Posts Categorized: Koromira

Law, order and warlords affect progress in Koromira

Research conducted by Ishmael Palipal at the Divine Word University in Madang has revealed that law and order issues continue to affect the lives of people in Koromira.

Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville examines the factors affecting development in the village assembly located within Kododa constituency and Palipal interviewed 40 local people.

Palipal found that the presence of armed ‘warlords’ is a major issue which subverts normal community operations.

“Warlords once in the war period save and protect us from the invading PNG Defence Force, but now they are like bullies to us” a local fisherman said.

“[This is] not really directly, but indirectly such as claiming government properties and using them for their personal gain.

“We have no power to go against them because most of them are still powerful and armed with high-powered guns,” said another participant in the research.

“Not all are like that, just a few. Those are destroying this unique reputation they once had and were very much admired and respected by the people.”

Outside of this influential group, the lack of law and order is still a major problem which is especially noticeable with high levels of alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour.

“As a result of no proper law and order in the community, drugs and alcohol consumption, especially ‘homebrew’ has been increasing gradually,” a clan leader told Palipal.

“Though recently, with some ex-combatants, we removed some of the gas bottles that are used to brew alcohol in some villages.

“But since there is no proper enforcement of law, youngsters continue to brew alcohol.”

The research suggested that by addressing law and order at a village level, it can prevent the snowball-effect of crime and lawlessness in to the towns.

“With the drug and alcohol influence other unwanted activities, like stealing, have been going on,” a government official said.

“It is like one problem leads to another. Thus, law and order should be established well in the village level because that is the base of the people.”

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War and peace: Struggles for development in Koromira

The warrior dance is a part of Koromira culture; traditionally performed for visiting chiefs or tribes.

Research conducted by Ishmael Palipal at the Divine Word University in Madang has revealed that ongoing disruptions to peace have hindered development in Koromira.

The paper, Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville, examines the factors affecting development in the village assembly located within Kododa constituency and Palipal interviewed 40 local people for his research.

Many local people have said conflicts, often driven by jealously, are holding back the community.

“Something is wrong with our mentality,” one local farmer said, “jealousy is the fuelling factor behind so much arguments on land other new things such as agriculture projects.”

“I have been working on my poultry project and recently some people cut and stole 5 of my chickens ready to be sold.”

A lack of adequate resolution for past conflicts, including actions during the Bougainville crisis, is also a constant disruption to harmonious relations in the community.

“We cannot do new things because some of our young people, who are dead now, have caused some problems in the past to other villages,” one community elder said.

“We are still working to repay them before we can establish things for ourselves, otherwise we will just waste our developments to their hands.”

“We have to lay low until reconciliation is done with them.”

Palipal’s research indicates that Koromira cannot move forward unless the past is left behind through reconciliation and the lasting peace it brings.

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Koromira gold hunter to return after 8 years in Panguna

By Leonard Fong Roka


Nearly every educated man or woman from a college or university returns to go job hunting after completing their years of studying or job training, but this was not so for Joe Onake of Koianu Village in the Kokoda Constituency of Central Bougainville. He is satisfied.

“I was in Port Moresby and heard people making a fortune in alluvial gold mining around Kieta, especially Panguna,” he recalled.

“I decided I need to partake in all these activities. Life needs experimentation to make it realistically enjoyable.”

Joe Onake left Arawa High School in 2000 and headed for Port Moresby where joined the Catholic Church Don Bosco Society completing his secondary studies and holding dreams of becoming a missionary within the congregation.

He continued here, undergoing the teacher training with minors in electrical studies. But upon his graduation in 2007, instead of a job hunting spree, and with flaring tales of alluvial mining in the Panguna District in his ears, he purchased a gold weighing scale and flew into Bougainville.

“I did not go home to Koianu,” he said, “But I hung out in Arawa with a little cash and began buying gold from people from Panguna, Evo and Kupe.”

“I made some money here on the streets of Arawa and also made a few friends especially from the Panguna District. Then slowly I entered the Panguna District itself.”

Digging for gold at Panguna, the mine site, was too difficult though for Joe Onake.

“I saw up at the mine site that panning was too difficult and went into the Tumpusiong Valley or the tailings area of Panguna,” Onake said.

“I spent nights with friends, woke very early and began buying their gold dust and so on.

“When the cash went out I came down to Arawa or Buka and sold the gold and returned back to Panguna and did the buying all over again.”

Gradually, Joe made friends with the locals and the Nagovis people. He even got married to a woman form Takemari Village in Nagovis whom he met panning for gold in the Tumpusiong Valley.

By 2011, Joe Onake had made his fortune of over K100,000 and was still going on. Slowly building his reputation has a gold buyer with always-available cash on hand for the miners in the Tumpusiong Valley.

Along the way he also began to pan regularly to support his stay in the place he does not belong to. He dug for gold and then bought it himself to cater for his food and travel funds.

In late 2015 Joe Onake, with almost double his 2011 earnings, decided to look for a job and a settled life outside of gold panning.

“There are attractions of the gold rush in Torokina,” he said, “but I am now not interested to venture further.”

“I am growing old and need to go back to Koianu and building my home with the fortune I have made so far.”

Joe Onake is just one such man making a fortune while away from home in the many erupting alluvial gold mining sites around Bougainville. It is not only Bougainvilleans that crisscross their island. Many from across the Solomons are also making a fortune here.

He is now selling his few old belongings, a shelter he built to live in and a few tools, to the other mining people.

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Community development in mountains lags behind coastal regions


Recent research by a final year student at Divine Word University has suggested that the diverse geography of Central Bougainville can play a major role in the varied levels of community development in the region.

The research paper, Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville by Ishmael Milton Palipal, found that there is a discrepancy in the perceived level of community development between coastal and mountainous areas in Central Bougainville.

Palipal’s research involved interviews with a sample of 40 people from Koromira, a village assembly in Central Bougainville that has both coastal and mountain areas.

One common concern expressed by many of interviewees was that people in mountain areas have less access to roads and other crucial public services.

“Currently, all the needed services such as good road, school infrastructure, mission infrastructure and health facilities are been slowly established along the coastal areas,” a community nurse told Palipal.


“Even most of the community government events like major celebrations are hosted along the coast.”

A grade 10 student from the mountains of Koromira reiterated this view. “Most of the government activities a based around the coastal villages only and the mountain villages exist like abandoned places,” the girl said.

The coastal areas are also more conducive for the growth of cash crops, which has led to greater development in those areas.

“In terms of economy growth, cocoa and copra are mostly grown by the coastal people,” said a businessman.

“Those that do not have lands in the coastal area are less well off than the coastal people.”

Palipal hopes that by understanding the issues that exist in the Koromira area and beyond, strategic solutions can be developed and implemented to overcome them.

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Development impeded by communication breakdown

682-koromira-kidsResearch conducted by Ishmael Palipal in his final year of study at Divine Word University has found that there has been a communication breakdown in Koromira, which has led to a lack of collaboration and the breakup of traditional community structures.

Poor communication has led to reduced community engagement, land disputes, local political agendas and jealously, ultimately affecting the community development of Koromira.

A local clan leader said that people have become more individualist because they lack communication with leaders and engagement on decision making.

“If a leader calls up a meeting, only few will attend, but the rest will go about doing their own business,” the clan leader said.

“Since they were not present at the time of the decision making on certain changes in the society, they might be the opposition or hindrance to new change planned to take place.”

Palipal’s research also identified that communication between leaders because of factionalism and political agendas causes of negative community development outcomes in Koromira.

“Different leaders have interest in developing different projects which do not eventuate because there are always disagreements,” said a local PMV driver.

“To make it worse, each leader has his/her own hidden agenda; why they want to implement a certain project and not the other.”

As the population increases and extended families grow in the matrilineal society of Koromira there are ongoing land conflict issues and this is exasperated by the breakdown of community communication.

“With the ongoing land disputes in our communities, it is causing a blockage for new developments to eventuate,” said one village elder.

“Some of our people are so stubborn and wanted to own every land they desire.”

As landownership is not well formalised there is a reliance on the older generations to pass down knowledge to younger people, but the communication breakdown in Koromira has seen this practice reduced.

The research also found that there is a lot of misinformation and conflicting claims to land which are difficult to resolve.

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Research recommends increased community collaboration


Research conducted by a final year student at Divine Word University has found that corruption and the lack of collaboration and ethics have been disruptive to community development in Central Bougainville.

In his paper, entitled Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville, Ishmael Palipal examines the effects of educational, transmissional and environmental factors. Corruption, collaboration and ethics are included within the spectrum of educational factors that are presented in the research.

Palipal suggests there is a tension between the collaborative operations of a traditional Melanesian society and the introduction of free market capitalism and this is backed up by a clan leader interviewed as part of his research.

“In the past, once the leader of the village agreed on something, we all joined and worked together to achieve it,” the clan leader said.

“Now I am seeing that people are carried away with their own businesses; communities are breaking away, extended families are breaking away.

“Unless we cooperate and work together we will not see community development. We are being educated wrongly nowadays.”

One local businessman suggested though that the rise of individualism was also because of people being disillusioned with their leadership.

“Nobody in the community is interested in working together for the community,” said the businessman from Pirungsiong.

“On the other hand, people see that the community has done nothing for them and this leads to not following what the leaders are saying or doing.

“It is the leaders who have the power to revive that togetherness spirit in the community again. The question is how?”

Palipal’s paper suggests that systemic corruption and a lack of ethics has also played a role in the disintegration of collaboration and a lack of community development. There is a feeling from some local people in Koromira that there is nothing to show from the allocation of funds the area receives.

“We need proper water supplies, school facilities, health facilities, community centers and market shelters for women,” one hard working Koromira mother said during her interview.

“Even our children are not been assisted in terms of school fees.

“We have been waiting for 10 years now and our leaders have been sleeping.

“There are no major changes or community projects, which can help engage our youths. Nothing has been done.”

Ishmael Palipal reasons that with better education, for people in the community and leaders, people will better understand ethical behaviour which will in turn reduce corruption and increase collaboration.

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