Previous month:
November 2018
Next month:
January 2019

104 posts from December 2018

The most venomous snakes in Papua New Guinea

Papuan taipan
Papuan taipan


DAGUA - Most people have an instinctive fear of snakes, which is believed to be evolutionary. Researchers think the fear came about as a prehistoric survival mechanism but this does not explain why humans do not fear other predatory animals as much.

Ophidiophobia (also ophiophobia) is the word used to describe this human fear of snakes. It is a sub-category of herpetophobia, the general fear of reptiles like snakes and lizards.

There is mild ophidiophobia where any encounter with snakes brings fear. And there is extreme ophidiophobia in an abnormal fear of snakes.

In extreme ophidiophobia, sufferers develop physical and psychological stress when near snakes, shown images of snakes or told stories about snakes.

Continue reading "The most venomous snakes in Papua New Guinea" »

Some people mock & deride refugees. Here’s why you should not


Henry Lowig
Professor Henry Lowig

NOOSA - On Saturday, Father Bob Maguire [@FatherBob] was attacked on Twitter by journalist Chris Kenny, former politician Alexander Downer and once Labor now Liberal political-hopeful Warren Mundine.

The elderly priest who describes himself as “patron of the unloved and unlovely” had drawn a comparison between the barbed wire that fenced in the World War II concentration camp at Auschwitz and the conditions prevailing for refugees on Manus and Nauru, a link which had enraged the three chumps.

I tweeted in response to them: “My father-in-law lost most of his family in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. My wife is horrified at the Australian government's treatment of refugees. She recognises the same elements of cruelty & inhumanity, sickness & death, present in Manus & Nauru.”

I note here, in further defence of Father Bob, the words of the Auschwitz Memorial: “When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process. It's important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.”

Continue reading "Some people mock & deride refugees. Here’s why you should not" »

Descendants protest museum's removal of Pacific treasures

Richard Parkinson
Richard Parkinson – descendants of the world-renowned anthropologist warn his ''gift of history'' will be marginalised

LINDA MORRIS | Sydney Morning Herald | Extracts

SYDNEY - The Australian Museum's decision to move a world-class collection offsite to make way for a touring exhibition has sparked protests from descendants of a distinguished Danish anthropologist.

After the Garden Palace fire of 1882 destroyed all but a handful of museum artefacts, the Australian Museum turned to Richard Parkinson, his wife Phebe and her sister, Emma Coe Forsayth, known as Queen Emma, to rebuild its collection.

Between them, the pioneers - who established plantations in the New Guinea islands in 1879 - provided more than 4,000 items from 1882 to 1884 alone, and continued donations until 1911, forming a core part of the 60,000 objects that are currently housed at the museum.

The objects would become records of times past that would astonish and inform future generations, the museum's then head of anthropology, Jim Specht, predicted.

Continue reading "Descendants protest museum's removal of Pacific treasures" »

Transparency tells us something of its anti-corruption year

Daphne Caruana Galizia
Transparency gave its 2018 Anti-Corruption Award to Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s leading investigative journalist, who was assassinated in October 2017. The last words she wrote: “There are crooks everywhere, the situation is desperate.” Her killers have not been found

STAFF WRITER | Transparency International

BERLIN - As 2018 draws to a close, we want to look back on the year in corruption.

From the African Union declaring 2018 the “year of anti-corruption" to the Summit of the Americas’ overarching anti-corruption theme, the cause of anti-corruption has been high on the global agenda.

The year started with the launch of our Anti-Corruption Knowledge Hub, a dedicated online space for research on corruption.

In the spring, the Corruption Perceptions Index demonstrated the link between corruption and violence against the press and shrinking space for civil society, both worrying trends continuing throughout the year. 

Over the summer, following our critical report, the International Maritime Organisation, the United Nations shipping agency, finally set ambitious emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement. 

We also analysed and made recommendations on a proposed EU-wide whistleblower protection directive  — which politicians have now voted to adopt. A welcome step. 

In autumn, we held the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Copenhagen, where over 1,600 participants gathered to discuss and pioneer the fight against corruption. 

During the conference, the 2018 Anti-Corruption Award recognised Spanish whistleblower Ana Garrido Ramos and the late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia for their fearlessness and integrity in speaking truth to power.

Continue reading "Transparency tells us something of its anti-corruption year" »

Mountain myths from Papua New Guinea

Mt Giluwe
Mount Giluwe


DAGUA - In Papua New Guinea, in traditional societies, mountains animate a sense of awe and malevolence. And they are also recognised as a source of life, spirituality and identity.

Where gods and goddesses reside in mountains in ancient Greek mythologies, ancestral spirits and masalai reside in mountains in PNG mythologies. In PNG, creation stories are augmented by origin and genealogy stories of an ancestor evolving or coming from the mountain.

In August 2008, I spent six weeks practice teaching at Pangia government station in the Southern Highlands. One of my lessons was a task directing students to write a traditional story.

Continue reading "Mountain myths from Papua New Guinea" »

Taking risks, trying the new & some advice about screenwriting

Wendall Thomas
Wendall Thomas - author & screenwriter


“If what you’re doing does not have the possibility of failing then by definition you’re not doing anything new…. If you know how to do what it is you’re doing, and/or have seen it done before, then you’re not doing anything new. So the only way to do anything new or interesting is to open yourself  up to that risk of failing and in that sense I try to look at failure and success both as neutral things…this will be the way it will be worth anything at all, or it definitely won’t be if I don’t do that” (Charlie Kaufman, Masterclass moderated by Marit Kapl, 2 February 2011, Goteborg International Film Festival)

BRISBANE - Against this stream of thought by American screen writer, producer and director Charlie Kaufman, I attempt to lay out a path of explanation for what I consider a milestone in how 13-year old PNG Attitude continues to evoke and develop the curiosity, imagination and writing technique of Papua New Guineans.

Throughout this year, my personal challenge to widen the reach and impact of the ‘My Walk to Equality’ project, has been to persist at taking risks; a decision to vary format and subject matter in my submissions to PNG Attitude.

The opportunities granted to me through the inaugural MWTE Writer Fellowship 2018 along with my first pilgrimage of the Kokoda Trail with trek tour operator, Adventure Kokoda.

The awarding of the fellowship by staunch supporter Paga Hill Development Company enabled a wide-ranging exposure to ideas, inspiration, discussion and debate for literary exposition.

Continue reading "Taking risks, trying the new & some advice about screenwriting" »

2018: An unsettled year for PNG

Ron May

RONALD MAY | East Asia Forum

CANBERRA - It was a year of mixed outcomes for Papua New Guinea.

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Highlands caused extensive landslides early in the year, killing more than 150 people and damaging houses, food gardens, roads, airstrips and buildings.

The quake’s epicentre was in the Southern Highlands in an area of major oil, gas and mining operations, which were forced to close-down and evacuate staff.

Local landowners demanded an investigation into the ‘causes’ of the earthquake, many believing that oil and gas extraction was responsible. A state of emergency was declared but relief operations were hampered by the remoteness of the affected areas and heavy rains and flooding.

The effects of the earthquake exacerbated problems in the Southern Highlands, which faces recurrent intergroup fighting and unresolved socio-economic grievances.

Landowners were promised royalty payments under an LNG Project Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement negotiated in 2009. But the implementation of this agreement has been hampered by the difficulties of identifying the legitimate claimants among contesting groups.

Continue reading "2018: An unsettled year for PNG" »

Empathy & collaboration key to shared global growth & prosperity

Davis Cousar
Davis Cousar

DAVIS COUSAR | Independent Mail

ANDERSON, SOUTH CAROLINA USA - It was 9 pm Monday in Australia’s Brisbane airport, and we were headed to Papua New Guinea for the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

The seven of us, all Furman University students and faculty, had been travelling for two days and were looking forward to getting our bags and checking into our hotel to take a warm shower, change clothes and sleep before our flight to PNG the next morning.

We waited at baggage claim for our luggage … and waited … and waited. Our bags didn’t appear. The woman at the service desk said our bags were nowhere to be found, but she assured us they would be located and placed on the next flight to PNG.

As it turns out, when we arrived the next afternoon, our bags weren’t there.

The APEC Summit began in 1989 as an informal meeting between 12 Asia-Pacific economies seeking to increase trade and collaboration in the region. Today, APEC consists of 21 Pacific-Rim economies that work together to create inclusive and sustainable growth.

Continue reading "Empathy & collaboration key to shared global growth & prosperity" »

I was in the depths of despair when PNG Attitude came to help

Sylbeez Hive Learning Centre
The school finished 2018 with just seven students, the eighth is Marlene’s daughter Darhlia. At right, wearing a cap, is teacher David Kataka


LAE - So many kind hearted PNG Attitude readers have given my two children and me a wonderful Christmas. Your help has made us happy, as we have had a really tough time lately.

I write this article to tell my story and show that I work hard to try to make things happen. The kindness of readers pushes me forward to keep doing what I do.

Thank you for your kindness. I wish you all a prosperous new year.

My children’s father brought me to Lae from Port Moresby in 2005 when my son was around five months old.

In 2006, I got a job at the Salvation Army school as its deputy principal. At the end of 2009 I was offered the role of principal with a full sponsorship to do a master’s degree in leadership at Divine Word University. But instead I resigned because I wanted to start a learning centre for the sake of my son, who had a  disability, and other children with parents who worried whether they were properly taken care of.

So I wrote a letter to the Lions Club here in Lae asking if I could use their building in Eriku to operate a learning centre and if I could pay the bond fee and rentals at the end of January 2010.

Continue reading "I was in the depths of despair when PNG Attitude came to help" »

Mountains & rivers: solo adventurer gets set to do PNG

Charlie Walker has chosen PNG for his next big adventure

CHARLIE WALKER | Adventurer & Writer

LONDON - In March 2019, I will undertake a two-month journey through the interior of Papua New Guinea.

The goal is to get from the coast at Lae back to the coast at Wewak via the country's three highest peaks and having paddled the longest river, the Sepik, from source to sea.

The entire route will be completed without motorised transport and is approximately 2,400 km, breaking down as:

Cycling: 800 km
Hiking: 480 km
Packrafting: 1,120 km

Some of the challenges will include local crime, tribal warfare, whitewater, crocodiles and some of the world's densest jungle.

Due to the lack of internet connectivity, I will not be blogging during the trip but, when possible, will post updates on Instagram and Twitter.

I’m a British adventurer, writer and motivational speaker specialising in long distance, human-powered expeditions and I’ve travelled by bicycle, foot, horse and dugout canoe.

Continue reading "Mountains & rivers: solo adventurer gets set to do PNG" »

Oh how we miss this feisty, jocular teller of legends


Patrick & Alfred
Big Pat Levo with the diminutive Alfred Kaniniba

NOOSA - You’re leaning back after a few Christmas Day jugs saying to yourself ‘my work here is done, I can skive off for a bit’, when suddenly a long absent presence storms the inbox.

It has a name and its name is Patrick ‘Big Pat’ Levo, scion of the Gulf crocodile eaters, plantain procurers and sago suckers. Not to mention buai bashers.

Reluctant as I was to receive this missive from Big Pat on the birthday of Jesus (or, indeed, any day at all), I could not help but see that it contained a pome (poem) written in pottery (poetry).

I remarked to myself, because no one else would listen, that this was more than passing strange, it was high speed and reckless overtaking of strange.

A strangeness that begets a sudden and nervous, "What the feck is going on here".

So without further ado, as the man said after his 45 minute introductory speech, I offer you the blank verse of Big Pat, if not Papua New Guinea's leading journalist then surely its tallest, and wittiest:

Continue reading "Oh how we miss this feisty, jocular teller of legends" »

....and the very bestest Christmas to all our readers

Cover of the PNG primary school paper for Christmas 1967. It doesn't seem like 51 years ago that I edited that fine publication. But the calendar doesn't lie.


NOOSA - Christmas Day has dawned without snow and ice on the Sunshine Coast, very much the 'no surprises' scenario which in my previous life always delighted clients . 

There is quite a lot of traffic building up on the roads, as this is a resort area, but not quite as much as the human traffic in the local liquor stores yesterday. Grog shops closed on Christmas Day triggers national panic.

Anyway today we have glorious beach weather and friends to visit and people are on the move, populating Main Beah and the river foreshore with tents and tarpaulins and Eskies to keep the champagne chilled.

Noosa shire's population doubles at these times as holidaymakers head here to experience the safe waters of Laguna Bay, the Noosa River foreshore and the calm hills and forests of the hinterland.

But despite the crowds, there is the wonderful aura of the tranquillity and joy that always accompanies Christmas.

This morning Ingrid and I will visit mum-in-law Libby (93 and going fine) at the aged care place she enjoys so much; join some good neighbours for some good drinks in the middle of the day; and later in the afternoon play host to our delightful local relatives for some agreeable hours. That's my Christmas Day schedule and I hope yours will be just as pleasant.

Continue reading "....and the very bestest Christmas to all our readers" »

This Christmas rekindles thoughts of a memorable trip

Kumbon 4 - Nii & Kumbon
Francis and I sign our books for buyers at the Brisbane Writers Festival


WABAG - Two years ago, Francis Nii, Martyn Namorong, Rashmii Bell, my wife Julie and I attended the lively Brisbane Writers Festival.

It was a rare opportunity for the prolific, wheelchair-bound writer Francis Nii and Julie to travel from the confines of their ridge top homes in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Our trip was made possible by the generosity of our sponsors – Gudmundur Fridriksson and Stanley Kuli Liria of Paga Hill Development Company, Keith Jackson of PNG Attitude and Ken McKinnon and his wife Sue in Sydney.

I would like to thank them all again this Christmas for their generosity, human understanding and encouragement.

I also thank all our friends like Rob, Murray, Phil, Ed, Bob, Ben, Jim, Lindsay and so many other cheerful people who made us feel welcome and ensured our stay in Noosa, Brisbane and Sydney was memorable.

It was also a rare opportunity for us to meet politicians who were keen to meet writers from a former colony so used to being ignored by their own government.

Continue reading "This Christmas rekindles thoughts of a memorable trip" »

Christmas’s Past: Jesus Christ, God’s perfect gift to humanity

Wherever 2017 - Melanesian NativityPHILIP KAI MORRE | 25 December 2017

KUNDIAWA - Many Christians around the world have adopted a material and secular meaning of Christmas: giving and receiving gifts to strengthen social and economic bonds; reuniting with families and friends; celebrating; and taking holidays from work.

Special gifts are given to special friends at this time of year, representing personal commitment, appreciation, beauty, joy, pride and positive experience.

In Papua New Guinea, and especially in the Highlands where I live, the true meaning of Christmas is not fully observed. Rather, it is seen as the time to receive and remit bride prices, celebrate weddings, pay compensation, hold funeral feasts, drink and enjoy in a more casual way.

The problems to be solved can wait.

Continue reading "Christmas’s Past: Jesus Christ, God’s perfect gift to humanity" »

Christmas’s Past: Christmas for atheists

Phil FitzpatrickPHIL FITZPATRICK | 25 December 2016

HERVEY BAY - I WAS about eight years old when I realised that organised religion was a giant confidence trick.

The thing that made me aware of this was my mother’s plan to send me to the local Catholic school. We’d just moved out of the migrant hostel after arriving in Australia from England and I was bound to a new school.

Although my father was an atheist he was a nominal Catholic, and had succumbed to family pressure to marry in the church.

My mother, abiding by church rules, had converted from Methodism to Catholicism. That marriage and conversion carried a mandatory commitment to raise children as Catholics. Such was the power of the church in those days.

Continue reading "Christmas’s Past: Christmas for atheists" »

Christmas’s Past: Christmas at Olsobip

Wherever 2015 - OlsobipGARRY LUHRS | 25 December 2015

EX KIAP WEBSITE - Christmas, and the entire festive season, is always a contentious time at the Gentlemen’s Club.

It is the cause of more disharmony than a federal election or a debate on the return of conscription and compulsory national service, or climate change. Goodwill and fellowship towards our fellow man, I don’t think so! What a load of humbug!

All of these problems started some years ago when the club’s committee, in its infinite wisdom, decided to invite member’s submissions for the club’s Christmas celebrations to cover such items as suitable dress codes for the festive season, Christmas luncheon menus, after luncheon entertainment and the like.

Continue reading "Christmas’s Past: Christmas at Olsobip" »

Christmas’s Past: Reflection, celebration & commitment

Christmas in PNGBOMAI D WITNE | 25 December 2014

GOROKA - Christmas in Papua New Guinea is a time when many homes, streets, stores and churches are gaily decorated and Christmas songs dominate music on radio stations and in the shops.

Like in countries around the world, kids anticipate that Santa Claus will bring goodies.  My son saw someone dressed in red in one of the shops, reminded me of Father Christmas and asked what the great man would bring him this Christmas.

This is an expectation strengthened by my son’s kindergarten. The school asked parents to dress their children like Father Christmas and buy gifts for the school’s version of Santa Claus to distribute. Some churches do the same.

Continue reading "Christmas’s Past: Reflection, celebration & commitment" »

Christmas’s Past: The best choir in history

Choir of King's College CambridgePETER KRANZ | 25 December 2013

MORRISET - My Dad was a musician. More specifically he was a choirmaster.

We had an old Ferrograph tape recorder and he had some precious recordings that he held in high regard, including the Vienna Boys Choir, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, the LSO Chorus, Mahalia Jackson and Tommy Dorsey and the Golden Gate Quartet.

But the best of them all was the choir of King's College Cambridge. Christmas music for the ages.

We had some Aussie friends around for Christmas in 1969. Dad said, "I'll play you the best choir ever." They laughed.

Then Dad turned the tape recorder on and the first lines of "Once in royal David's city" issued forth from King's. There was silence.

Then cousin Nick said "Did these bastards come from heaven?"

Listen here and weep.

Christmas’s Past: Merry Christmas PNG, with love from Emma

Emma Wakpi
Emma Wakpi

EMMA WAKPI | 25 December 2012

My Dearest Motherland -  I am writing this letter on the eve of Christmas to let you know how much I love and appreciate you. This time of the year reminds us of what we should be thankful for and of what love is really all about.

Often times we argue so much about what is wrong and right and how it’s supposed to be done nowadays but at the end of the day, you are family, you give me my identity and I find my comfort in your coarse gruffness which conceals a heart so fiercely loyal to me.

At times I pine for things other nations can offer their children and am ashamed to admit that in my youth I’ve oft rued the fact that destiny saw fit to make me a Papua New Guinean; but as I have grown and experienced what life has had to offer - as opportunities have allowed me to visit other countries and cultures; I have discovered that no one is perfect and even the most ideal of situations have their faults.

Looking back I realise the privilege of growing up as a Papua New Guinean and the unique traits that helped create my identity.

Continue reading "Christmas’s Past: Merry Christmas PNG, with love from Emma" »

Christmas’s Past: Of rats, false teeth & Euclidean geometry

Terry Shelley - entrepreneur, philanthropist & humorist - died on 28 December last year. We miss him

TERRY SHELLEY | 25 December 2009

GOROKA – I want to report for PNG Attitude on a couple of incidents that happened here during the year so that the B4s may know all is not doom and gloom.

One of the night shift workers came to me one morning stating he had liklik worry.

When I asked what the problem was he explained he had taken his false teeth out to eat his Navy Biscuit and, when went to pick them up, he saw a rat racing off with them.

Unfortunately he was unable to catch the rat before it disappeared down a hole.

He requested if he could have the teeth replaced as they were his front ones. Goroka Hospital came to the rescue at K20 per tooth.

On another occasion I requested my welder to measure the circumference of a screening barrel.

He replied: "Maski, em hat tumas.

I was just about to give him a good old serve when he pulled out a tape measure and measured the diameter. Then he punched the number into his Nokia Mobile.

He then said: “Em ia, em mak bilong em."

I was astounded and asked him: "Yu savi long pi r²?”To which he replied "Nogat mi savi long 3.146," or whatever the number is.

Who said there was no progress in PNG?

Christmas’s Past: A bush Christmas

A bush ChristmasJANE BELFIELD | 25 December 2007

'Tis the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
Little creatures are stirring -
From cockroach to mouse.

There are moths in the wardrobe
And fleas in the bed;
Angry ants in the breadbin;
Rabid rats in the shed.

There's a snake in the ivy
Outside the front door,
And redback and whitetail
Spiders galore.

Continue reading "Christmas’s Past: A bush Christmas" »

Table number seven


We were all at our mess table, table number seven. Table number seven was in the middle row at the end of the east wall of the St John’s Boys School dining hall.

Above table number seven, on the wall, was a small crucifix and ‘Grace-before-Meal’ inscribed on cut-out black prints.

We exchanged small chit-chat and munched on breakfast as we waited for the bell.

The devoted Brother Richard, of the Order of St John, stoically made his rounds among the rows of tables and bobbing heads, his fingers working the rosary beads and his lips moving in silent prayer.

Scattered biscuit crumbs and spilled tea littered our mess table. For lunch and dinner, the staff would come with their own mess to spill on the tables. The dining hall was a discord of narratives, banging cups and shuffling feet.

Continue reading "Table number seven" »

One night after a thousand


‘Everyone lives through the night. Let the moon guide you, but do not follow it.’

I should’ve listened.

Here begins another miserable night, one night after a thousand. I was sure the moon was my very own even when I saw it shining for everyone. An uncanny paradox. A festering sore. A vacillating delusion.

A black moon shines for me. Why? A red sun sinks behind the great Mavoyati. How? Two burnt roses grew on my beard. She plucked them out and and drank wine from the pores. Bitter. Sweet. Gone.

Some nights you forget, some nights you don’t want to remember.

An owl hoots on the window sill, bidding me to count the stars. Has God forsaken this path? Is this my ‘valley of the shadow of death’? I refused to heed the protests inside my head. Hoe-ly hypocrites! Spineless spirits!

Continue reading "One night after a thousand" »

When the world discovered the Pacific: 2018 politics review

Pacific leaders
Leaders of Australia, Japan, PNG, New Zealand and the US vice-president announce a major electricity project in PNG during November's APEC summit. (AFP)

JOHNNY BLADES & JAMIE TAHANA | Radio New Zealand Pacific | Extracts

Link here to read the full version of this excellent review

AUCKLAND - It was a busy year for the countries of the Pacific, which had more global spotlight than usual as it found itself in the middle of feuding great powers.

That brought a slew of new deals and partnerships, but also pressures. 2018 was the year the world discovered the Pacific.

On the broad view, the year has been dominated by speculation over China's surging influence in the region, and the reactions from Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The region was suddenly being splashed across global publications, and delegations from around the world have been visiting with increasing frequency.

For all the talk of shared histories, family ties, friendship, common interests and other diplomatic platitudes, beneath the surface was a particular realpolitik. China's forays into the Pacific - which have been going on in the open for many years - were really starting to make the west sweat.

Continue reading "When the world discovered the Pacific: 2018 politics review" »

Would Labor herald a new era for Australia in the Pacific?

Penny Wong
Senator Penny Wong -  aware of the Pacific's sensitivity that Australia do its part in the struggle against climate change

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Vanuatu Daily Post

VILA - Last Tuesday in Adelaide, on the fringe of the Australian Labor Party’s national conference, around 160 people gathered. It was, by all accounts, the best attended of these events.

They were there to hear from former foreign minister Gareth Evans, shadow foreign minister Penny Wong, and shadow defence minister Richard Marles. The focus of the event was Australia’s role in the Pacific and what a ‘new era’ under Labor might look like.

Marles said he found the size of the turnout “heartwarming”. Quite so. I hope that he and senator Wong also saw it as a very clear signal that what they think, say, and (possibly) do in relation to the Pacific is no longer a niche issue that no-one really pays attention to.

Continue reading "Would Labor herald a new era for Australia in the Pacific?" »

The man who knew the meaning of dreams


Bahen woke up drenched in sweat. The night was silent. He closed his eyes again and listened. He could hear the betel nut fronds rustling in the cool draught that had found its way into the room.

There were three betel nut trees near the window. Their rustling made him feel cold. And a sharp dryness burned the back of his throat. A persistent mosquito buzzed near his ears. He whacked at the net.

For some unknown reason his body ached. He felt stiff. His quadriceps felt like he'd climbed countless hills. Cold sweat had formed on his forehead. He struggled to sit up.

The cool morning air coming through the open loosely-draped window made him shiver uncontrollably.

Goose-bumps pricked his arms and legs. His heard the crow of a distant rooster.

Continue reading "The man who knew the meaning of dreams" »

Digicel needs to come clean with illiterate landowners

Digicel site in Western Province
A Digicel telecommunications site in Western Province


PORT MORESBY -Since Digicel Singapore Pte Ltd came to Papua New Guinea in 2012, its main revenue source has come from the establishment of mobile telephony towers all over the country.

Mostly the towers have been constructed on customary land owned by the people of PNG.

Digicel PNG goes into villages with a contract form for landowners to sign approving the erection of a mobile tower. When signed, the contract becomes a legal agreement binding the two parties.

The only difference between these contracts signed throughout PNG is the rental to be paid to landowners which is predicated on where the mobile tower is located. If the tower is situated at a remote location, the rental will be lower than if it is in an urban centre.

Continue reading "Digicel needs to come clean with illiterate landowners" »

Australians in glass houses are throwing stones at PNG

Phil Fitzpatrick
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - The critical analysis of the Papua New Guinea government and the nation as a whole is a regular feature of PNG Attitude.

The analysis has tended to become more negative over the years, particularly since Peter O’Neill’s Peoples National Congress came to power.

A lot of the negativity associated with his government has unfortunately rubbed off on the wider nation. The Papua New Guinean people have, in effect, been tarred with the same brush as that applied to its government.

Much of the negative criticism on PNG Attitude understandably comes from Papua New Guinean writers and commentators but there is also a significant contribution from Australians with experience in the country.

Continue reading "Australians in glass houses are throwing stones at PNG" »

Manus Island 'smeared' by refugee detention

Michael Kuweh
Michael Kuweh - "Manusians are on the defensive. We have been smeared beyond all description"


AUCKLAND - The reputation of Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been smeared and its people need to be compensated, says church leader Michael Kuweh.

Mr Kuweh is a layman and spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Manus.

The indefinite detention of refugees for nearly six years on the island has brought it into disrepute, he said.

"This is a place that has been tarnished because the Australian government dumped its responsibilities on the island and it has affected nearly 70,000 people on Manus.

"It's not the fault of the refugees, it is the fault of the Australian government who decided to follow a 'Pacific Solution'."

Continue reading "Manus Island 'smeared' by refugee detention" »

The year of APEC – reflections on PNG in 2018

Bal Kama
Bal Kama

BAL KAMA | DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - The people of Papua New Guinea woke up to 2018 as the ‘year of APEC’. The thought of having some of the world’s most powerful leaders descending on the rough yet fertile soils of PNG appeared unreal to many, but blissful to some.

The assurances of what it would mean for the country were a notch higher with the government promising social and economic transformation.

The population was divided: some driven by pride curiosity supported the cause; while others, unable to quantify any meaningful progress on their daily challenges and amidst failing social infrastructure, remained sceptical.

The APEC show began with new hotels erected, roads paved and the construction of the spectacular APEC Haus along the Ela Beach. These were some of the most significant infrastructural developments the country had ever seen.

Continue reading "The year of APEC – reflections on PNG in 2018" »

Mauspas - This is not a good Christmas story

Stanley lata
Stanley Iata at his street stall

HOSEA KOS | Facebook | Edited

PORT MORESBY – He was a fine, energetic 28 year old young man. Stanley lata, mauspas – an illiterate deaf mute with no educational back ground.

But he sold stuff at a small stall in Waigani serving customers from Tisa Haus, Manasupe Haus, Telecom Haus and NID Haus.

On 9 November, for some reason, he was surrounded by city rangers and four police reservists who arrived where the mauspas was selling.

He was tied up with a fan belt around his neck, punched, kicked and bashed up like an hunting dog and then dragged into a white open backed vehicle where several more punches occurred.

Mauspas was taken to the National Capital Development Corporation depot where he was arrested.. While in custody he was hit by an iron pipe until he lost consciousness. When he woke, he was undressed and fully searched and robbed of his personal belongings and the day's takings.

Continue reading "Mauspas - This is not a good Christmas story" »

“It’s better out than in, I always say," said Shrek


Maria couldn’t stand it any longer. She liked the children on the school bus each morning and afternoon, but it was the continuous farting she couldn’t stand.

They always did it when she wound down the windows and turned on the air conditioning. The smell each time was different and was getting worse. She often wondered what their parents fed them at home.

Maria had been driving the school bus for a year now and had been prompt with her pick-ups and drop-offs. But the continuous farting was driving her crazy.

She wound down the windows and instructed everyone aboard to do so.

“It’s John, he ate crabs last night,” Sebastine yelled and Lara agreed, shaking his head vigorously.

Continue reading "“It’s better out than in, I always say," said Shrek" »

As June referendum nears, Bougainville's people are confused

Momis and O'Neill
John Momis and Peter O'Neill negotiate the Bougainville independence referendum - but the people remain divided and confused


ARAWA - Between March and May this year, the referendum directorate of the Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement and Implementation left the autonomous province to consult with Bougainvilleans outside Bougainville.

Meanwhile, back at their island home, the people were confused even though June 2019, the time of the referendum to decide their political future, was only about a year away.

Thousands of kina were spent for this team to visit Bougainvilleans in Port Moresby, Madang, Mt Hagen, Lae, Goroka, Rabaul and Kimbe to ask what the diaspora thought about the many aspects of the dawning referendum.

But here in Bougainville, where the majority of the people reside, little was progressed.

I live amongst the ordinary people of central and south Bougainville and I am appalled by what I come across in the villages.

Continue reading "As June referendum nears, Bougainville's people are confused" »

Keeping up with Pacific politics – a review of 2018

Tess Newton Cain
Tess Newton Cain

TESS NEWTON CAIN | TNC Pacific Consulting | East Asia Forum

BRISBANE - The changed and changing geo-strategic environment of the Pacific islands made its presence known on numerous occasions during the year. After decades of neglect, the region was ‘rediscovered’ by strategists in Australia, the United States and elsewhere.

The influence of China in the Pacific has been the subject of much debate and analysis, some of it of questionable quality.

While China’s engagement with Pacific island countries is not new, it has become more significant of late. A year of jumping at shadows and knee-jerk announcements culminated in the APEC summit, held in Port Moresby in November.

China cemented a number of key bilateral relationships with Pacific island countries by securing sign-ups to its Belt and Road Initiative.

Continue reading "Keeping up with Pacific politics – a review of 2018" »

In the hands of a black heart


Corruption started as a speck of dust
Nourished by its mother wantok system
Seemingly innocent in its early stage
But gaining power an undue respect
Under the guidance of its mother

Once mature, there’s no sympathy
Nothing for the people of the country
Corruption turns all it touches dark
Turns heart, eyes and ears to another world
Leaves behind a trail of endless strife

Continue reading "In the hands of a black heart" »

Unitech - a unique experiment in replicating ignorance

Kondom Agaundo
Kondom Agaundo's grave - the words above the tombstone read, 'Tomorrow my sons & daughters will come'. Even in the 1960s Kondom knew a good education was essential for a good future


VERONA, Italy - When I was vice chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (known as Unitech) from 2012 to 2018, we worked hard to bring it into the 21st century.

The current management and university council, however, seem to be making an effort to bring the university back to its roots in the 1970s, whether intentionally or through sheer ignorance, incompetence or carelessness.

It is a sad tale of regression which forces me to speak out in an effort to reverse this trend.

The current chancellor Jean Kekedo apparently has a great nostalgia for the 1970s and has remarked several times that she wants to go back to those simpler times.

She believes no member of the university staff should travel abroad and that meetings and agreements can be done remotely through video-conferencing.

Of course, for council members and their friends, exceptions are made, but they can travel only to Australia. It is unclear why this is so, but Ms Kekedo also seems to feel she does not need to explain her decisions.

Continue reading "Unitech - a unique experiment in replicating ignorance" »

Dingo hunting, child stealing & the struggles of a mixed marriage


‘Dogger’ by Philip Fitzpatrick, Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN: 978-1791741747, 390 pages. $A22.89 plus postage from Amazon; ebook for $US1.00. Available in Australia soon

TUMBY BAY - When I left Papua New Guinea in the 1970s I went to work with the South Australian Museum as a researcher and site recorder, carrying out extensive fieldwork in what was then the North West Aboriginal Reserve where people were still largely living in their old ways.

Over the next 50 years or so, between forays to Papua New Guinea doing social mapping, I continued to operate in the Australian outback with Aboriginal people.

In many cases I ended up working with the children and grandchildren of the tribal people I’d first met in the 1970s.

Many of them were descendants of marriages and liaisons with dingo trappers, who were in the region up until the 1980s. The dingo trappers were paid to control the predatory dogs that killed stock.

Continue reading "Dingo hunting, child stealing & the struggles of a mixed marriage" »

2019 PNG budget is bad news for anti-corruption fighters

AnticorruptionGRANT WALTON & HUSNIA HUSHANG | DevPolicy Blog | Edited

Read here the full article complete with graphs & explanatory material

CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea’s law and justice sector is set to receive a 22% increase in the country’s 2019 budget.

Treasurer Charles Abel says this demonstrates the government’s commitment to the sector, and to addressing crime and corruption.

Look beyond this headline figure, however, and the rise is not so impressive. Indeed, it doesn’t even make up for recent years of budget cuts: economist Paul Flanagan shows that with the recent increase, the sector will still have suffered a funding cut of 17% relative to 2015.

Focusing on the law and justice sector also overlooks organisations specifically tasked with addressing corruption.

Continue reading "2019 PNG budget is bad news for anti-corruption fighters " »

Stolen homes – corruption, cruelty, decency & forgiveness


GOROKA - I have a dream sometimes in which I go back to my childhood home in Mt Hagen.

It reminds me of Lucy Kopana’s recent article of how Lae families are being callously evicted from their homes, often homes they have been paying off for many years.

My family suffered a similar fate in late 2000. Whenever and wherever this happens in our country, it is quite simply a cruel and inhumane thing to do to other human beings.

I especially hate that the victims are mostly honest hardworking citizens of this nation.

On 4 January 1985, my late dad (Dr Peter Are) started work with the health department as the provincial dental officer at Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands Province.

My dad came from from Gumine in Simbu Province, but he served the people of the Western Highlands and the highlands region with distinction until his death on 3 November 2008. He was one of the best dentists and surely the most loved.

Continue reading "Stolen homes – corruption, cruelty, decency & forgiveness" »

Appointment of chief justice & deputy bring hope to PNG

Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika (centre)
Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika (centre in striped shirt) with Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas and other leaders in Wapenamanda, Enga Province


WABAG - The recent appointment of Papua New Guinea chief justice Sir Gibbs Salika and deputy chief justice Ambeng Kandakasi was no coincidence but a divine intervention to save the country.

Both men are trusted by the legal fraternity and loved and respected by the general population.

I believe they will maintain the impartiality and neutrality of the judiciary, which most people see as the last bastion of hope for the country.

PNG is a country on the verge of failure and the appointment of Sir Gibbs Salika and Justice Ambeng Kandakasi is a step to rescue it from a total collapse.

PNG continues to suffer from deep rooted corruption, white collar crime, poor governance and increasing law-breaking.

It is billions of kina in debt, there are no cancer treatment facilities and no basic medicines, transport systems and roads are poor, there has been a resurgence of polio, malaria and other diseases, sorcery killings are numerous and education standards are dropping.

Continue reading "Appointment of chief justice & deputy bring hope to PNG" »

New Zealand & Polynesia bishops protest West Papua abuses

Manokwari, the capital city of West Papua (David Worabay)


AUCKLAND - Bishops from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia - including Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, America Samoa and the Cook Islands - have expressed “deep disappointment” at what they say is the continued suppression of the first people of West Papua.

The political status of West Papua is disputed. In the 1940s, with the collapse of the Netherlands East Indies, Indonesia claimed sovereignty over all of the former colony but the Dutch retained control over West Papua.

In the 1960s, Indonesia invaded the island and a later UN-brokered peace deal resulted in 1,000 ‘elders’ voting to become part of Indonesia in a disputed election.

Last year, an ecumenical pastoral solidarity group from the Christian Council of Asia visited West Papua and described “grave human rights violations” in the region.

Continue reading "New Zealand & Polynesia bishops protest West Papua abuses" »

Identifying friends in the climate debate. Australia found wanting

Alexander Rheeney
Alexander Rheeney


APIA - In a time when the world critically needed leadership by the planet’s biggest carbon emitters, everyone failed to show-up.

Vulnerable island states—from the Pacific to the Indian Oceans and to the Caribbean—whose future ironically now lies in the hands of those who couldn’t care less, made emphatic and emotional presentations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

After two weeks of intense and often heated negotiations at Katowice, Poland—and despite the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—delegates representing close to 200 countries settled on a ‘Paris Rulebook’, but failed to reach a comprehensive agreement on cutting the use of fossil fuels and doing more to address deforestation.

Continue reading "Identifying friends in the climate debate. Australia found wanting" »

Australian detention system broke the Manus social fabric

Ben Pokarup
Ben Pokarup – ‘good thinking people of Manus sympathise with the 600 men indefinitely detained here’

STAFF REPORTER | Radio New Zealand

LORENGAU - The social fabric of Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has been broken by Australia detaining refugees there, a community leader says.

Ben Pokarup is secretary of the Maus Manus Development Forum and chair of the Manus Island Tourism Association.

Mr Pokarup said the refugees should be sent back to Australia and Manus Island should be compensated.

"The social fabric of our society has absolutely been broken. We need to tell the Australians to get this project out as soon as possible," he said.

Most damage done to the community was by the births of about 37 children to local women and refugee men, Mr Pokarup said.

Continue reading "Australian detention system broke the Manus social fabric" »

Indonesia joins China in concern at Lombrum upgrade

Australia will invest millions of dollars in upgrading wharf facilities on Manus and is gifting new patrol boats to the PNG Defence Force


SYDNEY - Indonesia is eyeing nervously plans by Australia and the US to upgrade Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum naval base, a key US staging post during World War II, with policymakers warning it could further escalate tensions in the region.

Earlier this month Abdul Kharis Almasyhari, chairman of Indonesia’s parliamentary commission on defence, security and foreign affairs, urged President Joko Widodo to lobby against the PNG naval base, which he said would “increase political tensions” and that foreign powers should not “militarise the Asia-Pacific”.

Indonesia’s Defence Ministry has said Canberra should brief it on its plans, noting that “no one can forbid them from doing what they are doing, as long as it is not built in our territory”.

Continue reading "Indonesia joins China in concern at Lombrum upgrade" »

Medicine & staff shortages in Kabwum are costing lives

Maisen Hungito
Maisen Hungito

MAISEN HUNGITO | My Land, My Country | Edited

KABWUM – Kabwum in the Morobe Province is my home district and I had been sent there to investigate medicine shortages.

While I was there, a man from Gilang village was put on a stretcher and carried to the road to be brought to Kabwum Health Centre on an open back Toyota Land Cruiser. The guy passed away.

The health centre had run short of medical supplies.

There were no antibiotics, painkillers, gloves and other common drugs and equipment to attend to patients and pregnant mothers.

Continue reading "Medicine & staff shortages in Kabwum are costing lives" »

English proficiency is a necessity not a luxury in PNG


ADELAIDE - I recently read Bill Bryson’s ‘The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way’, which provides a very readable and amusing account of the development of the English language.

It is fair to say that the emergence of English as the foremost international language of business, science and culture is one of history’s more improbable occurrences.

After all, English as we now understand it did not really exist until around 1500 and was, at that time, spoken only by a quite small number of people living on an utterly unimportant island off the coast of Europe.

Through a series of unlikely events that small island emerged as the greatest imperial power in history. At the zenith of its power (around 1913), the British Empire encompassed about 23% of the world’s population and about quarter of the world’s land mass.

Continue reading "English proficiency is a necessity not a luxury in PNG" »

The grassroots movement against corruption in Bangladesh

Together Against Corruption (TI Bangladesh)STAFF WRITER | Transparency International

Image: A cartoon by Dahir al-Hossain Mahi, entered into the competition organised by Transparency International Bangladesh

BERLIN - In 2017, a survey by Transparency International Bangladesh found that half the households in the country had recently paid a bribe when accessing public services.

The total amount of bribes paid was equivalent to more than 3% of the Bangladesh national budget.

Earlier, in 2012, a study of members of parliament in Bangladesh found 97% were alleged to be involved in illegal activities.

Some 75% of MPs had abused development projects for their own benefit and 62% were found to have influenced local elections.

Corruption on this scale requires a radical solution and, over the years, TI Bangladesh has built a grassroots movement of 6,000 people through Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCCs).

Continue reading "The grassroots movement against corruption in Bangladesh" »



Do you have a favourite food you love eating for lunch? Is there a kid in school who annoys you, their presence disturbs you and you cannot stand them? Can your favourite food team up with the pest in school and get you suspended? Sebastine is off his head. Can we blame him for what happened? A story from my book, ‘6 Whacky Tales’

I LOVE meat pies. I eat them for lunch every day. I love the sweet savoury fillings and the crusty pastry on top. Oh boy!

And I like my pies hot, real hot, a bit burnt on the sides with the lumps of flavoured beef overcooked and tasty.

Today I am at home, not in school. I will stay home for a week.

I have been suspended.

Continue reading "Pie-holed" »

Commemorating the death of Fr Karl Morschheuser SVD

Karl MorschheuserPHILIP KAI MORRE

KUNDIAWA - It was a hot day here in Kundiawa town and I was walking to the provincial government building when my eyes caught a poster about Fr Karl Morschheuser SVD.

The poster, hanging on a rope at the stationery shop on the other side of the road, read ‘Fr Karl Morschheuser. Memorial Mass at Mirane Catholic Church. Starts at 9 am, 16 December 2018. All welcome’.

It was the day we had been waiting for.

In the middle of a busy street crowded with people, the poster pushed me into a deep reminiscence of the life and tragic death of Fr Morschheuser on this day - Sunday 16 December -  in 1934.

This tall and handsome young German was the first martyr of the Papua New Guinea highlands - slain at Bedume in Upper Simbu over a dispute about a pig killed by another priest, Fr van Baar SVD.

Continue reading "Commemorating the death of Fr Karl Morschheuser SVD" »