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96 posts from April 2019

PNG is Pasifika by necessity: A response to Martyn Namorong

Malasiga village, Finschhafen


PORT MORESBY - The commentary in PNG Attitude by Martyn Namorong, ‘PNG is not Pasifika – we are not so much of the ocean’, needs rebuttal.

Namorong’s critique is not new. Solomon Islands scholar Tarcisius Kabutaulaka made similar observations in relation to Epeli Hau’ofa..

Kabutaulaka states: “We need to recognise that focusing on the ocean as the element that connects us immediately marginalises the millions of people who live inland, in places like the highlands of Papua New Guinea, for whom the ocean has little significance”.

Kabutaulaka concedes however, that Hau’ofa “challenges us to think in ways that empower us, rather than marginalise and weaken us.”

This terrestrial orientation of Papua New Guineans is natural.

Insulated as we are from others by the perceived vastness of our land expanse, Papua New Guinean exceptionalism can restrict a more holistic, and wholesome, knowledge of our Pacific neighbourhood.

Continue reading "PNG is Pasifika by necessity: A response to Martyn Namorong " »

Tired of it All

Domestic violence
This painting by our good friend Mary was given to us as a house-warming present. If you look closely you can see it is about the plight of PNG women: how they’ve been treated, how their voices are stifled and their bodies abused. It is a powerful work – Peter Kranz

CLAUDIA SIYON TALLY | Crocodile Prize |
An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

Oh dear, I began,
I am afraid of living
And I am terrified of dying
Don't want to look over my shoulder
I want to laugh and be happy;
But no matter how bright the sun is
My days are always dull.

I fear for my life
Every time I go out of my home
I once knew these streets so well
Now I am scared of what awaits me
Will it be a car to take me away?
Never to be found again?
Oh, it tears me apart

I don't know if I’m safe at all,
Even in my room I’m afraid
That I will be mugged or raped,
I cannot trust my own kinsman
Even those sworn to protect me
You may call me paranoid
But what choice do I have?

Do you know what it is like?
To cry out loud yet be so silent?
People hear the gunshot
Not the cries before
They see the car drive off
Not the girl walking
I am invisible

We are civilised
So why are women beaten?
Why are women raped?
Why are my sisters kidnapped?
Why are our mothers mugged?
Questions I often ask
Answers I do not have

So, help me, I beg
That my voice be heard
That my life be spared
That I be able to trust
That I am once more safe
So I can take my rest
Because, I am tired of it all

From the archives: A weekend in Tubuseriea in the early 1960s


NEWCASTLE - On one occasion in the early 1960s, when visiting Port Moresby with student teachers from the Australian School of Pacific Administration, we heard of a feast and celebration taking place in the coastal village of Tubusereia.

The village is about 20 km by road south-east of Moresby and, on this particular weekend, my lecturer colleague Richard Pearse, some students and I we piled into a LandRover to pay a visit.

Continue reading "From the archives: A weekend in Tubuseriea in the early 1960s" »

‘Dangerous failure of process’: PM must come clean on Papua LNG

Mekere Morauta (2)
Sir Mekere Morauta

SIR MEKERE MORAUTA MP | Member for Moresby North-West

PORT MORESBY - Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his cronies have hijacked the approval process of the gas agreement the government signed with Papua LNG partners putting State and landowner interests at risk.

I have seen evidence from a variety of sources that suggests we are heading for a repeat of the PNG LNG model which has brought few benefits to the state and landowners.

Peter O’Neill has shut out the state negotiating team and gone with a gas agreement that is largely the work of Total, ExxonMobil and Oil Search.

The Department of Petroleum and other Papua New Guinean experts have been sidelined in favor of shadowy participants in the O’Neill government’s corruption, waste and mismanagement. Why?

Mr O’Neill’s interference in due process opens PNG to another financial disaster, as it did with PNG LNG and the UBS-Oil Search loan.

Continue reading "‘Dangerous failure of process’: PM must come clean on Papua LNG" »

Radio Morobe kaput: Deplorable neglect of ‘voice of the nation’

Radio Morobe (Post-Courier)
Radio Morobe - since this building was condemned and funding dried up, the station in PNG's 'industrial heartland' has not broadcast for three months (Post-Courier)

SYLVESTER GAWI | Pacific Media Watch

LAE - I grew up in the 1990s listening to NBC Radio – Radio Kundu – which was informative and always reaching out to the population of Papua New Guinea who could afford a transmitter radio.

From entertaining string band tunes, toksave segments and nationwide news coverage to the popular school broadcasts in classrooms, the National Broadcasting Corporation was the real voice of Papua New Guinea.

It contributed immensely to the nation’s independence, growth and development and stood steadfastly to promote good governance and transparency in development issues the country faces.

For more than 40 years it has been the most effective communication medium for most ordinary citizens who benefited from its nationwide coverage.

I was a young kid back then and grew up inspired to take up a job in radio broadcasting, particularly with the NBC.

Continue reading "Radio Morobe kaput: Deplorable neglect of ‘voice of the nation’" »

My Tolai way of life

Heritage - Diulen picMAJELLA DIULEN |  Crocodile Prize
An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

GAZELLE PENINSULA - I am a Tolai, I am a friend. Come to my house and I’ll make you a delicious aigir of taro, bananas, aibika and native chicken meat. A bunch of betel nut and mustard will be prepared for you.

I am a Tolai. I dance to the beatof the garamut, with my red laplap wrapped around my waist and stretching down to my knees. Totally shirtless.

My basket under my armpit, distinguished by pes kambang, shouting and twisting as the kangal on my head sway back and forth and from side to side in time with the twists and turns of my tumbuan.

I am a Tolai. I dance to the beat of the bamboo drums. My chicken feathers wrapped in scented green leaves sway to and fro as my arms swing back and forth, from side to side with the rhythm of the bamboo drums.

Continue reading "My Tolai way of life" »

PNG faces a climactic moment – will it be another false dawn?

Sir-Peter-Ipatas (Bryan Kramer)
Sir Peter Ipatas speaks at Friday's shock media conference in Port Moresby (Bryan Kramer)


NOOSA – Political turmoil is not unknown in Papua New Guinea but it's the only story occupying people's attention this weekend.

In the wake of the exit of many of his high profile political cronies, and with more MPs likely to follow, can prime minister Peter O’Neill hang on to his leadership?

With a parliamentary vote of no confidence to be brought on in a little over a week from now, PNG’s eight million people won’t be kept in suspense much longer.

And as for O’Neill, in an audio statement released from Beijing Friday evening he reassured supporters that his coalition still had plenty of numbers in parliament and was well able to continue as a stable government.

Earlier, at a dramatic media conference in parliament house in Port Moresby late Friday morning, broadcast live throughout PNG, six of O’Neill’s closest supporters in the ruling People’s National Congress dropped a bombshell.

Continue reading "PNG faces a climactic moment – will it be another false dawn?" »

‘We’ll deal to you’ - Namah threatens PNG daily newspapers

Belden Namah told PNG's two daily newspapers, "we will regulate to ensure that you do the right thing for the people of this country"

NEWS DESK | Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - An opposition party leader who believes there will soon be a change in government in Papua New Guinea has warned the country’s two foreign-owned daily newspapers that the new regime will “deal” to them.

Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah, leader of the PNG Party, one of the two major parties in the opposition, has put the Australian-owned Post-Courier and Malaysian-owned The National newspapers on notice.

Angered by the two dailies for not running his news conference stories, he threatened to regulate the print media when a new government is installed in a likely vote of no-confidence, reports the Post-Courier.

“One thing I also want to say, especially to the print media, the Post-Courier and The National you have to report what’s coming out from the opposition as it is healthy for the country,” he said.

Continue reading "‘We’ll deal to you’ - Namah threatens PNG daily newspapers" »

Hitler’s Folly

"Then Hitler made the century’s blunder / He believed in Aryanism with all his soul"


Führer’s Germany had everything.
It had the world at its fingertips.
It had the best schools and the best brains.
Einstein and many brilliant minds were there.

Germany was on top of the world then.
Führer’s Germany was the industrial hub,
And most things were made in Germany.
It was the market leader of the world.

Then Hitler made the century’s blunder.
He believed in Aryanism with all his soul,
He believed Germans to be the super race.
Dreamed of world conquest and domination.

He felt Germany was divine and invincible.
He waged war against many others.
Then war spread to the entire world
And it became a disastrous adventure.

Continue reading "Hitler’s Folly" »

Political meddling & poor training spur corruption in PNG

CorruptionLUCY PAPACHRISTOU | Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

SARAJEVO - A newly-published discussion paper on corruption in Papua New Guinea’s public sector has found that low-level officials are often poorly informed about laws and regulations.

They are also under intense pressure to grant favours to businesses, politicians and clan affiliates, contributing to existing patterns of corrupt behaviour in the developing country.

The paper, ‘Governance and Corruption in PNG’s Public Service: Insights From Four Subnational Administrations’, was published this month by the Development Policy Centre, an aid and development policy think tank based out of the Australian National University in Canberra.

Its author, Dr Grant Walton, drew on interviews with 136 public servants across four provinces in PNG in an effort to fill the empirical data gap on why public officials may support or resist corruption and poor governance.

PNG tends to take a “top-down, one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to corruption,” Walton told OCCRP by phone.

Continue reading "Political meddling & poor training spur corruption in PNG" »

O’Neill meets Xi: Promises greater cooperation with China

O'Neill and Xi
Peter O'Neill and Xi Xinping - "China highly appreciates PNG for prioritising relations with China in its diplomacy"


BEIJING - Chinese president Xi Jinping has met with Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill at the second belt and road forum for international cooperation.

Recalling his state visit to PNG in November 2018, Xi said the relationship between China and PNG is at the best period in history.

He said China highly appreciates PNG for prioritising relations with China in its diplomacy and giving solid support to China on issues concerning China's core interests.

“China supports PNG in choosing a development path on its own that is in line with its national conditions.

“China is willing to work with PNG to strengthen coordination and cooperation under the multilateral framework, so as to enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.”

Continue reading "O’Neill meets Xi: Promises greater cooperation with China" »

Our nation lacks moral leadership, and we have a choice….

Simon Davidson h&s
Simon Davidson - "A government run by crooks & self-interested braggarts cannot take the nation to greatness"


PORT MORESBY - Our nation, led by Peter O’Neill, lacks moral leadership. It is morally bankrupt.

To be a moral leader, a leader must live by moral principles that are enshrined in the book of supreme virtue - the Bible - and universally accepted guidelines of right thinking and right conduct.

Morality is taught as an ideal that all mortals should adhere to. It is the North Star that guides all human conduct.

In every religion, in every culture, there is an innate sense of what we ought to do when we live in human societies.

Morality guide’s human conduct, elevates human beings, facilitates human relations and creates a just and fair society.

Morality is the bedrock of national greatness. A nation’s strength does not depend on its military might, nor its wealth but by adhering to ancient moral guidelines.

Continue reading "Our nation lacks moral leadership, and we have a choice…." »

Bells toll for Peter O'Neill as 5 governors quit his party

Presser 2
At the press conference, the resigning governors spoke of institutions needing to be protected and a nation tired of corruption

NEWS DESK | Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Five members of Papua New Guinea's government have resigned from the party of prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Influential Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas is among those resigning from the People's National Congress.

Five government MPs, including four from the same resource rich Highlands region where Peter O'Neill is from, held a press conference late this morning in Port Moresby.

Sir Peter was flanked by the governors of Southern Highlands and Hela provinces, William Powi and Philip Undialu and two other MPs.

They announced their resignation from PNC, the party which has dominated PNG politics for the past several years.

It's the latest sign that Mr O'Neill's support is collapsing and the government could soon change, and follows the resignation of two high level government ministers earlier this month.

Mr O'Neill is currently in Beijing with a government delegation, attending China's Belt and Road global forum.

PNG's parliamentary opposition is planning on tabling a motion of no-confidence against the prime minister when parliament resumes next month.

O’Neill wants to get tentacles on people’s $1.4 billion says Morauta

Sir Mekere Morauta - "Increasingly, it seems that the prime minister is fabricating stories to cover his own misdeeds"


PORT MORESBY – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s statement that BHP Billiton and I created the PNG Sustainable Development Program as a private company with four shareholders, one of whom is me, is a deliberate lie.

It was manufactured by a man desperately trying to repair his public face following the comprehensive win by PNGSDP in the Singapore Supreme Court.

See earlier PNG Attitude articles here and here

Peter O’Neill also lied to the Singapore Court, through the State’s affidavit, saying he had a document giving the State the power to control PNGSDP. He failed to produce the document as evidence to the Court, and the court decision exposed him as the liar he is.

Continue reading "O’Neill wants to get tentacles on people’s $1.4 billion says Morauta" »

First public human rights report into PNG gas industry

Assoc Prof Nick Bainton
Associate Professor Nick Bainton

MEDIA UNIT | University of Queensland

BRISBANE - University of Queensland researcher Associate Professor Nick Bainton has co-written the first publicly available human rights impact assessment for a proposed gas project in Papua New Guinea.

You can download the full report here

Dr Bainton from the university’s sustainable minerals institute said the report’s publication demonstrates the slow evolution of the international community’s expectations of extractive industries.

“There is currently no legislative requirement for a company to produce a human rights impact assessment in PNG and, if they decide to, they are generally kept confidential once completed.

“The hope is that companies working in PNG’s extractive industries will build upon this example and continue to undertake impact assessments to help reduce human rights impacts,” he said.

Continue reading "First public human rights report into PNG gas industry" »

Commanders whose troops fought B’ville war reconcile

Ishmael Toroama successfully led the Bougainville Revolutionary Army against PNG troops
Jerry Singirok
Jerry Singarok - PNG army commander who quit when government sought to recruit mercenaries

KEITH JACKSON | From New Dawn FM report

BUKA – Health minister and member for Bolave in the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Dennis Lokonai, has praised former Papua New Guinea Defence Force commander Jerry Singirok for reconciling with the Bougainville people.

Mr Lokonai also thanked Mr Singirok for the courageous stand he took against a decision of the then PNG government to engage mercenaries to fight against the Bougainville people in the civil war that raged for 10 years from 1989.

As PNGDF commander, the then Brigadier-General Singirok defied the government which, following the retreat of regular forces from Bougainville, was seeking to bring in mercenary soldiers organised by a company called Sandline.

Continue reading "Commanders whose troops fought B’ville war reconcile" »

‘God knows all of us; no man is an angel’, says blustering O'Neill

Peter O'Neill - "“If you want an angel to come run the country wait until 2022"


PORT MORESBY – In an outburst worthy of Donald Trump, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Peter O’Neill has claimed his government to be the best since independence, that he had “planted the post” to hold it together and that God knows “no man is an angel”.

O’Neill was addressing a chanting crowd, said to number several thousand, at Kagua in his home province of Southern Highlands where he was opening the newly-sealed Ialibu-Kagua road and launching a rural electricity program.

Despite recent defections of two influential ministers, a newly energised opposition and a parliamentary vote of no confidence due in a couple of weeks, O’Neill denied his government was unstable and claimed 80 members of the coalition in the 111 seat parliament are intact.

He said he had “planted a post that will hold the house that is not shaky and will be very hard to remove.

“You will hear a lot of noise in Waigani and Port Moresby that tomorrow they will change government,” he said.

Continue reading "‘God knows all of us; no man is an angel’, says blustering O'Neill" »

Air war over Papua New Guinea was like a fireworks display

Night skyKATRINA LOVELL | Warrnambool Standard

WARRNAMBOOL, VIC - The gunfire in the skies above New Guinea during World War II was like a fireworks display, according to Warrnambool's Keith Keilar.

The 99-year-old was first deployed to Palestine for 12 months before being send to New Guinea after signing up in 1940 at the age of 20.

Mr Keilar was a contractor in Woolsthorpe working on trucks building roads across the district when he joined the war effort.

He left Australia for Palestine aboard the Queen Mary which was part of a convoy of three ships including the luxury liners Aquatania and Queen Elizabeth which had been converted to troop ships.

Continue reading "Air war over Papua New Guinea was like a fireworks display" »

When World War II came to PNG: The 10 key battles of 1942

Anzac - Rabaul
Australian soldiers retreating from Rabaul cross the Warangoi-Adler River in the Bainings Mountains

CONTRIBUTORS | Military Wikia and Wikipedia

Battle of Rabaul (23 January – February 1942) Japanese victory

The Battle of Rabaul, known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on New Britain in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II.

Following the capture of Rabaul, Japanese forces turned it into a major base and proceeded to invade mainland New Guinea, advancing toward Port Moresby. Hostilities on the neighbouring island of New Ireland are also usually considered to be part of the same battle.

Rabaul was important because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, site of a major Imperial Japanese Navy base on Truk.

Battle of Port Moresby (3 February 1942 – 17 August 1943) Allied victory

The Battle of Port Moresby was an aerial battle fought between aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy over Port Moresby.

Continue reading "When World War II came to PNG: The 10 key battles of 1942" »

Black ANZAC: decolonising war history through street art

Hego's mural of World War I Indigenous soldier Alfred Cameron Jnr on a wall in the Sydney suburb of Redfern


SYDNEY - In 2014, large-scale poster artist Hego assembled a 6.5m x 3.5m mural of Aboriginal World War I soldier, Alfred Cameron Jnr, on a wall at ‘The Block’ in Sydney’s Redfern.

Growing up, Hego hadn’t heard of the black ANZACs; Indigenous soldiers who fought abroad in the historic world wars.

Like most Australians, he never learned about these servicemen — those who fought on behalf of a country which, at the time, didn't even fully recognise them as citizens — in school, or elsewhere.

It wasn’t until he came across Cecil Fisher’s 1933 poem titled ‘Black ANZAC’, which describes the lack of recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen that Hego was struck by how little Australia’s First Nation ANZACs been acknowledged in war history. From Fisher's words, Hego found inspiration for his mural.

Hego saw promise in documenting his art and its message and pitched the idea to filmmaker Tim Anastasi who was working with him on a separate street art project. This eventuated into a feature-length documentary that shines a light on the undertold story of Indigenous ANZACs.

Anastasi told NITV he didn’t foresee the success of Black ANZAC originally: “I was just documenting the process, not knowing that it would be such an amazing project at the time,” he says.

Being an independent film, funding was a challenging part of the journey. Both, Anastasi and Hego tirelessly and successfully crowdfunded $10,000, rewarding each supporter with social media shout-outs to private film screenings.

Continue reading "Black ANZAC: decolonising war history through street art" »

Something to ponder: How boys are brought up in PNG



PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea, when are we going to start raising our boys right?

The truth is, incidents involving PNG males abroad happen way more often than what ends up making it into news reports and it has been happening for years and years.

Many perpetrators are dumbfounded when called in by authorities, not thinking that what they did was wrong or a big deal. “I was drunk”, “I didn’t do anything, I only touched her”, “I was only taking pictures”….

The disproportionately high number of these type of incidents abroad makes me wonder just what our males are getting away with back here in PNG.

Continue reading "Something to ponder: How boys are brought up in PNG" »

Tribal conflicts threaten PNG’s peace builders – the women

VAWANGGIA ANGGRAINI BURCHILL | Development and Cooperation

PORT MORESBY - In Papua New Guinea, women and girls face high security risks. Particularly in tribal wars, they are subject to violence and displacement.

On the other hand, women play an important role in resolving conflicts and in peace-building.

PNG is a vast archipelago burdened by poverty although very rich in natural resources. In the highlands, tribal conflicts occur frequently. Women and children are particularly threatened by violence.

Traditionally, fights between tribes erupt over land disputes, the bride price of women or the possession of pigs.

Continue reading "Tribal conflicts threaten PNG’s peace builders – the women" »

The Frangipani Festival reminds Rabaul of its past

Rabaul - Tavurvur
Tavurvur volcano


PORT MORESBY - The focus of the O’Neill-Abel government to divert most tourism development funds to the West and East New Britain is not to derail or downplay other aspiring provinces but to enable visitor numbers in the New Guinea Islands to gradually catch up.

Rabaul’s Frangipani Festival is becoming a global event, so over the next few years a huge climb in tourism numbers can be expected that will benefit province, region and country.

On the morning of 19 September 1994 when the colcanoes Vulcan and Tavurvur erupted forming an ash cloud reaching more than 18kms above Rabaul and causing 30,000 people to be evacuated from the town. The resultant damage to buildings and other structures was massive.

That eruption caused a lot of hardship for Rabaul, but over the last 25 years the once beautiful town has been able to revive itself and regain its reputation as a tropical paradise.

Continue reading "The Frangipani Festival reminds Rabaul of its past" »

Sorry I'm not for sale

Woman (Etsy)KATHRYNA BOBOLA | Crocodile Prize
An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

I wasn't born with a price tag or a barcode.
Nor did I learn things in another household.
People said I wouldn't maintain the workload
And that one day I would be forcibly sold

They promised me good fortune and delight,
Offered money my parents never saw or had.
It seemed like an abundant life was in sight,
I refused. My parents thought I’d gone mad.

"Sorry, I'm not for sale"
I’m more than the money you offer
And sure our future will fail
Just leave me alone, don’t bother.

Continue reading "Sorry I'm not for sale" »

In a world of fists

Sarah Kaut Nasengom
Sarah Kaut Nasengom

SARAH KAUT-NASENGOM | Crocodile Prize |
An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

This poem is a short reflection, just a quick glance, at the physical and emotional hurt a woman in Papua New Guinea experiences as a victim of domestic violence, seeing the world as black and white – offering both hurt yet hope for a better future – SK-N

In a world of fists,
She stumbles with bloody wrists,
Blame is a nonstop game,
Name calling is a shame,

Fist sweeps,
She weeps,
Nose bleeds,
She pleads,

She cannot hide,
Fate chose her side,
Brokenness a constant companion,
Black and white in perfect union.

Beliefs, superstitions & mind play: A Trobriand perspective

Vakuta island
Vakuta island

ROMNEY YOURIKU | Crocodile Prize |
An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

Much has been written about the culture, traditions, ethnicity and socio economic and political aspects of Trobriand society.

Credit must be given to pioneers like Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski and others from academia as well as missionaries.

I’d like to share with you some superstitions my people believe in, most of which I learnt as part of my heritage growing up in my home village of Vakuta, the smallest island in the Trobriand group and located to the south.

Myths, legends and superstitions form a strong pillar in Vakutan culture and society. Witchcraft, wizardry, sorcery and magic intertwine with these superstitions, whether they are associated with a crying child, barking dogs, a rooster crowing at midnight, the shrill noises of flying foxes and more.

Continue reading "Beliefs, superstitions & mind play: A Trobriand perspective" »

Daughter’s Easter pilgrimage honoured father’s heroic death

Markus Lohtmann
Army Chaplain Markus Lohrmann - "a very compassionate and caring person; a very loving person; a very Godly man"

BRIAN ALBRECHT | Cleveland Plain Dealer (USA)

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio – Two years ago on an Easter afternoon, Marcia Luecke waded into the waters off a Pacific island beach where her father had died during World War II, and honoured the sacrifice of a man she never knew.

Luecke was only 18 months old when her father Markus Lohrmann, an Army chaplain, leaped into the waters off Goodenough Island in Papua New Guinea on 6 March 1944.

Lohrmann had been aboard a small boat with other soldiers when the engine suddenly quit. They were unable to radio back to their base for help.

As the craft drifted, potentially toward Japanese-held waters, the chaplain offered to swim to their base on the island.

Two other men joined him, but when the soldiers reached the beach, the chaplain was not among them.

They swam back and found his body. Efforts to resuscitate Lohrmann on the beach failed.

Seventy-three years later his daughter stood on that very same beach, the highlight of a journey that included evading a crocodile, and a forced, emergency helicopter landing.

But it was important for her to be there.

“I was never able to be with him, so I wanted to at least be at the last place he was, where he was called to heaven,” she recently said.

Continue reading "Daughter’s Easter pilgrimage honoured father’s heroic death" »

The Chambri tribe of the Sepik - where gender roles are flexible

Crocodile scarification
Crocodile scarification is an age-old initiation ritual practised by the Chambri people

CHISOM NJOKU | The Guardian

LONDON - The Chambri people of Papua New Guinea are located in the Chambri lakes area of the middle Sepik River.

There are three Chambri villages: Indingai, Wombun, and Kilimbit. Together these communities contain only a few thousand people.

When the Chambri first came together, though isolated, they located communities close together so as to make it possible for cultural interaction and growth.

The Chambri people are more relaxed with gender roles as both their men and women fully engage in business and economic activities.

Chambri women are responsible for fishing which is the community’s major occupation and fish-for-sago barter markets are still regularly held in the Sepik Hills between Chambri and Sepik Hills women.

Continue reading "The Chambri tribe of the Sepik - where gender roles are flexible" »

Playbook of a songwriter – serial monogamy in a what’s next game

Si Jackson avatar
Simon Jackson - "Not that I fall out of love with a song, just that a new one comes along"


Simon appeared on earth and did his early schooling in Port Moresby (also living in Rabaul and Bougainville) and, later, briefly worked for a mineral resources company in the highlands, which was a learning experience but not one that impressed him. He's now a New Zealand-based internet guru and songwriter (link to his website here). Of consuming interest to me as a journalist, though, Simon not only writes melodies and lyrics for some great songs, he also logs for followers the creative machinations that tussle in the background of the mental processes of musical invention. Here’s his latest communication, which includes a composition he mentions that I particularly like. At present it's an instrumental - no disturbing lyrics, very contemplative, 1950s group The Ventures maybe…. You can also follow Simon on Twitter@si_jackson - KJ

AUCKLAND - It surprises me how finicky I have become. I'm more of a "what's next" guy than "let's keep improving this one". But 'Still Feels Like Home' is different.

I felt there was a note missing in the intro, so I added it, then found another section in the bridge I felt was a bit out of time. It's a matter of listening to myself, being able to feel when I'm reacting to or against something, and fixing it.

I made a bunch of changes to the song most people won't hear: cross fades, the mix in the backing vocals, the timbre of the acoustic guitars.

Funny how small things all add up. I guess I wouldn't bother if I didn't think so much of the song. Working with my daughter was a wonderful surprise.

Continue reading "Playbook of a songwriter – serial monogamy in a what’s next game" »

Papua New Guinea desperately needs a new leader


TUMBY BAY - Australia desperately needs a new leader. Our core values have been eroded and demeaned by selfish ideologues over several decades now and we need to re-establish our beliefs in equality and a fair go for all.

Britain desperately needs a new leader. It has managed to back itself into a ridiculous impasse by trying to reimagine its future in terms of its past. Only a strong leader can extract it from the quagmire.

The United States of America desperately needs a new leader. It has managed to drag itself down to the level of a cheap and nasty reality television show compered by a complete idiot obsessed by hotels, golf courses and a humongous garden wall.

America needs a leader with intellect and imagination. Failing that even one that actually reads books would do.

Continue reading "Papua New Guinea desperately needs a new leader" »

In the case of land, the colonial administrators mostly got it right

Bill Brown on patrol in PNG
Respecters of the people's land - a young Bill Brown on patrol in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s


ADELAIDE – The Australian colonial administration in Papua New Guinea understood right from the outset of its rule that the concept of individual ownership of land didn't apply.

In part, this was based upon the British colonial experience elsewhere in the Pacific, like Fiji, where land was also a communally held and managed asset.

The Administration, as it was known, therefore pursued a policy of tightly controlling how land issues were managed and, in particular, demonstrated a strong general bias against acquiring land.

Given that a feature of the late European colonial era was the rapacious and violent seizure by colonists of traditional lands, it puzzled me that the Pacific colonies tended to be treated differently.

Continue reading "In the case of land, the colonial administrators mostly got it right" »

Mother Earth

Simon Davidson and Sili Somoe
Sili Somoe (right) with fellow poet and mentor, Simon Davidson


Today is International Earth Day

Mother Earth,
Fashioned by infinite intelligence,
But in primordial chaos;
Laid formless and uninhabited.

Mother Earth,
Your liberation arrived;
When pit darkness vanished,
And dawn’s light had emanated.

Mother Earth,
Crafted by infinite intelligence;
A Trinity spoke you into existence,
You came out of a chaotic ocean.

Mother Earth,
Everything came out of you.
The habitats for a myriad lives,
Creatures and unnumbered species.

Continue reading "Mother Earth" »

A policeman remembers: The post-independence kiap system

PNG police 1970s (Paul Oates)
Disciplined forces personnel circa 1970s: Constable Temba from Pindiu area; Pacific Islands Regiment soldier from Hube area; Corrective Services officer from Hube area; Constable Paulus from Madang area (Paul Oates)


DAGUA – In recent times there have been a number of articles and commentaries about kiaps and the Papua New Guinea kiap system in PNG Attitude.

So I decided to ask my liklik papa Mathew about his opinion and observations of kiaps as he worked as a policeman in the early years after PNG gained independence from Australia.

In 1976, Mathew Wasel Sigimet of Urip village, East Sepik, joined the Royal PNG Constabulary (No 6717) and served as a constable until early 1984 when he left the service.

He was deployed to Konedobu, Port Moresby, as a new recruit from Bomana Police College in early January 1976 not long after PNG’s independence.

He then spent six years part of the Sector Patrol Unit, a policing concept trialled in Port Moresby as an independence gift from Australia.

In 1982, Mathew was transferred to the Southern Highlands and served as a constable in Tari until early 1984 when he left the constabulary.

Continue reading "A policeman remembers: The post-independence kiap system" »

June's local government elections: All you need to know

Woman votes in Moitu-Koita local-level government election
Woman votes in Moitu-Koita local-level government election

STAFF WRITER | International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

ARLINGTON, USA - From 22 June to 6 July, citizens of Papua New Guinea will go to the polls for local-level government (LLG) elections.

Voters in each ward will cast their ballots to elect LLG assembly councillors.

The LLG elections are important as they are conducted at ward level where the majority of PNG’s rural population is located and many basic services are lacking.

Electing leaders into the LLG assembly provides the avenue and means for representing voter interests and needs.

Additionally, the 2019 LLG elections mark a test for PNG’s election officials as these are the first LLG elections since delivery was decentralised to the provincial level.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems has developed a 10-page document on frequently asked questions on local-level government elections in Papua New Guinea, which you can download here.

Faith in action: Queensland doctor & family move to Kudjip

Lean family in PNG (Mary Lean)
The Lean family at their new home in Kudjip in the Western Highlands

PETER GUNDERS | ABC Southern Queensland | Extract

TOOWOOMBA, QLD - Dave and Mary Lean have made a very different kind of tree change — taking their five young children with them from Toowoomba in southern Queensland to the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

"A lot of people say, 'Are you taking your children with you?', but I think in their minds they're actually asking, 'Are you crazy?'" Dr Lean said.

"Our youngest is 15 months old, and we're going for at least two years. So yes, we're taking our children!" Dr Lean said.

Home will be on the compound of a 160-bed hospital in Kudjip, an hour's drive east of Mt Hagen.

Dave Lean will be one of two paediatricians at the hospital that covers a population of 400,000.

"I've loved working at Toowoomba hospital for the past two years, and in one sense the work doesn't change, but the way children present in PNG is often far sicker than what we see in Australia," Dr Lean said.

Continue reading "Faith in action: Queensland doctor & family move to Kudjip" »

Inside ministerial resignations, brutal politics at play

O'Neill's sombre men after the reshuffle of March 2019
A sombre ministry after Wednesday's reshuffle. Has Peter O'Neill (circled) developed a cunning plan to remove Sam Basil's (right) threat to his leadership ?


KUNDIAWA - Papua New Guinea’s opposition and many members of the public applauded the resignation of James Marape from the finance portfolio last week as a heroic move against a corrupt prime minister, Peter O’Neill.

Now, the resignation of the member for Esa’ala, Steven Davis, as attorney-general has added more weight to Marape’s exit.

I didn’t buy into Marape's resignation as a genuine move so much as a plot to save O’Neill and his People’s National Congress-led government from an imminent vote of no confidence in parliament.

I expressed this suspicion in a PNG Attitude article, ‘Shockwaves hit PNG as Marape resigns from ministry’, in which I wrote:

“Marape’s resignation could also be part of a political strategy ahead of the coming vote of no confidence in the prime minister, but in light of O’Neill’s well-known trickiness, it could be a stratagem. Thus politically, it is really an unpredictable move. There is no doubt that this issue has many twists and turns still to be revealed.”

Continue reading "Inside ministerial resignations, brutal politics at play" »

Work to Serve and Not for Vanity

Porap Gai
Porap Gai - "The humble will be exalted in due time"


All mortals have an innate desire to shine.
Everyone aims for positions of grandeur.
To be elevated higher is a dream for all.
And to be honoured is a dream come true.

But to crave and seek positions grand,
For one’s own honour and fame is vanity.
Self-gain breeds pride and myriad ills
In the end bringing the soul to ruin.

Lucifer’s vanity was in this regard.
He, Lucifer, pursued a higher role,
Wanting to rule as God, dethroning God.
Pride filled his heart and he was cast to hell.

Continue reading "Work to Serve and Not for Vanity" »

REDD+ & helping reduce emissions with blockchain technology

Blockchain - A virgin rainforest in Papua New Guinea  Picture supplied
Virgin rain forest in Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY – Deforestation is responsible for up to 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is crucial for the international community to achieve its goal of keeping global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Papua New Guinea is the world’s second largest island with a landmass of 46 million hectares, of which 29 million are virgin forest. PNG is second only to Brazil in having the largest tropical rainforest still intact.

Legally, land in PNG is owned by the indigenous people. Only 3% was acquired by the government during the colonial period and 97% is recognized by the Customary Land Registration Act for customary landowners.

PNG also has large mineral deposits and currently exports gold, copper, nickel, oil, liquefied natural gas and other resources in which customary landowners are important stakeholders.

Continue reading "REDD+ & helping reduce emissions with blockchain technology" »

Abt women's writing award open for entries in Crocodile Prize

Abt logo with tagBEN JACKSON | The Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY - The Crocodile Prize, Papua New Guinea’s national literary contest, has announced that entries are now open for the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature.

The award carries K5,000 prize money for the winning writer.

Abt, which has supported the contest in previous years, has committed a total of K20,000 to the 2019 prize which will also cover publication of the anthology of the best writing, expenses for the awards ceremony and bringing winners to Port Moresby for the event.

Continue reading "Abt women's writing award open for entries in Crocodile Prize" »

Land, culture & the limitations of western interpretation

Angry locals  gold mine (Jethro Tulin)
In 2013, angry people massed in their thousands at Porgera, forcing the gold and silver mine to curtail operations. One man was killed (Jethro Tulin)


TUMBY BAY - One of the inherent problems of western-based disciplines like anthropology, sociology, politics and history is that they tend to interpret concepts and practises in terms of their own societies and experiences.

Further than this, they have become the dominant arbiter when it comes to such interpretations.  Even non-western practitioners seem to default to western concepts as a matter of course.

And when a serious attempt is made to interpret something in a neutral way, western ideas interfere and inevitably colour the result.

If you add the western proclivity to render as much as possible into black and white rather than hues of grey the result gets even worse.

There is an argument that, because of the academic strength and reach of its canon, a western interpretation is the best way outsiders can understand what happens in non-western societies.

Continue reading "Land, culture & the limitations of western interpretation" »

The how & why of the Dorney grant for Pacific journalism

Tess Newton Cain (2)
Tess Newton Cain - "Now, more than for some time, the attention of the Australian media and policy community is focused on what is happening in the Pacific islands"


BRISBANE - Last year, when I interviewed Sean Dorney for the Pacific Conversations series, I asked him what the elements were that contributed to whether or not Pacific issues got adequate coverage in the Australian mainstream media.

He told me that there were two deciding factors: the journalists and editors had to care, and there has to be some money. Covering the Pacific is expensive and budgets are tight.

I’ve been working for a long time on getting the Australian media to care about the Pacific, and I think that will be a work in progress for some time to come.

There have been some small wins and some notable losses on that front. But I hadn’t really thought about the money side of things.

At least not until late last year when I managed to pin Sean down and suggest that I should speak to the Walkley Foundation about setting up something that would promote the value of Pacific journalism by the Australian media and that it should be established in his name.

Continue reading "The how & why of the Dorney grant for Pacific journalism" »

Marape: Shaming of a loyal servant defied PNG cultural values

Gary Juffa - "When a Huli man pledges his friendship and loyalty, it is of utmost importance to him and is the most precious of gifts"


Many words have already been written by knowledgeable insiders and expert outsiders about former finance minister James Marape’s resignation from the O’Neill government a week ago. But to me independent national parliamentarian and Oro governor Gary Juffa provided the best commentary of them all - KJ

PORT MORESBY - Once more Papua New Guinea, the land of the unexpected, delivers. Yet again in politics. Surprise, surprise.

No one anticipated the resignation of one James Marape, senior government minister, People’s National Congress stalwart, favourite Hela son, leader and loyal lieutenant and confidante to prime minister Peter O'Neill.

No one saw it coming. Certainly not the Opposition, although I am that I don't speak for them Opposition and an official statement is yet to be released by opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch as far as I know. [It was eventually released four days after the event – KJ]

Along with everyone else, I was also taken by surprise. However, with some insight into the reasons surrounding Marape’s sudden resignation (an insight coming from his own resignation announcement) and having known James personally for most of my life, I am able to understand why.

Continue reading "Marape: Shaming of a loyal servant defied PNG cultural values" »

From eating your words to sharing them with the world

Tess Gizoria
Tess Gizoria - "“Writing is about finding my space and wanting to show a different view of what a Goilala woman can contribute to society”


PORT MORESBY - In a misconstrued punishment from her father, Tess Gizoria chewed up pieces of her journal entries - and ate them.

As an adolescent Tess had a fractious relationship with her dad. Then as now, she was articulate, direct and determined.

“We’d always argue – maybe it’s because we’re so much alike,” she reflects.

“He found what I’d written – I can’t remember exactly what it was – but he was so mad at me!”

Ironically, it was her father who first encouraged Tess to start writing.

“Inspiring me to write? It was my dad, because I needed a way to vent,” Tess says, just barely holding back laughter. “We were always arguing about things and I felt so strongly about them.

“My dad always told me I talked too much and to put my energy in to more useful things – one of them was writing.

“I was a child and supposed to respect my dad and not speak against him – all of that – I put it all down on paper.”

The frustrated teenager grew up and her writing practice, which began as a way to process a challenging patriarchal relationship, became a way to intellectualise the complexities of culture and gender in modern Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "From eating your words to sharing them with the world" »

Remote New Britain rainforest villagers save their community

Tuke village is nestled in a rainforest in the Nakanai Mountains (WildArk)


NAKANAI - For months, members of the Tuke community in Papua New Guinea had watched the destruction around their village in the Nakanai Mountains of New Britain.

Lush forests that had surrounded ancestral generations for centuries were being cleared to make room for palm oil plantations.

The community watched as trucks moved through the once-pristine area, laboring along muddy, newly created logging roads. Their valuable tropical hardwood was leaving the rain forest for distant lands.

The Tuke people worried that soon there would be little left of the forest they had tended for so long. In hopes of finding a solution, three members of the community set out on a three-day walk in August 2016 to ask for help.

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My new book asks if PNG’s founders screwed up its future

Inspector Hari Metau 2
Inspector Hari Metau - Phil Fitzpatrick's splendid creation triggers a reflection on whether PNG's founders could have done more to protect the new nation from its present excesses


TUMBY BAY - What if Papua New Guinea’s forefathers had seen what was coming; could they have avoided what has happened to their nation?

I’m currently working on two novels. One is about a massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia in the 1860s; the other a kind of prequel to the Inspector Metau trilogy.

I’m using Inspector Hari Metau’s good mate and mentor, Sergeant Kasari, as the narrator of the prequel. In the book, he describes the story of how he became a policeman and met up with Hari.

The prequel begins in the mid-1960s and moves through to the present. It is addressed to a couple of young journalists who have come to Sergeant Kasari’s house in Kwikila to interview him for a newspaper article.

I’m having a lot of fun writing the novel and creating a whole new history for a bunch of characters who never actually existed; although to me they are just as real as anyone else.

The other interesting aspect of my writing is being able to reflect on those earlier times in Papua New Guinea when everyone was full of optimism for the future.

The experience of optimism is something the politicians and elites of Papua New Guinea have stolen from their fellow citizens. In its place they have created foreboding and a pervasive mood of depression.

I’m trying to maintain the humour of my earlier Metau novels but now and again I get serious because I think the material deserves it.

Continue reading "My new book asks if PNG’s founders screwed up its future" »

Hiri Moale Festival pays tribute to a great seafaring tradition

Hiri Moale - celebrates culture of Motu Koitabu people (Kinjap)
Hiri Moale is an annual celebration of the culture of the Motu Koitabu people


PORT MORESBY - In many parts of Papua New Guinea, tribal boundaries and customs remain barriers for the progress the country desperately seeks.

A traditional fear of enemies still imprisons many people from pursuing progressive outcomes.

But the Hiri Moale Festival breaks down obstacles that hold back PNG from becoming a prosperous and respected nation.

The success of the Hiri trade was based on the Motuan tradition of daring to explore the unknown for the collective benefit of the people.

And in September each year, amongst the many cultural events coinciding with PNG’s independence celebrations, is the Hiri Moale Festival and the Hiri Hanenamo beauty contest.

Continue reading "Hiri Moale Festival pays tribute to a great seafaring tradition" »

Australian media (but not NZ) is missing in action on Bougainville

Momis O'Neill
As John Momis and Peter O'Neill unsetadily edge Bougainville towards its referendum on independence, the ABC goes missing - but not Radio New Zealand

ANNMAREE O’KEEFFE | The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY – Bougainville, the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea which suffered a brutal 10-year civil conflict in the 1990s, was due to have a referendum in June to decide if it would separate from PNG.

But because funding and arrangements for the plebiscite were well behind schedule, the voting date has now been postponed to October.

Does this matter beyond PNG? One would think so.

This referendum is a celebrated element of the 2001 peace agreement that finally brought the bloodshed to a close and could result in Bougainville becoming another independent but under-developed, economically struggling small island state in the Pacific, with a population of 350,000 people.

If it achieves independence, this small archipelago just over 1,000 kilometres from Cairns will have as its legacy a still festering internal debate about the future of its fabulous mining wealth that was at the heart of the conflict that claimed around 20,000 lives.

Continue reading "Australian media (but not NZ) is missing in action on Bougainville" »

Grand corruption? Sir Mek's hard questions about Paladin contract

Grant Hehir
Grant Hehir -  leading the inquiry delving deep into possible corruption in PNG and Australia in the Paladin Manus  detention centre contract


PORT MORESBY – Former prime minister and MP for Moresby North-West, Sir Mekere Morauta, says an Australian government inquiry into the granting of contracts relating to the Manus detention centre should consider the possibility of official corruption involving senior Papua New Guinean politicians and bureaucrats.

The inquiry, being conducted by Australia’s auditor-general Grant Hehir will cover all aspects of government contracts for Manus and Nauru and will report next year.

Sir Mekere said anecdotal evidence suggests Australian taxpayers’ money may have been secretly used as slush funds to prop up the prime ministership of Peter O’Neill.

“It seems clear the PNG government put pressure on the Australian government and department of home affairs to appoint Paladin as the garrison services and security contractor for Manus,” Sir Mekere said.

Continue reading "Grand corruption? Sir Mek's hard questions about Paladin contract" »

Don’t be fooled by PM’s apology – Fiji media freedom is dire

Dr Gavin Ellis
Dr Gavin Ellis is former editor-in-chief of the New Zealand Herald. His career in journalism has spanned than 40 years

STAFF REPORTER | RNZ/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - Media commentator Gavin Ellis, former editor of the New Zealand Herald, has condemned the state of media freedom in Fiji in the wake of the arrests and detention of three journalists from New Zealand.

He talked to Kathryn Ryan in his weekly RNZ media commentary about the apology of Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama over the police wrongfully detaining the journalists this week, claiming it rang hollow when it came from the man responsible for the dire state of media freedom in Fiji.

Ellis said New Zealand should take a “jaundiced view” of media freedom in that country and cited many instances of abuses of a free press since Bainimarama came to power in a military coup in 2006.

Continue reading "Don’t be fooled by PM’s apology – Fiji media freedom is dire" »

PNG in forefront of ancient Denisovan research

Neanderthals  Denisovans and our ancestors were mixing a long time ago
Denisovans (pictured) and our human ancestors were mixing 50,000 to 15,000 years ago - and some of our genetics can be traced back to these ancient humans.

CLARE WILSON | New Scientist

LONDON - Our species may have been interbreeding with Denisovans as recently as 15,000 years ago, according to a detailed analysis of the DNA of people living in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

We already know that, after Homo sapiens first migrated out of Africa, our species repeatedly interbred with a number of now-extinct hominin species, including the Neanderthals and Denisovans.

The signs are in our DNA today – all people of non-African descent carry some Neanderthal DNA, while some Asian people also have Denisovan DNA.

Not much is known about the mysterious Denisovans. Their only physical remnants discovered so far are a few teeth and fragments of bone unearthed in a cave in Siberia.

Continue reading "PNG in forefront of ancient Denisovan research" »