“Fear grips PNG’s Wewak amid reports of police violence”

December 14, 2013 at 3:48 am (Commentary, East Sepik Province, PNG, Wewak)


Fear grips PNG’s Wewak amid reports of police violence

Posted at 20:01 on 13 December, 2013 UTC

The East Sepik Council of Women in Papua New Guinea says the police in Wewak are very violent and the public are scared.

PNG’s acting police commissioner, Simon Kauba, has set up a high level investigation into the alleged rape at the weekend of a 19-year old girl, by Wewak-based policemen.

It will also look into the detention of a woman activist at the Wewak police station, who went there, with the girl’s family, to lodge an official complaint.

Norah Kapari from the East Sepik Council of Women says after an unrelated incident on Wednesday where a drunk soldier was severely beaten by police in the township, other soldiers stormed the police station in retaliation.

That sparked disorder and looting in the town but she says police have gained control again.

Norah Kapari says the people want the Commissioner of Police in PNG to come into the town and flush out the bad elements in the local police force.

“The police are very violent now they are not doing the proper work that they were trained to do so the people are scared of the police.”

Norah Kapari from the East Sepik Council of Women.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand


I’ve heard that there was serious rioting in Wewak yesterday. You might have some sources to elaborate on this.



Permalink 1 Comment

Requiem Mass for Bishop Tony, St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney 30 October 2013

November 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm (Commentary, Wewak)

Bishop Tony 1 003Bishop Tony 1 006Bishop Tony 1 008Click on links:


Bishop Tony

Permalink Leave a Comment

From the PNG Press!

October 3, 2013 at 5:05 am (Angoram, Commentary, East Sepik Province, Michael Somare, PNG, Press Freedom, Wewak)



(Click on the above links to read these interesting items.)

Two pieces of news from The National Newspaper: One reader described the first as gobbledegook, and the second as a sick joke! .

Permalink Leave a Comment

A tribute to the late Kevin Trueman by Peter Johnson

June 27, 2013 at 9:19 am (Angoram, Angoram Club, East Sepik District, East Sepik Province, expatriates, Kevin Trueman, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, Peter Johnson, Sepik River, Vanuatu, Wewak)


Long-time Pacific Islands Identity

(b. Winchester, England 20 September, 1944   d. Port Vila, Vanuatu 7 June, 2013)


Kevin Trueman whose sudden death at Port Vila, Vanuatu, the former New Hebrides Condominium, on the night of 7 June, 2013 surprised and shocked his family and multitude of friends around the South Pacific islands.

Kevin, of English and Irish parentage, was born in the ancient cathedral city of Winchester, Hampshire, England.   His family migrated to Australia whilst Kevin was still in his teens.   After several ordinary jobs he teemed up with Sava Maksic in kangaroo and crocodile hunting ventures.   They sold their crocodile skins to an Armenian reptile skin tanner, Arshak Catchatoor Galstaun, and in 1967 they came, as two young married couples to Angoram, where Galstaun was the new proprietor of England’s Hotel; the ladies managed the hotel and Kevin and Sava shot the Sepik crocodiles. Neither the job not the partnership lasted long, for Kevin was not by nature an employee…he was soon trading, shooting and artefact dealing on his own account travelling the Sepik River in the Heron, a small trawler he bought from  Nils Madsen.

Two lovely daughters, Laena and Justine were born in Wewak, and Kevin’s restless enthusiasm saw him move to Wewak in about 1971 to take advantage of the booming coffee industry around the Maprik area.   Kevin put in 10 and 12 hour working days, and still had time for a hectic social life. He took virtual charge of building the Wewak Yacht Club, was for several years the Commodore, and  subsequently made a life member.

In 1976 he built a steel work-boat Elenjay and sailed her to Honiara and Port Vila, I was privileged to be a crew member on that adventurous voyage – the only other crew was a pot smouldering Kiwi hippy yachtie who neither of us knew! On arrival Kevin was jailed for a day for the illegal landing of an unnamed vessel flying no national flag. The prosecuting Harbour Master later became a good friend and helped Kevin to secure a coastal coxen’s ticket. Kevin succeeded in selling his boat, eventually coming back to New Guinea to buy and sell another after trading around the islands for a while.

An entrepreneur who saw the “big picture”, Kevin, around 1980 invested in an ocean-going freighter, the Bismarck Sea, later expanding with a second. He tramped between Australia, New Guinea, the Philippines and Vietnam, but a serious accident at Palau and difficulties with the waterside workers of evil memory, and “big line” competition caused the closure of this enterprise…he turned his thoughts and attention to the land; in 1983 he bought “Wetlands Station” near Augathella in western Queensland – my sons and I enjoyed a week of the Truemans’ wonderful hospitality there, shooting, eating and with my sons joining the girls at School of the Air lessons.

Around 1990 Kevin was asked to return to Wewak to manage a recovery of the troubled Sepik Producers Coffee Association, a native owned, but now badly run cooperative. He accepted this almost thankless task with the full backing of the then prime minister, Sir Michael Somare. He established a most capable  management team of Evelyn, Herman Baumann; Geoff Payne and Dieter Idzikowsky.  Kevin had an inclusive style which made his efforts popular with his New Guinean shareholders and customers, and after a campaign against the “rice and tin fish” Asian competition (as Kevin called it), the business started to boom. He expanded into wholesale and retail sales of hardware and whitegoods and commercial vehicle repair. Again wanting to be completely his own boss he eventually resigned and returned to Australia…but not for long!

Kevin and Evelyn accepted jobs in Honiara, BSIP with Kevin managing a large hardware business and Evelyn a soap factory…goodness! They settled down just in time to experience the horror of the unrest in the Solomons which eventually resulted in the establishment of the RAMSI peacekeeping force.

In 2006 Kevin made what was to be his last island relocation as he moved from the troubled Solomons back to Vanuatu and established himself as a respected businessman, restaurateur, and political commentator. A true Island Entrepreneur of the “old school,” Kevin will lie in Pango cemetery, Port Vila, a fitting last resting place to be fondly remembered as a generous, vital outgoing personality of warmth and almost boyish enthusiasm for the numerous projects and ventures he pursued.

Kevin, a loving husband and father leaves a widow, Evelyn Avis, daughters Laena, Justine, and Alexandra, four grand-children and an army of friends across much of Oceania.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Beautiful Wewak is being Trashed

June 25, 2013 at 8:53 am (Commentary, Corruption in PNG, East Sepik District, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Wewak)


See: Click on Doc14 below


Mosbi Mauswara lived in Wewak for some years.   He was there recently, and he sadly reports:-

The once attractive and leafy tree lined centre of Wewak is being

“trashed”    There is filth everywhere.   Either Health Inspectors are

hibernating, or have been “bought off”

     Young children hawk cheap (and often nasty) Asian goods on the

crowded streets, whilst their employing merchants lurk behind dingy

trade-store counters, with chop-sticks and ill-gotten work permits at

the ready.   Officers of the Labour Department follow the same work

ethic as their health demoting brothers, and do absolutely nothing to

prevent this outrage.

     Youthful pick-pockets abound; policemen do not.   Their station is

some fifty metres away – much too far to walk!

     The town’s new and modern garbage truck “became unserviceable”

a month after delivery – a victim of enthusiastic and 24- hour daily usage.

     In the main street people push and shove their way past other

shoppers; opportunistic bystanders; hundreds of angry and un-serviced

bank clients – many of them on duty public servants; and of course the

ubiquitous tubercular buai spitter.

     But all is not lost, for our local M.P. has just announced a Wewak

 District Road Map 2013-2017…so all this will change in the coming weeks, or will it?

   Sadly whatever happens, the former beautiful avenue of raintrees

 will not be there to watch! 


Mosbi Mauswara

Permalink 3 Comments

Mankimasta extraordinaire, friend, gentleman – Kami Raymundus of Torembi Village

May 10, 2013 at 1:25 am (Angoram, Commentary, East Sepik District, Kami Raymundus, Maprik, Wewak)

Dave & Kami, Dreikikir, 1963

Dave & Kami, Dreikikir, 1963

kami,Torembi Village

kami,Torembi Village

Kami with his children in Torembi, late 1970s

Kami with his children in Torembi, late 1970s

“… I have never known finer gentlemen than some well-born Malays whom I am proud to call my friends.”

Thus spoke Warburton, one of Somerset Maugham’s characters in his story: The Outstation.

Replace ‘well-born Malays’ with Sepiks and the above reflects exactly my thoughts.

In a story of mine: The phone rings!, tells of the reappearance of my late brother, James, in a dream. He talks to me of the afterlife and he mentions: “Oh, I almost forgot to tell that your houseboy, Kami, from Papua New Guinea wondered how you were. He was telling me he had received a lot of credit for the thousands of cups of tea he had made for you. Anyhow, he’s doing well now. But he is a bit worried about his family in Torembi, a village in the Sepik.”

For some time my wife, Deborah, has been saying to me that most of the stories I write about PNG always seem to predominantly feature expats. In many of my narratives, I perhaps, come through unapologetically as a colonial. I hope I’m a little more than just that. I was once referred to as a terrible lefty, so maybe there’s a little more to me than just a colonial!

Then again, I can hear my readers saying, that’s what you are. There you are writing about your mankimasta, if that’s not colonial, I don’t know what is!

Fr Mihalic in his Dictionary defines mankimasta A European’s personal boy, a valet. Whatever the impression I’ve given of myself in the past I hope the respect and regard I have for Kami somehow redeems the reputation I may have in the minds of some.

I suspect Kami would have been born in Torembi Village during the war, and baptised after the close of hostilities and the reestablishment of the Catholic Mission in the area. His baptismal name, Raymundus, the Latin version of Raymond, indicates he was probably christened by a missionary from Europe.

He had very little formal education, maybe one or two years in primary school. In spite of this he had some rudimentary skills in reading and writing. He had a very logical mind and he was excellent in fixing things around the house.

I clearly remember first employing him in 1962 in his village. At the time, I was stationed at Maprik, and I was on a routine Malaria Service patrol and let it be known that I wanted  to find a mankimasta. Shortly after Kami presented himself. At first I thought he looked rather disheveled and I favoured another applicant, but fortunately the other fellow decided he didn’t want the job, and I was left with Kami.

So Kami for a pittance came to work for me, and stayed over ten years with me giving excellent service, and I hope in time becoming my friend.

From what I can remember it was a seven days a week job for Kami, cooking and cleaning for me. One of his specialties was what I called donkers, which were really fried scones.

He was with me in Maprik, Dreikikir, Wewak and Angoram, and I’m sure he knew more about me than I knew myself.

He had the most admirable of dispositions and I can never remember him once losing his cool. After some years he decided he wanted to get married and he had a young woman in mind from Torembi, Anna – Meri bilong ples kisim save long skul. What this meant was that Anna came from Torembi and she had a few years of primary school. Anna and Kami were duly married according to village custom, and all seemed fine for some time. They had healthy children. Unfortunately in time Anna developed some mental problems and poor Kami had some trying times with her.

I remember one incident in 1973 in Angoram. This was shortly after I myself was married to my wife, Deborah. Anna appeared in our house with a bush knife chasing Kami. I was away at this time. Over the whole event, Kami was more concerned with the safety of Deborah, and he secured her away in a closed bedroom, and then he gently dealt with Anna and disarmed her. After this he talked with Deborah and asked her to explain to me what had happened and to tell me that he would have to take Anna back to Torembi. Deborah was most impressed with his wisdom and approach. She said to me at the time that Kami might be uneducated but he was certainly very intelligent!

Later in 1973 Deborah got a position in Moresby as Press Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly. I was also posted to Moresby.

The last time I saw Kami was in 1978 in Torembi when I made a return visit to the Sepik. Anna was still in the terminology of the place longlong!

In the 1980s, I had a letter from a priest in Torembi in answer to one from me enquiring about Kami, telling me that Kami was suffering from severe asthma and breathing problems. Shortly after this he died.

One of the few pleasures Kami had in life was his love of smoking. I suspect that Kami died from lung cancer.

If by any chance some of Kami’s children or relations should read this, I would love to hear from them.

In life we all meet various people of various qualities – some great and some poor and others nothing much at all. To me, Kami was a man of great qualities, and to him, I have an unending debt of gratitude.

Kami, farewell and thank you!


See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/05/kami-raymundus-of-torembi-mankimasta-and-friend.html#more

Permalink Leave a Comment

Oh, cry for PNG, a cherished land & people; some random thoughts!

May 4, 2013 at 6:50 am (Angoram, Commentary, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, PNG Health, Wewak)

“War on Corruption or Crime”


“The rest of the country has joined the bandwagon of the government and the opposition to declare war on crime in Papua New Guinea – in response to the recent surge in violent crimes across the country. Sadly, we have waited too long only to react after so many innocent and precious lives have been taken away prematurely by those who have no regard for human life nor understand their own existence in our human society. Nothing we say or do now will ever replace nor return those lives. Only time will tell if our (as usual) reactive measures by legislating and imposing tougher penalties will deter future offenders or not – the most server being the death penalty.”

“To conclude, to address the root cause of crime in the country, corruption must be equally treated as a worst crime against the State and her people. It has been and is still responsible for most of the social problems in the country which eventually leads to worst crimes. Therefore, whatever penalties applied to murders, rapists, drug edicts, and alcoholics, state criminals or white collar criminals whoever they are must also be treated in the same manner.” See:


In this piece Lucas Kiap writes with a lot of sense. Corruption in PNG is a real problem, and it leads directly to bad government at all levels. For anyone who visits PNG the truth of this is obvious: dirty towns with appalling government services, disparity between the elites and the ordinary people, escalating crime, and in the rural areas an almost total government neglect of villager needs. This, I think, was pointed out in almost the same words by Allan Patience, an internationally recognised scholar, some years ago, and if anything things are worse today!

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, PNG is one of the most poorly governed states in the Third World.
You only have to go to some villages in the Sepik River area to realise how little government attention they get. Hospitals that were major providers of health services, like the Angoram Hospital, in colonial times, are now little better than aid posts. I don’t think a proper census has been conducted in rural areas for years, and perhaps not even in the towns. Most informed people in the country suspect that the population is actually a million more than is officially stated.

For some of my further reflections see:


Permalink Leave a Comment

An interesting look back!

April 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm (Commentary, Sepik Ironman, Wewak)


Permalink Leave a Comment

Wewak property for sale

April 7, 2013 at 1:50 am (Commentary, Wewak)


Ralf's house

Ralf’s house

Ralf'sView from Ralf'sFrom Ralf'sView from Ralf's


Outstanding views from Ralf’s block

Ralf discusses Sepik carvings with US Ambassador, Leslie Rowe

Ralf discusses Sepik carvings with US Ambassador, Leslie Rowe, in his house.

Ralf Stüttgen‘s property is unique in the beautiful position it occupies – the views from it are spectacular.

The site overlooks Wewak Town, the islands and the sea and in the other direction, Mt Wilhelm can be seen.

As the land is situated 450 metres above sea level, year-round the climate is pleasant.

The title to the land is held by Ralf Stüttgen: Portion 103, Milinch Mushu, Four-mil Wewak, Area 1 acre 0.7 perches, situated in the East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea – suitable for a residence, flats, or hotel development.

Road access (40 metres from the Sepik Highway), surfaced drive-in, town electricity connected.

Known as Ralf ‘s House or Tower Guest House

With the Frieda River mine coming, accommodation requirements in Wewak are rising.

Presently four new hotels are being built in Wewak.

For information about this property contact:

Ralf Stüttgen, PO Box 154, Wewak, E.S.P. Papua New Guinea  Mobile: 71325285, 71734911, 76820051

David Wall, 152 Wilson St, Newtown 2042 NSW Australia Phone: 02 95505053  Email: tokples32@gmail.com

Peter Johnson, PO Box 651, Wewak, E.S.P. Papua New Guinea Phone: 8562303  Email: origin.wewak@global.net.pg

(Ringing PNG numbers from Australia dial first: 0011 675)

The asking price for this outstanding piece of land is K400,000 + negotiable.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Some SVD members I knew in PNG

March 12, 2013 at 9:50 am (Catholic Church, Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Fr Fons Ruijter, Fr Mike Clerkin, Karkar Island, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River, Society of the Divine Word, theology, Wewak)

Dave Wall & Fr Mike Clerkin, Dagua, 1965

Dave Wall & Fr Mike Clerkin, Dagua, 1965

What an extraordinary body of men were the Divine Wird Missionaries (SVD) in Papua New Guinea – Americans, Germans, Dutch and others.

Fr Mike Clerkin was one of them. He came to Wewak before the War and was interned by the Japanese during the war years – staying on after the war. Whereever he was posted  he was liked and respected.

He told me that when he arrived in Wewak around about 1938 he gained a reputation as being a great drinker who was exceptional in his ability to hold his liquor – quite unjustified according to him. This came about, he said, because early in his time in Wewak he was asked to a party, and he was sitting on the verandah of the house where the party was, and drinks were freely flowing, in fact the host would not allow anyone’s glass to be any way empty, filling each up with neat Scotch. Well, the only way Mike could cope with this was to keep emptying his glass over the side of the verandah. The next day the news went around Wewak that this young American priest sat drinking Scotch all night, and left the party as sober as he arrived.

When in Maprik Mike had quite an extensive library on mainly intellectual subjects. A field officer with the Malaria Control Unit visited the presbytery, and on seeing Mike’s books remarked: ” Father, I love books, at home I’ve got  the complete works of Zane Grey!”

Fr Much, a German SVD, was stationed on Karkar Island in the early 1960s, and the stories about him there abound. His great saying was: “SVD – smoke ve don’t, so ve drink” In  fact many of them did both, as Fr Much did himself! The story behind this little tale is that strictly speaking they were not supposed to smoke according to the rules of their order. This prohibition was not repealed until the middle sixties – which on looking back seemed rather strange for at this time the general community started to become increasingly anti-smoking. From memory Fr Much’s favourate smoke was giant cigars that he rolled himself from native tobacco leaves – brus.

On leave in Germany a medical opinion said he needed an operation. Fr Much wrote to John Middleton along these lines: I’m being attended to by two surgeons – one a woman and the other a man – the man thinks I should not be operated on – the woman tends to differ.  I know the woman will get her way and I will die. Unfortunately die he did after the operation.

I first met Fr John O’Toole in Dreikikir in 1962 where he was the parish priest, missionary- in- residence, I’m trying to think of the right title or designation, both would be appropriate! John was a Bostonian of Irish descent who took his religious calling seriously, and he loved a drink, and the convivial company of the station expats. If one happened to be Catholic he insisted you attended Mass every Sunday – you either came every Sunday or stayed away altogether.

At this time there was a well-known medical assistant stationed at Dreikikir. Frank Gilbert.  Frank & I both shared the distininction of going off the side of the airstrip on Karkar Island while on a motor bike.  Frank did it in a much more dramatic way and literally flew off the side of the strip and into the ocean, while I just tumbled over the side onto the rocks. Anyhow that’s another story.

Fr John got Frank to go to Mass while he was in Dreikikir, this was after a long absence away, but while in Dreikikir he didn’t get around to going to the sacraments. In early 1963 Frank went finish – returned to Australia for good to get married to a Catholic woman. While there prior to his marriage he decided to go to Confession. After he confessed and indicated how long he’d been away from the practice of his faith, the priest in confession asked what brought him back. He said: “While I was in New Guinea I met a priest who was a man.” This was John O’Toole! Frank wrote to John and told him this – O’Toole was so pleased!

On celibacy John once said to me, with a hint of regret in his voice, that this was something that he signed up to years ago!

The last time I saw Fr John was in Sydney on his way to the States – going finish, after nearly forty years in PNG! Not too long after he arrived in the States he died.

I first met Fr Karl Junemann at his Kombi Mission Station in the Dreikikir area – a very spiritual and humble man from Hanover, as such, he spoke high German unlike many of his colleagues who mainly hailed from Southern Germany. During the War he was conscripted into the German Medical Corps, and sent initally to the Eastern Front. In the Ukraine when the inhabitants found out that he was a Catholic priest he was so well treated by them. After the East he was sent to the West, and was part of the triumphant German entry into Paris – not that he ever approved of the Nazi War, but he couldn’t help keeping a little pride out of the way he expressed the success of German arms in the West, when he was telling me about the victory march in Paris. Karl stayed in the Sepik until he died, and he was buried in Wewak in the Mission Cemetery after almost fifty years of dedicated service in PNG. A gentle and hospitable man. I remember the Patrol Officer, Jock McIntyre, at Dreikikir, a man of Presbyterian background, who set out on patrol with a certain amount of relish to read the riot act to Fr Junemann – who was to him initially, a Kraut Roman priest, and coming back after visiting him, completely charmed, and full of praise for Fr Junemann.

Fr Fons Ruijter came to PNG in the early 1960s, and to Angoram in 1964. His theological and ecclesiastical stance was in many ways more proggressive than the Second Vatican Council – he was in favour of wearing secular clothing  while celbrating the Mass, and he tended to downplay the importance of Confession. The practical application of the Gospels to everyday life was his rule- of- thumb in judging how we lived the Christian life.

In 1972 I went to Manila to marry my future wife, Deborah. When making the arrangements with the church authorities there I was required to get a clearance from my parish priest  that was was eligible to be married in the Catholic Church.  In other words there was no known impediment to me getting married. To facilitate this I sent a radiogram to Fons; well, I got a telegram/radiogram back written in Latin. To my unscholarly eyes everything appeared to be in order, however I do remember seeing something like impotentia coeundi in the text which aroused the suspicion of my friend, Peter Johnson, but we really thought nothing of it.

At school I did have three years of Latin, but it was always in the same grade – I didn’t get beyond the first declension – I clearly remember, mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa, but this is about all!

Fons’ radiogram was duly presented to the Filipino priest who was going to marry us, and I thought nothing more of it for the next few days, until Deborah and I called in to see the priest. He indicated that he wanted to talk to me privately. He asked me if I was a good friend of Fr Ruijter’s and I said, yes. He then explained to me briefly what was in the radiogram, and he said that Fr Ruijter was probably having a little joke with me.

The missive from Fons said in so many Latin words that there was a diriment canonical impediment to my marriage due to  impotence.

To say the least I wasn’t too happy, and I didn’t have the grace to see the joke, but really I was upset for appearing to be such a rough untutored lad! Fortunately it was not taken seriously by the priest in Manila, and the marriage went ahead without a hitch.

When I returned to Angoram I was a bit off hand with Fons for a while, but he was upset that I had not seen through the whole thing, because he genuinely believed that my original request was a bit of a joke, on my part, just to create amusement among the expats in Angoram, who all would have been aware of the contents on the radiogram, and so in a way he was only playing along with the joke, thinking I would have enough Latin to understand his reply to me.

Fons stayed in PNG until the late 1980s or early 1990s. For his last years there, he ran a community farming project in Gavien just outside Angoram.

The last I heard of him, he was working with the unemployed in Holland.

The above mentioned people are just a few Divine Word Missionaries, there are many others such as: Fr Robert Jilek, the captain of the Marova, Bishop Leo Arkfeld, the flying bishop, Fr Shadeg, a gifted school teacher, Fr Mike Hughes, Fr Ivo Ruiter, Fr Mitterbauer, Br Gonzaga, Br Patroclus Appeldorn, and last but certainly not least, Ralf Stüttgen, who arrived in the late 1960s as an SVD. He later left the order and to this day, he’s a resident of Wewak. Ralf is a highly intelligent man.

Blessed Arnold Janssen, founder of the Society of the Divine Word, has cause to be proud of the members of his Society.


See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/03/society-of-the-divine-word-what-a-band-of-men.html#comments

Permalink 5 Comments

Next page »

%d bloggers like this: