Bougainville Environment News Alert : Rusty wrecks and major oil spill threaten Island life ,economy and environment

 

” 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.”

Simon Pentanu

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.

 

Bougainville News : OF WORK, PLAY and REST and Pokpok Island Youth

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.

Bougainville Tourism News : Bougainville remains attractive and spectacular enough as a destination for small adventure travellers and cruises like True North. #northstarcruises

 ” 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.”

Simon Pentanu

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

 

 

Bougainville International Tourism News : Drones are flying high to film a 10 Day Bougainville Experience Tour

 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.

Or VIEW HERE

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

https://www.facebook.com/wilsonvisuals/

Principal Sponsor

1.Bougainville Experience Tours

www.bougtours.com

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

http://www.bougainville.travel/

3.Kuri Resort Buka

http://kuriresortbuka.com/

4.Rotokas Eco Tourism

https:/rotokasecotourism.com/

5.Uruna Bay Retreat Pok Pok Island

http://bougtours.com/tourism/accommodation-2/pokpokisland/

6.Topinang Village Guesthouse

http://bougtours.com/tourism/accommodation-2/topinang_village/

7.Rising Sun Lodge Arawa Town, Central Bougainville

Bougainville Background

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

Includes

  • 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.

Day 1:

              Fly to Port Moresby PNG from anywhere in the world

Day 2:

              Fly Port Moresby to Buka

               Accommodation:  Kuri Resort

Day 3:

            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

 Day 4

             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

Day 5

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.

Day 6

Experiencing coastal/island village culture – Pok Pok  

Dinner: Traditional island welcome feast including crayfish in season

Accommodation: Uruna Bay Retreat on Pok Pok

Day 7

Experiencing Mountain Village Topinang

Activities:

  • 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

Day 8

Experiencing Mountain Village Topinang

Tour: Visit Arawa and Panguna Mine

Lunch: Picnic lunch

Accommodation: Rising Sun

Day 9

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.

Program Description

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’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.

Dates

Spring Cohort

  • 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

Applicants must:

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
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Timor Leste
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • 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).

#Bougainville #Tourism #Environment News : We must protect our paradise islands for future generations

“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

For information and bookings

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.

Simon Pentanu

Bougainville Culture News : Village Kitchen Rules (VKRs) a feel good and taste good story

 ” 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
cooking
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
everything
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

BOOK HERE by Email

Bougainville News : For a positive future Bougainville should be paddling in the same direction

 ” When we grow up in traditional societies in communal villages, the values and traditions that we grow up in play a profound part in our working lives in the modern world.

To put it another way, where and how we start out early in life will often determine where we end up.

Most of all we must demand they must work together for the common good of the People. I will certainly be doing my part in this endeavour which has eluded us in the past.

What so often gets in the way to appeals for the common good is the pursuit of personal agendas.

When everyone puts in the same effort and moves together – like in the canoe, making sure their paddles are in the water pulling in the same direction with the same purpose – it is easier to reach your destination. Everyone appreciates each other’s efforts. Everyone benefits from each other’s efforts. “

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House Bougainville

Work and Fun rooted in childhood memories .I am a speaker. That’s my job in Bougainville’s challenging and interesting Journey at the moment. Speakers do not speak much, unless it is necessary or they are asked to do so.

This is only part of the story. The corresponding part is, when we grow up in traditional societies in communal villages, the values and traditions that we grow up in play a profound part in our working lives in the modern world. To put it another way, where and how we start out early in life will often determine where we end up.

This is true of many Bougainvilleans/PNGns that have ventured out and succeeded in private, public and corporate life but who are still deeply rooted in their traditional society that played a significant part in the formative years of their upbringing.

And so, speaking for myself, out of the House I am also an amateur photographer who sees life and value in everything that crosses my path. I talk to and photograph objects and subjects in the hills, on the beaches and around the waters mostly, but not only, where I grew up.

The photo here is a sand spit on one of many outer reefs I used to paddle out to as a boy with my folk to dive, spear fish, harvest seaweeds and gather shells, crustaceans and molluscs.

Children still do this today. But instead of paddling by canoes they are whisked out there by motor boats. And rather than eating and sharing what they catch and collect, as we used to, most of their catches, gatherings and findings from the reefs are sold for cash at the fish market.

We would go out once, twice, or occasionally several times a week. Paddling the distances on the open sea was hard work and back-breaking during stormy weather. But looking back, I would do it all over again.

Today they can motor out as often as they like, often twice to thrice on the same day if the fish are biting or if the price of sea slugs is good. Weather is not a worry with fibreglass motor boats, as it is when you’re in a wooden canoe with paddles.

These comments and comparisons are not necessarily about the hard times of the past or the conveniences of modern times that we take for granted.

I am more interested in making a point about living, enjoying and appreciating the things and people we engage with every day. And not doing it to the detriment of the natural world we all rely on to sustain us.

The pressures of everything from population growth to the cash economy to seeking elected office to poor eating habits are taking their toll on our species.

But rarely do we stop to think about the pressures we compound upon the planet – from wreaking human havoc on land and sea to depleting finite resources.

We must do a much better job of looking after the world that is the source of our life. And we must recognise that natural resources like the forests, minerals and productive soil – even clean air and water – are finite.

Let us be responsible and be light on the planet. It is a beautiful living thing that deserves our care. It supports all species, most of all humankind. Yet we pose the most perilous threat to the planet that supports us and our livelihood.

When the 2017 national election counting is finally over and we know who our four MPs are, we must demand of them, together with our MHRs, to be true leaders by conserving these essential natural values so we and our children and grandchildren can enjoy them too.

Most of all we must demand they must work together for the common good of the People. I will certainly be doing my part in this endeavour which has eluded us in the past.

What so often gets in the way to appeals for the common good is the pursuit of personal agendas.

When everyone puts in the same effort and moves together – like in the canoe, making sure their paddles are in the water pulling in the same direction with the same purpose – it is easier to reach your destination. Everyone appreciates each other’s efforts. Everyone benefits from each other’s efforts.

In a motorised boat everyone sits down and they get to the fishing destination with little effort. There is no paddling, no exertion, no communal effort. The engine, fuel and propeller zips you out there. And everyone does their own thing. It’s the competitive world of cash economy. It’s a long way from the days of sharing and living for each other in a unified way where the family unit, the extended family and clan are important.

Happy Life

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 Tourism News : Kangu / Buin in remote South #Bougainville has a rich history and bright future

 ” ALTHOUGH it is one of the less-visited places in our region, Kangu Hill, Kangu Beach and this generally remote bottom end of Bougainville have their share of fame (and infamy). 

Kangu’s fame predates Panguna’s; its immortality came by way of the relics, tunnels, dungeons and remains Asians and Caucasians left behind after WW2 – and by way of Melanesians whose wounds and scars from the Bougainville crisis and conflict are more recent and fresh.”

 Simon Pentanu

 

At one time, Kangu attracted international attention as a sphere of wartime activity. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of Japan’s combined fleet, was shot down over Buin on April 18, 1943. 

Admiral Yamamoto, a few hours before his death, saluting Japanese naval pilots at Rabaul, April 18, 1943

 

About 25km north of Buin along the south of Bougainville lies the wreck of the Japanese Betty bomber which was intercepted and shot down by Allied Forces on 18th April 1943.

On board that plane was WWII’s most famous Japanese commander and mastermind of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.

He was on an inspection tour of forward positions in the Solomon Islands when his aircraft (a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber) was shot down during an ambush by American P-38 Lightning fighter planes.

His death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II.

The site is covered in thick jungle and there are still some landowner issues, but if you arranged yourself early and got in touch with Bougainville Experience Tours , they can get you there.

 

 

Bougainville WW2 history :

Admiral Yamamoto site at Buin to features on Australian TV Watch Video

After the war this area became the district HQ for south Bougainville during the colonial administration. Kangu had its own police station on the hill, a hospital and power station by the beach, some colonial government housing and its share of Chinese traders and merchants.

Before Kangu got its jetty in 2003, cargo ships used to anchor off shore. Back then a trickling of crocodile hunters used to come through the area, after the reptiles for their skins. Scavengers of WW2 relics turned up from time to time, but they found they couldn’t possibly take much of evidence of the war away with them. This was out of the way for them, original land owners still had customary rights over land and their visits waned over time. And, in any case, who could remove the concrete bunkers from ‘Little Tokyo’ or the huge guns along the beaches that were left pointing to the south Solomons? Or the sunken vessels out here at sea.

Some of the places of most historical interest are relics of the church and the state.

Patupatuai near Kangu was one of the oldest mission sites and came complete with a Catholic cathedral. Bougainville’s oldest technical school was here, next to the Buin primary school at Kangu beach. I still have very fond memories going to the primary school with many boys from other parts of the Island as far away as Haku, Halia, Petats and Solos. 

Further down the beach from Patupatuai Catholic mission, the Methodists ran the lively Kihili Girls Vocational Centre. It enrolled girls from both sides of the Solomons.

 

It’s quite amazing how much the colonial administration and the churches did in the early days with very little money, but with a lot of thought, faith, effort and initiative.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if the four Bougainville national MPs put even a fraction of that thought and effort into planning together how best to spend the DSIP and other funds in their stewardship. Just imagine what could be achieved for the people of Bougainville if that K30 – K40 million or so a year – over some six hundred million kina a term – was carefully and strategically put to good use for the people of Bougainville!

In the mid-60s, as the new Buin town became the district centre and site for merchants and businesses, Kangu was slowly deserted.  The rituals that were part of the Kangu outpost – and were probably common in colonial administration centres throughout most of the territory at the time – started to fade. At a certain time of the day, may be at the raising and lowering of the colonial flag in the morning and in the afternoon, the sound of the bugle playing ‘The Last Post’ would ring out among the trees and the buildings.

All these years later the sound still rings vivid in my ears.

Of course, Kangu Hill and Kangu Beach have a rich history that predates WW2. Now, as Buin township expands, this rich history is tickling the imaginations of the locals, historians, developers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

Plans for the facelift of Buin town include sealing the road all the way down to Kangu.

The plan holds a lot of potential for locals and tourists alike. When the new Buin market buildings are complete and the bitumen goes all the way to Kangu beach, this will no longer be a road less travelled.

I can imagine Saturdays where people from as far as Wakunai, Arawa and Kieta will converge on the area, mixing with the locals and with the increasing numbers of fishermen from the Shortland Islands, giving the market an international flavour.

 

To sell her produce Regina Puia travels 45 minutes by boat every Saturday from the Solomon Islands to Kangu and then onto Buin Market or further north to Evo, her matrilineal home.

The mother of four, who comes from mixed Evo (Central Bougainville) and Shortland (Solomon Islands) parentage, lives in Nila Catholic Mission on the east coast of Shortland Island where her husband is a fisherman.

“It takes us less than an hour Story Leonard Fong Roka

 

The policeman playing the bugle at the rising and going down of the sun, ringing and reverberating in my head, would now be drowned out by the boom and thump of rock and reggae coming out of the Bluetooth speakers that are quite affordable and plentiful amongst young revellers all around the Island.

Of course, the pain and the wounds that gave Kangu its immortality remain. 

Those bitter memories, along with the warm nostalgia for a past that will never return, are all part of what makes this place what it is today. And they will continue to be part of what it will be tomorrow and into the future, even as many people in this part of Bougainville crave to ‘catch up with the rest of the world’, whatever that may mean.

 

Bougainville Tourism News : You can now fly Buka to Arawa/Aropa “World Class ” @PNGAir

  ” Chris Dwyer of CNN recently named 12 airlines as having the best aircraft liveries in the world. Among those that were listed, PNG Air has made the cut.

Congratulations to PNG Air.  This is a brief spontaneous account of one Bougainvillean passenger on PNG Air service when the Airline commenced its service to Bougainville. The passenger was on the short flight from Buka to Kieta. ”

For further information about PNG Air and PokPok Island / Urana Bay Retreat Tours Accommodation contact Zhon at Bougainville Experience Tours

BUKA- KIETA PNGAir Flt.

We lifted off Buka airport at 7:38 am BST. The dew on the grass had hardly dried when we lifted off. Who cares, today I’m traveling by air not on land.

Once airborne the most conspicuous  eye-catcher looking left out to sea and the horizon beyond is the dim glare of the sun. The sun itself rose before our flight took off. The sun’s glares were broken up by low hanging clouds far far out at sea. Looks like this is going to be another sunny day.

The empty seascape suddenly changes as the aircraft veered slightly right on a course headed straight to Kieta. I can see looking down that the bays, cays and the quays along the east coast are well defined. 

It is easy to see this is a vastly green Island  with peninsulas snorting out to sea as the flight progresses along the east coast.

Teop Island comes into view. It looks like someone had thought it was best to anchor this Island here to add to the coastal symmetry that lacked a collection of other islands adjacent or nearby as they are further along the coast into Kieta.

The Captain has just come on the PA apologizing for the late departure from Buka. It doesn’t bother me as the flight time is mere 25 minutes compared to the bumpy and often grueling travel by road of some 3 hours or so.

Wow, down there the breaking waves against the reefs along the seashore are like white contours on a map. Out on some reefs I can see kakunibarras (lagoons) and troughs looking like bomb craters.

Before I knew the Captain announces: “cabin crew prepare for landing”. Thank you captain. I’m almost home and hose. Staring out on left below I just caught a quick glimpse of Takanupe Island with a marvelous blue lagoon. Takanupe’s lagoon is bigger than the size of the island itself.

Then Arovo and Tautsina Islands are here and we quickly pass over them. We pass over Pokpok, I quickly see the village down there. We pass over swiftly and quickly.

The aircraft nose veers downwards as the plane makes the landing approach from Koromira and the old Aropa plantation end.

“Thanking you for flying with us today, thank you and good morning” the steward announces to us in a deliberate voice repeating what they say at every landing in all ports.

As we make our approach to land at Aropa airport I’m thinking how it’d be nice to do up the Buin airstrip near Turiboiuru. It could probably take this aircraft ATR72 600 and thus extend the service to the southern region of the Island.

In a few seconds it will be touch down. The plane’s shadow has suddenly caught up with us and now rushing alongside us. The shadow will  meet the aircraft as the aircraft wheel touches down on the tarmac.

We are safely down after another short, scenic and enjoyable flight. Passing the old Toborai Plantation I can see my island home

I’ll ride into Kieta and be home in a boat in 45 minutes.

Thank you PNG Air. 

Bougainville Experience Tours Website