Posts Categorized: Food

The mighty Robiai River

745-karalus-robaiBy Pauline Karalus

Bougainville is truly blessed and has abundance resources ranging from the minerals to the tropical rainforests and the inhabitants of them. Within these thick jungles whether it be in the mountains or in the lowlands there are big fast flowing rivers adding beautification and admiration to the forests for visitors and tourists.

These rivers home to fish, eels and prawns which play an important role in providing protein for local people. They are also said to be home to spirits and along these riverbanks there are certain taboo places where people are restricted from fishing or bathing except the elders of a specific clan who own the place.

The Robiai River in Buin district which flows down from Lake Loloru is a river with so much mystery related to it and there are traditional legends related to it which are passed down the generations.

The river is about 10-12 meters wide and runs out of Lake Loloru finding its way down to the sea. The blue of the deep waters of Robiai is totally different than the other rivers and means that fish cannot be easily spotted in deep areas. The blue color is believed to be from the presence of minerals either along the river or at its source.

745-the-robai-riverThe river is simultaneously a threat and a helper to the locals. It provides the local people with fresh water for drinking alongside its banks and is used for bathing. Fishing for prawns, fish and eels in little pools of water the river leaves behind or runs in a different direction is the locals’ hobby during dry seasons.

However, the local people are cautious with the destruction it brings. When it floods it swipes everything in its path and can last for three to four days. Within this period mothers and small children are never allowed to go anywhere near the river.

In its history Robiai has taken the lives of so many young and old people. My Dad’s sister was swept away by the current when trying to cross t just as it was starting to flood. Newly married, but without any children, she died. Her body was found stuck on a huge uprooted tree which the flooded river carried and dumped some kilometers away from the sea.

Gardens made and villages built beside the river are usually swept away by the mighty Robiai when it floods. So many lessons have been learnt, thus villages have been built further away from the river and locals’ have specific timings on when it’s the best time to go fishing or picnicking along the river banks.

Robiai continues to be the source of food and money for the local people. Hearing so many legends and tales about this river, I have grown up and came to experience what I used to hear when I was small.

The mighty Robiai is a blessing; however security and safety precautions are up to individuals.

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The origin of the galip nut

The following tale was told to German ethnologist Professor Ernst Frizzi during his visit to Bougainville in 1911.

Damurei married Kiara, against the will of her spirit mother, Barabatsia.

Damurei, who loved her husband very much, warned him about her mother since she likes to kill men.

“We will dig a hole into which we will both fall if my mother wants to come around and kill you,” Damurei said to Kiara.

A few days later, when they had dug the hole, Barabatsia came crying from a distance for her daughter because she wanted her back again.

As she wouldn’t come voluntarily, Barabatsia went none other than to the house of her brother.

Using a ladder, she tried to climb into his dwelling. The ladder was fastened however only with a thin cord to the house. It broke and Barabatsia fell into a large pit below from which she couldn’t escape.

Now all the men came from the surrounding area and killed the wicked woman spirit. From her eye, as the legend says, grew the Galip Nut.

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Healthy communities program looks to improve living standards

580-rural-village-buildingBy Gideon Davika

The Bougainville Healthy Communities Program, a non-profit organization based in Arawa, has played a significant role in attempts to improve the standard of living and the lifestyles of people in many rural areas of Bougainville.

The program was founded in 2006 by Oxfam New Zealand to help the people in the Bana, Siwai and Kieta districts rebuild their lives.

Through its awareness about healthy living the program has caused the people to realise the importance of their own health and now they are starting to change the living standard in the villages.

Now villages in the rural areas are starting to establish rules on how they will keep the surrounding environment clean and healthy.

They are also starting to build permanent houses in their villages and as a result many villages as now transformed from the traditional village style to a modernised village.

Much of the villages are now provided with new water supplies, which has also been assisted by Oxfam initiatives.

Several villagers said that now they are practicing the healthy lifestyle and they have observed that different diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria have stopped.

This is a good indication for Bougainville as both the urban and rural areas are developing as the province prepares for referendum on independence.

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New mill aids Rotokas food production

By Veronica Hannette

The people of Rotokas of Central Bougainville in Wakunai District will now benefit from the new rice mill that will be used to help sustain the nearby villages.

Rotokas Fresh Food Producers Chairman, Mr Othniel Rasisi, said since their area is walking distance from the main road this small project is very helpful to the people of Rotokas.

“The rice mill was an Australian Aid funded project under the Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) programme which inspired the people of Rotokas to complete the project,” Mr Rasisi said.

He said rice mill was an initiative program that started in 2010 as a sustainable project that to help the mothers in the area with their food produce.

Former Didiman and one of Rotokas’ Chiefs, Jacob Rerevate, believes this rice mill will now sustain the nearby villages to cultivate their own rice and food crops.

He said mothers usually walk for hours to the main market to sell their produce and they have formed a cooperative to help the mothers.

Mr Rerevate said that with the cooperative in place buying the freshly produced goods from Rotokas will become increasingly convenient.

Central Bougainville Womens MP, Joan Jerome, challenged the people of Rotokas to take ownership of the project.

“I appeal to the chiefs and different clans in Wakinai to work together and develop projects that are happening in the area to help sustain the communities,” she said.

It took them nearly five years to build the sustainable project in the village and it was finally launched in December.

Ms Jerome said that the women of Rotokas had to walk three to four hours with their garden food to go sell at the market.

“This is one way you the people of Rotokas can make money; make use of your natural resources so that it sustains you,” she said.

“We should invest into our cash crops and natural resources within our reach instead of waiting for things to happen.”


She challenged the people of Rotokas to make use of the resources available to sustain them and also take ownership of the rice mill project to benefit the nearby communities as well.

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Remote market allows access to goods in Kong’ara

By Junior Karatapi

Kong’ara is a plateau land of central Bougainville beside the mountain Takuan.

The people of Kong’ara are characterised as very active and determined, contributing much to region building in one way or another. It is also home to many ex-combatants of the Bougainville Crisis.

Kong’ara is a remote area of central Bougainville and climate is not conducive for planting such cash crops as cocoa and copra, but it has great potential for coffee.

In order for them to help themselves and sustain their lives, the people of Kong’ara established the Kakusira Market. Every Sunday they travel to Kakusira to sell their garden produce at the market.

The Kakusira Sunday market attracts many people from as far as Arawa town, the lowlands of Aropa and Pokpok Island manage to come on Sunday to sell fish. People from the coastal or lowlands areas come to the place and sell things that are not readily available in Kong’ara, such as coconut, fish and betel nut.

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Kongara agribusiness set to expand with new road project

By Gideon Davika


For the people of the Kongara Constituency pineapples are the main source of income since cocoa and copra does not grow well in the cooler climate.

All the people in that area, from small kids to the elderly, have their own gardens of pineapples, which they plant knowing that it is the only way they can get money apart from selling peanuts.

The pineapple plants are planted in rows and it takes about three months for them to get ready to harvest. One the local farmer said that they don’t use fertilizers to grow such huge healthy pineapples because they are blessed with good fertile soil.

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The pineapple man of south Bougainville

By Winterford Toreas

Mr Makena proudly displaying his harvest at his pineapple patch. Picture: Winterford Toreas.
Mr Makena proudly displaying his harvest at his pineapple patch. Picture: Winterford Toreas.

While many Bougainvilleans busily tend to their cocoa blocks, a subsistence farmer from South Bougainville has turned to pineapple farming to earn a living.

Mr Joe Makena said he decided to concentrate on his pineapple project after realising that it was easier for him to manage than cocoa farming.

“There are a lot of tasks involved in cocoa farming,” said Mr Makena, who hails from Osiange in the Bolave constituency of Bana District.

“I decided to concentrate on my pineapple project, because it is much easier to look after.”

Since starting his project three years ago, Mr Makena’s pineapple patch now boasts over 3000 plants which are scattered around his house.

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Ex-combatant ignites rice farming in Kaitu

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio


As opportunities for employment and education disappeared during the Bougainville Crisis many people lost hope for their future.

It was difficult to access things many people consider necessities for life and with few options some youths decided join the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, however some left home and went to other provinces to gain an education.

Roger Irisia, from Kaitu village in Buin, South Bougainville, was one of those boys that did both.

During the ceasefire that began in September 1994, having spent time as part of the BRA, Roger went to Rabaul to pursue his education.

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Bantongtown boys love riverine fishing

By Junior Karatapi

Dickson Ampongpari and Floyd Kedeori show off their catch from the Siaang River at Dope’nau.
Dickson Ampongpari and Floyd Kedeori show off their catch from the Siaang River at Dope’nau.

For Bougainvilleans the river is a lifeline which helps them in numerous ways and the flowing water is used for washing, cleaning, hydropower, fishing, transport and many other things.

The young boys of Bangtongtown village spend most of their time in the river and fishing is one of their daily activities along with hunting in the jungle.

Fishing along the Siaang River is the first thing they do when they come back from school and on the weekends. They catch prawns, fishes, stonefishes and more when they dive with their goggles.

To them the river is a resource in which they look for food and is where most of their protein comes from. Their parents educate them on how best they can utilize the river and catch enough fish for the whole family.

There are many ways used to catch fish from the fresh water. They use the hook and string and cages made from string, especially when the river is high.

The young boys like to dive for fish, both during the day and night. They fish at night if they want many fish. At night they are able to block the river and lead the fish away from the main streams with a torch.

Bougainvilleans want to protect their rivers systems they depend on for many purposes and if the water is contaminated it can affect the lives of many people.

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Man-made pond supports demand for seafood in Tangtang

By Junior Karatapi


A fishpond built at Tangtang in the Upper Aropanari, Central Bougainville, is providing the local people with a variety of fresh foods.

Thomas Orinu founded the idea with the help of his son, Leo. They were supported by family, relatives and friends from the area, especially Dovii, Toraanai  and Tairima villages in Kong’ara Constituency.

Built in 2010 the fishpond is an important protein source for the local people and means they don’t have to spend their money at the market. It supports aquatic life such fish as carp fish, Talapia, eel, prawns and crabs.

They put a good number of fish into the pond, fed them and they reproduced and multiplied in the pond. The supply is now in abundance and the eels are particularly plentiful since they are naturally found in ponds and it is easy for people to catch them.

The villagers are enjoying the fish that are coming from this pond. Every afternoon families walk on the side of the pond with a hook and string, catch the fish and bring their catch up to the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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