Go Pinis

Go Pinis

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nerd core

Ok, lucky last post, promise. Here's some material that will give you food for thought over the holiday period:

Obama's commitment to combating climate change:

Time you got familiar with the concept of peak oil:

On Afghanistan:

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Tenā koutou! How y’all doing? Olrait olgeta? Chur.

As I write this I am listening to The Camel by Fat Freddy’s Drop, track one from a mix CD sent to me by my flatmate of three years Mr Lennon Bedford. Cheers mate, am playing it loud! Spent two and a half hours last night listening to the tracks my mate Nick sent (awesome!), and last Saturday I debuted a new Metallica single thanks to Ms Nikki Stilwell. It takes ages for mail to get through, and all of a sudden three packages arrive from around the world. I can’t put into words how stoked I am :)

This is going to be my last email for quite some time, probably until February, so hopefully it doesn’t suck. I figured its time for some reflections on my time in the land of bogans ...

“It’s the little things”

So today they were selling 1.5 litre bottles of Seven Up and those slices of cheese that come individually wrapped. Never seen that sort of thing here so of course I had to buy one each. Feel free to laugh at me :) but things like that are a treat over here.

This may sound crazy to you, but I was getting sick of being able to buy everything now. I was actually becoming jaded with life in a developed country and wanted a lifestyle that helped me to enjoy the little things again. Turns out, moving to a pacific island was the solution. I love making my own coconut milk for my curries, enjoying a cold coke when its 35 degrees outside, keeping a wary eye on my water tank (more on the tenk wara later) and gathering paupau from my paupau tree (which actually just involves leaning off the deck). Chocolate bars taste better, a quiet moment to listen to some favourite tunes is bliss, each dinner feels like a small victory and a text from a friend puts a big smile on my face.
No man is an island

Having said all that, I’m a social animal risking social isolation coming here. There have been days when I’ve missed being able to rock over to a friend’s house or go for a cruise in Bluey when I’m feeling a little low. I miss meeting up at the bar to talk smack and play some pool, going out for dinner and hanging out at the beach.
I have been lucky being based in Buka though, as there are a few ex-pats up here from all walks of life. I’ve got a good support network with VSA, and we’ve had some cool trips together. Oddly, I don’t actually want to spend time with ex-pats though. I’d much rather hang out with Bougainvilleans and I’ve been lucky to make some local friends. Rayleen, Agesta and Jo Vilosi (local hospital) have been great company, my mate Francis the bogan (head boy at the local school next year) pops over to listen to metal with me and there are always people stopping me in the street to say g’day, which is cool. The recently started public servant sports days (once a month) have also been a great opportunity to mix with the locals. So is going to Kenny’s but its always a bit of a gamble going there (two fights the first time, nothing the second time but my mate was armed – but ‘normally’ its ok).
Having a few spare rooms has been good too, I’ve got a flatmate (Melanie, here until March), another flatmate moving in for a few months starting January (Kim, VSA) and so far four people have stayed, which works out at one a month! So I’m hardly banging around by myself.

People do come and go here so friendships can be fluid, and you can either treat that has an opportunity or a loss. For me the glass is half full and I enjoy making new friends.

Health is wealth

I certainly know how to make things difficult for myself. Last year featured many physical crashes, I was doing too much and I must admit, I’m not very good at looking after myself. To be fair, the hospital visits were just bad luck, but I would be the first to put my hand up and say yes, I could be doing better.
Ending a relationship, leaving friends behind (and my CD collection), moving country, and a new environment have been a bit of a challenge to the mental health. The frustrations of work in a developing country have also taken a toll at times, and to be honest having people stay here at the beginning when I should have been taking it easy actually worked against me.

Being here has, however, given me plenty of time to think and reflect (and poor Melanie has been a sounding board). Some of you will be relieved to hear that I’m finally learning how to take care of myself. But you can only spend so much time navel gazing because…

Its December

I’m doing development work in a development country and its getting better and better with each week, my friends are great and I’m lucky to have them, I’m travelling and I’ve got great music to keep me company. The past is the past and its time for a new chapter. I have so much to look forward to in 2009, but I will leave that for the next email.

So a merry Christmas to all, wherever you are. I hope this finds you in good health and with good times planned for the weekend. See you in the new year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Hi everyone, sorry for being so quiet at my end, I haven’t been on the internet much lately. Back on the radio again after a wee break – the Rugby League world cup coincided with my show, so they bumped me in order to broadcast live commentary. I was cool with that though, the locals here are MAD on league and were so stoked the Kiwis won. The Aussies have been quiet about it, sore losers all of them.
Big ups to Nikki for sending me the new Metallica album, fully stoked with it! Played The Day That Never Comes on my return to air, heaps of bogans over here so that should have gone down well. Also played Kings of Leon’s new track Sex on Fire so enjoyed bringing some new hits to the airwaves.
Here’s the playlist for those that are interested:
Cochise – Audioslave
Rusted Wings – New American Shame
You Don’t Know Me – Autozamm
Fuel – Metallica
Just Because – Jane’s Addiction
Fake It – Seether
Paralysed – Finger Eleven
Colors – Crossfade (cheers JD)
One Step Closer – Linkin Park
The Day That Never Comes – Metallica
Little Sister – Queens of the Stone Age
Roll On – The Living End
Beers – Deja Voodoo (also cheers to Nikki)
Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution – AC/DC
Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon (doesn’t really follow AC/DC but I just wanted to end with some Kings)
Hey Nick, haven’t received your package yet but it can take a long time for things to arrive, and coming from London especially so…but don’t stress man, I’m sure its on its way and hopefully here soon bro!
Chur chur,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Port Moresby

Kia ora from Port Moresby! Supposedly one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but I think its all right. I am currently staying at the Holiday Inn, a nice wee spot central to all government departments and ideal for a cold beer by the pool. Chur.

“Wolfy, what the hell are you doing in a hotel in Moresby?”I hear you ask. Well, I’ve probably already mentioned that I am initiating a review of Bougainville’s development strategy, and that required me coming to Moresby and talking to the National Department of Planning and the National Statistics Office about data they might have and strategic plans they have in place. Going well so far, got a free lunch today so sweet as.

This is my first trip to Moresby and I have to say, its different to any city I have visited. Crime here is pretty bad, car jackings, robbery and the odd stabbing are not uncommon. The only obvious signs that this ain’t like home is a) the barb wire and spiked fences and b) the graffiti. Its everywhere. Its so bad I feel like asking people why they are not doing something about it. I mean it, every fence that can be tagged has been tagged, at least in the areas I have seen. Given that by their own statistics law and order is getting worse every year, this is not very reassuring. Don’t worry though, I’m perfectly safe and have yet to walk more than a two blocks by myself.

All this has got me curious. What is the most dangerous city on earth? Baghdad? Hastings? Kabul? Google tells me that Detroit is the most dangerous city in the US, based on the number of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, and Eminem impersonators. Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq are listed by Forbes as being the most dangerous countries to visit, so I think we can place Mogadishu, Kabul and Baghdad as some of the most dangerous cities. And, in case you need to add a few more cities to your list, a world wide quality of living survey lists Baghdad as the worst, but that’s no surprise, and also adds Brazzaville in Congo (never heard of it), Bangui in the Central African Republic (never heard of either) and Khartoum in Sudan (flew over it, hope I never land there).

So there ya go, nothing to worry about!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two Souls

Hi there. Time for another post I think. I’ve slowly been drawn into the health sector through having two med students stay and with Melanie having organised events for National Health week. I’ve got a couple of friends down at the local hospital as well, so am getting a bit of exposure to the issues they are grappling with here.

Papua New Guinea is facing some significant challenges. According to a recent evaluation of national progress across key indicators, governance and law and order are performing badly and getting worse. Health has had an average performance, and the trend since 2000 for primary health care is for further deterioration.

I personally experienced proof of this when I visited two medical centres on Buka Island (there are three levels of service – aid posts, medical centres and hospitals). A medical centre is a pretty basic operation, providing basic treatment and child delivery services. No doctors amongst the staff; a Health Executive Officer role plays both an administrative and slightly more than a nurse but much less than a doctor role. The HEO is supported by three nurses and three to four ‘health care’workers (I don’t know what they do, something along the lines of family planning etc). I have to say, it was pretty rough. The table for giving birth is literally that – a table, plus two posts for the stirrups. The only bed available in the first medical centre had some collapsed cardboard boxes in place of a mattress. It was also meant to be powered but the contractor nicked the generator when he wasn’t fully paid out.

According to the statistics (which are publicly available), a health provider can expect to be short of vital drugs for 5 out of 12 months of the year. This includes drug treatment for pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis and dysentery, the typical illnesses bringing patients in from the villages. Both centres I visited had a dedicated room for drug storage, each with four shelves on four walls. The total amount of drugs and bandages stored in those rooms would barely have filled just one school bag. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could my friend Dr Vilosi, who I am helping to plan an inspection tour of all medical centres and aid posts in Bougainville. According to Dr Vilosi, it hasn’t been this bad since the war.

And then there is the maternal death rate. I can’t quote the rate here, since I don’t have the precise figure, but it is alarmingly high, and according to the government, amongst the highest in the world. This rate is measured by deaths per 100,000 live births, but it is also useful to measure the number of deliveries supervised by a qualified attendant. The war did a lot of damage here, as services were shut down, forcing mothers to give birth unattended in villages and at worst, in the bush.

The good news is that, with the resumption of services, it is possible for most births to be supervised now. Should there be complications, however, it can be difficult to get qualified advice on what to do. Let me share a story. An expectant mother in central Bougainville had complications when the baby became obstructed. With contractions this put the future mother in a lot of pain. The HEO (trained in this area, but no expert) in the local medical centre misdiagnosed the problem and gave her a drug which increased the contractions. Now the life of both the mother and the unborn child were at risk.

At this point you are probably hoping that a trip to the local hospital was arranged. With no ambulance and no private vehicle, the family were forced to raise $1000 kina to hire a vehicle and bring her to Buka. This caused further delays and placed added stress on the mother. Thankfully her family was able to raise the funds and she was safely delivered to Buka passage, where she was put on a boat to cross the channel.

Although the channel only takes about three minutes to cross, and the hospital is about two blocks from the landing site, treatment was out of reach. By this point the mother had endured six days of contractions, contractions which had increased due to an incorrect diagnosis at the health centre. That proved too much; both mother and the unborn child died on the boat, five minutes from the hospital and the treatment that could have saved them both.

Heavy stuff, sorry. The good news is that we are hoping to organise a Health Summit here to try and address the issues. All the top dogs are behind it, and by the time you read this I should have met with the CEO and Director of Health and the ball should be rolling. Will let you know how it goes, if of course anything does happen!

Ka kite ano,


Sunday, September 28, 2008

No good

So it is about time that I introduced you to the history of conflict in this region and its impact on life here. Its timely having just returned from a trip to Arawa, the former capital of the Bougainville province.

Before the opening of Panguna mine in central Bougainville, this former province of Papua New Guinea was a quite place known mainly for its plantations. Development in Bougainville jumped forward with the opening of the Panguna copper mine in the 1970s (located in the centre of the main island, and one of the largest open cast mines in the world). The venture delivered significant revenue gains for Papua New Guinea - at the peak of production the Panguna mine was generating 45% of Papua New Guinea’s GDP.

This had a huge impact on Bougainville. For a start, Arawa was built pretty much from scratch, including a second town on the west coast. Hospitals, schools, power stations, a port and roads were all built to host over 3000 ex-pats, Bougainvilleans and PNG nationals (red skins). Landowners received millions through the deal, but, despite these benefits, serious malcontent was brewing in the highlands.

According to academic texts, conflict arose out of real and perceived environmental issues associated with the mine, the influx of Papua New Guinea labourers, contention over the percentage of revenue that should be invested in Bougainville vs PNG more broadly, and contention over titleholder arrangements (for a start, this is a matrilineal society, and all negotiations were arranged with local men). Francis Ona, leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, put it this way: “my fighting on Bougainville is based on these factors – one, we are fighting for man and his culture, and two, land and the environment. And the third one is independence.”

In 1988 conflict broke out and developed into a full fledged civil war between the BRA and Papua New Guinea forces (cue Mister Pip). A lack of discipline and control on both sides resulted in a pretty ugly conflict; about one tenth of the population died during the crisis.

What started as an attempt to assert more decision making power over the mine quickly became a war of independence. Ceasefires and peace agreements were repeatedly brokered and broken, but eventually a ceasefire was signed and honoured in 1997.

In 2001 a peace agreement was signed guaranteeing disarmament of Bougainville combatants, the creation of an Autonomous Bougainville Government, and provision for a referendum on independence in 2013. In 2005 the ABG was formed, and in 2006 a Strategic Action Plan for development was approved by the Bougainville Executive Council.

So, what are the noticeable impacts of this conflict? For a start, there’s the huge skill gap. The conflict was ongoing for about a period of nine years, and as you can imagine, things did not return to normal straight away. As a result, a lot of talented, skilled Bougainvilleans have left, and there is a big chuck of the demographic that haven’t completed a formal education. This shows itself in a number of different ways – firstly, in most urban centres you will notice a lot of young men, my age and younger, walking around with nothing to do. Over the channel, some of these guys will be wearing camo gears and carrying a knife (not because they are violent, but its just the thing they do here – most are really friendly). Working in the administration, you will notice that all divisions are understaffed, and mainly in their 50s. This is a real issue given that the life expectancy for males is sitting between 50 and 60 – the President, Joseph Kabui, passed away before the age of 60 in June, and he joins several members of the Administration.

What is acceptable in terms of violence is a little different here too. A fight here can escalate pretty quickly. Take last weekend for example – there was a fight recently between a Buka local and someone from Kieta (3 hours drive south). The Kieta man lost, badly. As a result, the wantok, or extended family of the Kieta man were here claiming retribution. There must have been 50-60 people down at the local hall, and we were advised to keep a low profile. Another story: over on the mainland a group of youths were drunk on homebrew, hanging out beside a road with nothing to do. A car drove past and for some reason one of the youths decided to throw a bottle at the windscreen. The car screeched to a halt and one of the passengers jumped out and killed the youth (knife in the heart). For some unknown reason, the youths decided the killer was from the south, so they rounded up a posse and went about terrorising all known southerners in the area. A roadblock was set up and, what with two roadblocks already in place (the permanent one in Panguna, and another further south following another death), Bougainville was effectively shut down.

Don’t be mislead though – things here are much better and these events are outside the norm…mostly. Being further north and the now centre of government has helped create a more peaceful vibe here in Buka. You can’t really tell that anything close to civil war took place. You’ve gotta go to Arawa to really get a sense of what happened.

Imagine it’s the 1970s and you’ve decided to go work in Arawa, a tropical paradise where you can enjoy a game of tennis or golf, dinner at the local resort, diving in tropical waters, fresh fruit and vegetables, glorious sunshine, a juicy salary and friendly locals sporting mean afros. Got that in your head?

Arawa today is…quite different. The courts and course have been swallowed by forest, the resort has been completely hollowed out and covered in graffiti, rusted structures peek out through thick vines, most of the expatriate accommodation has been burnt down, and the local sculpture in the park is riddled with bullet holes. The picturesque port nearby, once a sign of economic wealth, became a dumping ground for live and dead victims of the conflict (often thrown out of a helicopter). I imagine it would be a shock to anyone that brought their children here in the 70s.

It has been about ten years since the signing of the peace agreement, and most of Bougainville has settled down (relatively speaking). However, for some in the highlands, things haven’t changed much. The Panguna mine remains a no go area for most people, including government. A road block is in place and permits are required to pass through. There are still a few cowboys up there…there’s a self declared defence force and government up in Panguna, not recognised anywhere but in their own heads, but they have M16s so I don’t plan on taking the piss. Sadly they chose not to be parties to the peace agreement so disarmament efforts have not included that group (or so I understand).

All this makes things pretty interesting. I’m not sure what impression this might be creating for you, but I must emphasise how friendly and welcoming people are here. Its ridiculous. I walk down the road and there’s plenty of waves, smiles and how are yous. Locals are a little hurt by the reputation Bougainville has because, in all honesty, it is not a fair reflection of the people. The crime here is a result of the conflict, unemployed, unskilled, drunk youth who need help. They definitely do not represent the majority.

There is so much more to be said, but I will leave it at that. The rest of the story will be spread out over subsequent posts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Somehow I have managed to get myself installed on the local radio station, Radio Bougainville (call sign is Voice of the Sun Rise), which as it happens is just across the field from my house. Thing is, I bought my laptop just before I left and only uploaded about 10% of my music collection, and the radio station has hardly anything to draw on, so…I need your help!
I am playing at 8:30pm on Saturday nights for one hour as part of the youth programme. The basic idea is that I expose peeps to what's going on in terms of music around the world, keep them connected and share the good stuff. My debut was last Saturday and I have to say it was the most fun I've had with clothes on! Despite being really nervous I was grinning from start to finish, and only stuffed up my pidgin a little bit…
So please please please help a brother out and send some music my way! Anything goes, metal (there's actually a big following here!), electronica, pop, blues, anything good that you think people would dig, and some of the more popular stuff going around at the moment. Not only will you be doing me a HUGE favour but you will also be helping ensure Bougainvilleans have some mean tunes to rock out to! (that includes your stuff Taulima)
Please send anything in cd form, and I really need to know the song and artist details for each track – oh and by the way, can't be any swearing on the tracks, although I've already stuffed that up! Send to:


Thank you soooo much! Love your ways.
Ok, for the curious ones, here is the playlist for my first ever live broadcast:
Tangaroa – Tiki Taane (just to scare the crap out of the locals – chur Greta!)
Welcome to Jamrock – Damian Marley
Just – Mark Ronson feat Alex Grenwald
Mr Brown – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Pray for Grace – Michael Franti and Spearhead
Clav Dub – Rhombus
American Boy (Radio Edit w/ Kanye)
Romeo – Basement Jaxx
Millionaire – Kelis feat Andre 3000
Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz
Fix Up, Look Sharp – Dizzee Rascal
Homecoming – Kanye West feat Chris Martin
Don't Stop the Music – Rihanna
Always on my Mind – Tiki Taane
Midnight Marauders – Fat Freddy's Drop (my favourite – chur Shane!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The MDGs

While on the topic of measuring development, I've been doing a bit of reading on the Millennium Development Goals. To quote Wikipedia, "The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that 189 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include halving extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development." Thanks Wikipedia.

We are currently planning a review of the Bougainville Strategic Action Plan here, which includes a number of indicators similar to the MDGs. Despite committing to in the SAP, no comprehensive data analysis or regular monitoring has been undertaken on these indicators. So, to get familiar with the task, I have been doing a bit of research. Some of you are no doubt familiar with the MDGs, so I am posting the following:


September 13, 2005
Necessary Measures


FIVE years ago, about 150 world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York and tried to move the mountain of global poverty. They adopted eight Millennium Development Goals - quantifiable measures of progress on problems like malaria, tuberculosis and child and maternal mortality. The achievement of those goals by 2015 would lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty.

The trouble is that progress toward these benchmarks often cannot be measured. And if their achievement cannot be measured, the goals are not only a letdown for the world's poor, but also a time bomb for the credibility of the United Nations. As world leaders gather in New York again this week, the United Nations will have to grapple with the question of whether progress is on track to achieve the goals by the 2015 deadline. So far, this inability to measure progress has meant that the United Nations has either guessed or remained silent.

Consider the hazard of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, a fate that befalls more than 500,000 women annually, according to the World Health Organization. The Millennium Development Goal on maternal mortality is to "reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio." Measuring that ratio requires an accurate count of both safe births and maternal fatalities.

But according to the United Nations Millennium Project, only a "handful of countries" can really prove the maternal mortality ratio is improving; poor, rural countries where obstetricians are scarce, home births are common and the dead are mourned privately simply do not have the data. That is why in 2000, their most recent assessment, scientists from the United Nations warned that "it would be inappropriate to compare the 2000 estimates with those for 1990," or to "draw conclusions about trends."

Malaria is another example where United Nations goals hinge on something immeasurable. In 2000, the organization's scientists warned that "it will not, in general, be possible to measure the overall incidence rate of malaria." Yet barely two months later, the United Nations placed bets on doing exactly that and persuaded the world's leaders to endorse a new Millennium Development Goal to start lowering the incidence of malaria by 2015.

Having ignored the advice of its own scientists and fashioned its goal unwisely, the United Nations today studiously avoids having an opinion on whether the malaria crisis - the disease is the No. 1 killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa - is getting better or worse. And yet, nobody who studies malaria doubts that it is getting worse.

Probably the most useful discussion the United Nations could plan for this week's meeting would be one that asked world leaders to endorse new goals against which they could truly measure progress. This is feasible: there are alternative ways to track malaria's toll or to assess the safety of pregnancies. For instance, dozens of demographic surveillance sites could be set up in the poorest countries to document births, deaths, illnesses and social services. This has already been done in countries like Tanzania and Ghana.

How disappointing it is that the United Nations leadership went to great lengths to ensure that no such discussion could happen this week. Last September, Louise Fréchette, the United Nations deputy secretary general, instructed the organization's scientists that she didn't want the summit meeting being "distracted by arguments over the measurement of the Millennium Development Goals," and ordered that they refrain from proposing any refinements to the goals. This is lamentable political censorship.

By putting that discussion off limits, and pretending the Millennium Development Goals are meaningful as they now stand, the United Nations has lost five years on a short timeline and sabotaged its own vital mission to help the world's most unfortunate and needy people.

Amir Attaran, a scientist and lawyer, is a professor at the University of Ottawa.

For more on this debate, and a reply from Jeffrey Sachs (he helped draft the goals) see here.

Of interest....

You may or may not have heard of the Human Development Index.


Take a look and see where you respective country sits. Note that PNG has the third lowest ranking amongst Asia/Pacific nations. In a recent speech by the Deputy Prime Minister it was stated that 80% of the population live in rural houses with poor access to government services. He also felt that generally speaking, things are getting worse. Students here have been protesting over the fact that standards of living are so low here and job prospects are weak, despite huge wealth in natural resources and all the money coming into PNG.

One wonders why...

Also, the following links discuss projects that two fellow VSA volunteers are working on:

Lesley is providing assistance to Leitana, a counselling organisation whose foudner, Helen Harkena, was nominated for a Nobel Prize.


Kim, best friend of my flatmate Melanie, is working with an advocacy agency to help resettle the Carteret Islands peoples.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

A dingo stole my baby

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Earning my bread

Ok, so the ball has starting rolling here and I am getting more busy by the day. Just wrote the following to Ian 'The Pacemaker' Girvan, and thought you might like to know what I am up to here.

It has taken a bit, but am really starting to settle in here and find my path, really starting to enjoy myself. Have a lot more discretion over what I work on here, so much to do and room to create work for myself. Pretty stoked with that :)

Currently working on the terms of reference for the donor coordination and harmonisation group, which is pretty cool. Wrote my diss on NGO coordination so starting to feel like my career is finally going somewhere! Sitting at the table with AusAID, UNDP, EU etc so rubbing shoulders with all the right people. Also trying to get a research proposal off the gound, want to do a sample household survey on access to and quality of government services. Shaping up nicely.

Hmm what else...sheparding the drafting of the Goverment's corporate plan...nightmare that...required me to give a speech on managing for public outcomes! My former manager, Anna Cook, would have been proud. Or rolling on the ground laughing :) Even gave a copy of her paper on managing for public outcomes to a senior UNDP official.

Trying to get a stalled policy on youth off the ground as well, but not sure that the capacity is in place to get that going. Capacity is the BIG issue here. Would hate to work in Human Resources here. Speaking of which, may be leading some workshops to build policy skill sets in the CEOs here. Also want to do some scenario analysis type stuff but that is further down the line.

Oh and apparently we have to go over all the development projects that are being bid for this round. So kinda of a Treasury role there, should be interesting. Ooo ooo AND I have been asked to draft a memo outlining my thoughts on how to initiate a review of the Strategic Action Plan, and any issues to be wary of. Stoked to be offered that opportunity, can't wait to get stuck into it. Any review will have to wait until 2009 though so that's a wee way off.

That's more or less it. I'm also generally lending a hand or a bit of advice here and there, formally and informally. Good fun. We now have power after three weeks of blackout (no-one paid the bill) so the office is also a much more enjoyable place to be!

So by and large I feel I am going from strength to strength. The bach is really starting to feel like home now which is great. The med students are back in Adelaide and Mel is in Port Moresby so am home by myself now. Took a bit to adjust, but luckily have got a good group of friends here and they are keeping me company. Also seem to have the companion of a mangy mutt called Deeyogee. Clumsy as hell and has a scab on his left ear that won't heal, but he seems grateful that I just want to play fetch when there's a stick in my hand.

And every now and then I stop and realise how beautiful this place is, and how good it is to be here. Chur.

Big ups to the Wellington Massive.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


It wasn't me.


An insight

Hi all. Thought you might find the following news article interesting. Kabui has since passed away, with elections tentatively scheduled for October 2008.

Leader denies Bougainville is headed for another crisis

May 9, 2008

The leader of Papua New Guinea's Autonomous Bougainville Government today rejected claims the island is heading for another crisis, amid calls for him to be sacked.

President Joseph Kabui has also defended his government's deal with Canadian mining company Invincible Resources, which has handed the firm 70 per cent control over Bougainville's bountiful mineral resources.

Kabui yesterday admitted taking K20,000 ($8000) from Invincible as a party donation, but denied any wrongdoing.

Bougainville landowners have called for Kabui to be sacked, accusing him of working against the best interests of his people.

But Kabui insisted today that the deal was good for Bougainville, saying it needed capital investment to get back on its feet after the secessionist fighting that tore it apart in the 1990s.

"I don't think we are running into a collision," he told reporters in the PNG capital, Port Moresby.

"I don't think we're in the lion's cage, (with Invincible)."

He said the autonomous government had been in talks with the company for three years, and insisted Invincible was the best firm vying for Bougainville's lucrative minerals.

The deputy speaker of the island's autonomous government, Francisca Semoso, last week spoke out against her own party.

She said the deal Kabui had done with Invincible was "worse" than Bougainville Copper Limited's (BCL) Panguna mining agreement, which sparked years of civil war on Bougainville in the 1990s.

More than 20,000 people died during years of secessionist fighting.

But Kabui dismissed criticism of the deal today.

"The driving force behind this sort of noise is coming from those who have a vested interest ... they are not privy to the real information," he said.

He also responded to an Auditor-General's report that found millions of kina had gone missing from the autonomous government's coffers in 2005 and 2006.

An administrative error, rather than any wrongdoing, was likely responsible, Kabui said.

Bougainville has set up a body to manage future investments called the Bougainville Resources Development Corporation (BRDC). All mining deals will flow through it to ensure they are in the island's best interest.

BRDC chairman Robert Atsir today said that once investment started to flow into Bougainville, the deal with Invincible could be revisited so it was more favourable for the island.

"We have the resources but we don't have the capital," he said.

"As more foreign investment comes in, it will kick start the economy and the deal will dilute back to Bougainville," he said.

BCL's held its 41st Annual General Meeting in Port Moresby today.

BCL Chairman Peter Taylor is confident mining will restart at the controversial Panguna site but it is not clear when.

"It will be at least five years, it's some time yet," he said.

Copied from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A night out

G’day everyone, how are ya?

I thought last Friday night’s festivities might make for an amusing blog post, so here we go.

Last night we had the house warming party for Mel and I, and it felt like half of Buka showed up! My fellow volunteers know quite a few people, having been here for awhile, and sorted out the invites for me. Ended up with a great mix of ex-pats and locals. The Bougainvillean women were fantastic, kicked me out of the kitchen and ordered me to socialise. Which I did, thanks to the three slabs of beer we had acquired. Am pleased to say the party went well, everyone got along, and some of the locals had a jam session in the lounge.

Got to about midnight and it was time to head down to Kenny’s, the local club in town. Now, before I start, I should note that volunteers have been warned not to go out on Friday night. It is considered a security risk - locals get pretty drunk and rowdy, and may start trouble.

So it was a Friday night and we all went down to the spot where all the drunk locals were. Have to say, it was pretty sweet. Kenny’s is basically just a dance hall with a courtyard outside, and the most disgusting men’s toilet I’ve seen yet – and I went to University in Dunedin. When I walked in I thought we were standing on a step above the dance floor. Then I realised that we weren’t – Bougainvilleans are just short. Well, compared to me, the now conspicuous white guy with snow on his head. All were friendly and all was going well…

Eventually we headed outside to grab a breather. Mel had, by this point, attracted the affections of a drunk, drooling local, who just wouldn’t get the message. I ended up having to get between the two of them, which he didn’t like. I didn’t have to do anything though – the locals around me intervened and the next thing I know half the pub is actively involved in throwing this guy out. Then the crowd outside flocks around him. Then the police show up. I heard Batman was on his way too but things cooled down. Don’t worry he didn’t get hurt by the mob, just a lot of pushing to get him out.

Mel, bless her soul, had gone back on to the dance floor and missed the whole thing.

About five minutes after that happened I noticed my friend Akeel was over by the entrance looking pretty pissed off. Turns out some dude slapped him, so Akeel delivered a few head butts back. Having heard his story I decided to call an end to things, so we all poured out of the club and into the back of Akeel’s truck and rolled off into the night.

I haven’t had a night like that since I was living in Napier.

Hope everyone’s good. Still not quite getting through the emails, but almost. Mum also gets legendary status for being the first to call me.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Good times

Howzit gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarn?

Really? Oh cool.

Yeah I’m good thanks. Thought it was time for another blog post so here we go.

Things have been rolling really well so far. Am enjoying my independence, starting to sort out some routines, generally getting things sorted. Have to say travelling by myself for two months has set me up well for this, not to mention the three months I spent living in a caravan.

So, what are some of the many benefits of being here? Well, for a start there’s coming home to a kiwi summer every night J I’m not kidding, feels like home whenever I come back. Picture this – 4:30 in the afternoon, you’ve just got a ride home on an open back truck (beats the bus on Willis), kids are playing soccer in the field across from the bach, you can hear the reggae playing in the local shop, it’s a warm, sunny afternoon, and you are reclining on a deck with a million dollar view of the ocean. Tough life, tough life.

Here’s another one: since arriving here I have started rediscovering the little things in life, like sitting back and listening to music (getting back into Helmet), learning a musical instrument, dancing in the kitchen (busted some sick moves the other night), writing letters (yet to be sent), kicking back and enjoying a magazine, defeating a fist of ninjas, and best of all, sleeping in. Its all good here J Oh and my fridge has a can dispenser for beer.

Found out that my spear fishing gear is in the mail so looking forward to putting that together and shooting some emos. I mean fish. Speaking of which, went out to a picture perfect pacific* island on Sunday. Have befriended a group of Philippinos in the next village over, and Bernard happens to own a boat. So we all jumped in, along with some fellow VSA volunteers and one Ozzy, to check out this little gem in the pacific. Was gold. Surrounded by reef, white sand, palm trees, so good. And Bernard brought whiskey.

The lads are pretty keen spear fisherman so have got some company there. They are keen as to take me out and shoot stuff, so can’t wait for that first bbq with fresh caught fish. My next door neighbour Bob has a boat too, but the trailer is missing a wheel so no action on that for now.

Shifting topics, as my earlier email noted, communication with the outside world is a bit tricky. I do have a cell phone, but seem to be having a bit of trouble with that. The local internet café demanded my kidneys last time, so I’m going to have to live by the ol’ less is more rule. Sucks but I am on an island, so its not surprising really.

First party is lined up for this Friday at mine. Consider yourself invited. Am being joined in the flat by an Australian volunteer called Melanie, so it is a house warming thing for both of us. Accommodation here is tight, and her agency (which I won’t name) failed to secure long term accommodation for her. She’s generally had a hard time so the kiwis have adopted her. Hopefully some company will prevent me going feral.
Well, I’ve well and truly savaged Emma Couper’s two paragraph rule, so will sign off for now!

Hope this finds you in good health,


PS> photos coming soon, honest.

*That was some sweet alliteration, even if I do say so myself :P

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A bogan amongst bogans

Well, here I am enjoying a beautiful morning on my deck in Bougainville. It is around 25 degrees and its only 7:21am. Chur. My bach is situated on a hill overlooking the ocean. To my right are a couple of coconut and banana trees, there’s a papaya tree infront of me, and a 90 degree view of the ocean. I can hear the waves rolling in from here, and its sublime.

The house itself is pretty good. Its like an old school Coromandel bach, large deck, open plan kitchen/lounge, four bedrooms and a large bathroom. All to myself! I’m pretty lucky because a brand new washing machine is being installed, and I also have a brand new fridge/freezer, both of which are better than any appliances I’ve had before. The house even comes with hot water (solar power) and 24 hour power.

I arrived safe and sound on the 30th of July at 10:00am. The view from the plane was amazing, coral atolls and islands everywhere. Buka Island itself is lush with forest, ringed with coral reef and separated from the mainland by a short channel of water. Costs about $1NZD to get across to the mainland of Bougainville so will be doing that in short time.

Bogainvillians themselves are super friendly, which is pretty unusual for bogans. They have the darkest skin pigmentation of any people, so they don’t even need to wear black jeans J Honestly, the skin is so dark on some of them it is almost blue. For an island of bogans they are, however, pretty soft on music. I’ve yet to hear any heavy metal, so far its been some kind of reggae/pop mix on the local airwaves. Must rectify that.

I’m also stoked to say that the ex-patriots here are super friendly. I have four neighbours, Bob (kiwi), Greg (Oz), Kate (kiwi), Rebecca (oz) and Rosalie (bogan). Bob and Greg are pretty old school, have been working in Papua New Guinea on and off for about 20 years. Bob’s got a boat and is keen to take me out on the water so stoked about that. Kate works with the law and order types here is a good sort, gave me a cold can of South Pacific Lager as a welcoming present.

So so far so good. I’ve been provided with a mobile phone, so if anyone wants to send a text or call, the number is: +67-5-679-4751, or it should be! If it doesn’t work please let me know. NZ Telecom phones can send and receive messages with me, but apparently Vodafone only receives, or something like that.

Hope everyone is good, will post some photos soon!


Oh and these blog posts will always be a few days out of date, so sorry if it gets a bit confusing.