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" »
DAGUA - Recently I was with a few of my colleagues when the evening conversation evolved into tales of real life cases of people lost at sea - and those who survived to tell the tale.
A colleague from Karasau island near Wewak related experiences of Karasau islanders who went missing in the waters between Kairiru, Unai and Karasau.
Continue reading "A canoe goes missing" »
"We wait at Shanghai International airport without any hope"
AS TOLD TO SCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country
SHANGHAI - After a long day waiting for our flight to Manila to transit to Port Moresby, we were removed from the flight to Manila.
A total of 12 students were not allowed to board the flight.
Manila immigration could not give us access to at least transit to Papua New Guinea, our home country.
Continue reading "Students fleeing China refused passage" »
Giselle Wakatama and Archie - abused by some ugly Australians. Unfortunately we have too many of them amongst us
MORISSET - I was shocked to see a recent story on ABC Television about the racism experienced by one of their presenters in Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.
This was particularly disturbing as it is our neck of the woods. Hey that can’t be happening here!
To their credit, the local council took some action. You can find the story here, ‘Why I will never forget the day I was racially abused in front of my young son’.
Continue reading "Addressing racism’s toxicity" »
Terrified Papuan tortured with a machete by an Indonesian soldier
WABAG - Just log into any Free West Papua website and you can view graphic videos, pictures and articles on the genocidal military operations against the Melanesian people who inhabit the western half of the island of New Guinea.
The images and stories are intimidating, cruel and chilling. You almost want to scream.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: Foreigners divided our island" »
ADELAIDE - As an enthusiastic amateur historian, I spend far too much time puzzling over why human history has worked out the way it has. Usually, the facts are not in dispute: it is their interpretation and meaning that creates problems.
Many historic events seem to defy an agreed explanation amongst historians because so many personal, cultural, social, economic, geographic and other factors have interacted to shape and drive those events in particular directions.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: Curse of territoriality" »
After Stan – a wild man of Papua New Guinea – died in Port Moresby in 2016, his son Luke unearthed one of his letters written to his family in Australia in December 2002. “My father made friends and enemies of prime ministers and was famously know in PNG as a man who would give the shirt off his back to anyone,” Luke says - KJ
POPONDETTA - Its 0630 hours Sunday here and we have overcast skies just starting to lift, the sun burning the mist off the ground and birds have been at it in the mango tree for the past three hours.
PNG music playing in all the houses up and down the street, each trying to play their stereos higher than their neighbours, kids starting to give mums heaps waiting for breakfast, the normal shit that goes on every morning with the exception that its Sunday.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: Living at ground level" »
Corporal Kasari inspecting police with kiap John McGregor, Olsobip, 1968
TUMBY BAY - Lance Corporal Kasari RN1297 RPNGC was something of a legend in the Western District in the late 1960s.
If you had some rough patrolling to do in the rugged mountains or tumbling rivers in the northern part of the district Corporal Kasari was the man to have at your side.
If it was a routine patrol and you needed someone to run the patrol post while you were away Corporal Kasari was always your first choice.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: Cpl Kasari & the red bicycle" »
The tropical turquoise water of PNG (Ben Jackson)
PORT MORESBY - The proclamation of Papua New Guinea as the “last paradise on earth” by the country’s prime minister had the ring of an early 20th century adventure novel and it is a tagline that perhaps appropriately reflects the country’s place as a frontier travel destination.
There are good reasons that the nation of just over eight million people has been long touted as having great potential for tourism. It has all the natural ingredients for an idyllic tropical beach getaway and much more.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: The sleeping giant" »
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY – The Waigani swamp is a freshwater swamp known in the Motu language as Gabagabada or Big Swamp.
It stretches from Gerehu Stage 6, a contour north of Port Moresby, to 8 Mile, an area in the north-east of the city.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: More plastic than fish" »
PHILIP KAI MORRE
KUNDIAWA - Polygamy was relevant to traditional societies in Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, as part of a patrilineal tradition passed from generation to generation as a means of gaining wealth, prestige and social mobility.
It was also recognised that marrying multiple wives would also increase the labour force to ensure enough pigs were raised and enough gardens were established to maintain the status of the husband and the clan.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: Polygamy a destructive force" »
GOLD COAST – As a kiap [patrol officer] in the 1970s, I assisted the Lutheran Mission with one of the first herds of cattle introduced into the Menyamya Sub District.
The cattle drive started at the Bulolo roadhead, traversed the mountains between the Bulolo valley and Aseki Patrol Post before continuing along the Aseki-Menyamya ‘kiap road’.
Continue reading "Best of 2019: Travelling with donkeys" »
Mintabie will soon be without its opal miners - "a timely vindication of a great wrong perpetrated by greedy and ignorant people"
TUMBY BAY - In 1976 I was working for the South Australian Museum travelling in the far northwest visiting and recording sacred sites with Aboriginal elders.
On one such trip I was out with an old man called Mungatja Mick Wintinna. He was an Antakarinja man in his mid-nineties.
Earlier in the week I had piggy-backed him across some sand hills to the place where he had been born in the late 1880s.
Continue reading "An old man’s dreaming" »
My colleagues involved in the 2012 national election - ambitious candidates made it an easy way to earn money
LAIAGAM – It was seven years ago, during the 2012 national election, that I first witnessed that a larger number of young people living in my community in Enga Province were HIV victims.
My home village is Niunk in the Lagaip-Porgera district. Nearby villages include Kanak, Wanepap, Komaip, Waiyap and Lakris.
My friends in those villages left high schools at that time in 2012 to get involved in the election. I was going to do the same but withdrew since in those days I was a drunkard and chasing women.
Continue reading "Laiagam’s descent into HIV hell" »
Former district commissioners Bill Brown MBE and Fred Kaad OBE. Said Kaad to the wavering young kiap Fitzpatrick: "You’ll never have the chance to be part of something like that ever again"
TUMBY BAY - My father came from Waterford in the warm southeast of Ireland. He had three brothers and two sisters. His eldest brother John carried on the family tradition of being politically active.
It was from an insistent Uncle John that I learned very early on about the colonisation of Ireland by the British.
That experience left me with a repressed but abiding suspicion about the whole enterprise of empire.
Continue reading "The unique experience of a nation born" »
The footpath reconnected the present to the past by catering to children, women and the elderly who had not visited the beach for a very long time
DION TULO *
BUKA - In many rural parts of Bougainville youth plays a vital part in communities through sports, cultural organisations, church groups and small development projects funded by non-government organisations.
This is a story of a small group of youths from Kohea village, in the Haku constituency of Buka Island, who succeeded through sheer hard work and dedication to complete a small development project in their community.
Continue reading "180 steps down to the beach" »
Sam Gawi Rake. The SMS read: “Pass the message around that Sam is dead….he was beheaded by cult worshipers…."
PORT MORESBY - Monday 2 April 2018 was a gruesome day for me. Early that morning the news of the death of my brother and best friend, Sam Gawi Rake, reached me.
I was in the students’ computer lab preparing my work when the message came in an SMS on my mobile phone from an unknown person.
“Pass the message around that Sam Gawi Rake is dead….he was beheaded by cult worshipers….his head is missing while his body is in morgue at the Modillion Hospital in Madang.”
Continue reading "My dear brother, Sam Gawi Rake" »
GOF's Cessna 182 P2-WKD at Siwea airstrip, Morobe Province, 1977
| The Bucket Blog
TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND - Reflecting upon one’s own life from the vantage point of older age is sometimes rather like reading a tattered autobiographical account of someone else’s life.
Mine contains many examples of gross stupidity and incompetence, but it also, in an early chapter documents one single decision which would continue to shape my life to this day.
Continue reading "The best I could have done at the time" »
DUMBY (er, TUMBY) BAY - It’s easy to imagine that one day in the not too distant future everything will be digitised and automated.
Here is a blurb about the latest trend in toilets:
“It's a germophobes dream come true: Never having to touch a toilet handle again. With the latest Numi toilet from Kohler, you can simply ask it to ‘flush’ and it will comply. If you forget, it will flush itself anyway.
“The toilet also lets you choose the colour of ambient lighting and the music from its speakers. At night, the lid automatically opens as you approach and the seat warmer activates. It flushes and closes the lid as you leave.”
Continue reading "Warning: You’re being dumbed down" »
IPSWICH - On arrival in Papua New Guinea in January 1980, I was posted to Laloki Plant Quarantine and Horticultural Research Station as horticulturalist with the then Department of Primary Industry.
It was about 20km from Tabari Place in Boroko which at that time was the main shopping centre for Port Moresby residents. Burns Philp, Steamships and Carpenters all had supermarkets there.
Recently, on a recent business trip to Port Moresby, I decided to drive to Laloki to see if my old house was still there. It was and a few of my old workers were there to greet me.
Continue reading "Remembering the boy on the postage stamp" »