The RSL Cenotaph, a clear sky and a calm morning provided the perfect setting for this year's Anzac Day dawn service in Rabaul
RABAUL – In a year that marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Rabaul, more than 80 people attended Rabaul’s Anzac Day dawn service this year, which was hosted by the Rabaul Historical Society at the RSL Cenotaph.
The battle saw a small Australian overwhelmed by Japanese forces in late 1942 and it became the as the main Japanese naval base for the Solomon Islands and New Guinea campaigns.
TUMBY BAY – For the past month or so, the Returned Services League (RSL) has saturated us with television commercials drumming up interest in today’s Anzac Day celebrations (now cancelled in Perth because of Covid).
That Anzac Day has been turned into a lucrative money-making industry for many organisations, including the RSL, couldn’t be made any clearer.
This map shows more than 500 locations where colonial forces or individuals massacred Australia's Indigenous people. Australia has never come to terms with the Frontier Wars than continued for about 140 years
Brittania in Kieta Harbour with Prince Philip on board, April 1971. It is anchored behind a freighter waiting to dock at Kieta wharf (right) (Terence Spencer)
NOOSA – Early on the morning of Wednesday 17 March 1971, the black-hulled royal yacht HMY Brittania slipped slowly into Kieta harbour through the narrow main channel abeam of Pok Pok Island.
On board was Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, visiting for a two night stay on Bougainville after a voyage through the Panama Canal and the Pacific islands and on to the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Paul Keating - "The Australians who served here in Papua New Guinea fought and died, not in the defence of the old world, but the new world. Their world"
The 1992 Anzac Day speech by Paul Keating at Ela Beach. Extract from Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, by Don Watson (Random House)
PREAMBLE BY DON WATSON - Keating strode gracefully to the microphone [at Bomana War Cemetery] and began: "This is ground made sacred by the bravery and sacrifice of those who lie buried here." It did have a ring to it.
Later that morning he delivered the big Anzac Day address outdoors in Moresby. It was mildly inflammatory. The Anzac legend binds Australians and "defines us to ourselves", he said. But legends "should not stifle us. They should not constrain us when we have to change".
Australian soldiers land at Gallipoli, 25 April 1915. Prof Henry Reynolds writes: "The heroic image of the digger inhibits any assessment of the costs and benefits of war. Questions about the wisdom of engagements are seen as diminishing the sacrifice and suffering of participants"
HOBART - This Anzac Day we should question the relentless militarisation of our history and the cult of the digger.
These ideals make it easier for Australian governments to commit to wars overseas and more difficult for critics to engage in serious debate.
In 2008, a few months before he suffered the onslaught of a fatal disease, the Anglo-American scholar Tony Judt contributed an essay to the New York Review of Books entitled ‘What Have We Learned, If Anything?’
(L-R) Greenland managing director Andy Siure, provincial administrator and patron Michael Temai, appeal fundraising chairman Mathias Kin, Greenland co-owner Josephine Siure and fundraising committee member Augustina Gary
KUNDIAWA - In an emotional presentation on Saturday, a Kundiawa company operated by brother and sister Andy and Josephine Siure, Greenland Limited, has presented a cheque for K5,000 to the ‘Simbu for Australia Bushfire Appeal’.
Appeal patron and Simbu provincial administrator Michael Bal Temai received the cheque on behalf of the fundraising committee.
Back in the day - Pacific Islands Regiment Sergeants Lodi Reni and Willy Kana relax in the mess
BRISBANE - A display featuring part of the history of the Pacific Islands Regiment was unveiled at the Australian Army Infantry Museum on 16 October.
The display was curated at Lone Pine Barracks in Singleton, NSW, with the assistance of the Australian Army History Unit.
It was opened in the presence of senior military and government officials and former PIR national servicemen in the main from the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps (RAAEC). Interested members of the public were also in attendance.
"The mourning woman brought back vivid memories of my own mother dressed exactly the same when my baby brother, Nuamb, died nearly 60 years ago"
WABAG – It’s too easy to forget and slowly lose some of Papua New Guinea’s authentic traditional practices.
This realisation came to me at the recent 25th Enga Cultural Show as I stood intrigued by a lady covered from head to foot in white clay who was sitting with four other women in a booth at the far end of the showground.
She was wearing many white necklaces made with ripe seeds - or Jobs Tears - harvested from a plant called waku that grows wild in old abandoned gardens.
Paradise Palette – An Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Papua New Guinea, curated by Don Wotton. Launches on Tuesday 27 August at the Royal Queensland Art Society Gallery, 162 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, running until Monday 16 September. Open daily 9am – 5pm
BRISBANE - I was overwhelmed to see a sign welcoming me ‘home’ at Jacksons Airport in Port Moresby.
After many years’ absence, the urbanscape has changed but the warmth and generosity of its people remains.
When I signed the visitors book at my old primary school as ‘past pupil’ the headmaster beamed broadly.
Package of traditional salt alongside stone axe heads
WABAG – ‘Experience Enga’s Ancestral Salt Pond’ is the theme for this year’s 39th Enga Cultural Show, that looks bound to be one of the best organised extravaganzas ever.
A cultural group from the Foi tribe of Lake Kutubu will participate in the show, re-enacting the ancient oil for salt trade between the people of Enga and Southern Highlands.
And this experience will be flavoured by the participation of an Australian indigenous Torres Strait islander dance group.
The Lake Kutubu oil extracted from the kara’o tree – called digasa oil - will be exchanged for traditional salt at Enga’s Mulisos Yokonda salt ponds - the exact location and original source of salt manufacture and trade with people from many parts of the highlands.
Another attraction will be the Tasting Enga Food tourism event which will involve a dinner where local dishes will be served for the first time to VIPs, tourists and other interested people.
Les Peterkin, 85, lectured at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in the 1960s, teaching a generation of young education officers bound for Papua New Guinea in the finer and more brutal arts of physical education. I particularly recall his fiendish rope course, at which I failed. Les is also a noted ceramic artist and his Super 8 movies of PNG in the 1960s recently featured in PNG Attitude - KJ
NEWCASTLE – Last Saturday I attended the 119th Regimental Dinner of the Sydney University Regiment hosted at Saint John’s College.
Let me explain. Four years ago, when I rejoined the Ceramic Collectors Society in Sydney, of which I had been president in the late 1970s, I met Paul Simadas, who has just finished his term as president.
Lt Colonel Paul Simadas is a professional soldier and was commanding officer of the Sydney University Regiment from 2000 to 2002.
PORT MORESBY - The National Mask and Warwagira Festival is an annual event in East New Britain where the local tribes gather to display their culture and traditions.
The festival starts at dawn on the beach with a Kinavai ceremony, when the mysterious and feared Dukduk and Tubuan arrive on canoes from their villages accompanied by the chanting and beating of drums.
The Kinavai ceremony is spiritually important for the local Tolai people, who reportedly migrated to East New Britain from Namatanai in New Ireland Province. The ceremony signifies their landing on the shores of East New Britain.
Impressive-looking men in red laplaps stand out from the crowd as they walk leisurely around grass huts selling refreshments, food and crafts.
Bougainville men display a model of the traditional mona vessel used for warfare, exploration and fishing
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - Festivals and events are part of the indigenous lifestyle in Papua New Guinea. Everywhere you go there is always a celebration close by and many of them have turned into tourist attractions for the country.
The Mona canoe race event in Bougainville is one event that is hosted annually with other activities. In 2014 Bougainville set dates for Bougainville festivals including this one that started in August the same year.
The Mona Festival (sometimes referred to as the Canoe Festival) is held annually in Buka to celebrate the seafaring tradition of Bougainvilleans.
The ‘mona’ is a large sea going canoe which was used for trade or to conduct lightning raids on other communities and islands in the Solomon Sea.
PORT MORESBY - Divine Word University community in Madang is always pleased to host its DWU Cultural Festival every year in the third week of August.
It’s a lively event with traditional songs and dances as students from all 22 provinces in PNG, Solomon Islands and Fiji take centre stage showcasing their cultures in what is something closer to a Pacific festival.
The people of Madang and visiting tourists and the growing expatriate community of Chinese, Filipinos and Europeans usually take the chance to see a sampling of the diverse cultures and traditions of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
Many students had their parents, guardians and extended relatives on campus to assist them with the preparations and performances as well.
The inclusion of mostly highlands parents was a testament to the level of pride and support they have for their student sons, daughters, nephews and cousins.
The highlands students usually appear more spectacular when their elders put the finishing touches on the face painting and traditional attire.
The annual festival is set by the university administration for the students to acknowledge their indigenous roots in traditional song, dance, costumes and folklore.
NEWS DESK | Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch
AUCKLAND - The head of an Auckland-based Pacific media watchdog says New Zealand “takes media freedom for granted” and could learn a lot from its Pacific neighbours.
“For the last few years we have been sitting fairly pretty in the world press freedom index where we are seventh at the moment – we have gone up one place from last year and we just take it for granted,” said Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.
“Everything’s fine. Hunky-dory here.
“But around most of the world, particularly in the Pacific, World Press Freedom Day is a really important thing because there is a constant struggle going on.”
PORT MORESBY - 2019 has brought changes to the Mount Hagen Cultural Show committee in setting priorities designed to regain corporate sector confidence leading to the staging of another colourful cultural extravaganza in August.
A successful team lead by John Bonny has brought forward K30,000 from last year to enhance preparations for this year’s annual cultural festival.
Members representing various organisations have come together to form a strong team including Phil Kelly from Tinining Limited, Pim Mamandi from Paiya Tours, Pauline Grove from Trans Niugini Tours and James Wakapu from Western Highlands Provincial Tourism, Arts and Culture.
John Bonny said the K30,000.00 forms the basis for raising funds this year and he stressed the importance of business community involvement along with key government departments and schools to ensure that one of the world’s great shows will be maintained.
The decorous people of Wampar village at the Morobe Show (Jennifer Oliver)
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - If it was not for the war in the Pacific between 1942 and 1945, Papua New Guinea would be a different country in terms of tourism popularity.
But let me first go back to April 1883 when James Burns and Robert Philp decided their trading company Burns Philp would offer visits to New Guinea and, in 1884, advertised the ground-braking 'New Guinea Excursion Trip'.
This consisted of a five-week round trip from Thursday Island and was described as the "official beginning of tourist cruises in the South Pacific".
By 1914 Burns Philp’s tourism department acquired the Port Moresby Hotel and the Papua Hotel was purchased some years later.
Burns Philp continued its maritime passenger and tourism services until the outbreak of the World War II in the Pacific in 1942.
Kutubu women nearing Daga village by canoe (Peter Kinjap)
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY – In February 2018, Daga village located in the midst of tropical forest near Lake Kutubu in the Southern Highlands, was the scene of a devastating earthquake.
The quake was a disaster for more than 40 villages, claiming many lives, destroying houses and food gardens and displacing hundreds of people.
The remote Daga village was unknown to the outside world until nine years ago when it hosted a traditional party known as the Kutubu Kundu and Digaso Festival.
The event is hosted at the centre of Daga village, which lost its traditional Kutubu long house, to the shocking earthquake. Buildings surrounding the outdoor area where the festival takes place were also damaged.
PORT MORESBY - We can safely say there is enough evidence for us to know that more than 25,000 years ago the Melanesian people crossed land bridges from Indochina to inhabit what we refer to as Papua New Guinea.
When Engan son and prolific writer Daniel Kumbon paused at the display of Engan artefacts at the African American Cultural Centre in Dayton, United States, he addressed black Americans with the words:
“Like some of you, we too are black. Like you, our roots are rich and deep. We are your distant cousins, sharing a common African heritage but now scattered in different parts of the world.”
“Maybe black Americans have appreciated the [Engan] display more than others,” said Dr Paul Brennan, the American anthropologist, when he saw the love and admiration of his culture on Daniel’s face.
Joe Shelley receives a humanitarian award on behalf of his late father, Terry, from Rotary director Wes Nicholls
BRISBANE – The late Terry Shelley was both a successful businessman in Papua New Guinea and a generous philanthropist.
He dedicated his working life to the welfare of the people of the Highlands and was always one of the first to contribute when PNG Attitude and other organisations initiated projects to benefit the ordinary folk of PNG.
Two years ago he worked with me on a massive undertaking to provide library books and related materials for dozens of schools in the Chimbu Province.
This was where Terry had started his career in the 1960s as a cooperatives officer and where he was a familiar figure for the rest of his life as an entrepreneur and benefactor.
A few weeks ago, Wes Nichols, the international director of the Rotary Club of Toowong in Brisbane, visited Goroka to present Terry’s son, Joe, representing his late father, with the Paul Harris Fellow award and medallion.
This prestigious award marked the Rotary Club’s recognition of a man who was a true humanitarian and an adopted son of Papua New Guinea.
Asaro mud men prepare their masks at the Australian Museum in Sydney (Ian Neubaueri)
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY -Since the beginning of human society, festivals and other events have provided a means for people to relax, enjoy, and escape from the routine of their daily lives by celebrating and enjoying themselves.
Papua New Guinea, steeped in a rich culture and with a fascinating history, plays host to many events throughout the year. Not only do they showcase the unique attributes of PNG, they also bring together communities, tribes and tourists.
The oldest regional show in PNG is the Goroka Cultural Show, launched in 1957 and since 1975 always coinciding with the week the country celebrates its independence. It brings together the customs of more than one hundred tribes that populate the highlands which gather for music, dancing, extraordinary tribal rituals and plain showing-off.
Dance banners at the 2011 Goroka Show (Natalie Wilson)
TUMBY BAY - Peter Kinjap’s article about the Mount Hagen Show reminded me of my first foray into the world of district agricultural shows.
In 1968, assistant district officer Don Reid, patrol officer Rob Kelvin and cadet patrol officer Yours Truly were cajoled into putting together the Western Highlands entry for the Goroka Show by the assistant district commissioner in Mt Hagen, Ross Allen.
Don Reid was good at persuading people into doing things they didn’t really want to do, like donating the expensive commodities they produced for the greater glory of our planned exhibit.
Among other things, he seized copious bags of coffee from several planters and a full chest of tea from Ivor Manton and his newly opened tea factory at Warrawou.
BRISBANE - In April I will be walking the Kokoda Trail to raise funds for a small, not-for-profit called the MND and Me Foundation.
MND is Motor Neurone Disease, which, sadly, my father, Sean, was diagnosed with a few years ago.
It is a struggle every day and, but for the exposure given to it by a few high profile sufferers (the late Stephen Hawking being one), it is one of the many diseases that is not very well known unless someone in your circle has been afflicted.
I will be walking the Trail with a group of family and friends, all of whom are fund raising in support of the MND and Me Foundation.
BERLIN - Today is International Anti-Corruption Day. Around the world anti-corruption activists are highlighting that no country is immune to the effects of corruption.
Most countries are making too little progress in ending corruption, as we found in our Corruption Perceptions Index 2017.
Similarly, we’ve found that despite lofty promises the G20 is moving too slowly on implementing its anti-corruption commitments, and OECD members are not actively enforcing laws against bribing abroad.
PORT MORESBY - The final two events of Papua New Guinea’s APEC-hosting year begin tomorrow.
The APEC leaders meeting and CEO summit are the highlights of APEC leaders’ week, to take place from tomorrow (Monday) to next Sunday, and thousands of delegates are arriving in Port Moresby from all over the APEC region. Here’s what to expect.
Public holiday in Port Moresby
Friday 16 November will be a public holiday but only in Port Moresby. Last week, prime minister Peter O’Neill said there would be just one public holiday after speculation the government was planning to declare two.
SYDNEY - Papua New Guineans have reacted with anger at its government importing a fleet of Maseratis to drive international delegates around the APEC conference next month, amid a health and poverty crisis, struggling economy, and ongoing efforts after a devastating earthquake.
The PNG government has defended its decision, expressing confidence that all 40 luxury cars will be bought by the “private sector” after the two-day event, leaving the government with no financial burden.
The cars, which cost between $200,000 and $350,000 each in Australia, were flown in from Milan on two Boeing 747-8F charter planes this week, with the costs covered by “the private sector”, according to the minister for APEC, Justin Tkatchenko.
“Maserati Quattroporte sedans have been secured and delivered, and are being committed to be paid for by the private sector,” he said.
ARAWA – This town will come alive late this week as the former capital commemorates Bougainville Day on Friday 15 June.
The initiative is largely a communal effort with backing by local business houses and the Kieta District Administration.
The celebrations are aimed at encouraging economic recovery, reconciliation and celebrating Bougainville’s achievements on its path to next year’s referendum and the ultimate political goal of independence.
Tonny Moera, chairman of the Central Bougainville Events Committee, said in previous years there was not much emphasis on celebrations.
PORT MORESBY - It is not clear when the big-man politics in Papua New Guinea’s foreign policy began.
It was likely during the prime ministership of Sir Michael Somare in the early 2000s, when he pushed for PNG to be an aid donor to the region.
At the time, and to this day, PNG continues to be Australia’s largest aid recipient, so Somare’s aim seemed hugely ironic. The ambition kicked off debates in the national newspapers between Somare’s cohorts and critics.
With the exit of Somare and the entry of Peter O’Neill, the benevolence grew. In 2013, O’Neill unveiled the Pacific aid program and proceeded to make donations to various Pacific countries, including a whopping US$18.5 million of funding for the Fiji national elections in 2014.
The O’Neill government also needed to deliver on several infrastructure-heavy commitments made in the heat of promised liquefied natural gas (LNG) returns. These included the Melanesian Arts Festival in July 2014 and the South Pacific Games in July 2015.
Ex kiap Doug Robbins' speech to Springbrook's Anzac Day ceremony yesterday
SPRINGBROOK, QUEENSLAND - The past year marked 75 years since, sadly, too many Australian lives were lost during World War II fighting in the South West Pacific Area – and on Australian soil.
Following Pearl Harbour, Darwin at the north of mainland Australia, was bombed in February 1942 with loss of many servicemen and civilians. Then Broome was bombed the next month.
We know that Darwin is part of Australia, but little is acknowledged that Papua, a former British Colony in the south-east quarter of the island of New Guinea and only four kilometres from the Torres Strait Islands of Queensland, was a Territory of Australia for almost 100 years to 1975.
The fierce jungle battles of Kokoda, Milne Bay and the Beachheads were fought on what was then Australian soil.
In August 1942, at the same time as Kokoda, Australian Forces were defending airfields at Milne Bay to protect Port Moresby and Australia to the south. Milne Bay was free of fighting by September.
Tolai men with sacred tubuan objects perform a ritual Kinawai dance ceremony in the early hours of the morning on a Bit Na Ta, Blanche Bay (G Kakabin)
HELEN GARDNER | The Conversation
MELBOURNE - It is rare to find histories of colonialism told by Pacific people utilising Pacific song, dance and culture as well as more standard archival materials.
Historians of the region are largely products of the universities of former imperial powers and the sons and daughters of settler colonialism.
The A Bit na Ta installation in the Bunjilaka gallery in the Melbourne Museum is therefore an important counter to the Australian colonial stories of Papua New Guinea.
The exhibition centres around a film made by Melbourne musician David Bridie, in collaboration with the Tolai people of East New Britain, particularly photographer/historian Gideon Kakabin and singer George Telek.
It is accompanied by commissioned artworks and artefacts from the museum’s collections. The result is a surefooted retelling of the history of the island and its famous town Rabaul from the perspective of the Tolai people.
Tolai men perform a kinawai dance ceremony with sacred tubuan objects at dawn on a Bit Na Ta, Blanche Bay
a Bit na Ta: The Story of the Gunantuna at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum, until- 4 February 2018; ticketed
MELBOURNE - Although Papua New Guinea is Australia’s nearest neighbour geographically, it has traditionally been held at a cultural distance.
Shared projects are rare and relatively few Australians have experienced the cultures of this vibrant nation.
Museums Victoria is challenging that distance through the multimedia installation and exhibition, a Bit na Ta: The Story of the Gunantuna, a collaborative project re-imagining PNG through language, colour and symbolic imagery.
a Bit na Ta ('the source of the sea') incorporates video footage, photographic works and collection objects, and celebrates the resilience of the Tolai people of East New Britain, who have survived the disruptions of shifting colonial powers, war, volcanic eruptions and independence struggles.
The work is the outcome of a 30-year friendship between internationally renowned Tolai singer George Telek and Aria-winning musician and composer David Bridie.