Papua New Guinea extends the olive branch to Bougainville
Century old Melbourne counterfeit press turns up in PNG

Hey, I prefer my kwila trees & rainforest....


An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

I READ Garry Juffa’s poem in PNG Attitude entitled Meanwhile the trees keep falling and wanted to continue on the same theme with a contribution of half a dozen original ‘pseudo-haiku’.

A K300 million Raintree Hotel and Suites development (pictured below) by timber giant Rimbunan Hijau is going up very fast near Vision City in Port Moresby.

In a ground breaking ceremony in March kast, prime minister Peter O’Neill spoke of the substantial economic contribution that the Raintree Hotel project will make to PNG.

He emphasised that RH's significant investments in PNG "are most welcome and are appreciated by the government".

Through the haiku, I wonder at the real cost of such activity? I lament the gradual disappearance of the rainforests and forest life.

My basic stance is that “you can keep the K300 million and your Raintree Hotel; I prefer to keep the 300 remaining kwila trees and my rainforest”.

Raintree HotelSix psuedo-haiku on the environment

Yesterday I saw green
Today I see hot blue sky
Tomorrow feels cold

Beach is vanishing
Big man talks from far away
My heart keeps crying

Brown water is black
Fish is floating wrong way up
River boy is scared

Logs floating down
Small bird has no house to sleep
River go away

Yellow man likes big tree
Black woman likes big shopping
Damn Vision City

Rain forest, come back here
Three hundred million kids cry
Rain Tree, Go Away!


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Steven Ilave (snr)

I am interested. Thanks to you I now have links to Dr Topul Rali et al and their work on the Massoia bark in PNG. There is also interesting discussion recently around the alleged illegal harvest & export of the bark by Chinese merchants from PNG. Hum, the plot thickens!

Michael Dom

Steve, commercial harvest of Massoia requires replanting and good forestry practice. The species is endemic to PNG.

Also, if the extraction is done locally and efficiently then there is more value added. There was research done on Massoia so check UPNG chemistry depth if you're interested.

Steven Ilave (snr)

Phil, the 'flame of the forest' is the d'Albertis creeper (Mucuna novoguineensis). Keith just posted a lovely picture with Jimmy's poem. There are other varieties found elsewhere.

Michael, we do have the massoia bark in the Gulf. Its called the 'paiha' in my language. Its a common item found in the medicine man's bilum. I heard talk about commercial harvesting of the bark in the province. I will find out more.

Michael Dom

Masoia can be commercialized. But it requires sustainable management for long term harvest, which is not in the interests of the logging companies and the Pngians who sell off their forests and the future of their people.

Phil Fitzpatrick

Is Massoia anything like Tigaso (Campnosperma brevipetiolata) Michael? I've often wondered why that hasn't been commercialised. Or maybe it has somewhere?

I gather that the 'flame of the forest' is the d'Albertis creeper (Mucuna novoguineensis). You still see it in the forests in the north of Western Province. I remember the first time I saw it. I just stared at it for several minutes. It would be truly sad if it becomes rare.

Michael Dom

Steven, do your folk do anything with Massoia bark? Or perhaps that tree species does not grow in your area.

Massoia bark produces a very valuable essential oil, possibly worth more than chopping down whole tracts of forest.

Steven Ilave (snr)

Michael, Thanks for the encouraging comments on the Soji. I will definitely work on improving my poetry in that form.

And spot on regarding the "Flame of the Forest" metaphor. I recall seeing these beautiful vines hanging down low, lighting up and draping the river banks all around me in glorious red as my folks paddled up and down small river tributaries in the Gulf Province on fishing or hunting trips.

Sadly, many of the same rivers today are either clogged or are now used to float out and ship out logs. The flame of the forest rarely display its beauty before our eyes now. You paddle or get your banana boat further and further upstream to see these gorgeous flowers if you are lucky.

As I write, RH has “convinced” local landowners (Gopera Investment limited) of East Kikori and Vailala inland areas in the Gulf Province, and government authorities to turn large tracts of forests on customary land within the East Kikori Timber Rights Purchase Agreement Area, into oil palm plantations.

The oil palm project aims to plant some 2,500 hectares every year for the next 20 years. Another large scale oil palm development is planned further north east on the border of the Gulf and Morobe Provinces.

This means that the entire length and breadth of the Gulf Province has been ear-marked for oil palm development! RH of course will lay its “greasy palms” on the timber beforehand.

Some of us from the province are working behind the scenes to oppose these plans and educate our people on the importance of conserving our forests for the benefit of future generations.

Michael Dom

Hi Steven, that sijo looks like something good happening, at least poetically, with your use of the solid metaphor, flame of the forest.

I guess now you're looking at how the 'flame of the forest' may no longer burn in our jungles. I look forward to reading more.

Length is important in this form, fifteen to sixteen syllable counts, and up to seventeen in the middle line.

If you need to use it there is a syllable counter available at

The length of each line in sijo allows you to introduce a theme (line 1), expand on it (line 2) and then provide a conclusion/summary or an alternate interpretation at the end (line 3).

Steven Ilave (snr)

Michael, thank you for introducing me to the soji. I have been reading up on it. And I am liking it. Below is my feeble first attempt at a soji. I need to work on it. I stick to the theme of the disappearing rainforest and reflect on our ignorance and complacency in this regard through my favorite flower in the forest:

Flashes of red glow among the trees
Fade in my dreams in the dark
The flame of the forest burns out as I sleep !

Michael Dom

Hi Steven, I was reflecting on your comments about tanka and haiku, and I agree with you entirely.

Disciplined writing is paramount for enabling our writing to communicate our imagination. At least we should, "know the rules well so that you know how to break them correctly".

You should also try the Korean short form sijo, which is similar to the sonnet, but may provide some striking new creations.

Steven Ilave (snr)

Tenkyu olgeta for the comments. I was moved to learn recently of a group of Gulf Province women who have taken a stand and refuse to spend a single toea of their money at Vision City or any RH linked outlet they know of in quiet protest against logging in the province. I am joining them.

Michael, thanks for the ‘glass tower tanka’, and for making the point through contrast.

In the short form of poetry, I am beginning to like the Haiku and the Tanka amongst others. I am still learning to write them. They are hard to do.

I think the genre force the writer to be disciplined and when done well, they communicate so powerfully.

Nathan Gabara

Well this also apply to all the landowners out there.

Just imagine if you got that K3 million and gave away your forest but in reality the money will be gone and so has your forest.

Who is going to suffer - you or your grandchildren? Most of us just think about today but what about tomorrow?

Arthur Williams | Lavongai and Cardiff

Rimbunan Hijau is tok bokis in Malaysian for Evergreen.

RH is a disgusting blight in the forests of PNG.

But paraphrasing Judge Barnett at end of his inquiry into illegal activities in the logging trade in PNG: "Without corrupt pliable elites acting as lawyers, accountants and front men most of the overseas loggers would never have got a foot into the forest."

Even now the sacred forest of Central Lavongai are being de-SABL-ised by such people.

God forgive them all.

Michael Dom

Hi Steven, I share your sentiments.

Thanks for sharing your inspiring pseudo-haiku.

After reading them this tanka presented itself to me.

O Raintree of Steel
Your glass tower mirrors
Bare hills and dry grass.
Do your roots reach into earth
To bring water for my thirst?

Darius Becker

I wonder if the landowners, from whose land these forests have been stripped and pillaged, will ever be able to afford to travel to POM to see (let alone stay at) this so called magnificent hotel.

It's just utterly disgusting, knowing that this hotel is built from other people's demise.

Why build a hotel that no ordinary citizen could ever afford to stay in. Build much needed cheap housing estates instead, so local citizens can be given the opportunity to buy their own home.

Trevor Freestone

All the people, including me, who in the past had the opportunity to walk through the magnificent rain forests of the Sandaun Province, lament the lost of such world heritage marvels.

The destruction of the huge trees that provided homes for wonderful wild life has been a disaster.

Knowing that the village owners have received no real benefit from this destruction is disgraceful.

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