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103 posts from December 2020

Stories from our new year: 2019

2019 Jack Emanuel GC
Jack Emanuel GC


2 January 2019 - The killing of district commissioner Jack Emanuel (Andrew Phillips)

Errol John (Jack) Emanuel was a district commissioner in East New Britain when he was murdered on 19 August 1971. He was posthumously awarded the George Cross for gallantry displayed between 1969 and 1971. At the time of Emanuel’s death, Andrew Phillips, now of New York, was news director at Radio Rabaul.

I was posted to Rabaul following Keith Jackson’s transfer to Bougainville. The unrest Keith experienced continued, and it culminated in the stabbing murder of Jack Emanuel who had been sent on special assignment to negotiate with the Mataungun Association.

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2019" »

Stories from our new year: 2018

Paul Flanagan
Paul Flanagan - "The O’Neill-Abel economic policies are the greatest barriers to private sector growth"


2 January 2018 - O’Neill policies risk economic crisis (Paul Flanagan)

If you’re looking for a happy start to 2018, don’t read the depressing review of the Papua New Guinean economy just released by the International Monetary Fund. It shows that PNG is facing a great risk of a fiscal crisis.

The IMF projects that the 2018 economy will be K7 billion less than promised by the O’Neill-Abel government.

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2018" »

Stories from our new year: 2017

Chris Overland
Chris Overland - "I entered world that was utterly different"


2 January 2017 - The shock of the new (Chris Overland)

On New Year's Day, I sit before my computer contemplating the fact that it is now some 48 years since I first set foot in Papua New Guinea. It seems a very long time ago that I first walked down the stairs from an Ansett Airlines Boeing 727 and made my way across the shimmering tarmac towards a somewhat dilapidated terminal building at Jackson's Field.

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2017" »

Stories from our new year: 2016

Francis Nii & the green hills of Simbu
Francis Nii and the green hills of Simbu


1 January 2016 - Let us explain to the people that their vote is precious (Francis Nii)

Eighteen months from now Papua New Guineans will vote in the eleventh national parliamentary elections.

People from all walks and of all creeds will vie for a seat in the national parliament, re-elected every five years.

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2016" »

Stories from our new year: 2015

Bill Hayden - in 1988 told Australian cabinet there was "a likelihood of bloodshed" in PNG


1 January 2015 - Australia feared PNG military coup in 1988 (Damien Murphy)

| Sydney Morning Herald | Cabinet documents from the Australian National Archives

Cabinet was warned that the triggers for a military coup in Papua New Guinea had been identified as Australia's position as a close friend and adviser was under challenge 13 years after the Melanesia nation gained independence.

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2015" »

Stories from our new year: 2013-14

Kundiawa Town  October 2020 (Paul Waugla Wii)
Kundiawa Town,  October 2020 (Paul Waugla Wii)


1 January 2013 - Sex enhancement products on Kundiawa streets (Bernard Yegiora)

A street seller in Kundiawa came up to me and offered me a packet of Viagra cream for K40. He touted the cream for K40, then K20 and finally K10. I politely told him that I didn't have any money.

I was told he also sells Viagra pills. Scary stuff if you do not know the side effects. So Kundiawa town is changing.

How did this street seller end up selling Viagra on the streets of Kundiawa? Is Viagra legal or illegal in PNG? I was told that his biggest customers are public servants. I presume this product has sparked a sexual revolution.

Word on the street is that the Viagra came via the Indonesia-PNG boarder, similar to the fireworks on the streets. Not only male sex products but also female sex products are sold on the streets of Kundiawa. Very interesting changes.

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2013-14" »

Stories from our new year: 2012

Martyn & beers
Martyn Namorong and rewards for excellence in writing


1 January 2012 - Mipela ino inap? What the f***? (Martyn Namorong)

Why do organisations run by expats generally do better than those run by Papua New Guineans? And why did Papua New Guinean civil servants and disciplinary forces perform better under the colonial administration than they do now?

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2012" »

Stories from our new year: 2007-09


1 January 2007 - Courses of study (Keith Jackson)

Happy new year to all my readers. And here's a question to test the ageing memory of former teaching students at the Australian School of Pacific Administration. Exactly how many of those ASOPA courses that you diligently studied (or wilfully disregarded) can you recall? And how many subjects were you examined in during the two year program?

Continue reading "Stories from our new year: 2007-09" »

Sovereignty, China, PNG & Australia

| The Yegiora Files

MADANG – It’s well known that China has the largest population of any country and that its people have been mobilised as the driving force behind China’s rapid growth and transformation.

To ensure its population remains stable, content and healthy, the Chinese government needs to undertake massive development projects.

Continue reading "Sovereignty, China, PNG & Australia" »

Why are most aid posts non-operational

| My Land, My Country

AUCKLAND - Scott Waide’s article on Josephstaal got me thinking about access to medicines to aid posts, the primary level health facility throughout rural Papua New Guinea.

As a kid, during holidays at home, you knew you’d get help at the aid post if you fell ill with malaria or got scratches on your legs that became infected.

Continue reading "Why are most aid posts non-operational" »

A signature in the sand

First graduates of the University of Papua New Guinea, 1970

| Ples Singsing | Edited

PORT MORESBY - The boy grew up in the village of Kukipi, and at the right age he was enrolled at its small primary school.

There were no blackboards, no chalk and no desks where the children could sit, so the school and the village had to be innovative and work within the constraints.

Continue reading "A signature in the sand" »

Vin Smith, one of the best, dies at 90

Vin & Rita Smith with Bob Cleland  Rabaul  October 2010
Vin and Rita Smith with Bob Cleland,  Rabaul,  October 2010


SYDNEY - Ernest Vincent (Vin) Smith, who saw notable service in Papua New Guinea as a kiap before independence and a senior public servant after, has died on the Gold Coast aged 90.

In two separate stints totalling 39 years, Vin served PNG with distinction and was admired for his coolness under pressure and great good humour.

Continue reading "Vin Smith, one of the best, dies at 90" »

China, Daru & the fisheries business

| The Yegiora Files | Edited

MADANG - The island of Daru has become the centre of attention after a Chinese company announced its proposal to build a multi-functional fisheries industrial park on the island and received encouragement from the PNG government.

There have been both negative and positive reactions to the project based on the economic, political and security interests of various state actors.

Continue reading "China, Daru & the fisheries business" »

The scandal of PNG's massive cultural loss


TUMBY BAY - The republishing of Bomai Witne’s 2014 article on how difficult it is for many Papua New Guineans to distinguish how much their cultural perceptions belong to tradition on the one hand and colonialism on the other prompts my further exploration.

It seems that the link with the past for many people, particularly children, in modern day Papua New Guinea is growing more and more tenuous as the years go by.

Continue reading "The scandal of PNG's massive cultural loss" »

The patrol that went wrong – Part 2


PORT MORESBY – As somebody called “The white men are going to steal us and take us to Australia,” every trooper fled from the helicopter in every direction into the thick jungle.

Although barefoot, we did not care about rattan spikes or any other mishap that may be in our way.

We had to flee as fast as we could to get away from the helicopter.

Continue reading "The patrol that went wrong – Part 2" »

The patrol that went wrong – Part 1


PORT MORESBY - As a kid, the Busoo River in the Bukawa area of Morobe Province was the best place in the world to be.

In Wagangluhu village, on the banks of the Busoo, the river was our swimming pool, fishing ground and playground. This and the surrounding lush tropical rainforests provided my friends and me with countless adventures.

Continue reading "The patrol that went wrong – Part 1" »

A tribute to the brilliant Sir Mek

Sir mek
Sir Mekere Morauta - Argued deficit financing is necessary for serious growth. The world caught up with him this year

| My Land, My Country

LAE - In school, economics wasn’t really my thing. At the end of one semester, the girl who became my partner got the highest grade and I nailed the bottom of the list.

But years later, the great journalist John Eggins said I had to venture into the realm of business and economics, because I had “the flair for it.”

Continue reading "A tribute to the brilliant Sir Mek" »

Merry Christmas PNG, with love from Emma

Emma Wakpi - "There are kinks in the cultures and ways of my people and I continue to struggle against them. But for the most part I am at peace"

| Published in PNG Attitude, 25 December 2012

MY DEAREST MOTHERLAND - I am writing this letter on the eve of Christmas to let you know how much I love and appreciate you.

This time of the year reminds us of what we should be thankful for and of what love is really all about.

Often times we argue so much about what is wrong and right and how it’s supposed to be done nowadays.

Continue reading "Merry Christmas PNG, with love from Emma" »

That Christmas Day, 1942

Carriers walked long distances
Carriers walked long distances carrying heavy loads of wounded troops supplies and equipment (Damien Parer,  1942)

| Compiled from Voices from the War *

PORT MORESBY -World War II meant that many young Papua New Guinean men had to leave their villages in the service of the Australian and American military forces.

They worked as carriers, medical orderlies, police, cooks and in other service jobs. Sometimes this service lasted until the war ended.

Continue reading "That Christmas Day, 1942" »

The unwanted Christmas present

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

| Published in PNG Attitude, 24 December 2019

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

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

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

Continue reading "The unwanted Christmas present" »

Christmas at Olsobip

Olsobip Patrol Post, 1969 (PNGAA)

| Published in PNG Attitude, 24 December 2016

OLSOBIP - Christmas, and the entire festive season, is always a contentious time at the Gentlemen’s Club.

It is the cause of more disharmony than a federal election or a debate on the return of conscription and compulsory national service, or climate change.

Goodwill and fellowship towards our fellow man, I don’t think so! What a load of humbug!

Continue reading "Christmas at Olsobip" »

The true meaning of Christmas

| Published in PNG Attitude, 25 December 2015

MADANG - As I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning, my mind drifted to the pictures I took of the Christmas tree in the office.

And then the theme from that Alvin and the Chipmunks movie played over and over in my head, “Christmas, Christmas time is near, time for joy and time for cheer”.

Continue reading "The true meaning of Christmas" »

Heritage, culture, Christianity & change

Bomai Witne - "It is a challenging time to assess whether and how we want to keep a link with our tribal heritage. Some of us are struggling"

| Published in PNG Attitude, 24 December 2014

GOROKA – What did I inherit from my tribal and national ancestors who migrated here some 50,000 years ago and what did I inherit from colonialism?

I have to find answers to these questions and the answers are hard to find.

I was born in Imil-Tomale, a remote hamlet, under the shade of pandanus trees and clothed with soft and tender leaves.

Continue reading "Heritage, culture, Christianity & change" »

Christmas for atheists

St nicholas
St Nicholas - definitely not an atheist but a rich man who used his wealth to alleviate suffering

| Published in PNG Attitude, 25 December 2016

TUMBY BAY - I was about eight years old when I realised that organised religion was a giant confidence trick.

The thing that made me aware of this was my mother’s plan to send me to the local Catholic school.

We’d just moved out of the migrant hostel after arriving in Australia from England and I was bound to a new school.

Continue reading "Christmas for atheists" »

The worm catchers of Sialum

Reef off Sialum
Reef and atoll off Sialum typical of where 'Christmas' worm catchers ply their trade

| Published in PNG Attitude, 25 December 2011

CLEVELAND, QLD - Sialum patrol post was situated on the north-eastern tip of the Huon Peninsula about 60 miles north of Finschhafen, the sub district headquarters.

I say ‘about 60 miles’ because Rudi, the Lutheran missionary at Kalasa, and Hans, the Lutheran agricultural extension officer always argued about how far it was.

Continue reading "The worm catchers of Sialum" »

President Toroama’s Christmas message

Ishmael Toroama - "“We must maintain the spirit of independence that we have always known in our lives"

| Office of the President

BUKA - In his first Christmas message, Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama has urged Bougainvilleans to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and also to think about being ‘Independence Ready’ by taking responsibility.

“Whether it is at individual, family, clan, church, community, council of elders or other level, we all have a responsibility to be independence ready,” President Toroama said.

Continue reading "President Toroama’s Christmas message" »

Torres Strait islanders want to keep China out

Torres people
The Torres Strait people are skilled navigators with detailed knowledge of the sea, reefs and islands


Sari-Ella Thaiday, just completing a law degree in Brisbane, has initiated a petition to Australia’s foreign affairs minister asking that the government protect the rights of Torres Strait Islands’ people against any Chinese incursion into Australian waters - KJ

BRISBANE - China has just signed a memorandum of understanding with Papua New Guinea to build a $200 million fishing facility on Daru Island.

It is imperative that Torres Strait Islands’ leaders discuss this issue with Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne to review the Torres Strait Treaty, which allows Papua New Guinean nationals to fish in Australian waters.

Continue reading "Torres Strait islanders want to keep China out" »

Beyond 2020: A hazardous row to hoe


TUMBY BAY - As 2020 draws to a close, confusion and trepidation seem to be the major emotions people the world over are feeling.

The confusion stems from uncertainty about how to interpret what appear to be existential threats in 2021 and beyond.

They include the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue reading "Beyond 2020: A hazardous row to hoe" »

Loss of an outstanding leader: Sir Mek dies at 74

Sir Mekere Morauta
Sir Mekere Morauta - "Your People Mourn"


NOOSA – The Rt Hon Mekere Morauta KCMG (popularly known as Sir Mek), Papua New Guinea’s prime minister from 1999-2002 and regarded as one of its greatest constitutional and economic reformers, has died from cancer in Brisbane aged 74.

His wife, Lady Roslyn Morauta, released a brief statement saying, “It is with the deepest sadness that Roslyn and James Morauta announce that their much loved husband and father, Sir Mekere Morauta KCMG, died peacefully in Brisbane on Saturday 19 December”.

Continue reading "Loss of an outstanding leader: Sir Mek dies at 74" »

Reflections on a dismal year


ADELAIDE - As 2020 staggers towards its dismal end, the trail of upheaval and disasters left in its wake will continue to reverberate around the world for many years to come.

When historians of the future are considering the impact of Covid-19 on the world, they will be presented with a smorgasbord of issues to contemplate.

Continue reading "Reflections on a dismal year" »

Death of General Michael Jeffery at 83

Marlena and Michael Jeffery
Marlena and Michael Jeffery

| President, Papua New Guinea Association of Australia

SYDNEY –A great Australian, former governor-general, Major-General Michael Jeffery AC GCL CVO MC, died on Friday at the age of 83.

General Jeffery had a close association with Papua New Guinea as the last Australian commanding officer of 2 PIR and as co-patron of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia (PNGAA) since 2003.

Continue reading "Death of General Michael Jeffery at 83" »

The gift of literacy & the story of Tony

Tony Heffernan
Tony Heffernan - "My father was terribly upset over the accident and never stopped blaming himself. My sister told me it was the only time she had ever seen Dad cry"


TUMBY BAY - Our first grandson was born while we were living in Hervey Bay in Queensland. His other grandparents, who belong to a small Lutheran congregation nearby in Maryborough, organised his christening there.

The Lutheran pastor was an American who had been a missionary in Papua New Guinea. I was still scooting back and forth from Australia to PNG doing social mapping, so we had a common interest.

Continue reading "The gift of literacy & the story of Tony" »

A Kiap’s Chronicle: 29 - 'CRA, you're unwelcome'

Brown - Pic 1 - MV Craestar moored at KIeta (Peter Steele)
MV Craestar alongside the small ships’ wharf at Kieta circa 1965 (Peter  Steele)


THE CHRONICLE CONTINUES - On 24 July 1968, Craestar (1), Conzinc Rio Tinto's (CRA) research vessel, motored into Kieta harbour.

None of the onlookers were excited, even though Craestar had a helicopter sitting on a landing pad over the stern.

The townsfolk had seen it all before. CRA had been using the vessel's helicopter to move drilling gear around Panguna in 1965.

Continue reading "A Kiap’s Chronicle: 29 - 'CRA, you're unwelcome'" »

The Chinese incursion into universities

Students protest against the establishment of a Confucius Institute at University of Adelaide

| Edited extract

Link here to read Dr Schram’s complete essay, ‘China and the West: institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and student movements in the Pacific’

VERONA - In Papua New Guinea for a total of six years I was vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology (Unitech) in Lae, the second largest and second oldest university in the country.

As prescribed in the university acts, I was ex-officio member of the councils of both my own university and the country’s oldest and largest university, the University of PNG.

Continue reading "The Chinese incursion into universities" »

Australia has no ‘powerful card’ on China

Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

| Pearls & Irritations

MELBOURNE - There are many commentators with strong and legitimate concerns about China. The relationship between Australia and China is a very important one and it warrants open and vigorous debate

When those with privileged access to the public square confuse name calling and assertion with rational argument, it is important to point this out.

Continue reading "Australia has no ‘powerful card’ on China" »

Ples Singsing i tok: PNG authors for PNG readers

Ples Singsing Masterminds

LAE - On Monday 7 December Engan author Daniel Kumbon launched Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter, a 400-page book which based on the colonial and post-colonial history of the Wabag district and Enga Province, of which it is a part.

Keith Jackson on PNG Attitude commented that, “PNG history has most often been told by the colonisers but now home-grown authors are offering another view. Prolific author Daniel Kumbon’s latest work, Victory Song, tells the true story of a highlands family from first Western contact to today”.

Continue reading "Ples Singsing i tok: PNG authors for PNG readers" »

Toroama urges vote for independence candidates

Ishmael Toroama - "Put party politics aside and vote for who will best deliver independence for Bougainville” 

Office of the Bougainville President

BUKA - Bougainvilleans are being urged to vote responsibly during the by-election for the regional seat currently underway.

“The Bougainville regional seat is equivalent to a governor’s seat in other provinces so this is not a time to vote for beginners,” says President Ishmael Toroama.

Continue reading "Toroama urges vote for independence candidates" »

Piku-Piku and Asukena – Part 3

Aishi Nokowano Gitehoma aka Papa Sii  Kotiyufa Village  Iufi-Iufa  2013
Aishi Nokowano Gitehoma aka Papa Sii,  Kotiyufa Village,  Iufi-Iufa,  2013


PORT MORESBY – Before I continue this story, I should let you know that it is an adaptation of a legend told by Papa Sii, whose image is at right

I have taken the words he told me and retold it using a contemporary overlay story of some bored village children.

Continue reading "Piku-Piku and Asukena – Part 3" »

Marape: We have reconciled and they are back

James Marape_Haus_Lotu
James Marape - "Our country needs stability, not instability. Put your country ahead of yourself"


PORT MORESBY - I am not a righteous person, so don’t praise me or another human for we all live by Him, the Great Almighty Jehovah God who created us.

Romans 8:28 has always been my mojo when the going gets tough:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Continue reading "Marape: We have reconciled and they are back" »