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105 posts from October 2016

On Jimmy Drekore’s World of Children Award

Jimmy Drekore receives his World of Children Award in New YorkJIMMY AWAGL

Jimmy Drekore arrives home today after receiving his World of Children Award in New York – the ‘Nobel Prize’ for services to kids. Jimmy is an adornment to Papua New Guinea on the global stage

The extraordinary hand
That touches the hearts
Receives the World of Children Award

The single voice
That answers the voiceless
Receives the World of Children Award

The committed heart
That erases the tears
Receives the World of Children Award

Continue reading "On Jimmy Drekore’s World of Children Award" »

The unloved libraries of PNG, worse than pathetic

Reading in peacePHIL FITZPATRICK

REGULAR readers of PNG Attitude will be familiar with the blog’s continuing criticism of the Papua New Guinea government’s commitment to literature.

We all know that literature provides one of the essential ingredients that gives a nation its soul. The Papua New Guinea government, by its indifference, obviously prefers the nation to have no soul.

In searching for a way to quantify this appalling attitude you only need to look at the state of public libraries in the country.

Continue reading "The unloved libraries of PNG, worse than pathetic" »

Tales from the kiap times - The poorly pig

Personality pigBOB CLELAND

“THE PIG has to have one of these capsules every day for two weeks,” the vet said. “They’re easy to give.”

My wife Julie was dubious. “I know nothing about pigs except I don’t like them much. The pig’ll have to wait till my husband Bob returns. He’s on patrol.”

Papua New Guinea, 1955. I was a newly-married Patrol Officer on a small outstation called Watabung in the mountainous Eastern Highlands District.

I was away on a short patrol to some villages in the next valley.

Continue reading "Tales from the kiap times - The poorly pig" »

O’Neill describes IMF APEC report as ‘rubbish’ & ‘a nuisance’


PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has described the latest report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the costs of Papua New Guinea hosting the APEC forum as “rubbish” and “a nuisance”.

The IMF report stated that the government plans to spend K3 billion over 2015-18 on preparations for APEC 2018.

However O’Neill told Parliament that “the amount mentioned by IMF is utterly rubbish, inaccurate and not true.”

“How can you spend K3 billion when the country has only a K12 billion budget every year?” he asked.

Continue reading "O’Neill describes IMF APEC report as ‘rubbish’ & ‘a nuisance’" »

First cardinal to represent PNG's Catholics in 'small places'

Cardinal-designate John RibatJONATHAN LUXMOORE | Catholic News Service

PAPUA New Guinea's first cardinal John Ribat believes his appointment highlights Pope Francis’s wish for Catholics to be treated equally from all parts of the world.

"He's been very true to his word that he's not looking at the traditional places where cardinals have been appointed in the past, but going beyond that and wanting a fairer representation," said Cardinal-elect John Ribat, 59, archbishop of Port Moresby.

"He wants to say the church is for the poor, and that's how he sees it in his mind and wants to show it now in practice, not only through the traditional places, but also reaching out to small places," he said about his nomination as the first-ever cardinal from the South Pacific country, which has 853 registered languages and a mostly rural population.

Continue reading "First cardinal to represent PNG's Catholics in 'small places'" »

I rejoiced in working amongst a tough & resilient people

Somare and admirers 1970sCHRIS OVERLAND

LIKE Phil Fitzpatrick (‘Crafting a Life’), I ran away to the jungle of Papua New Guinea at a young age because I was repulsed by the idea of a career in retail or a bank.

The advertisement accompanying his article drew me irresistibly towards PNG, much to the horror and amazement of my friends.

Why on earth, they said, would I wish to go to a faraway place, full of hideous diseases, crocodile-filled swamps and mountain ranges swarming with headhunters and cannibals?

The simple answer was because I could see and live in a world like no other on earth.

Continue reading "I rejoiced in working amongst a tough & resilient people" »

Business development hampered by ‘man-made constraints’

Dr Charles Yala (NRI)Business Advantage PNG |Edited extracts

MAN-MADE constraints to business are the real obstacles to business development in Papua New Guinea, according to Dr Charles Yala, Director of the National Research Institute.

In an address to an Australia-PNG Alumni Conference, Dr Yala said the country’s leaders need to “think outside the box and harness our natural beauty and landscape”.

The exploitation of PNG’s abundant natural resources, namely minerals, oil and gas, have not transformed the nation as we have wanted, Dr Yala said.

Continue reading "Business development hampered by ‘man-made constraints’" »

You can own one of Hal Holman's personal favourite works

 Heno, Papuan Youth (Holman, 1971)KEITH JACKSON

OUR week-long sale of paintings by Hal Holman has been successful and is almost concluded, there being only one remaining work, an outstanding pastel, Papuan Youth (Heno).

This was a personal favourite of the artist, who kept it on display in his various studios for the 45 years until his death earlier this year, its reflective nature providing a source of inspiration.

Heno ends our sale of Jo Holman's generous gift of paintings to support women writers in PNG. To finalise this project (all paintings will be despatched next week), we have reduced the price of Heno from $700 to $550, including postage and packing.

Papuan Youth (Heno) was drawn in 1971 when Holman was government artist with the colonial administration. It was produced during the same period in which Holman designed the PNG coat of arms, contributed hugely to the design of the national flag and constructed the magnificent sculpture that still adorns the Supreme Court at Waigani. I well recall this work from those halcyon years and the pride of place it always had in his studios.

The pastel is beautifully framed and protected by glass. Email Keith Jackson here if you’re interested.

Sweet memories: My first ‘karim lek’ courting experience

Tupel meri karim lek wantain manJOHANNES KUNDAL as told to DANIEL KUMBON

MANY students nowadays ruin their future when they get tangled up in sexual affairs resulting in unwanted pregnancies and exclusion from school.

I shiver now to think how I could have ruined my career when I trained as a male nurse at Kudip Nursing School in Jiwaka Province.

I don’t know what would have happened next after a girl in her village near Banz introduced me to my first ‘karim lek’ courting experience. I guess it is natural to be drawn to the opposite sex when young people grow up. I am now glad that nothing happened next

I must caution students today to be careful. I grew up in a society where sex was sacred. At that time there were no dangers like HIV. But, even so, if I had indulged in promiscuous activity I don’t know where I would be today.

Continue reading "Sweet memories: My first ‘karim lek’ courting experience" »

Why my former principal Mrs Ove should be Governor-General


WE'RE just beginning to see the horse trading surrounding the appointment of Papua New Guinea’s next Governor General.

If it was up to me, my former high school principal Mrs Ove would occupy that distinguished position.

To me the post of Governor-General is – or should be - Papua New Guinea personified.

Mrs Ove is principal of Jubilee Catholic Secondary School (conflict of interest declaration: I went to Jubilee).

Continue reading "Why my former principal Mrs Ove should be Governor-General" »

So Here I Lie

Hope glimmersW D BARRY-IGIVISA

So here I lie in the pigsty,
my worth and want to testify;
too rotten to sniff the Bible,
a tad too holy for the Rival.
So my soul suspends in the sky.

I bring my filth to the rabbi;
a coin I wave the Blood to buy,
but I’m baptised in his spittle,
so here I lie.

My ills I pray to justify,
but his incense stifles my cry.
Religion is a crude riddle.
When grace is abused it’s evil.
I’m just a man and I must die,
so here I lie.

Two remarkable portraits are our final Holman collection offers

Heno (Holman, 1971)KEITH JACKSON

THE INITIAL five Hal Holman paintings offered for sale to support the first ever collection of Papua New Guinean women’s writing were snapped up by readers within hours.

The paintings by one of the premier artists of PNG and donated by Holman’s widow Jo, are offered to PNG Attitude readers at less than commercial prices to ensure they will be sold to people who have a connection with the country.

And today, we’re pleased to present the final two artworks of this series – and they hare drawn in pastel, a favourite medium of the artist especially in his earlier years.

They also have a rich provenance. The picture alongside, Papuan Youth (Heno) was drawn in 1971 when Holman was government artist with the PNG colonial administration.

Continue reading "Two remarkable portraits are our final Holman collection offers" »

Doing it tough: LNG 'smokescreened' real difficulties in economy

Resources boom disappearsKEITH JACKSON

ECONOMIST Paul Flanagan says Papua New Guinea has missed the opportunity to lock in potential gains to the wider economy from its successful liquefied natural gas project.

In a report released yesterday he said that the “mini-boom around the PNG LNG construction phase appears to have entirely dissipated” and the country has just experienced its second worst recession since independence in 1975.

Continue reading "Doing it tough: LNG 'smokescreened' real difficulties in economy" »

Crafting a life: Playing with the headhunters in the jungle

Careers with a challengePHIL FITZPATRICK

MY FIRST job after leaving school was with the National Bank. I don’t know why I took it, there were plenty of other jobs around in those days. Perhaps, in my exuberant youth, I harboured some sort of misconception about what mattered in life.

In any event, this introduction to the financial world and the small-minded people involved in it in those days was a salutary shock and I immediately started looking around for something a bit more fulfilling.

I already had a long nurtured but vague idea about applying for the next intake of Cadet Patrol Officers in the Territory of Papua New Guinea.

I endured eighteen months of excruciating boredom at the bank before I escaped. My escape included being berated by my boss for throwing away the opportunity of a good career to go gallivanting among headhunters in the jungle.

Years later I came across him running a fish and chip shop in a small country town. He had been made redundant in some sort of efficiency drive.

I spent the rest of my working life basically helping people and advocating their sometimes hopeless causes. I include my years as a kiap here, after all, they were all about helping a new nation on its journey to independence.

Continue reading "Crafting a life: Playing with the headhunters in the jungle" »



The savannah plains of the central sleep quietly
Rocked by the cool breeze yelling south-westly  
Her curtains made of white cumulus clouds
Deterring the sunlight attire of the Barakau blouse

There she sits along the Papuan coastline
Savouring the neat stretch of scenic greens
Past rivers that trench before the borderline
Of the capital, welcomed by nomadic grins

She sings a song of praise about Lakwaharu!
Traversing through the curves and curls
Aboard the showers of a sailing Larahara
Cherished by the pounding beats from her shells

Continue reading "Tubusereia" »

A fine example of Hal Holman’s art on sale to help PNG women

White Bird of ParadiseKEITH JACKSON

THE FIRST four paintings donated by Jo Holman, wife of the late celebrated artist and sculptor Hal Holman OL OAM, have been sold with proceeds of more than $2,000 to be put towards distributing copies of the first collection of women’s writing to come out of Papua New Guinea.

The paintings – three by Holman and one by iconic indigenous artist the late Mathias Kauage – have been sold through PNG Attitude, and a fifth, entitled White Bird of Paradise (pictured here) and painted in 2002 is now offered for sale at a price of $600.

Hal Holman probably reached the zenith of his painting and sculpture with his renditions of Papua New Guinea’s national bird and the oil painting here is a fine example of this work.

Among the outstanding public installations with a bird of paradise motif are Papua New Guinea’s coat of arms, the one-tonne sculpture (completed in just four weeks) that dominates the façade of Supreme Court building in Port Moresby, the soaring eight meter stainless steel bird of paradise situated on a roundabout adjacent to Parliament House and the more diminutive three meter bronze fountain at the University of Papua New Guinea – all depictions of the fabulous kumul.

Continue reading "A fine example of Hal Holman’s art on sale to help PNG women" »

PNG will spent K600 million on 2018 APEC leaders’ summit

Justin TkatchenkoKEITH JACKSON

ORO Governor Gary Juffa has said prime minister Peter O’Neill should sack minister Justin Tkatchenko for misleading the public about the cost of running the annual APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders’ forum, scheduled for Port Moresby over two days in 2018.

Governor Juffa said Tkatchenko (pictured), who is the minister responsible for APEC, had said the forum budget would be K600 million, which Juffa believes is a greatly inflated figure. O’Neill says the number “has been taken out of thin air” by the opposition.

Continue reading "PNG will spent K600 million on 2018 APEC leaders’ summit" »

‘My Walk to Equality’: First ever collection of PNG women’s writing

Internationalwomensday 2017MEDIA RELEASE

FEMALE writers and artists in Papua New Guinea are being invited to submit original writing and artwork for inclusion in a first ever collection of women’s writing and illustration to be published on International Women’s Day 2017, Wednesday 8 March.

“The theme of ‘My Walk to Equality’ is drawn from one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which PNG is working towards achieving,” said project organiser and editor of the collection, Rashmii Bell.

“Papua New Guinean women are invited to submit writing or artwork that depicts how they have been contributing to reducing the various forms of inequalities that exist in PNG society,” she said.

Continue reading "‘My Walk to Equality’: First ever collection of PNG women’s writing" »

The story of a grasshopper, a caterpillar & a woman writer

Iriani Wanma & her new bookIRIANI WANMA

SOME people know early on in life what they’re good at, while others discover what they’re good at later. I’m in this second group.

Arnold Mundua wrote recently that he didn’t think he could ever become an author. I never planned to be one either; I just knew I liked to write – a joy I discovered as a teenager through the simple act of composing letters to my family and friends.

It’s amazing how one thing leads to another. In 2014, my story Oa the grasshopper & Kaipa the caterpillar, won the Crocodile Prize for children’s writing.

At the time that award was sponsored by Buk bilong Pikinini and I can recall the moment of disbelief and then uncontrollable excitement when I read Keith’s email informing me I had won.

For me, having my entry included in the Crocodile Prize Anthology that year was an achievement in itself and I was absolutely delighted but to win first prize in the category was definitely the cherry on top.

Continue reading "The story of a grasshopper, a caterpillar & a woman writer" »

Where's the money, Governor Kool, ask Chuave people

Who should take the creditJIMMY AWAGL

AS POLITICKING begins to intensify in the run-uo to next May’s general election, Wera Mori, the member for Chuave in Simbu Province, has alleged the Simbu Provincial Government has used photographs of Chuave District without consent.

The three photographs with the image of Governor Noah Kool were published in the national Post Courier newspaper last Thursday.

Mr Mori claims they are the sole property of the Chuave District Administration not the Simbu Provincial Government.

He says that the Chuave administration should have been consulted about and also given credit for the infrastructure development shown.

“Chuave District is one of the performing districts in the province which also contributed immensely in the infrastructure projects for the wellbeing of the people,” Mr Mori said.

“This has elevated the status of Simbu as one the best performing provinces in the country.”

Continue reading "Where's the money, Governor Kool, ask Chuave people" »

O give thanks for our complications


Isn’t the anatomy of us amazing?
How our fingers may entwine and grasp
Firmly, my smaller hand in yours.
Escapades start when we walk side-by-side:
There must be a reason for this apposition
Of limbs that enables us to hold and be held so.

And isn’t the pliability of us pleasing?
How our bodies fit around, onto and into,
Snugly, my smoother frame to yours.
Entwined sinuously as we are, limb-for-limb:
There must be a purpose for this proportion
Of forms that allows us to match and to meld so.

Continue reading "O give thanks for our complications" »

I learn from the people about how to die with dignity & peace

Fr Garry Roche, Ongka Kaepa and Michael Pagl shortly before Ongka diedGARRY ROCHE

MANY expatriates who have lived in Papua New Guinea will acknowledge that, while they themselves may have contributed much to the country, they also learned much from the people in their time there.

When If I ask myself what I have learned, one of the first things that comes to mind is that older people face death in a peaceful and accepting manner and without fear.

This is in contrast with my experience from Irish culture, where death seems to be faced with great fear and apprehension.

Many times in PNG I have personally experienced the calmness and acceptance of old people faced with death. Let me give you some brief case studies.

Continue reading "I learn from the people about how to die with dignity & peace" »

Nothing to fear but fear itself? Try telling that to PNG women


I’M AN old white male who lives in a stable and prosperous country and I’m afraid of nothing.

That is, I have no special fears that keep me awake at night.

There are things that bother me. The aches and pains of getting old, the future of my grandchildren, the increasing cost of living, that sort of thing.

But nothing that creates any sense of panic or great foreboding.

I know my ancestors lived with real fears, perhaps even my parents did, but I seem to have lobbed into a blessed fear-free time zone.

Continue reading "Nothing to fear but fear itself? Try telling that to PNG women" »

Stop game-playing: gov't must seriously engage with Bougainville


Extract from a statement on behalf of the Chiefs and Councils of Elders of Wakunai, Bougainville

THE PAPUA New Guinea national government sometimes seems to believe that it can make decisions about matters in Bougainville that the peace agreement makes clear are responsibilities of Bougainville.

It seems to forget that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), and its powers and responsibilities to make decisions for Bougainville, come from the national constitution.

On behalf of the leaders of Wakunai, I call on the national government and the ABG to work closely together to implement the peace agreement, and the provisions of the national constitution.

Continue reading "Stop game-playing: gov't must seriously engage with Bougainville" »

Holman art collection will provide funds for women writers

Hal in his studioKEITH JACKSON

The two outstanding portraits in this photograph, which look down on the late Hal Holman in his studio, are for sale. You can read more below about their provenance and how to buy them….

AN EXTRAORDINARILY generous gift of eight Hal Holman paintings from his widow, Jo Holman, will help provide funding for the first collection of writing by Papua New Guinean women to be published in March next year.

Sculptor and artist Hal Holman OL OAM (1922-2016) died earlier this year having first arrived in Papua New Guinea as a soldier in 1942 and having been a resident or frequent visitor there for most of the rest of his life.

While developing a strong attachment to the country, Holman also created much of the iconography of the new nation, especially in his representations of the bird of paradise in both art and sculpture.

Continue reading "Holman art collection will provide funds for women writers" »

Memories of ‘Korgua Dan’ Leahy – explorer & planter

Dan Leahy and Fr Joe McDermott at Ulga parish house, circa 1972GARRY ROCHE

DAN Leahy, along with his brother Mick and Jim Taylor, entered the Wahgi Valley in 1933.

After spending some years gold mining at Kuta ridge, around 1960 Dan went into coffee production, establishing a plantation at Korgua in the Nebilyer valley.

He became known as Korgua Dan to distinguish him from his nephew, Sir Danny Leahy, who lived in Goroka.

In the years after World War II there was a road from Mt Hagen that went over Kuta ridge and down to Korgua.

Continue reading "Memories of ‘Korgua Dan’ Leahy – explorer & planter" »

A butterfly's day

Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera Priamus)ISO YAWI.

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

Twilight ends
Darkness fades at light's increased strength
Transition in action between light and darkness
Increased light, darkness fades
A day has begun.

It awakens a butterfly in its pupa cocoon
Trying its best it splits off the pupal cuticle
Transformed, a butterfly emerges
Its eyes opened, wings burst
The yoke of pupa fell off and it flew up, up and up

Continue reading "A butterfly's day" »

A great opportunity to tell the stories of PNG's wonderful women


THREE women’s names. Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Until last weekend, I’d long known the first two: internationally acclaimed figure skaters. But not Yamaguchi.

If it was not for a New York Times Magazine article by Nicole Chung I’d still be in the dark that Yamaguchi was the gold medalist at the 1991 world figure skating championships.

On the podium, Yamaguchi was flanked by two American placed medallists, Kerrigan and Harding.

Yamaguchi went on to win gold at the 1992 Olympic Games.

Continue reading "A great opportunity to tell the stories of PNG's wonderful women" »

Hope, murk & manipulation surround PNG budget talk

The emerging fiscal crisisKEITH JACKSON

DURING the course of last week, Papua New Guinea’s opposition leader Don Polye warned that the country’s 2017 budget “must not become another hoax”.

The budget for 2017 – which prime minister Peter O’Neill has said will be “measured and cautious” - is to be tabled when parliament resumes on Tuesday.

One thing we can be sure about in this budget is that there will be further cuts.

Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele as good as confirmed this when he admitted that “over the last four years we've been borrowing money and we've been spending more than we earn.

Continue reading "Hope, murk & manipulation surround PNG budget talk" »

A Fear Unbearable


A contribution to ‘My Walk to Equality’, the first anthology of PNG
women’s writing to be published on International Women’s Day, 2017

For my darling daughter, Lily Skye Pauletta Nai

I shudder with fear for you Nai
The kind that keeps me awake at night
And tussle with regret beneath these sheets
Leaving my gullet left for dry

Fear of the world we had conceived you in
The treacherous ruse that await

Continue reading "A Fear Unbearable" »

Unfair & uneven infrastructure development concerns citizens

APEC HausCHARLIE CLYDE TIKARO | Kaulga's Travel Diary | Edited

A K120-million ground breaking ceremony has been held in Port Moresby to start work on the multi-million kina APEC Haus.

The minister responsible for APEC (the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum), Justin Tkatchenko, said the building will become an iconic structure for the country, showcasing Papua New Guinea to the world.

APEC Haus (illustrated here) will be built on reclaimed land near Ela Beach and Paga Hill for a forum meeting to be held in Port Moresby in 2018.

Continue reading "Unfair & uneven infrastructure development concerns citizens" »

Past wisdom: Enga cultural values to be taught in schools

Ruth Minape, a schools cultural education coordinator, with Professor Polly WiessnerDANIEL KUMBON

CULTURAL history is to be taught in all Enga schools to help students draw knowledge and wisdom from past traditions and apply it in their lives.

Two books to be used in the pilot project across Grades 6–12 will be launched in Wabag next Friday.

The American ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Catherine Ebert-Gray, will be among government ministers, national politicians, education officials and other invited guests to witness the launch of this milestone event.

One of the books, ‘Enga Culture & Community, Wisdom from the Past’, is an ethnography that provides an overview of Enga culture including stories, songs, poems, kongali (words of wisdom), nemongo (magic formula), drawings and early photographs.

Continue reading "Past wisdom: Enga cultural values to be taught in schools" »

A cacophony of falling trees


I hear a cacophony
Not from trees in the breeze
With leaves rustling
But from them which have fallen
Like innocent victims of a civil war
Bare they lay side by side in the weather
Hear the chains rattling under
As barks peel off like sore skin
On long muddy beaches awaiting their turn
On sailing ships long voyages begin
Still like logs secured to cold metal plates
High seas their road to distant lands

Continue reading "A cacophony of falling trees" »

'Let's show the world we're as good as anyone,' says Drekore

Merlyn & Jimmy DrekoreGLORIA BAUAI | Loop PNG | Edited

JIMMY Drekore will refer to it as “a nation’s achievement” when, next Thursday, he receives the 2016 World of Children Health Award in New York City.

“Even though it’s Jimmy Drekore receiving the award, I will be proud to represent this beautiful country,” he told the media before leaving Port Moresby for the United States with wife Merlyn (pictured).

In 2005, Mr Drekore founded the Simbu Children Foundation, which strives to provide hope for sick and disadvantaged children.

It is a charity that funds airfares, medical costs and expenses for sick village children from Simbu Province to enable them to travel to the city and overseas hospitals for medical tests, operations and other treatments that are unavailable locally.

Continue reading "'Let's show the world we're as good as anyone,' says Drekore" »

PNG’s work permit system: poorly monitored; no skills transfer

Expatriate workersCARMEN VOIGT-GRAF | PNG National Research Institute | Extract

Read the full issues paper here

ON PAPER, PNG’s Work Permit System is relatively balanced. The system allows businesses to bring in skills from abroad. At the same time, it benefits Papua New Guinean workers by reserving unskilled and low-skilled occupations for them and by having an in-built skills transfer component.

One concern about the written guidelines is that the classification of occupations needs to be reviewed and revised. Some occupations, which are currently classified as “amber”, could easily be re-classified as “red” because the skills required for these occupations are available in PNG.

Continue reading "PNG’s work permit system: poorly monitored; no skills transfer" »

In memory of the late Mama Puwau Gene


The glittering rays of the rising sun
Glow over the gorge of the village Parua
The petals of late mama Puwau
No longer shimmer as they did before

The petals have wilted not like yesterday
The gentle smile has faded not like it was before
Your sweet face waning among the family
The memories of your endearing qualities die

Continue reading "In memory of the late Mama Puwau Gene" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 12 – Aitape

Map - Aitape RegionBILL BROWN MBE

IT WAS 7 October 1955 – a Friday - and once again Gena, my Kamanaku mankimasta, and I were passengers on the weekly government charter.

But this time we were on our way to Aitape from Vanimo. Sitting in the cockpit next to the pilot, I had an embracing view of Aitape as we flew past on our way to Tadji airstrip.

I could see the waves breaking on the beach fronting No 2 Passage and crashing on the rocks below a solitary house which was perched on the cliff near Rohm Point.

Just around the point, a murky stream divided the shabby red roofs of the hospital from the government station and far into the distant east extended the black sand beach. Somewhere beyond the horizon was Wewak.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 12 – Aitape" »

My fortunate journey from village to the world of work


I ENJOYED feeding on my mother’s breast milk. I liked the taste and the softness of her skin, which provided me with warmth, comfort and security.

I never allowed my mother to go anywhere far without me. She had to be close to me always. She was mine and mine alone.

I think my mother allowed me to feed on her breast for about four years. I was old enough to remember everything including when she fought off my father when he tried to get close to her.

This, she told me later, was to punish him for allowing her to be flogged in public for not bearing a child soon enough.

But there came a time when I had to stop feeding from my mother’s breast. It was generally felt that young boys who were influenced too much by their mothers would get killed easily on the battlefield and be subservient to other men.

Continue reading "My fortunate journey from village to the world of work" »

An insider’s view on education reform (& corruption) in PNG


WHAT does it take to implement the biggest education reform in Papua New Guinea’s recent history?

As statistical manager with PNG’s National Department of Education, Peter Michael Magury – who currently works with the PNG National Research Institute (NRI) – is well positioned to answer this question.

Peter was in the engine room of education reform as the tuition fee free policy rolled out in 2012. In a conversation with the Development Policy Centre’s Grant Walton, Peter reflected on the magnitude of the challenge that faced him and his colleagues, and some of the ways they coped with the complexity, long hours, and even offers of bribes, as they oversaw the roll-out of this large-scale policy.

Continue reading "An insider’s view on education reform (& corruption) in PNG" »

Time for Peter O’Neill to honour PNG's 'man of distinction'

Jimmy Drekore & Keith JacksonMATHIAS KIN

YESTERDAY the people of Gumine in Simbu Province received prime minister Peter O’Neill with open arms and much fanfare for the opening of a local technical school.

As usual, the sociable Simbu people were most welcoming. 

On Monday, Simbu Children Foundation president Jimmy Drekore (pictured here with Keith Jackson), together with his best friend and wife Merlyn, had flown quietly out of Goroka to Port Moresby from where they will fly to the United States next Monday.

In New York on the evening of Thursday 27 October, Jimmy will receive the prestigious ‘World of Children Award for Child Advocacy in Health’ at a gala event at the Roosevelt Hotel.

He will speak as one of the four honourees to more than 450 guests, including, I believe, President Barak Obama, together with other important figures in politics, business and the arts.

Continue reading "Time for Peter O’Neill to honour PNG's 'man of distinction'" »

Election 2017: Tribalism, 'Nere Tere' & voter exploitation of LPV


THE EMERGING hype and calculated manoeuvrings in the run-up to the coming national elections of May-June 2017 have brought to light how limited preferential voting (LPV) can be exploited.

LPV was introduced to empower voters to choose candidates without being forced to select just one who would be the favoured candidate of tribe or clan and who must be voted for as an act of loyalty.

But unintentionally, LPV has empowered shrewd voters to find a way to aggrandise themselves during those months leading to the elections.

Continue reading "Election 2017: Tribalism, 'Nere Tere' & voter exploitation of LPV" »

Govt’s case against PNGSDP is in tatters


THE PAPUA New Guinea government has had a major setback in its three-year effort to gain control of the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) and its Long Term Fund.

Over the past week, the Singapore Supreme Court heard various legal arguments that highlighted the basic weakness in the State’s case and the inconsistencies in how it had been argued.

In September 2013, prime minister Peter O’Neill introduced the Ok Tedi Mining Tenth Supplemental Act which expropriated PNGSDP’s 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining.

This purportedly gave the State the power to restructure the board and management of PNGSDP as a way of attempting to take control of the Long Term Fund.

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Kings of the fish, servants of the sea - a Senemai tradition

Central Province outriggerVAGI SAMUEL JR

An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize

WE GATHERED the fishing nets and folded them neatly like clothes. We took the paddles and pegs, carried them onto the canoe and emptied the hulls with a cut-off four-litre container.

Our skipper lifted the container filled with salt water, sipped a little, then faced the east and listened to the invisible wind.

Thereafter, he looked at the sun’s eye and shadowed his forehead with his hands before getting on his knees and whispering a fishing prayer, made loud in the stillness of time.

Galeva!” he said. A crew of four males, we headed to the ocean like leaving home for war somewhere far away.

She was beautiful with her skin in white and red stripes caressing each pleasing wave. Oredae, her name, rocking on the sea like a mother swaying her baby in a bilum.

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A meditation on ageing & fading Australia-PNG links

Minister Charles Barnes & kiap Barry Holloway at Aiome, 1960s (Aust National Archives)CHRIS OVERLAND

AS I enter what are sometimes called the autumn years, I increasingly begin to see what Dylan Thomas was on about when he wrote:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

For example, I find myself increasingly annoyed by advertisements for retirement villages or, as they are now more commonly called, “lifestyle villages”.

These adverts, usually shot in soft focus, invariably show a fit looking grey headed couple playing with their grandchildren or walking hand in hand along the beach or engaged in some other highly idealised activity.

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Non-believers in the belief system: Sectarian saints I have met

First church at Tami IslandPHIL FITZPATRICK

WE ALL know about people who profess to be Christians but act as if they don’t know the meaning of the word. Politicians are particularly good at this.

There is another side to this coin, but unfortunately these good people are less visible.

There are many version of Christianity and plenty of divergence in what it means to be a Christian.

In my time, I’ve known a couple of priests who were agnostic and at least one who was an atheist.

I also once met a nun in the Star Mountains who seemed unsure about her faith and the existence of a god.

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Voters begin to realise politics is more than Nere Tere


I understand that Mathias is contemplating standing for parliament in next year’s national election. Along with Governor Gary Juffa (and his ‘Take Back PNG’ campaign), Planning Minister Charles Abel, Jeffrey Febi, Justin Parker, Sam Basil, Kerenga Kua, Dr Allan Marat, Timothy Masiu, Ken Fairweather and other likely candidates yet to be revealed to me, Mathias represents a new breed of Papua New Guinean politician determined to change the country for the better – KJ

I HAVE never heard of a born again politician in Papua New Guinea’s parliament. All the seemingly good guys join the crowd of no goods, except for a very few like Governor Garry Juffa.

In the highlands we have a phenomenon that comes around every election time. In the south Simbu tokples Its called Nere Tere which means "I eat, then I vote for you".

It's a misapplication of the traditional highlands bigman ways of handling power.

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The hypocrisy surrounding pregnant schoolgirls


AFTER more than five years of editing, judging and publishing writing from Papua New Guinea, I’ve noticed a number of recurrent themes.

One of the most consistent is the story of the pregnant schoolgirl.

In these narratives the girl is invariably smart with a great future ahead of her that is destroyed by an unexpected pregnancy. Sometimes the poor girl also contracts HIV/AIDS.

It is a theme that turns up more often than not in the work of highlands writers. I imagine this has something to do with societies in populous areas with severe resource pressures tending to be more conservative.

This may also be exacerbated by the men in these areas tending to regard their women as property as well as partners.

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The Marriage

Sitting Enga Woman (Irving Penn)LEO M MALALA

You sing bridal songs as you parade
Soft and sweet is your voice
Floating swiftly through the valley
Echoing over the mountains, reaches
groom waiting patiently to see
you appear on the horizon

Fall of dawn will sign you off
Night to conceal your affair
This will sign your dreams come true

Carry your bridal bag with pride
Possum fur on your head high
Paint your face with ochre
Wear the grass skirt reaching your toes
Excel in beauty to win his heart

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Politics, organised crime and corruption in the Pacific

Money laundering cycleGRANT WALTON & SINCLAIR DINNEN | Edited extract

You can read the full article here

ECONOMIC globalisation brings with it opportunities for money laundering involving politics and local and transnational networks.

As cross-border financial flows increase, so too does the potential for cleansing dirty money.

This is particularly apparent in Papua New Guinea, where, until recently, a booming economy has enabled elites to amass state largesse for personal and political advantage.

In 2012, Sam Koim, head of the country’s anticorruption agency Investigation Taskforce Sweep, drew international attention to the millions of PNG kina that have allegedly been laundered into Australia by PNG elites – much of it ending up in the north-eastern Australian property markets.

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