ACCORDING to Ulukalala Lavaka Ata’s 1998 work, The Bougainville Crisis and PNG-Australia Relations, “it is a feeling deep down in our hearts that Bougainville is totally different from PNG, geographically, culturally. It’s been a separate place since time immemorial. Ever since God created the universe, Bougainville has been separate, has been different.”
This difference, of course, was exacerbated by the reckless influx of non-Bougainvilleans after 1900. As historian James Griffin, who had a close relationship with Bougainville, wrote, when over 1,000 Bougainvilleans attended a United Nations mission visit to Kieta in 1962 and they told the UN to remove the mandate from Australia and give it to the US, they were treated like pigs and dogs.
Bougainville’s anti-Australia, anti-mining and anti-PNG campaign, despite being ignored as baseless, slowly developed over time.
And, on 1 September 1975, the first peoples’ attempt to unilaterally declare independence occurred.
It shocked Michael Somare’s PNG government that was to receive its own independece in just two weeks’ time.