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77 posts from April 2018

The Papua New Guinean voice is as important as any other voice

Author Samantha Kusari - Papua New Guinean writing can stand proudly on the world stage

This message from the ‘My Walk to Equality’ project team was presented by SAMANTHA KUSARI to the students of Paradise College, Port Moresby, to mark their annual writing awards ceremony

PORT MORESBY - Congratulations to all students for participating in the writing competition. It is so wonderful to hear from your staff member Samantha Kusari of this annual literary activity encouraged by your school.

Ms Kusari is a published Papua New Guinean author and you are quite so fortunate to have her literary talent so close by.

The 'My Walk to Equality' project team is a voluntary group of 45 Papua New Guinean women writers (including Ms Kusari) supported by two gentlemen who have spent over 12 years encouraging, publishing and distributing PNG-authored books.

They are Keith Jackson AM and Philip Fitzpatrick, co-founders of Papua New Guinea's annual national literary competition, the Crocodile Prize.

We have a vision of using literature to include the voices of Papua New Guinean women in the national conversation about all social issues.

Continue reading "The Papua New Guinean voice is as important as any other voice" »

A Kiwi police sergeant’s letter home from Bougainville

| Bay of Plenty Times 

BUIN -  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.

Continue reading "A Kiwi police sergeant’s letter home from Bougainville" »

I allowed myself to dream of life without politicians

Phil 2015
Phil Fitzpatrick - 'we could live without poiticians but like cockroaches they'd come creeping back'


TUMBY BAY – I find it tempting to contemplate what life would be like without politicians.

It’s a concept that would have been unthinkable and impossible only a few years ago, but events of late are showing us how increasingly irrelevant and mistrusted politicians are becoming.

Of course, a lot depends on how you define what makes a politician. At its widest interpretation it means any apparatchik or self-styled big man, even ones operating out in the rural wilds. At its narrowest it means our elected representatives in parliament.

It is the latter who seem to be rapidly losing touch with the real world.

There are plenty of examples to demonstrate how politicians are increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion and how, in this globalising world, they have lost control of key elements of traditional governance, most notably economic one but others – like social equity - also.

Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, for example, and yet many states of the USA have independently re-endorsed the agreement’s goals and, in practice, have even surpassed them.

Continue reading "I allowed myself to dream of life without politicians" »

Asylum-seekers left mentally scarred by years of detention

Regional Processing Centre  Manus Island (Vlad Sokin)
An asylum-seeker enters the ‘Regional Processing Centre’ on Manus Island (Vlad Sokhin)


GENEVA - A senior UN refugee agency official has warned about the “shocking” effects of long-term detention on Australia-bound asylum-seekers who are being held on remote Pacific islands.

Indrika Ratwatte said the situation in Nauru, as well and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, was as bad as he had seen in his 25-year career.

Both locations have been used to house more than 3,000 men, women and children from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Sri Lanka and Myanmar since Australia implemented its offshore processing policy in 2013.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva after returning from Nauru last week, Mr Ratwatte, who heads the Asia and Pacific bureau of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), described the “shocking” psychological and the mental toll on refugees and asylum seekers.

Continue reading "Asylum-seekers left mentally scarred by years of detention" »

‘O’Neill can make or break Bougainville peace’, says MP

William Nakin MP
William Nakin MP - "Peter O’Neill holds the master key to Bougainville’s sustainable peace"


BUKA - The assertion by Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill that Bougainville may not be given its independence* is an act of sabotage of the peace process in Bougainville and the Bougainville Peace Agreement signed by the national government on 30 August 2001.

It also pre-empts the outcome of the referendum on the future political status of Bougainville next year and ratification of the outcome of this referendum by the PNG national parliament.

The constitutionally guaranteed Bougainville referendum will take place on 15 June 2019 in compliance with three instruments: the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Part XIV of the PNG Constitution and the Organic Law on Peace Building in Bougainville.

The peace agreement states clearly that the referendum cannot be held before 10 years and not after 15 years from the date of the inauguration of the first Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

The anniversary of the ABG will be celebrated on 15 June 2019, the 15th year of its existence and the final day that the ABG and the national government were given to hold the referendum for the people of Bougainville to decide their future political destiny.

Continue reading "‘O’Neill can make or break Bougainville peace’, says MP" »

Foreign aid: Who gets to decide development priorities?

Aid post
The aid post system in PNG is breaking down & is in dire need of more development assistance


BANGKOK - Emma Wakpi has presented an excellent summary of factors underpinning the success or otherwise of development aid.  So, is this the recipe for success?  And what might it mean in practice?

A question for practitioners on both sides of the donor-recipient equation is who gets to decide development priorities and strategies?  And possibly more importantly, who gets to own the outcomes? The intended recipients - or someone else?

No one would challenge the notion that it is recipient governments that decides its priorities. But I would argue that, even under the most auspicious circumstances, these priorities generally translate into precious little sustainable benefit for people at community level.

If we are concerned about alleviating poverty, creating economic opportunity, addressing health or education indicators we are invariably talking about people who live in rural or peri-urban communities.

Continue reading "Foreign aid: Who gets to decide development priorities?" »

Mr Koyangko & his students make a plea for reading books

Mr Koyangko and students
Mr Koyangko stands with his students at West Goroka Primary School


PORT MORESBY - A Facebook post by a Mr Tony Koyangko for good hearted people to donate a book for the 2,500 students at West Goroka Primary School broke my heart,

Of course, West Goroka isn’t the only one - there are so many schools in Papua New Guinea with a similar plea.

Occasionally in Port Moresby, I visit the Moale Dabua secondhand clothing shop which also stocks good reading books.

The result is I have a carton full of books, mainly fiction, collecting dust in a corner of my room. I’ll be sending some of them with complimentary copies of my own novel, ‘Tam’gega – Fatherless Child’, to Goroka next week via DHL.

Lately, I’ve been writing children’s stories for the Library for All project. As a writer, I like to use my skills to help improve literacy in PNG.

Continue reading "Mr Koyangko & his students make a plea for reading books" »

Girl Power wows as it launches anti-violence video, ‘No More’


STACEY YALO | EMTV News | Pacific Media Watch

PORT MORESBY - Renowned artist Mereani Masani and her all-girl band have launched their first music video, ‘No More’, dedicated to ending domestic violence in Papua New Guinea.

The rare all female group, Girl Power, hopes to empower more women to enter the Papua New Guinea music industry.

Last night the seven-member band - made up of students, mothers and a lecturer - braved the male-dominated industry in PNG to come out and not only sing but raise awareness of social issues affecting women and girls.

They had previously toured Goroka and Madang but this was the first time they had performed in the national capital.

Although sometimes billed as PNG's first all-girl band, there were earlier women groups in Rabaul in the 1960s and 1970s.

Honesty & clarity often not present in aid transactions


ADELAIDE – Emma Wakpi’s excellent essay, ‘Foreign aid didn’t work. Then we started to look at tradition’, deals with the specific problem of finding a way to deliver aid within a given cultural context in order to achieve real and lasting benefits.

In doing so, the author has pointed to the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to international efforts to bring the benefits of modern civilisation (I use this term advisedly) to the so-called developing world.

The elephant in question is culture, and the associated persistence of systems of belief, thinking and living that are not inherently compatible with those of what we habitually describe as western civilisation.

Continue reading "Honesty & clarity often not present in aid transactions" »

Pacific workers, not backpackers, should be seasonal labourers

Gilbert and Michael
Gilbert and Michael from Vanuatu picking apples at Vernview Victoria

BEN DOHERTY | The Guardian

SYDNEY - Australia should consider abolishing the three-month regional work requirement for holidaying backpackers and fill the labour gap with an expanded seasonal worker program to help boost Pacific economies, the World Bank argues in a new report.

Backpackers outnumber seasonal workers by six to one in Australia’s agricultural sector, with more than 36,000 taking jobs, mainly in horticulture, each year.

For backpackers on 417 working holiday visas, the “specified work” requirement allows them to extend their one-year visa by another year if they undertake three months’ work in the agricultural, mining, fishing or construction industries in a regional area.

Overwhelmingly, backpackers fill labour market shortages in horticulture, picking fruit on farms across the country.

Continue reading "Pacific workers, not backpackers, should be seasonal labourers" »

Canberra meeting discusses strategies for more action on TB

TB day bannerLISA CORNISH | Devex | Edited extracts

CANBERRA — In Canberra in late March, TB advocates descended on Parliament House to bring the story of TB directly to politicians, calling on them to be leaders in the fight against a disease that is preventable and curable.

This was a precursor to a high-level meeting on TB at the United Nations in September to urge governments to shore up their commitments to end the TB epidemic by 2030.

But how to convince politicians? Can advocates make inroads in time for governments to make the big commitments needed just six months from now?

Dr Joyce Sauk, a district medical officer from Papua New Guinea, and Ingrid Schoeman, an advocate for TB patients in South Africa, are both survivors of TB and spoke of their experiences at the parliamentary breakfast in Canberra.

Continue reading "Canberra meeting discusses strategies for more action on TB" »

Beware of names, there’s more to them than meets the eye


TUMBY BAY – “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”

These oft-quoted lines from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ are now enshrined as a given but I’m not sure I entirely agree.

If, instead of being called a ‘rose’, this flamboyant flower with its heady aroma was called a ‘pigs arse bush’ would it be quite the same?

Unlike Shakespeare, I think names can be quite important.

Take political parties for instance.

In Australia the two main parties are Liberal and Labor. There’s also a large minor party called the Nationals.

I don’t know whether anyone has noticed but there doesn’t appear to be anyone you could actually call a liberal in the Liberal Party anymore.

Same with Labor. Turn it upside down and give it a shake and not one bona fide labourer (worker) will fall out.

Continue reading "Beware of names, there’s more to them than meets the eye" »

Foreign aid didn’t work. Then we started to look at tradition

Emma Wakpi
Emma Wakpi


PORT MORESBY - Foreign aid is an evolving concept burdened with historical biases that it’s trying to shed as it endeavours to achieve equity in a world where power and politics are intertwined with charity and moral obligation.

Aid has not worked as effectively as we would hope, but the mistakes made are lessons in how it can be improved for the future. 

Foreign aid had its beginnings in early evolutionist ideology that defined modernisation by western development standards with little regard to social relations or established transactional processes in non-European nations.

European anthropologists in the 19th century used evolution to explain their advanced superiority in technology and monetary transactions to justify the colonisation of lesser nations.

Continue reading "Foreign aid didn’t work. Then we started to look at tradition" »

BSP & Robin Fleming: Too big to fail in Papua New Guinea

Robin Fleming

ERIC ELLIS | Euromoney | Extracts

You can read the full version of Eric Ellis’s fascinating Euromoney article here

PORT MORESBY - As might any banker who sports the startling nickname of ‘porn star’ among his colleagues and associates, Robin Fleming is almost destined to confound in person.

For a start, Euromoney waits 75 minutes for a long-arranged meeting with Fleming to discuss the bank he runs, the Papua New Guinea-based Bank South Pacific (BSP). It is the region’s biggest bank; BSP’s systemic 60% to 65% market share keeps its home economy afloat; and it has offshoots in Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Samoa. 

Unusually for a bank, BSP is also PNG’s biggest taxpayer, so there is a lot to talk about, except Fleming lingers in the office next door, chatting and laughing with colleagues. And PNG’s fabled coffee has not made it to his waiting room.

Admittedly, we are unlikely to be the most important engagement in his diary. In small-town Port Moresby, that would be, as Fleming would admit, PNG’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, Fleming’s former boss.

Continue reading "BSP & Robin Fleming: Too big to fail in Papua New Guinea" »

A long journey, but Rose is one of Australia's newest citizens

Rose and Peter Kranz
Rose holds her new citizenship certificate


NOOSA - I'm sure PNG Attitude readers will share our delight in welcoming one of Australia's newest citizens, Rose Kranz, to join the nearly 25 million rest of us Australians (while reducing Papua New Guinea's population by one!).

It's been a seven-year journey for Simbu-born Rose and husband Peter (read about it here) - but yesterday at a citizenship ceremony at the Lake Macquarie City Council chambers in New South Wales it came to a happy conclusion.

"It was an emotional moment, moving many to tears as 39 new citizens were welcomed to Australia," said Peter.

"They came from places as diverse as Nepal, South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

"Our Mayor, Federal and State members of parliament and local Councillors did Australia proud as the pledge was recited by all.

"This has been a long and arduous journey for Rose, and she was emotional as she realised she was giving up her PNG legal identity. 

"But as I said to friends, she is now an Aussie but will always be a Simbu ambai in her heart," Peter said.

Peter and Rose are both long-standing and valued contributors to this blog and their wonderful relationship is a literal reminder of the ties that bind our two great countries.

How PNG LNG is shaking up the earthquake

Damming of Tagari River
Damming of Tagari River caused by 26 February earthquake (Barbara Lokes)

MICHAEL MAIN | Envirosociety

CANBERRA - The word for ‘earthquake’ in the Huli language is wonderfully onomatopoeic: dindi dumbirumbi (literally “earth moving and shaking”).

During fieldwork conducted in 2016, I interviewed an elderly Huli ritual leader named Dali Ango at his home in Koroba, located in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province. Huli ritual leaders, who inherited their position, were holders of a vast amount of traditional historical, genealogical, and cosmological knowledge.

Ango talked of ancient land spirits (dama in Huli) named Hu and Hunabe, who, along with dindi dumbirumbi, formed the earth and the mountains. Earthquakes were just one of several indications that the earth was tending toward disaster.

Earthquakes, droughts, floods, periods of famine, or even major warfare were held to be signs of impending doom that required the performance of large-scale dindi gamu (“earth spell”) rituals as a remedy.

Continue reading "How PNG LNG is shaking up the earthquake" »

Is Australia really still a friend of PNG? Or has the magic gone?

Park-your-money-(PNG Blogs)
This cartoon from PNG Blogs points to the ease with which corrupt money is 'parked' in Australia


TUMBY BAY - Apart from the magnificent scenery my relationship with Papua New Guinea is firmly based on the individual friendships I’ve established there.

As Paul Oates notes, we are all human beings and our commonalities far outweigh our differences.

One of the other good things about a relationship based on friendship is that it naturally leads to a sense of equality.

This means that I don’t approach any particular engagement in which I become involved in Papua New Guinea with a sense of superiority.

When we ran the Crocodile Prize, for instance, we were working with fellow writers, there was no teacher-student or other status-based element involved. This is one reason why, I think, the Crocodile Prize succeeded.

Continue reading "Is Australia really still a friend of PNG? Or has the magic gone?" »

Pomio landowners have a major court victory over logging giants

Pomio landowners (Scott Waide)
Some of the landowners who won a notable court case against land-grabbing loggers in the Pomio district

SCOTT WAIDE | Asia Pacific Report

LAE - A group of customary landowners in Papua New Guinea has regained access to their land following a significant legal victory against supporters of a Malaysian logging company.

Seven people from Pomio in East New Britain were barred from entering their land for the past six years after a restraining order was issued against them in 2012.

The landowners include Paul Pavol Palusualrea and Nobert Pames who have been vocal against ‘land grabbing’ and widespread deforestation in the remote district.

The National Court in Kokopo set aside the restraining orders after finding there was a lack of evidence.

The landowners were represented by lawyers from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR).

Continue reading "Pomio landowners have a major court victory over logging giants" »

Don’t get lost in translation, PNG culture is similar to the west’s

Paul Oates - 'let's look for our similarities not our differences'


GOLD COAST - When I arrived in Papua New Guinea, I had a basic understanding of Melanesian culture and Pidgin English but I worked hard at it and nearly two years in the bush gave me much better communication and translation skills.

As Philip Kai Morre writes (‘The disorientation of a transitional people in a confused world’), the central issue relates to culture.

Yet, if we take a broader view, there are many similarities that exist between PNG and western culture.

Why? Because we are all human and most of us tend to think in parallel concepts.

If you begin drawing comparisons between traditional PNG cultures and western cultures, it’s a fair bet you will identify differences. If you start looking for dissimilarities, you will inevitably find them.

Continue reading "Don’t get lost in translation, PNG culture is similar to the west’s" »

As more cuts loom, Australia's aid sector must confront its failures

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop in her department's Innovation Xchange unit in 2015. The unit develops ideas for delivering aid differently (Andrew Meares)

RICHARD MOORE | Canberra Times | Extract

You can read Richard Moore’s complete article here

CANBERRA - So here we are. Almost five years after the start of the Abbott government's 30% cut to Australia's international development cooperation, we have talk of more cuts.

Fairfax Media reported last week another 10% may be lopped off Australian aid in the May budget. Coming a mere three days after the OECD castigated Australia for spending so little, it illustrates contemptuously the aid sector's lack of impact and influence.

The chances are the media report was leaked by those who support further cuts – or by those who oppose them! It is a test of whether this is an easy budget saving or whether it will have a political sting.

Continue reading "As more cuts loom, Australia's aid sector must confront its failures" »

I Am a Woman

Shera Kama
Dr Shera Kama


I am a woman, so fearfully and wonderfully design by the creator
I am a woman, a masterpiece of the all-time designer
I am a woman, custom made for my purpose

I am a woman, I am beautiful, I am intelligent, I am loving
Let my beauty blossom in the spring sunshine,
Let my song penetrates the inner soul of my love,
Let the warmth of my love embrace you forever
I am a woman, I am gracious, I am caring, I am wonderful

I am a woman covered in fragile veil; let me fly with the eagles in the storms
See me smile through my tears to feel the strength of a woman,
See me cry through my labour to feel the pain of a woman,
Come wipe my tears, come soar with me to the heights unknown
And let me rest on your shoulder

Continue reading "I Am a Woman" »

A timely reminder: unresolved cases of crime & bad governance

I-am-the-changeKEITH JACKSON

Read here the complete version of ‘Lest We Forget: A review of 20 unresolved issues of national concern 2007 – 2017

NOOSA - Transparency International PNG made a considerable gift to Papua New Guinea when last year it compiled its selected chronicle of “unresolved issues of national concern”, covering unsettled matters of corruption and ill governance in PNG over the 10 years to 2017.

The descriptions of these issues – presented in an undated document entitled ‘Lest We Forget’ - offer a further illumination and an effective indictment on something readers of PNG Attitude already know too well – that, in considering the affairs of PNG, we cannot go far without running into extreme examples of corrupt and incompetent practice.

This well-compiled report (linked to above), which includes six practical recommendations for improvement, describes 20 cases divided into six categories: risky state investments; state-sanctioned land grabs; state agencies lacking accountability; state abuse of assets and funds; state laxness to critical bills; and state travesty of justice.

Continue reading "A timely reminder: unresolved cases of crime & bad governance" »

The disorientation of a transitional people in a confused world

Morre_Philip Kai
Philip Kai Morre


KUNDIAWA – Papua New Guinea has been open to western culture for well over 100 years but, here in the Highlands, we are only now marking our third generation of contact with westerners.

As such maladaptation is occurring and a spectrum of disorders has arisen - cargo cults, political manipulation, economic frustration and social disorder.

As we try to adapt to a money-based society, increasingly we become its slaves and victims.

Truly we are regressing as Chris Overland has stated, and this is taking different forms.

They include the decline of moral values and norms, disappearance of customary laws, loss of our good customs and celebrations, diminished problem-solving skills and knowledge, poorly functioning gender roles and responsibilities, forgotten land cultivation method and more.

We are in a transitional phase in a confused world and we are disoriented.

Continue reading "The disorientation of a transitional people in a confused world" »

A New War


The calmness of the ocean
Speaks of a new war
Coming from the horizon
Where eyes can see no more

Where ears can no longer hear
Minds can no longer imagine
Where there are no fears
Where there are no margins

There is a war to be fought
Calling over the horizon
To lay down all negative thoughts
To put all weapons down

Continue reading "A New War" »

Mary Lou Uechtritz: Rabaul, the frangipani town, loses a flower

Mum Beehives
Mary Lou at the Beehives in Rabaul with harbour and volcanoes in the background


SYDNEY - Mary Louise Uechtritz passed away on Holy Thursday at Brigidine House, Randwick in Sydney. She was surrounded by children and grandchildren, her room festooned with Papua New Guinean memorabilia, flag and flowers. Frangipani flowers.

It was at the Frangipani Ball in 1951 that the romance between Mary Lou Harris and her future husband Alfred Max Parkinson Uechtritz blossomed.

The frangipani had been introduced to Papua New Guinea by Alf’s anthropologist-botanist grandfather Richard Parkinson in the 1880s.

It became a symbol of resilience for the town after poking stubbornly through the volcanic ash and re-flowering after the historic double eruption devastation of 1937.

The other great symbols of Rabaul are the Beehives, or Dawapia Rocks - two rocky volcanic outcrops in one of the world’s most spectacular harbours.

Mum (Mary Lou) and Dad (Alf) occasionally picnicked and plotted their life together on the Beehives and one such visit produced the accompanying photo of the bride-to-be – an emblematic image of their romance and 56 years of wedded bliss.

Continue reading "Mary Lou Uechtritz: Rabaul, the frangipani town, loses a flower" »

Court to decide whether Schram case will be public or private

Dr Albert Schram - support for his position coming from PNG and internationally


PORT MORESBY – A National Court judge will decide on Tuesday whether the dismissal of Dr Albert Schram from his vice-chancellorship of the University of Technology will proceed to judicial review or be dealt with as a private matter of wrongful dismissal.

A judicial review of the decision making process of the university Council would publicly determine whether due process was followed and natural justice prevailed.

Dr Schram’s lawyer Emmanuel Isaac is expected to argue that the Council’s inquiry into the allegations against the vice-chancellor was biased and did not offer the presumption of innocence or provide a fair hearing.

It is now more than a month since Dr Schram’s dismissal and it is believed he and his wife Paulina remain in Port Moresby living off their savings.

Meanwhile, the New York-based Scholars at Risk Network is understood to have communicated with Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Higher Education expressing concern at the Schram case and referring to the vice-chancellor’s exoneration on the same allegations in 2014.

Continue reading "Court to decide whether Schram case will be public or private" »

A month of earthquakes leaves PNG children traumatised

Children have been traumatised by quake (ReliefWeb)
Children suffering from trauma have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and self-harm

STAFF REPORTER | United Nations Children's Fund

PORT MORESBY – One month after a series of earthquakes of magnitude up to 7.5 hit four Highlands provinces, children are still in shock and suffering significant trauma and stress which could have negative consequences to their long-term well-being.

“Children are still being confronted by fear, loss, confusion, family separation, deteriorated living conditions and disruption of social and school activities,” said Karen Allen, UNICEF Representative for Papua New Guinea.

“Psychological damage among children should not be overlooked. It can have a negative impact on children’s brain development, mental health and overall wellbeing in the long-run.”

Children who have suffered from trauma have an increased risk of delayed development, mental health disorders, depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide, she said.

Continue reading "A month of earthquakes leaves PNG children traumatised" »