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75 posts from December 2019

Best of 2019: Cpl Kasari & the red bicycle

Corporal Kasari inspecting police with kiap John McGregor at Olsobip  1968
Corporal Kasari inspecting police with kiap John McGregor, Olsobip,  1968


TUMBY BAY - Lance Corporal Kasari RN1297 RPNGC was something of a legend in the Western District in the late 1960s.

If you had some rough patrolling to do in the rugged mountains or tumbling rivers in the northern part of the district Corporal Kasari was the man to have at your side.

If it was a routine patrol and you needed someone to run the patrol post while you were away Corporal Kasari was always your first choice.

Continue reading "Best of 2019: Cpl Kasari & the red bicycle" »

Best of 2019: The sleeping giant

The tropical turquoise water of PNG (Ben Jackson)
The tropical turquoise water of PNG (Ben Jackson)


PORT MORESBY - The proclamation of Papua New Guinea as the “last paradise on earth” by the country’s prime minister had the ring of an early 20th century adventure novel and it is a tagline that perhaps appropriately reflects the country’s place as a frontier travel destination.

There are good reasons that the nation of just over eight million people has been long touted as having great potential for tourism. It has all the natural ingredients for an idyllic tropical beach getaway and much more.

Continue reading "Best of 2019: The sleeping giant" »

Best of 2019: Polygamy a destructive force


KUNDIAWA - Polygamy was relevant to traditional societies in Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, as part of a patrilineal tradition passed from generation to generation as a means of gaining wealth, prestige and social mobility.

It was also recognised that marrying multiple wives would also increase the labour force to ensure enough pigs were raised and enough gardens were established to maintain the status of the husband and the clan.

Continue reading "Best of 2019: Polygamy a destructive force" »

Best of 2019: Travelling with donkeys


GOLD COAST – As a kiap [patrol officer] in the 1970s, I assisted the Lutheran Mission with one of the first herds of cattle introduced into the Menyamya Sub District.

The cattle drive started at the Bulolo roadhead, traversed the mountains between the Bulolo valley and Aseki Patrol Post before continuing along the Aseki-Menyamya ‘kiap road’.

Continue reading "Best of 2019: Travelling with donkeys" »

Corruption deepens democracy’s crisis

DemocracyNEWS DESK
| Transparency International

BERLIN - As the year ends, we are reflecting on how corruption eats away at things we all care about, from fundamental human rights to socio-economic equality and environmental protection.

Around the world, corruption made headlines, sparked demonstrations and toppled governments in what should be a wake-up call for leaders to follow through on their commitments and make good on old promises as well as new, meaningful resolutions.

Continue reading "Corruption deepens democracy’s crisis" »

An old man’s dreaming

Mintabie will soon be without its opal miners - "a timely vindication of a great wrong perpetrated by greedy and ignorant people"


TUMBY BAY - In 1976 I was working for the South Australian Museum travelling in the far northwest visiting and recording sacred sites with Aboriginal elders.

On one such trip I was out with an old man called Mungatja Mick Wintinna. He was an Antakarinja man in his mid-nineties.

Earlier in the week I had piggy-backed him across some sand hills to the place where he had been born in the late 1880s.

Continue reading "An old man’s dreaming" »

Sex, yams and cricket

| New Zealand Herald

AUCKLAND - If the Trobriand Islanders were allowed to take part in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, they would have caused quite a stir, surpassing the razzmatazz of the modern game.

From the boundary at Yalumgwa's cricket ground I'm watching a violent tribal encounter at the crease without the slightest hint of sportsmanship.

Continue reading "Sex, yams and cricket" »

There are no free lunches

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "While Australia thought it was a good world citizen bringing PNG to nationhood, many Papua New Guineans felt it was exercising its innate sense of superiority over what it saw as a lesser people"


TUMBY BAY - You’ve probably heard the old adage which says there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The adage alludes to the belief that nothing in life is free, including acts of kindness and charity.

Any such act always creates an obligation of reciprocity.

Papua New Guineans and other Melanesian societies are very familiar with this rule. The so-called ‘big man system’ is based on the concept.

Continue reading "There are no free lunches" »

Measles in Gulf & New Ireland

| Source: PNG News

PORT MORESBY - Just before Christmas the health department confirmed two positive cases of measles in Papua New Guinea.

Testing at the central public health laboratory detected the disease in the Gulf and New Ireland provinces when surveillance was heightened due to the deadly measles outbreak in Samoa which killed 80 people, mainly young children.

Continue reading "Measles in Gulf & New Ireland" »

Referendum free, fair, safe & credible

| Transparency International PNG | Extracts

You can link here to the full preliminary findings report

PORT MORESBY - Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is the local chapter of the global transparency movement and has been operating in Papua New Guinea since 1997.

TIPNG’s mission is to empower Papua New Guineans to act against corruption.

This statement is a preliminary assessment of the TIPNG observation of the Bougainville referendum polling which was an activity entirely funded by the European Union.

Continue reading "Referendum free, fair, safe & credible" »

The Madang predicament

Constable John Solala  head still bandaged and a knife tear in his uniform after being attacked earlier this month
Constable John Solala,  head still bandaged and a tear in his uniform after a knife attack earlier this month

| My Land, My Country

MADANG - For the past 12 months, the media’s attention has focused on Madang, not as a tourist destination but as a hotspot for crime.

At Jomba station, where the provincial headquarters is located, provincial police commander Manuc Rubian reveals that the crime statistics are worrying.

Much of the crime stems from widespread alcohol abuse and a general breakdown in law and order.

Continue reading "The Madang predicament" »

Back to the future in Solomon Islands

Manasseh Sogavare
Manasseh Sogavare in his fourth non-consecutive terms as Solomons prime minister. Only one prime minister has survived a full term since independence

|East Asia Forum

WELLINGTON, NZ - One could be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu in the Solomon Islands.

In elections held in April 2019, Manasseh Sogavare returned as prime minister for a fourth non-consecutive term.

In the aftermath of those elections, riots broke out in the capital, Honiara, just as they did 13 years earlier. In 2006, rioters targeted Chinatown and the Pacific Casino hotel.

Continue reading "Back to the future in Solomon Islands" »

Pingeta’s daughter & bigman Kurai Tapus

Kumbon - Wigged villager  Wabag patrol post  when Kurai Tapus was a bosboi (Fryer Library UQ)
Wigged villager at Wabag patrol post when Kurai Tapus was a bosboi (Fryer Library, University of Queensland)


WABAG - Her voice was like the sound of angels singing joyous melodies in the starlit Bethlehem night in celebration of the birth of Jesus in a manger on that first Christmas Day.

In January 1946, in a very different place, a similar earthly celebration took place in a lonely pulim anda (birth house) among the casuarina trees at Kaiap village, where a young mother sang a victory song when her son was born.

Continue reading "Pingeta’s daughter & bigman Kurai Tapus" »

An unwanted Christmas present

Phil on patrol in the Star Mountains  early 1970s
Phil on patrol in the Star Mountains, early 1970s


TUMBY BAY - In 1970 I received a Christmas present that I didn’t really want.

At the time I was the officer in charge of Olsobip Patrol Post on the southern slopes of the Star Mountains in the Western District.

Earlier in the month I had returned from a 31 day patrol into the rugged and remote Murray Valley.

Continue reading "An unwanted Christmas present" »

The Pacific: strategic denial & integration

| Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - Australia’s deepest, oldest instinct in the South Pacific is strategic denial, striving to exclude other major powers from the region.

As Australia can never achieve complete dominance in the South Pacific, the instinct is beset by a faint, constant ache.

Continue reading "The Pacific: strategic denial & integration" »

Extreme corruption needs extreme response

James Marape
James Marape has one of the hardest jobs a national leader can face - ridding a country of corruption


MICHIGAN, USA - In the 18 December issue of The National, prime minister James Marape put the kibosh on unauthorised foreign travel by ministers of state.

He made it clear that ministers must receive permission from himself through the chief secretary before they travel to Australia, the United States or China.

Continue reading "Extreme corruption needs extreme response" »

Capital punishment in PNG

| DevPolicy Blog

PORT MORESBY - Capital punishment is a sensitive issue in Papua New Guinea. While laws have been put in place to introduce the death penalty, they have not been used.

In July 2019, prime minister James Marape said the PNG Parliament would continue to debate whether the death penalty is maintained in the criminal code.

Continue reading "Capital punishment in PNG" »

Australia's Pacific hypocrisy unveiled

Ben Bohane
Ben Bohane exposes the shallowness (and insincerity) of Australia's relationships with the Pacific

| The Age (Melbourne) | Extracts

You can link to Ben Bohane’s complete article here

MELBOURNE - One of the reasons Pacific nations like Vanuatu are turning to China is because they fear Jakarta more than Beijing.

As previously reported in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, China is making a bold play for influence in Bougainville, the resource-rich PNG-governed territory that looks set to become the world's newest nation after its people voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence earlier this month.

Continue reading "Australia's Pacific hypocrisy unveiled" »

Highlands mushrooms ready for market

Eastern Highlands mushrooms
Eastern Highlands mushrooms

| My Land, My Country | Edited extracts

LAE - Usually the mushrooms we get in Papua New Guinea are expensive and the technology behind them is a mystery.

But in Goroka, a team of Chinese scientists from the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University are teaching Eastern Highlanders how to grow their own mushrooms.

Continue reading "Highlands mushrooms ready for market" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 26 – The plot against Bougainville

Brown Pic 1
The mining agreement between the copper company and the colonial Administration passed into law without the field officers in Bougainville being forewarned, let alone fully briefed


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - As far as my kiap colleague John Dagge and I were concerned, everything was going well around Barapina and Panguna.

We were not gaining acceptance, but the people were at least listening to our explanations about CRA’s prospecting activity.

Then, on 29 August 1967, the House of Assembly – Papua New Guinea’s parliament - passed into law a mining agreement bill between the company and the Administration.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 26 – The plot against Bougainville" »

B’ville finance minister under pressure

Robin Wilson
South Bougainville community leaders want president John Momis to answer questions about finance minister Robin Wilson who is under investigation


BUKA - The community governments of South Bougainville have called upon Bougainville president John Momis to answer questions surrounding his embattled finance and treasury minister, Robin Wilson.

Mr Wilson is the subject of official corruption charges before Papua New Guinea’s national court and is under active investigation on a range of matters but retains his portfolio in the Momis cabinet.

Continue reading "B’ville finance minister under pressure" »

The day that Libby died

Ingrid at 65
Keith, Ingrid and Libby - we shared many good times and, with Libby coming from a family of restaurateurs, many good lunches


NOOSA - Ingrid’s mum Libby died early this afternoon.

Libby was 94, a venerable age, and had been in pretty good health until a fall,  two broken vertebrae and great pain compromised that about three weeks ago.

She was born in Prague in 1925, where her parents owned restaurants and lived a reasonably comfortable life until the Communists took over Czechoslovakia after World War II.

Continue reading "The day that Libby died" »

Work your land says treasurer

Women are a prominent force in PNG agriculture (Johnny Blades)
Women play a prominent role in PNG agriculture (Johnny Blades)

| Radio New Zealand

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea's treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, is encouraging citizens to work their land and develop agriculture ventures.

Mr Ling-Stuckey said significant funding had been allocated to the agriculture sector in the 2020 budget, in particular to assist cocoa, coffee and fresh produce development.

Continue reading "Work your land says treasurer" »

Geologist killed by B’ville ‘thugs’

John Momis
Dr Momis expressed disgust at the Kalia Group for allowing its geologist into an area where there were criminal elements resisting exploration. He has suspended the company's mining licence

| Radio New Zealand | Extracts

BUKA - A geologist has been killed in Bougainville by what president John Momis has described as a group of criminal thugs.

The victim, Terry Win Kilya, from Enga Province was an employee of Kalia-Toremana Joint Venture Limited, which has been conducting mineral exploration in a disputed area.

Continue reading "Geologist killed by B’ville ‘thugs’" »

EU gives K310 million for rural support

European-unionNEWS DESK
| Global Coffee Report

MELBOURNE - The European Union is funding a five-year K310 million rural initiative in partnership with the government of Papua New Guinea.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation will lead the project that aims to support sustainable agriculture with emphasis on assuring that rural women and youth benefit the most.

Continue reading "EU gives K310 million for rural support" »

Independent Bougainville not so easy

Bougainville-referendum-Batley-scaled-e1576553126524JAMES BATLEY
| Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CANBERRA - It seems that the overwhelming outcome of the referendum on Bougainville, with over 97% of eligible voters supporting independence, surprised even seasoned observers.

Still, as is well known, the vote is not binding. Under the terms of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, the governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville are now required to consult over the outcome of the referendum, and the result of that consultation will be subject to ratification by the PNG parliament.

Continue reading "Independent Bougainville not so easy" »

Death of veteran actor Albert Toro

Albert Toro with Elizabeth Tsitseka in the film ‘Tukana-Husait I Asua’
A recent photo of Albert Toro with Elizabeth Tsitseka, who played Lucy's mother in the film ‘Tukana - Husait I Asua’


DEVARE, BOUGAINVILLE - I was in the garden planting aibika last Wednesday when my sister approached and asked if I had heard the news.

When told me that Bougainvillean actor Albert Toro MBE had died, I was shocked and stared at her in disbelief.

My heart sank as I reflected on what Albert had contributed to Bougainville and Papua New Guinea and how he had mentored some of us. The tears fell from my eyes.

Continue reading "Death of veteran actor Albert Toro" »

Alas, everything’s a deal these days

Phil Fitzpatrick at mic
Phil Fitzpatrick - "These days the strategic value of the small Pacific island nations is just as much a commodity as oil, gas and metals"


TUMBY BAY - Ever since neo-liberalism gained ground in the 1990s governments have persistently used economics to define their policies.

Neo-liberalism is used to refer to market-oriented policies such as eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, lowering trade barriers and reducing state influence in the economy, especially through privatisation and austerity.

Continue reading "Alas, everything’s a deal these days" »

Osikaiyang landowners out of order

Osikaiyang Landowners
BCL is tiring of Osikaiyang landowners who under the Bougainville Mining Act have no status in representing landowners and own no mineral rights

| Bougainville Copper Ltd

BUKA - Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) says it is both regrettable and disappointing to see members of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) issuing misleading and provocative statements following Bougainville’s peaceful and successfully conducted referendum.

BCL again repeat its calls for SMLOLA to desist from purporting to speak on behalf of all Panguna landowners as part of its ongoing campaign to undermine Bougainville Copper Ltd.

Continue reading "Osikaiyang landowners out of order" »

Geo-strategy & Bougainville’s future

Bougainville is strategically located in the south-west Pacific  and that locational advantage can be traded for aid, underpinning a viable economy


TUMBY BAY – The discussion about the future of Bougainville seems to be coalescing around its economic viability, which seems to be the lever that will be used by Papua New Guinea in its attempt to retain the province as part of the nation.

What seems to be missing from the debate so far is the issue of identity.

Continue reading "Geo-strategy & Bougainville’s future" »

Bougainville: Powder keg awaiting a match?

"A truth commission might provide an easing valve for past hurts, short of that Bougainville remains a powder keg, awaiting to be lit"

| Eurasia Review

ALBANY, USA - It would be an understatement to claim that Bougainville, that blighted piece of autonomous territory in Papua New Guinea, had been through a lot. 

Companies have preyed upon its environment with extractive hunger.  Wars and civil strife have beset its infrastructure and economy.

Continue reading "Bougainville: Powder keg awaiting a match?" »

Those POM suburb names

Hotel moresbyGOBI DON GUREKI
| Skerah PNG

PORT MORESBY - Unlike the street in Port Moresby's central business district, named after many prominent people of the colonial era, the suburbs have more local and traditional names.

The Koitabuans along with Motuans are the traditional landowners of Port Moresby, the Koitabuans hunters while the Motuans were more associated with the sea.

Continue reading "Those POM suburb names" »

Complex path to nationhood

James Marape - "Both of our flags must fly until we reach the conclusion of this process" (Natalie Whiting, ABC)

| Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Extract

Link here to the complete version of Natalie’s analysis of the Bougainville referendum

BUKA - A ceremony to announce the results of Bougainville's historic referendum opened with a chorus of the Bougainville anthem.

When the overwhelming result for independence was handed down, people spontaneously started singing it again.

Continue reading "Complex path to nationhood" »

An actor seeks the primitive

Zac efron
Zac Efron


PORT MORESBY - Riding in an old dugout canoe with a single outboard motor, Efrongawi is jokingly cautioned by his guide to keep his limbs and phalange’s well inside the confines of the vessel lest the crocodiles snap at him.

Keeping his head in the game and his limbs in the canoe, Efrongawi asks the fixer how long he has been giving tours along the Sepik River.

Continue reading "An actor seeks the primitive" »

Bertie Ahern explains referendum role

Bertie Ahern being interviewed from his office in Bougainville

| The Journal

DUBLIN - Former Ireland taoiseach [prime minister] Bertie Ahern has explained his involvement in the Bougainville Referendum and the significance of the result, as chair of the referendum’s commission.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1, he said that “this is a big issue with Australia and New Zealand, this is an everyday news story.

Continue reading "Bertie Ahern explains referendum role" »

Fascinating, sweet, incurable PNG

Phil very relaxed on patrol north of Nomad  1960s
Phil Fitzpatrick, relaxing in the haus kiap on a patrol north of Nomad in the 1960s - "I found that three months leave was about all I could stand of civilisation"


TUMBY BAY - Kiaps were required to work for 21 months in Papua New Guinea before they were granted three months leave.

When their leave was due they were provided with a return airline ticket to Australia.

After 21 months in the field most kiaps looked forward to their leave. It was a chance to catch up with their families in Australia, see what had been going on in the outside world and enjoy a few luxuries not available in PNG.

Continue reading "Fascinating, sweet, incurable PNG" »

“We are reborn,” say Bougainvilleans

Bougainville men in Upe hatsNEWS DESK
| Bougainville News | Reuters | AFP

BUKA - “That’s my dream, to go and rebuild,” says Pajomile Minaka from Bougainville’s southern region, a child during the civil war and now 36 years old and taking a law course to equip him to help rebuild his homeland.

“We need the best policies and the best laws to be the best country,” he told the Reuters news agency. “We are reborn.”

Continue reading "“We are reborn,” say Bougainvilleans" »

Bougainville votes for independence

Members of the Bougainville Women's Federation
Members of the Bougainville Women's Federation cheering after hearing voters overwhelmingly supported independence (Serahphina Aupong)

| New York Times | Extracts

SYDNEY - Bougainville has voted overwhelmingly to become independent from Papua New Guinea, aiming to become the world’s newest nation.

In a referendum linked to a peace agreement that ended a bloody civil war between separatists and PNG security forces nearly 20 years ago, nearly 98% of those who voted supported becoming an independent nation.

Continue reading "Bougainville votes for independence" »

The complexity of stupidity

Phil reading
Phil Fitzpatrick


TUMBY BAY - Stupidity is a complicated subject. Context is everything.

Just as common sense can be nonsensical; cleverness can be stupid.

Stupidity comes in myriad forms. There is imbecility, idiocy, dullness, obtuseness, thickheadedness, foolishness, irrationality, illogicality, fatuity, silliness, lunacy, folly, senselessness, recklessness, and absurdity. To name a few.

Continue reading "The complexity of stupidity" »

Independence - so say 98%

Bougainvilleans have voted 98% for independence in an overwhelming expression of desire for political autonomy. This will pose significant problems to a PNG government that has always been reluctant to agree that this was the best course and which has the final say

| Guardian Australia

BUKA - The autonomous region of Bougainville has voted overwhelmingly in favour of becoming independent from Papua New Guinea, paving the way for the group of islands to become the world’s newest nation.

More than 180,000 people in Bougainville participated in a referendum over the last few weeks that has been nearly 20 years in the making.

Continue reading "Independence - so say 98%" »

The last kiap on the ridge

Wabag - Kompiam divide - the central ridge along which many patrols passed
Wabag-Kompiam divide - the central ridge along which many patrols passed


WABAG - John Gordon-Kirkby was probably the last colonial kiap (patrol officer) to regularly visit the central ridge in Wabag made famous by the explorer Jim Taylor who described the landscape as a ‘garden land’ while on the Hagen Sepik patrol of 1938-39.

The route along the ridge starts on the banks of the Lai River at Wakumare near the present day Sir Tei Abal Secondary School.

Continue reading "The last kiap on the ridge" »

God, violence & women’s subordination

"In effect the churches blame the wife for the beatings and violence her husband has inflicted on her"


TUMBY BAY - In the first of a series of recent articles on gender and Christianity on The Conversation website it is suggested that a literal translation of the bible may be contributing to domestic violence.

In a self-declared Christian nation like Papua New Guinea, with very high levels of violence against women and children, this discussion has particular relevance.

Continue reading "God, violence & women’s subordination" »

Saving the Sepik from Frieda mine


PORT MORESBY - A photo posted on Facebook showing dried freshwater fish at Wewak market has sparked a discussion on the future of the Sepik River.

In the river’s headwaters, the Frieda copper and gold mine is pushing ahead with its development plans.

The Sepik is 1,100km long and empties into the Bismarck Sea. The river system’s 430,000 people use the river for food, education, transport, health and culture.

Continue reading "Saving the Sepik from Frieda mine" »

The making of a kiap

Cadet patrol officers  Sogeri 1950
Cadet patrol officers watch police on parade, Sogeri, 1950


TUMBY BAY - The comment has occasionally been made that kiaps were just public servants, no more and no less. That’s technically true but there was a whole lot more to it.

In essence they were multi-skilled administrators doing a whole range of things quite divorced from the usual public service image of pen pushers and desk jockeys.

Continue reading "The making of a kiap" »

Dancing with tears of joy

Alphonse Mek
Alphonse Mek - "Sometimes I dreamed of becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Other times I imagined forming a gang"


Alphonse Mek is minister of Mt Kora Adventist Church in Jiwaka Province. He graduated with an advanced diploma in theology from Sonoma Adventist College on Sunday 24 November

ENGA - We all have our own dreams and plans, but to realise those aspirations takes a lot of time, determination and perseverance.

I have seen and felt and tasted the pain of trying to get a good education.

Continue reading "Dancing with tears of joy" »