P.N.G. Gossip Newsletter - 21 Sep 2001

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PNG Gossip Newsletter Meri Milne Bay

Welcome to the Papua New Guinea Gossip - 21 Sep 2001. A very special welcome is extended to any new readers. If you have comments or suggestions to make then please e-mail them to giaman@png-gossip.com

Articles for this newsletter

To send a message for submission to the PNG Gossip Newsletter -- please e-mail your contribution to pngnews.queue@png-gossip.com

Remember that this mailing list is mainly meant for people who have an interest and already know a little bit about the people and geography of Papua New Guinea. The PNG Kina, which is mentioned from time to time, is currently worth somewhere around 28 - 28.5 United States cents but varies on a daily basis.

If you are really keen on finding out what the Kina is worth a currency converter for most world currencies can be located at http://www.michie.net/pnginfo/moni.html

For those who are not so familiar with the geography of Papua New Guinea I suggest taking a look http://maps.expedia.com and then click on the find a map option. Go to this link for a quick start to a link to a map of Port Moresby. http://www.michie.net/pnginfo/pom-map.html

Also remember that the accuracy of the information in this newsletter should not be relied upon - it is, after all, a gossip newsletter.

Neo Melanesian

"Pidgin English"
Jenueri January
Februeri February
Mars March
Epril April
Mei May
Jun June
Julai July
Ogas August
Septemba September
Oktoba October
Novemba November
Disemba December

Burns Victims

British Petroleum PNG has agreed to compensate the burns victims and property damage caused by the exploding kerosene lanterns in February. The burns victims will be offered between K5,000 and K40,000. Four people died and 52 other people required treatement for burns of which some were so severe they required treatment in Australia.

Business Directory

As far as I am concerned the best on-line Business Directory about PNG is located at -- http://www.pngbd.com -- At this website you can check current exchange rates, PNG airline Schedules, particiapte in PNG discussion forums as well as a host of other options. The best way to learn about this site is to visit it.

Hiri Moale Festival

The Prime Minister has been reported as saying the Hiri Moale Festival is a sample of the multitude of the many various cultures available in PNG. The actual festival is something that belongs to the Motu-Koitabu people but its more general importance is growing every year. It is now a festival that belongs to all the inhabitants of Port Moresby.

The business seminar held in conjunction with the Hiri Moale Festival has heard that Port Moresby can be a thriving and promising investment destination if planned and managed properly. The acting City Manager, Berbnard Kipit, has said that this could be achieved through the joint efforts of the City hall, the National Government and the private sector.

PNG Flag 2001
Scouts with the PNG Flag

Independence Day

If it wasn't for the Hiri Moale Festival and the token flag raising ceremony at Independence Hill, near Parliament House, residents of Port Moresby could excused for wondering if anything had been planned for Independence Day in Port Moresby. First hand reports from Oro Province would indicated that the celebrations would still be going strong well into the night on the last day of the holiday weekend in the provincial capital of Popondetta. It would seem that the provinces with less money to spend have bettered their big city counterparts.

Reader's Contribution

Hi Trev,

Here's a personal account from Max Hayes, a recent visitor to Lae. He has OKed it to be incorporated in PNG Gossip, if you want it.

Bill -- www.powerup.com.au/~billpurc

At 3.30pm on Tuesday 28th August I was returning to Lae in a friends car having been to see the Rainforest Habitat at UniTech. On way back I became little lost and instead of turning right into Bumbe Rd, proceeded straight down what turned out to be Butibam Rd. This is a much travelled road, and one of Lae's busiest, so I felt no alarm.

About one kilometre down, five raskals leapt from the bushes across the road - two were armed with shotguns, one with bushknife, and two with large rocks, all poised to throw in my direction. Had I been in a big four wheel drive with bull bars, I probably should have accelerated, but in a friend's small car, decided the best option was to stop. Then the five were at me, one attempting to pull me from the car, but as I had the seat belt on, he was not successful, and that probably saved me serious injury or worse. He then ripped my shirt open took my neck pouch containing all documents, passport, 2 airline tickets, travellers cheques, credit cards, cash Australian Dollars and PNG Kina, and other items.

The other scum got into the passenger side and removed my watch, wallet, camera and other items, whilst I was being restrained and punched by the three who got into the back seat. They were screaming out, "we will kill you, where is the money, and where is the pistol?" as they searched me around the waist roughly. As another car approached they fled taking my sun hat and ripping off my boots. All this took about a minute and they were gone. I immediately drove barefooted to the police station, where in 1972/73 I was the O.I.C. to report the theft and robbery. I received some cuts, bruises and wounds, and loss of items and cash about AUD $1,000, of which the items, but not about $400 in cash, should be covered by my travel insurance.

A heavily armed police task force went out immediately, but the scum had fled, however, the police told me that when they were eventually caught, that they wouldn't be going to court. Spent the next two days arranging travel documents through High Commission, and airlines, and a couple of hours before I was due to leave on the Friday, a raid produced my travellers cheques, passport and airline tickets, but nothing else. My sympathies lie with the PNG people, who are extremely nice and suffering greatly at the hands of these scum.

I'm paranoid. But am I paranoid enough!?

If you understood this, you'll love < www.powerup.com.au/~billpurc >

Vanilla Exports

The export of vanilla from Vanimo into the Indonesian town of Jayapura is being hampered by the charges being placed on sellers by the Indonesian police and the military. Even though a seller has paid a small fee to the police there is no guarantee that the military will not want a share of the proceeds as well. Having cleared the military and the police problems it has been reported that customs can often confiscate a small percentage of the crop as well.

Political Parties

The Registrar of Political Parties has received applications from 22 parties that accounts for 84 of the present MPs.

Those who are not on the list of political parties include independents Sir John Kaputin and Lady Carol Kidu as well as Clement Nakmai, John Kanadi, Kala Swokin, Peter Arul, Opis Papo, Tom Tomiape and Gallus Yumbui.

The major political parties that have submitted application include the ruling People's Democratic Movement, Pangu, National Alliance, People's Progress Party, National Party, People's National Congress, People's Action Party and United Resource Party.

Singing Dogs

The New Guinea Singing Dog (NGSD) was discovered by the outside world in 1957 when the first pair was brought down from the New Guinea Highlands to the Taronga Zoo. Sidney, Australia. http://www.canineworld.com/ngsdcs/

Asylum Seekers

Last issue I reported that the refugees who were rescued from a sinking Indonesian ferry in the Indian Ocean last month and were originally heading for Australia but instead were put aboard an Australian vessel and were going to pass through Port Moresby. The vessel has now been ordered to change direction, and bypass Papua New Guinea and go straight to the tiny South Pacific nation of Nauru.

Oro Province

The police in Oro Province have received a new vehicle to help them do their work. The vehicle was purchased from the Sohe District Planning and Budget Priority Committee.

Enga - Murder Suspects

The five men alleged to be involved in the brutal slaying of five young children in the Kompiam area of Enga province last month are now under police interrogation at the Wabag police station.

Highlands Regional Police Commander Superintendent Tony Wagambie said police and the community worked together to ensure the law took its course.

Enga - Police Shooting

Two other suspects have been arrested and are under police custody for shooting policemen at Sirunki in the Enga province last week. Two policemen are at the Mount Hagen General Hospital recovering from serious wounds received in the shoot-out between police and gunmen at a roadblock at the Sirunki Highway. One policeman received gun pellets wounds whilst another needed an arrow to be removed from his body.

Enga - Porgera PNGBC

A man has been arrested for the armed robbery and attempted murder at the Porgera Branch of the PNG Banking Corporation recently. The robbery on the 24th of August this year saw bank staff tied up during the early hours of the morning. The robbers then attempted to use oxy-acetylene to cut open the bank vault but failed when the gas ran out. It has been reported that three men were shot when the robbers left the bank.

Enga - Pausa High School

One of the oldest schools in Enga Province, Pausa High, may have to close due to financial problems. The financial problems have come about because the Engan Provincial Government had introduced a "free education policy" that it could not support. Parents have only paid projects fees and have expected the provincial government to pick up the balance. Other schools in Enga will also be forced to close for the same reason.

PNG Education Related Website

Naval Symposium

The 2001 Western Pacific naval symposium hosted by the PNG Defence Force recently is reported to have cost K85,000 to run. About 18 people from 14 different countries in the West Pacific attended the symposium. Countries who participated were Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, United States of America, Canada, Chile, France and India.

The various overseas delegates received a traditional welcome on their arrival in Port Moresby.

Heavy Metals

At the recent Medical Symposium the Chief Executive Officer of Mendi General Hospital said that open cut mines have been shown to be a source of heavy metals that are toxic to human health.

The CEO said that a descriptive study has shown that cadmium levels have increased in fish species within the Middle Fly River region. It was consistent with the changes in the physical characteristics of the water bodies due to cadmium discharge from the open mines upstream.

Cadmium is a heavy metal that poses a high risk to man through food sources and it also accumulates over time because of its long biological half-life. Cadmium exists naturally with copper, lead and zinc in sulphide ores and it is often discharged as a by-product metal of metal production.

Financial Institutions

Port Moresby General Hospital

The Pan African Association of PNG has donated 76 sets of bed linen for the children's ward of the Port Moresby General Hospital. The Association is a charity driven, voluntary, non-political organisation.

Hiri Moale Lakatoi
Hiri Moale Lakatoi

Carteret Islands

The Save the Children Fund in Australia has donated K67,000 worth of food and five water tanks for the starving people on the Carteret and Mortlock Islands in Bougainville province.

East New Britain

The Munggo Health Centre located on the south coast in the Sinivit local level government area of East New Britain has been closed for an indefinite period after an armed hold-up last week. The seven criminals armed with four home made and one factory made gun took money and goods belonging to the staff and patients before escaping in a stolen ambulance.

PNG Cancer Treatment

As reported in recent issues the only radiation machine to treat cancer in the country is still out of order and has been for two years now. Statistics released at the recent Medical Symposium reveal that about 15,000 new cancer cases are reported each year in PNG but no treatment usually means a death sentence.

At the moment patients can only be given a combination of various medicines and painkillers and then sent home to await death. About K5 million is needed for the cancer unit to get back into operation and for the training of manpower to run it effectively.

It has been reported that about 500 women die of cervical cancer and 400 men die of lung cancer each year in PNG. There are at least 15,000 new cancer cases reported each year in PNG. This is a doubling of the number of cases in the past 20 years.

World Bank

The World Bank has refuted media reports that Papua New Guinea was behind in its adherence to the bank's conditions. An official from the World Bank has said that the PNG government has satisfied all the conditions mentioned in the report leading to the disbursement on July 19 of a US$20 million tranche of the Governance Promotion Adjustment Loan. The World Bank's Chief Executive Officer James Wolfenson has also praised Sir Mekere Morauta as the best choice for the nation's top political job.


The PNG Telecom Licencing body (PANGTEL) has said that the monopoly held by Telikom PNG will be opened to other telecommunication operators by the end of this year. PANGTEL will continue to play a licensing and regulatory role.

Passam National High

Classes have been suspended indefinitely at Passam National High School in East Sepik province following the attempted arson of one of its classrooms recently by a former student from East Sepik who was expelled last year. The student went to the school to request that he be allowed to sit for his exams. Upon receiving a negative response, he decided to set a dormitory on fire, but a quick response by bystanders was able to save the building.

In yet another incident a student from Central province is recovering from a stab wound at the Boram General Hospital in Wewak after a recent fight between students from the East Sepik province and from the Highlands at the High School. The East Sepik provincial police commander, Leo Kabilo, said the student was stabbed with a sharp object during the fight.


http://www.bdw.com.pg -- Blake Dawson and Waldron, Lawyers

Bush walking / Hiking

If anyone is considering a bush walking / hiking trip to PNG then I suggest you take a read of the following site "A Papua New Guinea Story" by Ehud Reiter located at http://www.travel-library.com/pacific/papua_new_guinea/trip.reiter.html

The story consists of three parts

Part 1: On how I spent two days waiting for an airplane in a small "end of the road" town in PNG

Part 2: On how I spent a week in the PNG "cities" of Mt Hagen and Wewak, trying to track down my lost companions

Part 3: On the sad tale of a truly "buggeredup" trek through the PNG Highlands.


The World Wide Fund for Nature has expressed a fear that PNG might be soon be known for letting a part of its diverse sea life be wiped out. The PNG Dugong population has been steadily declining despite it being a protected creature. PNG Fishermen are still killing dugongs for financial gain.

Rugby Cup

The Goroka Lahanis have been beaten by the Rabaul Gurias in 2001 SP Cup Rugby League Grand Final held over the Independence weekend at the Lloyd Robson oval in Port Moresby. Spectators invaded the ground with approximately five minutes to go. After the ground was cleared the Gurias increased their lead to 16 over the 8 scored by the Lahanis.

Airport Fees

Tewae-Siassi MP Mao Zeming has raised concerns over the fees being paid by motorists for parking and people wanting trolleys at Jackson's airport in parliament recently.

PNG Shells
Shells on Sale

Killer Wave Threat

The following article is reproduced with permission of the San Fransico Chronicle Science Editor - David Perlman. It appeared in the Chronicle on Monday, September 10, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/10/MN165765.DTL. It is of intererst to PNG especially the low lying areas such as the Carteret and Mortlock Islands in Bougainville province.

On a warm July evening in Papua New Guinea three years ago, a moderate earthquake jolted the floor of the Bismarck Sea. Within minutes, a train of ocean waves 50 feet high crashed against the island's north coast.

There was no high ground along 19 miles of shoreline, and no time for villagers to flee inland. The waves swept more than 2,200 people to their death -- victims of the worst tsunamis on recent record.

Scientists now believe that a huge undersea landslide triggered by the quake must have added deadly power to the Papua tsunamis -- and that similar landslides could threaten many coastal regions of the world, including California and the entire Pacific Northwest.


These giant sea waves cause major damage to seacoasts around the world. In the past decade alone, tsunamis have killed more than 4,000 people. Yet scientists don't really know how many of the gargantuan waves have been caused by underwater landslides -- as opposed to earthquakes -- or how they get started.

"We understand snow avalanches far better than we understand submarine landslides," says Costas Synolakis of the California Institute of Technology, who is one of the world's leading tsunami experts.

"It was the Papua New Guinea event that made it clear that landslide tsunamis are a far greater hazard than what we had thought," he said. "We are really at the turning point of a new science, and we are trying to make educated guesses."

One of those making educated guesses is Steven N. Ward, a research geophysicist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He calls the deadly waves caused by such undersea landslides "surprise tsunamis," because they strike with none of the warning signals that mark large earthquakes.

Using an intricate computer program, Ward has estimated the sizes of tsunamis that were generated thousands to millions of years ago by landslides. Recent sonar surveys reveal the remains of those slides in huge areas of disturbed seafloor.


During recent oceanographic voyages, scientists have discovered that one such landslide scar is at least 800 feet thick and covers nearly 9,000 square miles of the ocean bottom off what is now Nuuanu on the north coast of Oahu in Hawaii. It is all that remains of a Hawaiian volcano that erupted some 2.7 million years ago and sent its side crashing into the sea, setting off enormous tsunamis whose waves Ward has modelled in a computer study.

"After 18 minutes, the slide, barely half complete, set the ocean in full turmoil," Ward said. He estimates that waves nearly 200 feet high from trough to peak must have slammed the coasts of Oahu and Molokai within minutes.

In an hour, 130-foot waves reached the islands of Maui, Hawaii and Molokai. And 4 1/2 hours later, the front waves would have reached the Aleutians and the coasts of California and Oregon with waves still 65 feet high, Ward estimated recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Synolakis called Ward's computer-based estimates of tsunamis caused by landslides "excellent, careful, pioneering work treading where nobody has been before."

Ward also worked with geologist Simon Day of University College in London to predict what could happen if the highly unstable Cumbre Viejo volcano in the Canary Islands were to erupt laterally, spewing the entire mass of its rocky side into the sea in one enormous landslide.

It would send as much as 120 cubic miles of rock sliding into the sea and create a wave train that would cross the Atlantic in only eight hours. Although barely perceptible as it sped over the broad ocean's deep waters, the tsunami would build to waves 80 feet high crashing over the Florida coast, Ward and Day calculated in a report published in this month's issue of Geophysical Research Letters.


"We're not running these computer numbers to scare people," Ward said in an interview. "But surprise tsunamis need to be a lot better understood, and people on every coast need to be prepared for them."

A tsunami -- the word means "harbor wave" in Japanese -- moves with incredible speed: more than 500 mph over deep water. But in the open ocean, it is barely perceptible at only inches to a few feet high.

When it reaches shallow waters and approaches the shore, the waves' speed slows down to about 25 mph -- "about the speed of a moped," Ward says -- and the wave height grows dramatically. Records of past tsunamis that have crashed on land show wave heights hundreds of feet high.

Ward has just created a new computer model of a hypothetical tsunami that might be triggered if one of the steep walls of the Monterey Canyon that snakes 60 miles out to sea beneath Monterey Bay suddenly were to plunge a mile and a half to the canyon's bottom.

Evidence of old landslides on the canyon's floor -- one of them covering more than 80 square miles -- is well known. Working with geologist Gary Greene of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Ward has used that evidence to create his new computer model.

In the scenario, Ward theorizes a landslide -- perhaps triggered by a large earthquake on the nearby San Gregorio Fault -- that gouges out a chunk of the canyon wall 600 feet thick near its head and tumbles down at a speed of more than 100 mph for 15 miles. "The entire event takes eight minutes to run its course," he said.

The water churned up by the landslide, Ward calculates, would create tsunamis whose leading waves -- reaching the shore at about 30 mph -- would tower as high as 50 to 80 feet on the Monterey side of the bay and 30 to 50 feet high at Santa Cruz.

Ward and Greene caution that their simulation does not mean that any such event is imminent. Indeed, so far there is no evidence along the shores of the Monterey Bay -- nor in the 2,500 acres of Elkhorn Slough that snakes inland from Moss Landing -- that any major tsunamis have ever swept ashore from the canyon.

"But there have indeed been submarine landslides up near the head of the canyon in the past, so we can't be certain," Greene said. "Now we have to marry the geology to the model to get a much clearer picture of what might happen."

If you are interested then the original article can be found at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/10/MN165765.DTL


Not far from Kimbe, the provincial capital of West New Britain, is Walindi Plantation Dive Resort. Walindi is situated just ten kilometres from Kimbe on the road to Talasea. Close to the Resort is the Walindi Nature Centre sponsored by the owner of the resort. -- http://www.walindi.com

MV Golden Dawn

http://www.mvgoldendawn.com/ -- Diving PNG on the elegant live aboard MV Golden Dawn offers the finest dive sites and diving in Papua New Guinea. PNG dive itineraries include the Eastern fields in the Coral Sea, Milne Bay and Northern PNG, Wewak. Wreck diving and technical diving opportunities abound with nitrox and rebreathers aboard.

PNG media related sites

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Created 21 Sep 2001
Updated 6 Jun 2002
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