Bringing the power to Faseu (until the next flood)
Museum botanist finds undiscovered plants in PNG

Motu Koitabu people staring down barrel of a gun


Port Moresby - first settled by the Motu-Koitabu people

CONSTITUENTS OF THE MOTU KOITA ASSEMBLY in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District are staring down the barrel of an executive and legislative gun.

For most, if not all the people, this may be their last chance because the PNG government is now set on uprooting them from their homeland to make way for Port Moresby’s expansion.

In May, the O’Neill-Namah government approved for the port to be relocated from Port Moresby Harbour to the Tatana village and Napanapa oil refinery precincts.

National Capital District governor Powes Parkop had also previously ordered his Physical Planning Office to develop local development plans covering both government and Motu Koitabu land, an area covering Kaevaga/Poreporena, Huhunama/Tovabada, Napanapa/Daugo Island, Taurama South, Taurama/Dogura South, and Dogura North

Successive Motu Koitabu generations have inherited problems created by bad land alienation policies. And the actions of the national and the metropolitan governments are the latest in a long line.

If this had occurred in the Highlands region, the outcome would be obvious. But here in the nation’s capital, our peace-loving nature has got the better of us and our eregabes (youth) are becoming restless. Most of them are disoriented, unemployable and destitute. And they are landless, hungry and angry.

For most of the Motu Koitabu people, Governor Parkop is a chameleon. He says one thing to us; but behind us he says another. In fact, behind us he is detrimental.

In May he attended a gathering of Motu Koitabu people at the University of Papua New Guinea and admitted he had failed them. This is honourable but it is too little too late.

Not many people know that, when he visited Motu Koitabu voters in 2007, he promised justice for Motu Koitabu people. At the time it was a significant statement coming from a human rights lawyer. The people bought it hook line and sinker.

Motu Koitabu constituents represent some 10% of NCD’s total voter population. Therefore, these people alone cannot vote in their own candidate unless that person can canvass both Motu Koitabu and non-Motu Koitabu voters.

The Motu Koitabu people may have the Motu Koita Assembly. But as the years go by, it has become obvious that it has become a political compromise that gives mere lip service. Unlike the National Capital District and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Motu Koita Assembly is toothless.

Why has the National Government co-operated with NCD and Bougainville governments over the years and not Assembly chairman Miria Ikupu? Motu Koitabu people have been left to guess the answer.

One possibility is that the Assembly is not a creature of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government. Therefore, it cannot attract the type of funding and respect that is enjoyed by other provincial governments and local level governments.

Motu Koitabu lakatoiPerhaps this is why Miria Ikupu has made a bold decision to take this political fight one step higher by running for the Moresby North West seat in the forthcoming national elections.

The Assembly’s decision to grant him leave of absence to do this has aroused controversy. But, according to legal advice, his decision is supported by law.

In an earlier statement, reported in PNG Attitude, Mr Ikupu explained his reasons for contesting, among them that the Motu Koitabu people have been marginalised on their own land.

Since Mr Ikupu’s announcement to contest the election, his detractors have been relentless.

NCD’s Motu Koitabu people need to start implementing a consolidated political entity. They should be considering such options as an Open Electorate; or a government akin to the Manus Provincial Government or the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

And they must do something immediately, so that the national and municipal governments can return the proverbial gun to its holster.

Oala Moi is an aspiring Papua New Guinea writer from Boera village in the Hiri District of Central Province


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Vagi Gaudi Kevau

I'm interested to have a copy "Whispers of the Voiceless"book by Rev Oala B Arua, published in 2011

How can I get a copy?

Norman Sabadi

Motu-Koitabuans, we rise again with a strong voice and we will lead the way in raising the standards in PNG.

We have the skill, the talent and the help of God above all to be vibrant. There is still plenty of hope.

All we have to do is stand together as one people with one voice and we will see results through our unity.

Mary Meme

The Melanesian Way will fail you time and time again if you just sit back and expect that for some reason there is a psychological contract that ties you to your land.

Then be prepared to watch yourself lose.

Fight for what you have, stand your ground and let your voice be heard otherwise go back to your village, stay jobless and blame the government and while your at it make babies you cant support and continue as always.

The Papuan people and their peace-loving demeanour can stand up and can voice opinions. Ghandi did it. No violence there. Just peaceful protests without letting up.

Wake up and stop blaming the government and take action and write your own story and make your own future. Otherwise shut up and go back to your village and be like that.

Leonard Roka

My call to you people is that you are brink of becoming 'nobodies' in your own land.

Act now or you will never!

My heart is with you.

Mrs Barbara Short

Thanks Oala, for keeping us updated on this ongoing problem.

Maybe someone could supply us with a photo of the Tatana village and Napanapa oil refinery precincts, as they are today.

For people interested in Motu-Koitabu Society, read "Whispers of the Voiceless" a book by Rev Oala B Arua, published in 2011. I still have a few copies available for sale in Australia.

Succeeding governments have failed to protect the Motu-Koitabus, whose land they have taken to build Port Moresby. Let us hope they will be represented in the next parliament and looked after in an appropriate way in the future.

All PNGians must feel sorry for them as they are uprooted from their homeland to make way for Port Moresby.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)