Elutupan Primary upgrades saksak classrooms

By Maryanne Hanette

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Classrooms at Elutupan Primary School have undergone an upgrade to replace the saksak roofs that had been used for over two decades.

Elutupan is the first village encountered when travelling along the Buka ring-road from Buka town to Haku Constituency.

Elutupan Primary School was known as Elutupan Community School until the early 1990s, when it was relocated from Hatapa to its present location, some kilometres away from the main road.

Since the school did not have enough classrooms to cater for the increasing population the parents built saksak houses to be used as classrooms for the lower primary school, in which the roof is made from woven sago palm leaves.

When came to the rainy season they had no choice but sit inside their classrooms where  they had to step on the wet muddy floor when moving around.

Despite the fact that the lack of proper school buildings the school has a reputation as producer of good students and typically has a good number of students passing out from the primary school.

The school has improved a lot in terms of building new staff housing, and proper classrooms for the students to use.

A double classroom (pictured) was built in early 2016 and the community has acknowledged the hard work of the school’s Board of Management, including the Head of the School.

This is one of the greatest developments the school has seen and it is now the responsibility of the community of Elutupan to appreciate this and look after the school property for the current and future generations.

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Tinputz school back on track 

By Benjamin Heribeths

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Tinputz High School has resumed classes and the school community is now eagerly anticipating the completion of a 4-in-1 classroom.

The school returned to its original location and resumed operations following a two month suspension of activities relating to a land dispute.

Since school moved, the arguments and disputes came to an end and parents, students, teachers and other stakeholders of the school were happy to work in an argument free area.

Students started having classes in a temporary building while waiting the new 4-in-1 classroom which is still under construction. It is expected to be completed by the end of this term.

A new Tinputz High School board of governors has also been approved by the Bougainville Education Board. The original board of governors was dismantled by the Bougainville Education Board and  parents approved the new one from the direction of the BEB and the Catholic office in Hahela.

Following a meeting of school parents on Monday 22 August 2016, the new board of governors is up and running.

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Hipolasa – Traditional marriage in Haku

By Maryanne Hanette

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Marriage is the last step of match making of the husband and wife and sometimes occurs when the family of the man agrees a woman they think best matches their son and make arrangements. In the past this practice was done to settle conflicts, maintain the ownership over land and to maintain family ties.

Traditionally for their marriage to be accepted and considered valid they have to go through certain process.

Match making is traditionally the first step and the current generation exercises their own choice, which must then be permitted by the village elders or the clans.

The next step they take is the hipolasa, which simply means ‘to bring’ in the Haku language. This is done if the decision is agreed and accepted by the chiefs of both clans.

During the process of hipolasa the woman is dressed traditionally upon the advice of the elderly women. The woman’s clan bring together baskets of kaukau, taro, banana and bales of rice.

When the preparation is done they then bring the woman to the man’s house. The bride is accompanied by an elderly woman to the man’s house and from there the woman is then welcomed by an elderly chief woman from the groom’s family.

Betel nut is distributed for everyone to chew as a traditional means of welcoming one another and then everyone eats the food the man’s clans had prepared. Towards the end there is an exchange of the foods that each clan prepared.

At the end of the day the woman stays with the man and his family or clan while her clan returns home bringing with them the food and money the man’s clans has given them as means of appreciation for bringing the woman to her husband.

This custom is slowly fading and today many people either do not know or do not practice the tradition. This is witnessed by the way in which the younger generations choose their spouses. Most of them they choose their partners at their own will and village elders or chiefs have no right to say anything.

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Mintung Nkaitu – Child naming custom in Buin

By Pauline Karalus

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In Buin, the tradition of naming a child when it is born is sacred and holds significance in the society.

Names passed onto children at birth reflect the power and position of the name giver in the community. The more names you get passed onto children the more significance you have in the community.

Mintung Nkaitu is a traditional ritual performed when the name giver and the child meet each other face to face.

During birth, the name giver sends gifts to the new born with money through messengers to let the child’s parents know that he has already passed down his or her name onto the child and that no others should come along to give him or her a name.

From that time and onwards, those two aren’t supposed to see each other face to face. When the child is carried around and the name giver is spotted around, he or she gets covered by an umbrella or blanket and taken out of sight.

820-mintung-nkaituPreparations for Mintung Nkaitu progress step by step as the years go by. The name giver has a number of pigs slayed during the ritual as they are responsible for providing food to everyone who attends the feast, thus has to be ready financially.

When the day comes for the ritual to take its course, both parties prepare food, slay a number of pigs and gets the food packed in baskets woven from coconut palm leaves.

The child can now be met officially by the name giver and is hidden inside a small decorated hut made from coconut leaves and other attractive bushes. Inside the hut, there is special food prepared for the child and the name giver to share and eat after official meeting of the two.

The road leading to the hut gets decorated by the villagers, which indirectly indicates to the name giver where to finally meet the child that received their name some years before.

Alongside the road, villagers with buckets of water or mud stand in a row as they wait for the name giver and their entourage and upon their approach, the people chant in their language and welcome them. Suddenly, before they could notice the buckets of water gets splashed on to them, but no one gets upset as it is part of the custom.

As soon as the name giver reaches the hut, the chief gives a little speech and an opening prayer is said. The name giver is then allowed to enter the hut and finally meet their name sake.

In the midst of hugging and shaking hands, the villagers quickly remove the walls of the little hut so everyone would observe their official meeting.

After that, they are left to eat from the same bowl of food that was prepared for them. The villagers get together in groups and get served food from baskets.

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Bougainville to get Rio’s BCL stake

By Keith Jackson

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Peter O’Neill has avoided a full frontal clash with the Autonomous Bougainville Government by agreeing to give it a majority stake in the Panguna gold and copper mine.

In a move that was fundamentally stupid, mining giant Rio Tinto in June decided to split its 53.8% stake in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to leave the PNG and Bougainville governments each with 36.4% of the equity.

It was a recipe for potential conflict and tragedy which only a global company with no sense of the society and culture within which it was operating could have formulated.

And now it seems that Peter O’Neill has let Rio off the hook.

BCL’s Panguna mine was closed in 1989 after attacks by secessionist rebels. The subsequent conflict in which Bougainvilleans first fought Papua New Guineans and then each other cost between 10,000 and 20,000 lives.

Rio’s decision to leave Bougainville in a hand wrestle with PNG angered the provinces’s president John Momis who consistently said his people would never accept equal or majority control of BCL by PNG.

This left Peter O’Neill facing the prospect of having half of nothing or hanging on to his existing 19% share of a potentially very rich resource.

It seems he has opted for a piece of the action as well as peace of mind.

O’Neill told the PNG parliament Wednesday that his government  would transfer the 17.4% Rio stake to Bougainville to “help to alleviate some of the legacy issues of the past”.

These issues included the continued failure of his government to honour some key conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“With this transfer, the people of Bougainville will own a combined shareholding of 53.8% of BCL,” O’Neill stated, apparently casting asunder a range of side deals he had tried to put in place with Rio.

Bougainville is rich in minerals – especially gold, silver and copper – and the Panguna mine, when re-opened, is expected to have at least another 30 years of highly profitable production.

Bougainville is also facing a referendum before 2020 on whether it should split from PNG and become an independent state.

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Buin girl represents Bougainville at DBTI cultural show

By Pauline Karalus

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My younger sister, Imelda Karalus from Buin, represented her region as Miss Bougainville at the Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI) cultural show, which was held in Port Moresby in July.

Hailing from one of the remote places in Buin, South Bougainville, Imelda Karalus brought great joy to the Karalus family when she was born on 10 of October 1994, the fourth child in the family.

As a toddler, just like many other kids, most of her days were spent with grandparents and we would regularly fight over toys and other things. As time went though we became inseparable, growing up together and she became the sister who would always volunteer and help out whenever I needed a hand.

She was better than me at everything we did together and the best part of life was that we both went to school together. I always scored lower grades than her, but I was always proud of her and would consult her whenever I needed help with homework.

This was unappealing to my parents, but they just had to accept it as time went by.

Imelda and I remained in the same class until our Dad passed away and we had to split classes, this was not what we wanted, but what our mum wanted and we never had a choice that time.

Presently, I’m in my fourth and final year of studies year at Divine Word University (DWU), while she is doing her third year at Don Bosco Technical Institute.

The conversations and humorous jokes via phone and social media sites close the gap between Madang and Port Moresby that separates us and fills the atmosphere with peace, love and entertainment.

Imelda is a cultural and social being who is heavily involved in social activities, both educational and spiritual. She updates me on any workshop she attends with details of how and when things got done.

Just recently she texted me saying she had volunteered to be Miss Bougainville representing the Bougainville students of DBTI during the cultural show.

In 2015, she contested and was crowned Miss Tumbuna after the judges finalised their scores and this year my sweet little sister was crowned Miss Tumbuna again.

I’m so proud of you Imelda Karalus, my best playmate since childhood days. I know you have the potential to explore unfamiliar regions in life and you are not afraid of heights. Keep it that way sister!

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Students chip in to cover uni fees

840-karalusBy Pauline Karalus

Bougainvillean students in Madang have come together to contribute to the fee payments for students whose expected government tuition funding had not come through.

Several Bougainvillean students Goroka, Port Moresby and Madang had been instructed not to attend classes as institutions await tuition fee payments.

The University of Goroka, Divine Word University and Pacific Adventist University all continued to offer classes despite the political turmoil which saw the academic suspension of two state universities.

Several Divine Word University students under the sponsorship of Hon. Joe Lera were advised by the administration of the university to stay out of classes until they paid the second semester fee of K2700.

Fortunately the issue got resolved within the last grace period, which ended 29 of July, as Bougainville students with excess school fees in their accounts volunteered to help out the less-fortunate ones, who were on the verge of being handed a withdrawal form.

The students had been out for lectures for almost two weeks and have missed out on a lot.

The university had fully disabled the students online accounts disabled which, as DWU is paperless university, has handicapped them from studying. There is nothing for them to do without access to the online lecture notes as reference for assignments and quizzes.

Many students are completely reliant on sponsorship to pay school fees and did not have the resources to settle the fee issue independently.

With the fee issue out the way, focus has turned finishing off the academic year on a high note.

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Excessive alcohol consumption puts generation at risk

By Anastasia Hagai

There are concerns that the over consumption of beer and homebrew has become an everyday activity in Bougainville, beyond the safe use for relaxation and socialising.

Many people, both males and females of different age groups, consume alcohol almost every day and this has become a concern to the local families, neighbours and chiefs of villages.

These uncontrolled drunks tend to cause problems, not only for their families, but also for local communities where property is damaged and individuals are abused physically and psychologically.

“It is an eye sore and a saddening site to see,” said one commuter in the Northern region.

“These individuals aren’t aware of the dangers and the consequences of this bad habit in the long run.”

These binge alcohol consumers have a habit of ignoring the issues that arise due to this over consumption. From the social perspective it affects the livelihood of the family and local villagers and for the health side it can lead to vision complications and reduced neurological functions of the brain.

Locals have also mentioned the lack of discipline enforced during the upbringing of this current generation and the loss and value of customs and traditions which has resulted in Bougainvilleans turning a blind eye towards this worsening issue within the communities.

On the same note, the over consumption of alcohol of this vast population has also being encouraged with the easy access of these substances within the area itself.

The continuation of effective awareness and enforcement of the law is crucial, as the future of Bougainville depends upon these intelligent minds who are throwing their lives away when they can be doing something productive for themselves and their families as well as their communities, by getting educated in the primary, secondary and vocational schools.

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Mine pit drainage threatens Panguna hamlet

By Leonard Fong Roka

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A family hamlet of Makosi, in the Upper Tailings area of the Panguna District, is under threat from water erosion and the residents have requested to move to a new location in the near future.

The family thinks the government should step in to assist in slowing down the rate of erosion generated by the water that originates from the abandoned Panguna Mine pit.

The family’s matriarch, Therese Pokamari, said their homestead was founded in 2004 by her eldest son, but now she sees no future if the erosion caused by the tunnel waterway washes away their houses, which had been built on the sedimentation and gravel from the Panguna mine.

“Our homes are what we value most as Bougainvilleans,” Mrs Pokamari said.

“If Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) was still operating I can go and tell them to fix this threat for my family.

“But they are gone, so we now have the government to look into issues affecting us.

“When BCL was operating, we all know, it maintained some order of the installations it had.

“But having left without properly closing down the mine we the Panguna people now face the problems.”

The volume of water leaving the Panguna Mine pit that is some 500 metres deep and 1 kilometer wide is large. It is sucked vertically down two or more pipe systems and reaches the drainage tunnel some hundred metres underground. From there the water—with additions from the many subterranean water systems—flows south and then west for 6 kilometres and comes out at the Makosi land where Pokamari dwells with her family.

“Makosi was our family’s only flat land in this mountainous Panguna District,” Pokamari admitted,

“Bougainville’s first president, the late Joseph Kabui – who is my uncle, played and gardened here as a child before the Panguna Mine was created.

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“With the mine prematurely shut in 1990, my family came back to build homes here,” Pokamari continued, “in fact, the local level government office, a community’s aid post and a police post are all housed here on the Makosi land.”

“More developments are coming on this land, but their future is at stake with the threat posed by this waterway.

The Makosi land is the only massive flat area in the entire Tumpusiong Valley or the Upper Tailings area accessible by vehicles, thus local government authorities have chosen to settle there to serve the locals.

The family also established a kindergarten on their hamlet servicing the Upper Tailings area with now over 100 students that feeds into primary schools at Dapera, Darenai, Oune, and Sipatako.

“Makosi land was divided between my mother and her two other sisters,” Pokamari revealed.

“Makosi 1, which is higher in elevation, went to my two aunties and Makosi 2, which is lower in elevation, came to my mother and that is where I am.

“So Makosi 2 is now subjected to erosion since the flowing water body is attracted to the bank that is lowest.”

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The story of selfless Napio

By Pauline Karalus

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At the young age of 13, Napio was served the double blow when his father passed away and, in the family politicking that followed, he lost all the rights to the inheritance bequeathed to him.

Napio is the only boy in a family of five and grew up with his four sisters and mother.

Napio’s Dad was the first born in his family and so most of the family customary land was his.

He had several cocoa plantations where he would dry up to six bags a month. Despite the fact that he was a subsistence farmer, the family heavily relied on his earnings more than the mother’s, who taught at the local primary school.

He earned much and the villagers envied him, but he never rejected a request from people who wanted help from him. He would help anyone in cash or kind, comfort or prayer whenever they needed it.

Having such a wonderful supporting wife and five lovely kids was a blessing from the Lord. His sudden passing shattered the hearts of his wife and children into pieces. This was a sad beginning of a new chapter in life for the family.

Napio, being the only boy in the family, was traumatized at the loss of his role model even years after his dad’s death. He changed from being that smiling playful boy to that quiet boy who enjoys his own company, who loves not being involved in any conversation.

With growing concern, his mum tried everything to make him socialize with the other kids his age, but Napio only wanted to be alone, a decision his mum ultimately respected.

He was still a young boy and so he was unable to cultivate all the land his late father had left him. His family had to move to the place his mother’s people to help her emotional recovery and it was difficult to keep an eye on his inheritance.

As the years went by, Napio grew in to a kind and gentle man. He returned home to his land, which was now occupied by his uncles and wouldn’t hand it back to him. He tried every possible way to get the land back, but was unsuccessful in his efforts.

A bright student, Napio successfully completed grade 10 in year 2010 with his younger sister. His sister continued on to grade 11, but he went for short courses down at Moramora Technical College in West New Britain province.

Upon completion of his studies, he got a job there and helped his Mum to pay for his sister’s tuition fees. He worked for a while and then chose to return to Buin, to stay with his mother and helping her out at home he had to move back to Buin.

He now stays at home and manages his trade store and helps raise funds for his siblings’ fees.

Up to this day he still stays at his mum’s place and continues to cultivate what little land has left for him.

To Napio, land is not the most important thing, he feels complete with his family.

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