CRAIG THORNE | Bay of Plenty Times
BUIN - For those of you who don't know, I am currently on a deployment from Waihi in New Zealand to Bougainville in a town called Buin which is as far south as you can go and is the most remote part of Papua New Guinea.
Without going into too much detail, New Zealand Police are here to assist the Bougainville Police Service and advise them on policing matters. This will eventually have them being self-sufficient and enabling them to police without our influence. Three NZ Police are based in Buin.
The country is still rebuilding from the civil war of 1988-1998 which ended with between 15,000 and 20,000 Bougainvilleans dead. This all started over the Panguna mine which in its day was the largest open cut mine in the world, rich in copper and gold.
I am now a month into my 12-month deployment - so what do I miss? It is not the material things or peanut M&Ms (well, I do, but can live without). It is my partner, close family and friends. I have learnt very quickly here that, at the end of the day, that is all that really matters.
I don't want for anything here. It has been a month since I've had a trim latte and I haven't gone crazy yet although I will be looking forward to one when I return.
We go to the market every second day or so and get fresh vegies and fruit. The pineapples and bananas are the sweetest I've ever tasted and you buy them for next to nothing.
In the downtime, we exercise with what very basic equipment we have and watch all the NRL games which I don't even get to do at home.
The weather here has a low of 24 degrees at night and during the day around 37 degrees, and yes, we wear uniform, including long trousers.
The roads you wouldn't believe - it is like driving on a river bed. It is only 98km from Buin to the nearest town of Arawa but this takes us just under three hours due to the condition of the road. There are also several river crossings in this trip which are impassable after heavy rain.
In Buin, we only have power a few hours a day, no supermarket or malls to shop at.
It is very, very simple yet the people are the friendliest I have ever met.
In fact, they have nothing, yet have it all, which we could all learn from - everyone should be able to live in harmony no matter what.