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54 posts from June 2020

Still doing the tough yards


BRISBANE ~ My stay in hospital has been longer and harder than I thought likely and I’ve found it impossible to keep the blog going.

There have also been technical issues frustrating my internet access, so for the first time in 15 years we’ve had a big gap in communications.

I’m now recovering and expect the blog to be back to full blast soon.

Hang in there.

Diction: terse, complex, specific

Image source: Text source:


Noun: diction

The choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing.
"Wordsworth campaigned against exaggerated poetic diction"

The style of enunciation in speaking or singing.
"She began imitating his careful diction"

PORT MORESBY - It could be argued that ‘diction’ is what poets are all about, but we all know that that’s too simplistic a notion and we don’t get off the hook so easily with trying to know what poetry is all about.

However, diction is undoubtedly an important element of a poem, or for prose writing and, in fact, for language use in general.

Continue reading "Diction: terse, complex, specific" »

Momis bows out with 'sense of fulfilment'

John Momis & mic
John Momis today - guided Bougainville through some stormy seas to the threshold of independence
John Momis as a young man (Douglas Oliver)
John Momis as a young leader, 1970 - mature and already wise 

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - In his last speech in the Bougainville parliament last Thursday, president John Momis spoke passionately about a political career that began nearly 50 years ago.

He spoke of how it began in the early seventies when he was anointed by chiefs in Kieta in a cultural ritual and sent on a mission to help the people determine their own future.

Continue reading "Momis bows out with 'sense of fulfilment'" »

Plant More Trees campaign underway


PORT MORESBY – A campaign to plant more trees in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea has been initiated by Travel4Green (T4G) PNG, a not-for-profit project in partnership with Catholic Bishops Conference.

The campaign has adopted the ‘Keep It Clean. Go Green’ under Pope Francis’s Laudato Si statement and the PNG Conservation and Environment Protection Authority’s recently launched ‘10-million trees in 10 years’ target.

Continue reading "Plant More Trees campaign underway" »

Oz gold industry goes on trial

GV sign (AFR)
A billboard advertising Justin Parker's company, Golden Valley (Australian Financial Review)

| National Affairs Correspondent | The Australian Financial Review

SYDNEY - The lockdown has been good to gold. Since early February it has rallied more than 10% as investors predictably sought shelter in the precious metal during these uncertain economic times.

But some of that sheen has come off this rally in recent days after The Australian Financial Review revealed industry standards around ethical sourcing, or ‘conflict gold’, were hollow at best.

Continue reading "Oz gold industry goes on trial" »

The end of the world

Yucatan crater
The Yucatan meteor strike left a crater 150km wide and caused climate disruption that made extinct 75% of Earth's plant and animal species including any dinosaur that could not fly


ADELAIDE - In the very midst of the Dark Ages of Europe, the coming of the year 1000 was viewed with fear, trepidation and alarm.

This was the year many theologians of that era believed would see the end of all things and the second coming of Jesus as foretold in the Bible.

There was a palpable sense of expectation throughout Christendom which grew steadily as the year 999 CE progressed, reaching a crescendo on New Year’s Eve.

Continue reading "The end of the world" »

Out of necessity, a matter of trust

Expatriate teacher  primary school  1960s (PNGAA)
Expatriate primary school teacher , 1960s (PNGAA)


MELBOURNE – Keith Jackson’s recent account of the displeased response to his reforms, including increased staff accountability, at the International Training Institute reignited my own reflections on such matters during my time in the Papua New Guinea teaching service in the 1960s.

As a good public service should, the PNG education department had a range of monitoring and accountability mechanisms with which we chalkies had to comply.

Continue reading "Out of necessity, a matter of trust" »

Gold stolen on a massive scale

Alluvial gold miners  Dantanai  Kieta District.
Alluvial gold miners,  Dantanai,  Kieta District. A Human Rights Watch investigation found illegal artisanal gold miners around Porgera routinely use mercury,  a poison which has had significant health impacts on both miners and their families


The unlawful extraction and export of gold is a scandal in both Papua New Guinea and Australia. Among the major beneficiaries, it seems from a recent investigation by the Australian Financial Review, even the respectable institution, the Perth Mint. Sam Jay Kaupa is an experienced mining engineer and manager with extensive domestic and international experience - KJ

PORT MORESBY - There is a question people need to ask. Why can’t the central bank of Papua New Guinea buy gold to curb smuggling and build reserves to stabilise the plummeting kina?

The mining sector accounts for about 9% of GDP and the overall resources sector contributes about 26% of GDP. This will continue to rise with the current demand for cobalt, a by-product of the precipitate from Ramu Nickel.

Continue reading "Gold stolen on a massive scale" »

What we don’t see under our feet

Chert sago choppers
Chert sago choppers


TUMBY BAY - I pick up quite a bit of money off the ground as I wander around the place. Mostly it’s coins but occasionally notes.

Sometimes other things, like jewellery and useful nuts and bolts. You name it, I find it.

Keeping my eye on the ground is a habit I developed after going to work for the South Australian Museum when I returned from Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "What we don’t see under our feet" »

University governance & academic freedom

Prof Pal Ahluwalia addresses staff and students at University of South Pacific
Prof Pal Ahluwalia addresses staff and students at University of South Pacific

| Edited extract

VERONA - The executive committee of the University of the South Pacific council has decided to suspend the vice-chancellor for alleged 'misconduct and breach of rules and procedures'.

This action came after reports emerged about gross mismanagement and breaches of the rules of the university under the former administration and despite all evidence pointing in the opposite direction.

Continue reading "University governance & academic freedom" »

In case of emergency, break keyboard

My screwed right foot
I had two screws surgically inserted in my foot during a previous hospitalisation. Fortunately they did not much hamper my typing


NOOSA – I have left  Noosa’s verdant fields and sparkling shores and driven south along the desolation of the Bruce Highway for a spell in Brisbane, a city I enjoy but rarely get to visit these days.

Brucebane (why not?) is just two hours down the bitumen from Noosa but the reason I’ve become an infrequent visitor is that my back’s not been backward in holding me back.

Which is why Brucebane and Wesley Hospital loom.

Continue reading "In case of emergency, break keyboard" »

Our horrible history


ADELAIDE - The study of history is not likely to inspire belief in the inherent virtues of humanity.

There are so many conspicuous examples of our species’ propensity for violence, venality and depravity that it sometimes takes a certain resolve to stare the facts directly in the face and recognise them for what they tell us about the human condition at a given point in time.

Continue reading "Our horrible history" »

Turning point: Dorney’s history revisited

Sean Dorney on the job. His early independence history reveals a significant turning point in PNG's story as a nation


Papua New Guinea: People, politics and history since 1975 by Sean Dorney, 335 pp. ABC Books, 2000. ISBN-10: 0733309453. Available from Amazon here for $US31.70

PORT MORESBY – In this book, first published in 1990, the noted journalist Sean Dorney gave us a glance of Papua New Guinea, its people, politics and history over its first 15 years after independence.

Dorney lived and worked in PNG for 17 years as the correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation having previously been assigned there in the early 1970s to work with the embryonic National Broadcasting Commission.

Continue reading "Turning point: Dorney’s history revisited" »

Tribal Fights


‘Twas our forefathers’ definition of fame
A cultural aspect that magnified their name
‘Twas a sport in the primitive days
A method for acquiring land rights
Still, a technique that aroused mournful cries
A taint of the nightmare that kept villagers on guard

‘Twas a custom infused into our grandfathers
Demanding submission to be a tradition of our grandmothers
Whenever the inhumane figure awakened
‘Twas a weapon that guaranteed security
Still, the means that troubled their identity
An inescapable infection that existed in the community

Continue reading "Tribal Fights" »

A good plan for PNG literature

Establishing a sustainable literature in Papua New Guinea has always been a struggle and it's a fight not yet won. Phil's book, 'Fighting for a Voice', tells the story


TUMBY BAY – Someday soon perhaps, Papua New Guinean prime minister James Marape will put away his golf clubs and meet with a delegation of writers.

These writers, twice stood up by Mr Marape already, are hoping to present him with a petition calling for the PNG government to support a national literature that deserves recognition and requires support.

Continue reading "A good plan for PNG literature" »

Standing up & starting small

Caroline Evari and students from Caritas Elementary school in Port Moresby
Caroline Evari with students from Caritas Elementary school in Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY - It is almost a year now since I started the campaign to promote writing and publishing in Papua New Guinea - also advocating the need to write our own stories as Papua New Guineans.

As I reflect on this journey so far, my memory settles particularly on the preparations leading to a trip I took to Oro Province in late October last year.

Continue reading "Standing up & starting small" »

The wisdom from my culture

Scott Waide - "Diplomacy in the home and outside of it was a skill every man had to learn"

| My Land, My Country

LAE - Three years ago, I asked my dad what the role of women was in his culture and how women were treated. This was when another incident of violence came to the fore.

I needed to understand how his culture dealt with women and their place in society. 

My dad is a man of huge contrasts; he is an immaculately patient being with a frighteningly explosive temper.

Continue reading "The wisdom from my culture" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 28 – In defence of the people’s land

Pic 1 - District Officer Ross Henderson
District Officer Ross Henderson in 1968


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - Tuesday 7 May 1968. District Officer Ross Henderson and I were dumbstruck at the tone of the on-site meeting at Panguna that morning.

Conzinc Rio Tinto Area Manager Colin Bishop was unusually forceful with his demands.

He wanted more assistance in the coming months when the CRA teams - geologists, engineers, planners and surveyors – would start tramping through the villages and gardens of central Bougainville.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 28 – In defence of the people’s land" »

Racism diminished but not dead

B&w Overland hline
Chris Overland - "Entrenched ideas about the world die very hard"


ADELAIDE - Racism originates from one of the most deep seated aspects of all human cultures, which is an almost instinctive ‘fear of the other’.

I have written previously (see my comment on this article) about this phenomenon and why it made sense in the distant past and, in relation to Papua New Guinea, the not so recent past.

Continue reading "Racism diminished but not dead" »

Why neo-liberals can’t handle a crisis


TUMBY BAY - Many businesses all over the world have been caught out by Covid-19 through the disruption of supply lines. Goods are not coming into countries because of the closure of borders.

Australia has been particularly affected because home-grown manufacturing has declined significantly and just about everything except agricultural products come from overseas, and China in particular.

Continue reading "Why neo-liberals can’t handle a crisis" »

The strange sea lights of Madang

Foo fighters
Foo Fighter photographs are very rare. Two are seen here following RAF Lysander aircraft during World War II in Europe. There were reports from both sides of sighting these mysterious orbs


DAGUA – You may know the Tok Pisin term, ‘lait toktok’. Well, if you don’t, it’s used in Madang to describe a phenomenon similar to the ‘foo fighters’ aerial phenomenon observed in Europe and the Pacific during the World War II.

‘Lait toktok’ describes moving lights over the water; luminous objects or lights dancing over the horizon and appearing to move back and forth or remain stationary while emitting their strange glow.

Continue reading "The strange sea lights of Madang" »

Foreigner should head new ICAC: Minister

Jelta Wong
Jelta Wong - Believes a foreign ICAC commissioner will guarantee a fair and just system

| Radio New Zealand

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea government health minister Jelta Wong says a foreigner should head the country's new independent anti-corruption agency.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill passed its second reading in parliament last week.

Continue reading "Foreigner should head new ICAC: Minister" »

Mercy Works Goroka deals with Covid-19

 (Mercy Works)
Alphonsa and Judy prepare to sew masks at Mercy Works in Goroka

| Catholic Outlook

PARRAMATTA, NSW - The people of Papua New Guinea have been hit hard by their government’s declaration of a state of emergency to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Thankfully these measures appear to be working with the number of reported cases remaining low.

The impact, however, on the lives of poorer inhabitants has been devastating.

Continue reading "Mercy Works Goroka deals with Covid-19" »

Masters & slaves, 21st century style

Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House in Washington DC
Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House in Washington DC


TUMBY BAY - The United States of America was the largest and most successful economic nation in the world by the time World War II began.

There is compelling evidence to suggest that this success was built on the back of slavery.

During the middle of the 1800s, cotton became the world’s largest commodity. The cheapest and best cotton came from the southern United States.

Continue reading "Masters & slaves, 21st century style" »

What we ate thousands of years ago

Professor Glenn Summerhayes and colleagues at the Joes' Garden site in the Ivane Valley
Professor Glenn Summerhayes and colleagues at the 4,500 year-old 'Joes Garden' archaeological site in the Ivane Valley

| Heritage Daily | Edited

LUTON, UK - New research on what ancient Papuan New Guineans ate has ended decades of speculation on the tools use and staple foods in highlands areas several thousand years ago.

Findings from the ‘Joe’s Garden’ site in the Ivane Valley of the Owen Stanley Range end academic conjecture about what an unearthed mortar and other tools were used for.

Continue reading "What we ate thousands of years ago" »

Covid-19 & muting the Angel of Death

Kavieng from the air
Kavieng from the air - a beautiful place I'd never seen before until my coronavirus-affected travels


PORT MORESBY – Last Tuesday the Papua New Guinea parliament extended the coronavirus state of emergency for another two weeks to provide time to pass a new piece of legislation – the Public Health Emergency Bill - that will control how people live in that condition known as the ‘new normal’.

Many people felt the extension was unnecessary, especially when all eight people officially tested positive to Covid-19 have recovered and no new cases detected.

Continue reading "Covid-19 & muting the Angel of Death" »

The art of tree change

Sue & Paul Oates with Suvista Opal - second prize at the Boonah Show
Sue & Paul Oates with Suvista Opal - second prize winning calf at the Boonah Show


Phascogales and Other Tales: A Queensland Tree Change by Paul Oates, Independently Published, 2020, ISBN: 9798651038121, 237 pages with 296 colour photographs, available from, paperback US$29.07, eBook US$3.00

TUMBY BAY - One of the core functions that evolved as part of the PNG Attitude oeuvre, if we’re allowed to use such terminology, is the encouragement of writers, both old and new.

This has largely been interpreted as meaning Papua New Guinean writers, as through such endeavours as the Crocodile Prize.

Continue reading "The art of tree change" »

14 PNG entries in richest poetry prize

Leonard Cohen (Graham Hughes)
A mural of the famous songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, one of the original sponsors of the Montreal Prize, looks down on Montreal city (Graham Hughes)


NOOSA - Fourteen Papua New Guinean writers have submitted entries to the Montreal (Canada) International Prize for Poetry, the first time that PNG has been represented in one of the world’s major poetry contests.

The poets - six women and eight men - are Caroline Evari, Michael Dom, Wardley Barry, Bessielah David, Simon Davidson, Jordan Dean, Jimmy Drekore, Raymond Sigimet, Stephanie Alois, Dominica Are, Joseph Tambure, Tattiana Abola, Eric Molong and Melanie Lavaki.

Continue reading "14 PNG entries in richest poetry prize" »

Concerns over Chinese bid for Digicel

| Jamaica Observer

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Speculation that mobile phone operator Digicel is considering selling the Papua New Guinea business considered the jewel in the financially troubled telecoms empire has sparked concern within PNG over Beijing's growing influence.

The Digicel conglomerate surprised many of its users in PNG by filing bankruptcy proceedings in May in Bermuda and the United States, where it owes billions of dollars to bond holders who invested in the company some years ago.

Continue reading "Concerns over Chinese bid for Digicel" »

'Tok-singsing': Giving back to PNG

Author's small stash of gold
An author's small stash of gold


"It is a home-grown literature that will amplify the creativity, culture and spirit of Papua New Guineans. But, lacking the required support, literature has not emerged in PNG as an influence capable of playing its vital role in education, in nation building or in people’s lives" - Keith Jackson AM, 'The chasm in PNG's cultural integrity'

PORT MORESBY - Here's the thing. If we want Papua New Guinean literature to have its own life we must do more than create it, we must interact with it, nurture it in our thoughts and conversations, and appraise it to the realities and imaginations of our society.

That means reading and discussing, sharing and critiquing, in mutual respect, the value and utility of our works, with our peers and to our readers.

Continue reading "'Tok-singsing': Giving back to PNG" »

Radio Days: Political pressure & public resistance

Radio Days - Gareth & me
As new communications minister Gareth Evans wanted to give the ABC a shake-up. That never happened in history without a major brawl


SYDNEY 1988 – After my first go at the ABC in 1966-69, I spent the best part of four years in the organisation the second time around between 1985 and 1988.

They were years full of incident, drama, stress, occasional misadventure and gritty management. I rarely had so much joy in a job and never so much fear.

Continue reading "Radio Days: Political pressure & public resistance" »

Believe me, there’s a darn lot in a word

Forster - Cr Muka (Ian Douglas)
Councillor Muka winces as turns away from the heat of burning weapons (Ian Douglas)


NORTHUMBRIA - Kunimeipa used to be home to Guari Patrol Post. In 1975 it was the most isolated government station in the Goilala.

But it has since been abandoned, and its brick buildings either gape windowless or have disintegrated into rubble.

When I discussed the reasons for, and the consequences of, this administrative desertion in a magazine, to my surprise the loudest response was criticism of my spelling of the word ‘Kunimeipa’.

Continue reading "Believe me, there’s a darn lot in a word" »

Our systems worked, so what happened?

Rubber stationSCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

LAE - We have to get this right if we are to thrive in this country.

The quality of transport infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – determines the price of food.

Apart from consumption, this single factor influences the rate of supply and demand to a large extent.

Continue reading "Our systems worked, so what happened?" »

Radio Days: The Canberra connection

Radio Days - Ken  Geoffrey  Wendy
ABC chairman Ken Myer, managing director Geoffrey Whitehead and deputy chair Wendy McCarthy, 1985


SYDNEY 1987 – Australia’s centre of government and ‘bush capital’, Canberra, looms large in the life of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, both because 90% of the its money comes from there and because the government of the day appoints the ABC chairman and board.

Furthermore, federal politicians tend to have a proprietary view of the ABC. And, to give this an edge, right wing politicians have a belief, neatly expressed by my onetime business associate and Liberal Party heavyweight Grahame Morris, that the ABC is a manifestation of “my enemy talking to my friends”.

Continue reading "Radio Days: The Canberra connection" »

The Chase

I+am+the+stormGIDEON KINDIWA

You’re chasin’ the wind
Your feet’s dancin’ thing
The ground is hot coal
Jus’ burnin’ your soul
You couldn’t stand firm
With this world’s turn

You’ve had enough
But you can’t rebuff
You just want more
Your heart’s so sore
You couldn’t look back
And say, ‘What the heck?

‘I’ve got all I need
‘I don’t need to feed
‘It’s nothin’ but greed
‘That’s mak’n me bleed’
But instead you chase
Your greed into space

Continue reading "The Chase" »

Love's Left Unsaid


             She fell for the sparkle in his eyes
                          His final smile each time he leaves
                              Blinded her vision, detained her speech
                                     Oh, such a feeling!
                                       She longed for more
                                            But he just stood
                                               The love left unsaid

Continue reading "Love's Left Unsaid" »

John Momis: A man of principle

Ted wolfers
Professor Ted Wolfers
John Momis & mic
President John Momis

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND – Australian academic Professor Ted Wolfers says Bougainville's John Momis will be remembered for his ability to draw people together.

In February the Bougainville parliament voted down an attempt to change the Constitution to allow a president to contest a third term.

Continue reading "John Momis: A man of principle" »

Radio Days: The ascent of David Hill

Radio Days - David good portrait
David Hill - an exhilarating and exhausting man to be around. He left the ABC, where he was Chairman then CEO from 1986-95, much better than when he found it


SYDNEY 1986 – In mid-August 1986, I had just got back to my desk after what I considered a well-earned week’s break in Bali when I was called into managing director Geoffrey Whitehead’s office, on the twelfth floor of Broadcast House overlooking Hyde Park.

Geoffrey had just returned from Canberra with new ABC chairman David Hill, in his first week in the job, and Geoffrey was looking worried.

Continue reading "Radio Days: The ascent of David Hill" »

Getting ahead of the curve

| Transparency International

BERLIN - The future is always uncertain, but rarely in our lifetimes has it felt more so.

As many countries begin to cautiously relax limits on public life put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, thoughts turn to what kind of world those emerging from lockdown are stepping into, and what comes next.

Continue reading "Getting ahead of the curve" »