Posts Categorized: Immigration

The bustle of the Buin Market

By Eleanor Maineke

The Buin Saturday Market, circa 1978.


Buin is the headquarters of south Bougainville and is situated on the sea border which Papua New Guinea shares with the Solomon Islands, extends to the Laluai River on the eastern side and borders with the Siwai District to the west.

In the 2011 National Census of Housing and Population, Buin District had a total population of 34,074 persons living under 7 Councils of Elders (COEs) and this has likely increased of the last 3 years. The district is the most populous of the four south Bougainville districts, the others being Torokina, Bana and Siwai.

Thursdays and Saturdays are Buin town’s two market days each week.

On these two days, folks from the west (Siwai & Nagovis) and the east flood in great numbers to trade at the Buin Market.

Neighbours from the Solomon Islands also join the commercial transactions, bringing their seafood catches to sell at the market.

The Solomon Islanders are the regular sellers of fish. They arrive on Thursdays and Saturdays with their baskets full of fish to sell. They also spend some of their money on products they have difficulty accessing on their islands, primarily store goods such as rice, tinned-meat and other household necessities.

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Migrant gold miners along the Jaba River causing tensions

By Gideon Davika


People from all over Bougainville travel to the Jaba River in search for gold and this trend of internal migration is causing tensions between locals and visiting people.

The Jaba River at Panguna formerly carried waste and tailings from the mine site and deposits of gold can now be found.

From the time that the mine was closed the locals living along the Jaba River started to wash gold. After a few years the story of people making money had spread to other areas of the province.

People from all regions of Bougainville started to migrate to Jaba River to wash gold and even those who were washing gold at mine site moved down to the river.

Now there are Bougainvilleans from all parts of the region who have settled there to wash gold. Many of the gold miners go there, get married and their children are born there, never knowing their father’s place.

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Students investigate regional issues for university research

By Leonard Fong Roka

393-dwu-students From left to right: Leonard Fong Roka, Douglas Deseng, Daphney Toke and Ancitha Semoso.

Four Bougainvillean students were amongst the 23 Papua New Guinea students who presented their 2014 major research projects in the PNG Studies & International Relations (PGIR) department of Divine Word University in Madang.

The research began in early June 2014 as a unit course within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

We were supervised by lecturers Dr. Anastasia Sai and Glenda Baptiste of PGIR department over the duration of the research since June till October.

The four students were Daphney Toke from Buin District, Ancitha Semoso from Buka, Douglas Deseng from Tinputz District and myself from Panguna District.

My research, Irrelevance and Alternatives to the Third Pillar of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, attempted to find out if the terms and conditions associated with the weapons disposal program of Bougainville were relevant to the community in Arawa town’s Zone 3.

The research showed that 23 respondents did not see weapons as a threat to them; and it was also not relevant to the long years of struggle the Bougainville people had gone through since the colonial era.

It recommended that the weapons disposal program be re-designed to be more pro-Bougainville and beneficial to ex-combatants and Bougainville history.

Daphney Toke had a research project, Policing in Buin, South Bougainville: An Analysis of the Effectiveness of Buin Police after the Bougainville Crisis, which aimed to see how much the Bougainville police were doing to protect Bougainvilleans in the post-crisis era. It showed that the police on Bougainville are community peace oriented and not a force to enforce law.

The report stated that the police are understaffed and under-resourced for the Buin environment. All police personnel are locals and therefore attempt to avoid conflict with their own people who break the law.

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Hunting for gold in Kieta

By Leonard Fong Roka

Young men work hard searching for gold.

Sedric Galo, a Solomon Islander from Nuatabu village in the northern most coast of Choiseul Province, is married in to the Pooma villages of Kieta in the hinterland of Arawa.

This is a place where formal employment is still rare and Galo earns a living as a gold hunter in the Kupe villages.

Sedric Galo is one of a handful of non-Kupe natives making a living digging for gold in the Bougainville’s oldest known gold fields. The Kupe gold field was developed and in operation during the colonial era, between 1929 and 1937. It is today a small scale mining operation that is an economic lifeline for those that labour there.

The gold field also has workers from as far off as Buka, to Bougainville’s north, Buin in south Bougainville (especially Wisai), and most of the coastal areas of Central Bougainville, such as the Wakunai District.

To Galo, Kupe is his home away from Choiseul and he is happy earning money here.

“The locals here are my people and I am free to travel and work in the gold fields here,” Galo told me.

“I am treated as one of them, not a foreigner.”

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Bougainville community in Madang unites

By Fabian Worr


The Bougainville diaspora in Madang has officially united under the Madang Bougainville Community Association.

Madang, the capital of Madang Province, is a town on the north coast of Papua New Guinea with a population of over 27,000. Included in the diversity of people roaming the streets of the Madang town are the uniquely attractive, dark people of Bougainville.

Most Bougainvilleans in Madang are aspiring students who seek tertiary education at the institutions in the province. There are also those who are long-term residents, having moved for employment in either the public or private sector.

For years now the Bougainvilleans in Madang, despite not being officially united, relate to each other in terms of family gatherings and showing their support to Bougainville students in the tertiary institutions.

It was only earlier this year that the idea of forming an association sprang forth to unite all Bougainvilleans in Madang. During the association’s first meeting the chairperson now elected, President Ms Fiona Levi, highlighted the purpose of forming the association.

She mentioned that the association can bring together Bougainvilleans and regional pride can bind them together for the betterment of its members.

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Marcos Posiona – From BRA combatant to anaesthetist

By Leonard Fong Roka


A former Bougainville Revoultionary Army (BRA) fighter is now saving lives in Bougainville and Madang as an anaesthetist and Officer In-Charge of Surgery.

It was a weekend in mid-1995 when Marcos Posiona and a band of Tumpusiong BRA men set up an ambush in the neighbouring Bana District of South Bougainville.

A patrol of pro-PNG resistance fighters—most of them relatives or well known to the Tumpusiong people—walked into the trap and were attacked; the young Posiona ran past his wounded enemies and later walked home.

With the weekend over, Posiona returned to his studies in a classroom at what is now Arawa Primary School. During that week his aunt, a nurse at the PNG soldier’s field hospital, told him about the wounded men. Despite his involvement in the attack, Posiona went and visited them with food, though they did not recognise Posiona as one of their attackers.

During the peak of the crisis, Posiona was exposed to his aunt’s nursing services to the wounded and sick in BRA controlled areas; he often assisted and learned much from the experience.

He graduated in 2004 from Bishop Wade Secondary School, but did not get a place in any tertiary institution. Instead he returned home, worked hard in his cocoa plot and earned enough to apply for the Lutheran Nursing College in Madang.

From 2006 to 2008 he worked hard at his studies, both theoretical and practical, and graduated with the prestigious Divine Word University Clinical Award.

In 2008, having been unsuccessful with a job application back in Bougainville, Posiona applied at Gaubin Hospital operated by the Lutheran Church on Karkar Island in Madang Province.

He was accepted and landed on Karkar Island in September 2009 where he served as a General Nursing Officer In-Charge in the Medical Ward until April 2010.

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Contemporary trade with the Solomons

By Leonard Fong Roka


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

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

“It takes us less than an hour from Nila Catholic Mission on a fine day to Kangu Beach,” Mrs Puia said.

“We catch vehicles here for a short lift to Buin Market where we sell our goods, do a little shopping, and return home.”

Access to the larger profitable market in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, is a problem for the family since it is hundreds of miles away, while Bougainville is just a stone’s throw. For them Honiara is a strange place, but Bougainville is familiar ground that they frequent with their produce.

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The long standing tradition of Bougainville-Solomon trade

By Zilpah Maurua


There have generally been good relations between Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. A particularly strong bond was forged between the people in the West of the Solomons and South of Bougainville because of trade.

Trade was traditionally conducted using a barter system, where Bougainvilleans would exchange garden products for fish and other seafood from the Solomon Islands.

The rise of the cash economy has altered the traditional barter system and today the Solomon fishermen, often from Shortland and Kamalia’s, come every Saturday to sell fish at the Buin Market.

Every Saturday morning land cruisers boom in to the fish market at Buin town from Keita, Wisai, Nagovis and Siwai to exchange money for fish.

The sellers from the Solomon Islands move freely in to Bougainville with the long standing mutual respect and positive relations between the people.

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