Posts Categorized: Tumpusiong Valley

Sister of Late President Kabui passes away

By Leonard Fong Roka

Photo by Leonard Fong Roka Photo by Leonard Fong Roka

Margaret Mirirua, sister of the late President Joseph Kabui, has passed away peacefully at her Unang Hamlet in the Tumpusiong Valley of the Panguna District on Friday 9 April 2016.

Her illness started 2007 as her hands began to vibrate and would not cease and over the years her condition worsened with internal pain and her body began thinning.

For almost 10 years Margaret had been bravely and patiently endured her illness, which left her largely confined to bed, having exhausted every available medical means to recuperate. On her sick bed bush-doctors attempted to use all the healing herbs at their disposal, but to no avail.

She pursued medical attention but her body did not respond positively. She even went on to seek witch doctors and their services, but nothing would better her health.

By 2010 she was grounded on her sick bed and was unable to stand without support. She relied on the sympathetic support of relatives to cater for her as her condition continued to deteriorate.

The late Mrs Mirirua was born in the late 1940s and served as a nurse in the 1960s, 70s and the 80s around the Bana District of South Bougainville and the present Panguna District and Kieta Districts, especially in the Catholic Missions.

She was the second born in a family of five children, that included the late President Joseph Kabui (the fourth born) and his elder brother and fellow Bougainville leader Martin Miriori (the third born). My grandmother, Anna Akonavo, was the first born in the family and the youngest was Theresia Pipino.

In the late 1990s she lost her husband Peter Perakai and her last born daughter Pamela Perakai. She is now survived by sons Steven Perakai, David Perakai, Robert Perakai and Joyce Perakai Batana along with 20 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Before she died she told her family to bury her on the spot she was born, next to her present homestead of Unang Hamlet, and this request was fulfilled on Sunday 10 April 2016.

She had her whole extended family members close by as she passed away on her sleep.

Relatives of the family from Bana District and Kieta District and the Panguna District are still pouring in to share their grief with the family.

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Gold panning industry slumps in Tumpusiong Valley

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Alluvial gold panning in the Tumpusiong Valley of the Panguna District is dwindling and the locals are now looking for alternative means to earn money in the ever changing environment of Bougainville.

According to one veteran gold miner, Mr Peter Tapumato, the main issue leading to the drop in gold production in the valley is that sediment washed down from the Panguna site has been mined to the limits of manual labour.

“There is gold and it is now difficult to get that gold,” said Mr Tapumato, “Many of us are now moving out of the Kavarong River and are trying out other means to earn money to support our families back at home.”

“The problem is that over the years, as we dug up the sediment and extracted the gold, we have exhausted the layers of soil and rock which our human labour can work on safely.

The main area affected is what is known as the Upper Tailings, comprising of Darenai, Onove, Enamira, Dupanta, and Pirurari villages.

“The layers of sediment and rock need heavy equipment to work on for us to extract the gold we want,” Mr Tapumato continued.

“The days of our human labour has come to an end, thus we are now becoming penniless at home.

“Many retail outlets are now suffering with the lower customer turnover and soon they will also collapse if they do not adapt.”

Many of the people are now engaging in cocoa farming at home and outside the Panguna District where they are buying cocoa blocks in areas like Wakunai, Tinputz and Buin.

Some others, such as Tapumato, have found employment with local companies.

“I left earlier and got employed by the Island Corps security firm owned by former [Bougainville Revolutionary Army] leader Ishmael Toroama,” he said.

“I saw earlier that I could not support my kids in their education with the drop in gold production so I had to look elsewhere.”

The fall will affect the businesses and living standards of the Tumpusiong Valley people unless they are economically creative enough to adapt and work more to financially sustain themselves.

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