Previous month:
August 2020
Next month:
October 2020

69 posts from September 2020

Roof of PNG: Climbing Mount Wilhelm, 1974

Mt Wilhelm peak  1974
Mt Wilhelm peak, 1974 (Garry Roche)


MAYNOOTH, IRELAND – The late Francis Nii, quoted in the just released book, ‘Man Bilong Buk’, wondered how many Papua New Guineans might have stood atop PNG on its highest mountain, Mt Wilhelm.

This set me reminiscing back to 1974, when I was based at Rebiamul, the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Mt Hagen.

Continue reading "Roof of PNG: Climbing Mount Wilhelm, 1974" »

Marape welcomes Toroama's rise as leader

Inauguration of Ismael Toroama (right)  James Marape (left) and former President John Momis (behind) (Bougainville Electoral Commission)
Inauguration of Ismael Toroama (right) James Marape (left) and former President John Momis (behind) (Bougainville Electoral Commission)

| Radio New Zealand

BUKA - Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape is in Bougainville today to witness the swearing in of the autonomous region's new president.

Ishmael Toroama, a former rebel militant commander, was elected as Bougainville's president last week.

Continue reading "Marape welcomes Toroama's rise as leader" »

The first outsiders into Enga

Akmana gold prospecting field party  1930
Members of the Akmana gold prospecting field party and local villagers. The party were the first outsiders into Enga in 1929


WABAG – The field party of the Akmana Gold Prospecting Company were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Enga Province.

The Akmana prospectors, trekking south from the Sepik, had penetrated the Maramuni area and into the Wabag district four years before the ill-fated Leahy brothers’ expedition of 1934.

Michael Leahy’s diary stated that 15 tribespeople were killed and an equal number injured in a bloody encounter at Tole village and five more were killed as the Leahy party retreated back to Mt Hagen.

Continue reading "The first outsiders into Enga" »

An adventurous and rich life – John Philip Fowke

John Fowke
John Fowke


BRISBANE - My father was a big man, a tall man, a loud man, a funny man. A man with many moods, many strengths, and the usual amount of weaknesses.

He asked me to officiate at his funeral party, and so that means here I am, struggling to express my thoughts about a life lived, a rich, adventurous life.

As I collated my thoughts in the days following his death, I was struck by how many people loved and respected my father, but also how many different people he was to others.

Continue reading "An adventurous and rich life – John Philip Fowke" »

Take heed, they’ll exploit you if they can


ADELAIDE - The situation with respect to Australia’s seasonal workers, deplorable as it is, simply reflects the truth about the so-called ‘gig economy’ that has now been created here and elsewhere in the world.

It is a form of economy that would be immediately recognisable to, say, Charles Dickens or Karl Marx, because its essential characteristics are not dissimilar to those of many workers in the mid-19th century.

Continue reading "Take heed, they’ll exploit you if they can" »

The progress of ‘Man Bilong Buk’


NOOSA – The production of ‘Man Bilong Buk’ – the tribute volume to the life and achievements of the late Francis Nii – was completed within two months of his death on 2 August and is already available as a downloadable book here.

As usual with PNG Attitude projects, the production of this 320-page book has been a team effort involving Francis’s family and friends, fellow writers, who offer their assessments of Francis’s impact on Papua New Guinea literature, and many of our readers who donated funds to enable the books to be distributed free of cost to PNG.

Continue reading "The progress of ‘Man Bilong Buk’" »

Nahau Rooney: A life of achievement & controversy

Nahau Rooney
Nahau Rooney - worked to catalyse the constitutional promises of equality, participation and a focus on rural development

| DevPolicy Blog

CANBERRA - Trailblazing, hardworking, audacious, always vivacious and at times controversial – some of the descriptions offered of Papua New Guinea and Manus pioneering woman in politics, Nahau Rooney, who passed away on Tuesday 15 September, aged 75.

Nahau Rooney was one of only three women elected at PNG’s first post-Independence elections in 1977 to its 109-member national parliament, where she served as the regional member for the province of Manus.

Continue reading "Nahau Rooney: A life of achievement & controversy" »

Australia is exploiting its seasonal workers


“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” - George Orwell

BRISBANE - In the United States on 28 January 1948, a Douglas DC3 aircraft chartered by US Immigration Services crashed at Los Gatos canyon in California.

There were no survivors and the casualties included several crew members and 28 migrant farm labourers.

Continue reading "Australia is exploiting its seasonal workers" »

How a Gumine family graduated from Yale

Pole Kale
Pole Kale writes the story of his life and career but also a manual on how a commitment to education is best realised as a family pursuit


Quest for Education: From Selling Firewood to Yale University, by Pole John Kale, Published by Francis Nii under the imprint of Simbu Writers Association, August 2020. Copies can be ordered from Pole Kale, email [email protected]. Also available here from Amazon Books

KUNDIAWA - It is not often that you will find an academic success story of a Papua New Guinean intellectual in print form.

Although written CVs or career profiles may give an insight into a person’s academic background, the early childhood experiences that contribute to achieving such success are mostly obscured.

Continue reading "How a Gumine family graduated from Yale" »

On life expectancy (and lazy brothers)


PORT MORESBY - I recall a house built by a young man in the village. It was outstanding in the community.

He developed a unique design, secured a tract of land near the village square and built it using long-lasting materials.

The house was to be occupied by the designer’s younger brother in which to keep the designer’s belongings while he went to a faraway place to complete his studies.

Continue reading "On life expectancy (and lazy brothers)" »

The world today is encircled by distraction


PORT MORESBY - I believe distraction is the greatest hindrance to impede human potential to accomplish great things in life.

The world today is encircled by distraction. And no person is immune.

The clever inventions developed to help humanity in some cases take us captive as we become fully absorbed in them.

Continue reading "The world today is encircled by distraction" »

Toroama sets sights on Bougainville independence

Bougainville president-elect Ishmael Toroama

| Radio New Zealand

AUCKLAND - Former commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Ishmael Toroama, yesterday won a clear majority to take over the presidency of Bougainville.

In his acceptance speech, Toroama appeared to hit back at allegations from the outgoing president, John Momis, who suggested there had been corruption in the poll.

Continue reading "Toroama sets sights on Bougainville independence" »

Ishmael Toroama – rebel, peace-maker, farmer, leader

Colonel Siale Francis Diro & Ishmael Toroama
Colonel Siale Francis Diro of the PNGDF meets former foe and BRA commander Ishmael Toroama


NOOSA – Ishmael Toroama, who has just been voted in as President-elect of Bougianville, built his reputation as a bold fighter and later a commander in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA).

The BRA was engaged in a 10-year civil war in the 1990s with the aim of closing the Panguna copper and gold mine and gaining the independence of Bougainville from Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Ishmael Toroama – rebel, peace-maker, farmer, leader" »

Francis Nii e-book free on PNG Attitude

Francis Nii (2)
Phil Fitzpatrick - "This is not a book about a disabled writer. It is a book about a towering figure in the history of Simbu and Papua New Guinea itself"


NOOSA – After a remarkably short production time, the Francis Nii collection, ‘Man Bilong Buk’, has been readied for printing and we’re pleased to make an e-book available for free download immediately.

The link to the e-book can be found above this page’s masthead by clicking through the headline ‘The Francis Nii Collection’.

Continue reading "Francis Nii e-book free on PNG Attitude" »

Toroama surfs towards presidency in Bougainville

Ishmael Toroama head
Ishmael Toroama



NOOSA – The nineteenth elimination count in the Bougainville presidential election was completed this afternoon with the candidate who has led throughout, Ishmael Toroama, maintaining a significant lead.

Toroama is still more than 13,000 votes ahead of the second-placed candidate Fr Simon Dumarinu, while former Bougainville president James Tanis found himself eliminated.

Continue reading "Toroama surfs towards presidency in Bougainville" »

Toroama continues his surge in Bougainville

The longer the count continues, the further ahead moves Ishmael Toroama, who seems to have the Bougainville presidency in his keeping



NOOSA – After the eighteenth elimination count in the Bougainville presidential election, the leading candidate Ishmael Toroama has surged even further ahead of the field.

With the elimination of Wesma Piika and Sione Paasia this morning and the pending elimination of former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kauona, Toroama is now more than 13,000 votes ahead of the second-placed candidate Fr Simon Dumarinu.

Continue reading "Toroama continues his surge in Bougainville" »

An odious comparison: PNG & Australian hospitals

The new Royal Adelaide Hospital: K5.5 billion to build and  K2.9 billion a year to operate.


ADELAIDE - My first outstation posting in Papua New Guinea was to Baimuru Patrol Post in the Gulf Province.

In 1970 the station boasted a grass airstrip, a native materials office, a small collection of houses and miscellaneous outbuildings.

There was also a rickety wharf decked with Marsden matting left over from World War II.

Continue reading "An odious comparison: PNG & Australian hospitals" »

How Francis Nii became an editor & publisher


KUNDIAWA - The 2014 Crocodile Prize awards were held at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby in September, as they had been for the previous three years.

President of the Simbu Writers Association, Jimmy Drekore, was there, and so was Francis Nii, who had won the award for essays the year before, Roslyn Tony, Mathias Kin, Jimmy Awagl and me.

It was quite a representation from SWA, in Simbu colours too.

Continue reading "How Francis Nii became an editor & publisher" »

Project Infiltration


Port Moresby - Wallace’s story, ‘Project Infiltration’, won the Grades 11 -12 category for Best Language Usage Story in the Paradise College ANIS Writing Competition

DAY FIFTY-TWO BEGAN with fear; the type that kept me awake at night; the type that filled me with disconcerting uncertainty; the type that was present from the beginning.

It had been fifty-two days since my carefully orchestrated escapade and too long since my unfortunate kidnapping. I had seemed to have lost track of time.

Continue reading "Project Infiltration" »

Toroama increases lead in Bougainville count

Ishmael Toroama head
Ishmael Toroama has consolidated his position as  front runner in the Bougainville presidential election



NOOSA – The trend is your friend, it is said, and the trend in counting votes for the next president of Bougainville remains firmly with Ishmael Toroama, who continue to move ahead of the field.

With the elimination of the fourteenth presidential candidate late afternoon it became clear that only the two leaders amongst the 11 remaining contenders can come close to an absolute majority of 71,725 votes.

The release of updated figures this afternoon showed Ishmael Toroama consolidating his position as the likely winner as he moved out to a 10,500 vote lead over second placed candidate Fr Simon Dumarinu.

Continue reading "Toroama increases lead in Bougainville count" »

The birth of the Simbu Writers Association

Arnold Mundua
Arnold Mundua
Francis Nii


KUNDIAWA – Sometimes great people’s legacy – their influence on and contributions to society - only becomes fully recognised after their passing.

The late author Francis Nii was such a person. His passing on Sunday 2 August at the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa left a huge vacuum in the lives of the many people who knew him personally.

Continue reading "The birth of the Simbu Writers Association" »

Welcome to Paradise

Wallace Parimahi
Wallace Parimahi - talented young writer whose winning entry in the Paradise College writing contest, 'Project Infiltration', will be published in PNG Attitude tomorrow

| PNG Paradise College | Innovative School of the 21st Century

PORT MORESBY - I first heard of Paradise College when the principal, Mr Safak Deliismail, contacted me in 2016 to be a guest speaker at their ANIS Writing Competition awards.

I couldn’t make it at that time but three years on I am teaching at Paradise College in the subject I love to teach, Language and Literature.

Continue reading "Welcome to Paradise" »

Innovation can make suckers of us all

In the USA much presidential policy is dispensed using Twitter feed. Trump has 86 million followers (PNG Attitude has 7,000)


TUMBY BAY - No matter how good an innovation is there will always be people who subvert it and spoil it for everyone else.

This axiom applies from something as simple as people taking undue advantage of a public welfare measure by ripping it off with false claims to the greater complexity of major frauds perpetuated by large corporations taking advantage of loopholes in tax laws.

Continue reading "Innovation can make suckers of us all" »

Elimination starts in Bougainville presidential race


NOOSA – The Bougainville presidential election has moved into its final stage with the end of counting of the 283 ballot boxes and completion of three days of quality checks.

None of the 25 candidates got even close an absolute majority of 72,213 votes so the elimination of lower placed contenders has begun.

Continue reading "Elimination starts in Bougainville presidential race" »

Despite rhetoric, informal economy struggles

Wenogo - Deputy PM Davis Steven
Despite the deputy prime minister launching reform recommendations, PNG's informal economy continues to struggle


PORT MORESBY - When the first audit of Papua New Guinea’s informal economy was launched in 2019, it generated a sense of optimism for the future of this important sector of the nation’s economy.

But a year later, despite legislation and policy encouraging the growth of the informal economy, its participants remain voiceless – and depressed.

The informal economy is estimated to involve 75% of the PNG population.

Continue reading "Despite rhetoric, informal economy struggles" »

Maintaining the Kurai legacy

Paul beside yar tree
The lineage is strong - Paul Kurai in front of the yar tree at Ela Beach in Port Moresby which his father is said to have planted during colonial times


WABAG - Paul Kiap Kurai is probably among just a few Highlands businessman, if not the only one, who has given away a successful business entity to a clansman on a golden platter.

He gave the Neneo Construction company to his Kamainwan people of Kaiap as a gift so they too would benefit from the proceeds of his blessings.

It was an action rarely seen in competitive Highlands society.

Continue reading "Maintaining the Kurai legacy" »

The exploitation of racial & cultural difference

White genocide
White supremacists  empty-headedly claim ethnic diversity is equivalent to white genocide


TUMBY BAY - Just like Australia, the USA is a migrant nation. In both cases the racial and cultural diversity of both populations has contributed to both the wealth and vibrancy of their societies.

While Australia is home to the world's oldest continuous culture dating back at least 65,000 years it is now also home to a people who identify with more than 270 different ancestries.

Continue reading "The exploitation of racial & cultural difference" »

It was a real labour of love

Artist Lisa Hilli
Artist Lisa Hilli paid tribute to the FMI Sisters through her art creating a large digital photographic collage of an image of the Sisters and 45 hand-embroidered cinctures.

| Australian War Memorial

CANBERRA - When the Japanese invaded Rabaul on New Britain in January 1942, a group of 45 Daughters of Mary Immaculate (FMI) Sisters refused to give up their faith.

Instead, they risked their lives to help save hundreds of Australian and European missionaries and civilian detainees who were held captive by the Japanese for three and a half years, first at Vunapope and then in the dense jungle of Ramale.

Continue reading "It was a real labour of love" »

Let’s preserve our positive gains

As we were
"The biggest challenge ahead as we break with the past is to continue the struggle to decolonise our minds which keeps us in bondage. Those that do not believe that we can own and run a mine like Porgera are influenced and shaped by our past colonial history" - Gabriel Ramoi


WEWAK - The theme of this year’s Independence celebration should be ‘Preserving the positive gains made over the last 45 years of political independence and those made over the last 12 months under PMJM in particular’.

A bit of a mouthful, I know, but it sums up how I’m feeling this Independence Day.

This year as we celebrate 45 years of independence we can feel a renewed sense of nationalism and optimism in the air.

Continue reading "Let’s preserve our positive gains" »

The Covid-19 ‘new normal’

The 9 Mile market outside Lae city (Michael Dom)

| Diplomatique | Literary Colloquium Berlin

LAE - The global pandemic of Covid-19 has had many repercussions to daily life and keeping abreast with World Health Organisation recommendations, the Papua New Guinea government has also defined the ‘new normal’ for its citizens.

But to thousands of the peri-urban poor, struggling to survive during trying economic times, the impact of policing health measures is just another normal day.

Continue reading "The Covid-19 ‘new normal’" »

My father’s last moments on this earth

Charlene Dinipami Nii - Francis was very  ill, but insisted on making the tortuous trip to witness his father's burial


KUNDIAWA - It was on Wednesday 1 April that bad news came to Francis in his hospital bed in Kundiawa.

It was early in the morning when the phone rang. The caller was his cousin Duma Paulus from Diani village.

In broken tones, Duma told Francis that his father, the chief, Nicholas Tura Duma, had passed away.

Continue reading "My father’s last moments on this earth" »

I spent a bit of time in New Guinea


So what did you do for a crust?
Oh, the usual, public service and all that
Me too, I was in health administration
Before that I was a kiap in Papua New Guinea
That’s interesting, who do you barrack for?

I walked the high mountains and deep valleys
I reckon the Eagles will make the finals this year
I met men who had never seen steel before
Go on, is that right, is that your car out there?
And I saw men fighting with bows and arrows

Continue reading "I spent a bit of time in New Guinea" »

BRA chief leads Bougainville presidential race

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander  Ishmael Toroama
Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Ishmael Toroama - presently leading the Bougainvlle presidential count


NOOSA – Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) commander, Ishmael Toroama, was retaining his lead in the Bougainville presidential election after the 280th count this morning.

The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commission registered 222,333 voters and 446 candidates for the election.

Continue reading "BRA chief leads Bougainville presidential race" »

Covid threatens PNG’s animal rescue centre

Cuscus and handler at Port Moresby Nature Park
Cuscus and handler at Port Moresby Nature Park

| Guardian Australia | Judith Nielson Institute | Extracts

PORT MORESBY - From the heat and dust of the city’s noisy, crowded streets, the Port Moresby Nature Park is an oasis, for the city’s residents as well as the animals it keeps.

Home to more than 500 creatures and spread over 30 verdant acres, the park has spent years rescuing injured, orphaned or trafficked animals from across the country, and protected and nurtured native species, including the endangered pig-nosed turtle, and the magnificent riflebird.

Continue reading "Covid threatens PNG’s animal rescue centre" »

Persistence: How Paul Kurai became a tycoon

Wasa bridge launch
Worth waiting for - the launching of the Wasa bridge


WABAG – Beginning in the 1950s and until the 1970s, Kurai Tapus - the ‘bosboi’ - and his people built Wabag with spades, wooden digging sticks, picks, axes, shovels, crowbars, bush knives and with their bare hands.

It took many weeks for hundreds of men to carve winding roads around the sides of mountains or through rugged terrain or unstable swampy grassland.

Continue reading "Persistence: How Paul Kurai became a tycoon" »

John Fowke, rough-hewn sage, dies at 81

John Fowke - astute critic and interpreter of the Papua New Guinean condition


NOOSA – John Fowke, an erstwhile contributor to PNG Attitude and forceful critic of what he (sometimes unfairly) perceived as humbug and banality, has died in Brisbane aged 81.

Fowke went to Papua New Guinea as a Cadet Patrol Officer aged 21 in April 1958.

In 1962 he changed career direction when he was appointed a Cooperatives Officer, working in the Goroka region.

Continue reading "John Fowke, rough-hewn sage, dies at 81" »

Living with Rio Tinto’s deadly legacy

Woman panning for gold in Bougainville

| Human Rights Law Centre

MELBOURNE - Mining giant Rio Tinto is responsible for multiple human rights violations caused by pollution from its former mine in Bougainville.

For 45 years, the Panguna copper and gold mine on the island of Bougainville was majority-owned by the British-Australian mining company, but in 2016 Rio Tinto divested from the mine, leaving behind more than a billion tonnes of mine waste.

Continue reading "Living with Rio Tinto’s deadly legacy" »

Hey G20, where's our K73 billion for Covid?

| Transparency International

BERLIN - In many ways, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down.

Besides the devastating human toll around the world, we have also been living through an increasingly disturbing reality that is marked with rising authoritarianism, reduced civic space and misuse of relief funds.

Continue reading "Hey G20, where's our K73 billion for Covid?" »

Fred Kaad: 100 years of courage & achievement

Brown 11 Brown Kaad
Bill Brown MBE and Fred Kaad OBE - two outstanding figures in the late colonial history of Papua New Guinea, Sydney, 2018 - KJ


SYDNEY - Fred Kaad is an inspiration. And this day, 12 September 2020, marks a notable anniversary for this remarkable man.

We salute his wonderful achievements, his steadfastness and courage and his contribution to all our lives and to the lives of so many others.

This is a tribute of respect and admiration for Fred Kaad on his 100th birthday.

Continue reading "Fred Kaad: 100 years of courage & achievement" »