“The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments have decided to shut down vital tuberculosis clinics in the Torres Strait. Experts now fear that the problem could spread to the mainland.”

April 20, 2011 at 11:18 am (Papua New Guinea) (, , , , )


Click onto the above site and try to think of ways to reverse any thoughts by our policy makers to shut down tuberculosis clinics, treating PNG citizens in the Torres Strait Islands.

Drug-resistant strains of TB in PNG are not only disastrous for our neighbour, but if Australia does not help PNG tackle them, eventually and inevitably we will have them in Australia. Of course, there are cases in Australia even now, but we don’t want the situation to get worse!

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Good-bye old Port Moresby!

April 18, 2011 at 5:37 am (Papua New Guinea) (, , , )

The article below reminds me of two other buildings of cultural and historic significance that have gone: the Papuan Hotel (Top Pub) and the Moresby Hotel (bottom Pub) with the famous snake pit bar. Old PNG hands would lament their passing. With the destruction of the first House of Assembly building goes also the so called European Hospital. I remember this well as I spent three weeks there in 1956.

If anyone knows of photos of these buildings I would appreciate it if I could get copies. Oh, yes, the old Burns Philp tower and building have gone.

Tarangu, olgeta ol i dai pinis.


House of Assembly sold

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 04:40 PM PDT

By JUNIOR UKAHATHE first House of Assembly in downtown Port Moresby is to be turned into a hotel, The National reports.
The state sold the site to the Lamana Development Group which plans to turn the historical building into a modern hotel.
The one-time seat-of-power is located in downtown Port Moresby, next to the AON Building on McGregor Street.
How the land was obtained and why this iconic building was sold to the developer is not known but contractors began demolition work last week.
David Western Constructions Ltd managing director David Kini said they were contracted by Lamana Development Group, the new owner of the area, to clear up the place.
He said his company had been hired to demolish the old House of Assembly and build a replica of the building that would serve as a hotel.
“We have been instructed by our client to demolish the old building and build a replica of it,” Kini said.
The National visited the site last Friday and saw workmen erecting a fence around the property to stop public access.
It is understood that the national government, through the National Museum and Arts Gallery (NMAG), was owner of the land before its acquisition by the Lamana Development Group.
Nine families who lived in the area were paid K200,000 by the developer and told to move out to make way for construction work to begin.
John Sine, from Chimbu, who has lived in the area for the past 35 years, thought it was a joke when he first saw the contractors.
“It looks like the government does not care about the cultural and historical significance of this place,” he said.
“I will not be surprised if the government and other selfish politicians and people in authority sell the country to foreigners in their greed to acquire more money and wealth.”
The state and concerned parties did attempt to restore the old parliament as a national heritage and former governor-general Sir Paulias Matane headed a committee which attempted to raise funds to restore the building.
Money was committed by government but it is uncertain where these funds might be.
The building was formerly a “whites only” hospital in the 1950s and was turned into a House of Assembly in 1961 when at the insistence of the UN and Australia decided to prepare the former territories of Papua and New Guinea for self-governing status.
Attempts to get comments from NMAG and the Lands Department were unsuccessful.

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Art Dealer in the Last Unknown Ron Perry and New Guinea Art by Carolyn Leigh and Ron Perry

March 15, 2011 at 4:06 am (Papua New Guinea) (, , )

Only US $35 + US $15 postage to Australia (With the value of the Aussie $ a very good deal!)

Art Dealer in the Last Unknown

Art Dealer in the Last Unknown is a narrative and visual experience down memory lane for those who know Ron Perry, New Guinea and many of the people mentioned in the book.  To see the mighty Sepik River again and to be introduced into the rich cultural heritage of the region and how Ron was able to access it and collect amazing examples of Sepik art is a telling tale of enterprise and adventure. Names of legendary characters pop up throughout the account: Peter and Meg England, Bob Mackie, Chu Leong, Freddie Eichhorn, Neils and Mary Madsen, Jim McKinnon, Fr John O’Toole, Margaret Mead, Peter Johnson, John Pasquarelli, Ludwig Somare, Michael Somare, Don Bosgard (mistakenly spelt ‘Bosquard’), Ron and Ella Lucas, Johnny Young, Daniel Guren and many others. All these names conjure up in my mind numerous untold stories. To be introduced to Ron’s former wife, Barbara, again reminds me of what she once said to me at their house in Abbottsford, Sydney, the morning after Ron and I had been on a lively drinking day and evening session: “David, if Ron ever develops cirrhosis of the liver, it’s you I’m going to sue.”  I didn’t know the story about Bob Mackie unknowingly peeing on ‘the Pork Pie King of England’, who incidentally was , if I recall correctly, Norm Ferris, but I always understood it was Doug Newton, but perhaps it was both of them. The profusion of place names like Angoram, Amboin, Dreikikir, Maprik, Wewak.Yangoru and Tobacco Road cannot fail to captivate the local and expat reader. 

And for those who are entering the unknown for the first time, a thrilling and informative experience awaits them. 

The photos in the book are excellent and numerous. 

This is a piece of work that is informed by the variety of Ron Perry’s experiences and enriched with the artistry and presentation of Carolyn Leigh. 

It is highly recommended to all old New Guinea hands and to those of a curious, artistic and adventurous turn of mind.

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Sorcery in PNG

March 7, 2011 at 4:00 am (Papua New Guinea, Wewak) (, , , , , , , , )

"Post-Courier" 4 March 2011

Peter Johnson sent me this cutting from the Post-Courier, and the question of sorcery and supposed witchcraft in PNG reminded me of something Fr John O’Toole told me about many years ago in Dreikikir. One of his parishioners from his mission station at Dagua just outside of Wewak, where he was stationed in the early 1950s, complained of intense pain in the general area of his lower stomach and liver, saying only that “sanguma man kisim mi”. Most white men at the time would have taken this with a grain of salt and put it in the same category as the Australian Aborigines talking about pointing the bone. John was sufficiently concerned to take his parishioner to Wewak to consult Dr John McInernery, the then District Medical Officer. Dr John gave the patient a physical examination and could find nothing obviously wrong, and he was inclined to think he was dealing with a malingerer, but he just wondered, and he was not a man who liked to be left with any lingering doubts about any final diagnosis he might make, so he ordered an x-ray. And just as well he did as the x-ray revealed a foreign object very close to vital organs that would have eventually caused death if not removed.

The interesting thing was that there were no surface signs of how this object had got into the man. The skin was unbroken and intact. The foreign object was a piece of wire which Dr John removed.

In this incident sorcery was used but not in a supernatural sense. The sorcerers had ordered that sanguma be employed to end this man’s life.

Fr F. Mihalic explains this: “sanguma, (sang-guma) (Mel) secret murder committed by orders from sorcerers. The victim is waylaid, short poisoned thorns are inserted into the base of his tongue, causing swelling and loss of speech. Then other thorns (usually from the wild sago plant) are pushed into vital organs, where they cause infection and eventual death.”

The Jacaranda Dictionary and Grammar of Melanesian Pidgin

The actual method employed may not be exactly as described by Fr Mihalic, in the case under discussion, but anyone who has lived in the Sepik would have some awareness of the existence of sanguma.

There are many factors associated with magic, black and otherwise, which are both physical and psychological, and even criminal, to say nothing about any spiritual dimension, if it exists or not. The question of what people actually believe is also important.

I’ll leave the last word with the Bard, in what I hope is a respectful tone, and of course there is some sanction of magic, if indeed it be, of the good variety:

“O, she’s warm!
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating.”
William Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale)

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Changing attitudes to social mores

February 8, 2011 at 3:44 am (Papua New Guinea, PNG) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m reminded of something that happened in Maprik in the East Sepik District in 1970.

David Hay, the Administrator of PNG, and his wife, Alison, were on a visit to outstations and sub-district administrative centres in the Territory prior to them leaving.

On arriving in Maprik they were to stay with the Assistant District Commissioner (ADC). On learning that the ADC was living with a woman without the benefit of nuptials, Alison refused to stay with them, and David Hay and his wife were housed elsewhere.

Let us project ourselves to present-day Australia. Julia Gillard, our PM, is living with a man without the benefit of nuptials, and apparently it’s not considered good form to even comment, poor Alison!

I do really think Julia would be doing herself and the Australian community a favour if she regulated her association with ‘the first bloke’, Tim Mathieson. You can’t tell me that her travelling overseas with Tim creates a good impression in conservative countries in Asia, Africa and South America to say nothing of Australasia and the Pacific Islands, where there are many ‘Alisons’ still alive.

So Julia, get your act together and make an honest man of Tim, if not for yourself at least for your country! 

Queen Victoria, it is said, would shut her eyes and think of England when making love to Albert. I’m certainly not asking Julia to emulate her in this, but only to share Queen Victoria’s abounding love of country.

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Is there anyone out there who remembers or knows of Stuart Brown?

February 7, 2011 at 12:26 am (Angoram, Papua New Guinea, Wewak) (, , , , , )

Rob Parer wrote:

February 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Hi David,

I wonder if anyone remembers Stuart (Stuey) Brown ( Ghekko ) who was croc shooting/recruiting in the late 50s and told me so many wonderful stories of Angoram. In 1960 he was under the “Dog Act ” for the third time and the law was, after three times the person had to be deported.

My Dad ( Bob ) was in Wewak going south for three months and the OIC Police in Wewak told Dad about Stuey and Dad ,said, “send him up to Aitape as no grog there.”

So when I met the Gibbs’ Norseman weekly flight, Stuart walked up to me with a letter from Dad saying: “Herewith one Stuart Brown he is an alcoholic. Give him a room in our home at St Anna Plantation, and find something for him to do and make sure that he does not touch grog for if he does, he must be deported”

I was only 23 and here was a guy who I found out later had an amazing war record – an Officer who had been Mentioned in Dispatches twice and had escaped from the Germans twice! So, as he was good with a compass, he did the boundaries of a new Cocoa Plantation which we were going to hack out of the jungle across Raihu River from the Hansenite Colony (Now called Raihu Hospital).

After the war, he went to India and was in charge of a province. When he was in Aitape with us there was also a liklik Doctor Nevell there who had spent many years in India, so you can imagine the interesting stories they had to tell. The wonderful Nevell family went on to be based in Angoram.

Stuart stayed with us for two years and had to go to Australia, as he was diagnosed with TB. He was at the RSL Hospital at Pullenvale, Brisbane. I’m not sure when he passed away, or where he is buried. I would like to know.

I found him to be one of the finest men I have ever come across. And how privileged I was as a young man to have been influenced by a person with an enormous sense of fair play and honesty.

I salute the memory of a gentleman of the highest order.

Rob Parer

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The waters of the Sepik River are an elixir of political life!

January 7, 2011 at 1:06 am (Angoram, Michael Somare, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , )

It wasn’t Sogeri Secondary School that launched the political life of Sir Michael Somare or Cambridge University, Michael Johnson’s political endeavours, nor was it the London School of Economics, that propelled Ben Sana Wyatt into State politics but the waters of the Sepik River.

Sir Michael Somare, PM of PNG and his parents Ludwig Somare Sana and Painari all drank deeply of the Sepik River waters.

Michael Johnson, former member of the Federal Electorate of Ryan in Queensland and the son of Peter and Julie Johnson who brought Michael up on the banks of the Sepik River all drank of the waters.

 Ben Sana Wyatt, MLA, State member of Victoria Park in Western Australia whose parents, Cedric and Janine Wyatt, lived for years on and near the Sepik River are all familiar with the waters of the Sepik.

 All the parents of these political figures consumed vast quantities of Sepik River water and it is this that gave their offspring the fortitude to pursue their political lives.

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PNG boatpeople: interesting discussion, see the site below!

December 30, 2010 at 9:18 am (David Wall, Indonesian New Guinea, John Pasquarelli, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , )




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“Search for Mrs Right”

December 9, 2010 at 4:14 am (Fiction, Love on the Run, Papua New Guinea) (, , , , , , )

THE EXAMINER, Saturday, December 4, 2010

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A few words at JB’s 70th birthday party

December 7, 2010 at 6:41 am (Papua New Guinea, Parousia, Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, theology) (, , , , , , , , )

70th Birthday Party of John Bowers held at Irene Graham’s house in Gordon on 7/5/10                        

John a true Victorian, in a sense a 19th Century man, he deals mainly with the respectable institutions in society: the Army, the Law and the Church

John Bowers, an Englishman abroad; I’m not in any sense comparing him with Guy Burges. 

It must be well over forty years since I first met John on the banks of the Sepik River at Angoram. From the start I could see that he was a man on a mission and a quest. There was no mistaking him for anything else but an Englishman. Another English friend of mine was once asked, was he English? To which he replied, ‘are there any other people?’ John, I’m sure, would not be so abrupt. But yes, he was in a sense a latter day Empire representative, if indeed the colonial outpost was Australian rather than English but we were all British in those days! 

It did not take me long to realize that John was a Sandhurst man and ex-British Army with intense spiritual interests with a dedication to the Authorized Version and the Book of Common Prayer. In Angoram he was a Patrol Officer and political educator. On my blog I describe JB as, An Englishman of many talents, John Bowers

John Bowers, British Army, Sandhurst Man, Patrol Officer, Teilhardian, He subsequently put aside The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin for McCann’s God or gorilla, Special Branch Officer, Judge’s Associate,  New-Age Fighter, Anglican Prayer Book Man, Premillennialist and Herbalife Consumer, A Most Extraordinary Man!

The fictional character, Ernest Spender, in Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, shows a remarkable resemblance to JB.

His world-wide quest has taken him to many places, meeting many people: He shared a whisky with Field Marshal Alexander’s chaplain, a committee with Arianna Stassinpoulos, author of The Female Woman, alerted Brother George, a biblically inspired Cannon Hill Baptist to the dangers of the New-Age after his experiences at Findhorn and his reading of David Spangler, Revelation:The Birth of a New Age. He instructed Cheryl, an aspirant of the Cannon Hill congregation on New Light on the New Age. His intense instruction on one occasion caused Brother George’s wife to ask him what Cheryl and he were doing in the caravan. In no uncertain terms he told her that they were working on the New-Age for her husband.  Perhaps his instruction was not intense enough as it was said that Cheryl converted to Islam later He was washed in the waters of the Jordon with full Baptist rites while in no way turning his back on his Anglican tradition. He has discussed The Secular City with Harvey Cox in the Holy Land and been left by Brother George with an appreciation of the Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37: 4) He has revealed to Dr Patricia Brennan his position on the ordination of women at an Anglican Synod in Sydney and excused it with reference to the Sandhurst motto: Serve to lead.

But he had to admit to Dr Brennan at lunch that he didn’t support the ordination of women.

In the hills of Adelaide a holy father in a monastery took exception to John’s reference to finding the Special Branch in a cupboard, and took him by the throat. There was nothing Neanderthal about the holy father or John!

  John a red-blooded male has chosen, like the Lord the single state while being always drawn to women he always respects them In spite of, at times, the gloom and doom of his theology, he has always preserved an essential Joie de vivre. Even if we are in the Tribulation There is faith hope and charity and the rapture of the Lord.  

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6: 12) 

If I may say, on a more serious note, I would like to thank John on mine and my wife, Deborah’s behalf for all that John has done for us and our two sons, Andrei and David Augustus. When we returned from PNG John was a pillar of strength and support for us. 

 Ladies and Gentlemen I give you John Bowers, Alias Sir Ernest Spender!

Whether it’s breaking up a riot in PNG or saving a plane of returning military families in Karachi or refusing to cross the Tiber and remaining true to his Reformation ideals we can say with St Paul you’ve Fought The Good Fight,( nearly) Finished The Race, Kept The Faith (2 Timothy 4:7)

Like St Paul you have been all things to all men and may I add women (1 Corinthians 9:10)

Happy Birthday, 70 years and still going strong!

Not old age not new age but just John Bowers, A man for all seasons.

Perhaps I might be forgiven for saying that there is something of the Rapture about this convivial gathering here tonight! And for this we owe a lot of thanks to Irene.

 Thank you and God bless you, John.

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