Bougainville Day 2017 Reflections on the past : Are our greatest resources the environment, our cultures and our people ?

 “June 15, is a very symbolic occasion. It marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, in this sense Bougainville Day captures the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Bougainvilleans.

The last twelve years have been some of the most challenging, yet fruitful, for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as we continue to forge ahead to decide our ultimate political future.”

Happy Bougainville Day and God bless you all.

Chief Dr. John L. Momis GCL, MHR
President

” As another Bougainville Day arrived and passed us by we continue to contemplate, celebrate and share the belief, hope and faith that with the right efforts and proper use of resources Bougainville will continue be a resilient society among its Melanesian brothers in the country and in the Pacific Islands.

What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?”

Simon Pentanu asks in Part 2 below

Part 1 The President

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has made significant progress in strengthening its faculties through passing important laws in the Bougainville House of Representatives and revitalizing the Bougainville Public Service into a lean and effective service delivery mechanism.

We have passed many new and important laws such as the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 which is one of the very best in the world as it gives Bougainville resource owners more control over their land and resources. The recent partial lifting of the Mining Moratorium on Bougainville is a clear indication of the ABG’s drive to foster fiscal self-reliance in the region.

Over the years our public service has been plagued by corruption; it is a deeply rooted problem that continues to hamper our development but we have since made efforts to curb this problem.

The setting up of the Auditor’s Office and the recent opening of the Ombudsman Commission’s office in Bougainville has provided us with the necessary means to tackle the corruption problem head on, not just in the public service but throughout Bougainville. The recent developments in the public service shows that the ABG will no longer tolerate corrupt practices.

We have set the indicative date for the referendum to be held on June 15, 2019. The ABG is already preparing for this very important event and the newly created Department of Peace Agreement Implementation will be taking the lead on this.

I would like to remind you all that our people are a people highly favoured. We have been blessed with the right to self-determination and this right we have paid for with the blood, sweat and tears that we shed through the darkest hours of our history, and that was the Bougainville Crisis.

We will not go quietly into the night, we must stand firm and stand united and make our voices heard, for at this juncture, unity is our greatest bargaining power on the eve of the referendum.

Today I ask all Bougainvilleans to reflect and to consider what you can each do to help Bougainville achieve its true destiny and dreams.

All of us have a role to play – our farmers, industrialists, students, teachers, health workers, public servants and our elected leaders.

By working together and moving ahead with a common goal there is much that we can achieve.

My challenge to you is to embrace this change and contribute to the journey. Together we can achieve greatness and as your President that is my ultimate goal – for a proud, united Bougainville.

Happy Bougainville Day and God bless you all.

Chief Dr. John L. Momis GCL, MHR
President

Part 2 Simon Pentanu

Not everyone will agree with me, but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians.

Wherever we look around the world, there are lessons we can learn. Some communities and their environments have become victims of progress, not partners in development.

Think about the Melanesian people of West Papua. In the past 40 years vast quantities of their gold, copper, timber, palm oil and other resources have been mined, chopped down, extracted and exported, but few impartial observers would say this has been to the benefit of West Papua’s environment, cultures and people.

Of course, the vast majority of the resource extraction that has happened in West Papua has been undertaken with little or zero community consultation.

We have the opportunity to do things differently. To this end Bougainville’s mining legislation and policies address this. Let us hope it works in practice so that all parties involved in this industry and any such investment which harnesses resources are equal opportunity benefactors.

When we consider the various options open to us, I believe a CGP (community government partnership) is a more sustainable choice than a PPP (public private partnership).

CGP has the community as its starting point. CGP is a partnership that regards and protects the environment as enduring capital for sustainable humanitarian development.

A PPP is fine if it regards resource owners in communities as equal partners. But too often PPPs see resources merely as disposable commodities and consumables in a profit-oriented business model.

That way of thinking ends up depleting our strongest long-term assets for short-term gains that are here one year and gone the next.

Bougainville’s greatest resources – our environment, our cultures and our people – deserve so much better than that.

We can learn from the lessons from the past – some of which have been the most profound insofar as they have affected our society more than any other society in Melanesia, and the whole of the Pacific for that matter.

 

Bougainville Cultural Tourism News : Teeth-Bits The Tama (Tama ) in modern culinary delights

 

” The variety prepared in earthen clay pot is called kakasi. It is a favourite often prepared for first time visitors or high end guests.

These days however, you can ask and have a kakasi done for you.

The kakasi feeds and is shared by more people as it comes in larger quantities the shape of dumplings fitted into a clay pot. The kakasi also keeps better overnight.”

From the Uruna Bay Resort, Pokpok Island Tours and Accommodation

Tama(tama) is the value-added product of 4-5 varieties of cooking bananas, pick of the best taros and white and yellow cassavas prepared in hot coconut oil by gentle hands.

Women collect the best mature coconuts from marked trees they and those before them have been selectively using for the best coconut oils. If they are from the one tree the end quality and taste is even better.

These (in the photo) long sausage-like shapes stirred hand cooked in virgin oil on selected banana leaves is called toronisi. A toronisi can also be a flat flour bun shape prepared in similar fashion in hot virgin oil on banana leaves.

How much of it should you eat? Tama(tama) and kakasi are best eaten on their own in moderate quantities. Eat too much and it can be too filling and get in the way of appetite and desire for the main dish. That is why it is best taken on its own as a culinary delight in its own right. In a way, in the annals of healthy eating advice it’s like saying protein and carbs and starchy foods do not mix very well.

But these days, especially at feasts or at receptions with varieties of other tuckers that come in all descriptions, shapes, tastes, sizes and colours it is the eyes that do most of the eating. The idea of proper food combination becomes merely a hand-to-mouth delight.

The tama(tama) has been thrown into the mix and fray when in fact it is a vegetarian dish that can best delight and be best enjoyed and satisfy any palate on its own.

Bougainville Tourism News : Our 2017 challenges will be opening up tourism opportunities resulting in quality tour products

 

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  ” Tourism is not an easy industry to grow  and develop as many people and countries might think or expect. In fact it can be a daunting and, at times, difficult industry to be involved in if you don’t have the right advice, proper support, a good kappreciation and sensitivities of others’ cultures, government support, and of course capacity and resources, to start with.

Bougainville can learn a lot and benefit from the advances PNG and neighbouring pacific states have made in tourism. The biggest income earners for our Melanesian neighbours Fiji and Vanuatu, for example, is mass tourism. “

Simon Pentanu see Pokpok Island webpage for info

Picture above and below : Travellers and crew from the cruise ship True North on Pokpok Island 19 December 2016 experiencing a cultural performances

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Governments that have realized and seen the potential to add substantial tourist dollars to their GNP have developed elaborate policies and support to public and private corporations to promote the industry in a big way.

In this venture and adventure local communities who are the custodians of their environment, interesting natural attractions, historical sites and indigenous arts and cultures must see some benefit in the development of tourism by the government and the private sector through tour agents and operators.

Developing what Bougainville offers, step by step and not en masse is the most sensible approach with VAs. Tour companies and local operators and agents can pick and choose with local communities what is on offer regionally and locally around the Island.

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All that begins well ends well means a lot. For Bougainville every little successes in this industry is important. The adage which goes something like, “to succeed we must know what we are doing and we cannot be too satisfied until it’s done and dusted”, is true, isn’t it? 

The advice we often hear how best to rebuild Bougainville is to  build from the ground up is equally true, isn’t it. For starters and from experience it is a good advice to start and keep things simple, affordable and manageable from the start. This involves listening to industry experts, not being afraid to ask questions and have early meaningful discussions and consultations with the buyers of the product we are trying to promote and sell.  

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New Bungalows at Uruna Bay Retreat on PokPok Island

A successful tour or promotion is a win-win outcome for the travelers and the communities visited, including service providers. The win-win formulae requires proper consultations between all parties involved in the arrangements in advance.

This gives everybody a breathing space as no one is choked or shocked not knowing what is happening, who is coming and going, how the community is involved, how the benefits are shared and there are no surprises and disappointments.

Bougainville is a good product to promote. Areas all over Bougainville in the North, South and central will surpass expectations of any traveler if these are promoted sensibly and not just for the sake of quick profits. 

Slowly but surely we can all contribute  towards a sensible policy discussion and a well construct for tourism for Bougainville.

We have a good product on Pokpok Island. for example. Water sports such as Kayaking , surfing and Skin diving have huge growth potential

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More than that, on this first occasion we thank Bougainville Experience Tours for gracing us with three cultural groups from the mainland, prearranged and prepaid to perform for the travelers and crew on the cruise ship True North.

If anything else it does a lot and speaks volumes in familiarizing and promoting unity and union between and amongst different cultural groups from different areas in Kieta district. 

When we look back  this is a win-win formulae as it spreads the benefits directly into communities. The early meaningful tripartite consultations which started more than five months ago between North Star Cruises Australia, Bougainville Experience Tours and Chief Peter Garuai of Pokpok and Uruna Retreat venue owners on Pokpok meant that every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed as much as it was practically possible to do so.

There will always be issues and hiccups to sort out when a number of parties and groups are involved in trying to achieve something together. We must be prepared to put a positive spin to any differences and challenges faced.

When dealt with and addressed sensibly challenges more often than not opens up opportunities to try harder to do things better for even better results.

The True North is expected to make another visit in December 2017.

 

 

 

Bougainville Lifestyle News : Wonders of the past. Lure into the future . A world to be shared

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“We should tell our stories in the first person because this is the best way we used to share our stories and exploits as children growing up in the village. I still see and hear kids in the village doing the same today”.

Simon Pentanu

Picture 1 Above : The faithful canoe still very much in use to take you anywhere : Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

As I remember, growing up more than three score years ago, Pokpok Island was covered with a lot of primary green forest, thick jungle, dense canopy and impassable undergrowth. Along the coastal beaches the forest laden with its vines and creepers came bearing down to meet the sea.

This was before Lucas walkabout sawmills, Stihl and Husqvarna brand chainsaws, purseiner nets, and material affluence and its effluence from mining arrived and happened on Bougainville.

Growing up on the Island what we mostly liked and enjoyed was what we did, not what we had or acquired. Our idea of abundance and being happy growing up was not toys, computer games, gifts of sorts for every occasion or a treat in shops where mum and dad could get you whatever you asked for.

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Picture 2  :Children still create their own fun climbing up or sitting on tree branches above ground

Rather, and looking back, it was more about what we did with a lot of time we had like making kids bows and arrows, going up trees and hanging from their branches, getting into canoes and paddling out, staying out in pouring rain and playing in puddles or small floods, swimming a lot, or running into the bushes looking for wild fruits and nuts and admiring the pingtu (praying mantis).

Growing up in the village you couldn’t miss noticing the Island always teemed with a lot of life and innocence that was simple. Everyone then seemed more caring. The whole Island also looked bigger and taller with taller and bigger old growth trees still standing from the beaches up to the hills and mountain.

Possums, other tree climbing marsupials, and snakes roamed the island from end to end along tree tops and along the forest canopy without touching the ground. This might sound like something like a story with drawings from a children’s story book.

No, this really is true about what was then before human habitation, starting with first initial years of settlement of the Island by Chief Sarai and his son Miramira.

In the bushes, brushes and shrubs the hissing flow of pristine creeks was unmistakable for anyone walking or doing gardens or hunting and gathering that wanted to quench their thirst.

Near the ground on the small branches and vines the pingtu always camouflaged itself well but its stationary, slow motion stick dances and sways gave them away.

I used to wonder what they ate and lived on. As for the kids we could wander and walkabout most of the day feeding off the bush on wild fruits, ground tucker and tree nuts like the galip.

Birds sang as they liked, the crickets cranked, the cockatoos blah blah’d at the slightest sight of any human movement below. Other birds shrieked and whistled their unique sounds.

You could never miss the flying hornbill couples by the continuous harmonica like noise produced by the flapping of their wings.

We came to know and realise that the deep-thong gooey sounds of some birds meant it was time to make headway home before the sun set and night fell quickly.

A lot has changed since of course. And not all of it for the better. Along with many of the old growth trees have also gone family members, relatives and friends.

But those of us that are still here still remember them by the trees that still stand, the same bush tracks that we used to walk following each other, and by the familiar sound of birds though they aren’t plentiful and boisterous anymore.

Pokpok Island still supports its inhabitants in increasing numbers. The Islanders are more conscious and have increasing awareness and respect for the environment. There is less and less food gardening in the hills.

Fishing is the mainstay of food for protein as well as being the main reliable income earner.

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Picture 3  :Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

To all inhabitants this is their Paradise, a safe and peaceful haven where everyone knows and respects each other.

It is an Island of peace, of peaceful people and is quickly becoming an allure for day visitors and short stayers.

Our traditions in Bougainville are founded more in sharing than in giving and taking. This is the case with most traditional societies in most parts of this planet.

We share the lavish beauty that surrounds us, the food that we grow in family or communal plots, the sunshine we allow everyone to get by sharing open spaces with no boundaries, the beachfront where we swim and play together, and staring into each other’s eyes and faces as a gesture to acknowledge we all have similar differences.

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Picture 4  : Sharing village beach with young Australian visiting Marist students.

If you venture to Pokpok Island today you can still soak some of the past but it is a stay that is more about how much time you have to enjoy what is around today.

Accommodation is available at Uruna Bay Retreat that is already catering for the quiet, adventurer short sayer type that want to be left on their own, that prefer swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bit of surfing and other water sports. Trekking  is included in the mix.

It’s fun. Come and rejuvenate, enjoy, and leave with a clear head, as a kinder soul, and with a mindful heart. It is in places and surroundings like this that you can find peace, stop talking and listen to and understand the language of your heart.

😇 May you enjoy the rest of the remaining days of your life with joy, peace and happiness as you desire.

For more info about or book

Bougainville’s PokPok Island and Uruna Bay Retreat

 

Bougainville Education News : Improving literacy in Bougainville, one step at a time

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Literacy is very important in the community; teaching people to read and write is vital, because a lot of kids here during the crisis did not go to school and are only just now learning to read and write.”

Aravira’s Head Teacher Herman Parito

WATCH VIDEO

“There are strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading like kindles are long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities and change people’s lives for the better.

A revolution in reading is upon us…”

Ex President James Tanis Founder of another local Arawa based project

Bookgainville E Kindles Project see Below

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Students  from Aravira Primary School in central Bougainville, Papua New Guinea on their walk to school – which for some, takes up to four hours

From Tom Perry World Bank report

After a two-hour drive from the nearest main road, our 4WD can travel no further; me and my travelling companions will have to trek the rest of our journey to Aravira Primary School in Bougainville on foot. As we set off, a group of students from the school emerge from the bush in front of us. They smile, extend their hands in welcome and immediately offer to take my backpack.

I politely refuse, yet within minutes I regret my decision to turn down help. As we move through the long grass along the mountain ridge, the heat which a few minutes ago was manageable is now unbearable. I’m pouring in sweat. My backpack feels 10 kilograms heavier, and the ground beneath me feels as if I’m stepping onto ice. Ten minutes into our journey, I lose my feet, slip into a crevice, and land face-first in the nearest bush.

As I’m helped back onto my feet by the kids, I ask them how much further we have to go to get to the school. They giggle, then simply start walking again. I discover soon enough that the answer to my question is ‘two and half gruelling hours.’ This is a seriously hard trek, clearly not for the faint of heart.

An hour later, I struggle up the next ridge, hiking boots still soaked from yet another river crossing, and it really hits me; this is their daily walk to school.

Aravira Primary School is located deep in the Bougainville mountains. It’s a remote, picturesque spot, and is home to 120 students from Aravira and Remsi, the two communities located within ‘walking distance’ of the school. Yet given the school is at least four hours’ journey from the nearest town, Chairman Henry Topowa tells me after I arrive that ‘walking distance’ is a relative concept up here.

“Access by road is very difficult. Both communities are quite far from the school, so the students have to walk a fair distance and cross rivers to come each day to school,” Henry explains. “When it rains, we have to send the children home because of the weather, because it’s very risky in certain areas.”

Henry says that for those coming to the school from beyond the two nearest communities, it’s an even bigger challenge.

“A lot of people here, especially the teachers, travel back and forth on foot. It takes between four to five hours by foot. If we travel into town as early as 6am, we usually arrive back in the village around 9pm or even 10 pm.”

Due to this remoteness, my travelling companions and I are the first non-Bougainvillean visitors to the school in over a year. Yet this is not an unusual story across much of the country. An estimated 60% of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas, which in Bougainville means they’re likely living in dense, mountainous jungle or in small villages dotted along the coastline. In these areas, services such as schools and medical clinics are few and far between, a fact further compounded by the island’s ten-year conflict that saw tens of thousands of families living in hiding in the bush for much of the 1990s.

This remoteness and decades of limited opportunity has driven the students and teachers at Aravira – and many schools just like it – to push for better education, including through the World Bank-supported READ PNG project. In addition to training more than 24,000 teachers, the project has seen the establishment of 21,000 classroom libraries filled with around 1.1 million books to schools across PNG.

More than 21,000 classroom libraries similar to this one have been established across Papua New Guinea through the World Bank-supported READ PNG project in an effort to improve literacy in PNG.
More than 21,000 classroom libraries similar to this one have been established across Papua New Guinea through the World Bank-supported READ PNG project in an effort to improve literacy in PNG.

And having made the brutal trek in to Aravira Primary School, I ask School Chairman Henry Topowa about the challenge of delivering hundreds of books to a place so remote. He beams with pride when he recounts the story.

“The road was muddy and slippery. We crossed a river along the way which was flooding. We had to balance ourselves carrying the books over an unsteady wooden bridge at the river,” Henry tells me.

“It was raining and we were scared that the books would get wet, so we cut banana leaves and placed them over the box of books and onto our shoulders. Others placed them in bilums [a woven bag, common across PNG] and carried them on their backs. It was very hard.”

Henry is steadfast in his belief in the power of education on the lives of the students at his school.

“Literacy is very important in the community; teaching people to read and write is vital, because a lot of kids here during the crisis did not go to school and are only just now learning to read and write.”

Aravira’s Head Teacher Herman Parito says that even before the books arrived, the community deeply understood the value of reading, and therefore are all willing to do their part to support it.

“The community here are always willing to help. When I said we needed labor to build classroom libraries, they did it. We brought in the plywood needed to build the mini libraries, and the parents responded.”

He adds that since the READ PNG books came in mid-2015, he’s already seen their impact.

Aravira Primary School Chairman, Henry Topowa says the school was determined to bring READ PNG books to the school, no matter how challenging the journey to bring them in.
Aravira Primary School Chairman, Henry Topowa says the school was determined to bring READ PNG books to the school, no matter how challenging the journey to bring them in.

“We’ve been using the books for two terms now and I’ve seen a big improvement in students reading according to their test results.”

After our chat, Henry and Herman then invite me to a class to see the new books for myself. As I’m introduced to the class, the confusion I expect of seeing a stranger in class is largely absent. I get a few grins and a couple of giggles, but beyond that, most of the students are focused squarely on their books.

Considering the hard work it took to get those books here and into these students’ hands, it’s no surprise that they’re so committed to soaking up every word in those pages.

Improving Literacy in Remote Bougainville  

 For More Info about Bookgainville this local project contact James Tanis , Simon Pentanu , or Contact Theresa Jaintong at the Arawa Womens Centre

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Bougainville Tourism News : Communities See Tourism Gold in Derelict Bougainville Mine

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Panguna is one of the historical sites in Bougainville. People go up to Panguna to see for themselves the damage done and want to know more about why the Bougainville Crisis erupted,”

Zhon Bosco Miriona, managing director of Bougainville Experience Tours, a local tourism company based in the nearby town of Arawa, which caters to about 50-100 international tourists per year, agrees.

Our future is very, very dangerous if we reopen the Panguna mine. Because thousands of people died, we are not going to reopen the mine. We must find a new way to build the economy,

We envisage tourists visiting the enigmatic valley in the heart of the Crown Prince Ranges to stay in eco-lodges and learn of its extraordinary history

Philip Takaung, vice president of the Panguna-based Mekamui Tribal Government

Originally published here

Picture Landowner Lynette Ona, along with local leaders and villagers in the Panguna mine area, look to tourism as a sustainable economic alternative to large-scale mining in post-conflict Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

PANGUNA, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, Sep 7 2016 (IPS) – The Panguna copper mine, located in the mountains of Central Bougainville, an autonomous region in the southwest Pacific Island state of Papua New Guinea, has been derelict for 27 years since an armed campaign by local landowners forced its shutdown and triggered a decade-long civil war in the late 1980s.

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The former Rio Tinto majority-owned extractive venture hit world headlines when the Nasioi became the world’s first indigenous people to compel a major multinational to abandon one of its most valuable investments during a bid to defend their land against environmental destruction.

“That is what we were fighting for: environment, land and culture.” — Lynette Ona

Today, local leaders and entrepreneurs, including former combatants, see the site playing a key role in sustainable development, but not as a functioning mine.

“Our future is very, very dangerous if we reopen the Panguna mine. Because thousands of people died, we are not going to reopen the mine. We must find a new way to build the economy,” Philip Takaung, vice president of the Panguna-based Mekamui Tribal Government, told IPS.

He and many local villagers envisage tourists visiting the enigmatic valley in the heart of the Crown Prince Ranges to stay in eco-lodges and learn of its extraordinary history.

“It is not just the mine site; families could build places to serve traditional local food for visitors. We have to build a special place where visitors can experience our local food and culture,” villager Christine Nobako added. Others spoke of the appeal of the surrounding rainforest-covered peaks to trekkers and bird watchers.

An estimated 20,000 people in Bougainville, or 10 percent of the population, lost their lives during the conflict, known as the ‘Crisis.’ Opposition by local communities to the mine, apparent from the exploration phase in the 1960s, intensified after operations began in 1972 by Australian subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd, when they claimed mine tailings were destroying agricultural land and polluting nearby rivers used as sources of freshwater and fish. Hostilities quickly spread in 1989 after the company refused to meet landowners’ demands for compensation and a civil war raged until a ceasefire in 1998.

In the shell of a former mine building, IPS spoke with Takaung and Lynette Ona, local landowner and niece of Francis Ona, the late Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader. A short distance away, the vast six-kilometre-long mine pit is a silent reminder of state-corporate ambition gone wrong.

According to Ona, the remarkable story of how a group of villagers thwarted the power and zeal of a global mining company is a significant chapter in the history of the environmental movement “because that is what we were fighting for; environment, land and culture.” And, as such, she says, makes Panguna a place of considerable world interest.

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Bougainville Experience Tours

Zhon Bosco Miriona, managing director of Bougainville Experience Tours, a local tourism company based in the nearby town of Arawa, which caters to about 50-100 international tourists per year, agrees.

“Panguna is one of the historical sites in Bougainville. People go up to Panguna to see for themselves the damage done and want to know more about why the Bougainville Crisis erupted,” he said.

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In a recent survey of Panguna communities by Australian non-government organisation, Jubilee Australia, tourism was identified as the second most popular economic alternative to mining after horticulture and animal farming. Although realising the industry’s full potential requires challenges for local entrepreneurs, such as access to finance and skills development, being addressed.

Objection here to the return of mining is related not only to the deep scars of the violent conflict, but also the role it is believed to have had in increasing inequality. For example, of a population of about 150,000 in the 1980s, only 1,300 were employed in the mine’s workforce, while the vast majority of its profits, which peaked at 1.7 billion kina (US$527 million), were claimed by Rio Tinto and the Papua New Guinea government.

Today, post-war reconstruction and human development progress in Bougainville is very slow, while the population has doubled to around 300,000. One third of children are not in school, less than 1 percent of the population have access to electricity and the maternal mortality rate could be as high as 690 per 100,000 live births, estimates the United Nations Development Program.

People want an economy which supports equitable prosperity and long term peace and local experts see unlimited possibilities for tourism on these tropical islands which lie just south of the equator and boast outstanding natural beauty

“In terms of doing eco-tourism, Bougainville has the rawness. There are the forests, the lakes, the sea, the rivers and wetlands,” Lawrence Belleh, Director of Bougainville’s Tourism Office in the capital, Buka, told IPS.

Bougainville was also the site of battles during World War II and many relics from the presence of Australian, New Zealand, American and Japanese forces can be seen along the Numa Numa Trail, a challenging 60-kilometre trek from Bougainville Island’s east to west coasts.

“There are a lot of things that are not told about Bougainville, the historical events which happened during World War II and also the stories which the ex-combatants [during the Crisis] have, which they can tell…..we have a story to tell, we can share with you if you are coming over,” Belleh enthused.

Improving local infrastructure, such as transport and accommodation, and dispelling misperceptions of post-conflict Bougainville are priorities for the tourism office in a bid to increase visitor confidence.

“Many people would perceive Bougainville as an unsafe place to come and visit, but that was some years back. In fact, Bougainville is one of the safest places [for tourists] in Papua New Guinea. The people are very friendly, they will greet you, take you to their homes and show you around,” Belleh said.

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Bougainville Communications/ New Technologies PART 2 : Creating awareness on the referendum and development

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People can now listen to information on radio by tuning in to Shortwave 1 frequency; 3.325 kilohertz on NBC Bougainville and the shortwave radio signal covers all parts of Bougainville and can be heard as far as East of Hawaii, Germany, Australia and the Pacific,”

“To stimulate public interest and create awareness on the referendum and development in Bougainville we have since June conducted 10 live talk back shows hosted by ABG’s Mobile Community Radio – Radio Ples Lain and relayed over NBC Bougainville and New Dawn,”

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis

Pic Caption: ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis (seated), with UNDP reps, chiefs and local leaders at the official launching of the upgraded NBC Bougainville studios last week.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government is making headway in developing the media in the region to allow people more access to information.

This move has seen the upgrade of the NBC Bougainville facilities where the ABG committed K5 million to improve the coverage and broadcasting of the radio station.

In opening the facility ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis said this included the procurement of new studio broadcast equipment, renovation to the Hutjena studio, procurement of a brand new fully digital 10 kilowatt shortwave transmitter.

We intend to embark on a region wide awareness campaign working closely with Constituency members, Communality Government, Village Assemblies, Women, Youth and Churches.

Momis added that the Bureau of Public Affairs, Media and Communication has so far produced and air 160 radio programmes since February to August 2016.

These radio programmes have been well appreciated by the people as they gain insight and understanding on what the government is doing at Department and Ministry level.

Another important development is the ABG’s very own Bougainville Bulletin which has progressed well with well over 150,000 copies distributed all over Bougainville since 2015.

President Momis also revealed that the ABG has started developing resource material to support awareness on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and especially Referendum.

The UNDP as per the ABG’s request has supported the government with the procurement of equipment.

The equipment will be utilised to conduct awareness at the community level and includes a new information center based in Buka Town with literary material and a mobile audio visual vehicle convinently named Piksa Ples Lain.

 

Bougainville Tourism News : Takanupe we must conserve for future generations

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 “These aren’t just beautiful islands with white beaches surrounded by pristine waters and bountiful reefs. They serve a multitude of existential purposes for man and for the larger purpose and meaning of nature with which we are inexplicably linked and bound.

It must behove us and is incumbent upon us to do our part to care, respect and conserve these fragile islands and marine eco-systems for our generations to come just as our ancestors have done for our generation. This is a covenant that is sacrosanct and timeless that we must be beholden to in a symbiotic world that we share with living nature.”

Simon Pentanu Uruna Bay Retreat – Pok Pok Island Bougainville

An island of the gods, resplendent in its natural beauty at sea, mimicking a miniature land and forest that Moreha (Bougainville ) is, beatified by its beauty, rich in its colours and alluring with everything it displays, from its crab-like shape with its claws harbouring it’s azure deep sky blue kakunibarra (lagoon) and the beach and trees seeming like a longish body of the crustacean seen from above.

There are more than a dozen small uninhabited islands that dot this stretch of east coast along Central Bougainville, like from Vito past Takanupe and its sister island Kurukiki nearby, and past the Zeunes where the planes make their approach to land at one of most picturesque beachside airports at Aropa.

Most of these small islands have their own kakunibarra of some size, shape, depth or other. But Takanupe’s kakunibarra  is the most conspicuous because it is larger in surface area than the land area of the island itself. It is curiously beautiful and alive from the satellite’s view from above.

These kakunibarra teem with all kinds of fishes of the sea. They are respected by fishermen along with their tales that serve the purpose of conservation when you find out what the moral of these stories is.

Myths and folklore about places and about real life stories are passed down to serve a purpose. Many were passed down to protect and conserve the islands, its reefs and its natural but fragile environment.

It used to be you could only get to this and other islands by canoe, get  enough for your needs as a subsistence fisherman and paddle back home.

If you wanted more fish for a feast or ceremony or some other important occasion you stayed overnight or longer and returned home with a canoe-full of smoked fish mixed with some fresh fish caught as you returned home. There isn’t this abundance of fish stock any more, because of the easy and more frequent forays by fishermen and others using motorized boats to get to these islands and their kakunibarra.

It must behove us and is incumbent upon us to do our part to care, respect and conserve these fragile islands and marine eco-systems for our generations to come just as our ancestors have done for our generation.

Bougainville Tourism News : Visiting national tourism delegation confirms Bougainville tourism potential

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The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is the furthest island from the mainland of Papua New Guinea (PNG).  The island’s unique ethnicity, vibrant culture, natural scenic landscapes and historic sites offer many opportunities for major tourism development.Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Tobias Kulang , the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA), the Office of Tourism Arts and Culture and staff from the minister’s office were in Bougainville to officially launch the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative 2016-2020.

The project aims to develop Buka Town into a tourism hub by 2018 and connecting the Autonomous Region of Bougainville with the Pacific through the Solomon Seas Tourism Zone Initiative.

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Above: Hon.Tobias Kulang with Buka town mayor, Buka town manager, Tourism Associatin Minister, Vice Minister Robert Hamal, Hon. Jimmy Minigtoro, Minister for Communication and ABG Tourism Director at the official unveiling of the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative.

The visiting national tourism delegation was taken on a tour of popular sites and attractions in Arawa, Buin and Kieta.  During the tour Minister Kulang and the delegates met with officials from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and representatives from the local tourism industry.

In an internal report based on the findings from the visit, the PNGTPA made a number of recommendations for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville government (ABG) with regards to tourism development, including:  developing a Tourism Master Plan, Tourism Funding support for the ABG and for the local tourism industry to form an association to better voice issues and concerns faced by the tourism industry in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

PNGTPA and the ABG will continue tourism discussions throughout the year.  Tourism delegates from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will be invited to the annual Lukim PNG Nau tourism expo in Port Moresby hosted by the PNGTPA and the PNG Tourism Industry Association.

Included in delegation is Zhon Bosco Miriona ,Managing Director, Bougainville Experience Tours who has now represented Bougainville Internationally for the past 6 years travelling to Europe and Australia

Bougainville Tour Options

For further information regarding the national tourism delegation visit to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville contact PNGTPA marketing coordinator Mr. Joel Keimelo, email: joel.keimelo@papuanewguinea.travel

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Bougainville Tour Options

Bougainville Tourism News : #PNG Minister for Tourism launches Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative

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National Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture, Tobias Kulang in partnership with his colleague ABG Vice Minister for Tourism, Robert Hamal Sawa, today officially launched the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative 2016- 2020.

Photo and Text Augustine Minghai Kinna

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Bougainville culture at its best! The YUMI YET BAMBOO BAND from Haku Constituency of Buka District performing in today’s launching of the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative 2016- 2020.

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The initiative will be a strategic roadmap towards making Buka Town a tourism hub by 2018. This is an on going programme that aims to pursue not only remarkable but tangible developments through to 2020 and beyond by establishing the Solomon Seas Tourism Zone Initiative which will enable cooperation and links with the wider Pacific.

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The onus is now with the people of Bougainville to take ownership of the initiative in supporting the ABG government and other relevant authorities with the programme. Tourism is a hidden pot of gold in Bougainville that needs to be tapped into to be realised. Today’s launching signifies the start of greater things to be achieved by the tourism industry in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea has a whole.

And a visit to South Bougainville

Text and Picture Sasha Tahei Pei-Silovo

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The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Honourable Tobias Kulang being welcomed by cultural groups in Buin-South Bougainville earlier today.

The Minister accompanied by a delegation of representatives from the Ministry, Tourism Promotion Authority, National Cultural Commission and Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and ABG Members met with Tourism stakeholders in Buin to discuss ways forward in developing Tourism in the area.

The Minister is officially touring the Autonomous Region visiting South, Central and North Bougainville and will also launch the Bougainville Tourism Programme and Buka Tourism Plan on Friday in Buka. #PNGTourism #AROB #Buin #TobiasKulang #Pacific #tourism #Bougainville