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94 posts from March 2021

Queensland fear over Covid threat from PNG

Annastacia Palaszczuk (Darren England  AAP)
Annastacia Palaszczuk - "It’s a serious situation up there so I think we need to look at our coordinated response" (Darren England AAP) 

| In Queensland | Extracts

BRISBANE - Authorities may have contained the latest Brisbane Covid-19 outbreak but they are alarmed by the scale of the threat posed by Papua New Guinea.

Of the six new cases detected in Queensland, two came from Papua New Guinea.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed that half of the 500 tests that Queensland Health had done in PNG to support local health services had come back positive.

Continue reading "Queensland fear over Covid threat from PNG" »

God had a spear, his name was Sana

Michael Somare at Sogeri National High School  1963
Michael Somare at Sogeri National High School, 1963


PORT MORESBY - A champion of freedom. A man of his time, 50,000 years in the making. A man destined to preserve the dignity of a free people: a thousand primitive tribes.

Innocent, bright eyed; we blinked in the Stone Age and happened in the Modern Era.

Our forefathers could not have prepared us for this. How could they?

Continue reading "God had a spear, his name was Sana" »

Sana - You Shone as the Morning Star

Papua New Guinea's leaders in 1973 - Thomas Kavali, Michael Somare, Julius Chan and John Guise


Chief Mark Tonar is a former kiap from the United Nauro Gor community in the Kundiawa-Gembogl area of Simbu. He is also a former Pangu Pati Simbu branch secretary (1982-1992). He has fond memories of meeting the late Grand Chief Somare during Pangu Party conventions – Sil Bolkin

Somare son of Somare
Sana son of Sana
Shone like a morning star

Continue reading "Sana - You Shone as the Morning Star" »

Everything changes but nothing changes

Time (Loren Zemlicka)


TUMBY BAY - Some curious things happen when you get old. Among other things, time seems to speed up.

Now that I’m well into my seventies I’ve discovered that there are only 305 days in a year instead of the usual 365.

Another interesting thing is the overwhelming sense of déjà vu that I get when I check the news.

Continue reading "Everything changes but nothing changes" »

Cricket: The day we nearly beat Goroka

The Cricketer (Harry Lake  KN13)
'The Cricketer' as sketched by Harry Lake in 1964


NOOSA – In 1964, when I was in Kundiawa in my first year of teaching, a kiap called Max Orken and I started what we termed the Central Highlands Cricket Competition – Minj, Kerowagi, Chuave, Kundiawa.

The other blokes in Kundiawa wanted to play cricket – we played most weekends – but didn’t want to organise stuff, so despite my lack of aptitude at hit, throw and catch, they had made me captain and told me to get on with organising the competition.

In any other place I might have been dubbed club secretary, scorer or umpire. But in Kundiawa, the fellas compensated me for my work by making an untalented 19-year old captain and permanent member of the playing squad.

Continue reading "Cricket: The day we nearly beat Goroka" »

Danger! Fake news & conspiracy theories

John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations

MELBOURNE - History has demonstrated that when people are fearful, believe they are powerless and can’t cope with threatening events they very often resort to conspiracy theories to explain their situation.

Equally often they look for scapegoats who are believed to be at the heart of the conspiracies – in the Christian world Jews and heretics; in the Muslim world heretics and Christians; and in the plague-ridden medieval times sins and sinners.

Continue reading "Danger! Fake news & conspiracy theories" »

Black & White magazine: a reflection

B&W No 1
Extract of the cover of the first issue of Black and White


NOOSA – In November 1966 I was transferred from my school in the bush to Port Moresby to edit the School Paper.

At 22, I felt it was my big break. An opportunity that put me on the doorstep of journalism.

It was far from a major newspaper; but it was paid, full-time writing job.

Continue reading "Black & White magazine: a reflection" »

‘I had Covid, stop knocking the vaccine’

Gary Juffa
Oro Governor Gary Juffa - "For me Covid-19 is real. I should know. I had it"


ORO PROVINCE - Here is a poignant piece for all. For me Covid-19 is real. I should know. I had it.

And no, it's not just another flu. Two million people have died worldwide.

I know people who have died from it. I know people who have lost their loved ones. It is no joke.

There are many people who are against vaccinations based on misinformation and disinformation.

Continue reading "‘I had Covid, stop knocking the vaccine’" »

We honour a giant who has fallen

Philip Kai Morre - "Michael Somare was not only a politician but a role model"


KUNDIAWA - It is an honour to celebrate the life and death of a giant who has fallen.

Sir Michael Somare lived life to the fullest and with enlightenment. The Grand Chief is one of a few great politicians and advocates of democracy like Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Continue reading "We honour a giant who has fallen" »


Typepad, which provides the platform for PNG Attitude, has for some time been having problems with its internal caching system which causes some images to disappear, leaving just the text. Typepad assures me that it is working to address this problem. When I come across these mysterious disappearances, I generally repost the image. But, as a stopgap, readers who want to see the image can click on the text that accompanies it - KJ

The handful of men who made PNG a nation

Phil Fitzpatrick - "For Somare the kiaps seemed to represent the worst anachronisms of colonial rule"


TUMBY BAY - When leaders with an aura of greatness die, there inevitably follows an assessment of their life and work.

Initially this reckoning will be largely praiseworthy but, as time goes by, a deeper analysis will occur. This is sure to happen in the wake of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s death.

Continue reading "The handful of men who made PNG a nation" »

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare: a reflection

Paulini Mango
Pauline Wapen Mango, a third grader at Lahara Avenue School in Boroko, recited a poignant poem at one of Grand Chief Somare's haus krais


PORT MORESBY - The tears kept coming as I saw two elderly men - same age, same height - smile and hug each other tightly, as best friends do after missing each other for a long time.

And indeed, they were best friends – two of Papua New Guinea’s founding fathers, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Sir Julius Chan.

I was at Kavieng airport in New Ireland and they probably suspected this would be their last time to meet, then wave farewell forever.

Continue reading "Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare: a reflection" »

FIFO workers from PNG force Covid emergency

Dr Don Mackie
Cairns Hospital director Dr Don Mackie says the hospital is treating six mine workers who have flown from PNG (Kristy Sexton-McGrath - ABC)

| ABC Far North

CAIRNS - One of the biggest hospitals in Far North Queensland has declared a ‘code yellow’ emergency, following an influx of Covid-19 patients from Papua New Guinea.

The hospital is treating six patients from PNG — all fly-in fly-out mine workers who live in Cairns.

Tuesday’s code yellow declaration indicates an internal emergency, with the hospital nearing capacity.

Continue reading "FIFO workers from PNG force Covid emergency" »

Tom Mboya, Paulus Arek & PNG independence

Tom Mboya in PNG 1964
Kenyan leader and independence advocate Tom Mboya talks with a school student when visiting PNG in 1964


TUMBY BAY – In 1971, between 4 January and 19 February, Paulus Arek took his Select Committee on Constitutional Development on a fact finding tour to gauge the feelings of Papua New Guineans about self-government and independence.

Arek, the MP for Ijivitari, was first elected in 1968 and was also Minister for Information (1972-73) and the first president of the Federation of PNG Workers' Associations.

Continue reading "Tom Mboya, Paulus Arek & PNG independence" »

Views against early independence 'were correct'

Michael Somare and Gough Whitlam in 1973 - 'Conservative leaders spoke out against a fast transfer of power but were overtaken by these two unstoppable forces'


CLEVELAND, QLD - If one was to bequeath a view of history as it happened, Chips Mackellar’s recollection is accurate and reflects the general view of most Papua New Guinean people in the early 1970’s.

That’s what kiaps in the bush heard from the Papua New Guinean people they met and worked with.

There was a general view that more time was needed to effectively transfer power from a Western government to a people who had never experienced anything like it in the past.

Continue reading "Views against early independence 'were correct'" »

Australia, PNG and the Covid vaccine


As Papua New Guinea readies to receive its first 588,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine at the end of March, provided through the global Gavi philanthropic consortium, Australia continues to try to get on top of its own supply problems - KJ

ADELAIDE - Australia has committed about $200 million to procuring and distributing Covid-19 vaccine to its Pacific neighbours, including PNG and Timor L’Este, over the next two years.

This is why CSL in Australia has been tasked with producing 50 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, with the option of producing many more if necessary.

Continue reading "Australia, PNG and the Covid vaccine" »

Oz denies vaccine OK to poor countries

Hospitals run out of funding as Covid cases surge
Port Moresby general hospital says Covid patient numbers will rise ‘beyond our capacity’  Read more here  (Image: ChildFund)  

| John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations

As Papua New Guinea faces a worrying spike in Covid-19 cases as well as an increasing spread through its provinces, Australia has failed to organise the vaccine it promised and, along with other big Western countries, has now refused to make it possible to produce more vaccine. These are extracts from a longer article, linked to here

MELBOURNE - Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union are refusing to waive intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines so developing countries can produce the vaccine locally.

This refusal, in the face of vaccine hoarding by rich countries, is likely to cause millions more deaths because of slower access to a vaccine.

Continue reading "Oz denies vaccine OK to poor countries" »

PNG logs wash ashore in Philippines

Logs believed to be from PNG wash ashore in coastal towns of Aurora Province

| Philippine Daily Inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Fishermen in Aurora Province have retrieved more logs believed to have come from Papua New Guinea.

Since the logs were first seen floating off Aurora last month, 632 have been recovered.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coast Guard have sent a reconnaissance team to check if more logs are still floating.

Continue reading "PNG logs wash ashore in Philippines" »

ASPI, sycophancy & deepening strategic corruption

APAC-News-The-Aus-24-August-2020MICHAEL McKINLEY
| John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations | Edited

CANBERRA - Last month, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) announced that its executive director, Peter Jennings, had warned another ostensibly independent think tank, the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), that China may trigger a major military crisis over Taiwan in the coming year.

The catalysts are held to be twofold: the forthcoming centenary of the Chinese Communist Party and the domestic turmoil in the US resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Continue reading "ASPI, sycophancy & deepening strategic corruption" »

The hair-trigger path to independence

Papua Besena membership card - the Papuan separatist group under the strong leadership of Josephine Abaijah was a destabilising influence leading to independence


TUMBY BAY - In the end, Papua New Guinea’s peaceful transition to independence turned out to be a case of the right people coming together at the right time.

On the Australian side was the Liberal Party’s external territories minister Andrew Peacock, who remained committed to independence even after his party was defeated at a general election in 1972.

Continue reading "The hair-trigger path to independence" »

Sand mining proposal defeated

Act say noNEWS DESK
| Act Now!

PORT MORESBY - A controversial plan by the Singapore based Powerplus Group to mine sand along a 38 kilometre stretch of coastline in Madang has been defeated.

The government regulator, the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA), has written to mining opponents informing them of the withdrawal of the mine exploration application.

Continue reading "Sand mining proposal defeated" »

Sir Michael: The loss of a giant

Morrison Somare Whitlam 1973
Territories Minister Bill Morrison, Michael Somare and Gough Whitlam at a press conference at Parliament House, Canberra January 1973


NOOSA - English scientist Isaac Newton admitted that, if he “had seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, was a reflection that we all benefit from the work of great people who came before us.

Last month, one such person was lost to the world.

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was a giant of Papua New Guinea and, indeed, the world because of his significance to the decolonisation movement.

Continue reading "Sir Michael: The loss of a giant" »

Sir Michael & the secret of the Colours

The Regimental Colours return to 2RPIR, Wewak 2013 (Anara Private Archives)


PORT MORESBY - From among the countless stories about Sir Michael Somare comes this one, about a secret.

It originated from near the tip of Cape Moem peninsula in Wewak, East Sepik Province.

This part of the Sepik coastline is home to the PNG Defence Force’s 2nd Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (2RPIR), the sister battalion to the Taurama-based 1RPIR in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Sir Michael & the secret of the Colours" »

W Papua leader pays tribute to Sir Michael

Morning star and kumul
Standing side by side - the Morning Star and the Kumul

| Facebook | Extracts

OXFORD, UK – Grand Chief Sir Michael  Somare fought for the dignity of indigenous Papuans. It was an 84 year lifetime in which his story blessed freedom fighters in Melanesia. He was born for a purpose.

West Papua walked in the shadows and its independence leaders embraced the drama and watched with pride as Papua New Guinea surged ahead.

Continue reading "W Papua leader pays tribute to Sir Michael" »

Thoughts on nominating for election

Jackson Kiakari
Jackson Kiakari, his son Kyle and supporters - on the way to nominate Jackson for election


PORT MORESBY - It rained intermittently in Port Moresby on Thursday.

No music played, no horns blared, no rowdy exchanges. It was a sombre day.

And this was the day I entered the political arena by nominating as a candidate for the Port Moresby North-West by-election.

Continue reading "Thoughts on nominating for election" »

Grand-daughter's story of a pioneering pastor

Early mission patrol in the Enga region (Harold Freund)
Early mission patrol in the Enga region (Harold Freund)


Mugang Mugarewec Bitengere- A Pioneer Missionary to the Highlands of New Guinea by Gabby Mugang, Marapa Publications, Waigani, 2018, K100 from the author at

TUMBY BAY - The early Lutheran missionaries in the highlands relied very heavily on their Papua New Guinean pastors and evangelists to spread their message and extend their influence.

Continue reading "Grand-daughter's story of a pioneering pastor" »

How the bilum reached Rangiora

Bilum-weaving at the Palmerston North -part of the Melanesian world view (Laurens Ikinia)
Bilum-weaving at the Palmerston North - part of the Melanesian worldview (Laurens Ikinia)

| Asia Pacific Report | Extracts

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinean academics and community leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand tackle their concerns about climate change and mental health issue in the Pacific through a traditional and famous craft – weaving bilums.

Late last year, a Papua New Guinea cultural language week was held by the PNG Community Trust in Manawatu region at Rangiora Community Hall in Palmerston North.

Continue reading "How the bilum reached Rangiora" »

Brian Cooper’s conviction was a fit-up

Cooper at Sydney Airport after release from prison
Brian Cooper at Mascor after his release from prison


"[Brian] Cooper wasn't the only one espousing such messages in Papua New Guinea before independence, especially after the UPNG was established. In most cases the local kiap or the district commissioner would have a quiet word with them and tell them to tone it down and that would be the end of the matter" – Phil Fitzpatrick

ADELAIDE - I think that Phil is right. At worst, Mr Cooper was guilty of tokim mauswara tasol or, as my children would have said, ‘dribbling shit’.

Why then Australian prime minister Robert Menzies decided to single him out as an 'enemy of the people' is hard to fathom.

Continue reading "Brian Cooper’s conviction was a fit-up" »

The trials of Brian Leonard Cooper

Sir alan mann
Sir Alan Mann, then PNG chief justice, conceded that the words attributed to Cooper were highly improbable

| University of Western Sydney | Extract

SYDNEY - In January 1961, when [Brian Leonard] Cooper landed in Port Moresby for his trial, a large police contingent awaited his arrival at the airport.

Media publicity ensured that the courtroom was full of spectators.

The Crown prosecutor opened by telling the territorial Chief Justice, Alan Mann, that Cooper had demonstrated “prior motivation” to commit a criminal act.

Continue reading "The trials of Brian Leonard Cooper" »

A monument to the Grand Chief

Jordan Dean top
Jordan Dean says PNG should honour Sir Michael Somare with a monument and memorial park


SYRACUSE, USA - Winter in upstate New York can sometimes be unforgiving. Last month, the temperatures dropped to minus 25 degree Celsius in February and I had to double sweaters.

My apartment heater has been on since November. Thank God, there have been no power outages.

Apart from the beautiful eighteenth century architecture, the thing I love about Syracuse are the statues and monuments.

Continue reading "A monument to the Grand Chief" »

Sing me a sad song

| Poetry and Prose

Sing me a sad song
With a slow and soft kundu beat
Let no bird fly across the sky
Let no dog bark
Let no wind blow
Let no sun shine
I want only rain in day
And clouds at night
Let the Sepik river lie in sadness

Cry, you mountains
Mourn, you oceans
Weep, you forests
Sing your weeping songs
In eight hundred tongues
Paint your face with dirt
Let earth drink your tears
Eh, my heart bleeds

Continue reading "Sing me a sad song" »

An important lesson from Sir Michael

Sir-Michael-SomareBEE DURESI
| Duresi’s Odyssey

AUCKLAND - It has been almost a week since our country’s founding father, ‘Papa’, Sir Michael Thomas Somare departed for the spiritual world.

Papua New Guineans in country and worldwide are grief-stricken as we come to terms with the loss.

Many have shared their delightful experiences of meeting with him, his words of advice and times spent with him.

Continue reading "An important lesson from Sir Michael" »

When orthodoxy seeks to strangle dissent

Brian Cooper - Uttered a n opinion that the Australian government of the time was determined to suppress


ADELAIDE – The story of Brian Leonard Cooper is a very sad story indeed.

The early sixties in Australia were a period in which there was developing a simmering pent up desire for significant socio-economic change.

Continue reading "When orthodoxy seeks to strangle dissent" »

Convenor of famed Pacific lunch dies at 85

Over 840 issues between 1931 and 2000, Pacific Islands Monthly became the ‘bible’ of the South Pacific. In the mid-1960s it also spawned a famous lunch that outlived the magazine and continues to this day. Ruth Burleigh contributed greatly to upholding this tradition


SYDNEY – Ruth Jedlin Burleigh (née Palling), who died on 19 February, was born in Sydney in 1935. Her father was a teacher (later principal ) at the Scots College Junior School and the family lived on campus.

Ruth trained and worked as nurse at the Children’s Hospital until she married Steve Jedlin, whose family operated stock feed mills in Sydney and later Fiji.

Continue reading "Convenor of famed Pacific lunch dies at 85" »

Grand Chief chose home for resting place

Independence Hill
Papua New Guinea's Kumul flag flutters over Independence Hill, where a number of former prime ministers are buried. Parliament House is in the middle distance. Sir Michael Somare knew whence he came and chose his home town, Wewak, as his final resting place

| Governor, East Sepik Province

Before his death Sir Michael Somare had stated his desire that his final resting place be at Kreer Heights in East Sepik rather than at Independence Hill next to Parliament House in Port Moresby, where other former prime ministers are buried. Lady Veronica Somare and his family have since confirmed Sir Michael's wish - KJ

WEWAK - Judging from social media discussions, the people of Papua New Guinea are now aware that it was our dear Papa’s wish that he be laid to rest on Kreer Heights where he has prepared a place for himself and Mama Veronica.

How do we best honour this great man who gave more than 60 years of life in our service?

Continue reading "Grand Chief chose home for resting place" »

Death of Dr Harry Beran: Oceania scholar

Dr Harry Beran interviewing residents of Egum Islet  Milne Bay  2017 (Luke Wong)
Dr Harry Beran interviewing residents of Egum Islet,  Milne Bay,  2017 (Luke Wong)


Dr Harry Beran was born in Vienna in 1935 and migrated to Australia in 1957. He obtained his PhD from the University of Sydney in 1974 and taught philosophy at the University of Wollongong until his retirement in 1998. Harry was a frequent visitor to Papua New Guinea and wrote numerous publications on its art. In particular he was a scholar, author and collector specialising in the Massim culture of Milne Bay Province - KJ

PARIS, FRANCE – We have lost a treasure, a library, a friend.

Early one morning in Cambridge, England, Harry Beran left us to go study the ancestors on that little island just beyond the horizon where we cannot see him anymore.

Little do the spirits there know what awaits them.

Continue reading "Death of Dr Harry Beran: Oceania scholar" »

Betty lived in China & loved it

Betty outside the library
Betty outside the university library

| Sipikriva Girl | Edited

BRAUN, MOROBE – I recently got to talk to Papua New Guinean writer and educator Betty Gabriel Wakia about her experiences living in China.

Betty, 33, from Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province, was born at Ramu in Madang Province and grew up living between her village and Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Betty lived in China & loved it" »

Sukundimi: Guardian of the mighty Sepik

Sepik sunset
Sunset over the mighty Sepik


GOROKA - The mighty Sepik River has existed since the dawn of time, twisting and turning, forming a wide belt of active meanders and fish-populated great lakes.

This great river, its banks adorned with lianas, sago palms, and pandanus, deposits vast amounts of fresh water into the ocean.

Continue reading "Sukundimi: Guardian of the mighty Sepik" »