'We were behind the eight ball'
Does it really matter if PNG goes bust?

First Words: Those maiden comments


NOOSA - After receiving about 150 comments a year in its first three years, PNG Attitude now receives something like 4,000 a year. Maybe more. Too many to count.

It’s hard to recall, as Phil Fitzpatrick writes in his wonderful history of the blog and the Crocodile Prize,  ‘Fighting for a Voice’ (Pukpuk Publications, 2016), that time when “the Comments facility on the blog was rarely used”.

Now well into our fifteenth year and Recent Comments is well established as a source of revelation, argument, anecdote, recollection, discussion and, if you’re Bernard Corden, inspirational quotes.

Rummaging through the blog’s archives yesterday on some forgotten mission that seemed important at the time, I soon found myself entangled in our readers’ comments from down the years and got to wondering just how long some of you had been responding to the writing on these pages.

So, in this piece, I offer edited versions of the first comments on the blog by selected contributors, beginning with the late Henry Bodman who was the first to post a comment on the same day the blog was unveiled - Sunday, 26 February 2006.

You probably won’t be as fine-tuned to the blog’s development as me, but the early commenters were mainly expatriate teachers in Papua New Guinea from pre-independence times, then followed a gradual accumulation of other former expatriate officers, mainly kiaps.

It was not until four or five  years after the blog launched and as social media began to get a grip on PNG, that Papua New Guinean contributors came at us with a rush which hasn’t stopped.

Here, then, are the first words of many of our esteemed commenters:

Late Henry Bodman :

This had to happen after Jackson Wells Morris appeared among the stars of the Sunday program on the topic of blogs this morning. I'll see if I can get involved in this extension to my limited mastery of modern technology. Thanks for the advice and the time and effort you are putting into all of this. Cheers and beers.

26 February 2006

Martin Hadlow :

I certainly remember Jane [Belfield]. I recall sending her a piece from Kerema about the launching of a large canoe which could travel at several knots. "A canoe is a boat which was once a tree. A knot is a tangle in a fishing line" and stuff like that found its way into my script. Her flashing editorial pen was always on top of that sort of nonsense.

10 March 2006

Late Jane Belfield :

I was intrigued - and amused - to read Martin Hadlow's comments. Call me senile, but I can't remember anything about him sending me that very simple English report from Kerema! Perhaps he can give me more details? (And by the way, Martin, my editorial pen is still flashing ... and slashing!)

2 May 2006

Richard Jones :

Sincere congratulations on reaching the 100-issue milestone. It's a significant achievement to get to 100 editions of any publication, no matter whether electronic or hard copy. Keep the pinkies poised above the keyboard for many a long year yet.

23 July 2006

Diane Bohlen :

What a fabulous trip down memory lane and in 5 star comfort. It must be very emotional for you. I'm glad to hear Madang is still a nice place. I have very fond memories of Madang as that is where Bill and I had our honeymoon in 1969.It was very romantic.

30 October 2006

Late Murray Bladwell :

Joan and I have very much enjoyed following your daily travelog. We feel very much part of your journey, and while we did not visit or work in many of the locations you and Ingrid have visited, we feel we have gained some reconnection (and nostalgia!) again with PNG, a country we both very much enjoyed over a 12 year period. Thanks for the opportunity to travel with you both.

2 November 2006

Paul Oates :

Thanks Keith. I had no idea my little stories were so well received.

4 November 2007

Peter Salmon :

Wasn't there a story floating around that Bergmann had painted the swastika on the roof of the mission buildings during WWII or was this simply a libellous invention of ours cooked up during those many hours supporting the social club bar.

26 November 2007

Bill Brown :

Gordon [Steege] was never a Cadet Patrol Officer. He arrived in PNG as a Patrol Officer in January 1947, after resigning as Group Captain from the post of Director of Operations, RAAF HQ Melbourne. Initially he was posted to Esa’ala. After 6 months at ASOPA he returned to PNG being posted Kairuku in January 1948. Subsequent postings were Madang and Bogia then ADO Manus until August 1950. Reluctantly he resigned and returned to the RAAF as Wing Commander.

14 December 2007

Late Graham Pople :

I have read Eric Johns' two books of history and have appreciated them very much. They solve some of the problems of birthday presents for my growing band of grandchildren who show an interest in PNG. An item that should be added to the agenda for possible discussion, as it is spreading throughout the Pacific region, is that of corruption by both politicians and senior public servants. It is rife here in PNG and the odd reports that I read, reveal it is spreading throughout the Pacific.

23 February 2008

Barbara Short :

I was a teacher in PNG from 1971-83 and at the moment I'm trying to write a book on the history of Keravat High School. I'm a bit housebound at the moment as I'm recovering from an operation. I was wondering if there is anything good on Keravat on-line. I'm interested in the period 1947-60. Lots of former teachers and pupils are helping me but a lot of memories are weak!

30 July 2008

Phil Fitzpatrick :

Sir Paulias is right. And since Australia has an ongoing and important relationship with PNG the good propaganda needs to be directed here as well. I doubt whether the corruption in PNG is that much greater than in Oz - we are just better at covering it up. It's something that will never be eliminated but it would be good to curtail the more blatant and cruder examples. There must be a plethora of ex-pollies in Oz who could offer advice on how to do this…. If the PNGAA ever stops trying to eat itself it could also play a useful role.

24 April 2009

Charlie Lynn :

The Rudd Government is to be congratulated for its positive re-engagement with Papua New Guinea. As part of the process of re-engagement we must ensure we do not take a 'big-brother' approach as we have in the past. We must therefore respect their right to name geographical features. According to the PNG statute books the correct name for the track between Owers Corner and Kokoda is 'The Kokoda Trail'. If we would like it changed to 'The Kokoda Track' to satisfy some of the new-age historians in Australia then we should follow due process according to PNG law. Until then Australian officials should refer to it by its correct title.

10 June 2009

Reginald Renagi :

I do not think the organisers of the US protest group, the Tea Party, should apologise to PNG or Hela Province for superimposing president Barrack Obama’s face on a picture of a Huli wigman. People can think what they like in PNG but frankly the Tea Party will not apologise. They will only see the funny side of it as they meant their antics to be just satirical and not intended to be a racist slur on their president. On another note, I think Barrack Obama looks quiet cute as a Huli dancer.

4 October 2009

Robin Lillicrap :

I can't help but think, as I recall the pattern of observations emerging from present and past issues of PNG Attitude, that your correspondents paint a pessimistic picture of PNG's future. It has probably been a perplexing ride along history's road for the present crop of leaders in PNG. I remember the late 1960's influx of lecturers in the various colleges from foreign and communistic regimes. Now, the tide has turned. Communism as such is gone; the fires of capitalism have been challenged and overtaken by free-market economics and eco-politics advocating communitarian paradigms smacking of fascism.

13 December 2009

David Kitchnoge :

It is exactly the ad hoc, uncoordinated approach to education that has failed a lot of Papua New Guineans since independence. It's nice to have text books but availability of text books is just a small aspect of the whole education process. I agree that a holistic approach to education in PNG is urgently required. The full value of AusAID to PNG should be split 70/30 between education and health respectively to help us address our own short sightedness in these very fundamental yet important areas of nation building.

16 June 2010

Arthur Williams :

I attended the Madang Mining Conference in 1997 at which a smartly dressed mining executive happily told us of “sustainable mining” - perhaps the greatest environmental misnomer of modern times. I lived at Lihir in 1998 and saw the Grade B ore stockpile being built in the ocean yards from the beachside spot where had been erected a large sign saying it was off limits because it was an important turtle egg laying beach. The latest aerial picture seems to show that the stockpile is at least 100 meters or more wide and so has contravened the initial STD agreement of the pipeline exit being at a proscribed distance from the coastline. It also shows the plume of pollution obviously not being dispersed well below sea level. The people of Londolovit and Kapit have allegedly been told not to eat shellfish from their traditional ocean waters.

1 May 2010

Sir Paulias Matane :

Thank you very much for your very positive article to appear in PNG Attitude. I am so humbled about what you wrote. Many thanks. Have a nice day. God bless.

28 June 2010

Gordon Shirley :

I would like to make a quick comment regarding the potential entry into the National Rugby League by PNG. Personally I think the money would be better spent on items such as anti-retroviral drugs and the efficient distribution of such drugs to those who desperately need such treatment. However, should PNG actually do gain entry to the NRL, I hope the PNG officials pay tribute to all of the expat and local teachers who helped develop the game prior to 1975. Without their contribution I doubt the game would ever have got off the ground at the junior level.

17 July 2010

Alex Harris :

Very poignant piece, Philip. Not something we give much thought to. Perhaps eBooks are the way to go - but with dodgy internet connection it makes it difficult. A good public infrastructure priority would surely be expediting high speed internet connectivity, would it not? And I'm sure availability isn't the only explanation for the popularity of Keith's blog!

7 August 2010

Graham King :

At the fisheries base in Oro Bay there are a large number of bombs which had contained mustard gas. At some stage previously the bombs had been blown to remove the gas. Each bomb had a hole in the side where an explosive charge had been used to release the gas inside. The story I heard was that a helicopter had flown overhead to disperse the gas while the bombs were blown open. I last saw this stockpile at Oro Bay in 2007.

31 August 2010

Tanya Zeriga-Alone :

How can rural schools in PNG be expected to implement outcome-based education when there are literally no resources to cater for student centred learning. This is especially so in places at the edge of PNG where the daily newspaper arrives once in a blue moon when a town relative comes visiting; even then the newspaper is a valuable commodity not to be wasted in the classroom. If OBE got chucked out in first world countries, which have excess to Wikipedia at their fingertips, what makes a third world country like PNG an exception?.

5 October 2010

Lapieh Landu :

I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed reading my poems as much as I love writing them. It is amazing how inspiration can in no less than 20 minutes turn ones imagination into poetry. I know there are a lot of talented poets out there, they just haven’t realised their gift yet, and to share it with others. We are all poets in our own way, it only takes inspiration, imagination and a little push, to put it into black and white. Kindest Regards and God Bless.

17 October 2010

Peter Kranz :

As an ex IT person in PNG I am amazed and saddened by how many people in PNG are taken-in by internet and email scams. I have just saved one of my cousins in PNG from being taken-in by an email scam which claimed he had won $700,000 dollars in the UK. All he had to do was send them $500 to receive his 'prize'. He was about to borrow this amount to do so. Luckily he asked me for advice before responding. In western countries we have become aware of how prolific such fraud-attempts are, but in PNG it seems people are still believing what they read in unsolicited email.

10 November 2010

Martyn Namorong :

Many of us on the streets just want the world to understand us better. Unfortunately our voices are drummed out by people who think they know what's best for us. I do recognise that there are certain medieval traits. I do however believe that the opportunity to leapfrog into the age of the photon is being delayed by power hungry oligarchs who control government owned monopolies.

4 March 2011

Leonard Roka :

Nice literary competition. We need to keep the Crocodile Prize going for the good of all upcoming writers. This competition is actually a need for those of us who write but have no way to get ourselves established as authors. Big name PNG literary artists are not a source of help for us who are struggling to enjoy what literature has in store for us. I'll be contributing a little bit of Bougainvillean taste of honey.

15 May 2011

Lindsay F Bond :

Greetings - Not so much a comment as a request. What are the names of the "17 elementary and primary schools" and "five health centres and hospitals" that are the recipients of the most generous gifts of furniture?

22 June 2011

Rob Parer :

I have just found out about Frank Alcorta's book published in 2010. Cannot believe it has taken him 37 years to have it published. He was teaching at Aitape High School & the last I saw of him was when the school year finished in 1973 he went on the first solo expedition across Papua New Guinea & when finished went on to Brisbane & then took on a teaching job in Darwin. I had no idea if he finished the trek or perished on the way. It was lucky that his diary of the expedition survived when their home was destroyed by the Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve. Astounding really what he has accomplished without any fanfare. An amazing guy. Never had the country been crossed by a single explorer.

2 July 2011

William Dunlop :

M T Somare's band of thieves. Tragic for PNG

19 July 2011

Michael Dom :

I sometimes feel that practitioners of a religion, which in my mind is the set of rules that governs a belief system, too often forget the more important and fundamental truths: peace, hope, faith, love. In whatever identity your deity takes on, He/she has left you the task of figuring out how to achieve those fundamental truths in a way that is best for yourself and the people you live with. It must have been one interesting god who gave us such a wonderful but troublesome combination of gifts; life and a little thing called free will.

19 July 2011

Regina Dorum :

Some people just do not get it! The people will respect you for all your lifetime achievements in serving them. The more he [Somare] pushes it, the more he loses support. Step down in style, Chief, not in shame.

17 February 2012

Francis Nii :

This is awesome. I'm lost for words. Living in a country where PLWD (persons living with disability) are subjected to discrimination, marginalisation etc on a daily basis, my appointment as SCF administrator is a positive step toward the cause of the rights of PLWD. Thank you so much Jimmy [Drekore] and the Simbu Children Foundation executives for the faith you have in me. I will serve SCF to the best of my ability. Thank you very much Keith for featuring my appointment in PNG Attitude. You have inspired and elated my spirit so much.

15 April 2012

Albert Schram :

Thank you for your interest in my case. We are discovering now irregularities have taken place when cancelling my work permit. We hope all the issues can be solved so that I can return and be allowed to do my job effectively and safely.

23 February 2013

Chris Overland :

I was posted at Baimuru in 1970-71 and enjoyed working there, rather contrary to my initial expectations. The office was still there, although I believe that it was physically relocated at some point, being literally carried by hand and placed on new stumps. My main memory of it was that the chickens that lived in the ceiling space would sometimes plummet down through a hole, landing in a squawking mass of feathers on someone's desk. I enjoyed patrolling in the stations ancient 19-foot launch, the Aveta, with its one ratpower Petters diesel engine. Apart from being gutless, the Aveta had a habit of throwing off the propeller shaft. This necessitated an urgent paddle to shore so that the errant propeller could be reattached and progress resumed under power.

23 March 2013

Gary Juffa :

I was actually stating that whilst violence against women is an issue of great concern in PNG (everywhere I would imagine) I am concerned that the UN type academics and the usual crowd of grant seeking characters they seem to engage have generalised the situation to the point where it is truly unethical and improper. Fact 1: Not every man in PNG is a wife beater or approves of such behaviour. Fact 2: PNG society is varied and very diverse. What one tribe does and believes is not necessarily what the others believe or do.

25 April 2013

Rose Kranz :

Nokan tok gaiman lon David Bridie. Shame! He is a great supporter of PNG musicians and has recorded traditional music many times in Simbu and other remote places which few Australians have had the guts to do.

18 August 2013

Marlene Potoura :

Congratulations tambu Leonard [Roka]. I knew all along you would do it. Merahu, tampara!

7 October 2013

Martinez Wasuak :

Sad for PNG politics. People in authority acting on a reactive basis mostly for their own benefit. When will we all serve Papua New Guinea with honesty to move Papua New Guinea forward. Are we going to achieve Vision 2050 when there are divisions in the higher authority? Are we going to implement all the other so called developed policies if there are so many changes of positions in the higher authority? We all need to think about this and very importantly the people in authority need to act in an orderly way!

18 June 2014

Jimmy Awagl :

We the people of Sine Sine-Yongomugl applaud the potential and leadership of Kerenga Kua, who was sidelined by the so called and desperate leader protecting his personal interest and not for PNG. Kerenga Kua we are morally at your back, since you took a plain and bold stand not to defend the ill and corrupt deeds of Mr O'Neill. We salute you, so pursue for justice to take its course. You are the next PM of this nation.

18 June 2014

Caroline Evari :

There is more to Oro tapa and the designs printed on it. A rare asset to the Oro people and one whose significance is slowly fading away.

21 July 2014

Fr Garry Roche :

Reliable statistics reveal that about 4% of Catholic priests may be abusers. This is the same rate for most professions, including teachers and doctors. It is however understandable that abuse by a priest gets more publicity and is perhaps more scandalous because the abuser is someone who should be committed to doing good and not evil. There is a breach of trust involved when the abuser is a parson or priest or a medical doctor. Part of the real scandal in the Catholic Church was the attempt to cover up. Hopefully both Church and Civil authorities have arrived at a deeper understanding of the problem, and are now taking more effective steps to stop such abuse. While the publicity given to such cases may be painful and make us (Catholics) somewhat ashamed, at the same time if this publicity makes us more aware of the problem and pushes Church authorities to take effective action in such cases, then such publicity may have good consequences.

11 October 2014

Roslyn Tony :

I read the comments on my story 'Maintaining a polygamous family in the past'. The comments are good but not in line with the moral behind the story. Yokond managed because there was unity. Kua failed because there was no unity, like in the old phrase 'United we stand, divided we fall'. Why so much more disharmony today than yesterday? I just wanted to bring out the ideas of unity, understanding and equality, which were present in the past and are declining today.

25 October 2014

Raymond Sigimet :

Thank you Hal [Holman] for your story. I believe you and others in the likes of Tom Shacklady deserve recognition and mention in PNG history books when it comes to our national symbols like the national flag, national crest, national anthem and others. Students in the PNG education system are currently learning about these national symbols with no clue at all about the people responsible one way or another in these national symbols.

25 August 2015

Philip Kai Morre :

Pastor Godfrey Wippon's healing powers cannot be scientifically proven as real and genuine. Pastor Wippon is a conspiracy theorist and a religious fanatic who manipulates the ignorance of the people and indoctrinates his evil ideology. Those so called revival crusaders have entered a dubious morality. A church teaching basing on lies, fear, guilt and shame is heading for more problems. Can the government come up with a law under ignorance and nonsense act to prosecute such people who have done more damage than good.

15 October 2015

Bernard Corden :

I have recently discovered this blog and it provides me with so many fond memories of my late brother, Ron Corden. Ron arrived in PNG back in 1968 and worked for the PNG Investment Corporation until independence in 1975. He then became corporate secretary for SP Brewery under Bruce Flynn and then worked for the PNG Water Board and ended up at Goroka City Council before returning to Australia. Ron passed away in September 2005 and is buried in Tamworth NSW…. Despite many of its social problems PNG is such a fascinating place and many of its people are so warm and friendly. I really enjoy the blog and can remember so many of Ron's recollections, particularly involving Larry Burton Danielson. I have a vinyl copy of his infamous album, Bloody Port Moresby.

25 December 2015

Daniel Kumbon :

Just come back from home, Kandep. The best Christmas and new year gift you have given PNG is to reconsider publishing PNG Attitude for some time. I wish you good health and Happy New Year.

31 December 2015

Joe Herman :

I escaped a knife wound when I stepped in and stopped a Sepik husband from almost killing his defenseless wife at a market place when many on-lookers watched with the look on their faces ‘em family problem bilong tupelo’. When we witness a gender-based violence, we can take a bit of personal risk and do something to be part of the solution to this dreadful condition.

31 January 2016

Betty Wakia :

Thank you Keith Jackson and Friends for publishing my writing on your website. Seeing my writing on your website just makes me want to write more. Thank you so much guys for motivating me. Can't wait to write.

24 May 2016

Watna Mori :

I do not see how anyone can have a problem with such a straightforward matter: an anthology documenting women's experiences in PNG. These are real women, most of who live here and work here and don't have the option of skipping out when it gets too difficult. We are forever hosting pointless talk forums exclusively in Port Moresby for the acceptable PNG woman, the one who speaks the language and vocabulary that conservative Westerners can relate to and feel comfortable with. But when PNG women want to have their own voice it becomes an issue…. So yes I understand Keith Jackson's frustrations with trying to get authentic PNG voices out there and struggling because they don't seem to fit the bill.

18 January 2017

Dominica Are :

What a courageous woman Julie [Kumbon] is. Maybe it was fate that brought you guys together so that you can write about her story. I love hearing stories of women who go through unbearable circumstances but still come out of it stronger than ever and who are not afraid or ashamed to tell their story.

21 March 2017


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Raymond Sigimet


I still cherish those first words
Those strings of harmonious chords

I will not forget their worth
Spoken with sincerest thought

I wonder about their measures
Entangled down many years

Gifting me revelations
Ticking off recollections

The thoughtful anecdotes
The inspirational quotes

This I cherish as I rummage
Through these maiden messages

Chiselled onto my life's pages
That will live on down the ages

Lindsay F Bond

If there is drama, if there is shame
Don't cry for me you PNG

"Running around, trying everything new

They are illusions
They're not the solutions they promised to be
The answer was here all the time."

Debt there is and owed to existence of a novel phenomenon
A blog
A facilitator
A many, contributing
ode to wonder and delight
sharing hope ‘en masse.’

With apology to writers Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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