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" »
Pauline and Sean Dorney. "This book, even though written by an Australian, is the PNG voice speaking to Australia"
| Academia Nomad
The death of Michael Somare on 26 February renewed interest in the Papua New Guinea about its own history. To advance this mood, Academia Nomad invited reviews of books about PNG – KJ
Sean Dorney: The Embarrassed Colonialist
Link here to details of how you can buy the book
PORT MORESBY – This 140- page book was published in 2016 by Penguin Books for the Lowy Institute in Australia.
The book is short and easy reading but its eight chapters are packed with much insight about the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship.
Continue reading "Review: Sean Dorney’s book is full of insight" »
FICTION - I heard the knocking and a call around six just as I was preparing notes for tomorrow’s sermon.
I knew it was Pita, the son of the parish chairman, Mathias. Occasionally he’s one of the minstrels at my Sunday mass.
The way he was rapping on the porch railing and calling out, I figured something must be up.
Continue reading "The Sunday sermon" »
FICTION - It was just two weeks before the Grade 10 national exams and everyone was freaking out, especially those like me who weren’t prepared.
Some students collected as many notes as possible and left school three weeks before the exams to study at home.
Continue reading "The ginger bread man" »
Hoisting the British flag at Port Moresby, 1888
| Pearls & Irritations
MELBOURNE - Australia’s ham-handed history of colonialism, in what today is the independent state of Papua New Guinea, began in 1883 when Queensland pre-emptively annexed the southeastern corner (Papua) of the great island of New Guinea in the name of the British Crown. (The British were not amused).
Late in the nineteenth century, the Australian colonies were fearful that Germany (Britain’s rival) was about to colonise the entirety of eastern New Guinea, posing (so they imagined) a threat to Queensland’s northern reaches.
Continue reading "The colony Australia tries to forget" »
Ingrid Jackson on women in politics: "Stay true to your values. Be accessible to the community. Muster your courage. Remain gracious and empathetic"
NOOSA - At an International Women’s Day luncheon in Noosa last month, I spoke along with seven other women on the topic of ‘Dare to Challenge’, drawing on my recent experiences as the only woman councillor on the Noosa Council in south-east Queensland.
Newly elected in 2016 after a long career as a manager and consultant, I had expectations of a pleasant experience in local government and felt well prepared for the role.
Continue reading "Women in politics: Dare to challenge" »
TUMBY BAY - Writing the first book is hard but believe me it’s the second one that is really challenging, especially if the first has been a success.
In that second book you have to live up to the expectations you created with the first one.
You can’t write the same book again but there have to be faint echoes of the first one to please your readers.
Continue reading "Second book blues, but after that it’s easy" »
Nikolai Nikolaevich Mikloucho-Maclay
| Academia Nomad | Edited
Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s death on 26 February created renewed interest in a neglected subject – the history of Papua New Guinea. Many people called for this to be taught at all levels of education.
To advance this idea, Academia Nomad invited readers to submit reviews of books about PNG in nominated categories. This review by Bradley Gewa was submitted in the category ‘Racism and Colonialism’ – KJ
Continue reading "Review: The diaries of Mikloucho-Maclay" »
FICTION - I was looking through patient admission records before my evening ten o'clock ward rounds when a vehicle roared into sight.
Its emergency blinkers flashed brightly on the single cabin utility and the engine overrevved as it screeched to a halt.
Continue reading "The mystery of the bloodless forearm" »
Michael Yahu in front of his village house in Manus
PORT MORESBY – For a while I did not realise that Good Friday was April Fool’s Day and joined my family to cry when I received news that a long-time friend, a retired public servant, had died on Manus Island.
Whoever fabricated the story was senseless to circulate such a joke on social media. He lacked all understanding of human relations and etiquette.
Continue reading "April fool cruelty in a time of Covid" »
PNG's Rainbo Paita welcomed China’s offer of Sinovac vaccine earlier this year (“a friend in need is a friend indeed”) but later backed away. Did someone in Australia have some words?
PROF JOHN DWYER
| Pearls & Irritations | Edited
SYDNEY - Helping Papua New Guinea with its disastrous Covid outbreak is not pure altruism on our part.
The unbridled, indeed raging, pandemic, known to have infected 100,000 already and likely to have infected a million more within a week or so, provides a perfect ‘incubator’ for wild type more infectious variants of the Covid to develop.
Continue reading "Australia & PNG’s unfolding Covid disaster" »
| Pearls & Irritations | Edited extract
CANBERRA - Our neighbours in Papua New Guinea are heading towards a pandemic crisis, and we are diverting some of our supplies to them.
Some people might wonder why we are not withholding supplies to PNG when we don’t yet have enough for our own purposes.
Continue reading "Why we must give our vaccine to PNG" »
Rita Flynn Isolation Centre in Port Moresby - scene of the latest rip-off by public servants raises questions about Marape's willingness to rein in corruption
| Act Now!
PORT MORESBY - The latest scandal over catering services at the Rita Flynn Isolation Centre highlights the Marape government’s broken promises to break the cycle of impunity enjoyed by senior bureaucrats.
The tsunami of corruption that is drowning our nation can only be addressed through greater transparency and public accountability.
Continue reading "Marape promises but corruption continues" »
| Sipikriva Girl
FINSCHHAFEN - I always considered doing rural medicine after Dr David Mills gave a talk to us at the University of Papua New Guinea’s Taurama Campus in 2016.
Sitting in the old lecture theatre that smelt of time and old medicine, I seriously pondered the idea. I was twenty-one.
Continue reading "Sweet, beautiful, historic Finschhafen" »
The PNG parliament - 111 seats and exactly zero women
TUMBY BAY - Those men in Australia’s ruling Liberal-National coalition are currently recoiling at the idea of introducing quotas that would equalise the number of elected women with elected men.
It is reminiscent of the reaction of male politicians in the Papua New Guinea parliament to the same idea a couple of times in the past: full of warm words and frozen action.
Continue reading "Forget political parity, put women in charge" »
| Oceania vol 85 no 1, March 2015
Australians in Papua New Guinea:1960–1975. Edited by Ceridwen Spark, Seumas Spark and Christina Twomey, University of Queensland Press, 2014.
CANBERRA - This volume is a collection of invited essays by, and interviews with, 17 people, Australian and Papua New Guinean, with ﬁrsthand experience of the ﬁnal decade and a half of Australian rule leading up to national independence in 1975.
This period saw Papua New Guinea move with dizzying speed from a late-colonial society, with all the paradoxes of humanism, racism, and paternalism that appellation suggests, to an independent nation full of promise and hope.
Continue reading "Looking back at a look back & a look forward" »
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" »
| Common Dreams | Edited
In early March, just before Papua New Guinea experienced a shocking spike in Covid-19 cases, PNG Attitude reported that Australia had joined other Western countries in rejecting a proposal to lift vaccine-related patent protections, which would have made it possible to produce more vaccine.
Now US president Joe Biden is considering whether to throw US support behind the proposal and so allow for a massive acceleration of vaccine production and distribution around the world. As the following article reveals, it could be disastrous for the world if this does not happen soon - KJ
Continue reading "Danger closes in from Covid mutations" »
So I’ve said nothing, nothing at all
about our Celest. Maybe you heard?
My sister’s such a disappointment.
She goes off to school each day
in hope of a future bright and bold,
Then comes home full of complaint
about clothes, stationery, friends, money.
Continue reading "My Sister Celest" »
PNG and Australian medical specialists work alongside each other in the Covid response (DFAT)
BEENA DAGAM KULAU
| The Kramer Report
Dr Beena Dagam Kulau is a surgeon at Port Moresby General Hospital
PORT MORESBY - After I fell ill with Covid it came to a point where I could not walk without support and needed to be hospitalised.
What a difficult period it was for my family and I as, at the same time I was admitted, a loved one was also admitted, but to the general ward.
Continue reading "A message from the Covid ward" »
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" »
As the sun set over the low hills of Port Moresby, the Old Man would go to the veranda to read
| Edited extracts
FICTION - While the Old Man embraced the notion that he was like the Albatross, committed to one partner for life, he was finding it hard to cope with the agony of acute depression.
He had been so dependent on Rosemary. She had provided him with all the love a man could ever need. He felt her loss immensely. It was a burden too heavy to bear on his own. Perhaps he shouldn’t have loved her too much.
Continue reading "The Old Man ponders his lonely life" »
NOOSA – Last night I received a contribution for publication from a person I respect who is a prodigiously talented Papua New Guinean writer.
The opening paragraph of the piece offered an ostensible quote which provided a foundation for the ensuing polemic.
Continue reading "A note on the integrity of what we write" »
Link here to the full submission from Human Rights Watch to the Universal Periodic Review of Papua New Guinea
NOOSA - The Papua New Guinea government has failed to live up to commitments on women’s rights, children’s rights, and police accountability.
This is the headline statement in a recent submission Human Rights Watch has made to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Continue reading "PNG failing to meet human rights obligations" »
The steep rise in new Covid cases in PNG that has alarmed authorities on both sides of the Torres Strait
| Nikkei Asia
SYDNEY -- Papua New Guinea long appeared to have escaped the worst of the coronavirus crisis. But a surge in cases since February has brought the country’s largest hospital to the brink of collapse.
For the nation's much larger neighbour, Australia, the outbreak is considered a serious threat as well as a critical moment in a broader ‘vaccine diplomacy’ campaign.
Continue reading "Oz diplomacy tested as Covid slams PNG" »
KOIVI REX BIWA
Beauty is the word for you, no other can do
I found you somewhere, now I don’t know how,
Your smile, it just made that moment explode
I failed in my choice of the right words for you
Doo dobasi wandkii, oh!
Long lasting nights, full with fragrant dreams
Your countenance lighting my imagination
Your voice feels as gentle as the sweetest of petals
I goose bump all over at the sense of your touch
Ape do dobasi wandkii maa!
Continue reading "Dobasi Wandkii" »
Elon Musk has just edged ahead of Jeff Bezos to become the richest man in the world. Each man is worth nearly $200 billion (K700 billion). PNG's total wealth is K80 billion
TUMBY BAY - It seems that slavery is alive and well in the USA and is being perpetuated by one of the richest men in the world. He is Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.
What began as Bezos’s innovative online bookstore in July 1995, which later assisted writers publish and distribute books, has morphed into a monstrous retail operation that is trampling all in its path, including its own workers.
Continue reading "What to do about a big & ugly Amazon" »
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" »
Del Abcede and David Robie at the Pacific Media Centre
| The Spinoff | Edited extracts
AUCKLAND - Since 2007, the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology has built a solid reputation for its research and reporting on issues throughout the Asia Pacific region.
It has also been a productive training facility for Pasifika journalists and academics.
Continue reading "Pacific Media Centre still in limbo" »
Literary benefactors Daniel Kumbon and Paul Kurai in their beloved mountains of Enga
| Ples Singsing
PORT MORESBY - With only two weeks to go before the awards ceremony for the first Tingting Bilong Mi essay competition, we received a pleasant surprise.
It came by way of a comment on the PNG Attitude story by Pat Levo and Keith Jackson, ‘Women Triumph in First Essay Contest’.
Continue reading "Ples Singsing gets a valuable helping hand" »
HON SIMON PENTANU MP
For every day I spend confined in isolation
the flowers outdoor grow and glow more beautiful
and extend nearer and nearer to me
I think they are going to stick it out with me
until the last day when I’m primed and paroled
out of isolation indoors into open sunshine
Prof Peter Siba and Justice Minister Bryan Kramer - is their disagreement about vaccine safety or just a wounded ego?
HON BRYAN KRAMER MP
| Kramer Report
PORT MORESBY - Last week Professor Peter Siba challenged Dr Glen Mola and me to a public debate on the use of Covid-19 vaccines in Papua New Guinea.
Professor Siba is a virologist, former member of the Institute of Medical Research and current director of Divine Word University’s Madang-based Centre for Health Research and Diagnostics.
Continue reading "Siba–Kramer Covid debate continues" »
Sil Bolkin - "The names I chose for my children are saintly names from Simbu" (Simbu Children Foundation)
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY - Duncan Gabi must be thanked for raising the issue of 'decolonising the mind'.
I am a practicing Roman Catholic but all my eight children have traditional Simbu and Aroma Coast names.
When I took my first two children to the priest to enrol for baptism, the priest asked for their names.
Continue reading "You will not colonise my children’s names" »
Derived from the short story, ‘The Old Man, His Wife and the Young Girl’, adapted from Daniel Kumbon’s book, ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’ available here from Amazon
FICTION - Rosemary and the Old Man had come across the girl a couple of years before when she sent a random text message to his mobile phone pleading for financial assistance.
The girl claimed to be thirteen and wanting to complete her primary education.
Continue reading "Love, grief & the Old Man’s dilemma" »
She smells of Goroka coffee
in the perfume she wears each morning
What a beautiful way to start a day
Made of strawberry and honey
It’s difficult to resist her charms
Hooked on her explosive personality
A taste of wine in her presence
Spending more time with her
Leads to loving her even more
It’s difficult not to laugh at her jokes
Or her wicked sense of humour
She’ll get you thinking, she never cries
Continue reading "Mud Woman" »
Segment of screenprint, 'The life and death of Imbakey Okuk' by Mathias Kauage (1987)
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY - At the dawn of time, all humans were born to toil the earth for sustenance until they grew grey hairs and died of old age.
But this is not always the case.
Some few dudes and lasses are born into a dome of privilege and have never have sweat on their brows before old age strikes and they dutifully depart.
Continue reading "Cash-craving relatives shun death traditions" »
John Kuri and daughters. "It still amazes me when each year politicians and bureaucrats announce that more than half of school leavers will have to fend for themselves"
PORT MORESBY - The newspaper headline late last year said that only 9,000 out of 27,000 Grade 12 leavers would get a place in a tertiary institution.
We’ve all seen headlines like this previously in Papua New Guinea. They happen each year.
Along with a story about the imminent disaster waiting to happen if the government doesn’t do more.
Continue reading "School leavers: Containing the blast" »
MAJELLA DIULEN SOALILI
A tribute to the Grand Chief
Sir Michael Thomas Somare
In the midst of the battlefield
Stood a Hero
Who had a heart of Gold and
A mind full of dreams.
He fought without fear.
But with the stoutest
Of weapons: Confidence, Courage
and such great Determination
Continue reading "The Hero" »
Covid testing in Port Moresby (Matt Cannon St John's Ambulance PNG)
| CoronaCheck | RMIT ABC Fact Check
MELBOURNE - As a wave of coronavirus cases in PNG threatens to spill over into Australia, experts are sounding a warning about online misinformation in the Pacific nation.
Amnesty International has lambasted Australia and New Zealand for what the group's Pacific researcher, Kate Schuetze, called a "woefully inadequate" response to the pandemic.
Continue reading "Misinformation fuels Covid surge in PNG" »
TUMBY BAY - Many writers, especially creative writers, use fiction and poetry as a kind of therapy.
For these people, and I’m one of them, writing about matters of concern or anxiety - be they personal, political or otherwise - can be as effective as visiting a psychiatrist or some similar therapist.
Continue reading "Now here's something: Writing as therapy" »
The mountain stream is young and sometimes reckless
From a tiny trickle, vexed and irritated, looks for outlet
After the rainbow when the storm rests up on the hills
He rushes down ravines and gullies, his fist full of water
This irate adolescent behind cover of the storm and bush
Surges down knocking and swiping at rocks, soil and roots
Continue reading "The Irate Adolescent" »
| Aunamelo | Edited
PORT MORESBY - While many people think decolonisation means just breaking away from colonisers and getting political independence, there’s more to it than the average mind can ever comprehend.
I am not going to write on political or economic decolonisation but on cultural decolonisation which I believe is the first step to take in the decolonisation process.
Continue reading "Decolonisation & the changing of our names" »
| Duresi’s Odyssey | Edited
AUCKLAND - Last week I saw much social media commentary by fellow Papua New Guineans following a newspaper article on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to PNG and other countries by GAVI.
GAVI is an international organisation that was established to improve access to vaccines for countries like PNG that are considered to be low income.
Continue reading "Covid vaccines & social media disinformation" »
KOIVI R BIWA
Once no cries were heard nor bitter tears shed,
This time when ancients and babes mingled calm,
Love and respect were their constant companions,
When no one stood bewildered by enmity or anger
But it happened that the tuneful war cries sounded,
Heard, known, accepted by all far and near,
Wigmen danced fluidly to the beat of the kundu,
Warrior elegance betrayed the combat ahead
Continue reading "The Perpetual Tears of Hela" »
ADELAIDE - There are two observations I wish to make about Keith Jackson’s story on Australia’s response to the Covid crisis in Papua New Guinea.
The first is that the Australian government has yet to grasp the scale of the disaster unfolding in PNG and, consequently, has yet to realise that only a truly massive intervention by Australia (perhaps with the help of New Zealand) will ensure a timely and comprehensive implementation of a national vaccination program.
Continue reading "Canberra’s approach to PNG seems hapless" »
Mathias Kauage - Independence celebration 4, 1975 (National Gallery of Australia)
Bik nem lidasip
Papa bilong yu
Emi gat bikpela nem turu
Long olgeta hap ples mi raun
Mi ken i harim ol manmeri
Litimapim nem bilong em
Taim oli toktok long ol kainkain wok
Emi bin mekim long en
Continue reading "An original poem in Tok Pisin & English" »
| New York Times | Extract
Link here for the full story in the New York Times
PORT MORESBY - The emergency rooms are heaving, health care workers are falling sick, and misinformation about the coronavirus is running rife.
It has all left Papua New Guinea, an island nation just north of Australia, in the grip of a deadly crisis, as a tripling of infections over the past month has swamped an already fragile health care system.
Continue reading "Zero for months; now PNG overwhelmed" »
The Australian government got enormous media coverage for what was little more than this public relations exercise. Its real response to PNG's Covid crisis is woeful
NOOSA – Some of the most important windows into the operations of the federal government in Australia government are provided by Senate Estimates Committees.
The title may sound unexciting, but these committees – established to enable Senators twice a year to quiz government departments on how they are spending public money – provide a unique opportunity to allow Senators to determine how the government is operating.
Continue reading "Senate reveals Oz neglect of PNG Covid crisis" »
TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea kiaps who ventured into new areas, or areas that had only recently been contacted, became acutely aware of the value villagers placed on items that otherwise would have been thrown away.
These included tin cans, glass jars, bottles and cardboard boxes with brightly coloured exteriors.
Continue reading "Junking our way to extinction" »
| Duresi’s Odyssey | Edited
AUCKLAND – There have been many questions asked about the four Covid-19 vaccines approved for use to date in many countries.
In response I have compiled some important information on them in the table below.
Continue reading "Brief information on Covid-19 vaccines" »