Bougainville News : Today we celebrate 18th AROB Day Anniversary June 15 2005 to 2023

Where were you at the beginning of this era on this Day 15 June 2005.
I was at Hahela YC sports oval. This was the outdoors venue where the inauguration of the first ABG took place.
It is where the President of ABG (Joseph C Kabui) took his oaths as the first President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville within PNG.
It is also where the first 40 members of the First Bougainville House of Representatives took their oaths of Office as Members.
The swearing-in was administered by and before His Honour the Deputy Chief Justice, late Sir Mari Kapi.
This Day was graced by a full crowd of women, men, including schoolchildren that filled the whole oval. A colorful loop of young students holding a large Bougainville flag end to bed took up a large space of the oval.
At the head of the ceremonial pavilion were VIPs that included head of UNOMB, heads of missions in PNG, a Fijian Government contingent led by their Foreign Minister at the time, and heads and representatives of churches, chiefs, elders, traditional spiritual leaders and women leaders.
The significance of this occasion was a “rebirth”of Bougainville after a devastating conflict in which many lives were lost on all sides of the conflict but mostly upwards of fifteen thousand lives of Bougainvilleans.
The thoughts and significance that today marked the end of what seemed a debilitating war and the beginning today that would usher in peace in the land was not lost to many Bougainvilleans at home and abroad.
The principal guest who made the keynote response to the inaugural Address by President Kabui was the Rt Hon Prime Minister of PNG, Sir Michael Somare.
At the end of the ceremony the Prime Minister, the President, all MHRs, VIPs and the Clerk of the House were ‘ushered’ into vehicles on a short drive to the Parliament, Bougainville’s first House of Representatives.
The first business of the House was the appointment of Speaker of the House. Hon Nick Peniai was duly elected and took his oath as the first Speaker of the House.
Two main Addresses followed, the first in the Bougainville House of Representatives by the Rt Hon Sir Michael Somare and by Hon Joseph C Kabui.
On this day was born the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the ABG and Bougainville’s Parliament, the House of Representatives.
So today isn’t just another day. It is the eighteenth anniversary of AROB eighteen years on. Hon Ishmael Toroama MHR is the fifth President of ABG and head of the Executive. The Fourth Bougainville House of Representatives is celebrating its fourth anniversary with four successful, successive peaceful elections since 2005 with its fifth Speaker as head of the Legislature on this eighteenth anniversary.
Thanking all Bougainvilleans across the length and breath of the main Islands and out on the Atolls.
Thank you PNG National Government for honouring the BPA in delivering Autonomy and maintaining a continuing interest in the development and aspirations of Bougainville.
A long and winding, challenging and interesting, road is ahead and beyond. It isn’t awaiting us. We have to make the right efforts guided by faith, honesty, trust and forebearance, led by leaders that must not only be beyond reproach but seen to be so in a world that is still violent, full of greed and aggrandizement.
Happy AROB Day Anniversary ☮️

Bougainville News : Download /Read : Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation a new book by Gordon Peake

In 2016, Gordon Peake answers a job advertisement for a role with the government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a collection of islands on the eastern fringe of Papua New Guinea looking to strike out as a country of its own.

In his day job he sees at first hand the challenges of trying to stand up new government systems.

Away from the office he travels with former rebels, follows an anthropologist’s ghost and visits landmarks from the region’s conflict. In 2019, he witnesses joy and euphoria as the people of Bougainville vote in a referendum on their future.

Out of these encounters emerges an unforgettable portrait of this potential nation-in-waiting.

Blending narrative history, travelogue and personal reminiscences, Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is an engaging memoir as well as an insightful meditation on the realities of nation-making and international development.

Download the book here

Bougainville book

Publisher ANU

‘Heartfelt and honest. This book is an insightful read and a valuable addition to scholarship on Bougainville’s journey to peace.’
— Joseph Nobetau, former Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government

‘An excellent piece of engaged travel writing. With first-hand observation and curiosity, Gordon has produced a deeply informed, compelling and evocative account of war, survival and nation-building in what may become the world’s newest country.’
— Tom Bamforth, author of The Rising Tide: Among the Islands and Atolls of the Pacific Ocean

Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is also available as an audiobook.

Bougainville News Alert : ABG is working on an economic road-map for the region

From New Dawn FM News

Bougainville needs economic strength to support our mandated visions and goals, the Autonomous Bougainville Government is working on an economic roadmap for Bougainville help to budget on matters we need.

ABG Chief Secretary reminded the people that the current internal revenue of K20million increased by K10million to K30million and hopefully to K55million as projected in this year’s budget.

Himata said the economic projects in the pipeline included the ‘commissioning generator for gold refinery three weeks ago in Arawa and awaiting the refinery plant to arrive and install, so we hope that we can commence buying & refining gold in second quarter of this year.

‘Secondly, the water bottling factory in Toniva, the factory building is up, we are waiting for the water bottling & packaging machine that we ordered from China. So, when it arrives, machine will be installed and should commence project mid this year.

‘Thirdly, the airline business the ABG government is investing in the ‘setup of Bougainville Wings Limited’ our airline company. ABG has bought our first airplane two weeks ago, as soon as we bought the airplane-our first revenue started flowing into our Bougainville Wings Limited account.

‘One successful investment and proposal our team has put together, the plane is attached to corporate charters and cargo charters as well.

‘Business will commence business starting this year by 2024 and 2025, we should have our first passenger airplane to support our travels outside of Bougainville and also overseas.

‘Another impact project is the Bana Special Economic Zone, project has started, our team is working on creating our development bank to deal with all foreign direct investments ‘this bank is required’ because we will be dealing with foreign currencies, when foreign companies come to assist us with our development projects n programs in Bougainville, they can bring in their foreign money through this bank, so this will boost economic activity in the region.

Himata also added the Panguna mine, is waiting for the certificate to be transferred by the National Govt, this is currently in progress.

‘Until we own majority of the share-holding from Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). We can look at how we can open the mine. The decision was made by the people at Tonuru that they want to open the mine with their own mining company.

‘The Manetai limestone project will also be supported by the Panguna hydro, where power will be needed to power the project.

‘We are also focused on the Chocolate festival and the government has budgeted for this at the end of this year.

‘In-terms of fisheries revenue, the National government has agreed to to give the ABG government 15% of all tuna catch in PNG-waters -as Bougainville to entitled to another peace agreement. Currently, we get only K5mill per annum.

Himata stated that the tax regime will be looked into as well.

‘ABG has also invested K20million at Central bank which means our government will be collecting dividends per annum, a good revenue making.

‘Tonolei, will be looked at relating to the option of carbon trade and climate change.

‘Tourism Act, where tourism legislation is established and a board will be setup to promote tourism activities in the region.

‘ABG will strengthen its commodities thru the BACRA law to regulate all our commodities through the signed MOU with PNG Cocoa Board.

‘The ABG Team who travelled to Solomon Islands (S.I), may strike a policy framework, by starting to look at in-terms of petroleum products. ABG may want to purchase low petroleum prices from S.I, to avoid high prices from PNG.

‘Ramazon hydro and Soroken plantation is also being eyed for the solar farm.

‘ABG is also establishing its own power company and telecommunication. Right now, we heavily rely on Digicel, Bemobile and Telikom. Going forward we will use Huawei cable from Arawa to Buka. Dark spot areas will be used to setup towers where Digicel and the others can facilitate their communication.

‘While, Atolls continue to roll out VSAT.

‘We will improve the frequency for National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) reach for Bougainville coverage.

‘K70million budget is also available to improve the Arawa General Hospital, while Buin funding under Asian Development Bank will kick start construction in September this year.

‘The government is committed to the road infrastructure from Aropa and Buin road, Pitono to Kesa road and continue to meet with Chinese government to discuss bridges program to continue from Bana to Buin, continuous development from Buka to Arawa roads,’ Himata explained.

He appealed to the people, we need your support and dedication to ask God to create an environment that we can become a country of our own.

‘Particularly the leaders in Parliament through the ratification process to see why Bougainville can become an independent nation,’ he added

Bougainville Independence News : On PNG Independence Day we ask the question , when will Bougainville gets its independence ?


The Autonomous Bougainville Government continues to make headway under its Independence Mission Strategy to practicalise the people’s 97.7 percent vote for Independence.

The Bougainville Independence Mission which was launched by President Hon. Ishmael Toroama in April 2021, marked the beginning of the implementation of a trident strategy to prepare Bougainville for independence.

Under this Trident Strategy, the first prong covered independence-ready preparations within Bougainville by Bougainvilleans, the second prong covered independence-ready preparations within Papua New Guinea and the third prong launched today, will focus on independence-ready preparations with the international community.

The International Prong was launched under the theme “Promoting Bougainville’s Global Trade & Investment”, and aims to establish support for Bougainville’s independence through enhanced trade and investment relations.

Speaking at the launch, ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development Hon. Patrick Nisira explained that under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, it outlines ABG’s opportunities to bring forth this change in the global scene in concurrence with the national government’s foreign affairs department.

“There are provisions in the Bougainville Peace Agreement that provide for ABG to have observer status on various trade and investment platforms at the international frontier. These avenues must now be utilized to expose and integrate Autonomous Bougainville Government and its potential into the international prong,” he said.

“As we reach out to the international frontier our focus must be on growing the Bougainville economy and attaining fiscal self-reliance through international trade and sound investment and support for Bougainville as it integrates into the global community and building foreign relationships.”

Under the International Prong, a number of key tasks will be implemented to support its implementation. These include:

1.      Set-up of a Bougainville Desk under the National Department of Foreign Affairs

2.      Set-up of a Bougainville Desk at the National Trade Office

3.      Collaboration with the PNG Overseas Missions

4.      A Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate Trade and Economic Integration

5.      Requesting for observer status on various forums like the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Melanesian Spearhead Group, EU Economic Partnership Agreement with PNG and APEC plus others.

Minister Nisira reiterated that Bougainvilleans must understand that Bougainville is part of a bigger global village and cannot exist on its own, however the Government through the international prong, will work towards building mutual relationships and trust through government-to-government relationships that will enhance trade and investment for Bougainville as an emerging island state in the Pacific.

Minister Nisira also appealed strongly to the people of Bougainville as the resource owners to work closely with the government.

“I appeal to the people of Bougainville especially the resource owners to work closely with my Ministry, Department and the Toroama-Nisira government to prepare ourselves to release the resources for development to have maximum benefits and equitable distribution of wealth with the investors, the state and the resource owners,” he said.

“Let me also inform Bougainvilleans that as we embark on the international prong through trade and investment, we must be responsible citizens. We must fix our law-and-order issues to provide a conducive environment for investment and trade to flourish,” Nisira added.

Back to News ]

Bougainville Environmental News Alert: Download: Early environmental report on Rio Tinto’s former Panguna mine highlights clear risks for communities



A new independent report reviewing satellite images and other historical data on Rio Tinto’s former Panguna mine has warned of serious risks to local communities posed by unstable mine infrastructure and flooding caused by the build-up of mine waste in the rivers.

The report, produced by global environmental firm Tetra Tech Coffey, is a preparatory desktop study on the mine, which will inform an environmental and human rights impact assessment of the mine due to commence later this year.

The report found that a levee at the junction of the Jaba and Kawerong rivers, constructed at the time of the mine’s operation, “is almost certain to collapse at some stage in the future” and that “structures and people that live on the floodplain downstream of the Jaba River would be directly impacted by flooding or landslide effect”. The report noted that “it is not yet possible to predict when the levee at the junction of the Kawerong and Jaba rivers may fail or how severe its failure may be due to limitations of current information.”

The report also warned that “the bed of the Jaba River has raised over time due to flooding and build-up of previously deposited tailings, such as at the lower Jaba River near Bato Bridge”. This “caused the Jaba River to change course in 2017 and start to flow into the Konaviru wetland and lower Kuneka Creek, changing their flooding patterns and depositing tailings into them.” The report noted that “this change of flow into Konaviru wetland is likely to remain and become the focus of further tailings deposition in the future”, posing future flooding risks for people living in the area. However, “it is not yet possible to predict when this will happen and whether the change will be permanent”.

Due to the urgent nature of these two risks, a rapid risk assessment by Tetra Tech Coffey, including on-ground inspection to verify the report’s findings, is due to commence in the coming weeks. The process has been escalated outside of the formal impact assessment and is being led by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, with the support of Rio Tinto and the Human Rights Law Centre.

The other issues identified in the report, including risks posed by old mine infrastructure and pollution of local rivers and water sources, will be examined by the formal impact assessment, starting later in the year.

Last year, Rio Tinto committed to fund the impact assessment following a human rights complaint brought by 156 local community members, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre. Rio Tinto has not yet committed to funding solutions to any mine-related risks or impacts identified through the impact assessment.

The Tetra Tech Coffey report was released by the Panguna Mine Legacy Oversight Committee  – a multi-stakeholder Committee comprising community members, landowners, government representatives, and representatives from the Human Rights Law Centre, Rio Tinto and Bougainville Copper Limited.

Traditional landowner and lead complainant in the human rights complaint, Theonila Roka Matbob, who is also the member of parliament for the area where the mine is located said:

“We welcome Rio Tinto’s commitment to investigating these problems and to supporting the Bougainville Government to escalate the serious levee risk and lower Kuneka Creek flooding risk for urgent investigation.

“This early report shows the world just some of what we live with every day. Every day we worry about levees collapsing on us, about rivers full of mine waste flooding our land and villages and about whether the water we drink and wash with is making us sick.

“We appreciate Rio’s message at the launch of the Secretariat’s office that it is committed to the Impact Assessment process. It is critical that Rio Tinto also commits to supporting the implementation of solutions to the huge problems we face.”

Keren Adams, Acting Co-CEO at the Human Rights Law Centre, said:

“This report reinforces the devastating environmental legacy of the Panguna mine and the dangerous, volatile situation that this has left local communities living in. When we visited these communities, we saw first-hand the devastating effects of mine-waste mud flows on communities’ water sources & fishing areas. We spoke to people who live downstream of the collapsing levees and fear their houses could be swept away.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be working with communities, the ABG, Rio Tinto and the Tetra Tech Coffey team to ensure that the acute levee and flooding risks are urgently assessed. We hope this will help give communities a better understanding of the risks they are living with and to identify options for addressing these serious risks to peoples’ lives and livelihoods.”


In September 2020, 156 residents from villages downstream of the Panguna mine, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, filed a complaint against Rio Tinto with the Australian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The complaint was about the environmental impacts of the mine and the effects these have on the lives of people living near and downstream of the mine from things like pollution of rivers, lack of access to clean water, flooding and land destruction, collapsing levees, food shortages, disease and illness.

In 2021, Rio Tinto publicly committed to fund an independent environmental and human rights impact assessment of the mine. The company has not yet committed to fund the clean-up and remediation of affected areas and communities.

A tender process is currently underway to select an independent company of environmental, social and human rights experts to carry out Phase 1 of the Impact Assessment, which is expected to start by the end of the year and run for around 18 months.

Following the impact assessment, further discussions will be held between the company, community representatives and other stakeholders regarding the assessment’s recommendations and next steps.

The Tetra Tech report is available here.

For further background on the impacts of the mine, see the Human Rights Law Centre’s After the Mine report.


Bougainville Cultural Tourism News : Central Bougainville Tourism Association (CBTA) will celebrate the Tamatama Festival 10th August 2022 in ARAWA Central Bougainville

” The tamatama has its own ancient folklore. In recent times it has earned its place amongst the traditional cuisine served both as entree’ and also thrown into the smorgasbord mix and fray of local and modern delicious dishes.

It owes its popularity to the delicate and caring hands of women in the close-knit village family households.”

Words and images below Simon Pentanu 

Tamatama is a local rich vegetarian dish slowly prepared by stirring fresh coconut oil over hardwood fire stoked under undamaged selected banana leaves or in tradition claypot  (kakasi’). It is entree’ on its own but has gradually found its way for pickings as part of many smorgasbords  amongst other garden food and seafood.

Best eaten hot to warm for a unique taste that caresses the pellet when eaten on its  own. Comes in straight up and down longish shapes, meatball sizes and, occasionally, in flat and roundish scone shaped finishes.

Varities come in banana, taro and cassava prepared on their own or mixed in a single dish finish.

Rarely spared to last overnight as it slowly loses its freshness and taste. However, leftovers can be heated to get a roasted banana, taro or cassava taste but at this stage it is usually eaten for the feel of the remaining rich coconut oil and cream which still holds its taste at any temperaure.

In most cases it is prepared as an entree’ or to adorn other main local dishes as part of a group meal, usually provided on order or request.

The local Nasioi name is tama’ but has christened itself into a bit of a double whammy and moutful to be known these days more popularly as tamatama. In Torau where they differ slightly in both shapes and sizes but holding its own in taste it is known as pisu.

Toronisi refers to how the tama has been rolled and prepared ready to eat into this shape.

A local delicacy, tama(tama), an alluring banana pudding cooked in pure coconut cream presented on oiled cavendish banana leaves. This preparation is called Toronisi.

The kakasi’ (the dumpling version of tamatama) is the ultimate ambrosial Nasioi delicacy. It is organic, herbal, unadulterated and without foreign ingredients or condiments.
The coconut oil is from trees with the richest oily nuts collected by women. The oil is cooked and simmered down in earthen clay pot until it is matured, using select young leaves or fronds that also give a natural fragrance.
Kakasi’ is cooked and served out of traditional claypots.  It is one of traditional dishes, served at welcomes, reconciliations, feasts, anointing ceremonies, traditional weddings, and other special occasions.
The tamatama traditionally only comes in a variety of cooking bananas, taro and tapioca or cassava.
A tasty taro tama pudding pack Panguna style for a visiting group lunch at the old mine site.
Occasionally it is also done in sago in coconut cream stirred to ‘maturity’ (well cooked) as sago pudding
A birthday cake-like version quickly prepared for a birthday spread with, in addition to, or instead of, a birthday cake only in a family.
Finished in a scone shape this version is called ‘banang’, it literally means sitting. Mostly done to adorn village weddings, initiation ceremonies and served at visiting dignitaries events. This a photo from a visit by a diplomat to a village to deliver a community project.

Bougainville News: President Toroama speech : We all have a duty to Bougainville The Autonomous Region of Bougainville celebrated the 17th Anniversary of the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government on June 15.

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville celebrated the 17th Anniversary of the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government on June 15.

Celebrations were held in the three regional capitals in North Bougainville (Buka Town), Central Bougainville (Arawa Town) and South Bougainville (Buin Town).

Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama was in Arawa for the celebrations where he was the keynote speaker.

President Toroama paid tribute to former Bougainville leaders as well ex-combatants who fought in the Bougainville Civil War.

He said their sacrifice made possible the existence of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the legal framework that preceded the ABG and allowed it’s creation.

“In the present my government has finally positioned Bougainville ready to attain independence but doing so through the established legal process,” President Toroama said.

“However, this does not mean our people can suddenly become complacent. We all have a duty to Bougainville and to honor the blood that was spilled on our island to work with our government to achieve political independence,” Toroama said.

“There are a lot of people who are find of asking where the government up to with its development priorities and independence readiness but I turn to you and ask you, Na yu nap where?” Toroama said.

On June 15th 2005 the first Bougainville House of Representatives was sworn in with the Late Joseph Kabui as President and witnessed by then Prime Minister the Late Great Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.

This gave birth to the autonomous arrangements that have since been in place on Bougainville.


Bougainville Resources News : Jubilee publishes a report : Scramble for resources : The international race for Bougainville”s resources

” Scramble for Resources shines much-needed light on the practices of the new waves of mining and exploration companies in Bougainville. Given the sheer number of Australian companies involved in this stampede for Bougainville’s resources, and the consequences for people living on the island, its findings should cause Australians to sit up and take notice. ” 

– The Hon Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia

Jubilee published a report revealing how the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has become the target of a scramble for resources.

 Bougainville, which is transitioning towards independence from Papua New Guinea, has attracted mining and minerals exploration companies from around the world, drawn by its valuable copper and gold reserves. Most of these companies are based in or have links to Australia. 

Download / Read the report here  Bougainville mineral wealth

Bougainville is home to the Panguna mine – once one of the largest operating copper and gold mines in the world. During its operation from 1972-1989, the mine operator, then a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, dumped one billion tonnes of mining waste into Bougainville’s rivers with devastating environmental consequences. The mine sparked a brutal ten-year conflict on the island, the effects of which are seen to this day.

Over a two-year investigation, we tracked the companies vying for the right to mine on the island, ranging from one-person outfits to global operations backed by major investors. Some are hoping to reopen the defunct Panguna mine. 

We found that at least two of the companies seeking mining rights at Panguna have been making payments to landowner groups who are likely to be involved in decisions about whether to reopen the mine. Another company made payments to the local police.

Our report also looks at two leaked corporate presentations prepared for the Bougainvillean Government that advised it to put valuable mining rights in the hands of offshore companies set up in a secrecy jurisdiction.

Our report raises questions about corporate accountability, transparency and who is responsible for safeguarding human rights and the environment when multinational companies are operating overseas.

Further, it highlights the importance of corporate political engagement being transparent, responsible and in the public interest. When Australian companies operate overseas, they should be answerable for the human and environmental impacts of their operations.

Based on the findings of the report, we recommend that Australia put in place a mandatory human rights due diligence mechanism and a corporate beneficial ownership register to hold companies to account for the impact of their operations on communities overseas.

Whether or not to reopen Bougainville to large-scale mining is a decision for the people of Bougainville and their government. It is important that anyone seeking to mine there has the free, prior and informed consent of all landowners, and that mining ventures deliver genuine benefits to local communities and avoid repeating the environmental devastation of the past. 

In solidarity, 

Jubilee team

Bougainville News May 2022 : Simon Pentanu “ The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed. “

For now ABG and the people have been all too aware matters surrounding mining and landowner concerns must be handled much better.

The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed. ” 

Simon Pentanu

The benches around the Panguna mine that were so conspicuous and became almost a landmark of this humongous pit are still visible but mostly either in a state of collapse through slow seeping water erosion or giving way, tired of lying around with no purpose to fulfil.

The pit is a massive ‘dingkung’ (hole) on Bougainville’s landscape; it is also a massive statement that man is capable of gutting the resources and riches of the Earth from its belly and leave the land wasted and torn asunder after its riches have been extracted and shipped away.

The creepers and dwarf alpine tree roots that have held the land around the rim of the open-cut mine intact have been eroded through crevices allowing rain water to seep into the pit. Some of this water turns into a turquoise-green pond after it has come into contact with copper traces in the rocks.

The Euclid trucks and electric shovels in the pit that were torched at the height of crisis and sat in neat rows as lifeless sitting ducks, looking down from the top of the pit, are no longer there. Anything that was worth salvaging to sell as scrap has gone.

There is nothing much to find, cut or sell from Panguna anymore. It would be a completely desolate place if not for the resilience of women, who – despite the land, the creeks and the jungle and fauna and flora they have lost – still go about their traditional chores attached to the land.

Any activity that maintains a semblance of normal life here involves women. They have gone back to gardening, growing vegetables on whatever arable land was spared of mining.

There are no commercial tree crops like cocoa and coconut grown in Panguna. The people’s limited source of income comes from the vegetables from the land that find their way from the Crown Prince Range to the fruit and vegetable markets at Morgan Junction and Arawa.

The more you look at Panguna and the few remnants from its mining days, the more it looks as if some gigantic monster landed here and trampled on everything with its huge feet.

It is unimaginable how a whole area of rainforest could disappear from this once-beautiful place. Yes, humans – at our very best and our very worst – are capable of many unimaginable things!

Panguna is a paradox, a Pandora’s box. Once opened, its contents cannot be easily contained. This is still a huge mineral deposit under the ground. There is no doubt it still holds the potential to largely, perhaps singly, drive Bougainville’s economy in the same as it did pre and post independent PNG, if it is reopened.

For now ABG and the people have been all too aware matters surrounding mining and landowner concerns must be handled much better. The lessons out of Panguna provide an almanac of social, political, economic and environmental concerns we will do well to heed.

Much of the problem is that we tend to start by thinking about how much money mining promises to provide and imagine how that will transform everything for the better without also thinking through otherwise. We tend not to turn our minds to the human feelings, the societal issues, the injustices and the environmental harms that arise when huge projects of this magnitude are given the green light.

Yet the views, human feelings and sensitivities are much more powerful than what money may achieve in trying to reopen Panguna. Just consider how many millions, a figure close to K20m if you include hidden costs, of our good money has been thrown over the years at discussing re-opening Panguna.

A lot of this isn’t necessarily any government’s fault, the landowners’ fault or anybody’s fault.

What some of it is, is this. When a mammoth project like Panguna, particularly an extractive project like mining, is shut down while there are still underlying conflicts and competing interests in a complex land tenure system, it is very difficult to get traction with anybody unless you satisfy everybody.

In a society where land is not owned individually, but its use and tenure is shared, it is impossible to satisfy everybody regardless of how many MOUs, MOAs or similar pledges are signed. Or for that matter, how many reconciliations are done.

There are tried and tested ways to resolve land claims, land feuds and land grabs in traditional societies. These involve methods where the settlement of a dispute doesn’t benefit one group, one party, one clan or family, while disadvantaging others. Any resolution reached cannot have adverse impacts for some and benefits to others if it is to be widely accepted and shared.

Traditional Melanesian society is highly egalitarian.

It does not necessarily fit with a system where land is regarded as a valuable commodity – a resource that can be bought and sold, used and disposed of.

Paying heed to heartfelt feelings is critical when dealing with resource issues, as the following words from a New Zealand journalist’s interview with the late President Joseph Kabui remind us:

“The Panguna mine did a massive damage to the environment of Bougainville. Damage that affected the river system in the immediate vicinityi of the mine and of course all the way down to the sea.

The river that I once swam in as a young boy spearing prawns and fish, eels, whatever, the normal life of the river disappeared right in front of my eyes. It is still dead, it will never come back to what it was before.”

Land is not only the stuff we walk on, are buried under, sow gardens into, go walkabout on and hunt in.

Land is also the rivers and creeks, the shrubs, trees and forests, the insects, birds, lizards and marsupials the same land supports. When people sense a threat or get the notion they might be dispossessed, they will fight and protect their land with their lives if they have to.

No wonder Panguna continues to be a difficult problem to resolve, where good money has been thrown after dubious decisions. It is always better to start well at the front end of a complex equation than to go in, boots and all, make a mess then try to fix up issues from the back end.

Let us hope the Tunuru Agreement, which was openly representative and inclusive of the main custodial clans of traditional land in Paguna and its upper and lower tailings, has done things differently and is given a chance to succeed in ways other agreements did not.

Because if we continue to do the same things over and over again, but expect a different result, our hopes may collapse like the benches around the mine pit.

PHOTO: “Any activity that maintains a semblance of normal life here involves women. I am thankful we have women elected into our Parliament.”


Bougainville Tourism News : The Bougainville Government has not forgotten tourism in its economic plans

The ABG has not forgotten tourism development in its plan to create much needed economic activities throughout Bougainville.

New Dawn FM reporting

The Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development in which the Tourism directorate has been parked under, Hon Patrick Nisira says a number of tourists coming into Bougainville has declined given the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

With the eased of restrictions at the national level, it is anticipated that Tourists numbers will increase in the region.

The Minister said that our current tourists into Bougainville are Business tourists, having interest to participate in developing Bougainville.

He said that the Bougainville Mona Festival has been planned for July this year.

This event will showcase the culture and tourism potential of our region.

This event will focus on the Tourism, Arts and Culture in Bougainville.

The Minister said Planning, Coordination is being done jointly with the Department of Community Development which has culture and arts under it wing and the Buka Town Urban Community Government and other stakeholders who have been supporting the hosting of this event in the past years.

The Minister also mentioned that the Siwai Tourism Cultural Show is a national Gazetted annual event by the National Cultural Commission and will be held again in August of this year.


NEW DAWN FM understands the member for South Bougainville, HON TIMOTHY MASIU has invested more than 200,000 kina since the festival started three years ago.

Last year the National Tourism Minister announced the declaration of the show as a national funded event under the National Cultural Commission.

Highlights if the show can be seen on the New Dawn youtube page on this link.

The ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development, HON PATRICK NISIRA last week also revealed that the ABG is embarking on developing Tourism Products on Bougainville.

He said that product development have been conducted and promotional footage and videos have been produced and marketed on Tourism Facebook page and Bougainville. Travel website.

And there are plans for the ABG media to showcase sites that have been visited already.

He said logistic access to Benua Cave and other parts along the west coast must be created to provide opportunities towards potential areas that needs to be covered.

The NumaNuma track is another upcoming project which the directorate is planning to revive again with the assistance of development partners.

He said that the directorate wants co-operation from constituencies that live along the track between Wakunai and Torokina.

New Dawn FM understands that in August 2011, the head of UN in PNG, DAVID McLachlan Karr walked that Numa Track for three-days to commemorate ten years since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed with staff and volunteers including 2 staff of New Dawn FM and documented that walk.

The UN also made some funding support of around 600,000 kina to the locals running the track then but that operation stopped after disagreements between landowners on this track.

For further information on Bougainville Tourism check out

Bougainville Experience Tours