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58 posts from August 2020

Man Bilong Buk - what you can expect

MBB writers pic
Francis Nii with Daniel Kumbon, Phil Fitzpatrick, Martin Namorong and Keith Jackson, Noosa, 2016


NOOSA – The manuscript of the Francis Nii Collection, so generously funded by a number of PNG Attitude readers, is nearing completion and shall soon be despatched to Jordan Dean – who runs Papua New Guinea’s only affordable publishing company - for design, layout and publication.

Entitled Man Bilong Buk, the tribute volume includes the best of the late author’s provocative and entertaining essays, revelations from his astonishing life story and insights into how an author imprisoned by his own body in the corner of a hospital ward managed to become such an exceptional figure in fostering a home-grown literature in PNG.

Continue reading "Man Bilong Buk - what you can expect" »

Aviation: Safe landing & taking off in PNG

Dave Rogers and his aircraft
Dave Rogers and his aircraft - safe on the ground

| MAF Australia Pilot

SYDNEY - Probably one of the most common questions I’m asked by friends and supporters back home is, “What’s it like flying in Papua New Guinea?”

I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer it.

The risks of operating light aircraft, particularly in PNG, necessitates strict adherence to procedures and extensive training.

Continue reading "Aviation: Safe landing & taking off in PNG" »

The unChristianity of becoming a Christian state

Secularity v christianityROBIN OGE
| DevPolicy Blog

PORT MORESBY - In a recent article, Dr Eugene Ezebilo of the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute asserts that “PNG’s Constitution does not recognise Christianity as the country’s religion”.

He proposes that if PNG wants to be a Christian state, Section 45 of the Constitution should be amended to specifically recognise Christianity as the state religion and a state church be established.

Continue reading "The unChristianity of becoming a Christian state" »

The bringing of law in an unfamiliar clime

Kerry Dillon
Kerry Dillon - at 22 plunged into the intricacies of bringing western criminal justice to Papua New Guinea


The Chronicle of a Young Lawyer by Kerry Dillon, Hybrid Publishers, August 2020, 384pp. ISBN: 9781925736410, $35. Available from Booktopia & all good bookstores, and as an ebook from Amazon, Kobo, Google Books and Apple iBookstore

NOOSA – In 1970 I was the 25-year old assistant manager of Radio Rabaul, my main responsibility being running its news service.

For most of my time at the station my staff consisted just of me.

The Mataungan Association, a proto-independence movement, was in full cry and its legitimate call for social equity and fairer land apportionment for the Tolai people was mixed with the illegitimacy of rebellion and violence.

Continue reading "The bringing of law in an unfamiliar clime" »

Law & the unfairness we face


FACTION - I sidled up to Ve’ Maghe working on his next piece of writing or legal argument.  He was engrossed in penning a few lines and did not look up.

I’d been friends with Ve’ Maghe for a long time and had been around him so long I think he could recognise my smell, especially the lavender cologne that I liked to wear.  It was registered in his brain.

Continue reading "Law & the unfairness we face" »

We must rebuild a Hela worthy of forebears

Tari student killed & grieving schoolmates
The murdered Tari student and his grieving schoolmates


ADELAIDE – We have joined in grief with students of Tari Secondary School to mourn the loss of a young man, inspired to be educated and become a leader, whose life was cut short - slaughtered in the name of tribal revenge.

Hela proudly became a separate province of Papua New Guinea in May 2012 and we hold in the highest respect the founding fathers for giving back to our generation the true Hela identity.

Continue reading "We must rebuild a Hela worthy of forebears" »

Two extraordinary PNG politicians

Sir Iambakey Okuk - the famed Simbu politician who died prematurely and is not a prisoner of the Vatican as the mythology would have it


CARDIFF – There are two significant moments in Papua New Guinea’s political history that I will never forget.

The first was when Lavongai’s bikman Walla Gukguk was persuaded by Wally Lussick and Goroka MP Sinake Giregire to stand for the Kavieng open electorate in 1977.

With huge support from the followers of Lavongai’s TIA (Tutukuval Isukal Association - ‘Stand Up Together and Plant’) and the main island’s TFA (Tutorme Farmers Association) Walla easily beat his opponents.

Continue reading "Two extraordinary PNG politicians" »

Typewriters, carbon copies & white-out

A 1965 Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter
A 1965 Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter


TUMBY BAY - We often complain about the difficulties of getting anything published these days but in reality the opportunities, and particularly the process, are not a lot different than they were back in the good old days before computers took over the world.

Among our complaints is the demise of print journals, magazines and newspapers that would publish our short stories, poetry and articles and, importantly, pay us for them.

Continue reading "Typewriters, carbon copies & white-out" »

Paul Kiap in need & a friend indeed

Paul Kurai with Assumtha and his boys in Australia
Paul Kurai with Assumtha and his boys in Australia


WABAG - An obvious sign of embarrassment and guilt appeared on Paul Kiap Kurai’s face as he recalled how in Mt Hagen 27 years ago he had been blindly betting on horse races and, over a three-year period, lost all his savings.

“They said I was a good gambler,” Paul said. “The one who bet on the right horse and always won.

“I thought they were telling me the truth and kept playing.”

Continue reading "Paul Kiap in need & a friend indeed" »

Whose side is the Chamber of Mines on?

Area map
Kuimas project area map

| CEO, Kuimas Minerals Company Ltd

PORT MORESBY - While the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum pleads with the Papua New Guinea government to postpone reforms to the mining act, issues affecting resource owners are being ignored.

The changes to the mining act are being addressed by parliament to fix possible issues that may affect foreign investors.

Continue reading "Whose side is the Chamber of Mines on?" »

Green climate fund program launched

PNG's green climate fund is launched


PORT MORESBY - PNG’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) program was launched here last week to coordinate a wide range of international and domestic stakeholders in designing and executing activities to address climate change in the country.

The PNG based stakeholders include government agencies, provincial institutions, civil society, faith-based organizations, NGOs and the private sector.

Continue reading "Green climate fund program launched" »

Is changing government a solution to corruption?

Francis Nii
Francis Nii


NOOSA - As I work my way through the many writings of the late Francis Nii for the tribute volume, Man Bilong Buk, that we are putting together, I am constantly reminded of his insights, his judgement and his clarity of thought.

Of course, I've read each of these essays previously, since they were all published in PNG Attitude over the last 10 years or so and I edited them. But reading them again as a collection is a thoroughly different experience.

It's one I hope you will have when Man Bilong Buk is published later this year.  Anyway, to reconnect you with the great man's work, or to give you a first taste of it, here is an article from 21 January 2014.

Continue reading "Is changing government a solution to corruption?" »

This is as far as we can go

FN Grave construction
Men of Yobai gather around as Francis Nii's grave begins to be constructed


NOOSA – The email arrived yesterday precisely three weeks after the untimely death of our friend, the eminent Papua New Guinean author, Francis Nii.

Untimely because, as his daughter Charlene wrote in the communication, “he was a strong man even to his last minutes with us”.

But the email revealed that Charlene now had another problem on her hands.

Continue reading "This is as far as we can go" »

The village as a social battleground

Chiaromonte - once a dog eat dog nightmare, now a pleasant Italian township


TUMBY BAY - Edward Banfield was an American political scientist who studied a poverty struck Southern Italian village, Chiaromonte, in 1955.

There he discovered a self-interested society that put the needs of the family ahead of the public good.

He postulated that the backwardness of Chiaromonte could be explained in large part by the inability of the villagers to act in unison for their common benefit or for any other end not immediately related to their family interests.

Continue reading "The village as a social battleground" »

Ban on 'Covid vaccinated' Chinese mine staff

| Pacific Editor, Guardian Australia | Extract

SYDNEY - A planeload of Chinese mine workers has been barred from entering Papua New Guinea, over concerns they had been subjected to an unapproved Covid-19 vaccination trial before they left.

A flight from China carrying workers for the Chinese state-owned Ramu Nickel mine in Madang Province was cancelled by PNG’s police commissioner and pandemic controller, David Manning, over concerns about the trial.

Continue reading "Ban on 'Covid vaccinated' Chinese mine staff" »

OK Pete, where did the money come from?


ADELAIDE - I don’t know former prime minister Peter O'Neill's parliamentary salary but I'd guess it was not high enough to allow him or his wife to save the millions of kina required to even place a deposit on a house at Point Piper.

For the benefit of Papua New Guineans unfamiliar with Australia's absurdly over-priced property market, Point Piper is amongst the most exclusive and expensive addresses in Australia.

Continue reading "OK Pete, where did the money come from?" »

PNG ‘heading in wrong direction’ says survey


NOOSA – A study of people’s attitudes towards government and other issues in Papua New Guinea has revealed an outcome that would surprise very few readers of PNG Attitude.

The research showed public mistrust and dissatisfaction with government at the national level as well as a sense that PNG is “heading in the wrong direction”.

Continue reading "PNG ‘heading in wrong direction’ says survey" »

Give us a hand to find Francis's books

Francis Nii  Kundiawa Hospital  2012KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - As I gradually compile the full list of books that Francis Nii authored, edited or published, it has become clear to me that his productivity – if I may use such a managerial word – was far greater than previously acknowledged.

And so that I can ensure that the volume we are putting together, Man Bilong Buk – The Francis Nii Collection, is as complete and accurate as possible, I’m previewing here where we’re up to in compiling the list of books he wrote, edited or published in the hope that readers will contribute by adding to or correcting our work so far.

Continue reading "Give us a hand to find Francis's books" »

O’Neill's K15m Sydney home; sells another for K30m

Chateau Pete
O'Neill's new Sydney pad, the architect John Amory-designed residence in Warrawee, Sydney

| Sydney Morning Herald | Edited

SYDNEY - The wife of Papua New Guinea’s former prime minister Peter O’Neill, Lynda Babao, has bought a K15 million house on Sydney’s upper north shore just months after a Point Piper residence that was previously home to their son was sold on the quiet K30 million.

The Point Piper duplex was linked to PNG’s former first family in May last year just days before O’Neill stepped down from the top job following weeks of high-level defections from the ruling party.

Continue reading "O’Neill's K15m Sydney home; sells another for K30m" »

Me & Francis

Francis Nii (top right) and Philip Fitzpatrick (bottom right) illustrated for the front cover of Phil's book about the struggle to develop a home-grown literature in PNG, Fighting for a Voice


TUMBY BAY - Francis Nii and I had a rather unique relationship based on our interest in Papua New Guinean literature and publishing, which I valued highly.

It began shortly after the troublesome 2013 Crocodile Prize competition. The organising committee had basically fallen apart and together we sought to salvage enough of the entries to produce an anthology for that year.

Continue reading "Me & Francis" »

Francis Nii tribute book is well underway

Francis Nii
Francis Nii - Not only a literary craftsman but a writer who understood the business of writing


NOOSA – It’s always great to be able to thank PNG Attitude readers for offering a helping hand when you respond generously to a significant project we’re getting our teeth into.

Right now, the project is the publication of The Francis Nii Collection, a tribute volume to the late paraplegic author and literary leader who died in Kundiawa a little over two weeks ago.

Continue reading "Francis Nii tribute book is well underway" »

Between islands



FICTION - The young woman drifted almost unnoticed to sit beside me. She was probably in her mid-twenties and without doubt strikingly beautiful.

From the way she was dressed she seemed educated. Maybe a teacher or a nurse or a research student who, like me, was headed to the islands.

I was on the starboard deck of MV Papua with just the warm sea breeze and a Philip Fitzpatrick Hari Metau novel keeping me company when she took the empty seat beside me.

Continue reading "Between islands" »

PNG’s job crisis & Covid-19

Formal sector employment in PNG  2013-20
The dramatic decline in formal sector employment in PNG,  2013-20

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - There is no doubt Covid-19 is causing great economic damage all round the world, and Papua New Guinea is no exception.

One estimate from the PNG Trade Union Congress is that more than 10,000 jobs in the private sector have been lost due to the pandemic and the subsequent state of emergency.

Continue reading "PNG’s job crisis & Covid-19" »

The shock of the new

Robert Hughes


ADELAIDE - Robert Hughes (1938-2012) was a famed Australian art critic and historian.

Perhaps his two greatest contributions to history were a book (and related television series) in 1991 on the history of art in the late 19th and 20th centuries (from which the title of this article is taken) and a history of Australia’s convict system, ‘The Fatal Shore’ (1987).

Continue reading "The shock of the new" »

Bravo! Another Metau epic on the way

Inspector Hari Metau
Inspector Hari Metau

If there was any justice in fiction writing, Phil Fitzpatrick’s Hari Metau series would have sold a million copies and be into its third movie by now. Instead, Phil is putting the final touches on the fifth book in the series and I – and many others who have grown to love the stories of the honest, hard-working detective hard at work in steamy, corrupt Port Moresby – will be grateful but unable to make Phil richer - KJ


TUMBY BAY - As far as I can work out I learned to read somewhere between my third and fourth birthdays.

By the time I was five I had worked my way through many of the popular children’s books then available, including James Barrie’s Peter Pan or The Boy who would not Grow Up.

Continue reading "Bravo! Another Metau epic on the way" »

The place that made so many of us

B&w Overland hline
Chris Overland - "My time in PNG made me who I am and I am supremely grateful for that"


ADELAIDE - Phil Fitzpatrick has raised the inevitable dying of the light for those of us who served as kiaps.

I find it incredible to think that it is now more than 50 years ago that I first stepped onto Papua New Guinean soil as a rather gormless 18 year old Assistant Patrol Officer.

Continue reading "The place that made so many of us" »

Bougainville presidential polling starts today

Demonstration for Bougainville high school students on how polling booths operate


BUKA – Young people in Bougainville are seizing the opportunity to help reshape the future of the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea as they began head to the polls yesterday to elect a new leader.

The general election is the first since Bougainville voted overwhelmingly for independence from PNG in a referendum at the end of last year, and the new president will manage negotiations on the terms of separation.

Continue reading "Bougainville presidential polling starts today" »

The papers being sorted; the drawers emptied

Kiaps 1960
Newly recruited kiaps having completed their training in Port Moresby observe a march past by police in the early 1960s


TUMBY BAY - In an article a few days ago about Francis Nii and the effort to memorialise his contribution to Papua New Guinean literature, Keith Jackson reiterated an earlier comment that “this is likely to be PNG Attitude’s last big project. It was always going to happen that Phil Fitzpatrick and I would age and gradually run out of steam. Well, that point is arriving”.

I can wholly endorse that observation, no matter how hard I try to build up a head of steam about lots of things these days it seems to inevitably dissipate in ineffectual little puffs from all the leaks in the rusty old boiler.

Continue reading "The papers being sorted; the drawers emptied" »

National Book Week is meaningless & vain

Francis Nii - "A meaningless and derisory celebration that should not be called National Book Week"


One year ago, Francis Nii wrote this article proposing how Papua New Guinea’s annual book week could be more relevant and useful by focusing on locally-authored books. Like much of what Francis wrote, his words were perceptive but ignored. This failure to listen to and act on good advice underpins much of PNG’s failure to progress the interests of its people….

KUNDIAWA - It is high time the meaningless and vain annual National Book Week was changed to make it become the vehicle for stimulating tangible benefits to writers and readers.

Every August features National Book Week. In Papua New Guinea gaudy banners of all sizes rustle in the dusty wind. Written on them is an ostensibly witty theme that nobody cares about.

Continue reading "National Book Week is meaningless & vain" »

Reckless Healing


Always in a dilemma of loathing and loving
Your family that keep secrets
You are dismayed but they plead for your silence
It’s for your protection they say,
It’s for everyone’s peace
You want to disappear
But the feeble child inside you feels insecure
Home is what they provide
So you tolerate their exploitative ways
Yes, we all get broken any way
And a reckless healing would do anyway

Continue reading "Reckless Healing" »

Against the fading of the light

Francis Nii 2013
Francis Nii understood clearly that the grand enterprise of creating a national literature required more than writers


NOOSA – I spent the weekend reading through the archives of PNG Attitude between 2010 and now, extracting the writing by and about the late Francis Nii and, occasionally distracted by some other old article or incident it evoked, wandering along the trail of my own memories about this remarkable website.

Yes, in its 15th year, I think PNG Attitude is entitled to the honorific ‘remarkable’. I began publishing the blog when I was 59. I’m now 75. It has occupied a considerable chunk of my life and has been published almost each day – whether I was in Papua New Guinea’s remote highlands, in the middle of some ocean, even in hospital, where I have been too often these years.

Continue reading "Against the fading of the light" »

“We the unheard voices”, but for writers like Francis



LAE - Francis Sina Nii (Paradise in Peril), author, publisher and poet, passed away in Kundiawa town (Simbu Province) on 2 August 2020, just one month shy of a decade since I first met him.

While Francis fellow writers may wish to pay him good tributes, we should more so uphold his highest ideals and brightest dreams.

Continue reading "“We the unheard voices”, but for writers like Francis" »

Writer Francis Nii – The origin story


NOOSA – According to their first president, Micheal Yaki Mel, in late November 1984 “a group of eager young writers based at the University Papua New Guinea got together to express their dissatisfaction over the lack of publishing outlets for their work.

“Many had poems, stories and other tattered manuscripts tucked away which they couldn’t get published because they were unknown. From that meeting was both the Papua New Guinea Writers Union.”

Continue reading "Writer Francis Nii – The origin story" »

Old fogey cognitive deficit disorder


TUMBY BAY - You may have heard more than once persons of senior years proclaiming that the older they get the less they know.

That proclamation doesn’t mean a shrinking knowledge. What these aged folk mean is that the older they get the more they discover the vastness of human knowledge and the small part of it that they know or understand.

Continue reading "Old fogey cognitive deficit disorder" »

A PNG politician, warts & all


Flight of Jungle Eagle – An Autobiography of Wake Goi, Francis Nii Publications, 2020, 168 pages, ISBN: 9798640309997, US$21.50 from

TUMBY BAY – This work is notable for a number of reasons including that it was the last book that was edited and published by Francis Nii, who most of our readers will know died on Sunday.

Francis worked on the book while he was ill, managing to complete it during a respite in his battle for survival. A battle he ultimately lost.

Continue reading "A PNG politician, warts & all" »

On diplomatic doublespeak & intellectual dishonesty

Partner coverW D BROWNSMITH

CANBERRA - Zoom was the venue as Australia and Papua New Guinea relaunched their bilateral relationship on Wednesday.

Prime ministers Scott Morrison and James Marape then released a statement outlining a new comprehensive strategic and economic partnership between the two countries. (Although Mr Morrison was the only one to grace the washed out cover photo.)

Continue reading "On diplomatic doublespeak & intellectual dishonesty" »

For James Marape, the biggest challenges await

James Marape - the uncertainties over coming months will test the resilience & stability of the country & his government

| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - The resilience and stability of Papua New Guinea is under growing strain as the country navigates what has already been an unprecedented year.

Beyond the increase in Covid-19 cases and the effect the virus is having on lives and livelihoods, the government has overcome a court challenge to the election of prime minister James Marape and has undertaken some significant law reforms on the mining and anti-corruption fronts.

Continue reading "For James Marape, the biggest challenges await" »

A Festschrift for Francis Nii

A rare group photo of Francis Nii with fellow writers Daniel Kumbon, Philip Fitzpatrick, Martyn Namorong and Keith Jackson (Brisbane Writers Festival, 2016)


NOOSA – In Germany a Festschrift is a book honouring a respected person. It is generally presented during their lifetime, although it can also be a memorial.

PNG Attitude’s Festschrift for the late author Francis Nii will take the form of an edited volume of Francis’s most significant essays, articles, poetry and commentary, his ideas and achievements and it will include fellow writers’ observations of his work, his methods and his life.

Continue reading "A Festschrift for Francis Nii" »

A more pleasant fellow not to be found

Liz and Chenz at a reunion in 2011
Liz and Chenz at an ASOPA class  reunion in 2011


NOOSA – When the message circled the globe a few times and finally landed in my inbox it brought the gloomy news that Barry Whitby Vincent had died last Sunday. He would have been close to 80.

My immediate thought was of a young man with a friendly grin. A more pleasant fellow than Chenz not to be found.

Continue reading "A more pleasant fellow not to be found" »

Hostile laws challenge Melanesian media

| Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - Hostile media environments in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and West Papua pose growing challenges to the Melanesian region’s democracies, says Pacific Journalism Review in its latest edition.

The New Zealand-based research journal warns that laws and cultural restrictions are providing barriers to open information and are silencing journalists.

Continue reading "Hostile laws challenge Melanesian media" »

Help us assemble the Francis Nii Collection


NOOSA – On this day Francis Nii, one of Papua New Guinea’s most eminent literary figures, is being buried in the soil of his Simbu homeland at Kundiawa.

And also today, PNG Attitude establishes a fund to ensure that the many words and deeds of Francis Nii will endure and not be lost to the future.

Early commitments to the fund already total $1,400 on the way to a target of $10,000.

Continue reading "Help us assemble the Francis Nii Collection" »

Francis Nii: Man of indomitable spirit

Francis & Jimmy
Francis Nii and Jimmy Drekore, both Crocodile Prize winners, on one of their many literary forays in the rugged mountains of Simbu


KUNDIAWA - In 2004 I was visiting sick kids in the isolation ward at Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial General Hospital when I met Francis Nii.

What intrigued me was that he had written a book, ‘Paradise in Peril’, while on his sick bed.

I had never before come across anyone publishing anything in such circumstances.

Continue reading "Francis Nii: Man of indomitable spirit" »