” 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.
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.
” 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
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.
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.
“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. ”
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.”
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.
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
ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama Opening Address at the meeting of the Special Joint Supervisory Body
I acknowledge the presence of the Prime Minister, Honorable James Marape, the respective Ministers of Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government, Departmental Heads and members of the Joint Technical Team. I also welcome our development partners and international friends who are present with us this morning.
I also make special mention of Moderator of the Consultations, His Excellency the Honorable Bertie Ahern. Despite his absence at the three joint consultations due to the COVID 19 pandemic his advice and guidance through the United Nations proved invaluable.
I am very thankful also to the United Nations for their continued support on Bougainville and acknowledge their presence here this morning.
Prime Minister, from the outset I must commend you and your government’s unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process through the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
It is a process that you inherited from your predecessors and is more than half a century old dating all the way back to before the dawn of Papua New Guinea’s Independence in 1975. Nevertheless, you have shown great foresight in understanding its historical context and the current political processes on the independence aspirations of the people of Bougainville.
The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. As the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea who oversaw the successful outcome of the 2019 Referendum, it is only befitting that you are here today to set the final path towards Bougainville’s political settlement that reflects the 97.7% of Bougainvilleans who opted for independence during the referendum.
Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament. Finally, we jointly agreed on the documented record of the three consultations now known as the Era Kone Covenant that we signed on April 5, 2022.
Formally known as the The Era Kone Covenant on finalization of the Bougainville Referendum on Independence the Era Kone Covenant;
Captures the outcomes of the three post referendum joint consultations,
Ensures the outcomes of the joint consultations are tabled in the 11th Parliament in 2023,
Commits both Governments to jointly formulate a report to brief the 11th Parliament on its role to give effect to Section 342 of the National Constitution, in this case a report on the three Bougainville Joint Post Referendum Consultations outcomes.
Provides for the respective executive councils of both Governments to make Constitutional Regulations, prescribing all matters that are necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the Era Kone Covenant in accordance with Section 349 of the National Constitution. The Constitutional Regulations will map out the protocols of the ratification process.
The Constitutional Regulations cannot be amended or repealed by the National Government except with approval of the Bougainville Executive Council in accordance with the Bougainville Constitution and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
The Era Kone Covenant has just been endorsed by the National Executive Council and the Bougainville Executive Council. This formally concludes the process of the post referendum consultations between both governments. A report on the outcomes of the Joint Consultations will be furnished by the Joint Technical Team to brief the 11th Parliament in 2023. Henceforth, the Era Kone Covenant will act as a guide to successive Joint Supervisory Body meetings.
The Era Kone Covenant triggers the next important stage in the Bougainville Peace Process and this is the drafting of the Constitutional Regulations. The Constitutional Regulations will chart the course for the ratification process by the National Parliament while taking into account the referendum results and the Post Bougainville Referendum Consultation Report. In hindsight the Constitutional Regulations will enable the Ratification Process to be an all-inclusive democratic process that will ensure considerations are given to the people of Bougainville as well as the state of union of Papua New Guinea.
Article 1 (iii) of the Era Kone Covenant recommends that the Joint Legal Technical Working Group immediately commence drafting the Constitutional Regulations. I am hopeful that this will commence as soon as the conclusion of this special JSB Meeting.
Prime Minister, my technical team have taken the liberty of formulating a working draft of the Constitutional Regulations. This draft can be used as the baseline for the Joint Technical Team in creating and finalizing the joint Constitutional Regulations that will be presented to both our executive governments for endorsement. As a measure of good faith and mutual understanding I would like to propose that our technical teams use my government’s proposed draft to immediately begin work on the Constitutional Regulations.
Prime Minister, I have a moral responsibility to the people of Bougainville and the twenty thousand lives lost in the Bougainville Crisis to ensure political Independence is granted to Bougainville. However, I understand that you also have a responsibility to the people of Papua New Guinea to preserve the sovereignty of the nation. In spite of our differing views on Bougainville’s future political status I am grateful that we share a mutual respect for each other and our own views. I believe this trust and respect is the foundation of the many progress that we have achieved in the last 19 months.
I look forward to our discussions during this Joint Supervisory Body Meeting.
The Governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea have endorsed the Era Kone Covenant at a special meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body in Port Moresby today.
The Era Kone Covenant captures the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations that happened in 2021 in Kokopo, Wabag and Port Moresby respectively.
The Era Kone Covenant now marks the conclusion of the joint inter-government consultations on the referendum results, and outlines the mechanism to table the Bougainville Referendum Result in the National Parliament, including the manner in which the National Parliament may ratify the results.
Speaking this morning at the special JSB meeting, ABG President Hon Ishmael Toroama commended the National Government for their unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process.
“The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” President Toroama said.
“Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament.”
Prime Minister James Marape reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the outcomes that were reached in the past three joint consultations and gave his assurance to the people of Bougainville that his government will continue to work within the spirit of peace agreement.
“We’ve established a pathway that we should work towards and we on the national government side, I just want to assure Bougainville that it doesn’t matter who sits in this chair in 3 months’ time, the work for Bougainville has been set and the work we have set will continue on,” he said.
The Era Kone Covenant was signed by the two leaders earlier this month and further required the endorsement of both governments’ respective executive councils in order to be effected.
The Bougainville Executive Council and the National Executive Council have respectively endorsed the Era Kone Covenant which now signals implementation of the next steps.
This will include the immediate commencement on drafting the Constitutional Regulation – which will be the mechanism that outlines how the referendum results will be brought into parliament.
The Era Kone Covenant further binds both governments to ensure that the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations are tabled in the 11th parliament in 2023.
This will also include a report prepared jointly by both parties to brief the 11th parliament on its role in giving effect to s342 of the National Constitution on Referendum Results and Implementation.
It has been one year since my government launched the Bougainville Independence Ready Mission on April 1, 2021.
My Government’s Independence Ready Mission takes on a three-pronged strategic approach that requires preparations for independence to be implemented internally, domestically and internationally.
In commemorating the first year of implementing this program, I wish to remind us all Bougainvilleans that preparing Bougainville for independence is no easy challenge.
It requires government and people to work together and to work harder in this process to actualize our political aspiration for independence.
For us in Bougainville, we have established our Constituency Independence-Ready Committees across all our thirty-three constituencies through the internal prong of the Independence-Ready Mission.
As President, I call on all Bougainvilleans to work collaboratively with these Committees to progress nation-building and state-building activities at the ward levels.
We can only progress through people-participation in development, adopting social responsibility standards, having a change of mindset and cultivating an attitude of self-reliance in our families and communities.
Our political timeline has been set; ‘no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027’ and it requires a whole-of-government approach to our independence-readiness.
As Bougainvilleans, we must embrace this timeline and see it as a matter of urgency to get our house in order.
In working towards independence-readiness, my government will ensure that we have the proper systems in place that promotes democracy, transparency, accountability, peace and good order in our society.
In the same manner, I call on every Bougainvillean man, woman and child to stand firm with your government in this process. Our 97.7% vote for independence proves that we are united in this process and we must not shy away from the challenges that lie ahead of us.
We stood united as one people when we voted for Bougainville’s independence, and we must stand firm through this journey to deliver independence together for Bougainville.
Three years ago, after no national or international action from anyone on a solution to environmental damage for the Jaba River Tailings over 40 plus years, Bana District reached out to some old friends in Australia and asked if there is anything that could be done to stop the deteriorating living conditions for people living along the river.
Often mining activity throughout the world have had a bad name for environmental impact.
This certainly is the case on Bougainville where tailings discharge from the Panguna mine has silted up the Jaba River and overflowed levees, (constructed during mining operations to provide some river adjacent communities tailings and flood protection) covering agricultural land destroying the ability of the local communities to grow their crops, keep farm animals and access clean drinking water.
An estimated billion tonnes of mine tailing’s pollution was spread downstream from Panguna, spreading across the Jaba-Kawerong river delta stretching 40 kilometres to the coast.
Fortunately thanks to the 3RE Group, an entrepreneurial Australian collective of environmental, mining and industrial individuals with a long positive history in Papua New Guinea there may be a solution in sight.
3RE Group for free has engaged some of the best consultants in the world to work on the problem After 2 years of sample testing, analysis and modelling of new high tech separation techniques an answer was found.
The removal of some 30 plus kms of river will produce aggregates, minerals and some precious metals that include gold and silver, that will not only clean up the tailings but provide a long-term revenue for the local communities as well as investment in health, education, and training
The Jaba River Tailings can be recycled and exported, it will need K300,000,000 in new infrastructure to achieve this and over 1000 new direct jobs for locals.
“All of this can be funded by offshore investment, zero cost to ABG. It will also provide the framework for integration of many new businesses that will bring much needed prosperity, increased health and education to all sectors of the Bougainville community “said a spokesperson for the 3RE Group
Picture above : Briefing at ABG president residence on 3RE Group Java River Rehabilitation project.
This multi-faceted project needs urgently full support of the communities and the new Autonomous Government of Bougainville (AGB) and following successful investment there will a 20 year project life and economic and culturally viable solution to clean up the disastrous environmental legacy of the Panguna mine operations
Landowners from the Panguna Mine area and the Autonomous Bougainville Government have reached a joint resolution to re-open the Panguna Mine.
The joint resolution was signed by clan chiefs and representatives from the five major clans of the Panguna area – Basikang, Kurabang, Bakoringu, Barapang and Mantaa.
The signing took place at the end of a three-day summit for the Panguna Landowner groups hosted in Tunuru, Central Bougainville this week.
ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama acknowledged and congratulated the five clans and their respective leadership for taking the bold stand to re-open the Panguna Mine.
He said the signing of the joint resolutions signifies the beginning of a new chapter for Bougainville.
“Today marks the ending and the beginning of a new chapter, a chapter to realize Bougainville’s independence,” he said.
President Toroama reassured the landowners that the government will continue to be there to protect the people and their resources through relevant laws passed through the Bougainville Parliament.
He urged the landowners to continue to use the government as a tool to control what rightfully belongs to the people in terms of resources.
The Toroama-Nisira government is confident that the re-opening of the Panguna Mine will be a major booster for Bougainville’s economic future and at the same time, guarantee Bougainville’s political independence.
Following the signing of the joint resolutions, the ABG through the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources and other relevant departments, will work together with the landowner groups to facilitate the process towards the re-opening of the mine.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government has launched a powerful new awareness campaign featuring Bougainville leaders advocating for the region’s COVID vaccine program.
The campaign ‘Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! (Bougainville Sanap Strong – Kisim COVID Banis Sut) ’ features vibrant first term politicians Minister for Police Hon. Emmanuel Kaetavara and Women’s Member for North Bougainville Hon. Amanda Masono, school principal Finlyn Mamats, and a range of health workers.
Minister Kaetavara said, “As political leaders, we must lead by example. By getting vaccinated, I can help protect myself, my family and my community.”
Hon. Masono said there were a lot of rumours circulating in Bougainville about COVID and vaccinations, and she advised people to seek out information from the right sources.
“I’d like to encourage people, especially women, to visit their nearest health centre and get the correct information to make an informed choice.”
She said getting vaccinated had no negative impact on her health, and instead had made her feel strong and protected.
Launching the campaign of COVID champion messages adapted for video, social media, radio, SMSs and posters, Secretary for Health Clement Totavun said that vaccination is critical to ensure a healthy population in Bougainville.
“Getting vaccinated is something positive you can do for Bougainville. A healthy population equals a strong Bougainville. Despite all our best efforts, COVID-19 is here and we must stand up to this virus as we have stood up to many challenges before,” Secretary Totavun said.
The multi-channel awareness campaign went live on Sunday with SMS blasts reaching over 65,000 phones. The campaign is backed by Australia and New Zealand who have supported a range of COVID preparation and emergency response initiatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville including isolation facilities, protective and testing equipment, emergency medical teams, technical advice and awareness.
Australian Government representative Fiona Crockford acknowledged the power of local voices in the face of a global pandemic.
“Rumours and misinformation spread fear around the world and prevent people from making the right informed decisions to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” Ms Crockford said.
“This campaign shares trusted Bougainville voices from all walks of life in engaging ways with a simple message: stand up, get informed and get vaccinated.”
The Acting High Commissioner at the New Zealand High Commission, Dr Nathan Ross, said it was important for Bougainvilleans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m fully vaccinated and had a booster because the science clearly shows that this is the best way to reduce the chances of severe illness if I catch COVID. The new Omicron variant of COVID is extremely infectious, and it moves very fast within households and communities – so I urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Health Secretary Clement Totavun challenged the people of Bougainville to hear the message from COVID champions and get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible and continue to practice the Nuipela Pasin of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.
The Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! videos can be viewed on Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Facebook page and heard on radio New Dawn and NBC Bougainville. The campaign is being complemented by vaccine advocacy support to the Bougainville Christian Churches Association, through the Australian-funded PNG Church Partnership Program.