012 Crocodile Prize for Poetry

IT IS VERY REWARDING as a poet to have touched people who have read and enjoyed my poems, many of whom I’ve not had the chance to meet in person.

Winning the Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry this year put icing on the cake. Poetry as an art is flowering again in Papua New Guinea and I am honoured to have been selected from amongst a host of talented poets for this national literary award.

To me writing poetry is a voyage of discovery. I am discovering more about the world and how I view life as a poet in every new piece of writing I commence.

While continuing to take part in this literary competition I’d like to share with other aspiring poets what I have discovered on my journey.

Firstly, here are some words from William Hart Smith which have inspired my writing: ‘How to behave / In Poetry: / Give things back / What they already have.

In this poem Hart Smith suggests that to write poetry is to do more than use rhyme or rhythm or the skills, techniques and forms of poetry.

Rather, writing poetry is about doing things a certain way; it is how we think, how we interpret what we feel and how we communicate the message – how we approach our topic – how we behave as poets.

Writing poetry is returning the beauty and truth of the subject/object which is the focus of a poem. Writing poetry is reminding us all of our common humanity, what we know and believe about ‘the good and the bad in life’. Writing poetry is helping us to renew our relationships with the people around us and with the world we live in.

But for a poem to return Beauty and Truth, it must be refined by Practiced Skill; for a poem to remind us it must Capture our Imagination; and for a poem to renew us it must also Challenge us.

I have been working over five of the six poems below for the last year, but the first in this series, Oasis, was the first poem I wrote back in 1995. Oasis has no structure while the second poem is a quatrain with seven syllables in each line including the title.

The third poem, Olosem wanem nau Ongagno, was written while I was ‘thinking in Tok Pisin’ and it is allegorical. The invented name Ongagno is a palindrome.

The fourth poem follows the Japanese haiku form and combines three separate verses into a whole theme.

The fifth, Soliloquy for frangipani in bloom, is prosaic and relies on diction and alliteration to describe contrasting images of a frangipani tree in bloom used as a metonym in this allegorical verse.

The sixth is based on the Persian ghazal and it has five couplets of seventeen-syllables in each line.

Continue reading "A poet’s journey 1: How to behave in poetry" »

My Crocodile Prize story: So nice are these writing people


Australian novelist Drusillla Modjeska; PNG writer Regina Dorum; Society of Writers president Amanda DonigiI HAVE A DREAM and I am running after it at all costs. I am following it closely to improve the craft I am loving so much.

In the middle of this month I attended this year’s PNG Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers’ event in Port Moresby.

I wanted to meet established Papua New Guinean and Australian authors and listen to their inspirational words to help me improve in my writing.

Interestingly, this great Crocodile Prize competition is supported by the Australian High Commission but not the PNG government.

For me, the worst thing is my tight-lipped culture. I never freely utter a word in the midst of people I am not familiar with unless told to do so by someone in authority or the chair of the meeting.

I silently hate myself for this. And this is exactly what I did at the Annual General Meeting and Writers’ Forum.

I uttered not a word! Not at all a social being, I guess.

But from my perfect world I met great writing men and women from all over Papua New Guinea. Men and women who know me as I know them only by name and not physically.

Old man of literature, author Russell SoabaI was proud to be in the company of authors like Russell Soaba and Francis Nii; bloggers Nou Vada, Martyn Namorong and Emmanuel Narakobi; and Australian writer and big time Crocodile Prize editor, Phil Fitzpatrick. Our Keith Jackson was not present.

Whilst in the midst of Australians and other Papua New Guineans with the common interest that is literature, spills did reached my wriggling ears that the high walking Papua New Guinean employees of the Australian High Commission had plastered lips.

They were to utter no word pressing Australian national interest or they would be fired, a  fellow Highlander whispered to me as a local girl passed us, poking the concrete with high-heels.

But there we were, Australians and Papua New Guineans, sisters and brothers in the name of the ink or, in this age, the keyboard.

Lunch with a writing family that I am missing greatlyPolitics does not come into play in our part of the world; or it is suppressed somewhere.

So cool was I in a perfect world of writers.

More than anything else, I did sell off to my fellow men and women who I was in character or attitude.

Many threw a light on that. ‘Mr LFR,’ they said, ‘reading you and your world we thought you were somewhat a physically an imposing being. But you are really a small man with a big mouth…’ Ha ha!

Photos: Jimmy Drekore

Mixing past and present in Papua New Guinea

JAKE WARGA | National Public Radio

FEW PLACES ARE MORE EXOTIC in the imagination than Papua New Guinea. The romantic images it conjures up are the stuff of a National Geographic cover story, complete with deadly animals and, of course, cannibals.

But once I stepped off the plane, I entered a land that was wrestling with its past and its present.

The Sepik River basin, deep in the heart of the country, is a popular tourist destination. It's the perfect place for a jungle river tour, with dense greenery, massive birds and stops at tribal villages.

The village of Imas, along the banks of the Sepik, is actually two villages, explains Ambrose Otto, the village leader.

There's "Imas No 2," where most people live in the present. There's also "Imas No 1," also known as the "traditional village."

That traditional village, the one where the tourists go, is like living in the past. The residents perform dances like they did before outsiders came.

I now know where Papua New Guinea is, but I'm not sure when it is.

But while the concept of two villages may seem artificial, re-creating the past for tourists and their quest for the authentic is helping the Imas people preserve both their language, known as Karam, and their culture.

"The young generation coming up loses their dialect now," Otto says. "They only speak pidgin English. It's one of the areas where this village is now failing. So we are trying our best to restart the traditions before the old people pass away."

Luckily, one tradition is not coming back: cannibalism. All for the best, it seems, as I note the plumpness of many of the tourists. Lots of visitors want to hear about cannibals, but the practice stopped in the 1930s.

On the path back to the boat, village women have lined up souvenirs to sell. Even a living museum like the traditional Imas makes you exit through the gift shop.

We travel further upriver to another village, where we're greeted, as at every stop, by excited children. As part of our tour of the Karawari village, an elder demonstrates how to peel bark off a log, a woman cooks over an open fire and a canoe is being chopped into shape.

"The white people came here like first missionaries," explains Paul, a guide with Karawari Lodge, one of the camps where visitors are based. "They came in for first contact and start to tell them, 'Wear these clothes.' "

Today, I see no Western clothes. No tee-shirts, no shorts. Just grass skirts, bare breasts, skimpy loincloths and naked children.

Continue reading "Mixing past and present in Papua New Guinea" »

Listen, learn, respect – all so simple yet too hard for some


It's a real monsterA LITTLE WHILE AGO two interesting events in the Southern Highlands were reported on a number of blogs, including one called Mangi Tari.

The first event involved blasting by contractors to enable the PNG LNG pipeline to be laid between Hides and Iagifu Ridge in Fasu country.

The second event involved the capture, killing and consumption of an unusually large python.

According to the blogs what followed both events was catastrophic but entirely predictable.

The area where the blasting took place is a sacred site which local people avoid at all costs; they don’t hunt near it or gather food there.  The reason why they fear the place is because it is the domain of a gigantic mythological snake ancestor.

FloodWhat followed the blasting and the killing of the snake, according to the blogs, was that “the mountains started trembling and the rivers started flooding to unprecedented levels” and there were deadly landslides.

As a result the construction of the pipeline was halted and sections that had already been laid underground were exposed by the flood.

On a personal level, a girl who had handled the dead snake was mysteriously crippled and the house of one of the clan leaders who ate the snake was submerged in the flooding.

The Huli, Duna, Fasu, Foi and other groups in the Southern Highlands have a complex and interconnected set of creation myths which includes sacred sites dispersed over the landscape which are associated with the deeds and abodes of their mythical ancestors. 

These places are connected by great subterranean networks.  From time to time these mythical ancestors require placating and reification through appropriate rituals.

Draipela sinekThe place that was blasted was the home of one of these ancestors.  The “Man” who was captured and eaten, the blogs intimate, might have been a fleeing ancestor.

What silly superstition you might think.  The events were simply unrelated incidents with no connection to cause and effect.

That may be so but it doesn’t get away from the fact that many people in the Southern Highlands believe explicitly in these myths and they form a large part of their personal cosmos and universe.

The blasting of the sacred site also begs an important question.  Why didn’t the contractors ask someone whether it was okay before setting off the charges in that particular spot?

The answer points to one of the most significant failings of resource developers in Papua New Guinea.  Further, it encapsulates what is one of the biggest banes of those dedicated community affairs officers working in the industry.

From my experience, I would guess that someone probably did ask the question.  In fact I would guess that a community affairs officer probably told the contractor that they were in danger of damaging a sacred site and should find a way to go around it.

If I’m right, why did they blast it?

Continue reading "Listen, learn, respect – all so simple yet too hard for some" »

Katua Niugini - the story of the mine at Pangkirangku


Site of Pangkirangku (Panguna pit)PANGKIRANGKU WAS A HILL situated at the location of the present day idle Panguna mine pit in Bougainville. Pangkirangku (later turned into ‘Panguna’ by colonisation) was the hunting ground for the Guava and the Moroni people who mostly intermarried each other.

Oral history says that the area was colonised by the people not in one wave but infiltrated by individual people, especially through marriage.

It happens that a family can be a first settler of a territory. Later, as they increase in numbers and emerge as a clan, the young men go back to the place of origin to seek a wife for a male son and she is brought to Moroni.

She settles with her new in-laws and expands the clan. In due course, her children inherit land through the many land ownership rites of passage known to the Kieta people of Bougainville.

But with the dawn of the Bougainville secessionist and anti-mining conflict in 1988, the militant leader, the late Francis Ona, had publicised that he was the major landowner of Pangkirangku. This was a negative a taint on the identity of the true owners of Pangkirangku.

Ona belonged to the Kurabang clan but his group of immigrants into Guava village was second in the line of migrations. (Measuring migration waves in oral history is fluid. They might be just a generation apart or decades.) Ona’s ancestors entered Guava from the southern Orami area, where the first PNGDF soldier was killed around 1989.

The first group of Kurabangs that entered and colonised the Pangkirangku and Guava areas came from the west in the direction of Onove and Evo. Thus the first group owned much of the Pangkirangku ridge that hosted the ore bodies that attracted CRA to mine it in the 1960s and sparked the Bougainville crisis that killed thousands of innocent Bougainvilleans.

Anthony Ampe at Arawa market (Rodney Banas)Ona’s line of immigrants came into dominance in controlling land as they produced more female members in what is now Panguna. The original immigrants, family members of the brothers Dumenu and Anthony Ampe (pictured) of which more below, produced less females – who are the powers and owners of land in the Kieta society.

Seeing this unfortunate development, the members of the original immigrants began to transfer ownership to the second wave of settlers. In this process the family line of the late Francis Ona came into dominance in decision making in the Guava-Panguna area.

In the first wave of Kurabang, just before World War II, were born two brothers, Dumenu and Anthony Ampe.

The brothers were the rightful and inarguable chiefs and owners of the vast proportion of the customary land in the ridge and braes of the Pangkirangku.

As children, the brothers and their siblings enjoyed the jungle, wild rivers and gardens. Later, in 1950s, the eldest Dumenu became referred to as a retard. But he was a prophet.

In this state of mind, he left Guava and erected himself a makeshift shelter a safe distance away to the west of the main village on the Guava-Kokore ridge.

There, close to his abode, he selected a high point on the trail and began digging the earth with his bare hands like a child. Days he dug and nights he dug. When travellers encountered him he would cry, ‘I am destroying your beautiful land and your future is not good’ and laugh.

Continue reading "Katua Niugini - the story of the mine at Pangkirangku" »

How the Old Testament was brought to Lavege

CHRISTY ARMSTRONG | Cleveland Daily Banner

Danielle JenningsWHETHER OR NOT THEY BELIEVE what it says, many Americans are somewhat familiar with the Bible. Verses are often emblazoned on bumper stickers, and copies of Gideon Bibles still occupy drawer space in many hotel rooms.

However, Cleveland resident Danielle Jennings has discovered that people in some parts of the world are not familiar with the Bible at all.

A 21-year-old Lee University student from Bel Air, Maryland, Jennings spent part of her summer helping translate the Bible into a tribal language in Papua New Guinea, joining a group of others on a trip with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

The group of seven young women and three leaders from Wycliffe visited a village called Lavege in the West New Britain Province.

The Wycliffe group spent a week in Dallas preparing for the trip by learning about Bible translation and memorizing as much of the village’s language as they could.

After the group left the US, the events of the trip played out like movie scenes rife with action, drama and comedy.

“The first day we were there, our van was attacked,” Jennings said.

The van was surrounded by three men carrying a gun, a machete and a large rock. Their intention was to rob group members of their belongings and steal the van.

Jennings said there were some very tense moments, but all escaped safely. That event just confirmed for them that the Bible translation work they would do was important, she said.

There were a few more uplifting moments that happened while the translations were taking shape and even some humorous ones that happened when both trip participants and villagers ran into language barriers.

Papua New Guinea is home to many different languages. There are 863 languages spoken in the country, close to 10% of all the languages spoken in the world.

Villagers from Lavege have to speak different languages when they visit other villages and many are multilingual. Children learn multiple languages, including at least one of the country’s three official languages. Still, residents of many small villages can only read in their first language.

While the Wycliffe group learned some of the Mangseng language during their time in Dallas, Jennings said it was sometimes difficult to understand what people were saying because languages were often mixed together in conversation.

“It was kind of hard to pick up when they switched between languages,” Jennings said.

Continue reading "How the Old Testament was brought to Lavege" »

The curse of the tiger (pussycat) economy


THE ECONOMY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA has been growing at an average 8% per year for a decade – supported mostly by increased demand for raw materials and their high market prices.

The immediate future appears likely to experience further growth albeit at a forecast slightly lower growth rate until 2014.

Of late some commentators have found it fitting to brand the PNG economy a ‘tiger economy’; once a brand that the PNG nation could only wish for.

And many citizens might have smiled and, of course, bragged a bit about how we’ve grown and how good our future prospects seem.

PNG has to a certain degree, succeeded in changing perceptions and, apart from traditional partners, now appears to be romancing new, big players in the Asia-Pacific region.

How long this continues is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for certain: there’s virtually almost nothing tangible on the ground to show as evidence for a decade of economic growth.

So there’s a question begging to be answered: Is Papua New Guinea really a tiger economy?

The phrase ‘tiger economy’ is used to define any economy that has continually experienced economic growth through its trade and industry sectors and as well as improvements in living standards of its citizens.

PNG has experienced economic growth but has this been replicated in other sectors such as education, health, infrastructure and manufacturing – the very sectors that enable citizens to improve their living standards?

Isn’t the elementary reason for a country seeking economic growth the ‘improvement of living standards and prosperity’ for its citizens? How could PNG be a tiger economy when its citizens are still living on the edges?

This ‘tiger economy’ branding may invoke images of improving education and health services, a burgeoning manufacturing (downstream processing) sector, and so on.

But these aren’t happening in PNG, although we seem to have succeeded in fooling people outside and even ourselves that they are.

It is highly likely PNG citizens will have developed illusions as to true state of the economy thus allowing the government and its thinkers to take a rather more laid-back approached towards fixing our many problems.

Although it has achieved sustained economic growth for a decade, PNG hasn’t reached that stage yet when it can be called a tiger economy. Some other name, maybe to use Tony Flynn’s ‘pussycat economy’, might fit well.

Remember the Asian economic meltdown; where the Asian tiger economies were brought to their knees. However, they were able to quickly bounce back, due partly to their solid manufacturing, education and health sectors which they had developed during happier days.

If PNG is to experience a meltdown or slowing down due to a downturn in demand for our raw materials, huge debt-servicing expenses and an inequitable distribution of wealth, what sector is there to aid PNG’s speedy recovery?

PNG needs to first build, rebuild and strengthen its appalling self.

Jeff Febi is a writer and poet. You can read more @ or

Effects of outcome-based education in Papua New Guinea

John IromeaJOHN IROMEA | Solomon Star [extracts]

I WOULD LIKE TO RAISE some important aspects of the Outcome-Based Curriculum, or Outcome Based Education (OBE), in Papua New Guinea.

Let me begin, by saying, large numbers of children in developing countries receive little or no formal education.

I would like to share with you some important lessons to consider, especially during this time when we have new changes and new influences that had crept into our education practices.

As someone who spent most of his time working and studying in PNG, I think it is the right time to raise an issue of great concern - the OBE system in PNG. I am sure Solomon Islanders would learn a lot from this OBE lesson in the PNG education system.

PNG has undergone some substantive changes since 1994 to cater for the new OBE education reform.

It has been generally agreed that OBE would accommodate the real needs and aspirations of Papua New Guineans.

Many Papua New Guineans would expect that OBE would bring changes in the curriculum status, identifying the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that all students would achieve at a particular grade in a particular subject.

However, what the government of PNG and its people were expecting did not eventuate. The OBE reform has now come to a deadlock. Results gathered nationwide shows that there is a big problem with the implementation process.

Therefore, the government of PNG has decided to scrap OBE and retain the old system, Objective Base Education.

Generally speaking, the reform, although a good idea, in practice lacked many resources to foster its implementation.

From my own observation and research experience, I would like to mention that much of the policy would need more planning and feasibility groundwork before it can become a reality in school settings.

In addition, the government literally failed to fully capacitate the education system in the light of this reform. Lack of qualified teaching personnel and specialist manpower meant that the students learning experiences in classroom was seriously affected.

It created a lot of problems for the teachers who had direct contact with students in the classroom.

The government of PNG accepted Outcome Based Education without proper preparation in terms of adequate facilities, relevant teaching and learning materials, and properly trained specialist teachers to teach the content of newly introduced subjects.

In Papua New Guinea, the formal education system appears to fail more students than help them.

As such, the number of students enrolled for further studies is still low comparable to other Pacific nations. Even the literacy rate for PNG is, according to recent statistics, one of the lowest in the Asia Pacific region.

Peter O’Neill wants easier visa access to Australia

JEMIMA GARRETT | Radio Australia

PETER O'NEILL HAS ASKED AUSTRALIA to offer easier access to Australian visas for Papua New Guineans.

Mr O'Neill says Australia's policy of requiring a visa prior to departure is reducing the number of Papua New Guineans able to visit Australia.

He's told Radio Australia that Papua New Guineans deserve the option of visas on arrival, to match the arrangements his country offers Australians.

"I think PNG deserves the opportunity to have a similar arrangement to that Australia has with New Zealand," he said.

"New Zealand has never been a colony of Australia, whereas Papua New Guinea has.

"I think Australia ought to learn from such experiences."

Mr O'Neill says the travel restrictions, combined with the international perception of law and order in his country, are impairing links between the countries.

But he says, as more businesses look to PNG for investment opportunities, that is like to change.

"More and more people are starting to come back into the country," he said.

"Papua New Guinea is a very friendly country and I believe that when Australians start to appreciate the uniqueness of Papua New Guinea numbers will increase."

The life & times of Leonard Fong Roka of Panguna


Leonard RokaLEONARD FONG ROKA - fighter, writer, student - is an intriguing figure.

And while I’ve never met him, except through the channel of his contributions to PNG Attitude, I feel I know him well.

I guess that’s one sign of a good writer; to so engage the reader.

Leonard is without equal as a chronicler of the recent history and present affairs of Bougainville, as a narrator of the cultural complexities of the island’s people and as a Bougainville nationalist of quiet manner and occasional fiery prose.

For something like a year now, he has provided our readers with insights into the Autonomous Province, scheduled for a vote on its independence in a few year time, that are not available elsewhere. And we’re very grateful for this.

The writer himself, having served as a youngster with the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and losing his father to the bloody civil war, is now, at age 33, a student at Divine Word University in Madang.

He was born in a village at the epicentre of the Bougainville conflict – Kavarongnau near Panguna, where the copper and gold mine was located – perhaps soon to be rejuvenated, a matter of constant interest to Leonard.

“I believe that one front in the fight to restore freedom and a peaceful nationhood in Bougainville is through my writing,” he says.

“I have stories of my experience during the Bougainvillea conflict. There are traditional tales inherited from our ancestors that needs to be written and preserved. After graduation in 2015, I will live a life of writing about Bougainville politics and culture.”

But one might predict a less sedentary future for the young man; who has shown himself to be activist as well as observer – very much in the style of Martyn Awayang Namorong.

It would be no revelation to even the most inattentive student of Bougainville affairs that many of the people of the Autonomous Province have a suspicion of people from the Papua New Guinea mainland, who they see as outsiders and call ‘redskins’.

“Bougainville needs to control the New Guinean visitations,” he says. “People just don't want them.”

And he goes on to cite examples.

An Eastern highlander, married to a Bougainvillean woman, who won a security tender and was killed by the family. A New Britain man who scolded drunks driving in Arawa who descended on him with a car jack and, upon finding he was not dead, necklaced him with a burning Hilux tyre.

And last year’s story of how Panguna Metals brought in nine New Guineans to teach the locals how to cut metal. “A row broke out,” says Leonard, “and the locals were finalising plans to execute the nine but they found out and took off by foot from Panguna to Morgan then to Wakunai and out of Bougainville.”

Such events worry Leonard a great deal and he is searching for solutions which will settle things down.

The state of domestic politics in Bougainville also concerns him.

“All the people know that the Autonomous Bougainville Government is a step towards nationhood, but when a few literate locals read the Bougainville Constitution they see such phrases as 'strengthen unity of PNG' and so wild gossip and condemnation spread.

“The people draw their own conclusions about why the PNG government has not delivered the promised K500 million to ABG and why the Bougainville Peace Agreement has not being reviewed as required.

“The ABG must be vocal on these issues but many local politicians are keeping their village men in the dark, thinking they are fools.

“The politicians we need in Bougainville are the ones who can calmly mix with the man on the street. In ABG we have many on high heels.”

That final sharp volley is typical of the Roka style. There is always a surprise around the corner. And there are no barriers to telling things as they are.

Leonard Roka graduates in 2014 and in the meantime he deeply misses home. “Panguna is where I spent the whole of my life and departing her is a heartbreak,” he says.

The good news is that during the university vacation about to commence he will be back there.

And he’ll be reporting, analysing and reflecting for PNG Attitude all the while.

We look forward to that.

We can’t be tigers so let’s try to be pussycats


PAPUA NEW GUINEA may look like a Pacific tiger economy from Waigani (see Peter O’Neill’s recent comments); but to most of us it appears as a mangy old tabby cat.

There seems to be no real appreciation that our domestic economic policies are inept. Our leaders are focussed on export markets to the virtual exclusion of locally consumed articles.

We should not be bringing lamb flaps into remote areas of Papua New Guinea. After 37 years of independence, there should be small abattoirs and freezers in the main district towns.

And why is Wau not shipping meat to Lae and Port Moresby?

Every major market should have a livestock area for goats, sheep, pigs and other livestock.

Successful farmers employ people. As a moderately successful farmer, I employ more than 50 men and women on an experimental farm.

More farmers mean more local employment and can stem the flow of people to the squatter settlements of the cities.

Very few of our arable farmers are much more than exploiters of the soil; they exhaust the soil and move on.

As we develop real farmers we will also develop a local job market. If we do not become "tigers" at least we will be fat pussycats.

Pre-independence PNG stamps are still a delight


First election 1964I AM SURE THERE ARE far more experienced people around than me when it comes to Papua New Guinean pre-independence stamps.

I used to collect stamps when I was a kid and recently re-discovered my old album at my old Dad's house.

I found to my delight that I had a few Papua and New Guinea stamps dating from the 1960's.

I am a PNGnThere was one celebrating the first House of Assembly election in 1964, another marking the fifth South Pacific Conference in 1962, and others celebrating industry, wildlife, plus a beautiful one of a smiling Melanesian woman.

I know there were some lovely series produced in the 1960s including birds of paradise, tropical fish, and local carvings. These stamps were highly valued by collectors worldwide.

Tapping rubberHas anyone else got some interesting old stamps from pre-independence PNG?

Stamp my footnote: Rather insultingly, the old Royal Mail stamp album categorises Papua and New Guinea under "New Zealand dependencies and British Islands in the Pacific Ocean".

The shame!

Peter O’Neill pushes to rebuild struggling infrastructure


PETER O'NEILL SAYS PAPUA NEW GUINEA has a golden opportunity to overhaul its crumbling infrastructure and improve services.

The Pacific's tiger economy has been growing at 8% a year for a decade, but more than three-quarters of its population still does not have access to electricity or roads.

Mr O'Neill told Radio Australia that, with a loan from a Chinese bank and several major new resources projects coming on line, the time is right for change.

"I am trying to improve the quality of living standards of our people, where basic services have not reached the bulk of our population," he said.

"Eighty-five percent of our population live in the rural communities, they still lack basic educational services, they still lack decent health care, they lack the transportation to get their goods to market and law and order continues to become a major issue in some of those communities.

"Our government is very much focused on those areas that, we as a government, must make it priority that we deliver those services so that it will improve the standard of living for our people."

Some critics have raised concerned the $2.7 billion loan from China's Exim Bank is too big for an economy which is facing a $230 million deficit and weakening commodity prices.

Mr O'Neill says the loan is just a standby arrangement, and the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project, which is due to deliver first gas in 2014, and other major new resources projects will provide sufficient cash flow to finance the country's planned infrastructure overhaul.

"We expect our economy to double by 2014, [and] our infrastructure in the country is declining to a state where some infrastructures are not able to cope with the demands of our people and our economy," he said.

"So when you look at this what solutions do you have?

"[To] our critics we say this: 'Do you want us to allow our infrastructure to continue declining? Do you want us to allow the economy to slow down and that there is no economic growth in the country? Do you want us to allow the unemployment figures to continue to rise?'

"Because when the economy does not grow the unemployment increases, all the other social sectors will decline, [and] that is not a responsibility this government is prepared to accept."

Mr O'Neill was returned as prime minister after protracted political instability over the country's leadership and a drawn out election process.

He says that costly delay, and an expansion of the government payroll in some provinces, has put PNG's economy under pressure.

But Mr O'Neill says he hopes putting that instability behind them will allow the new government to avoid the pitfalls of previous economic booms.

"I think if we continue to provide good stable leadership at the political level and also improve on the performance of the public service, establishing laws that will protect the revenue stream of our country including, as I said, the Sovereign Wealth Fund, and making sure that we have prudent management of our economy, I think we will be able to overcome many of the mistakes that we have made in the past," he said.

"I strongly believe that this is the golden opportunity for our country to make sure that we correct the mistakes of the past."

Reminiscences of rough times: May River & the Mianmin


Map - the mighty Sepik

Bill Brown, 1968IN AUGUST 1956, THE PEOPLE FROM MAY RIVER, a right-bank tributary of the mighty Sepik River, invited their upstream neighbours, from the Yellow River to a feast.

They neglected to tell their guests that they were to be the main item on the menu and, on a Sepik River sandbank, they slaughtered at least 29 Yellow River people and cooked and ate them.

Patrol Officer George Oakes, 22 was based at Lumi where, in his second year of service, he had been thrown in the deep end, including solo patrols into the Yellow River area.

Oakes, born in New Britain in 1934, had, along with his mother and younger brother, been evacuated to Sydney on the Macdhui in July 1941. His father, the Rev Dan Oakes, died on the Japanese prison ship Montevideo Maru when it was torpedoed in July 1942.

Oakes returned to PNG as a Cadet Patrol Officer in January 1954, and was first assigned to Mendi. Two years later, he was posted to Lumi.

He later wrote:

About the beginning of August 1956 some bodies were found floating in the Sepik River with parts ... cut out. They were identified by their tattoos as coming from a long way up the Sepik River. … About the same time, Kit Kitson, a recruiter... returned to Lumi with the story that some Yellow River people had been killed and eaten by May River people.

Under the headline ‘Head-hunters kill 28 in New Guinea massacre’, the Sydney Morning Herald of 22 August 1956 reported:

One native, with a gaping wound in the forearm staggered into Lumi … He told the Lumi District Officer that the victims were members of a fishing party. … The witnesses who brought the story back to Lumi carried bundles of sweet corn to indicate the numbers of men and women who had died.

Then came another shocking headline in an Australian newspaper, ‘N. Guinea Woman sentenced’:

An Administration post-office employee, Patricia Robertson, was sentenced today to three months' imprisonment … charged with having disclosed the contents of an official radiogram … [she] had sent the Sun a message about the murder of 28 natives in the Lumi area.

It was a bizarre event, a white woman, a teletype operator employed by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, had been sent to gaol, and the town of Port Moresby was horrified.

Robertson was sentenced on Friday 31 August and, because the gaol had no suitable accommodation, spent the weekend in the gaoler’s residence with Inspector George Gough and his wife while “works department carpenters worked around the clock ... erecting accommodation … at Bomana Gaol” near Port Moresby.

Meanwhile George Oakes was recalled from a patrol west of Lumi to accompany Assistant District Officer Frank Jones to the Sepik River, which they reached on 28 August 1956. There they waited for ADO Mert Brightwell to arrive, by boat from Ambunti so they could travel to the crime scene of the mass slaughter.

Jones, in charge of the Lumi Sub-district, during his previous term as ADO Telefomin, had crisscrossed the ranges and valleys in pursuit of the murderers of patrol officers Harris and Szarka and policemen Buritori and Purari, after another notorious incident.

Jones was to lead a dawn raid to capture the last of ringleaders in 1954. Following long-leave and marriage, he took over Lumi at the end of January 1956.

Mert Brightwell became a Cadet Patrol Officer in June 1947 following war service as a RAAF Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. Posted to Ambunti, in 1954, when it was still a Patrol Post in the Angoram Sub-district, he spent months escorting an oil-search expedition to the Sepik headwaters, before assuming control of the newly created Ambunti Sub-district, in June 1956.

He had wide shoulders, a barrel chest and no neck – attributes he credited to his long line of furniture-removalist forebears. But, despite his stature, Mert was light on his feet and the life of the party when he would sashay from behind a screen, straw boater in one hand, cane in the other, tap dancing through his own sung-rendition of Father In His Life Was Ne’er A Quitter.

Far away in Port Moresby a bizarre event was in train. Young Patrol Officer Tony Redwood “was called to headquarters at Konedobu, told [he] had been selected to lead the May River patrol [and] was sent to Police headquarters to select 12 native police from anywhere in the Territory, the best [he] could identify.”

Continue reading "Reminiscences of rough times: May River & the Mianmin" »

Jock McIntyre: kiap, adventurer & formidable companion


Jock McIntyreI FIRST MET JOCK McINTYRE IN 1963 when he was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post in the East Sepik District – a tall good-looking Scotsman from Glasgow with a wealth of experience at university and in Canada, New Zealand and PNG’s Western District.

His soft Scottish brogue and impeccable good manners, combined with a forceful individual nature in the company of men, gave colour and attractiveness to his personality.

Men respected him and women liked the look of him. And, from Jock's point of view, there was perhaps nothing he preferred more than to be surrounded with friends in long-drinking sessions.

John, to use his baptismal name, was a good healthy Presbyterian with the usual sectarian attitudes of the time. But the orange and the green didn’t influence who he'd drink with.

One of his best friends was Fr John O’Toole, resident priest at Dreikikir. A Fenian, even an American like O’Toole, was good enough for Jock if he liked a drink, even if at times both were more than forthright with each other.

At the University of Glasgow, where Jock studied veterinary medicine for a couple of years, he was a little put out that a Fenian beat him in the last round of a boxing contest for the university championship. He did concede, however, that the Fenian was a better boxer than he was.

In the logging camps of Canada and in various jobs in New Zealand he worked and played hard. He liked and respected the women he met and they liked and respected him. A fine figure of a woman could at times overcome the appeal of drinking. But I suspect in Jock’s case, the drinking most often won.

He was a gentle giant in his work and in his dealings with Papua New Guineans – always fair and good humoured.

Jock was one of Kennecott’s early field officers, and I well recall him arriving in Angoram from the Star Mountains, laden with rock samples indicating the presence of vast amounts of copper and other metals in the Mount Fubilan area.

He was a man for all seasons, but more a character of the 19th century who lived in the 20th.

He often said to me that his ideal was to live a full life overseas and then eventually return to mother Scotland to marry and live as a respectable family man and keep holy the Sabbath Day.

Over the years I lost track of Jock, and I often wondered if he had achieved his ambition.

Apparently he did marry. I don’t know if his wife was Scottish, but she owned a pub on Thursday Island. If this is true, in a way, it would have put Jock in a second heaven.

I also heard that he had died. I hope he went out with a good malt in his hand!

I often picture McIntye and O’Toole in the afterlife, for I know Fr O’Toole SVD has moved on, having a convivial drink together in the best Presbyterian and Catholic style.

Peter Johnson, an old friend of Jock’s, has in his possession Jock’s Oxford Dictionary, a small memento that continues to remind us of his life.

David Bailey’s ‘Papua Polaroids’ on show for first time

Art Newspaper (UK)

Highland girl in Goroka, 1974AS A PHOTOGRAPHER for British Vogue, David Bailey found fame capturing the “swinging” London scene of the 1960s.

But, says the vintage photograph dealer Daniel Blau, Bailey’s photography “goes much deeper than what you can see in a glossy magazine”.

This month, Blau’s London gallery will show for the first time Bailey's Papua Polaroids taken when the photographer ventured into the Papua New Guinea highlands in 1974.

The photos were unexpectedly discovered by Blau during a recent visit to Bailey’s studio. Blau believes the market for instant photographs is undervalued.

“They are the most direct proof of the communication between the artist, the sitter and the viewer,” he says.

Prominent PNG businessman accused of gun-running


AN AUSTRALIAN EXPATRIATE based in Papua New Guinea will face a Melbourne court for alleged involvement in a gun smuggling racket in the Pacific.

Prominent PNG businessman Ian Chow was arrested in Sydney by Australian Federal Police early last month.

An AFP spokeswoman confirmed they arrested a 49-year-old male Australian citizen in Chatswood.

"The man was charged with one count of aid, abet, counsel or procure the export of prohibited goods," she said.

PNG has a strict embargo on weapons and ammunition importation due to high levels of violent gun crime and Mr Chow, a licensed sports shooter, is alleged to be involved in the illegal supply of ammunition via Lae Biscuit Company containers sent from Australia.

Mr Chow is the chief executive officer for Lae Biscuit Company and the regional director for the International Practical Shooting Confederation.

He appeared before Parramatta Local Court on 5 August before being extradited to face Melbourne Magistrate's Court on 20 August. His next Melbourne court appearance is on 12 November.

BRA was the root of bloody civil conflict in Bougainville


IN OCTOBER 1992 I WAS A KID roaming around parts of the Kieta and the Bana districts in South Bougainville with Bougainville Revolutionary Army ‘A’ Company bodyguard unit.

The unit was attached to my relative, the late Autonomous Bougainville Government president Joseph Kabui, who at the time was vice president of the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG).

I provided escort duties to my leader and partook in no armed operation except one assault on, as I see it today, an innocent Bougainvillean in Bana.

Despite the fact that my father was killed by the BRA in 1993, I consider myself a Bougainvillean nationalist.

This is because of the awareness I have for the ill treatment of my island of Solomon / Bougainville by colonisation and later by Papua New Guinea, especially as a result of the copper mine on my land of Panguna.

As Panguna people, we sparked off a conflict that saved Bougainville from the brutality of Bougainville Copper Limited, Papua New Guineans and the squatter settlements that grew on our land. (I carry a scar on my face caused by kids at the Arawa’s Morobe Camp in 1988).

But it was not our fight alone. It was a struggle for self-determination that went back to the so-called cargo cult movements like the Hahalis Welfare Society and other groups that sprung up in Bougainville, especially after the onset of the works to construct the mine.

These were groups condemned publicly but silently assisted by Catholic missionaries and a few expatriate cocoa and coconut planters. They demonstrated without violence against ‘rascals’ on our island.

Engaging the barrel of the gun, we did the old timers proud in 1988 by sending the ‘rascals’ packing in fear and pain from our beloved island. Thus did they realize the fact they were ‘rascals’ in Solomon exploiting and suppressing a people they were not related to.

In that fight we created the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. I know this name shocked the Pacific and even our Papua New Guinean rulers, or Ivitu, as we know them in Buin.

But the big question is, why did we turn on each other? This is the question that must be answered today so that we take Bougainville in the right direction.

In 1990, I was a Grade 4 student at Kaperia Community School in Arawa when the first ceasefire was signed by Sam Kauona (BRA) and Leo Nuia (PNG), known as the ‘Butcher of Bougainville’.

All the BRA men were stationed at Panguna. Law and order was observed for a month with the late Francis Ona as the supreme head.

But, as these BRA men got out of this cage, they started calling themselves redeemers of Bougainville and began to harm businesses in Arawa by looting.

Once after school, I encountered two BRA men wearing shoes they ahd not paid for, saying to the cashiers in a store known then as the Haus Bilas: “We have suffered in the bush fighting for you”.

Continue reading "BRA was the root of bloody civil conflict in Bougainville" »

Upheaval in a garden


This is my poetic take on Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest - a time, I reckon, during which His struggle and the resulting pain dwarf that which the Roman guards inflicted on Him - JF

In a distant barren garden,
Slight winds glide in straight lines,
Then in circles like in a circus.

Leaves curling; uncurl while sway,
Rustling and rustle in the wind.

Worms under, burrow louder, and
Crickets rise and creep willy-nilly;
Bleep! Bleep! Then chirping a chirp.

Night’s sun rush to beam a gleam,
And a portrait rays form.
Thoughts flip through pages of a life,
Tallying all achievements in flashes.

No man who was human,
No mammal that’s an animal,
Bother to wander there.

A man, he and himself,
And worms, crickets and leaves.

Breaths burst into steam
And gleam in passing rays.

As perspiration disperses
And gather on the ground
A glittering puddle forms
In which a journey thence previews.

Winds stumble then leaves rumble
Like angry waves breaking pebbles,
Troubled thoughts did more breaking.

Emotions! Seep thru’ gentle eyes.
Blood bleeds!
Night’s eyes shut!
Wind’s hiss recedes!

Who'd have courage to watch?

But when t’was time,
A gentle calm settles over Peter
And presides at the Skull Mountain rituals.

The faceless soldier


A ballad of tribute to the proud but forgotten warriors of the Papuan Infantry Battalion and our carriers who sacrificed their all that we might be a nation – EB

Proud troops of the PIBO land of beauty and the brave
By one shot! All innocence lost
Where strange men bled lay wasted
As morning’s bugle gilded the skies
History’s verdict was proclaimed
Captured in such ragged prose
You of ancient mother’s angel
A lily in period’s pages pressed
Along with elves’ fairies of folklore.

In distant pubs, halls and malls
While reflecting over ale or two
Many mighty deeds regaled aloud
Of knights mice and man alike
In forests fields and everglades
With blood sweat and tears, spent
Scattered, consecrated, they lie
Flooding arid eyes all around
Toasting mate-ship’s truest heroes.

B’what manner of man cannot recall
The way like Moses you led out
Against Pharaoh’s fiery wrath
How you slipped the devils noose
That fateful night by Oivi’s Creek
Or rising to courage under line of fire
Setting ablaze both man and spirit
Still unfazed by hordes of sight unseen
Who can ever forget you now!
Tell us, who can ever forget you!

O proud Orokaiva Warrior, plumed
Like a spear to the skies you stand
In your hands both life and death
When jungle claimed you as its own
Foes whispered you- Green Shadow!
Sacred lightning, blurred darkness
Old men forget, but you not, how
Ridge by ridge and creek by creek
Carved out your name forever, by
History’s hand once writ cannot.

On Calvary’s way you have trod
Climbed your own Mount of Olives
Kokoda Isurava Deniki and Buna
Thru Gona’s kunai flats, Golgotha!
As sunset offered deaths pale sting
You stood, and smiled at its squint
As only an Orokolo Warrior would
And together as destiny’s brothers
Filled Kumusi with Horri’s tears.

Like the gushing of the Mambare
Your innocent life poured out
Daring angels to come measure
For a cause not your own-
If only the rocks would sing!
Or wail like the thrashing Eora!
A ragged and bloody tune be
An ode to ultimate sacrifice
A requiem of love supreme.

Continue reading "The faceless soldier" »

Evolutionary tongue

Lapieh Landu at the Crocodile Prize awardsLAPIEH LANDU

This poem emphasises the slow evolution of our languages, which are changing over time and we don’t even know it. It took a good but painful conversation with an old man for me to realise how bad my Pidgin was. That awkward dialogue inspired this piece - LL

A simple hello, a simple goodbye
Can mean today, tomorrow or even goodnight
It changes, it alters. It’s made in its own
To mend and meddle when all is in plight

From the Islands to the Highlands
They echo, a totally different side
With origins unknown, they resonate
Through lands far and wide

An identity of pride they’ve become
That diverge us all from each other
So intricate, so imitable, so rare
Why compromise, why even bother?

Authenticated by culture and tradition
Our forte have become obsolete
This medium of communication existing
Will soon be swept under our feet

Traded for a foreign surge of idea
Old and important norms bastardised
Taken, perished and thrown
Measured, relinquished and seized

Soon there will be no more
But the bare mix of alien idea
Our children will barely know
And now that has become our fear

Nubung! Lubukae! Marum!
Goodnight! Goodnight! Goodnight!
The metamorphosis of our culture
Now compromised in this modern fight

Bougainville confident PNG will give promised funding

Radio New Zealand International

THE PRESIDENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE of Bougainville, John Momis, says his administration and the national government need to collaborate to properly implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Mr Momis has been petitioned by veterans of the civil war and accepts that parts of the agreement are not in place.

He said there is a need for a new approach and is confident of a lot of support from prime minister Peter O’Neill with whom he has been meeting this week.

Mr Momis said a key factor has been Port Moresby’s failure to provide the constitutionally allowed funding.

Late yesterday prime minister Peter O’Neill assured the people of Bougainville that his administration is ready to help the autonomous provincial government achieves its development aims over the next five years with grants totaling $US250 million.

To back up his words PNG gave the Bougainville government a cheque for K100 million.

Mr O’Neill says it will help Bougainville grow its economy so it can successfully implement the autonomous arrangements entered into under the Peace Agreement.

Clan leaders in Sydney to reclaim their stolen legacy

The Age

CLAN LEADERS FROM PAPUA NEW GUINEA’s Kerewo clan are to discover what an Australian adventurer stole from their people almost a century ago.

Kenneth Korokai and Andrew Dieri have travelled to the Australian Museum in Sydney to inspect photos and cultural items that could include the remains of their ancestors.

The University of Southern Queensland's Professor Bryce Barker said adventurer and photographer Frank Hurley took the items from the remote Kikori River Delta in 1921.

''We don't know what Frank Hurley collected,'' Professor Barker said. ''He didn't ask permission, he just stole stuff.

''The Australian governor didn't let him come back into PNG because he upset so many people.''

Mr Dieri said many stolen artefacts had a history that was not passed on with them.

''How can these two things not go together?'' he said.

ExxonMobil fails to find gas at Trapia-1 in PNG

ROSS KELLY | Market Watch

PLANS FOR A POSSIBLE EXPANSION of ExxonMobil Corp's $15.7 billion PNG LNG project in Papua New Guinea suffered a slight setback after an exploration well failed to discover any natural gas.

The Trapia-1 well did not intersect any prospective reservoir intervals before reaching its total depth of 3,800 meters, the US company's joint venture partner Oil Search Ltd said in a statement this afternoon.

Hopes that the partners will find enough natural gas to expand the project to three LNG production units from the two currently under construction were recently buoyed by a large gas discovery at the P'nyang prospect.

The venture is also exploring for more gas at the Hides prospect and analysts remain optimistic that a third production unit, or train, will eventually be constructed.

In a note Tuesday, Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Luke Smith said the Trapia-1 well was high risk and the market's focus is on the Hides development well as that field has the potential to contain more than 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources--enough to support at least a third train.

A publishing opportunity for Papua New Guinean writers


PNG Resources magazineIN LAST YEAR’S WASH-UP of the Crocodile Prize Awards, I spent some time sending off articles about it to some Australian journals and magazines that I thought might be interested in Papua New Guinean literature.

My success was relatively modest but I thought it might be worthwhile doing the same thing again this year.

In scanning around for likely outlets I noticed that the most recent edition of PNG Resources magazine had run a review of Jonathon Ritchie’s book, Ebia Olewale: A Life of Service published by UPNG Press in a new section of the magazine called ‘Worth Reading’.

The magazine is produced in Australia’s mining hub in Perth and has been around since 1979.  It gets out to many of the resource companies operating in Papua New Guinea.  I personally find it an excellent way of keeping up with what’s going on in Papua New Guinea resource development and a useful source for potential consultancy work.

Since the Crocodile Prize received very generous support from the resources sector, particularly through Ok Tedi Mining Limited and the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mining and Petroleum, I thought it was worth a try and sent off a couple of articles, one about the prize and the other about Sil Bolkin’s new book, The Flight of Galkope.

I was pleasantly surprised to get a positive response from Kristy Moroney, the new managing editor at Energy Publications.

To quote Kristy:  “I have a new section at the back of the magazine where I would like to feature books from and about PNG.  Any authors that need a plug – please send their details my way.  The section is only new and I hope to grow it.

On another note, if you have essays or articles written by local people on local issues relatable to mining resources – I’d love to see them with a view for publication.

I can’t offer any money at this stage, but publication for a new author can be its own reward”.

Kristy’s modest offer looks like one of those things that could lead to more opportunities for Papua New Guinea writers and I would urge anyone interested to give it a try.

Contact Kristy at [email protected] if you have something worth publishing.

Think big but start small is a well-known but apt cliché for writers.

Tales not for the squeamish. The giant rat of Mosbi


AFICIONADOS OF CONAN DOYLE may have heard of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, "a story for which the world is not yet prepared."

But I am privileged to tell you today of the Giant Rat of Mosbi. So get prepared….

I saw the Giant Rat face-to-face, and although I met him mano-a-mano and was petrified, I stood my ground, and lived to survive.

The tale begins thus...

I had been living with Rose, my lovely Simbu wife for two years. Now Mosbi is pretty hot, so you don't wear many clothes whilst sleeping. In fact none.

Well we had gone to sleep one hot Mosbi night and were dreaming dreams around midnight (which shall not be told for sake of the children) when I was awoken by a scratching on my feet.

"Rose, stop it!" But she did not respond and the scratching continued.

I eventually realised that this was something else and jumped up out of the bed and peered down to where my underpants would normally have been.

A giant rat squeaked at me from my bedclothes, and ran out the door.

"Rose, Rose - we have a problem!"

So my better half was roused from slumber.

She surveyed the situation, saw two gleaming red eyes in the corner of the bedroom and said, "It's a big rat!"'

And so it was. I'd often wondered why there was a square metre hole cut in the floor of my kitchen, where I choose to put the fridge, and realised it was a perfect rat flap. The bugger had crawled up in the night and had the temerity to enter our bedroom.

I turned the light on, and saw it cornered. It was the size of a kitten and its gleaming red eyes stared out at me and offered a challenge. "Catch me if you can!"

And so ensued the Great Rat Race.

Rose - "There are no rats in my house!"

Me - "Get the bugger!"

It led us a merry dance. Around the furniture, into the kitchen, around about the lounge room, even across the walls, and eventually into the toilet, where I slammed the door shut, knowing it had no way out.

I looked at Rose. We were both completely naked, but had no time to lose.

"Grab the broom, I'll get a stick" and so we did - instinct being more important than manners. We rushed into the toilet, slammed the door shut behind us and turned to face the foe.

Rose - "there are no rats in my house!"

Me - "Get the bugger!"

But the rat had other ideas. It ran round and round the skirting boards at supersonic speed, defying all attempts to corner it. We chased it in the confines of the toilet, bits a'flapping.

The things you see when you don’t have a camera!

After about five minutes Rose jammed her broom into the corner and trapped the beast. One swift blow from my stick and he has a late rat. Dead, defunct, pinis.

We were both exhausted, but looked at each other and burst out laughing.

The Giant Rat of Mosbi was vanquished! And we were naked at midnight, sweating profusely and laughing at each other in the toilet!


Self-centred exploitation is leading to the Earth's peril


THE ENVIRONMENT - LANDFORMS, CLIMATES, PLANT COVER AND WILDLIFE - sustains itself and in due course shapes the behavioural patterns of humans and their lives. Thus, humanity adapts into the environmental dictates of its environs.

But this natural process of a ‘preservation and benefit’ eco-system, as science refers to it, does not necessarily fit neatly with the selfish will of modernization.

Contemporary man is gobbling the Earth’s resources to make his individualistic consumerist life grow in power and prestige.

In the process, he suppresses and exploits the environment and his fellow humans are left stranded to suffer the consequences if they cannot fight or get involved.

Panguna in Bougainville was a classical development project that suppressed and exploited the Solomon Island people of Bougainville to the benefit of the Papua New Guineans who control the island without any respect of the cultural genocide they executed on marginalized people.

Hope came about in 1988 when locals began an armed resistance that uprooted the Papua New Guineans from the island. The struggle is still intact as the islanders still pursue their self-determination from external control.

In his rush for resources, man causes an imbalance in the ecological cycle by pursuing ever soaring consumption rates without replenishing what he extracts. He crosses borders with his technologies for more resources thus also leaving the future in peril.

People with insight and easy access to modern ways, especially education, reap the benefits readily whilst the disadvantaged people are lost into poverty and a slow death.

This is because modernity is selfish. But a few can adapt or have the guts to adopt the new ideologies or technologies.

The western backed systems want the Third World to leap from stone-age to computer-age, as Papua New Guinea is, leaving most citizens lost without a plot or concrete foundation to absorb later shocks when resource exploitation is complete and the investor walks proudly away.

His advancement may bring positive changes to some humans but not to the environment. One result is that we live longer and produce more. In the process, we require more resources to survive. So we reach out to grab more natural resources, as China is doing to catch up with the industrialized world.

Modern man reaches out to unknown lands and people. He divides the land and people of common ethnicity or nation without their consent or awareness and suppresses and exploits them for the good of his country of origin.

Within the basket of colonization, the new westernized man slowly realizes the wrong. So resentment turns into a conflict of nationalism, as in the Bougainville conflict where Bougainvilleans realized they were being exploited for the good of foreigners.

War breaks out; people suffer and economic and political status drops.

A Melanesian view of Aussie values – who exactly are you?


IT IS OF WORTHWHILE HISTORICAL INTEREST that whilst ‘mateship’ and giving someone a ‘fair go’ appear worthy exhortations, one can readily understand and appreciate the sociological processes by which these have now come to be exalted by a 21st century Prime Minister like John Howard as national values for Australia.

We don’t have to reach too far back to find the hand of history at work among the psyche of seaborne convicts who needed to extol the virtues of “mateship” (shipmates) and “fair go” as being necessary survival catch-cries in over-crowded and plague ridden hulls and decks, where one could have killed for a piece of dried bread or a sip of rancid water.

The mariner’s catch-cries borne out of abject tyranny, constantly staring at the face of death, have been deeply seared into the collective conscience of a nation, and as such, become as it were, the obligatory rite of passage for a post-cold war modern state.

They have been galvanized into iconic symbols of mortal struggle against all manners of natural elements and artificial odds, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit in a new land. Howard seized upon this experience of recent history, and under its peaceful afterglow, he sought to hue out of it a preamble, and rallying point, for a post Nine Eleven Australia.

In what has suddenly become the age of terrorism, with the emergence of new super powers in the region, as prime minister of an incongruously European enclave in the Pacific, Howard saw himself as the first chief executive in Australian politics to inaugurate some sort of mission statement that would become the necessary turbo-charge to propel his country forward, and to cement his place in Australian political folklore.

He sought meaning and intellectual solace within the nation’s brief life experience to give utterance to some form of common purpose and direction to the occurrence of his people on a dry, arid and somewhat alien continent.

He attempted to weave history seamlessly into the challenges facing a modern state, to proclaim the dawning of a new era for a modern Australia, based on what he claimed to be homogeneous values. He gleaned from history the collective experiences that would hold Australians to a new horizon, a new prism, from which to view the past, draw strength from it, to face the ever uncertain future with confidence.

How fitting and ingenious it was for Howard, who was prime minister for well over a decade, to deliberately reach back into the dark recesses of his country’s brief history and craft out of it some timeless values that, like a deceased persons last will and testament, or a futuristic software program, would ensure even after he had long departed the corridors of power, he still ruled the country in the legacy of the values he laid. In a sense, this may be deemed by some as an attempt by Howard at ultimate political immortality.

Howard’s sudden burst of statesmanship would also be the culmination of several other concerns playing at the back of his mind, chief among these may have been the quest to find something to hold together a people made more disparate by years of pursuing a policy of multiculturalism, a coterie of scattered peoples with no common cause or common back ground. In his many years in Parliament, he must have seen the need for the creation of a homogenous value system to unite every Australian.

There is no greater contradiction, no greater paradox, no greater tragedy than being prime minister of a people who do not believe in anything, who lack any common cause for cohesion and direction, just merely existing out of sheer necessity and by the cold force of statute law, in an otherwise economically prosperous land mass.

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On PNG coffee, commodities & community engagement

Assoc Prof Paige WestREBECCA GARVOILLE interviewed Paige West [pictured], Associate Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University in the US, to discuss her new book, From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (2012, Duke University Press. Here are some extracts….

RG: What is the theme of your new book?

PW: One theme, and a theme that I have also explored in other work, is the connection between places that are often imagined as far from modernity to places that are imagined as the center of industry and commerce.

Coffee is a commodity that has travelled around the world for literally thousands of years. And it’s a commodity that we tend to associate with a rather urban lifestyle. You know, you go a café in Hamburg, you go to a café in New York City, you go to a café in Sydney, and you have a cup of coffee—it’s something that we associate with a very particular kind of lifestyle.

Coffee and its circulation are one of the things that have for hundreds of years tied Papua New Guinea, a place that is almost always configured as stuck in the past or as the last bastion of a very different kind of lifestyle, to a modern global economic system. So one of the themes of the book is the way in which commodities tie seemingly out-of-the-way places and seemingly less-than-developed people to very urban areas and to the industrialized world.

Another theme of the book is seemingly “ethical” consumption. I ask what it means to try and create a kind of progressive politics around consumption and whether that politics is productive for people who are growing coffee and whether it’s productive for the people who are assuming that they’re enacting ethical, political choices through the act of buying.

With a lot of certified coffee, with a lot of the fair-trade or organic coffee, with a lot of this notion of ethical consumption— the people in the coffee industry who are most often discursively constructed by advertising, marketing, and other forms of representation are growers. And there are a lot of growers in the coffee industry, and they’re a very important part of the industry.

But one of the things I do in the book is expand our notion of who’s bringing coffee from Papua New Guinea to places like Hamburg, Sydney, and New York City. So I look at the lives of growers, of people who process the coffee, of the people who work for shipping companies, of the people who import coffee, of the people who market coffee, and I really try to flesh out the global commodity chain for coffee so that the simple portrayal of poor rural growers and wealthy western consumers gets a little more muddy for people.

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Luk Save Art Show to hold 10th anniversary exhibition

Rainbow Man by Bala Moumou (acrylic on canvas)22 & 23 September at Crowne Plaza Hotel Ballrooms, Port Moresby

THE LUK SAVE ART TEAM is pleased to announce that its 10th Anniversary Exhibition will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby and will be for the first time open to the general public.

Founded in 2003 at the Royal Papua Yacht Club, Luk Save has evolved into the largest celebration of contemporary art in Papua New Guinea. 

It proudly displays work from artists throughout PNG, of all ages, training and backgrounds and is, for many, their primary experience of a formal exhibition.

Built on an ethos of inclusion our international art ‘rock-stars’ stand alongside self-taught talent.  The only rules are that it must be original work, can not have been exhibited elsewhere and be current, that is, created in the year between shows.

The quality of the artwork presented has increased dramatically over the history of the event with many artists stretching boundaries and concepts to deliver their most inspirational pieces for the exhibition. 

The incentive to improve and create their best was recognised by NASFUND in 2010 with the addition of the NASFUND Art Award for ‘Best in Show’. 

Chosen by a panel that draws on academic, artistic and curator experience from Australia and New Zealand, it is a significant prize and has undoubtedly been instrumental in the strengthening of quality presented in the exhibition.

Alongside the show, the Luk Save team produce The Catalogue.  This has become a much sort after collectors item with copies being held by the National Library of Australia and the Pratt Institute of Art in New York.

Created with the backing and support of Deloitte, it is the sole record of the journey of contemporary art in Papua New Guinea over the past 10 years and is a joyous celebration of the art displayed.

The 10th Anniversary Exhibition draws together over 230 artworks from drawings and paintings through sculpture, pottery and photography from across the country.  All work presented is available for sale and this is the primary income generating event for the art community each year.  In the past 9 years, Luk Save has paid over K1.8 million direct to artists.

Saturday 22 September:  7pm – Opening Night Cocktail Party, ticket only access. Tickets available from Art Stret Gallery, Steamships Hardware Compound, Waigani.  K250 includes a copy of the Luk Save Collection Catalogue, food and drinks

Sunday 23 September:  9am – Open Day, free of charge all day

True confessions: the ugly side of Australia in PNG


To the HighlandsTo the Highlands’ by Jon Doust, Freemantle Press, 2012

WHEN I LEFT SCHOOL, I got a job with the National Bank.  As I recall, I loathed every stultifying minute of the 18 months I was there.

When I told the branch manager I’d accepted a job as a cadet patrol officer in Papua New Guinea he frowned and said, “Are you sure you want to do that?  With the bank you could be a branch manager in 20 years.”  I’ve always considered that as the moment I escaped.

I suppose if I hadn’t got the job as a kiap, I might have wound up in Papua New Guinea as a bank johnny.  This book makes me very glad that I didn’t.

Remember the bank johnnies?  If this book is to be believed they came to PNG for two reasons, sex and booze.

Their stints were only short, usually two years, and then they were back home again.  For the young blokes, and some girls too, it was a chance for an unfettered and exotic fling sowing wild oats before settling back into the oblivion of suburbia, marriage, mortgage, kids and all that sort of thing.

This is not a pleasant book - with its graphic grubbiness and language - but it is realistic.  Although it is fiction, it also has an autobiographical feel about it and follows from an earlier book about misspent school days.

I suppose that if one is to expose a dissolute youth, fiction might be an attractive option.  Then again, maybe it’s all made up.

It’s puzzling, however, why the author uses a fictitious setting called “the islands” when it is obviously Port Moresby and Goroka that he describes. 

In fact, I could be tempted to make a stab at the real name of his “Colonial Bank of Australia”.  Even a thinly disguised Meg Taylor has a part.

The Michael Somare character is totally unbelievable.  Maybe the publisher’s lawyers advised caution.

The book is written in the style of a 1970s men’s magazine but without the interspersed coy nude “studies”.  You know - lurid detail and smart arse repartee. There’s also a touch of Wake in Fright in there too.

The author freely admits to having been a bank johnny and says the book was hard to write.  In this sense I guess he deserves some credit.

The casual and venal attitude of many Australian men to local girls and women during colonial times was appalling.  I’m not sure it needs to be exposed now, but here it is.  It certainly knocks the wind out of those who believe Australia did a good job in PNG.

For many men who were in PNG, the book will strike a raw nerve, and rightly so.  For others it will simply induce a shrug and a smirk. 

The author suggests that somehow those who didn’t engage in gin jockeying were racists, which is an interesting take on morality.

Of course many Australian women found Papua New Guinean men attractive too, but that has always been couched in terms of self-righteousness and anti-racism. 

Drusilla Modjeska’s recent book, The Mountain, explores this theme.  And, of course, many Papua New Guinean men still treat their women and girls in the same way.

The title of the book is a play on Randolph Stow’s considerably superior novel of 1958 To the Islands.  What the connotation is, I’m not sure.

As I’ve hinted, I didn’t especially enjoy the book but it is definitely worth reading.

Tokee, muran, sinek, snake! All bloody 12 foot of it!


Papuan Black SnakeI DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but growing up in Australia I have a great respect for snakes, as a kid having come across red-bellies, blacks and pythons in the bush just a few dozen metres from my back yard.

I survived.

Just give them a wide berth. Don't annoy them and they won't annoy you.

But in Mosbi, I had a different experience. There was a 12 foot Papuan Black in my back yard.

"Muran! Daddy Peter, muran!" 12 year-old Margaret shouted as I was sitting on the steps of my A3 house one afternoon.

What the hell's a muran? I was soon to find out.

A piece of long black rope appeared in the grass in front of me and wound it's way around the house and across the garden.

Young Margaret jumped up on the balcony behind me. "It's a snake!" Her English lessons doing her good service at last.

And it was. A bloody great 12 foot long Papuan Black winding its way lazily around my back garden.

I knew these were dangerous, being a type of Taipan, and I quickly jumped inside the house and closed the back door.

But young Margaret was my conscience. She said, "Daddy Peter, he might eat the neighbours!"

So I hurtled out the door, grabbed a garden fork and started shouting to the neighbours. "Muran, Muran, yu must find im, killim im he di long pinis!"

And so started the Great Snake Race at Fort Banner in 2007. We chased him down the road, all the while me shouting.

And people joined me, armed with sticks, rakes, bus knives and axes. We chased him all the way down to the guard post, where there was a drain leading up to the Olympic Village. He disappeared.

We screamed and yelled, but the drain was too long and dark, and there was no sign of snake.

So we went home exhausted, and had a beer or two to recuperate.

I think the giant snake is still up there near Tokorara somewhere, maybe terrorising the good local people.

I just hope he meets the spirit of my late great pig Mangi Mosbi, who was a dab hand at dealing with snakes.

Compressed energy: the 2012 Crocodile Prize events


I COULDN’T GET A FLIGHT OUT of Hervey Bay on the day before the first annual general meeting of the Papua New Guinea Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers and the Crocodile Prize events, so I opted to fly up on the same day.  Not a good move.

Getting up at 4.30am, sitting on two aeroplanes for several hours, lobbing into customs at the back end of the almost simultaneously arriving Virgin, Airlines PNG, Qantas, Air Niugini flights from Australia and then racing out to the Australian High Commission for 3pm hoping to be relatively organised and coherent at my age is a physical and mental impossibility.

Sitting there frantically searching for the list of email votes for the society election, which I found the following day exactly where I had packed it, and banging the right hand pad on my laptop wondering why nothing would work, I thanked my lucky stars that Amanda Donigi, Jimmy Drekore and Ruth Moiam were there to smooth it all over.

Amanda is super cool and takes everything in her stride with effortless panache.  Jimmy is a bundle of energy exuding charisma every which way; if you could bottle it you’d make a fortune.  And for an ex-kiap used to winging it, Ruth is so organised it positively scares me.

At the end of the afternoon it was absolutely gratifying to see them win the respective president, vice president and secretary positions in the Society.  Along with Gina Samar, a professional accountant who won the treasurer’s position, the society has elected itself a great team.

And a team they are, working together seamlessly with help from the enthusiastic committee of Steve Ilave, Regina Dorum, David Kitchnoge and David Gonol the Society is off to a great start.

It is now time for Keith and I, as well as those other people in Australia who helped us, to step back and let the new executive and committee get on with planning the 2013 events.  I’ve no doubt that they will do it well.

After several red wines and a good night’s sleep, I handled the writer’s forum and the awards ceremony the next day a lot better.  Indeed, I mostly sat in the background and listened to the fascinating speakers.

At the forum I was impressed by the intelligent and jittery presentation by Martyn Namorong.  Between the coughs and the constant waving of his ever-present iPad (I wonder if he sleeps with it turned on), I listened to him talking about overcoming fear and the power of social media.  Don’t be fooled by Martyn’s retreat to his home province; we’ll hear a lot more from him.

Emmanuel Narakobi told us how he’d gone into social media hoping to make money and had got caught up in the “power to make social change”.  Both he and Martyn made us aware that social media is a new literary genre in Papua New Guinea which has the potential to do great good.

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Balance sheet off track against every development goal


Papua New Guinea Annual Program Performance Report, 2011

THE MOST PRESSING DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGE for Papua New Guinea continues to be its ability to translate the economy’s narrowly based growth into improved living standards for all Papua New Guineans.

While the country has experienced high levels of economic growth over the last decade, this has not translated into equitable allocation of resources, nor commensurate service delivery and development outcomes for communities across the country.

Papua New Guinea is off track against all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and its health and education indicators are the worst in the Pacific. Life expectancy at birth has increased from 56 years in 1992 to 62 years in 2010.

However, in 2011 Papua New Guinea was ranked  153 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index; placing it well below the East Asia and Pacific regional average.

Of particular concern is the slowing of Papua New Guinea’s Human Development Index growth over the past 15 years, with the country now trending on the same path as low human development.

Income poverty in Papua New Guinea is difficult to measure, and there are conflicting sources of information. A recent MDG tracking report placed the proportion of Papua New Guineans living below the Basic Needs Poverty Line at an estimated 28% in 2009, down from 30% in 1996.

This compares with the World Bank’s National Household Survey of 1996, which estimated that overall 37.5% of Papua New Guineans lived in poverty. Rural poverty was estimated to be almost double that of urban areas (41.3% compared to 16.1%, with extreme poverty in rural areas estimated at 18%.

A National Household Income and Expenditure Survey was undertaken in 2011 and will shortly provide an up-to-date estimate of poverty levels throughout Papua New Guinea.

While poverty is not solely a rural-urban issue—there is a pronounced variation of poverty throughout the country—isolation, low levels of cash incomes and poor access to services and markets continue to be characteristics of poor areas.

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Aussie & Kiwi anaesthetists give medical help to PNG

Radio New Zealand International

AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND ANAESTHETISTS are volunteering their time in Papua New Guinea over the next fortnight to provide much-needed surgery for local children.

The group from the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists is visiting Port Moresby and Mount Hagen to operate on patients and teach PNG doctors about advanced paediatric surgery.

PNG has only 15 trained anaesthetists to service a population of over 7 million.

New Zealand, in comparison, has about 700 anaesthetists for its much smaller population.

Dr Michael Cooper, who is leading the mission, said the lack of anaesthetists in PNG is due to limited funding at the tertiary level.

“The local communities value their doctors enormously, they’re very respected member of the community and I think funding is probably the main issue, Dr Cooper said.

“Tertiary education is very expensive in a developing country with very limited resources, I think they have plenty of bright young people wanting to do medicine but it’s actually hard to get into those limited number of spaces.”

Re-opening Panguna must follow dictates of the people


THE PEOPLE OF PANGUNA – site of the now ghost copper and gold mine, no more than a huge hole in the ground -  have seen environmental carnage and the influx of aliens.

Today they know that the extraction of the mineral ore on their land was for the good of Papua New Guinea and not Bougainville.

They know a Panguna kina was spent on the Highlands Highway construction; a Panguna kina was there in the founding of Air Niugini; a Panguna kina was built into Waigani parliament house….

To them, Papua New Guinea was made by the Panguna mine and the many Bougainville cocoa and copra plantations.

To the Panguna people, the making of Papua New Guinea, from the basic economics to politics, was all Bougainville design and financing.

This is the insight that the uneducated or illiterate majority of Panguna landowners are told day-in, day-out.

Since the days of the crisis and civil war to the dawn of the peace process, this is the information they are nurtured on.

One hears these stories in the family home, after church services and, worst of all, in the boozing where you hear all the Panguna curses.

For the majority of the static, illiterate Bougainvilleans, the Bougainville crisis opened their realization of the fact that they are Solomon Islanders.

At the peak of the Australia-backed PNG blockade of their island, they had a brother who gave them little ammunition and medicine. His islands were close to the coasts of Buin and Kieta and could be seen from the high mountains.

The political discourse of the conflict-days was anti-PNG. Churchmen preached gospels loaded with sentiments of anti-PNGism. Musicians of Bougainville sing the negativity created by the New Guineans and BCL (the illiterate so love their artists and their songs).

At every traditional feasting night there are anti-PNG or BCL folksongs and poetic lamentation songs at funerals for any post-conflict death.

For all, every bad thing happening is attributed to these past deeds.

For the majority of Bougainvilleans and the Panguna people, this is their culture.

Thus, when one looks at the re-opening of the Panguna mine, one has to look at the people of the area and their landowners’ body to get a clear picture of what our hope is for re-opening the mine.

The noted trend in approaching the subject today is that the non-landowners dictated the wishes of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Autonomous Bougainville Government did not consider retributive justice for all the bad things that happened on Bougainville because of the mining.

There are many injustices in Bougainville that ought to be addressed before talking about mining.

Firstly, the majority of the Panguna population consists of the illiterate or half-literate men and women (high school failures, ex-BCL labourers and other ordinaries). But in this group is a new culture alongside the wealth of guns.

One finds the culture of entrepreneurship is growing. This unit of people hosts gold panners, gold buyers, scrap metal dealers, victims to scrap metal dealing conman, retail outlet operators and investors in cocoa planting who buy land in the coastal areas such as Wakunai and Tinputz.

Before the Bougainville conflict, these people were nobodies in their own land and in 1988-89 the late Francis Ona ran to them for support and got what he wanted readily.

He did not even establish a political manifesto to execute the secessionist struggle.

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Fighting the scourge of babies born with HIV/AIDS


Nurse with a new born baby, Mingende Hospital (Anna Awasa)IT’S MORNING AT MINGENDE RURAL HOSPITAL in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. In a light, airy room halfway down the corridor two women have just given birth.

Both mothers are well, their babies plump, pink, wrinkled; one asleep, the other nuzzling at his mother’s breast, already hungry.

Mingende is run by the National Catholic Health Services – Papua New Guinea. They run nearly a third of all the health services in the country.

The four nurses on duty in this labour ward have stitched, set up drips, sterilised, weighed, cleaned up blood, administered antibiotics, painkillers, vaccines, checked temperatures, and urged a mother to “Push! Push strong! Bebi blong yu bai kam klostu!” (Push! Keep pushing! Your baby is nearly here!).

And this is all before most people have breakfast.

Far from the bustle of the delivery room, another mother sits with her nine-month old daughter. They were admitted to the hospital’s paediatric ward a few days before.

The baby’s cry is weak and from head to toe she is covered with abscesses—in some places her skin has come completely away and her flesh is raw and exposed. Her mother finds it difficult to hold her, comfort her. The mother’s eyes are anxious. She blinks away tears.

In the next few minutes the baby will undergo a dry blood spot test to check if she has HIV.

Sister Eileen Alalo is the Coordinator of Mingende Hospital’s Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) service.

“The baby has severe diarrhoea, and a number of other complications. She isn’t responding to any of the antibiotics she was given. And the nurses noticed that her mother was also presenting with a couple of infections,” she says.

“They’ve already done the voluntary counselling with the mother, and a test, and the results came back positive. It will take two weeks before we know the baby’s status, but in the meantime we’re going to start them both on antiretroviral therapy.”

The baby has a 50-50 chance of surviving. The hospital has had 11 similar referral cases since 2006. Out of the 11, eight babies are well and on treatment. Had their mothers tested for HIV in pregnancy and received preventative treatment, the babies could well have escaped infection.

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Esso Highlands commences LNG drilling at Hides

Comtex News Network

ESSO HIGHLANDS LIMITED has commenced drilling operations of the PNG LNG project at the Hides natural gas field in the Southern Highlands Province.

The drill wells will produce approximately 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over the life of the project.

"The PNG LNG Project is unique and important for Papua New Guinea. The start of our drilling program is a key step in meeting our goal of first LNG deliveries in 2014," said drilling manager Jim McDermott.

A Nabors Rig 702 is being used to drill the initial well. The rig has been designed to withstand earthquakes and includes containment equipment and facilities to protect the environment.

A second rig to be used in the PNG LNG Project drilling program has arrived in PNG and is currently being transported to the Hides area.

"We have an exceptional team, including Papua New Guinean drilling engineers who recently returned from Melbourne where they spent a year-and-a-half learning about ExxonMobil's drilling operations. They are now putting their training into practice," said Mr. McDermott.

PNG celebrates 37th anniversary of independence

Global Travel Industry News

PNG flag rendered as badgeAS THE SUN SET on the afternoon of 15 September 1975 the Australian flag came down for the last time from Hubert Murray Stadium, in Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby.

Almost 70 years of Australian governance was coming to an end. The next day, a different flag, black and red with a golden bird of paradise rose on Independence Hill, near a newly established Parliament House.

In contrast to other recently formed independent states in the world, the change in authority in Papua New Guinea was marked not by bloodshed but by celebration.

Sir John Guise, the first Governor General said at the flag lowering ceremony ‘It is important the people of Papua New Guinea and the rest of the world realise the spirit in which we are lowering the flag of our colonisers. We are lowering the flag, not tearing it down.’

As a proud member of the commonwealth, PNG remained within the realm of the Queen, and as part of the Royal Jubilee celebrations Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Papua New Guinea in November this year.

The spectacular natural beauty and cultural diversity of the world’s second largest island happily welcomes the increasing influx of tourists.

Visitors come to admire the stunning scenery and enjoy some of the best bird-watching in the world. Papua New Guinea is home to the glorious birds of paradise and over 750 various species.

It is also renowned for superb trekking on the famous Kokoda and Black Cat trails and diving the coral reefs or seeking out WW2 wrecks.

An expansion in both international and domestic aviation capacity driven in part by economic activity is ensuring easier access.

The national carrier, Air Niugini has regular services from Singapore, Hong Kong, and other Asian and Australasian hubs, making this stunning country a fine destination for the traveller.

O’Neill: Scooping a K6 billion loan for a K500 million deficit

SAMUEL ROTH | Foreign Affairs Commentary

THE UNITED STATES GOES TO THE POLLS in November when President Obama’s leadership will be challenged by Republican Mitt Romney. Will the non-white president survive his second term?

What stands out in every American’s mind is the economy, the pivotal issue in this year’s election. Should he lose this election in a multiracial society, Obama’s only legacy may be that he was the first black president.

The US federal government yesterday bought debt and pumped in more money to boost the economy. And this week the Obama administration did well with positive opinion poll results. But there is weak growth in manufacturing and jobs’ growth missed expectations.

In Papua New Guinea, the K500 million budget deficit in the O’Neill-Dion government gives the new prime minister a taste of time. A good number of people have commented critically about why a deficit of that magnitude. Some have blamed it on commodity prices, while others on over-spending before the election by the O’Neill-Namah government.

The reason for pointing this out is not because we have a deficit to worry about but we are amazed that the PM is looking for a K6 billion loan from the Exim Bank of China. Is this loan a solution to patch up the deficit or is it to honour commitments to all the ground-breaking ceremonies and promises that the government has made over the recent months?

No loan is free, as the saying goes, but I like this quote from one of my favourite Hollywood actors, Chris Tucker, in one of his movies: “You loan your friend money. You see them again, they don't say nothin' 'bout the money. 'Hi, how ya doin'? How's ya mama doing?' Man, how's my money doin'?”

This actor reminds me of the tough times PNG went through juggling privatisation, land mobilisation, the 2001 UPNG protest deaths, and all the crap about the 1989 World Bank/IMF loans that drive third world countries like ours crazy.

Our debt is said to be around the K14.6 billion mark, which is 45% of GDP, and that is phenomenal.

One could imagine how stressful it will be to repay such a hefty debt. We are paying about K440 million in interest every year. Fortunately we have 7-8% annual economic growth. Do we have other workable solutions to meeting the deficit?

India this week raised its fuel prices by 14% to meet its budget deficit of $34 billion. India is the third-largest economy in Asia and many people fear this policy could hurt overall economic growth in India, which is already struggling with slow growth, inflation and currency weakness.

How many Papua New Guineans would accept such a sudden fuel price hike? I guess none. Then the question, where do we get the money to meet the K500 million deficit?

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Culture, national interest & identity in foreign policy


TODAY THERE IS AN UNDERSTANDING that the foreign policy of leading Western powers cannot be understood through considering nation states as selfish actors pursing narrow self-interest.

Since the end of the Cold War, major states have increasingly stressed the importance of ethics and values in shaping international goals and have intervened internationally on the basis of ethical foreign policy concerns such as human rights and international justice.

National interest, a term used to define a country's goals and ambitions whether economic, military, or cultural, is an important notion in international relations.

PNG’s national interest is in question time and again, such as on occasions like Australia's use of Manus Island as a "Pacific Solution" detention centre for foreigners seeking asylum in Australia.

Other notable instances include PNG’s difficulty balancing competing relations with Taiwan and China. When then Prime Minister Bill Skate proposed a deal in 1999 which would have traded diplomatic recognition of Taiwan for a substantial loan, it was a gesture which brought on trade sanctions from China.

When he took office, Sir Mekere Morauta was quick to repudiate Skate's concept in favour of continuing a strict policy of official relations with China, not with Taiwan.

For his part, Sir Michael Somare, on assuming office, seemed to favour more formal trading relations with Taiwan and sent a trade delegation prompting protests by China.

Defending the national interest can be a complex task.

National interest is often associated with political realists who wish to differentiate themselves from idealistic policies that seek to inject morality into foreign policy or promote solutions that rely on multilateral institutions which they see as possibly weakening the independence of a country.

The term is also often invoked to justify isolationist policies or to justify interventionist or warlike policies.

Papua New Guinea, like many other developing nations, has its own national interest that very much tries to reflect its culture and operate in the good of its citizens. A major objective is security and survival.

While PNG’s extensive mineral deposits provide a firm foundation for potential prosperity, about 85% of our people still rely on subsistence agriculture and fishing for survival, sometimes in some of the most isolated spots on the planet.

PNG remains one of the least developed nations on earth and these communities receive little trickle down benefit from commodity exports. The UNDP’s 2006 Human Development Index ranked PNG 139th of 177 countries surveyed, lower than any other country in the Pacific.

Life expectancy at birth is only 55.3 years; the infant mortality rate is 69 per 1,000 live births, and maternal mortality is 300 per 100,000 live births. Only 57% of adults are literate, and only half of all children have access to primary school education.

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China's economic downturn is of concern to PNG

Radio Australia | ABC

PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS CONCERNED about the state of the Chinese economy as imports in the Asian powerhouse fell in August, prompting anxiety that China may not meet its 2012 growth target of 7.5 per cent.

“Economic activity remains weak with industrial production growth slowing, exports pretty weak,” said Tao Wong, chief China economist with, UBS Securities.

“But there are also positive signs in the sense that the property sector, both sales and construction activity, are rebounding after a number of quarters of slowdown.

“In the meantime, the government has emphasised the increase in public infrastructure spending to help support growth as well,” she said.

In the Pacific, resource-rich Papua New Guinea will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of China’s economic strength. So, if China's economy continues on a downward trend, it stands to be one of the biggest losers.

“We're watching not only China but also to see where Europe is going to see whether its going to have an impact on us,” said Ron Seddon, president of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce.

“We're not doing an enormous amount with China at the moment. I know that we're resource-rich here in Papua New Guinea and they're very much a user of resources. But what the Asian Development Bank and other agencies say (is) that short-term we shouldn't be overly concerned.”

According to Wayne Golding of APEC’s Business Advisory Council, “in the sense that not only do we have a financial slowdown but the pricing of commodities has also slowed down. And of course quantitative imports into China of raw materials and finished goods, are also slowing down.

“And, for Papua New Guinea, we're basically an extraction-industry-driven economy, although we have a strong domestic culture base but with the extraction industry showing contraction in price and quantitative deliveries, what we have is also a slowdown in project initiation and of course the amount of money available for exploration.”

UK scientists help PNG villagers to protect rainforest

University of Sussex

Joseph Kua, Dr Mika Peck, Martin Keltim and Dr Alan StewartSCIENTISTS FROM THE University of Sussex have been awarded United Kingdom government funding to help villagers in Papua New Guinea protect their precious rainforest.

The rainforests of PNG, like others around the world, are under threat from the destructive effects of the logging industry.

Once remote areas of rainforest are opened up by logging operations, the pressure on adjacent landowners to give in to the short-term attraction of significant financial gain in preference to conservation is almost always irresistible.

This is partly because conservation projects generally fail to present indigenous owners of forests with a reasonable alternative livelihood in exchange for conserving their forests.

Now, ecologist Dr Alan Stewart and conservation biologist Dr Mika Peck plan to develop a 10,000 hectare forest conservation reserve – the Wanang Conservation Area – as an internationally recognised base for ecological research on tropical rainforests, attracting researchers (and their funding) to carry out long-term scientific projects.

The aim is to develop a sustainable income for the local village community that would match the potential income from the environmentally destructive yet financially rewarding logging industry, while also improving the country’s research infrastructure and skills for biological research.

Funding for the project comes from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Darwin Initiative, which supports UK ecology expertise in conservation work in areas of rich biodiversity worldwide.

Dr Stewart, an ecologist whose research covers insect and plant interactions, has already been collaborating for 12 years with the Binatang Research Center in PNG, helping to develop the infrastructure and train a large team of locally-recruited staff in research techniques.

Dr Stewart says: “We’ll be training village recruits as para-ecologists, so that they can work with and support research ecologists from universities and institutions around the world. Their unique knowledge of the forest environment and their connection with their own village communities is absolutely critical to the success of this approach.”

Two of the para-ecologists are currently visiting the UK for a month of intensive training as part of the project. Martin Keltim and Joseph Kua will spend time at Sussex and undergo training in tree-climbing (to enable them to access the rainforest canopy, where most of the insect life and other biodiversity is found) and plant identification at Kew Herbarium. They will also visit the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, to see how a major museum works.

Mr Kua says: “We are keen to learn as many new techniques as possible that will help us with our research back home.”

Next year, the Sussex team will be visiting PNG to continue the training. Dr Stewart says: “It’s a very exciting project that mixes fundamental research in ecology with a new approach that could really make a difference to how we approach rainforest conservation in future.”

It is estimated that the conservation area could generate an annual income of £20,000-£30,000 for the inhabitants – offering a viable alternative income to logging.

Fr John Lamani, Pacific media leader, dies in Honiara


Fr John LamaniFATHER JOHN LAMANI CMG, an influential media manager and journalist in the Solomon Islands, has died at his home in Honiara.

Father Lamani, publisher of the Solomons Star, passed away early on Monday morning. His funeral was held in Honiara on Tuesday and his body was taken home to his village on the island of Malaita for burial.

I knew John when I worked for the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) in the 1980s.

John joined the SIBC as a journalist from the Government Information Service and rose to the position of news editor.

In about 1982-83, the Solomons government decided to leave the media scene and sold the government news sheet, News Drum, to John and some of his colleagues for a peppercorn price of $1.

Thus, the Star newspaper was born; now known as the Solomons Star and the only daily newspaper in the country. It is hugely influential and financially successful. As part of the business group, John also established an FM radio station, Paoa FM.

During the ethnic civil war which faced Solomon Islands, John displayed considerable courage in not bowing to the demands of competing sides regarding news coverage in his newspaper.

This was despite his own background being Malaitan; Malaita being the island (along with Guadalcanal) from which many of the troubles developed.

When I last met John, he told me of his personal experience of having a gun held at his head as he sat in his editorial office in Honiara. Yet he did not flinch from reporting objectively and neutrally.

Beyond the Solomon Islands media scene, John was a leader in the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and regularly supported training and development efforts across the region, including in Papua New Guinea.

 Many PNG media friends will know John and appreciate the efforts he made in ensuring that independent media and freedom of expression continued to survive in the Pacific despite many forces hostile to a free press.

John had a strong bond with his Church and, in recent years, became a lay preacher. Thus, he became known as Father and, last year, was honoured with a CMG by the Queen.

Father John Lamani passed away suddenly from a suspected heart condition.

100 candidates launch challenges to PNG election

Radio Australia

MORE THAN 100 CANDIDATES who failed to win seats in Papua New Guinea's national elections are challenging the results in court.

Some of unsuccessful candidates are claiming that PNG election officials failed to enrol eligible voters, did not conduct polling in designated areas, or were bribed by winning candidates.

A total of 101 petitions disputing the result have been lodged with PNG’s National Court registry.

Justice Collin Makail is managing the cases and has warned petitioners and their lawyers to keep to election petition rules.

He says cases could be thrown out, if they do not comply with the law and petitioners must have facts to advance their cases.

Some of unsuccessful candidates are claiming that PNG election officials failed to enrol eligible voters, did not conduct polling in designated areas, or were bribed by winning candidates.

Some of the winning MPs have reportedly gone into hiding to avoid receiving the petitions.

Formal directions hearings for most of the cases should start by the end of this month, but it could take two to three years for a final decision.

Most of the petitioners are asking for a recount of ballots to nullify the results or for by-elections in their electorates.

No end in sight to Papua New Guinea’s anti-gay laws


PETER O’NEILL’S NEW GOVERNMENT, in power for just over a month, is promising a host of reforms in Papua New Guinea.

But one thing looks unlikely to change. Homosexual acts have been illegal since British colonial times. Men caught in same-sex acts face up to 14 years in prison.

Former MP Dame Carol Kidu says the laws are contributing to the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Although the laws are not strictly enforced, gay citizens face discrimination in their daily lives, and often struggle to find jobs.

But the push for decriminalisation has little support in PNG’s traditional Christian society.