Harry (right) with former Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot. Considering Harry's ubiquity and his reputation for having a finger in every pie, strangely this is the best pic we were able to find at short notice. Looks like ONGU operatives were at work
Harry Roach died this afternoon bringing to an end an illustrious career as a Papua New Guinea kiap, a Cooroy property salesman and a Noosa shire councillor. He was known wherever he went as a can-do man, a thoroughgoing professional, a solid citizen and an inveterate prankster. Life with Harry could be eye-popping, hair-raising and mind-blowing, but the saga of ONGU was perhaps his greatest accomplishment – a true tour de farce - KJ
AITAPE - There was very little to occupy the ever-enquiring minds of the people who lived and worked in the many and varied outstations of the Sepik District in the mid 1960's.
And so it was with those who filled the various government and private occupations on the small Aitape outstation at the time.
Continue reading "Adieu Harry, it was good. May ONGU travel with you" »
Patrol Officer Roy Edwards and police with a group of manacled villagers, Kunimaipa section, Goilala Sub-District, late 1940s (photo previously unpublished)
NORTHUMBRIA, UK – Roy Edwards was an uncompromising kiap (patrol officer), not fond of paperwork and with his own way of bringing pacification to the warring tribes of Papua New Guinea.
He patrolled the Kunimaipa section of the Goilala region for months on end and was ultimately successful in erasing a traditional payback murder spiral that led to dozens of deaths each year.
The perpetuation of payback was an insurmountable obstacle to securing the wellbeing and progress of the villages.
Continue reading "Pax Australiana & techniques of pacification" »
'I Am What I Am' - Stewy Brown was a serial drunk and on the verge of deportation from colonial PNG when Bob Parer asked the Policemaster to give him one last chance
BRISBANE – One of the unusual colonial laws of Papua New Guinea when it was an Australian territory was the so-called Dog Act.
Under the Dog Act a magistrate could order that people with an alcohol problem could have their name and photograph posted at all local hotels and clubs for a year.
During that time any premises that served that person alcohol would be fined.
Continue reading "How Stewy Brown beat the Dog Act" »
Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni now have to get the paperwork out of the way after 29 days lost at sea (Photo - Denyse Ealedona)
| Solomon Islands broadcasting Corporation
PORT MORESBY - Two Solomon Islands' men missing for 29 days until rescued off the coast of East New Britain 10 days ago are now in Port Moresby awaiting repatriation.
Mary Walenenea, second secretary with the Solomon Islands high commission in Papua New Guinea, said the men, Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni, are staying at the embassy.
Continue reading "Involuntary voyagers await repatriation" »
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia. Phil Fitzpatrick found this country more to his liking than a city teeming with consultants
TUMBY BAY - After leaving Papua New Guinea I went to work for the South Australian Museum in a new unit responsible for Aboriginal heritage legislation.
There were less than a dozen of us and shortly after I arrived we were shifted from the museum to a warehouse with attached offices out in the suburbs.
It was a decidedly casual arrangement and on most days when I wasn’t doing fieldwork I turned up at the office in shorts and tee shirt.
Continue reading "The wreckage they left behind" »
Hand-compiling the Kabul Weekly newspaper (Martin Hadlow)
SAMFORD VALLEY – Not long ago in PNG Attitude, this photograph was published alongside my article, ‘Taliban had time & are not so benign’.
It shows the Kabul Weekly newspaper being compiled by hand.
The newspaper was established by an extraordinary journalist, Fahim Dashty. And this is his story.
Continue reading "Fahim Dashty - pioneer of Afghan press freedom" »
Paul Oates' Massey Ferguson after the fire
Phil Fitzpatrick recently paid tribute in these columns to the incomparable durability of the Massey Ferguson tractor. In this piece, extracted from his memoir, ‘Phascogales and Other Tales’, former kiap Papua New Guinea kiap Paul Oates recalls his own experience with this wonderfully resilient machine. By the way, Paul's book available here from Amazon - KJ
Continue reading "The peerless, resilient Massey Ferguson" »
Not ours at Kiunga, but an old Massey Ferguson 135 put out to pasture
TUMBY BAY - It was 1969 at Kiunga on the Fly River and we were unloading MV Pipi Gari, named after Steamship Trading Company’s first Papuan skipper.
It was the dry season and the river was very low, but the skipper had been able to steer the vessel across the rock bar eight kilometres downstream and motor to the station.
Continue reading "The saga of the mighty Fergie 135" »
WARRADALE – The Territory of Papua and New Guinea before independence in 1975 was a place that was unique in the experience of we outsiders who lived and worked there.
The differences between the traditional cultures we encountered and our own Western culture seemed so marked.
Continue reading "A place, a time & lessons learned" »
A Tagali warlord presents his Mac58 and M16 at a Hela gun surrender. Technology has made clan warfare much more lethal
WARRADALE - Among the boxes of stuff in my shed, I dug up a document I had kept because I wanted to prove I had not embellished a story.
The document was a carbon copy of a Local Court case I heard at Baiyer River in the Western Highlands nearly 50 years ago, on 10 December 1971.
Continue reading "A Baiyer court case: A good kiap reflects." »
After a five-year legal battle against the Department of Home Affairs Troy Lee has his passport again. His life was wrecked by a callous act of bureaucratic stupidity
| SBS News | If you have a similar story, contact Stefan: email@example.com
BRISBANE - Almost five years ago Troyrone (Troy) Zen Lee did what thousands of Australians do every day: applied to renew his passport.
What he did not expect to be told in 2016 was that he was not Australian.
Born in pre-independence Papua New Guinea, Troy fell victim to the Department of Home Affairs' stubborn misinterpretation of the Citizenship Act.
Continue reading "The man who was told he wasn't Australian" »
Arthur Williams - "The American Bishop of Kavieng asked me to ring the Convent and invite two of the Sisters to join us to play Rummy"
CARDIFF - Phil Fitzpatrick often writes about subjects that capture what many of us ex-New Guinea types think about now we have more time on our hands having left behind the daily commute to work.
His ‘Power, Hedonism & the Best Years of Our Lives’ was one such essay.
During the latter part of my 30 years in Papua New Guinea, I often felt that the life of expats who were off duty influenced the local people.
Continue reading "It was the Aussies who drove PNG to drink" »
Postcard printed in 1913 to pre-order of the Pf2, Mk1 and never-produced Mk20 stamps. Only known copy in existence
MORRISET – It is an historical oddity more like an absurdist Monty Python sketch than reality, but it is true.
In 1913, Germany, Britain and Holland, all colonial powers sharing New Guinea, began planning a joint expedition to the giant island.
Continue reading "Great NG airship expedition that never happened" »
Malcolm Kela Smith (PNGi). "Mal's response was furious and littered with profanities. Needless to say, my relationship with him ended acrimoniously"
| Ex Kiap Website | Edited
BARDON, QLD - The people who live along the Sepik River, who depend upon it for their livelihoods, are facing the fight of a lifetime.
The Chinese-owned Guangdong Rising through its subsidiary, PanAust, is seeking approval from the Papua New Guinea government to establish the Frieda River copper and gold mine.
Continue reading "The day I gave the bad news to Kela Smith" »
The Kundal family in happy times
PORT MORESBY - When his daughter-in-law Annie ran away from her family for the fourth time, Johannes Kundal felt that was enough.
He just wanted Annie to be free. He did not know that Archie, his grandson, had also urged his mother to go and not return.
Continue reading "Johannes’ dilemma: how to restore a family" »
Annie at Vision City - “Archie was only 12 and still needed me, but he gave me the courage to escape from my abusive husband”
PORT MORESBY – Archie Iso Kundal loves his mother very much but, as a small child, was frequently distressed to see his abusive father, Ismael, habitually beat her.
The two small boys would often see their mother lock herself in a room and cry while nursing her wounds.
So one day Archie told his mother to escape, return to her people at Kerema and not come back to Wabag until he and his brother Victor were old enough to defend her.
Continue reading "Annie’s story: Escape from abuse" »
Students from the Buk Bilong Pikinini School worried that their home has been removed by the developer.
| Ples Singsing | Edited
I interviewed some of the students who went to Buk Bilong Pikinini School on the ATS hillside. This is one of their stories. The girl’s name has been changed - BW
PORT MORESBY - It was a bright sunny day and Mekeme was reading a book at the Buk Bilong Pikinini School on the hillside of the ATS settlement.
As she sat on the school veranda, she saw a big yellow excavator come slowly down the hill towards her house.
Continue reading "The big yellow excavator" »
NOOSA - In early May, Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape seemed to move with lightning speed to stop a developer evicting residents and destroying homes at Port Moresby’s ATS settlement.
It was an illusion. The bulldozers moved in this morning.
Continue reading "Today the bulldozers moved in on ATS" »
| New English Review | Edited extract
Link here to read more of Bill Corden’s writing
VANCOUVER – It’s 1993. My older brother, Ron, had ended up in a remote village in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.
He was the manager of a town called Goroka. How he got there is a story that would take too long to tell, but suffice to say he's completely immersed in the culture.
Continue reading "Into the backblocks with the sorcerers" »
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.
Continue reading "Musing on the death of Prince Philip" »
Dogs of Manus (Stefan Armbruster, SBS News)
| Newsroom | Translated by Mohsen Kafi
AUCKLAND - This is a topic that has rarely been written about, simply because few people care about how dogs live.
The story dates to the time I was imprisoned on Manus Island. In 2013, the Australian government exiled me and almost 1,000 other refugees to Manus in the north of Papua New Guinea.
Continue reading "The dogs of Manus" »
A Philippines double outrigger canoe (Mariners Museum, Virginia, USA)
CAPTAIN STEVEN JOLLY
ALI ISLAND - I want to share with you all a special tribute to our late great Great Grand Chief Sir Michael T Somare with a short story from my home, Ali Island in the Aitape District of Sandaun Province.
During the childhood years of our Great Grand Chief at Rabaul during World War II, a late gentleman by the name of Makarius Menik from Jaltaleouw village on Ali Island, with some of his fellow comrades, sailed out of Rabaul to Murik in a traditional double outrigger canoe.
Continue reading "Remembered: Michael Somare’s escape from Rabaul" »
A haus krai at Divine Word University in Madang
YUNGABURRA, QLD - As I get older the frequency of funerals for close friends unerringly increases.
On Tuesday another friend from my early days in Port Moresby passed away in Cairns. So sad, but a funeral is always an opportunity to reconnect with friends and wantoks.
Continue reading "A different kind of funeral" »
Kerenga Kua - spoke about an embarrassing experience with a cup of tea during his high school days
LAE - Kerenga Kua, Papua New Guinea’s petroleum and energy minister, has occupied senior political positions since he was first elected as the member for Sinasina-Yongamugl in Simbu Province in 2012.
My story, though, is about his student days at Aiyura National High School as told by the man himself in 2014.
Continue reading "Kerenga Kua & lip ti no swit" »
Graun Blong Mi - My Land | Edited
LAE – Many years ago, I was working as a cleaner at a power plant at Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province when I saw an advertisement for PNG Defence Force recruitment.
I’d wanted to join the Army since childhood, so I submitted a form and was called for an entry test at Murray Barracks in Port Moresby. I would need travel there by sea.
Continue reading "How a janitor helped me become a soldier" »
Nebula and her new family members. Nebula found an inconvenient place to give birth
| My Land, My People
LAE - Two years ago, my son’s dog-daughter, Nebula, ‘adopted’ me as her human parent.
She seemed to claim me even more after he left to join the army last year and I became full-time parent, or Nebula adopted me as full time parent, whatever.
Continue reading "The dog that took over my abode" »
| Sipikriva Girl Blog
FINSCHHAFEN - After ending my career as a resident doctor at Angau Memorial Provincial Hospital, Lae, it was time to pack up my bags and move temporarily to the big city.
In Lae, I had lived in accommodation provided by the hospital for resident doctors. I had initially lived in a bedsitter inside the hospital, and then I moved to Eriku in flats rented by the hospital.
Continue reading "Living in the slums" »
|My Land, My Country
KEREMA - Gulf Province is only six hours away from Port Moresby and is one of the most least developed provinces in the country.
Its main town, Kerema, is in a sad state. The market has closed forcing locals to sell fresh fish and garden food in an open sports field.
Continue reading "Gulf Province: six hours away & ignored" »
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" »
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" »
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" »
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" »
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" »
Liam Fox meets Noah Musingku in 2010 (ABC News)
| Australian Broadcasting Corporation
SYDNEY - Noah Musingku turns to an ancient PC that looks like it stopped working years ago, taps away on the keyboard seriously for a few seconds, then looks up and says: "You're a millionaire, Gorethy!"
"Your account has $2 million in it. Just send me your bank account details and we'll send the money to you," Musingku says.
Continue reading "Bougainville's conman 'king' still on the run" »
British Square at the Battle Waterloo, 1815. A formation adopted in late 1969 by military strategists in Rabaul
WARWICK - At the end of the 1969 academic year at Queensland University I was ordered to return to TPNG* on posting to Bougainville.
But when my flight landed at Rabaul en route to Kieta I was ordered off the plane and told I had been seconded to the Supreme Court as interpreter for the forthcoming trial of several Mataungan leaders.
The trial never eventuated while I was in Rabaul because of a rumour that the Tolais were going to besiege the courthouse.
Continue reading "The Rabaul stickybeak incident" »
TUMBY BAY - Did you know that Donald Trump was created in a top-secret biotech laboratory by the enemies of the USA with the goal of wreaking havoc on the nation?
Theorist Harland Dorrinson has conclusive evidence gleaned through an exhaustive search of secret government documents and is 100% certain that Trump was grown in a recombinant-DNA laboratory.
Continue reading "Conspiracy theories are in bloom" »
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison came naturally to philistinism. It was easier than dealing with real world complexity and reason
TUMBY BAY - A philistine is a person of narrow mind, populist morality, materialistic views and lack of interest in art and literature.
The term was coined by the 19th Century British poet, Matthew Arnold, adapting the word from the term ‘philister’ used by German university students to describe people who were unenlightened, uncultured and anti-intellectual.
Continue reading "Philistines have entered the gate" »
Foo Fighter photographs are very rare. Two are seen here following RAF Lysander aircraft during World War II in Europe. There were reports from both sides of sighting these mysterious orbs
DAGUA – You may know the Tok Pisin term, ‘lait toktok’. Well, if you don’t, it’s used in Madang to describe a phenomenon similar to the ‘foo fighters’ aerial phenomenon observed in Europe and the Pacific during the World War II.
‘Lait toktok’ describes moving lights over the water; luminous objects or lights dancing over the horizon and appearing to move back and forth or remain stationary while emitting their strange glow.
Continue reading "The strange sea lights of Madang" »
The Tongan youths who remained united after being stranded for over a year on a desert island in 1966
NORTHUMBRIA UK - William Golding’s deeply pessimistic book ‘Lord of the Flies’ was thrust upon me in 1966 during a course in English Literature.
It was compulsory reading but I almost immediately rejected it.
After scanning reviews and flicking through its contents, I pushed it away unfinished because its bleakness about our human condition was too much to accept.
Continue reading "The real lords of the flies" »
Justin Kili as a young announcer in 1972 - "Who is the Queen of Papua New Guinea?"
YUNGABURRA - “And now let’s spin another disc from the Beatle boys” – those were the words I heard from NBC announcer Cathy Garoa when I first tuned in my new radio-cassette player in early 1980.
Where I lived in Papua New Guinea, there was no FM radio, no television, no Australian newspapers and the internet was not yet a thing.
So how did Papua New Guineans obtain their information?
Continue reading "The demise of regional broadcasting" »
Justin Kundain - five lessons to share with friends
PORT MORESBY – It was the greatest moment for me. Last November I graduated with a diploma in pastoral ministry.
Having been brought up in a dysfunctional home where my parents eventually divorced, I had grown up without a moral anchor. To me the words ‘dad’ and ‘mammy’ were strange.
Continue reading "Lessons I have learned" »
Turning jungle into lawn at Olsobip
TUMBY BAY - When I arrived to take over the remote and tiny Olsobip Patrol Post in 1970 the place was a mess. Patrolling had obviously taken precedence over maintenance.
The government store, on its dangerously rotted stumps, leaked like a sieve. The aid post was in a similar condition and the sacsac roof on the school was slowly being carried away by cockroaches.
Continue reading "Saga of the Olsobip lawnmower" »
Newspaper advertisement for kiaps, 1966
TUMBY BAY - How often have you heard the admonition to always read the fine print before signing anything?
And how often have you had some sneaky little paragraph in the fine print pointed out that you never read excusing a manufacturer or insurer from honouring what you thought should have been an obligation on their part?
Continue reading "The soldiers that never were" »
Graham King in action on the hockey pitch
YUNGABURRA - I remember the date of my last hockey game as it was the same day as the more famous Live Aid concert - 13 July 1985.
My wife had gone to her village, Tubusereia, for the weekend and I was to play hockey and then go to a friend’s place to watch the concert live.
I also remember the date as it also relates to my favourite memory of Dr Jim Jacobi. Recently there have been some photos and memories of Dr Jacobi on Facebook and I have my own story to tell.
Continue reading "The last hockey game" »
Nelson, Solomon and Paul at the Blue Nile
PORT MORESBY - Cr Paul Kiap Kurai has travelled to many parts of the world, but none left as strong an impression on his mind than his visit to Ethiopia in 2014.
He discovered that Ethiopians, a tall handsome people who love peace, were the humblest people he had ever come across.
Continue reading "How Paul Kurai became Gabrei Yesu" »
Erico found himself looking down the barrel of a .38 pistol
NORTHUMBRIA - Back in 1972, Erico Aufe, a former government interpreter on Bereina station in the Kairuku Sub-District, refused to pay his local government tax.
This triggered a chain of events, some farcical, which highlighted the difference between the consensual approach to village administration favoured by the majority of kiaps and the less flexible tactics employed by most Australian police officers of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.
Continue reading "An unnecessary shot in the leg" »
With my long-suffering manki masta Di Siune, Goroka, January 1964
NOOSA – This confinement to barracks, lock down, home isolation or whatever the authorities term it, occasions plenty of opportunity for reflection on past adventures.
The early 1960s was another era, Papua and New Guinea (as it was called) another place and, for a young man, the highlands a new frontier.
Continue reading "Taim bilong masta i spak" »
Map of the Sepik region by Bill Brown
BRISBANE - In 1970 we sold our Vanimo stores and bulk fuel depot to Steamships Trading Company.
Mr Lee, the manager of Steamships Madang, had approached us to negotiate the transaction. He was such a fine person to deal with.
Then, 36 years later, Steamships, by now owned by the British multinational Swire Group of Hong Kong, also purchased our stores at Aitape.
Continue reading "Remote business never easy in PNG" »
TUMBY BAY - As we lapuns drift gently into old age, the thoughts of many of us inevitably circle around concepts of mortality and the state of the world.
Such ponderings are part of an age old process that has been going on since humans first inhabited the planet.
As a species we tend to be naturally optimistic no matter what dire circumstances exist at the time.
Continue reading "The hell of a mess we created" »
PORT MORESBY - I want to share this little tale my grandfather told me when I was small.
When he was young, my grandfather had a champion hunting dog called Zikiam.
On one particular hunting expedition, the trees and vines bore plenty of wild fruit, berries and nuts and the forest floor was unusually busy.
Continue reading "Curse of the plenty" »