The sea offers precious gifts but it can also be fearsome.
How do you manage to keep your balance against the awesome power of the sea. Is it friend or foe? Is it benevolent – as we often know it to be – or is it malevolent, wishing us ill?
The sea. Surfers and sailors love riding and sailing it, near and far out at sea. But they know the sea is not merely a plaything. They respect its capacity to change moods quickly. When it changes, it is indiscriminate, doing no favours for anyone. But by gosh, it has paid dividends to everyone, including explorers who have conquered and harnessed it to venture far out beyond their shores.
The ocean is bigger than any supermarket, hypermart or grocery chain in the amount and variety of food and other resources it holds. Its bounty supports whole populations.
Almost everyone has some connection with the sea. It occupies more than seventy per cent of the earth’s surface. It is everywhere. The liquid cartwheels around the globe, carried by cloud storms, cyclonic winds and rains. We know it from our own experience, as well as through the stories of sailors, fishermen and explorers, whose (sometimes tall) tales are re-read, re-told and re-imagined through the generations.
Stories of the sea are interwoven with the history of human endeavours down the millennia, from Christopher Columbus to Capt James Cook, from Carteret to Bougainville. And Mendana too.
Louise-Antoine Comte de Bougainville’s sighting of this Island is being recognised as a public holiday in the Region every year on 2 July, starting 2018. Let us not read too much or too narrowly into this or politicise it. It happened. We cannot rewrite history and say Bougainville didn’t or shouldn’t have come to these shores. He braved the seas and oceans to get here.
There were many other explorers who took courage and unfurled their desire to catch the wind and find out what lay over the horizon.
I can’t help but admire the feat of anyone who is prepared to wet their feet and whet their appetite to satisfy their curiosity on a quest like that. Most of those explorers set out with little more than rudimentary navigational aids and the stars – and with them they circumnavigated continents and mapped archipelagos. They had nothing like the science and technology at our disposal today.
Humans are not cats with nine lives. Those that have gone before us made their one life – between success and failure, between survival and death – count for something.
Let us acknowledge and recognise them, not ridicule them.
The indiscriminate sea, vibrating with menace and fury is real. Participants in surf competitions, yacht races and canoe journeys may feel genuine fear when faced with swells and canyons of giant waves out at sea.
And sometimes each of us feels fear and trepidation when we face choppy seas in our personal lives. More adventurers and explorers have gone up into space than into the deepest trenches of our oceans. It can be like that with our personal travels. Sometimes the hardest journeys are the ones to our inner selves.
Being honest about ourselves, our weaknesses, our worth is not easy. But it is not impossible. The sweetest and most satisfying endeavours are often those that are hardest, most complex and which take longer to achieve.
I believe the place to begin is to feel worthy of ourselves. Because when we say ‘in God we trust’ we are saying we are worthy of His creation.
If we don’t have a sense of self-worth, we are like rudderless vessels without keels floating listlessly at the mercy of the elements. We can easily be broken into pieces and scattered to oblivion, leaving no sign that a human being with a soul once walked upon this land and ventured out by sea.
Let us take courage – like the explorers of the past – and be prepared to face the swells and troughs of the journey to our inner selves.
When we know and appreciate our own worth we can take on the challenges of the world around us with more certainty and a lot of positive sense, and benefits to reap.
“Firstly, the Bougainville government has to come up with a tourism master plan which captures the views of all tourism stakeholders in the region and this can then be used as the roadmap to develop the sector,
Tourism is a sustainable industry and puts money right in the pocket of our people and unlike mining or other industries you the service provider have the option of setting your own price for your services. In mining or other industries the products are sold at market value and people or companies have no choice but to sell at that price
Bougainville Experience Tours managing director, Zhon Bosco Miriona
Zhon pictured above representing PNG Tourism at an International Tourism Conference in Melbourne 2015
ARTICLE BY PATRICK MAKIS
Tourism has the potential to sustain the economy of Bougainville and assist the region achieve fiscal self-reliance.
But it needs the support of the Autonomous Bougainville Government to develop the sector.
The support from the government is needed to educate people and assist them develop tourism products and sites that can then be marketed through reputable tour operators in Bougainville and overseas.Bougainville tourism advocate and Bougainville Experience Tours managing director, Zhon Bosco Miriona said the industry in Bougainville is still struggling to recover since the end of the crisis but the number of tourists visiting had steadily increased since 2016.
“As a tour operator, I have been receiving about 200 to 300 tourists per year since 2016 and I know the potential of tourism in terms generating income for the people and the government,’’ he said.
“From experience, one tourist can spend about K3000 on a seven day trip in Bougainville. That translates to about K15,000 to K20,000 if five tourists were to spend a week in the region. This is direct income-money given to tourism site owners, guest houses, hired vehicle owners and money go directly to the people.
“Mainly we have adventure seekers, bird watchers, researchers, and the children of former employees of Bougainville Copper Limited who grew up here during the Panguna Mining days visiting Bougainville. We do not have many tourists who come here purely for holidays because we are yet to develop holiday resorts and sites to attract them.”
He said since 2016 the number of tourists has increased due to yearly visits by tourist boats like the True North and the Professor Khromo, the annual Bougainville Chocolate Festival has also attracted quite a number of tourists to the region.
“A five-day visit by True North to Bougainville injects about K92,000 into the economy. This money goes directly to the people through hire car services, sale of artefacts, boat hires, venue hire, site fees and other associated services and this goes to show that tourism is big money and can reap benefits for us if we develop it,” he said.
Mr Miriona said another issue that needs to be addressed is the marketing aspects of Tourism sites and products.
“The government must assist tour operators and people in the tourism industry to market the products especially by attending local and international expos where we can establish connections with international tourism operators and get them to assist the market tourism on Bougainville,” he said.
He said the major obstacle to tourism development was the lack of support from the government towards ensuring that people received adequate training on all aspects of tourism to properly develop sites and market them.
“Firstly, the Bougainville government has to come up with a tourism master plan which captures the views of all tourism stakeholders in the region and this can then be used as the roadmap to develop the sector,” he said.
“Tourism is a sustainable industry and puts money right in the pocket of our people and unlike mining or other industries you the service provider have the option of setting your own price for your services. In mining or other industries the products are sold at market value and people or companies have no choice but to sell at that price.
“Is mining sustainable? Will future generations continue to benefit after a mine is closed down? We should be looking at industries like tourism which are sustainable and will continue to support our future generations if we develop them well.”
Bougainville Experience Tours has a website and interested people can look it up on www.bougtours.com to make bookings or view the products and packages on offer.
“We are on Twitter at @YesBougainville and we also have a Facebook page,” Mr Miriona said.
“We have also opened an office in Canberra, Australia to tap into the Australian market as Australians are our main customers.”
Mr Miriona reiterated that Bougainville was blessed with all the attractions that would lure tourists to come and visit and just needed the political and financial support to develop the industry.
“ In Bougainville we should learn to start listening to each other, especially to the voices in the wilderness. The echo to a sound doesn’t always come from where you think it will. Everyone’s voice is important and must be heard. We should heed our backbench voices – not only when they raise their voices, thump the bench and walk out. Autonomy and unity must be about the caring spirit of individuals having a collective cause to promote a better humanity.
We must see the Referendum as not just an inevitable political contest. You are not going to choose between two individual competing candidates. What you will be deciding on is what kind of a society you want – what kind of community we all want.
And what kind of Bougainville do we want to leave for our future generations.”
The sea is a huge food bowl – a supermarket for all varieties of seafood. Its waters serve as highways for transportation. It provides therapeutic bathing and gives us salt for seasoning and preserving food. It is the hugest swimming pool!
It provides a facility and venue for all manner of leisurely and competitive sports. The beauty and serenity of its white sand beaches – where millions of tourists and locals flock to walk, laze, tan and burn themselves – give joy to people across the world.
The sea drives the fashion industry, which keeps churning out new designs to gird the loins of bathers, swimmers, surfers, sailors and beachcombers.
The list of things associated with the use of the ocean goes on and on – in fact it goes miles out to sea. This isn’t surprising when we consider about 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is water covered and the oceans hold about 96 per cent of Earth’s water.
Water sports are among humanity’s most popular pastimes and activities. We seem to be unable to get enough of game fishing, snorkelling, diving, water skiing, kiteboarding, sailing and more.
And then there is surfing. Surfing has developed its own international culture, which connects a huge population of world surfers through a common language of love, fun, serious competition and an obsession for surfing and its variations across continents. Surfers flock to places like Fiji, Tahiti and Bali, to catch the famous waves in these destinations.
Humans’ connection with the sea obviously has a huge impact on many small state economies. Some of the most popular resorts around the world are dotted along the coastlines of small nations – in the Pacific, the Caribbean and south-east Asia.
Eco-tourism has emerged in many places as a conscious option for travellers who want to experience the beauty of the planet without damaging our fragile environment in the process.
Sadly, the advances being made by eco-tourism in Pacific countries are probably being cancelled out by the continuation of practices from last century that are damaging our Earth. I’m talking about multinational logging companies clear felling huge tracts of rainforest (including virgin rainforest) in places like PNG and the Solomon Islands. Rainforests, sometimes called the lungs of the Earth, are also being short-sightedly destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations, which, although they appear green, are actually lifeless monocultures that are sprayed with chemicals and leave the soil depleted.
Right on the edge of the growing township of Buka, Bougainville’s current HQ, the senseless uprooting of tracts of healthy mangrove trees has not been stopped by authorities, even though it goes on in broad daylight.
Mangroves are an amazing gift to humanity. They are nurseries for numerous fish and sea creatures – a place for marine life to breed, feed and raise their young away from the threats of sharks and bigger ocean fish. And we are finding out how effective mangroves can be in protecting human populations from tsunamis and tidal surges. To rip them out is madness and an action we will regret.
We must preserve the things that give our communities life – the oceans, the forests, the rivers, the mangroves and the mountains. Interestingly, these things, which sustain our lives, are also attractive to eco-tourists.
In many respects PNG is fortunate to have avoided the ravages of mass tourism. Whether unwittingly or otherwise, tourism in the country has developed into a niche market of mostly adventure-seeking travellers, more interested in reefs, rainforests and unique cultures than in nightclubs and international hotels. For this we should be eternally grateful.
When it comes to tourism in general and in eco-tourism in particular, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville can, very clearly, learn a lot from the rest of PNG, from our cousins across the border in the Solomon Islands, from the rest of the Pacific and from countries and peoples in the rest of the world.
Before the advent of industrial logging, the Solomons was a country of hundreds of forested islands which provided for the needs of its people.
I can recall conversations that the startling Marovo Lagoon, which surrounds Vangunu Island in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province, was being considered for UNESCO world heritage status. The lagoon had the largest double barrier reef in the world and it was being considered for listed as one of the world’s natural heritage wonders.
Sadly, 15 years of open slather logging – along with the inevitable run-off and reef damage – put an end to that dream. The little money that was earned by the indigenous land owners will be long gone. The trees will be gone. The lagoon, once a place of precious local and national pride, will never be the same.
The country and the many generation of Solomon Islanders to come will be the poorer for the lack of foresight and policies of their successive governments and the wanton greed of their elders who gave this land to the loggers.
Similar examples of this abound in PNG, where huge tracts of forests are being clear felled under the guise of controversial Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL).
Logging Tonolei in South Bougainville, under a SABL type agreement with landowners, to introduce oil palm that will destroy good fertile land is very short-sighted.
It is the sort of plan grasped by political leaders who want quick fixes and quick returns. We must resist this sort of thinking. In the long term the landowners will be worse off after depleting what is their capital, their resource. This forest has sustained their populations over hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The damage to the land, the pride and integrity of a self-sustaining people and the loss of their ecosystem is irreversible. Can we please learn from the example of the Marovo Lagoon?
It is not dissimilar to a person losing their soul.
The knee jerk reaction to this has always been that this is development and progress. The truth is we have a growing population of people who have become victims of this so-called development and progress. Yes, we want development and progress, but let’s have it on our own terms and not destroy the things that give our communities life.
” If those responsible took notice and took heed Kieta Harbour wouldn’t be in this situation and we wouldn’t be talking about the oil spill now.
What has happened is criminal. I think it is more than criminal because even if the people responsible are arraigned and put behind bars it may not rid the Harbour of the oil very well.
ABG must formally request and assign environmental experts in oil spills to carry out an immediate survey and assessment of the spill. They can then either confirm the worst fears of the Pokpok Islanders and other coastal villages regarding the extent of the oil spill or put people at rest that the problem can be arrested and alleviated at least.”
I am writing this with a lot of hurt and annoyance. My people’s and my worst fear is now real. The oil spill is real. It is not in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico or in the Middle East. It is at home. The waters of the Harbour come right ashore along the village beachfront where children swim and play everyday.
Kieta Harbour is one of the most pristine, picturesque, much photographed and captivating harbours anywhere; anywhere in the Pacific Region, anywhere in the world.
The Harbour is not big in comparison to other beautiful harbours I have seen in my travels around the world. But I have always thought to myself it is a big enough Harbour for the size of Bougainville Island. Every harbour in the world has its captivating features. Kieta Harbour has hers.
I have no doubt captains and sailors of every ship, schooner, yacht, and sloop – even the penische the Germans may have used around here pre WW1 – that have come here for the first time, enter with a breathtaking welcome by the contrasting colours of the pristine blue waters and the rainforest green on all sides of the Harbour.
Because the Harbour is also a shape of a water-filled crater the oil spill is, potentially, going to have a devastating effect. The Harbour is roughly encircled at both entrances with the snout and tail of Pokpok Island almost meeting the mainland at both entrances.
It is almost like a large pond. This means any oil spill in the Harbour will get trapped in the heart of the Harbour, and spread along the coast of Pokpok and the mainland from Tubiana and all along Happy Valley and out.
The principle signatory to the business arrangement and agreement that brought the ill-fated ships into Kieta is the local member for North Nasioi and Minister for Primary Industry Hon Nicholas Daku MHR. This is his second term both as a member of BHOR and as Minister in ABG. So he is someone that has matured into Bougainville politics and fortunate enough to have a bite at the same cherry as far as ministerial portfolios is concerned. Yet, during all this time he has been conspicuous by his overt absence and muted silence.
The other signatory is an officer in the ABG Commerce division Raymond Moworu.
As a matter of fact and record this is an ABG project, a project quickly cooked up and hushed up by the Minister on the eve of 2015 ABG election. Even if the Minister and the officer signed the papers blindfolded it does not exonerate them or make their responsibility – or culpability – any less because they were acting for and on behalf of ABG in promoting the project. When all is said and events come to pass the buck stops with the Minister. It is called ministerial responsibility.
I’m very annoyed because I have personally mentioned the impending disaster to the Hon Minister Daku more than once verbally since 2016-17. I started doing this after I went around by boat to the Kieta government wharf where the ships had been berthed for some time. I first took photographs of the boats in March 2016 because I noticed they were not sailing anymore. It looked very obvious to me then the boats were fatigued and were rusting away into disrepair and wreck. I even posted the photographs with a warning on my FB Timeline observing that there were obvious signs of impending disaster and that the authorities must do something about removing the ships.
If those responsible took notice and took heed Kieta Harbour wouldn’t be in this situation and we wouldn’t be talking about the oil spill now.
It is futile and waste of time calling for a commission of enquiry especially when the Minister and ABG should have acted to prevent this after they were warned and could see the impending disaster was obvious out there staring into their face in broad daylight.
The Minister has been AWOL and very hard to contact when all this has been going on. With all due respect he should resign. If he does not he should be decommissioned and relieved of ministerial responsibilities and someone else that is prepared to work and is serious about ministerial responsibility appointed to take charge. Party politics, including party allegiances, should not get in the way of such a decision. IF it doesn’t happen we might as well throw the towel in because otherwise we are complicit in a style of governance that isn’t going to deliver Bougainville where it wants to go.
North Nasioi constituency also has the option to pursue the member through the recall provision in the constitution and evict him from Parliament.
When I saw myself the ships were let off afloat from berth at the Kieta wharf the least I could do is ask someone – anyone – to help after contacting NMSA whose officers to their credit immediately turned up in Buka. Before their arrival I was very heartened that the member for Selau and Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Referendum agreed and was, also of his own volition, so ready and willing to travel to Kieta with two of my senior parliamentary staff I asked to be at NMSA’s disposal on the visit to Kieta.
The Member for Selau knows Kieta well and leaders from Kieta well. In Parliament he and Hon Minister Daku are sat next to each other. Pokpok has a historical link with Selau through Chief Keroro. Growing up in the mid 50’s I saw Chief Keroro arrive in his penische (dinghy) and would beach it in the village beachfront while he would spend time to visit and talk to our Chief at the time. These were times when Chiefs in North, Central and south Bougainville knew of each other.
The other day I posted a piece on my FB Timeline with an old photo of Pokpok Island and village looking across from Kieta in a moving speed boat in 1989. I wrote about how the Islanders are resilient and generally how the folk in the communities around Bougainville are resilient in times of difficulties, disasters and other adversities. I was deliberate in the timing of that posting as I felt a disquiet anticipation that it was just a matter of time before one of the hapless ships would sink.
This oil spill is something terribly alarming. Our Disaster office does not have the capacity to attend to it. It pains my heart to think how my people will be affected. I’m traveling away abroad on medical leave for the coming two weeks and even more pained not knowing the extent of the oil spill and its resultant effect on the Islanders and their livelihood from the sea they depend on in so many ways.
Mr Ho the ships owner must be found. His second vessel is still afloat but has no anchor to keep it anchored safely anywhere.
It is time for ABG to ask for help from GoPNG and from outside to assess and contain the spill.
Much like a lot of the mainland of Bougainville, Pokpok Island just off Kieta is blessed with water, small creeks and springs, large chunks of green forest areas – mostly still intact – bird and insect life and marsupials and feral swine.
In fact, because of awareness taken by the community there is more bird life on the Island than many areas on the mainland where birds are still hunted for game.
And of course the Island and the many islands nearby have beautiful white beaches and unpolluted pristine blue waters.It’s a good life here, but it can be tough with finite arable land areas to go around amongst increasing population. The sea with its shoals and reefs provides most people’s livelihood and income.
But more and more everyone is going out farther and trying harder.
Families with children working in PNG benefit from remittances, but when it’s shared around the extended family, it doesn’t amount to much. The other real benefit in remittances is in maintaining family contacts and in the way the workers are acknowledged and appreciated when they come home on vacation and special occasions.
Most people here are self-employed. Fishing by day or night, trawling, bottom fishing or night diving. Spouses, aunts, nieces and mothers sell the catch at the fish market. Beche de mer (sea cucumber) harvest time is one of the busiest times for everyone on the Island, harvesting, buying and selling in the village and, for some, selling in Buka.
There’s also copra. People take turns for each other or organise busy bees groups to do village chores within extended families and from for all of community benefits.
Wednesday is community day – a colonial legacy that still works where whole communities devote most of the day to work that benefits the collective. Repairing classrooms or teachers’ houses, or the village clinic, cleaning around the common cemetery, cleaning the beachfront, or meeting to resolve impending issues.
Every other week, that is once a fortnight, some of the expert hands do stevedoring at Kieta wharf, operating cranes and forklifts to unload Consort Shipping vessels. Kieta wharf has one of the shortest turnaround times for Consort shipping in the country. After the ships sail away, it’s time to clear the wharf.
Jomik group of companies has a permanent employee arrangement with a village company of workers from the Island. They clear and ship all cargo shipments into Arawa after the vessels sail away. Lukui Trading has a similar employer arrangements that involves another group of shippers that transport cargo to Arawa.
It has been a pleasant surprise to find out how these employer- employer arrangements have worked very based on trust – No complaints, no unions, no strikes, no pilfering. Everyone gets paid and benefits with some bonuses at year’s end and/or sponsorship of sports teams from the Island.
There is always so much to do, work and fun. The most spare time is on Sundays, when everyone is involved in one way or another in male and female volleyball teams that compete after church. The standard is high and it is good entertainment for spectators. Lately a soccer team with boys from the mainland has joined the local soccer competition at Toniva field.
There is good self management in teams that ensured everyone keeps an eye on each other to make sure no one gets inebriated the night before the games on Sunday. Those who do so (and get caught) can expect to pay a fine and be left off the team sheet for the Sunday games.
When young people have too much time on their hands with little to do, mischief can become a problem. You see this with young people drinking and doing drugs in the main towns and some villages. This doesn’t tend to be a problem in places where whole communities take an interest in young people’s activities and show young people that what they are interested in is worthwhile.
Community governments can play a role in maintaining peace in the village by supporting youth-initiated activities, like sports, one-off events, music gigs and arts projects. Everyone benefits.
There are visible and tangible dividends when communities take time and effort to organize around and inclusive of everyone as much as and as often as possible. There is a lot of common courtesy that comes and flows through as well as respect amongst everyone. Sports becomes an important tool more than just a fun activity and sports.
The fun, joy and happiness experienced by the young people flows through to the parents, the Chiefs, the clan elders and community Government Ward representatives, making everyone’s tasks less cumbersome, less complicated and lot easier.
At the back end of the village near the volleyball courts is the community cemetery. All early settlers, Kukurais, Tultuls, Chiefs rest here and are remembered by the community. To visit the cemetery is to be reminded that we can learn from cultures and societies – our own and those from far away – that have long held their peace and sanity together, and found ways to juggle the needs of young people and old, of the land and the sea, of work, of play and of rest.
” Tourism that brings benefits and opens up opportunities through participation by local resource custodians/owners is a good win-win concept for communities.
The world is waking up to realize that PNG, including Bougainville, is up there with the rest of the world when it comes to eco and adventure tourism with its natural habitat and traditions and cultures still largely intact.”
Bougainville Adventure Travel
Cruise vessel True North will make its second cruise visit to Bougainville on 19 December 2017, exactly a year after its maiden cruise to Bougainville PNG last December.
True North’s cruises to what it calls ” spectacular Bougainville ” ,packaged as CAIRNS/ALOTAU – BOUGAINVILLE-BUKA/CAIRNS 10 day Melanesia cruise.
For further details of the visit to Kieta / Buka contact local agent for the tour, Bougainville Experience Tours at bougtours.com
On this visit a variety of local performances represented by Island and mainland cultural groups will be hosted at at Uruna Bay Retreat, Pokpok Island.
In a similar smorgasbord of cultural performances last year North Star Cruises which owns and operates the cruises selected a local group for sponsorship to a cultural festival in Adelaide in 2018.
The Island community benefits from cruises here from fees for anchorage, swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing, beach bathing, cultural performance, sale of local kulau drinks, artifact sales, etc. through their Metora Ward which is part of north nasioi community government.
Over and above any local benefits, international cruises are also one of the best advertorials to promote and popularize what Bougainville offers as attractions in this growing industry in cruise tours in Oceania.
Bougainville Adventure Travel will be working closely with ABG Office of Tourism to help and promote resource owner participation in all tourism ventures where travelers visit local historical, traditional, sacred sites and assets and locations of interest in different regions of Bougainville. Bougainville Experience Tours is already doing this more or less.
In many areas the resource custodians are already involved and are participating of their own accord with local Bougainville tour companies and operators by arranging and hosting tours in their local areas.
There are only a few places in the world that have not been adversely affected by mass tourism by their isolation and a determination to protect their lands, cultures, traditions and a continuing sense of self preservation. Bougainville – and the rest of the country – remains attractive and spectacular enough as a destination for small adventure travelers and cruises like True North. #northstarcruises
November Issue: Bougainville International Tourism News
1.Australian film crew releases first of many Bougainville tourism experience short films to international tourists
2.Flights lights for Aropa Airport to increase tourism Central Bougainville
3.Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program in 2018-2019
1.Australian student film crew releases first of many Bougainville tourism experience short films to attract international tourists
The Autonomous Region Of Bougainville
There aren’t many places left like this in the world.
This is a project I have put my heart and soul into.
The film documents my personal experience in this beautiful part of the world.
A film by Zane Wilson
Exploring what this place has to offer, from the untouched tropical islands to the remote mountain villages and all the amazing people that come with it. This is an experience I will never forget.
10 days so far in the autonomous region of Bougainville. Coming into this trip not knowing what to expect, it has been an adventure like no other.
See the full details 10 day Bougainville Experience Tour below
Experiencing village life in the mountains, being the first person in history to fly a drone over certain villages and showing the people their home from above for the first time was truly a special moment.
Then moving to the coastal life, watching kids paddle their way to school on canoes and live sustainably from the ocean and the land. Their way of life eye opening and something people all over the world can learn from.
Bougainville is home to the friendliest people on earth, being treated like family everywhere we go.
It was hard to say goodbye to such an amazing place.
A huge Special thanks to Zhon Bosco, Colin Cowell and the team of Bougainville Experience Tours and all the sponsors (see Listed Below ) for supporting this film project, thanks to them I have been able to capture moments I have only dreamed of.
Stay tuned for more images and a full feature film coming soon. I cannot wait to share this experience with you all.
Zane Wilson 18 year old Student Port Macquarie Australia (Assisted by Sam Magennis) Follow Zane Here
1.Bougainville Experience Tours
A massive thank you to the team behind Bougainville Experience Tourism for supporting this project. If you are interested in going on a similar expedition like this, get in contact with them and they will assist you in every way possible.
Enjoy the film
2.ABG Bougainville Office of Tourism the land. Tourism Manager : Lorena R Nanei
3.Kuri Resort Buka
4.Rotokas Eco Tourism
5.Uruna Bay Retreat Pok Pok Island
6.Topinang Village Guesthouse
7.Rising Sun Lodge Arawa Town, Central Bougainville
Bougainville has a population of approximately 200,000, occupying two main islands, Buka Island and the larger Bougainville Island with groups of islands known as “The Atolls”, (Nissan, Carteret, Mortlock) scattered to the north east of the main islands.
The landscape of Bougainville Island is rugged, punctuated by two active volcanoes, Mt Balbi and Mt Bagana. The coastline features beautiful, sandy beaches, often fringed by dominant coconut trees. Many fresh water rivers run from the mountainous central corridor, down to the east and west coasts of the island.
The 10 Day BET Features
- Over nights stays in 3 “traditional” villages (mountain and island)
- Experience Melanesian, sustainable, ecofriendly community living
- Experience and share language, cultural activities and performances
- Experience all aspects of village life from gardening to cooking
- An island retreat with fishing, water sports and relaxation
- Travel across island from Buka to Arawa
- Environmental bushwalks experiencing unique flora and fauna
- We will take you on a journey to the “core of culture
- All airport tranfers,4WD transportation and boat hire
- All accommodation in village style comfortable guesthouses
- All meals both western and traditional style
- All entry fees paid to traditional owners of regions visited
- All guiding fees and travel expenses such as bottled water and snacks
- Visits to your interest areas such as health, education, women’s issues etc.
Fly to Port Moresby PNG from anywhere in the world
Fly Port Moresby to Buka
Accommodation: Kuri Resort
Travel to Mt Balbi Rotokas Ecotourism
Tour: Travel down the east coast of Bougainville to Wakunai stopping at village markets and other points of interest. When then travel off the main road for 2 hours to your home for the next few days at the foot of Mt Balbi. Visit Togarau Fall
Experiencing mountain village culture – Rotokas Eco Tourism
- Experience Melanesian, sustainable, ecofriendly community living
- Experience and share language, cultural activities and performances
- Experience all aspects of village life from gardening to cooking
Accommodation: Togarau community guesthouse
Tour: Travel by car and then a short boat ride Bakawari Island, also known as Pokpok, is just off the coast of Bougainville, located near the Kieta Wharf in Central Bougainville. It is only a 5 minute boat ride from the mainland to the island and most people use canoes to go back and forth.
The sea is an integral part of the life in Pokpok Island and everyone who lives on this island is a waterman. Many people from mainland Bougainville think that fishing is a job for men, but on Pokpok Island anyone that knows how to swim and dive can find whatever food they need from the sea.
Experiencing coastal/island village culture – Pok Pok
Dinner: Traditional island welcome feast including crayfish in season
Accommodation: Uruna Bay Retreat on Pok Pok
Experiencing Mountain Village Topinang
- Experience Melanesian, sustainable, ecofriendly community living
- Experience and share language, cultural activities and performances
- Experience all aspects of village life from gardening to cooking
Dinner: Traditional welcome feast
Accommodation: Topinang Guest House
Experiencing Mountain Village Topinang
Tour: Visit Arawa and Panguna Mine
Lunch: Picnic lunch
Accommodation: Rising Sun
Travel back Arawa to Buka airport
Tour: Spend afternoon visiting Buka and Sohano Island, Buka Market, New Dawn FM Parliament House
Dinner: Kuri Resort
Accommodation: Kuri Resort
Day 10: Thursday 16 November
Fly Buka to Port Moresby
2.Flights lights for Aropa Airport
The installation of flight lights at Aropa Airport would allow visibility and provide guidance information to help pilots acquire the correct approach to the airport.
Member for South Bougainville, timothy Masiu, presented a part payment cheque of K100,000 of the total funding component to Air Niugini and NAC on Friday for the installation of Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) flight lights at Aropa Airport, Kieta, South Bougainville.
Once these lights are installed, Air Niuguni would be able to operate jet aircrafts into Aropa Airport.
This airport is one the oldest airports in PNG and the busiest because of the Bougainville Copper Mine.
It was during the crisis when the airport and its facilities were tampered with, which later had to be rebuilt.
Masiu said the government, though the leadership of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, rehabilitated the airport and runway and Air Niugini began its services with the Q-400.
Masiu said air services into Bougainville are very important.
“It’s part of the development that is taking place in Bougainville along with education, health facilities being redeveloped and brought up to another level now.”
He said after the crisis, most of the services were received in Buka Island only, which meant that the whole of Bougainville had to travel to Buka to get a plane out.
“For the planes to begin landing again we needed these facilities and as partners in development, it would be in the best interest of the people of South Bougainville to assist.”
Masiu has made another commitment for another K100,000 to be put into the refurbishment of Aropa Airport to help facilitate for the PAPI lights.
National Airports Corporation general manager, Jacob Anga said it is very encouraging to see especially during this economic time when provincial members come out to help their people.
“Its good for the people of South and Central Bougainville going forward and as for NAC, as the owners and operators of the airports in PNG, which includes two airports in AROB, we are committed to ensuring the compliance, safety and maintenance of the airport consistently and we can service the people by ensuring that Air Niugini does a safe landing and safe taking off”, Anga said.
Air Niugini general manager for grounds operation, Marco MC Connell, said : “Once this gets underway, the jets resume ops back into Bougainville, Aropa Airport. It ‘ll make it more conducive for business opportunities.”
3.Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program in 2018-2019.
Applications Due November 30, 2017
The East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the first cohort of the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Programin 2018-2019.
The East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) received a grant from the Professional Fellows Division in the Office of Citizen Exchanges at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to conduct the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Programin 2018-2019.
This program will bring two cohorts of tourism industry professionals from the Pacific Islands to Honolulu, Hawai‘i for intensive six-week programs that build significant new capacity and facilitate enduring professional bonds between industry leaders in the United States and the Pacific Islands. The Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program will draw broadly and deeply upon Hawaii’s unique position as an American state with one of the world’s premier tourism industries. It is designed to build capacity across the Pacific region by creating strong and enduring connections between 32 mid-level Professional Fellows from 13 Pacific island countries and no fewer than 13 Hawaii-based Americans in private and public tourism-related organizations.
- April 23 – May 29, 2018 Activities/Placement in Honolulu, Hawai‘i
- May 30 – June 1, 2018 Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC
- Fall Cohort
- October 8 – November 13, 2018 Activities/Placement in Honolulu, Hawai‘i
- November 14–16, 2018 Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DCEligibility
Be citizens/nationals/permanent residents of one of the eligible countries
Be between the ages of 25-40
Be currently employed in their home country and have a demonstrated history of at least 2 years of employment in the tourism industry
Be willing and able to obtain a J-1 visa and spend 6-weeks in the United States
- Be committed to returning to their home country after the program
- Have a track record of making an impact in their organziation, company, or community
- Be capable of creating an action-orientated plan to address a specific business problem or policy challenge being faced in their country
- Have sufficient spoken and written English language proficiency to effectively function in an American workplace.Eligible Countries
For the Spring 2018 cohort applications will be accepted from the following Pacific Islands countries:
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Marshall Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Timor Leste
- VanuatuDeadlineHow To Apply
For all the details and an online application form go here.
Your application must be received by midnight November 30, 2017 (Hawaii Time).
“If there is one memory that still reoccurs and revisits my mind more than any other, it is this. This is a nice place to grow up in. I have never stopped going back and re-living that childhood to this day.”
– Simon Pentanu
Pokpok Village. Pokpok Island.
photo credit: Stephen Hurd
Uruna Bay Retreat – Pok Pok Island Bougainville PNG
“Dense forest, with tall trees creating huge canopies as they competed for sunlight, used to come down right to the village backyard. As kids we were cautioned not to wander alone into the hills. There were too many unknowns in the untamed forest.
However, one thing was certain. The trees, vines and shrubs had to give way to gardens. And people always chose the best land areas for garden plots.
The forest was cleared and the produce harvested by mothers and daughters was always plentiful and colourful. Nature never failed to provide sustenance to our community on Pokpok Island.
Slash-and-burn gardening continues today, although there is some reprieve with the coming of consumer goods and processed edibles now readily available in village tucker shops and trade stores. It’s a small island, so human impact on it is quite obvious. The land and surrounding waters bear the burden of an increase in population. Much of the island is rocky and rugged. Arable land is very limited.
Where today there is secondary forest, starting from the beaches and village backyards, there was once primary forest. During storms, especially when it was windy, you could hear the whole forest howling, sounding like a thundering underground train preparing to come to a stop at the platform. After continuous heavy tropical downpours the sound of the flowing creeks in the forest and bushes was more like a jet aircraft pulling up to park at the bay to disembark its passengers – a hissing noise throttling in between.
A little away from the main village, the possums used to come down along the tree tops to the trees by the beach. Birds’ nests were everywhere, some from birds we don’t see anymore. Among the trees and shrubs were wild berries and fruits for the picking, although most were not picked, but left to provide natural decor to the bushes because garden food and fish from the sea was always plentiful. The forest provided more than enough for possums, flying foxes, fruit bats and other nimbling creatures.
The reef you see in this photograph used to be fully laden with colourful coral all the way along its edge. Starfish, schools of different fish, weed and sea grass meadows and varieties of edible sea urchins shared their natural habitat with the children of the village.
What is now largely white sand under water was mostly covered with long sea grass where squid laid their eggs. Parents would tell us to look out for the squid eggs and avoid them. Much of the tall grass is gone and squids don’t spawn around here anymore. In fact, the whole reef area, which makes the whole village seafront beautiful, was larger, richer and prettier than it is today.
Around the reef perimeter was coral of every kind, fully alive and breeding. The sea anemone with its clown fish tenants were plentiful. Other colourful small marine creatures contributed to an underwater aquarium of teeming small colourful fish complementing the living beauty of coral.
As kids we grew up swimming and canoeing around here. Today it is no different. It still is a playground for every child who lives here. It is always hard to get children out of the waters, even after sunset.
The noticeable difference to our generation is the whole reef area has shrunk. The best parts of the live coral all around the village, which naturally extended the reef out under water, are almost gone. Washed away. Bleached. Dead. Disappeared. Even the crown of thorns and a whole array of star fish that were part of the reef aren’t here anymore. Fish are still around, but not in the numbers, colours and varieties we used to see and enjoy.
At its best this area acted much like mum’s garden in the hills. It provided fish, shells, clams, seaweed and varieties of sea urchins. The unique smell of the sea flavoured the village. It was a constant reminder that you lived by the sea.
The ground level photos and the pictures from the air are stunning. There is no doubt about that. They are some of the best sea scenery photos you can get. But much of the real, live natural beauty underwater is gone. We often recognise our own reckless and perilous ways when it is too late to save what we have lost.
The village is still a beautiful and serene habitat. But it was even better, as people of my generation remember.
Some things can be restored and nature is, as we know, capable of replenishing itself. Given space and left alone to regenerate, forests and even reefs can revive. But they will only get the opportunity to do so if we humans acknowledge and change the things we do that are hurting our own Mother – the source of our life – the Earth.
” Making the best tama(tama) or kakasi isn’t a full time job, but many women now get a cash return for producing their village delicacies, thereby quantifying their efforts in an important way.
The VKRs are paying off because women at home are using the family village kitchen to make, bake, braise, boil, roast, fry, steam and smoke foods that are fetching cash. Often before I leave Buka on weekends I often place an order for seafood so it will be ready when I reach the village to enjoy on my own or share with family and friends. This is a feel good and taste good story.”
Simon Pentanu official Bougainville food taster
The 2017 Election is almost in the past now. The many campaign visits by candidates and their entourage of supporters have come and gone. In the village it is back to normal life.
For the women this includes going back to gardening, the usual kitchen chores, including making tama(tama) for the household, for visitors and travellers that come by, or for cultural occasions to which everyone has to contribute cooked and uncooked garden food and seafood and tama(tama).
My sister’s Village Kitchen Rules (VKRs) ensure there is minimal disturbance and distraction by those that have no business in the kitchen. She is best plying certain kitchen skills for ambrosian dishes on her own.
Ordinary village kitchens are also bakeries that churn out cookies, buns and doughnuts on a daily basis for sale in the village and at the Mangkaki fish market across on the mainland.
The old assumption that a woman’s place is in the kitchen has been turned on its head by these smart and resourceful women who are using their kitchens to produce mouth-watering delicacies that lubricate the social wheels and provide a steady income.
With a population guesstimate of some 700 men, women and many children, Pok Pok has a ready market for the homemade cookies, buns and wrapped and packed seafood. Tama(tama), which is prepared only by women, is the most popular delicacy for visitors.
In addition to selling at the popular fish market on the mainland during the day there are now night markets by the village main street by lanterns and Chinese solar lamps making it possible for women to sell wares, snacks and drinks in the evenings.
The amount of effort that women put in the kitchen from start to finish, is worth paying for. It brings a sense of worth for the person preparing it as well as pride of place in the basic village kitchen where it happens.
So, here are my sister’s VKRs – the rules she expects men and boys in our extended family to observe, especially when she has been asked to make tama(tama) or kakasi.
1. men are not allowed to get in the way
2. don’t offer advice unless asked, the food will
be ready in time
3. don’t complain about delayed service – perhaps you didn’t fetch enough firewood
4. eat everything you are served, there is no
‘cleaning up’ after
5. it is insulting not to try local food – remind
your foreign visitors
6. say nice things about the cook and the
7. don’t talk too much while eating – you won’t
enjoy it as much
8. there are no doggy bags in the village – eat
9. hands were made before spoons and forks, my cutlery been borrowed
10. there are no dishes to do after meals, this avoids complaints about doing dishes
Bougainville Tourism _Chocolate Festival
Book your tour visit to the Bougainville Chocolate Festival 6 and 7 September thru International tours and accommodation services at Bougainville Experience Tours www.bougtours.com
Or Direct through Uruna Bay Retreat Pok Pok Island a few minutes from Arawa