It was then the team leader informed us of the royal visit to Papua New Guinea, including a trip to Boera village. The Prince of Wales would officially launch our mangrove conservation project
Prince Charles plants the mangrove seedling at Boera village during his visit of 2012
WEWAK – On this morning in 2012, I stood inside the greenhouse surrounded by mangrove seedlings and in a state of high anxiety.
Soon I heard distant singing and the beating of kundu drums followed by cheering.
Continue reading "The King & Duncan & the mangroves of Boera" »
These are youths who sleep in the drains beside the Courts, at Yakapilin Market and in various dirty shanties around Port Moresby
PORT MORESBY - Whilst others were painting their faces on Independence Day, I spent my day at Jack Pidik Park.
I had been invited to give a little speech at the Human Development Institute graduation ceremony. So, what is significant about that?
Continue reading "Give the raskol a tenner & watch him grow" »
I do not want to take a life; I’m not a barbarian or a savage. I was not cut out for taking a life. Rats, do not put me in such a situation. Maybe I should join the Jain religion
WEWAK - A few days ago, I set a rat glue trap to catch the pests who had invaded our home and established squatter settlements in the walls and ceiling.
Some of the rascals would walk around the house like they had a property title.
Continue reading "Thoughts on the brutal death of a vagrant rat" »
“Wanem kain mit?” I asked. What sort of meat?
“Bai you kisim sampla han, olsem.” Then you get an arm.
“Bai mi nap kisim displa han lo we a?” Where do I get an arm!
CLEVELAND QLD - When stationed at Sialum in Morobe Province many years ago, I asked Councillor Zorika from Gitua whether there were any crocodiles in his area.
I was intending to do some fly fishing for Jungle Perch along the local rivers and thought it prudent to do some background research.
Continue reading "How to catch a croc in five quite easy steps" »
My call alerted the authorities to my existence as a primary trained teacher in a secondary trained position. This triggered a rather drastic chain reaction
Tapini grass airstrip, c 1967 (Bob Grieve)
BRISBANE – The Tapini airstrip featured as an oddity during my service in Papua New Guinea.
This has begun in 1959 after I had completed the two-year Cadet Education Officer’s certificate course at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in 1958.
Continue reading "8 days of rain & a some bizarre musical chairs" »
Philippines new president Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr was an indulged youth whose excesses came at the expense of the ordinary people of the Philippines who suffered under his father's ruthless rule
SAMFORD VALLEY, QLD -The result of this week's presidential election in the Philippines are a reminder of the adage that ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.
With the son of the former dictator and looter of the nation’s resources, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, winning the presidency in a landslide this week, the wheel of history turns and brings to mind the worst excesses of the past.
Continue reading "Bongbong wins on a myth as history wanes" »
Port Moresby, 19th century - from The Colonial Portfolio (The Werner Company London)
MELBOURNE - Names often change with time but, after nearly 50 years of independence and 150 years after the arrival of Captain John Moresby, the name of Papua New Guinea’s remains Port Moresby.
Prior the arrival of the first British sailors in 1873, and still today, the traditional inhabitants lived in a few small villages on the harbour shores with many houses built over its waters.
Continue reading "Port Moresby Harbour is not Fairfax Harbour" »
Daphne Clarkson and Lenny the blind pig
MEG BOLTON & JESSICA LAMB
| ABC Sunshine Coast
MAROOCHYDORE, QLD - Cooroy woman Daphne Clarkson has been given one more week to find a new home for her emotional support companion pig, Lenny.
Ms Clarkson, who has anxiety and a sensory processing disorder, said she did not know how she would cope without her companion animal.
"Being without him isn't really an option, to be truthful," Ms Clarkson said.
Continue reading "Never in PNG: Noosa's pignorant decision" »
Illustration by Simon Kneebone
“I always like to firm up vinaigrettes with some facts” – Garry Luhrs
The email came with a tantalising opener, “Hi Keith - I would like this scandal to be advertised far and wide.” In my business, it doesn’t come more pulse-racing than that. The missive came from former kiap and forever humourist Garry Luhrs, but it had a serious message. “This misappropriation of aged care funds is right across the board. Every provider appears to have front trotters and snouts in the trough. They seem to be creaming up to 70% of the funds as administrative expenses. This requires a Royal Commission. Any assistance that you can provide will be greatly appreciated.” So folks, if after reading Garry’s revelations you find you’ve had a similar experience, just drop him an email or a note in the Comments section and make sure Garry adds your case to the growing list - KJ
WUNDOWIE, WA - Greetings and salutations, survivors of the great PNG experiment who are still on the perch!
Lend me your eyes and ears. I am in search of volunteers who would like to be recruited to accompany me on my last patrol.
Like Don Quixote I have picked up my drooping old lance and am setting out on this last epic patrol to tilt once more at the windmills of an uncaring bureaucracy.
Continue reading "The great ‘My Aged Care’ package scam" »
Final approach, Omkolai, 1960s (PNGAA)
NOOSA – This photograph and the one below emerged on Facebook not so long ago.
They brought back many memories of a time now long gone in a place dear to our hearts.
Omkolai airstrip is about 20 km south of Kundiawa. It doesn’t sound that far now. But the road from Kundiawa – precipitous and riven with landslides – always made it seem much, much further than that. Still does, I hear.
Continue reading "New Guinea, 1965: Machines, men & landing places" »
The first printed plan of Port Moresby was compiled from surveys made in July and August 1886 by Walter R Guthbertson
| From a story originally published in
the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier
Eda Moresby: Our Moresby by John Brooksbank, K250 each (K200 each for five or more). To Australia: $100 + $15 post. Link Facebook and find Eda Moresby here or email here
PORT MORESBY – ‘Only in PNG!’ People might think this catch-all phrase for our country’s extraordinary quirks is a relatively recent addition to our lexicon.
But if the outrageous stories in John Brooksbank’s new book, ‘Eda Moresby’ (Motu for ‘Our Moresby’), are anything to go by, the expression would have applied way back to before Papua New Guinea existed.
Continue reading "The amazing, absurd & shocking story of Port Moresby" »
Justin Olam - rugby league champion (nrl.com)
KANDEP, ENGA – Papua New Guinea is a developing country doing everything it can to catch up with the Western world.
In my view, easily the greatest Western influence in shaping PNG has been education; although other transformational forces, such as building a minerals-based economy, have been crucial.
Continue reading "Graduating to illiteracy? Just not on" »
ADELAIDE – There are confirmed reports in the media that the Russians have begun to fire hypersonic missiles at selected targets in Ukraine.
Last night one of these weapons struck an underground ammunition depot in the western sector of the country.
Continue reading "Putin’s doodlebugs signal increasing desperation" »
The Mariupol theatre, with its vivid red roof, was packed with 1,300 people taking refuge and presented the softest of targets
| Translation by Roman Sheremeta
Last Tuesday, Svitlana Zlenko fled the besieged eastern Ukraine city of Mariupol with her young son. After finding safety, she used Twitter to share this account of life under siege. Dr Roman Sheremeta is an associate professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University at Cleveland, Ohio, in the USA. He prefaced this translation with a warning: “The faint-hearted should not read this” - KJ
SOMEWHERE IN UKRAINE - We collected snow, warmed it on a campfire and cooked macaroni. My family was in the bomb shelter of High School No 2.
Continue reading "Escape from Mariupol: '21 days changed everyone'" »
NOOSA – In April 2019, Raymond Sigimet shared his father’s memories of being a policeman in the kiap system in the early years of Papua New Guinea’s independence.
The article, A Policeman Remembers, included two photographs, the first of four members of the disciplined forces (army, police and corrective services) posing in their uniforms for Paul Oates at his Morobe outpost.
The other, reprised here, of a group of expatriate men based in Ialibu, posing in the fashion of 19th century pioneers.
Continue reading "Solved: Mystery of the Ialibu pioneers" »
The production of as Tok Pisin comic book reinforced The Phantom as a PNG superstar (Mark Eby)
NOOSA - From time to time Slim Kaikai drops me a note from somewhere in Papua New Guinea and we have a brief email swap until the next couple of years pass.
In January Slim sent me his usual “just a quick wan”, asking would I know “where to get a hold of any phantom comics in pidgin”.
Continue reading "On the trail of The Phantom's PNG exploits" »
"“I’ve got just the one for you,” Filshie said. “It’s a red XK120 Jaguar convertible. Goes like the clappers” (Rob Barclay)
| Memoir | Edited extract
ADELAIDE - After six years’ service in the Territory, I had six months long leave, which I decided to spend in Melbourne and Sydney.
In neither place were there receptive females on holiday, so securing companions would be an ongoing problem.
I had discussed this difficulty with two fellow patrol officers due to attend the long course at ASOPA [Australian School of Pacific Administration] after their own leave.
Continue reading "Down south on long leave, Sydney, 1964" »
A Kodak Instamatic 104 such as Busa's father might have used as a 1970s street photographer
BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO
PORT MORESBY – It was only recently that I discovered my father was once a street photographer.
Back in the 1970s, he and some village friends took up the activity as a form of employment, to earn money, to put food on the table.
This was well before modern digital cameras and smart phones made photography simple and ever-present.
Continue reading "From humble street camera to tool for justice" »
The Taurama Cemetery as Terry Edwinsmith found it in 2011 before it was revamped
Boomerang Boy by David Wilson, Take A Leaf Publications, October 2021. Available: Kindle (Amazon Australia) $11.99; Paperback (Waterstones, UK) £20
BRISBANE - The book, 'Boomerang Boy', tells the compelling story of Taurama Barracks Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Frederick Alexander (Fred) Wilson.
This remarkable soldier died suddenly while serving with 1PIR on 27 March 1968 aged 43.
Continue reading "Fred Wilson: The boomerang boy of 1PIR" »
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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" »