Friday, December 29, 2017

Late December 2017

By Malum Nalu

I take a walk along 2017 Lane
Enjoying the late December weather
Place looks glorious
After the 12th month rain

At every corner
Fresh fruit and vegetables
A good feeling in my heart
A spring in my step for 2018

Governor-General pays tribute to bush pilots of Morobe

Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae says the loss of another North Coast Aviation pilot is a great loss to the people of Kabwum, Morobe and Papua New Guinea.
The former Kabwum MP said this yesterday when passing his condolences to NCA on the loss of  Australian pilot, David Tong, after a Britten Norman Islander  crash on Mt Saruwaged in the rugged Saruwaged Range of Morobe last Saturday.
His death comes after that of NCA's chief pilot Captain Thomas Keindip, from Kabwum, after a short illness last month.
North Coast Aviation pilots Thomas Kendip and David Tong at Tari Airport, Hela, in June this year.

Tong crashed into Mt Saruwaged, the fourth highest mountain in the country at 13,520 feet above sea level, in very bad weather when returning to Lae from Kabwum.
From Melbourne, Australia, Tong joined NCA in Nov 2016 and has been described by friends and family as a friendly and likeable person.
He was alive when he crashed at 9000ft and called NCA at Nadzab on his mobile phone, however, bad weather prevented rescue teams from going in.

North Coast Aviation pilots Thomas Kendip and David Tong at Tari Airport, Hela, in June this year.

It was only on Tuesday, four days after the crash, that a search-and-rescue team from Porgera mine went into the crash site but Tong was already dead.
The death has already sparked off much controversy over search-and-rescue efforts, given that the crash site is not that far away from Nadzab, and the fact that he was alive at the time of the crash.
David Tong, Thomas Keindip and a fellow North Coast Aviation pilot at Teptep airstrip in Kabwum, Morobe, earlier this year.

Sir Bob said it was only because of dedicated NCA pilots like Tong and Keindip that goods and services had reached Kabwum over the years.
"Lady Hannah and I, on behalf of our family, people of Kabwum, Morobe and PNG would like to express our deepest sorrow and sadness to the family, management and staff of NCA for the death of another experienced pilot (Tong) in a short time after we lost Capt Thomas (Keindip) not long ago," he said.
"Having benefitted so much from NCA during my 30 years service in the province, I am very saddened by these tragedies.
"May God give everyone peace."

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The man I never knew

By Malum Nalu

As I look into the face in the photo
Into the eyes of the man I never knew

I see the pain
The hurt

He shows me the cloud-covered Saruwaged
The treetops
I hear the crunch
As the plane hits the branches

I see the hope in his eyes
As he makes an SOS
Hoping against hope
In the freezing cold as the pain sets in

I see the hurt
Of missing Christmas with loved ones
Help is not coming
Darkness is closing in

- To the Memory of David Tong
Who lost his life in the Saruwaged Range
Serving the people of Kabwum, Morobe and Papua New Guinea

Monday, October 02, 2017

Penrith rout PNG for NRL interstate title

Penrith have flogged Papua New Guinea 42-18 to take out the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith have spoiled Papua New Guinea's Cinderella story with a 42-18 rout in the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium.

The NSW Cup premiers ran riot with the game effectively over at 38-2 at halftime after Tony Satini ran in four tries in the first 40 minutes.

The victory was yet another feather in the cap for coach Garth Brennan who was amassed two NSW Cup titles and an under-20s premiership during his time at the foot of the mountains.

Along with the likes of Laurie Daley, Chris and Shane Walker and Jason Demetriou, Brennan is one of the contenders for the vacant Gold Coast NRL job.

He sent a loud and resounding message about his coaching nous by leading his side to an eight tries to three flogging on the NRL's grand final day but was coy on his future.

"It'd be nice. But I don't focus on it, I don't dwell on it, it's something I can't control," Brennan said.

"What I can control is preparing my team as best I can to get the result and if I do that the rest looks after itself.

"I've got an ongoing contract with Gus (Panthers general manager Phil Gould), it just rolls over. Keeping him happy is very good."

The Hunters came into the match as the feel good story after winning their first piece of silverware in last week's Queensland Cup grand final against the Sunshine Coast.

However the side from the rugby league-mad island nation was outclassed and overpowered.

Coach Michael Marum admitted his squad, who had never been to Sydney let alone played on ANZ Stadium, was overawed by the occasion.

The Hunters struck first with a penalty goal through captain Ase Boas however former Manly outside back Satini ran in three tries in seven minutes to put his side on top.

Halfback Darren Nicholls was also outstanding, stretching the Hunters defence and crossing under the posts to make it 22-2 after 21 minutes.

After Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 67th minute, the Hunters ran in consolation tries through Adex Wera, Bland Abavu and Boas.

"Maybe they were overawed in the first half. We let in seven tries," Marum said.

"But we won the second half. We got back in it but full credit to the Panthers, they're a quality side with a lot of NRL experience in it."

World's largest butterfly faces extinction due to Papua New Guinea’s palm oil industry

by TAGS,
September 28, 2017

It is perhaps because of their beauty and grace that they were named after the wife of Edward VII.
In the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea, the density of Queen Alexandra's Birdwing has shrunk to only 10 per sq km. Credit: Angelus Palik / SBBT
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing, the largest butterfly in the world with a wingspan of 30cm—at least 10 times the size of common butterflies—was discovered in Papua New Guinea in 1906. More than a century later, one of the world’s rarest species has become the most endangered. In the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea, the last frontier, the density of this butterfly has shrunk to only 10 per square kilometre. They are now handful in number, but what’s causing their race to dwindle?

New Guinea, which is the world’s second largest island, has an ideal climate for palm production, with Indonesia occupying the western half of the island and Papua New Guinea forming the island’s eastern side. Palm oil producers in the western part are fast expanding into Papua New Guinea to reach the goal of producing 40 million metric tonnes by 2020.

With traditional locations for plantations becoming saturated, companies are now turning to seemingly unexploited tropical forest in Papua New Guinea. The scramble for producing more palm oil is leading to rampant clearing of forests—natural habitat of birdwing butterfly. The country is already witnessing a steady increase in FORMA alerts—fortnightly updates based on satellite images on spots that have recently been cleared.

In 2013, Papua New Guinea received nearly 2,200 alerts—the highest since recordkeeping began in 2006. Not only are the trees being cut indiscriminately, the area earmarked for palm oil production is set on fire as a preferred method of clearing. The extent of damage done in the tropical rainforest is somewhat evident in satellite images.
Actively burning areas with significant smoke rising from these areas as detected by a satellite on September 24, 2015. Credit: NASA

There have also been reports about government losing control over palm plantations, which are being increasingly privatised, with Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian investors appropriating lands of the locals to increase the network of oil palm plantations.

Three endangered species in Papua New Guinea

The same region, whose landscape is undergoing a rapid change, is home to three out of the top 10 endangered species of shallowtail and birdwing butterflies. While Queen Alexandra's birdwing is considered endangered by the IUCN, Papilio moerneri is one of the rarest and least known of all Papua New Guinea Swallowtail butterflies that has not been seen since 1924. The Southern Tailed Birdwing is also considered vulnerable. Habitat alteration due to volcanic eruption in the 50s and habitat destruction for oil palm plantations are key reasons why they are pushed to the brink of extinction.

New conservation project

Fortunately, a new initiative is coming to the rescue of these beautiful winged creatures. The Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust (SBBT), led by entomologists and conservationists, has been established to conserve and protect butterflies of Papilionidae family globally. Its first project is Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing.

With funding from the Malaysia-based Sime Darby Foundation (SDF), the SBBT is trying to create a state-of-the-art captive breeding and release facility in New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL)’s Higaturu palm oil estate—the heart of the butterfly’s home. The captive breeding and release programme will be accompanied by habitat enrichment and protection of remaining forest areas around oil palm plantations.

“Sustainable conservation requires high quality, practical, on-the-ground conservation, with local communities and business working in partnership,” says Mark Collins, chairman of SBBT and ex-director of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The SBBT, according to its official website, is providing technical, scientific and international support for “studying the best areas to release the butterflies in the forests surrounding the palm oil estates, cultivating vines in those areas, and making sure there are supplies of the butterflies' favourite food plant, the Dutchman’s pipe”.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The woman I never knew


As I look into the face in the photo
Into the eyes of the woman I never knew, lying on her hospital bed, her mother beside her
I feel the hurt
The pain

She shows me the humiliation
Of being stripped naked
The most-excruciating  agony
As hot metal burns her body and razors cut through

I hear her cries
Which fall upon deaf dears
No one in this country can help her on Independence Day
They are oblivious to her pleas for mercy, as her life seeps away

I believe that this woman and many more, should never be forgotten
For they are victims of sanguma
And the Devil laughs as he takes control of this Christian country
The dark forces of evil take control of the land


-Dedicated to the memory of the two Enga women who were tortured with hot metal and cut with razor blades on Independence Day, on accusations of being sanguma, and subsequently died.

Monday, September 25, 2017

An ode to the PNG Hunters

This is a small piece which I wrote on my phone this morning. I hope you like it:

An ode to the PNG Hunters

They came from north of the border
To the colosseum at Suncorp
Modern-day gladiators
Hunters from Papua New Guinea

They carried the hopes and dreams of a nation
Upon their shoulders
So much gloom, doom and despair
A little ray of sunshine was needed

All was lost, it seemed
When in from the cold came Willie Minoga
Like a runaway freight train from Enga
Grounding the ball at the last minute

And for a moment in time
All of Papua New Guinea erupted
A crescendo from the islands to the mountains
As the sons and daughters of this beautiful land arose as one, singing a new song of hope

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Papua New Guinea Hunters win Queensland Cup Grand Final in last minute

by John Coomer,
September 24, 2017

The PNG Hunters have scored in the final minute to win their first Queensland Cup in a thrilling finish at Suncorp Stadium against the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

Trailing 10-6, Hunters’ five-eighth, captain and man-of-the-match Ase Boas put through a grubber as their last throw of the dice. Interchange forward Willie Minoga won a desperate race for the ball, grounding it just before the dead-ball line.

Boas then calmly slotted the conversion from beside the posts to put the Hunters in the lead for the first time in the match.

The Falcons then went for a short kick-off that didn’t work. The hooter sounded seconds later, sparking wild celebrations among the Hunters players and many in the crowd. No doubt the entire population of PNG will be celebrating long and hard for the next few days.

Earlier, the Falcons had a dream start to the match, scoring two tries in the first seven minutes of the first half. The first came in their opening set, when they threw the ball wide to try and exploit the Hunters’ slide defence. It worked, with winger Matt Soper-Lawler crossing in the corner.

The Falcons scored again five minutes later when halfback Ryley Jacks put hard-running backrower Joe Stimson over.

The Hunters managed to steady their defence for the rest of the half, but couldn’t hang onto the ball for long enough to mount any attacking pressure. They went into the sheds trailing 10-0.

They needed to score first in the second half to get some confidence and the Falcons did them a huge favour when they knocked on from the kick-off. In the next set, Ase Boas put in a grubber and his brother Watson Boas ended up scoring from it to get the Hunters on the scoreboard.

Both teams were willing to throw the ball around in very warm September conditions in Brisbane, but were let down by their handling throughout the game. The completion rate of the Hunters, in particular, was poor. They looked very nervous. But the defence from both sides was also very willing. You couldn’t fault their commitment or desperation.

The win means the Hunters will play the winner of the New South Wales Cup in the curtain-raiser to the Melbourne/Cowboys grand final next weekend. Their opponent will be the winner of Penrith and Wyong, played tonight.

It’s the fourth season for the very popular PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup, and this win is their history-making first premiership.

Final score
PNG Hunters 12 
Sunshine Coast Falcons 10

Sunday, September 10, 2017

PNG Hunters into historic first grand final

THE PNG Hunters have made Intrust Super Cup history, after they advanced to their first grand final with a gritty 6-4 victory over Redcliffe today.

Michael Marum’s side put on a defensive masterclass in Port Moresby, denying the Dolphins the chance to score any tries in front of a packed stadium with more than 14,000 people.

All of Redcliffe’s points came from penalty goals, while PNG skipper Ase Boas scored the only four-pointer of the game to send the Dolphins back to Queensland without the much-needed win.

The massive effort from the Hunters will see them play in their first grand final on September 24 at Suncorp Stadium.

Redcliffe meanwhile will host the Sunshine Coast in a preliminary final next Sunday, with the two teams to battle it out for the other spot in the grand final.

Monday, September 04, 2017

A Father's Day gift

My babies gave me this today
And bring tears to my eyes
They are my strength
My inspiration
The wind beneath my wings

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Laying the red carpet for our visitors

I got up early and took a Saturday morning stroll from my home at 8-Mile to the main highway.
The entire pavement was painted red with betel nut (buai) spit.

There is nothing wrong with betel nut growing and selling, just the chewing and spitting. 

This is not only happening in Port Moresby but all over the country.
It's a disgusting and insidious habit.
People - even those highly educated ones holding big jobs - spit everywhere without a care in the world.
We talk about corruption, crime, homebrew and marijuana, but the spitting of buai is just as bad.
Shame on you if you are one of these serial spitters painting the town red.
Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea will host APEC 2018 in a few month's time.
We are already laying the red carpet for our visitors.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Salamaua: The rising phoenix

This article first appeared in The National newspaper on Friday, Feb 17, 2017

My recent trip to beautiful and historical Salamaua, Morobe, the capital of New Guinea ahead of Lae and Rabaul before being destroyed by WWII,  brings back so many bittersweet memories.
Back in July 2003, I walked the trail from Salamaua to Wau with Morobe tourism officer Heni Dembis and two local boys Lionel Aigilo and Solomon Jawing, an event which put this icon of the Morobe gold rush days and WWII back on the tourism map.

The word-famous Salamaua Point, scene of some of the heaviest fighting of WWII, with the narrow isthmus in between.-All pictures by MILEN STILIYANOV

Our dream was to make the Black Cat popular again, to help put back Salamaua and Wau back on the map, and to help the local people make money.
The Black Cat makes the Kokoda Trail seem like a Sunday arvo stroll in the park.
This is because it is not an established trail like Kokoda, on which hundreds of trekkers regularly tread, but a forgotten course that passes through some of the toughest and most-hazardous terrain in the world.
Leech and snake -infested jungle, moss-covered rocks and fallen tree stumps, precarious cliff crossings, and potentially-dangerous river crossings make the Black Cat arguably one of the toughest tracks in PNG and the world.
After walking from Salamaua from Wau over five days,  from July 22 to 26 in 2003, I can only say know that I do not know how I survived.
To cut a long story short, thanks to our groundbreaking trek, the Black Cat was opened and the trekking industry thrived until the sad incident of Sept 2013 in which a trekking party was attacked near Wau in Sept 2013 and several porters either maimed or killed.
One of those who succumbed to injuries was my good friend, Lionel Aigilo, who walked with me on the track back in 2003.
Trekkers from Australia and New Zealand managed to get out unharmed and walked back to Wau.
The track has since been closed and a major revenue-earner for the people has gone.
That aside, Salamaua has played a pivotal role in the history of Papua New Guinea, and my research into this place from Australian military archives and other sources,  reveals so much.
Expatriate-owned houses at Salamaua.
What many do not know is that the Japanese launched their attack on Port Moresby over the Kokoda Trail from Salamaua, and when the attack failed, turned the port into a major supply base.
It was eventually attacked by Australian troops flown into Wau.
Japanese reinforcements failed to arrive and the town was taken in September 1943 in what has become known as the Battle of Salamaua.
Salamaua – the “town of gold”- has never regained its shine.
The Australians recaptured Salamaua in September 1943 but by then, it was too late, as places like Lae and Port Moresby had taken its glory.
It was the main port and airstrip for the goldfields of Wau and Bulolo during the gold rush days of the 1920s and 1930s.
Salamaua was headquarters for the all-powerful New Guinea Goldfields Ltd, had its own shops liked the famed Burns Philp, New South Wales and Commonwealth banks, named streets, hospital, bakery, theatre, bars where characters like the legendary Errol Flynn once strutted his stuff before becoming a Hollywood legend, and was a famed port of call for swashbuckling gold miners from all over the world.
It was here that expeditions into the undiscovered hinterland – including the famous exploration into the Highlands of New Guinea by the Leahy brothers and Jim Taylor – were launched.
Rivalry between Salamaua and Lae for the capital of New Guinea following the demise of Rabaul in the 1937 volcanic eruption was legendary.
But for all that Salamaua has contributed to the development of PNG and the world – through the millions in gold that was taken out - it is one of the greatest ironies that it is now a forgotten backwater, left to the mercy of the vast Huon Gulf which threatens to swamp its narrow isthmus any moment, despite repeated calls for a seawall to be built.
Never mind that these days its beautiful bathing beach and coral reefs are havens for people from Lae – mainly the expatriate community - who have built weekend houses on the peninsula to get away from the traffic, phones, and bustle of the city.
The discovery of gold at Edie Creek above Wau in 1926 sparked off a gold rush of massive proportions, which led to the development of Salamaua as capital of the Morobe District.
The rigorous walk between Salamaua and Wau took up to a week, the flamboyant Errol Flynn writing of how the gold fields had to be approached from Salamaua by 10 days’ march through leech-infested jungle, in constant fear of ambush, and at night wondering “whether that crawly sound you heard a few feet away might be a snake, a cassowary or maybe only a wild board razorback…I have seen Central Africa, but it was never anything like the jungle of New Guinea”.
Lae was but a “company” town and was very much a satellite of Salamaua.
Salamaua sprang up before Lae and because it was the administrative and commercial centre of the District and also the port for the goldfields, it continued to dominate its sister across the Huon Gulf right up till WW11.
Shipping interests refused Lae as a port, probably because they had already established themselves at Salamaua before Lae developed.
Salamaua as it is today
The powerful New Guinea Goldfields Ltd – following a dispute with Guinea Airways – purchased its own plane and established its own aerodrome on Salamaua in 1929.
The government also resisted pressure to have Lae built up as the chief town of Morobe District, and at times, even affirmed its preference for Salamaua by stubbornly refusing to use either the aviation or shopping facilities at Lae.
Following the disastrous volcanic eruption in Rabaul in May 1937, a protracted and bitter debate over the merits of Salamaua and Lae ensued, when Australian minister for territories W.M. Hughes – who in his days as prime minister had been responsible for New Guinea coming under Australia’s mandate - chose Salamaua as both port and capital.
Hughes was accused of being bribed by Burns Philp and New Guinea Goldfields, the Australian government was accused of apathy and irresponsibility in its attitude towards New Guinea affairs, and the Pacific Islands Monthly and Rabaul Times led the anti-Hughes and anti-government debate.
It became a matter of great controversy that that Canberra press corps, which had been faithfully reporting new developments for six months, in December 1938 produced a satirical newspaper Hangover containing a parody of the controversy under the title “Lae off Salamaua: Capital crisis causes crater cabinet confusion”.
The article reads: “A new crisis has arisen overshadowing the budget, the coal strike, and Hitler. Alarming tensions were created when the Prime Minister received the following urgent message from Mr Hairbrain, M.H.R: ‘Lae off Salamaua, Joe! Natives hostile!’Mr Hairbrain’s message has created the profoundest sensations in Federal political circles. It is feared that the natives may try to make capital out of it. The situation is fraught with grave possibilities and impossibilities. Mr Lyons summoned cabinet immediately. ‘Wow!’ said the Prime Minister as he staggered from the cabinet room after the tenth day with the problem apparently nearer no solution. ‘That’s it!’ yelled a chorus of weary ministers. ‘Why the hell didn’t we think of Wau before?’ Mr Hughes collapsed. The crisis had passed.”
Rabaul, however, continued to remain as capital of New Guinea until 1941 when renewed volcanic forced the transfer to Lae in October 1941 right up to the Japanese invasion in January 1942.
War, however, had begun in the Pacific with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941.
Sea shell on the sea shore at Salamaua
Rabaul was bombed on January 4, 1942 followed by Lae, Salamaua, and Bulolo on January 21.
This was the beginning of the end of Salamaua’s ephemeral reign as the “town of gold”.
It is my dream that one day Salamaua, like the phoenix, will rise again and take its place in the sun.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

The allure of second-hand bookshops

I love second-hand book shops.
Yesterday I wandered through two second-hand shops along Waigani Drive in Port Moresby, hunting for books, while the place was chock-a-block with people looking for clothes.
Books on virtually anything are available at second-hand bookshops.

Such a treasure trove of information and English at a time when our  literacy levels have reached alarmingly-low levels. 
They are literally a gold mine.
You can look no further than Facebook to see how low the level of English in this country has stooped to.
The books and magazines at second-hand shops are so cheap too.
Good to see people interested in books.

Sometimes you find the latest bestsellers.
From Shakespeare to Twain to Hemingway to Fitzgerald to Hunter S Thompson to do-it-yourself to children's books.
A second-hand book does more to help our children than a buai, smoke or a beer.
 I read profusely as a child (and even to this day) and this has has shaped (and continues to shape) my life.
I bought a couple of books for my kids and myself.
Some of the books I bought.

I believe strongly that "development is yourself", whether it be buying and reading a book, or stopping buai, smoking and alcohol.
Development does not come from politicians or government as we in Papua New Guinea like to think.
Reading is development.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The first day of 2017

Today was a time for me to spend time with family, read, write, take pictures, as well as think about the potential for agriculture in this country.
This is before I resume work tomorrow in what promises to be a busy year with the 2017 national election.
A green invasion...I see it as a good augury for 2017...a blessing...
More Papua New Guinean than those slimy, toxic brown Queensland cane my hands and I don't get poisoned...
Lae pineapples for New Year's Day brunch...

My three amigos are cooking up a feast...
My tribe on New Year's Day...
She's now busy writing a travel piece on her tablet about our travels to Lae, Salamaua, Highlands Highway,  Markham Valley and Goroka...soon to be published...PS: She's only 12 but can write better than many of our "journalists"...
More power to our farmers in 2017...including us backyard farmers...

Keith and friend.
Evening along Sir Hubert Murray Highway, 8-Mile.