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130 posts from May 2015

Momis heading for comfortable victory in Bougainville

Momis election posterKEITH JACKSON

AS counting in the Bougainville elections continues, incumbent president Dr John Momis looks headed for a comfortable victory.

With 14,000 votes counted by six o’clock this morning he held an absolute majority over the other eight candidates with 53% of the vote.

Lagging well behind in second place was Ismael Toroama,  the hardline former commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), with 12%.

Next was ex-resistance movement leader Sam Akoitai, a onetime captive of the BRA who murdered several members of his family. In 1994 Akoitai initiated peace talks with the BRA.

In fourth place is another former BRA commander Sam Kauona, who, as a PNG Defence Force soldier, had been trained in explosives by the Australian Army, a skill he put to effective use in the Bougainville civil war.

Continue reading "Momis heading for comfortable victory in Bougainville" »

Burgeoning book list testifies to impact of bigpela stretim

Sunday morning pukpukKEITH JACKSON

NOW here’s a nice diversion for a lazy Sunday – a browse through the expanding book list of Pukpuk Publishing, the publications arm of the Crocodile Prize Organisation, which now offers 20 titles with three more on the way.

You can download the full six-page list below. It contains a synopsis of each publication and tells you how to get hold of them.

Buy all 23 and you’ll have a tremendous library of contemporary Papua New Guinean writing.

The list truly signifies the Great Revival (Bigpela Stretim) of PNG literature, which had fallen into a long fallow and unproductive period after the creative dynamism inspired by PNG’s independence in 1975.

Continue reading "Burgeoning book list testifies to impact of bigpela stretim" »

Me a woman


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

I came to this world not knowing my destiny
No matter whether baby girl or boy

I came to this nation not knowing my history
No matter whether highlander or coastal child

I came to the world not knowing my fate
No matter whether I would live or die a teenager

I came to this world not knowing my weight
No matter whether I be fat or lean

Continue reading "Me a woman" »

Manus censorship another sign of Australia’s contempt for PNG

Manus asylum seekersPETER KRANZ

CENSORSHIP is real and being imposed by the Australian government against workers, whistleblowers, journalists and members of non-government organisations involved with the Manus Island detention centre.

The Australian Border Force Act, recently passed by the Australian parliament supported by the ALP and opposed only by the Greens, effectively turns the Department of Immigration into a secret security organisation with police powers.

Continue reading "Manus censorship another sign of Australia’s contempt for PNG" »

Surveying my land from the high ridge

Beneath the ridgeJIMMY AWAGL

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Standing at the ridge, glimpsing like an eagle’s eye
The river walks through narrow passage beneath
No man to reach except through effort of eye
The eye’s embrace builds in us admiration
For down there looks superb but forbidding

Nature purifies it as white as limestone
Surrounded with thick layers of the same
Huge boulders entangling each another
Tangling and forming precipitous wall
Creating no pathway for man’s access at all

Continue reading "Surveying my land from the high ridge" »

Lost beyond the powers of ginger


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

AVU woke up with black circles under his eyes.  He hadn’t slept well that night. Thoughts of going to the big city had kept him awake.

He had heard amazing stories about the city from his cousins. He had heard about tall buildings and flashy vehicles, big city lights that bounced off the sealed streets creating scenes more beautiful than daylight, stores with every goodie one could wish for and all the fun in the world to be had.

Avu’s parents had died when he was twelve and his uncle Abba took him and his younger sister, Ato, who was eight, to live with his family.

Continue reading "Lost beyond the powers of ginger" »

The Simbu Kuakumba side-blown flute initiation ritual

Side-blown fluteROSLYN TONY

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing

TRADITIONAL musical instruments and their uses vary widely from place to place in Papua New Guinea.

Instruments used in traditional rituals – like the side-blown flute of the Sepik and parts of the Highlands, Madang and Oro, usually played in pairs - can only be used by those who have had the appropriate initiation.

In Simbu the ritual of the side-blown flute (Kuakumba) is known as Kua ombuno in the Kuman-Nagane dialect.

Continue reading "The Simbu Kuakumba side-blown flute initiation ritual" »

The new Australian Colombo Plan - what will PNG gain?


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

THE Australian Government is committing more than $100 million towards a New Colombo Plan (NCP) which gives Australian undergraduates opportunities to study and undertake internships in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2015, the program – designed to encourage awareness and understanding - has expanded from four pilot locations to 38 across the region, including 14 in the Pacific.

Continue reading "The new Australian Colombo Plan - what will PNG gain?" »

Credit rating dark cloud; policy corrections possible silver lining

Flanagan_PaulPAUL FLANAGAN | DevPolicy Blog

EVERY cloud has a silver lining. There have been two recent, positive economic policy developments in Papua New Guinea.

First, on 20 May, the Treasury Secretary, Mr Dairi Vele, announced that a budget review is underway. The review comes after dramatic falls in world commodity prices that have affected government revenue and PNG’s international credit rating.

The likely budget cuts will of course be difficult, but there is little option if PNG wishes to maintain its macroeconomic stability and growth.

The second positive development was hidden away in a monthly statistical update released on 11 May by PNG’s central bank, the Bank of PNG (BPNG).

Continue reading "Credit rating dark cloud; policy corrections possible silver lining" »

The street vendor

CE-Wilson-Food-Waste-Gordons-Market-Port-Moresby-2012JOHNSON MAKAEN

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

MARIUS had his scrawny bum perched precariously on a rusty and crumpled grease can.

His sight was fixed on a marked constabulary utility exiting the police station a block down the street.

The scene about him was one of derelict and disarray. Just beside the row of Asian tucker shops market waste from the previous day was haphazardly strewn about.

A huge pile of damp cartons, old newspapers and discarded plastic was smouldering, producing voluminous amounts of smoke in the middle of the market’s car park.

Continue reading "The street vendor" »

True friends are impossible to forget

Our small forestDONNA MALI

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

DID you ever lose your best friends? Well I did.

A stream of fear ran through me when they departed. I feared I wouldn’t find such friends again. Thus this story is written in the hope it might reach my long-time best friends somehow, wherever they are.

I am Donna Mali, born in the small village of Komi in south Bougainville. Born in the middle of the bloody civil war that saw the loss of more than 20,000 lives.

When my mom gave birth to me she didn’t receive any medication or medical attention. Same with me. Life was tough.

Continue reading "True friends are impossible to forget" »

The never-learning world of the litterer

The street cleanerMICHAEL GEKETA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Year in, year out,
Leaders with a heart
For a litter-free Port Moresby
Come in, and exit;
Litterers value them not

Months come, months pass by,
NCD Commission executes policy,
To drive the informal sector;
Vendors improvise, to befit their ethos

Continue reading "The never-learning world of the litterer" »

Legendary district commissioner David Marsh dies aged 93

Lt David Marsh when an ANGAU officerKEITH JACKSON

DAVID Roger Milbourne Marsh OBE, Kiap and District Commissioner, who died on 19 May aged 93, lived a long and distinguished life which was full of achievement.

Papua New Guinea was Marsh’s life and passion. He was truly a nation-builder.

As the ranks of the wartime and early post-war kiaps thin, two verses George Ivanow sent me are especially poignant:

The great mountain ranges with rivers that run raging
The country beneath us folds and falls as we fly in the dusk
A once young Kiap who for years now has been aging
Leaving behind memories that will turn into dust.

May this country remember these men who once ventured
Into the hidden places where most would not go
And there on a ridge line calling aloud to the mountains
Is a Kiap and his policemen who are still on Patrol.

Continue reading "Legendary district commissioner David Marsh dies aged 93" »

Yaltom & his father discuss bringing Nil-mam into the family


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

YALTOM’S family and relatives did not know that Nil-mam and Yaltom had kept their relationship secret from Nil-mam’s parents.

One afternoon Yaltom’s father visited them in Porgera and said he wanted to make a feast and invite Nil-mam’s family and relatives to the village.

This gathering would mark the traditional public declaration and recognition of Yaltom’s marriage to Nil-mam, a widely accepted practice in the Simbu tradition.

Yaltom gave it some thought and nodded in agreement. He was glad his father and family wanted to host this feast. Normally in contemporary Simbu society, parents and relatives would leave such feast to the working class son or daughter.

Continue reading "Yaltom & his father discuss bringing Nil-mam into the family" »

People are not what you expect


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

SOMETIMES you think you know the person you married when in reality you don’t.

Emily sat down reflecting on her excruciating heartache. She had never come across a decent, genuine person with all the qualities she wanted.

Her love life was always unkind, wicked and cruel. No one she met understood and loved her for who she actually was. There was no authentic value in the way guys felt about her.

There was no spark, no substance and no essence. Love was not in her cards or perhaps it just didn’t find her.

Continue reading "People are not what you expect" »

A tough nut to crack: legislating for PNG’s informal economy


IN Papua New Guinea it is government policy to encourage growth and development of the informal economy. This may surprise observers aware of how often the ‘informal sector’ is the subject of controversy.

After years of effort, a national informal economy policy was adopted by the National Executive Council in 2011, driven by the then Minister for Community Development, Dame Carol Kidu. She was supported in this by the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council.

Sadly, the policy lost momentum after Dame Carol departed the Ministry and retired from politics. Three changes of Minister and loss of continuity in the senior bureaucracy have contributed to stasis in the meantime.

As Dame Carol found, gaining support for the policy was an uphill task in the face of entrenched antipathy to the ‘informal sector’ among some members of the PNG political class.

Continue reading "A tough nut to crack: legislating for PNG’s informal economy" »

Papua New Guinea reckons with unmet development goals

BilasNEENA BHANDARI | Inter Press Service

AS Papua New Guinea celebrates 40 years of independence, 2015 marks a defining year for the largest Pacific Island nation, set to record 15% gross domestic product growth this year.

However, unless the government tightens up its policies, the country will likely fail to achieve any of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) despite making significant progress in the past few years.

“Even with 14 years of successive double digit growth, the challenge for PNG is to translate high levels of resource revenue into well-being for all citizens. The latest estimate of the population is now over eight million and approximately 36% of the people are living on less than $1.25 a day,” United Nations resident coordinator in PNG Roy Trivedy told IPS.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea reckons with unmet development goals" »

Me a woman


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

I came into this world not knowing my destiny
It didn’t matter to me whether I was a baby girl or a boy

I came in to this nation not knowing my history
It didn’t matter whether I was a highlander or a coastal child

I came into the world not knowing my faith
It didn’t matter whether I would live or die as a teenager

Continue reading "Me a woman" »

Too much love for something may cause regret


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Paga Hill Development Company
Award for Writing for Children

A little girl named E’Maura lived with her parents near the sea. E’Maura loved to swim in the sea but her parents stopped her from doing so when she was alone.

“Don’t go too near the sea,” the parents warned.

“Why do you stop me?” E’Maura asked.

“Because it is not safe for you,” her parents said.

E’Maura was their only child and they were afraid the waves would carry her far out to sea. They loved E’Maura very much and could not bear the idea of losing her.

Continue reading "Too much love for something may cause regret" »

The gypsies


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

THE sky above whizzes by with dark clouds, a vast sheet of rain overshadowing Lae.

Transparent flames ripple off the bitumen on the longest stretch of the Highway on the Markham plains as we near the Rumion Piggery.

I take my seat belt off and trail my hand out of the open window of the car, catching drifts of moisture on the hairs of my arm.

Fleetwood Mac churns out of the car stereo; coaxing back that free spirit in me, the gypsy in me that I grew out of.

Continue reading "The gypsies" »

The PMV bus crew’s story – Yaltom & Nil-mam


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

Read the first part of this story here

YALTOM began to think about Nil-mam’s parents and what they would think of her living with him for so long. And now being pregnant..

He thought of his own sisters’ and parents’ reactions in a similar situation. “Maybe New Ireland is different”, he thought. “No!” he shook his head. “Parents struggle to educate their children. This will not go down well with them.”

Yaltom knew that he had made Nil-mam pregnant and that she would not return to school. His mind was filled with thoughts of Nil-mam and himself. He did not want to keep Nil-mam in the small company house forever. He wanted her to be free, live in a free world, in his Simbu village perhaps or maybe in Nil-mam’s village near Kavieng.

Continue reading "The PMV bus crew’s story – Yaltom & Nil-mam" »

Foreign policy compromised by asylum seeker solution


AUSTRALIA gets far more foreign aid than any other country in the Pacific. That's right, Australia gets, not gives.

This type of aid isn't measured as emergency food supplies after a terrible cyclone, or in dollars and cents to build bridges and schools. No, what Australia depends upon from overseas is something far more valuable - the grant of legal impunity.

That is the essence of the Pacific solution for asylum seekers. But it doesn't come without a cost.

That cost has been exposed in recent days by Australia's shameful silence about a crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Nauru, and complications in an ugly diplomatic barney with Papua New Guinea over who-said-what-and-when about opening a new diplomatic post on the island of Bougainville.

Continue reading "Foreign policy compromised by asylum seeker solution" »

The story of my beautiful home, Lake Koena

Lake Koena (Paine)EURALIA PAINE

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Paga Hill Development Company
Award for Writing for Children

LEGEND has it that two eel brothers, Gegema and Wode, once lived in a quaint little brook in an enchanted forest.

One day, Wode decided he would go on an adventure to explore the land beyond. He got out of the stream, transformed into a young man, put his limepot into a bilum and began his journey.

Several months passed by and Gegema hadn’t heard from his brother. He began feeling lonely in the brook. There was no one to squabble with, and no one to accompany him to explore the rock pools.

Continue reading "The story of my beautiful home, Lake Koena" »

Two old Kundiawa hands prepare to send books to Simbu


THERE’S a grand conspiracy afoot to send enough books to Simbu to equip every one of its 400 schools with a small library.

The co-conspirators are old Simbu buddies of over 50 years standing – Terry Shelley of Nowek Limited in Goroka and Murray Bladwell of Brisbane in Queensland.

It all began with Terry identifying a gross shortage of decent reading material (or, for that matter, any reading material) in Simbu schools.

He offered to provide a container if someone in Australia could identify a supply of books.

Now a container-load of books is no small challenge.

Continue reading "Two old Kundiawa hands prepare to send books to Simbu" »

Second ‘Simbu for Literary Excellence’ event was a great success

Guard of honour, KondiuBOMAI D WITNE & FRANCIS NII

ROSARY Secondary School at Kondiu in Simbu Province burst into life a week ago with students,  teachers, a singsing group, local police and the community converging in the Bishop Cohill Auditorium.

They were there for the 2015 Simbu Writers Association (SWA) school debate and quiz contests and literary awards presentation.

Normally, it is inter-school sports or athletic competitions that bring schools together. More rarely, schools get together for other reasons. This was one of them

The event was made possible by the SWA through its pioneering endeavour, Simbu for Literary Excellence, that attracted and united provincial high schools and secondary schools.

Continue reading "Second ‘Simbu for Literary Excellence’ event was a great success" »

Abusive & reckless: Writer angered by PNG ban on Aussies

Leonard Fong Roka, October 2014 H&SPETERSON TSERAHA | PNG Loop

BOUGAINVILLEAN author Leonard Fong Roka says the manner in which the Papua New Guinea leadership banned Australians from entering Bougainville is abusive and reckless.

“The Bougainville government exists because of Australian financial support that otherwise, PNG alone cannot meet as required by the Bougainville Peace Agreement that PNG regularly overlooks,” Mr Roka said.

“In this diplomatic crisis - created by lack of consultation between PNG and Australia and the choice of words in the Australian federal budget - PNG once again abused the Bougainville Peace Agreement that is the roadmap to solving the long Bougainville conflict.

“It did this by not consulting Bougainville in enforcing its myopic decision.”

Continue reading "Abusive & reckless: Writer angered by PNG ban on Aussies" »

Bougainville independence referendum: The risks & challenges

Beautiful BougainvilleJO WOODBURY | Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies | Introduction

"We are the indigenous people of our motherland Bougainville. We alone have to decide our future, our destiny. No outsider can decide for us" - John Momis, President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, 2013

BETWEEN 2015 and 2020, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is scheduled to hold a referendum on its future political status—that is, whether it should remain part of the southwest Pacific state of Papua New Guinea or progress to full independence.

The path to Bougainville’s referendum has been long, complex and costly.

Continue reading "Bougainville independence referendum: The risks & challenges" »

Observers congratulate Bougainville people on election

International observers Chris Evans and Louise Starr at the distribution of ballot papers in BuinJOINT INTERNATIONAL OBSERVER GROUP

AN international observer group observed the polling period of the 2015 Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s Election following an invitation from the Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Governments.

The group included representatives from Australia, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

International observers were provided operational and coordination support by the United Nations and observed polling across almost all constituencies in North, Central, and South Bougainville from 11-20 May.

The international observer group congratulates the people of Bougainville for their commitment and enthusiasm as they participated in an election that has been conducted in an often challenging environment.

Polling observed by the international observer group was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.

Continue reading "Observers congratulate Bougainville people on election" »

The voice of Michael Dom: political, powerful, connected

O Arise! by Michael DomMARTYN NAMORONG

O Arise!: Poems on Papua New Guinea's Politics & Society by Michael Dom, 54 pp. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2015. ISBN-10: 1512039381. Available in hardcopy from Amazon, $5.40. Download it using the 'Free Michael Dom book' tab above

WHAT is a Papua New Guinean writer but a warrior continuing the proud traditions of their ancestors, firing arrows that defend the land but also feed the tribe.

I believe that is what the modern Papua New Guinean writer does. We defend the land of our ancestors and we also enrich the lives of our people with entertainment, information and ideas.

In continuing that fine tradition, Michael Dom writes with a spirit that connects many of us as we sometimes reflect on the world around us.

Continue reading "The voice of Michael Dom: political, powerful, connected" »

Crocodile Man’s voice echoes through Simbu’s valleys


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
SP Brewery Award for Illustration

THERE were gloomy days for the lone Simbu Woman living in the steep mountains of Simbu with her 10-year old son and one-year old daughter.

One morning an unfamiliar voice floated down the valley and called for Simbu Woman to respond, which she did promptly.

It was the voice of Crocodile Man echoing through the valleys and gullies. To Simbu Woman it was like the rhythmic beat of a kundu drum ringing in her heart.

She abandoned her gardening task and walked up to the top of the ridge to meet the voice.

She carried two Simbu bilums. The one on her head read, ‘Simbu Writers Association’. The one from her shoulder read, ‘Welcome Home, the 2015 Crocodile Prize to Kundiawa Simbu Province, 18-19 September.’

At the top of the ridge, Crocodile Man saw Simbu Woman ascending the slope with her load.

Continue reading "Crocodile Man’s voice echoes through Simbu’s valleys" »

Anthony Clunies-Ross: contributor to the common good

Anthony-Clunies-Ross (Guardian)ROSS GARNAUT & JOHN LANGMORE | Fairfax Media

ANTHONY Clunies-Ross, who died suddenly of a heart attack on 16 March, made a remarkable contribution to national and global economic and social strategy.

He was not only brilliant but also had the imagination and rigour to be a striking intellectual innovator, especially about feasible public policies for the common good.

He was born in Sydney in 1932, the eldest son of Ian Clunies Ross, whose eminent career culminated as the first Chairman of the CSIRO, and Janet, who is remembered for her contributions to Melbourne civil society.

He was a precocious child, reading at three and writing sermons when he was four. At five he decided to be a vegetarian, a commitment from which he never deviated. He was dux of Scotch College at the age of 15.

Continue reading "Anthony Clunies-Ross: contributor to the common good" »

My brother Oomepa on the bonnet

Bougainville irregular soldierLEONARD FONG ROKA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

IT was a dawn and our commander unceremoniously barked at us to wake up and prepare for the journey to kill.

It was going to be a forced march over a mountain range and through the dense jungle canopy.

Beneath the eastern foothills, we were to ambush the PNG Defence Force and allied Resistance troops and their transport on the road running north from Arawa.

A few fireflies wandered aimlessly in the semi-darkness briefly distracting me from my fear. I massaged my Winchester shotgun more calmly and confidently than I felt.

Continue reading "My brother Oomepa on the bonnet" »

Kina Group takes over Maybank to become PNG’s newest bank

Yates OBE_SydSHEREEL PATEL | Banking Day

PAPUA New Guinea will get a new locally owned bank as Kina Group buys Maybank PNG from its Malaysian owner.

The acquisition of Maybank will see Kina become PNG's fourth-largest bank, with combined post-takeover assets of K673 million.

Kina Group has K4.7 billion in funds under management in addition to being a finance company and mortgage lender.

The Port Moresby financier is working towards a share offer and a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in June.

Continue reading "Kina Group takes over Maybank to become PNG’s newest bank" »

Captured as a slave but with a heart made for freedom


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

HAVING been tricked to accept a job offer by two young seemingly innovative entrepreneurs, Sylvester woke up in a dark room in chains.

He sat down in the corner, lost and afraid, trying to recall what had happened the previous night.

It was not by chance he had been trapped by this dastardly deed. It had been planned. He had been invited to dinner, got drunk and ended up in chains, a similar story to many others.

He begged for help, for justice, but he had been sold to the highest bidder.

Continue reading "Captured as a slave but with a heart made for freedom" »

Democracy Bougainville style: Election 2015 in Baubake, Buin

People rush to catch the transport from Baubake to Buin (Roka)LEONARD FONG ROKA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

A group of young boys fighting over a dish of rice and tinned fish may not seem like much to you.

But it was my first insight into the election campaign strategies and the many issues that face Baubake constituency in south Bougainville.

Baubake has the largest population in the Buin District and, in the 2015 Bougainville general election for which polling is just wrapping up, eight energetic people are contesting the seat: Steven Kopana, Jonathan Komba, John Pookey Sigere, Charles Laia, Joseph Buia, Paul Bakoi, Joseph Tooke and Thomas Joseph Lugabai.

The contending candidates have made every attempt to get the people to vote them as their representative in the next Autonomous Bougainville Government. Their campaign was a night and day affair as they travelled the constituency from end to end.

Continue reading "Democracy Bougainville style: Election 2015 in Baubake, Buin" »

Australia-PNG diplomatic spat needs swift resolution

Australia Trade Minister Andrew Robb and PNG counterpart Richard Maru at the Australia PNG Business ForumJENNY HAYWARD-JONES | The Interpreter, Lowy Institute

PAPUA New Guinea has reacted to Australia's recent decision to establish a diplomatic post in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville by banning Australian travel to the province.

This spat is proving to be an irritant not only for the friendly relationship between Canberra and Port Moresby, but also for relations between Port Moresby and government authorities in Bougainville.

Australia's aid spend in Bougainville is $50 million next financial year – larger than Australian aid programs in Samoa, Tonga or Kiribati. Establishing an office to administer a program of this size is understandable.

It is perhaps surprising Australia has not sought to establish a consulate either in Bougainville or another location in Papua New Guinea before now, given the quantum of Australian interests in our nearest neighbour.

Continue reading "Australia-PNG diplomatic spat needs swift resolution" »

Koko Day


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Paga Hill Development Company
Award for Writing for Children

FIRST of all, meet the characters in our story….

Koko is a grand and mysterious bird that only the bravest children can callsupposing they camp below a mountain and build an attractive runway to its nest.

Elias is an ugly but friendly wild boar with the strength of ten boars.

Flavia, Fatima and Filomena are sisters and gorgeous white ducks.

Hihi is a big black hornbill with a long colourful beak and clever beady eyes.

Hoohoo is a creature Kari found in a dormant volcano. It has a wobbly, bouncy, rubbery, hairy body.

Mala came out of the Rocky Mountains during a landslide. Its body is hard, like layers of brick, and it has a square head with teeth protruding out of its mouth - two on the top lip and three on the bottom.

Kari is a pretty, fuzzy-haired 12- year old girl who loves all creatures great and small.

Kepler is an 11-year old boy with a rare talent to understand strange creatures. He is like a wild creature trainer and attracts creatures of all sorts. But he has a short temper and is sometimes very selfish.

Continue reading "Koko Day" »

I am concerned that PNG wants to control travel to Bougainville


PAPUA New Guinea’s ban on travel to Bougainville by Australians will only cause problems for PNG, Bougainville, and Australia.

Australia is spending K120 million per year on assistance for Bougainville.

It supports development building the capacity of the public service of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

A ban on Australians travelling to Bougainville will severely slow delivery of important assistance that is helping Bougainville in many ways.

Continue reading "I am concerned that PNG wants to control travel to Bougainville" »

PNG–Australia row: Bougainville requires more sensitivity

Peace symbol on white coral sand, among black pebbles (Pentanu)Words & Photo by SIMON PENTANU

MAYBE the choice of the words in the Australian federal budget – establishing a diplomatic office or mission in Buka - was the primary source of agitation in the context of this week’s political spat about Bougainville within Papua New Guinea.

But, whatever the cause, there is no doubt that Australia needs to recognise the sensitivities, both political and cultural, in a more considered and serious light to avoid stumbles and pitfalls in its otherwise long, enduring relationship with its most populous, boisterous and resource rich Melanesian neighbour.

If there is anything the leaders of the Autonomous Bougainville Government should say on this matter, it is that the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement obliged the PNG national government to consult or at least inform Bougainville before banning visits by Australian citizens to the region.

Continue reading "PNG–Australia row: Bougainville requires more sensitivity" »

PNG & Australia: good friends but a vexed question of visas


Extracts from keynote address to the Papua New Guinea-Australia Business Forum, Lae, 18 May 2015

PAPUA New Guinea has its share of detractors and critics. But even our fiercest critics recognise that it is changing for the better.

We are seeing improvements across key areas of our economy which is delivering real improvements – in terms of living standards, household incomes and opportunities for large and small business.

There is a new confidence amongst our people – many of them seeing real and comprehensive services delivered for the first time in their lives.

Continue reading "PNG & Australia: good friends but a vexed question of visas" »

Bougainville: Australia & PNG meddle in Melanesian sensitivities


THINKING out loud - what if Australia and Papua New Guinea spark another civil war on the island of Bougainville?

Australia moved to set up diplomatic mission in the island and PNG was not happy and moved to ban Australians from travelling to the former troubled island.

Perhaps not so smart. You can always travel to Bougainville via Solomon Island without having problems with PNG government customs and immigration.

None has existed on the PNG (Bougainville) -Solomon Island border since the end of the 10 year civil war that claimed an estimated 20,000 lives.

Continue reading "Bougainville: Australia & PNG meddle in Melanesian sensitivities" »

A voyage to Mushu Island with a drunken skipper


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

THE rain trees surrounding Wewak town look so glamorous, especially on a Friday afternoon as the sun drifts along to sandaun while still a yellowish colour. Wewak Hill glistens in the evening sunshine.

We hopped on a PMV bus from Wiruwi and rode into Wewak. The bus dropped us off in town and we strolled all the way to the islands boat stop and asked around for Uncle Andrew.

Andrew, the talkative uncle of the crocodiles, owns a 24-foot banana boat. He lives at Mushu Island and comes into town each day transporting mothers and their produce for market.

Continue reading "A voyage to Mushu Island with a drunken skipper" »

Our disabled people too often find there’s nothing to live for

Francis Nii at Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital, Kundiawa, 2014FRANCIS NII

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

IN Papua New Guinea, people with a disability - people like me - are marginalised and neglected. They experience misery on daily basis.

Chauvinism and poverty are the two killers of disabled people in our society, particularly paraplegics and polio victims.

Public ridicule and stigmatisation are the worst forms of chauvinism, creating social barriers that deter disabled people from exercising their freedom of movement and participating equally in programs and activities.

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The PMV bus crew’s story on the Highlands highway

PMV interior, GorokaBOMAI D WITNE

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

YALKUNA Tine, Kumai-kane Balai and Bomailyn accompanied their father from Goroka to Rosary Secondary School on Thursday afternoon last week.

Balai and Bomailyn were excited to visit a new place and were looking forward to the trip but Yalkuna joined reluctantly. He wanted his mum to come with him.

The Mt Hagen bound 25-seater bus was almost full and we were soon on our way along the highway.

The children occupied the seat in the middle row and, by the time the bus approached Kabiufa Secondary School, a few kilometers out of Goroka, they were half asleep. The loud music did not stop their slumber.

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A tree stands among the sea rocks


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

A strong and healthy tree stood among the rocks. The sea crashed on the rocks and gushed its way into the tree’s roots while a powerful wind gusted into its branches. Yet it stood without fear.

The sight baffled me. I had rarely seen such wonder. How could it be that a tree grew among the rocks? Taking a closer look, I found its roots originated in a higher, fertile part of the earth.

The roots were rugged and strong enough to weather raging waves and angry winds.

Filled with intense curiosity, I wondered why it had chosen to spend its life away from its own kind. Was it an orphan or has it been chased away by its fellows?

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