Arts & music Feed

Photos that speak more than 1,000 words


Gregory Bateson,1938
 Anthropologist husband-and-wife team Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson working in their home near the Sepik River where they studied the Iatmul people (Gregory Bateson, 1938)

NOOSA - I’m pleased to be a member of the Oceanic Art Society, a small and energetic organisation that provides continuing focus on and support for the visual arts in the Pacific Islands region, including an excellent lecture series.

The first OAS lecture for 2024 is being held in Sydney next month and features emerging scholar Enzo Hamel, a PhD student at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich (UK).

Continue reading "Photos that speak more than 1,000 words" »

Taloi Havini wins major Artes Mundi prize

| Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Taloi Havini
Taloi Havini (ABC)

BRISBANE - Brisbane-based artist Taloi Havini, originally from Buka Island in Bougainville, has won one of the UK's most important contemporary arts awards.

For her work, an ongoing exploration into the legacy of resource extraction and Australia’s fraught relationship in the Pacific, Havini collected the £40,000 (K190,000) prize at a ceremony last week in Cardiff, Wales, the home of the Artes Mundi prize.

Continue reading "Taloi Havini wins major Artes Mundi prize" »

Bilas – an exhibition of PNG body adornment


Bilas    Red feather headdress  Telofomin  (Belinda Christie)
Red feather headdress from Telofomin in Sandaun Province  (Belinda Christie)


NOOSA – Papua New Guinea, in all of its many modes, is an exciting place – and you don’t necessarily have to go there to get a taste of some of its exuberance and beauty.

The Australian Museum, in Sydney established as Australia’s first public museum in 1827 to procure ‘many rare and curious specimens of Natural History’, has an association of over 150 years with Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Bilas – an exhibition of PNG body adornment" »

Marketing required to bring fame to PNG art

Bas (Winston Kauage Jr)
Contemporary PNG artists have developed a distinctive style. 'Bas Bilong MTS Discoverer.  Em i save stap na raun long Madang provins' (Winston Kauage Jnr, PNG, 2006)


ADELAIDE – As Hazel Kutkue contended in PNG Attitude yesterday (‘Our art is glorious but not taken seriously’), Indigenous art is frequently undervalued, be it in Papua New Guinea or elsewhere.

Until the 1970s, Australia’s Indigenous artists were valued only if they could paint in the style of European art.

Continue reading "Marketing required to bring fame to PNG art" »

Our art is glorious but not taken seriously

This Kauage painting is the first thing visitors see when they enter my house. PNG paintings have been sold for up to $US5,000 (K18,000), yet PNG does little to  promote art as an industry - KJ

| Sipikriva Girl

BRAUN, MOROBE – I have observed that many Papua New Guinean artists and artisans, hoping to sell their work, display photographs of their art in social media, at local fairs and at monthly craft markets.

Among these artists and artisans are people who are extraordinarily talented.

And these people share a common opinion: Why doesn't their own government, and even their own people, recognise that art is a goldmine?

Continue reading "Our art is glorious but not taken seriously" »

Now at last, the return of the legendary Telek

In Kambek, Telek applies his hauntingly beautiful voice to traverse many musical styles and capture the spirit of the Tolai people. The album blends contemporary with Melanesian rhythms: the music enriched with island harmonies and textured environmental sounds


| Wantok Music

MELBOURNE - George Mamua Telek, or Telek as he is known to his legion of fans throughout the world, has long been at the forefront of Papua New Guinea’s modern music.

His latest album, Kambek (I Lilikun Mulai), ‘Comeback’ in Tok Pisin and Kuanua, is well chosen, and references not only a new production (the first recorded in Rabaul since 1994) but Telek’s recent recovery from a long fought battle with mouth cancer.

Continue reading "Now at last, the return of the legendary Telek" »

Sumatin magazine opens a box of delights

“There are many writers wondering where PNG is heading and when the vicious cycles of political corruption, poor economic development and social decay will end. Papua New Guinea is a nation in denial” - Sumatin

Dom Magasin cover top


NOOSA – Sumatin magazine, published by Michael Dom and his energetic team at Ples Singsing, is billed as the ‘space for Papua New Guinean creativity’ and is a wonderful initiative that has revived the fading literary flame lit by the Crocodile Prize.

Sumatin magazine issue 2 of July 2022, which you can access here, is a free, online production featuring both original content and relevant writing drawn largely from Ples Singsing, PNG Attitude and DevPolicy Blog.

Continue reading "Sumatin magazine opens a box of delights" »

The crisis is upon us so let's all fall down

the fascists getting stronger / bleeding us weak / conspiracy taking over / a war on society / but we've got ends to meet / gotta pay the banker / maybe if we wait a bit longer / it'll all go away

Sand top


NOOSA – I’m truly proud of my son Simon, presently transforming himself into a New Zealander after he and Kiwi wife Simone decided to call Auckland home about 12 years ago.

Simon was born in Papua New Guinea – leaving with me, then wife Sue Flatt and sister Sally – in 1976 when he was still in primary school.

Continue reading "The crisis is upon us so let's all fall down" »

Baka Bina shortlisted for major literary prize

Baka Bina photo topKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Baka Bina has become the first author from Papua New Guinea to be shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

The Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from any of the Commonwealth’s 54 member states.

Baka’s story, ‘Wonem Samting Kamap Long Mama’ (‘What Happened To Ma?’) was written in Tok Pisin and translated into English by the author.

Continue reading "Baka Bina shortlisted for major literary prize" »

Musos war on tyranny: Sand Spiders rampant

A sj
Simon Jackson - Productivity as a songwriter is vast. He also has quality of musicianship and writes lyrics of intense social substance


NOOSA – My eldest child Simon, now old enough to be my father, was born at Taurama Base Hospital (as it then was) in Port Moresby in the middle of the night in October 1967.

I well recall that midnight hour because I was a participant in a new scheme - the presence of fathers at childbirth - but had been shooed away because of some medical complication just as the tip of Simon's head appeared .

Continue reading "Musos war on tyranny: Sand Spiders rampant" »

Dom’s poetry features in winning NZ play

Laufiso My Grandfather is a Canoe award presentation
'My Grandfather is a Canoe' director Marisiale Tunoka (centre) with musicians (from left) Oliver Tafuna’i, Waisea McGoon, Lopeti Sumner and Siaosi Kei


DUNEDIN - A play of Pacific cultures, voyaging and love, My Grandfather is a Canoe, including the poetry of Michael Dom, has won the prestigious Dunedin Fringe Festival’s Touring Award.

The award means the play will be performed at Christchurch’s Little Andromeda theatre in July and at the Auckland Fringe Festival in September.

Continue reading "Dom’s poetry features in winning NZ play" »

Woody Guthrie’s New Year resolutions

Woody Guthrie (Michael Ochs Archives)
Woody Guthrie - The work of one of the most significant figures in American folk music focused on themes of American socialism and anti-fascism. His music has inspired several generations politically and musically

| New York Review of Books

NEW YORK - Woody Guthrie wrote the heartfelt and playful resolutions below on New Year’s Day, 1943.

From 29 December 1942 until 1 January 1943, Woody filled a 72-page composition book with a letter to his love, Marjorie.

This little gem, in the middle of the book, provides insight into his daily concerns at the time — the large and the small.

Continue reading "Woody Guthrie’s New Year resolutions" »

Journoganda: Hardcore message for softcock hacks


NOOSA - Simon Jackson was born in Papua New Guinea and spent the first 10 years of his life there before returning to Australia to complete his education.

As a project manager with Microsoft, he crossed the ditch to New Zealand around 2010 and, apart from a short stint in the PNG highlands in 2011, has been there since, managing Cloud IT projects for Microsoft’s large customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Continue reading "Journoganda: Hardcore message for softcock hacks" »

Keith took police band to its finest moment


NOOSA – In 1996, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Band was in the middle of its golden age.

It was a splendid band, frequently invited to at festivals in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

But its performance at that year’s Adelaide International Tattoo has been described as sensational in every respect: playing, marching, dress, discipline - and the dancers of the Raun Raun Theatre.

Continue reading "Keith took police band to its finest moment" »

‘In our heads is poetry’: An interview with Les Murray

Capp - Les Murray (Adam Hollingworth)
Les Murray - 'The gentle itan of Australian letters' (Adam Hollingworth)

| Australian Book Review

For the April 1985 issue of Australian Book Review, the 22-year old Fiona Capp, then a cadet journalist, interviewed one of Australia’s most eminent poets, Les Murray (1938-2019)  Fiona wrote a gentle and insightful piece on Murray, the self-styled ‘Poet Lorikeet’ of Australian poetry and regarded by his peers as the leading poet of his generation. I hope poets will see some fragments of their own thinking in her profile of a man known as 'the gentle titan of Australian letters'. More on Fiona Capp at the end of this essay - KJ

Capp - LesMELBOURNE - Les Murray describes his poetry as “a celebration of life; a contemplation of life in ways that interest and delight people and make them reflective”. Poetry, he says, is “primarily not to be studied, it is to be read”.

Few people could disagree with Murray that the most desirable response to poetry is for it to be read out of love rather than out of a sense of obligation.

Continue reading "‘In our heads is poetry’: An interview with Les Murray" »

Buruka Tau – keyboard maestro & PNG patriot

Buruka Tau - ambassador
Buruka Tau - PNG's ambassador of culture and the arts

| My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - My dad, Buruka Tau, who died in early September, was a larger than life character and as spontaneous in nature as jazz.

As a kid, I just saw him as dad, a musician. One day, he would be with us doing everyday things and the next he was somewhere in the world being a rock star.

Continue reading "Buruka Tau – keyboard maestro & PNG patriot" »

The marvellous Queen of Paradise Orchestra

Orchestra performing for parliamentarians  2019
The orchestra performing for parliamentarians at Vanimo in 2019

| Sipikriva Girl | Edited extracts

BUTAWENG – The Queen of Paradise Orchestra was established beside the sea in idyllic Baro Village in West Sepik in August 2018

The orchestra and its classical music school are the brainchild of the religious family of the incarnate word working in Vanimo, who were inspired by a similar project in Venezuela.

Continue reading "The marvellous Queen of Paradise Orchestra" »

The image that stunned our readers

Marina Amaral
Marina Amaral in her studio. An exceptional artist, 76,000 viewers can't be wrong


NOOSA - On Monday, PNG Attitude published a famous World War II photograph, newly colourised by Brazilian artist Marina Amaral.

It proved to be an instant hit with many thousands of readers.

Some 76,000 people viewed the image and the accompanying story. Nearly 1,000 engaged actively with comments, likes and shares.

Continue reading "The image that stunned our readers" »

Revisiting an iconic image of comradeship

Private George Whittington & Raphael Oimbari colour Private George Whittington & Raphael Oimbari b&wKEITH JACKSON & SOURCES

NOOSA – Marina Amaral is a self-taught Brazilian artist known for her colourisations of historical black and white photographs.

The process involves historical research to determine the colours of each object pictured with colourisation often taking more than a month to complete.

Continue reading "Revisiting an iconic image of comradeship" »

A true musical treat this Easter


NOOSA – Well here’s a pleasant something for Easter. You can read about it just below or listen to it first by linking to it here.

I recommend you listen first.

This 'pleasant something' is a choral collaboration under the guiding hand of my son, Simon, in Auckland, New Zealand.

Continue reading "A true musical treat this Easter" »

Leaving Covid behind with brush strokes

Simon Pentanu's 'first three goers' - therapeutic to paint and relaxing to look at


Hon Simon Pentanu MP is Speaker of the Bougainville Parliament.
He is recovering from Covid.

BUKA - Stress and distress can be managed without popping pills or smelling Epsom Salts.

Or looking for the nearest pub to drown your worries or sorrows. Or worse, thinking about a noose.

A pandemic of any sort cannot be downplayed. And there is always help nearer than you think.

Continue reading "Leaving Covid behind with brush strokes" »

Covid costs Port Moresby musos big time

Musos without a gigOALA MOI
| My Land, My Country

PORT MORESBY - A group of seven Port Moresby-based musicians have lost a combined income estimated at K232,000 over the six months since April, working out to K1,275 for each musician each week.

The musicians gathered last weekend at the National Museum & Art Gallery at Waigani to share personal stories of the effect of Covid-19 measures on their families.

Continue reading "Covid costs Port Moresby musos big time" »

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" »

Shy PNG artist's mentor became his subject

Mal Nagobi and Wesley Wengembo
Mentor Malachi Nagobi and artist  Lesley Wengembo

| Guardian Australia | Judith Nielson Institute

SYDNEY - Alongside Malachi Nagobi, progress across the august grounds of the National Art School in Sydney is constantly – happily – impeded.

“Mal!” comes a voice, “Hello Mal,” another. Every handful of steps, another person wants to stop to chat.

Continue reading "Shy PNG artist's mentor became his subject" »

His Voice singing in the Wild West

His Voice Singers
Enga’s  Seventh Day Adventist His Voice singers, their voices echoing in the woods of Laiagam, Porgera and Mt Kare


LAIAGAM - His Voice is the singing ministry of the Seventh Day Adventist church in Enga.

The group was formed in 2019 by men and boys from Tee, Paiyan, Walian and other neighbouring tribesmen of Paip SDA church in Mamal village in the Laiagam District.

On social media, people in our country and even the world can see our own Wild West of the three Engan districts of Laiagam, Kandep and Porgera fighting wars and losing lives.

Continue reading "His Voice singing in the Wild West" »

Old PNG recordings to be reborn

An old reel-to-reel tape recorder. The recordings are getting fragile and digitisation gives them a new life

| Pacific Beat | ABC

MELBOURNE - Since the early 20th century, anthropologists have been flocking to the Pacific, and then returning home with rare recordings of songs, stories and histories.

But, decades later, these fragile original recordings are at risk of deteriorating—and the race is on to digitise them.

Continue reading "Old PNG recordings to be reborn" »

Jackson’s deft poetry on new ‘Love Is Love’ album

Simon Jackson (2)
Simon Jackson - on a trajectory to have his music heard by a lot of people

| Indie Band Guru

NEW YORK - Love Is Love (listen to the full album here) is the latest release from Papua New Guinea-born, New Zealand-dwelling songwriter and producer Simon Jackson.

Jackson is a melodic rock specialist with an evocative sound influenced by the Beatles, Elton John, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Southern and Aussie rock. 

His songs are based around the acoustic guitar and Jackson’s own life experiences here on Planet Earth.

Continue reading "Jackson’s deft poetry on new ‘Love Is Love’ album" »

Stark images of Bougainville’s ‘blood generation’

Gori standing in Buka passage (Taloi Havini & Stuart Miller)
Gori standing in Buka passage (Taloi Havini & Stuart Miller)

| National Gallery of Victoria

MELBOURNE - The National Gallery of Victoria recently acquired three powerful and disarming photographs from the series Blood Generation, 2009–11, by Bougainville-born artist Taloi Havini and Australian photographer Stuart Miller.

This important series is dedicated to the ‘blood generation’ of young men and women born during the bitter and prolonged war between Papua New Guinea and the people of Bougainville (1989–98).

Continue reading "Stark images of Bougainville’s ‘blood generation’" »

Vivid street art of Port Moresby to be showcased in Brisbane

Port Moresby street artBELINDA MACARTNEY | Westender | Edited

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.

Continue reading "Vivid street art of Port Moresby to be showcased in Brisbane" »

Airways Hotel

"dark and cool / spreading out under / an old DC3"


Lyrics of a tribute to one of Port Moresby’s favourite hotels, along with
another great six new Simon Jackson songs you can listen to in full here

caught the drillers plane
from Lae
bumping down onto
a white hot
Mosbi runway
still looks just the same
but no one's at the gate

didn't think I'd ever be
coming home again
I get the strangest sense 

past the wires
drooping in heat
think I remember this street
into the

Continue reading "Airways Hotel" »

Black ANZAC: decolonising war history through street art

Hego's mural of World War I Indigenous soldier Alfred Cameron Jnr on a wall in the Sydney suburb of Redfern


SYDNEY - In 2014, large-scale poster artist Hego assembled a 6.5m x 3.5m mural of Aboriginal World War I soldier, Alfred Cameron Jnr, on a wall at ‘The Block’ in Sydney’s Redfern.

Growing up, Hego hadn’t heard of the black ANZACs; Indigenous soldiers who fought abroad in the historic world wars.

Like most Australians, he never learned about these servicemen — those who fought on behalf of a country which, at the time, didn't even fully recognise them as citizens — in school, or elsewhere.

It wasn’t until he came across Cecil Fisher’s 1933 poem titled ‘Black ANZAC’, which describes the lack of recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen that Hego was struck by how little Australia’s First Nation ANZACs been acknowledged in war history. From Fisher's words, Hego found inspiration for his mural.

Hego saw promise in documenting his art and its message and pitched the idea to filmmaker Tim Anastasi who was working with him on a separate street art project. This eventuated into a feature-length documentary that shines a light on the undertold story of Indigenous ANZACs.

Anastasi told NITV he didn’t foresee the success of Black ANZAC originally: “I was just documenting the process, not knowing that it would be such an amazing project at the time,” he says.

Being an independent film, funding was a challenging part of the journey. Both, Anastasi and Hego tirelessly and successfully crowdfunded $10,000, rewarding each supporter with social media shout-outs to private film screenings.

Continue reading "Black ANZAC: decolonising war history through street art" »

Playbook of a songwriter – serial monogamy in a what’s next game

Si Jackson avatar
Simon Jackson - "Not that I fall out of love with a song, just that a new one comes along"


Simon appeared on earth and did his early schooling in Port Moresby (also living in Rabaul and Bougainville) and, later, briefly worked for a mineral resources company in the highlands, which was a learning experience but not one that impressed him. He's now a New Zealand-based internet guru and songwriter (link to his website here). Of consuming interest to me as a journalist, though, Simon not only writes melodies and lyrics for some great songs, he also logs for followers the creative machinations that tussle in the background of the mental processes of musical invention. Here’s his latest communication, which includes a composition he mentions that I particularly like. At present it's an instrumental - no disturbing lyrics, very contemplative, 1950s group The Ventures maybe…. You can also follow Simon on Twitter@si_jackson - KJ

AUCKLAND - It surprises me how finicky I have become. I'm more of a "what's next" guy than "let's keep improving this one". But 'Still Feels Like Home' is different.

I felt there was a note missing in the intro, so I added it, then found another section in the bridge I felt was a bit out of time. It's a matter of listening to myself, being able to feel when I'm reacting to or against something, and fixing it.

I made a bunch of changes to the song most people won't hear: cross fades, the mix in the backing vocals, the timbre of the acoustic guitars.

Funny how small things all add up. I guess I wouldn't bother if I didn't think so much of the song. Working with my daughter was a wonderful surprise.

Continue reading "Playbook of a songwriter – serial monogamy in a what’s next game" »

Musings of a songwriter – never know what’s round the corner

Simon Jackson - "Song writing's a bit like living in PNG; not sure what's round the corner, if anything"


Simon Jackson is a software guru (day job) and a talented songwriter (night job), whose music has come under serious attention for its inspired melodies and moving lyrics. Simon was born in Port Moresby and did his early schooling there and in Rabaul and Bougainville before settling in Australia and then New Zealand. Here he writes of his most recent and highly praised album, ‘Two Thieves’….

AUCKLAND – I'm working on a new album - well two actually, although I'm also in two minds about the piano-based album I was planning, Livin' The Dream’.

I’m not sure why I'm backing off this but I'll probably get around to finishing it at some point.

That’s song writing. A bit like living in Papua New Guinea. Never sure what’s round the corner. If anything.

My recent 'Two Thieves' album is doing OK - mostly streaming on Spotify. It got a good review on 'Indie Band Guru' (below) which I was happy about.

'Two Thieves' is not going to make me rich but I'm pleased I did it. It feels like I achieved something, and I love the music. I probably should promote it more, but I'm busy writing.

Continue reading "Musings of a songwriter – never know what’s round the corner" »

Painter in paradise: William Dobell in New Guinea

Simbu Girl (Dobell  1953)PETER KRANZ

MORRISET - This painting is of a Simbu girl wearing kina shells and with a bilum hanging from her head. It’s dated around 1953 and it is lovely.

It was painted by Sir William Dobell (1899–1970), one of Australia's greatest artists and a Wangi lad (just up the road from Morriset), who spent time painting in Papua New Guinea’s Wahgi valley in 1949 and the early 1950s.

Dobell had been invited there by Sir Edward Hallstrom of Taronga Zoo fame, who had founded an experimental sheep station and bird of paradise sanctuary at Nondugl in the central highlands.

Hallstrom also helped preserve the famous singing dogs and once lectured editor Keith Jackson on the animals of PNG and Africa (although it wasn’t until more than 50 years later that Keith visited Africa for the first time).

The NSW Art Gallery had an exhibition of Dobells works a while back and while it was on I was fortunate enough to be able to introduce Rose and Mana Kuman to the gallery’s director.

Continue reading "Painter in paradise: William Dobell in New Guinea" »

The scintillating & uplifting choral music of Melanesia


MORRISET – When I first went to Papua New Guinea, my pastor Dad gave me one bit of advice.

"Peter you must listen to the church choirs."

And, what do you know, my university-assigned house at Fort Banner was next door to Vincent's, who was the conductor of the local Catholic church choir.

I was able to enjoy hearing them practice every Friday evening.

Continue reading "The scintillating & uplifting choral music of Melanesia" »

Here’s an idea: Imagining a Museum of the Pacific

Chambri mask  middle Sepik
Chambri (middle Sepik) mask from the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. Michael Pascoe comments: "It does a better job of displaying our region's art than anything I've seen [in Australia]"


SAMFORD QLD - Could we dare to imagine that, in 2019, Australia might make a move to establish the world's finest Museum of the Pacific (my working title) on our shores?

This could be a stand-alone entity dedicated solely to the cultures, social mores, artefacts and histories of our region.

Not only would the museum display 'the best of the best', it could be a globally significant research centre as well as a training base for Pacific curators and archivists, not to mention being a temporary holding facility and conservation centre for objects under threat in the region.

This year, the Australian government spent over $100 million on an audio-visual museum in France to commemorate General Monash and Australia's World War I efforts on the Western Front. It was no doubt a worthy contribution to remember great sacrifice.

But how about a Pacific museum in Australia to recall the huge history and prominence of this part of the world? Perhaps $50 million - half the cost of one new RAAF fighter aircraft and a mere drop in the government funding bucket.

Oh, and by the way, a Museum of the Pacific doesn't have to be based in Sydney or Canberra or Melbourne. There are places called Brisbane and Townsville and Cairns which all have closer affinities with the Pacific and its peoples.

Let us dream of what could be....

Christmas’s Past: The best choir in history

Choir of King's College CambridgePETER KRANZ | 25 December 2013

MORRISET - My Dad was a musician. More specifically he was a choirmaster.

We had an old Ferrograph tape recorder and he had some precious recordings that he held in high regard, including the Vienna Boys Choir, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, the LSO Chorus, Mahalia Jackson and Tommy Dorsey and the Golden Gate Quartet.

But the best of them all was the choir of King's College Cambridge. Christmas music for the ages.

We had some Aussie friends around for Christmas in 1969. Dad said, "I'll play you the best choir ever." They laughed.

Then Dad turned the tape recorder on and the first lines of "Once in royal David's city" issued forth from King's. There was silence.

Then cousin Nick said "Did these bastards come from heaven?"

Listen here and weep.

The story of Yothu Yindi drummer, Ben Hakalitz

Ben HakalitzSCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country

LAE - Nearly half a century ago, when Ben Hakalitz first picked up the drumsticks, little did he know that he would become one of the most travelled Papua New Guinean musicians.

Now 52, Hakalitz is a master of the trade; a drummer whose skills are highly prized and sought after by the industry.

He was born at Angau Hospital in Lae the 1965 to a Morobean mum, Anna, and a Bougainvillean dad, Joseph.

Musical talent ran in the Hakalitz family. As a gifted self-taught guitarist, his dad spent his free time jamming with friends and family. It was in this household that the young Ben grew up.

“I picked up the sticks when I was very young. We used to bang away at mum’s saucepans. Then I started playing in the school band.”

Continue reading "The story of Yothu Yindi drummer, Ben Hakalitz" »

Ecocide – the new rock album to help save the Pacific


AUCKLAND – "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now".

I had this Chinese proverb very much in mind while I was writing the tracks for a new album - Ecocide - which you can get here and also on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.

Link to the site – every song has a free short sampler that gives you a real good idea of the complete product. So no need to pay up front.

I produced the album because I am very worried about climate change – as I know many of us in the Pacific are - and I want to do whatever I can to raise awareness.

It is a kind of Paul Revere-like scream. ‘Climate Change is Coming!’ But not preachy or condescending. Hopefully the music of Ecocide works for you. If not, let me know.

I produced most of the songs myself to keep costs down. My daughter Madison joined me on 'Planet Plastic' and did a fantastic job and I got a pro singer for 'Dirty Green' because there was just no way I could sing that one.

Continue reading "Ecocide – the new rock album to help save the Pacific" »

Moses Tau: Out of the cage to live a life of joy & giving


NOOSA – The sudden death last week of one of Papua New Guinea’s best known entertainers has both saddened the nation and raised the hot issue of how PNG treats its gay community.

Moses Tau died soon after collapsing at Port Moresby’s Lamana Hotel, triggering an overwhelming response as thousands of messages of condolence inundated the social media.

The Post-Courier newspaper noted perceptively that Tau had “made a place for the gay community in PNG by forcing this place through his music and performances”.

Government minister Justin Tkatchenko wrote on his Facebook page describing the singer as “vibrant and a true showman”.

Continue reading "Moses Tau: Out of the cage to live a life of joy & giving" »

You can help George Telek as he faces major cancer surgery

George Telek
George Telek

DAVID BRIDIE | Wantok Music

MELBOURNE - George Telek, one of Papua New Guinea’s best known musicians, has been diagnosed with cancer of the mouth in Australia after last month travelling to Adelaide and the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane to perform the A Bit Na Ta show.

He had a large growth on his bottom lip and inside his mouth. He was taken to doctors and then to hospital in Brisbane for examination. It was diagnosed with a malignant and aggressive tumour.

George is about to undergo major surgery at Greenslope Private Hospital to remove the cancer. The surgery will involve removing the cancerous growth, removing lymph glands in his neck and reconstructing his mouth.

Due to the nature of the cancer it will also require radiation therapy to remove any remaining cancerous areas.

Continue reading "You can help George Telek as he faces major cancer surgery" »

Girl Power wows as it launches anti-violence video, ‘No More’


STACEY YALO | EMTV News | Pacific Media Watch

PORT MORESBY - Renowned artist Mereani Masani and her all-girl band have launched their first music video, ‘No More’, dedicated to ending domestic violence in Papua New Guinea.

The rare all female group, Girl Power, hopes to empower more women to enter the Papua New Guinea music industry.

Last night the seven-member band - made up of students, mothers and a lecturer - braved the male-dominated industry in PNG to come out and not only sing but raise awareness of social issues affecting women and girls.

They had previously toured Goroka and Madang but this was the first time they had performed in the national capital.

Although sometimes billed as PNG's first all-girl band, there were earlier women groups in Rabaul in the 1960s and 1970s.

Lumai - the design label celebrating Papua New Guinean women

Lookbook image from Lumai’s debut collection (Julia Mage’au Gray)
Design from Lumai’s debut collection (Julia Mage’au Gray)


AUCKLAND - Designer Andrew (Dru) Douglas founded his contemporary womenwear label Lumai late last year and his debut collection reflects his Papua New Guinean heritage with modern Western influences.

Dru grew up in PNG before being selected for a scholarship to study information technology at Otago Polytechnic, a course he finished in 2005 before studying fashion design at Auckland University of Technology, completing his degree in 2014.

He sees his new label as a chance to create something special that is ethical, has cross-cultural appeal and allows him to give back to his community.

FashioNZ caught up with Dru to find out more about his brand, what inspires him and where he sees Lumai heading.

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Striking photos of the past & present of Papua New Guinea

Joseph Kayan
Joseph Kayan, a Goroka Show participant from Chimbu Province


See all of Sandro’s wonderful images here

WASHINGTON - Is any place on the planet less familiar to Americans than heavily forested, mountainous, linguistically complex, faraway Papua New Guinea?

The images here document just a few points on the wide spectrum of life in PNG today. At one end is what might be called extravagant tradition. To see that, the photographer Sandro, who’s based in Chicago, went to the Eastern Highlands and attended the Goroka Show.

That’s a three-day festival where people from all over the country showcase their customs. In a makeshift studio Sandro photographed men and women wearing costumes unique to their villages.

This kind of undertaking is not without risk. Anthropologists rightly caution against ethnic stereotyping, and a Papuan elder in feathered regalia doesn’t stand in for the entire population any more than a woman wearing a calico bonnet in Colonial Williamsburg is a typical American.

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Wantok Musik offers great opportunity for a PNG band

Tony Subam
Tony Subam

COOPER-LILY NIKORA | Wantok Musik Foundation

PORT MORESBY - The Wantok Musik Foundation in association with APRA AMCOS has announced the second intake of Tony Subam Fellowship applications for 2018.

The annual fellowship is open to any band in Papua New Guinea with a strong element of cultural expression in its work.

The fellowship was named in honour of the late Tony Subam, former member of the band Sanguma which pioneered the use of traditional PNG music and songs in harmony with western styles.

The winner will be a band or group which the judges believe builds on exporting the sounds and performances Tony Subam achieved with Sanguma and during his association with Foundation until his death on Christmas Day 2011.

The foundation shares Tony’s strong belief that PNG’s traditional songs and sounds are unique to our music and that Papua New Guineans must be proud of their cultural heritage and roots.

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Sambra Aikit – music blending the traditional with the modern

Sambra AikitCOOPER-LILY NIKORA | Wantok Musik

PORT MORESBY - Sambra Aikit is a contemporary band formed in 2013 by creative arts and music graduates at the University of Papua New Guinea.

In January 2016, the Wantok Musik Foundation launched the inaugural Tony Subam Fellowship, established to honour the late Tony Subam, former member of the prominent PNG band Sanguma

The vibrant Sambra Aikit continues a long legacy of preserving traditional PNG sounds in modern western music and is ecstatic to have received this year’s fellowship.

Sambra Aikit was formed as a collection of like-minded students and it shares musical influences from popular Melanesian bands such as Sanguma, Tumbuna 84, Tambaran Culture, Tribal Chants, and Mosong.

Paying tribute to traditional Papua New Guinean music, Sambra Aikit strives to maintain its cultural roots in sound: intricately weaving Melanesian elements with contemporary music across the four tracks of their debut EP release, Motomse.

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Trying to solve the mystery of Hal Holman’s wingless fairy

Hal Holman's inscription on the sculptureKEITH JACKSON

LORENGAU – Occasionally I receive an email that truly surprises me, and Friday was one of those times.

Edin Corr, a regular PNG Attitude reader currently in Lorengau, wrote telling of a person from Sori Island off the north coast of Manus who had turned up with a mysterious bronze sculpture.

Edin examined the sculpture and found inscribed the sculptor’s name (right). It was a work of Hal Holman, who died last year leaving a rich legacy of sculpture and painting, much of it part of the modern artistic heritage of Papua New Guinea.

“I was pleasantly surprised to come across this bronze piece by such a renowned artist,” wrote Edin, who then went on to tell me the remarkable story of its discovery.

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Marvellous line-up of performers for Melanesian music festival


BRISBANE - On Sunday 17 September, people from Brisbane's Melanesian communities together with many Australians will celebrate PNG’s anniversary of independence in a music festival at Redlands Performing Arts Centre, about 30 minutes from the centre of Brisbane.

Topping the bill is the brilliant PNG singer and poet George Telek who will perform with Ben Hakalitz (PNG), Charles Maimarosia (Solomons) and Tio (Vanuatu).

On the weekend of the 42nd anniversary of PNG independence, this showcase brings together the most outstanding contemporary and traditional Melanesian music.

George Telek, who has performed in the UK, the US and Germany as well as in our part of the world, headlines the concert, bringing his signature blend of modern and traditional Melanesian rhythms.

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Caught between two cultures & getting back to my PNG roots

Ngaiire JosephNGAIIRE JOSEPH | The Advertiser (Adelaide)

I HAD a very gritty childhood. My parents are both academics so we were always well off, but we still faced the realities of life in a developing nation.

When I moved to Lismore in NSW with my mother and two younger siblings at age 16 in 2000, I was excited. But I had no idea how long it would take to fit in.

At first it was hard because school here is very cliquey. I wore baggy clothes; I didn’t shave my legs. I quickly realised I looked different to everyone else. Then I found music.

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