Brave Wendy’s pineapple patch

By Pauline Karalus

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Gwendalyne Umake (or Wendy for short), having being the first born in a family of seven children, was obliged to stay home and help her mum take care of her younger siblings. She never had the chance to continue her education at the local primary school after she finished elementary.

Daily chores began in the morning with the sound of scraping coconut to prepare breakfast and lunch for her little ones and ended in the evening with the preparation of dinner for the whole family. She grew up as expected by the elders.

At the age of 18 she was handed in for marriage to a boy from another clan. Wendy was ready to face reality, but life didn’t turn out as expected.

She was often brutally physically abused by her cruel husband and it came to the breaking point where she finally decided she couldn’t carry on with the arranged marriage anymore and bravely took off to her parents.

Soon she eloped away with the boy she had fallen in love with during her teenage years. At her new home, she was happy confident that her new marriage would work out but she was worried about how she would support her family financially due to the fact that she has never been to school.

At this time Wendy questioned herself and whether she was good enough to become the mother she had always dreamt of being. Questions popped up in her head; questions she never had answers for.

She couldn’t go back to school again, for it was too late and she now had too many responsibilities. Her main focus had to be on providing the needs for her new and little, but soon to grow, family.

Wendy had so much love for gardening. She would plant new food crops she would get from relatives who themselves got them from places within the province they would travel to.

Her garden never ran out of vegetables and fruits. The love of gardening soon gave her insights on accomplishing things that had seemed impossible.

Eventually she decided to turn one of her husband’s oldest cocoa blocks into a pineapple block. She suggested the idea to her husband who got motivated in helping his loving wife do what she thought was best for her and their family as a whole.

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The following day her husband had to load pineapple suckers in a wheelbarrow and take them to the planting grounds. Wendy planted all the suckers and filled up the whole block with the help of her husband in only one week.

Cleaning, weeding and waiting for them to bear fruits the following year seemed to be a very short period of time as she was always busy with work to do. Her pigs to be fed, laundry to be done, new gardens to be made and more.

The Ples Meri now racks money from the pineapple plantation she made some years back. There is really not very good market for it back at Buin, however, she finds transport for her fruits to be taken to Buka and be sold.

When there isn’t any transport available, the ripe fruits are either thrown away to the pigs or her relatives from far come and gather as much as they like and go.

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Future of moratorium in the hands of BEC

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Chief John Momis, President of Bougainville, spoke today about debate in Bougainville’s House of Representatives on the future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development. The House concluded the debate on Tuesday 7 June and passed a motion asking the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to lift the moratorium completely

The debate followed a request from the Bougainville Executive Council in April, when all members were also asked to seek the views of their constituents.

President Momis took the opportunity to identify some of the issues around the moratorium.

“The moratorium was imposed in April 1971, by the colonial administration,” President Momis said, “it prevented mining exploration or development in all areas except those already under BCL leases.

“Bougainvillean leaders asked for the moratorium [at that time] because of deep concerns that there might be many more mines in addition to the huge Panguna mine.”

The President stated that part of the reason the motion to lift the moratorium was passed was to address problem of public revenue.

“Although I proposed to the House that the moratorium should initially be lifted partially, most members of the House preferred to lift it completely,” President Momis continued.

“A major factor here is National Government failure to fund the ABG as the Peace Agreement requires.

“The ABG’s bad financial position means we must increase our internal revenue.

“Most members see mining sector development as the best way to lift the Bougainville economy, and also provide ABG revenue; My Government has listened to and will implement the motion of the House.”

The motion passed last week by the House was for the purposes of consultation and does not lift the moratorium. Under the Mining Act, it is the Bougainville Executive Council that has power to lift the moratorium and only once it has received advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Committee and allowed the House another opportunity for debate on the issues.

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BCL committed to sustainable mining vision

The Chairman and Managing Director of Bougainville Copper Limited, Mr Peter Taylor, told the 2016 Annual General Meeting that the company remains committed to the vision of sustainable mining on Bougainville.

In his address to the AGM held at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby on Wednesday, 2 June 2016, Mr Taylor outlined the activities of the past year and was positive about the growing strength of the company’s relationships in the autonomous region.

“The company has had positive engagement with many of the local interest groups from the project area, including landowners,” Mr Taylor told the audience, which included shareholders.

“While there are some landowners opposed to reopening the mine for a range of reasons there appears to be a clear majority in favour of redevelopment.

“Throughout the year,” Mr Taylor continued, “the company management maintained its own fruitful dialogue with a wide range of Bougainvillean interest groups.

“There is a wide range of interests, and we are trying to listen to them all.”

Mr Taylor also stated that BCL is still committed to the potential resumption of mining.

“The vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains,” Mr Taylor said.

“The company is well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

“I believe a majority of the Bougainville people, who will soon participate in a referendum on Independence, clearly see the importance of economic self-sufficiency that could potentially be provided by mineral resource exploration and development.”

The AGM also saw the re-election of Dame Carol Kidu to the BCL board of directors. Dame Carol joined the board in April 2013.

Also present at the AGM were the other members of the BCL board, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Robert Burns, Adam J. Burley and the BCL Company Secretary, Mark Hitchcock.

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Muc Pata – The tradition of mourning in Buin

By Pauline Karalus

Muc Pata is the name given to the ritual that is performed after the burial of dead people. This is the most common tradition still practiced by the people of Buin District.

When a certain clan member dies and is buried, the immediate relatives of that particular person are forbidden to have access to their gardens or even bush walks unless there is a Muc Pata conducted after a specified number of days of mourning and sympathizing for the loss of their beloved.

During the mourning period the gardens get covered by the bushes and food crops get spoilt by weather or the animals looking for feeding grounds to help themselves. In total silence the gardens await for their owners to come and get them cleaned as soon as their mourning period comes to its end.

It takes up to a maximum of three weeks for the immediate relatives to stay at home and mourn the loss. On the second or third week of mourning, villagers gather at a venue and set off in large groups to the bush or the rivers in search of protein.

Protein gathered during Muc Pata is brought to the immediate relatives place, cooked on large pots and distributed amongst the villagers.

Muc Pata has its governing rules that villagers have to go by accordingly. The proteins gathered have to be cooked when it is still daylight. It is believed that if the preparation of the meal is delayed and feasting takes place when it is dark then another person from the clan will die and thus it is the spirits way of communicating with them whether another death is nearby or not.

Failure to perform Muc Pata after death and burial also results in another death just a few weeks after. The governing principles of Muc Pata are never disobeyed as it is a belief that breaking any of these principles will always result in another death, which signifies the punishments of the spirits upon them.

Bougainvillean customs and traditions differ so much from the rest of the country. With the influx of western cultured it is feared that traditional customs will come to extinction and, indeed, some already have

A very large portion of these traditional beliefs and practices have been done away with either because they are against Christian faith or because they are not seen as fitting in with contemporary society. Most have reached their era of extinction because they have not been passed on by the elderly tribes’ people.

The Buin people of the southern region of Bougainville still practice most of their customs and rituals with pride. Arranged marriages, rituals and initiations performed to signify reaching a certain stage of manhood or womanhood in life and many more others still exist up to today. In the Buin culture it is the elderly tribes’ people’s job to make sure they pass on necessary traditions to the ones capable of being charge before they get too old and die.

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Teachers’ performance bonus increases

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Teachers at Arawa Secondary were pleased to receive their incentive payments.

All the schools in Bougainville have recently introduced teacher incentives purposely to boosts students learning in all areas.

Incentives are given at the end of each year to teachers who successfully teach students to score high grades in their teaching areas.

Principal of Buin Secondary School, Mr Tony Malamo, recently increased the normal incentive pay for teachers whose students score high in the final examination.

Arawa Secondary School is doing the same for its teachers and it is hoped the incentive will push the performance of individual teachers in every school in the region.

The incentives have the objectives of boosting student learning and a gauge to assess teacher performance.
Teachers who plan, teach and correctly deliver information come out clearly when students perform well at the end of the day. Teachers will receive their incentives at the end of the year or early the following year. Last year, Arawa Secondary gave out the incentives at the beginning of the year in addition to the normal salary.

This is dictated by the marking of the national examinations for grade 10 and 12 in Papua New Guinea. The marking is done in the Port Moresby and so the Bougainville school teachers have to wait for the completion and the selection of the students.

The recent incentive payment was K150 each subject which is now increased to K200 and encourage teachers to perform to the best of their abilities.

Teachers in the region are doing their best to teach the students well and improve their marks. They are training them to be competitive with a system that is very challenging.

In 2014, teachers from Buin Secondary performed effectively and they received most of their incentives the following year.

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Hapepe – A celebration of Dads

By Anastasia Hagai

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From the day we are born to the day we have children of our own we learn many of life’s traits within our families from the two most important figures, who we come to know as our parents, before advancing into the real world.

As a sign of gratitude for the hardships and challenges our families go through, especially the head of the family (in this case our fathers), villages along North Bougainville practice a traditional ritual where the immediate family, particularly the children, get to appreciate the contribution of their father in raising them to where and who they have become in life.

A traditional ritual known as Hapepe is done by the immediate family along with the assistance of the mother’s extended family. It also takes quite a period of time in preparation prior to the actual event itself.

It can also be an expensive exercise to carry out with respect to the immediate as well as extended family of the mother. The actual event is scheduled for a particular date and the maternal side of the family works towards that target.

The Hapepe is held normally at the immediate family’s residence as the paternal side of the family gather to receive the gifts from the maternal side of the family. During the ceremony the children are embraced by their father and show their appreciation for him being their provider throughout their growing up.

The practice of such traditions not only unites and builds families, but also gives us the sense of belong to a family which makes us who we are and want to be in the future.

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New Tabago mission house to be funded through games

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Tabago Parish in Buin, South Bougainville is preparing to host a games festival to raise funds for a new mission house.

There are plans for the new mission house to be constructed opposite the huge church building, since the old one is derelict and must be dismantled.

The new mission house will be used especially by priests, church workers, sisters, and other lay workers of the parish.

Community fundraising was also crucial to the construction of the giant church building, which is considered the biggest church building in Bougainville.

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The games will get underway on 21 June and will comprise of soccer, volleyball, taekwondo, boxing and athletics.

People from lower and upper Konnou have been encouraged take part in any sporting codes.

Soccer and volleyball teams in Kugala have started training in advance while the other teams will begin this week.

“The overall idea is to contribute funds to erect a new building and remove the old one that is risky to be used,” said Mr Soow, the captain of Teem Kugala.

Team Meira and Siupa are trying to form one single team to challenge all the soccer teams that are coming for the competition.

Tabago Primary School teachers have taken responsibility for organising the event.

Mr Soow stated that he wants to see competitive teams so that players will be selected to Buin town in December this year. He said that Team Tabago, which represented us last month in Buin, was defeated by Malabita Sharks, the current champions of Buin.

 

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Marau a new access point for Torokina

By Ishmael Palipal

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A gold rush has seen Marau grow in to an important access point for Torokina.

Torokina District is located along the west coast of the island of Bougainville and is one of the four districts that made up South Bougainville, along with Bana, Siwai and Buin Districts.

Torokina District has no road access that can link with other areas in Bougainville, especially main centers such as Buin, Arawa or Buka. It is very unfortunate for people of Torokina to still have no road link.

That does not stop people to travel to and from Torokina, a place of great historical significance.
It holds the memories some of the fiercest World War II fighting on Bougainville, including the clashes Japanese and American forces and the eventual shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto, whose plane crashed in Aku area of Buin District. Torokina holds the remains of war and guns, bombs and knifes can be found in many areas, though some of these things were removed recently through Operation Render Safe.

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Today, Torokina is seen as gold rush area where many of the Bougainvilleans are moving into the area to either dig gold or buy from the miners. According to the sources from Torokina, people come as far as Buin, Siwai and even from Buka in the north. Those with wantoks or known friends are taking the opportunity to mine gold there.

With these activities going on in Torokina, the Marau boat stop in Bana area has become the focal point to get to Torokina. Some years ago, people travelled with outboard motor from Torokina all the way to Buka to access services in Buka. And this route was much risky for people.

However, with the road upgrade from Bana main highway junction down towards Marau market and boat stop, it makes it much easier for people to travel to and from Torokina and other parts of Bougainville through this route. People can now easily transports goods and supplies through Marau to Torokina. The Marau route access is the best alternative now helping people of Torokina as they wait, hopeful for an access road to be one day be built into their area.

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Measles-Rubella inoculations carried out in Tinputz-Taonita

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Measles and Rubella are life threatening diseases and most of the health workers in Bougainville are instructed to give preventive injections to all the students.

Elementary and Primary students in the northern region were advised earlier this month to get preventative injections.

“It is a deadly disease and so all Elementary and some Primary school students aged 15 must get treatment” said a nurse in Rigamu.

In the Tinputz-Taonita constituency, the treatment started from the mountain in the frontier of Selau-Suir constituency last week. Nurses coming from Kekesu and Tearouki actually went up the mountains to give injections to the students. Parents were advised by the nursing sisters to bring those at home to nearby schools to get treatment for prevention of the disease.

“You must bring the little ones to us and we can help them,” said a nurse from Tearouki.

The treatment group which started last week in the frontier of Selau-Suir constituency arrived at Rigamu Primary School yesterday. They gathered all the students during recess and gave injections until 2pm.

All the students aged 15 were given injections to prevent Measles-Rubella in the area.

“Prevention is better than cure,” said a nurse while talking to the students.” Teachers as well as parents guided the students to the nurses and made sure no one missed treatment.

The group which gave injections yesterday at Rigamu Primary will continue to Kekesu and  until the end of May, taking the program to schools located near Namatoa Primary School.

By the following week the group will have finished with all the schools in the two constituencies. The sisters said that they will finish the treatment and start running courses in June regarding the new life threatening diseases in the constituency.

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Dedication to education delays a final goodbye

By Pauline Karalus

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The sad passing of the Late Buin Chief Linus Konukung has left a hole in the hearts of his family, but for the younger members attending university away from home the final goodbye must wait until the Christmas break and our return.

Being the last born in a family of 5, Andrew was always the favored son of Philomena Noou and late Linus Konukung and was always given the best.

As my Mother’s cousin brother Andrew came to live with us and attended the primary school that my mum taught at, though I was some classes ahead of him.

Weekends were the most enjoyable moments of our childhood days. Taking bush tracks, singing on the way and chasing one another up and mountains were laughter-filled and worth reminiscing.

After finishing grade 5, Uncle Andrew was sent to Lae to be with his big brother at Igam Barracks and attend school there.   He came back to Bougainville to finish year 12 at Buin Secondary and was made the Head Boy of the school. Andrew was home, but it seemed there was little time left to spend with his loving dad as he was growing older.

Andrew loved his Father more than anything in his life. Older and wiser he was, ever-ready to give motivation whenever we needed it.

Andrew spent the year at home having a closer connection to his father and the next year he was selected to attend Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI). Again the father-to-son bond interfered with by distance. Talking over the phone required money and Andrew had to concentrate on studies to do well and achieve his dreams and goals. He craved for Christmas breaks to come as soon as possible because he could not wait any longer to see the face of the man behind all his successes and achievements in life.

At the beginning of this 2016, I hugged grand-dad goodbye telling him to be strong for the sake of all his descendants who had to leave for school and that every one of us would be back during the Christmas break to listen to his legends again. He replied and said he would still be there. Overjoyed by the response I got from him I could not hold back the tears that rolled down my cheeks as I got on the vehicle to depart Buka once again and come to Madang.

Receiving the phone call in the afternoon straight after class about his unexpected sudden departure shattered me into pieces. I found it hard to accept the fact that it was true. I cried and cried and hated being in school this far. I thought he would still be around to be able to benefit from his grandchildren.

Andrew was into his examinations, so we all missed out on grand dad’s burial.

He would have never wanted any of us to be away from school upon his death and burial. As the months go by Christmas break is just around the corner. According to Buin custom Granddad’s graveyard awaits visit from those of us who were away. Surely the hole he left in our hearts is eternal.

Until we meet again Grandpa.

 

 

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