Saturday, January 13, 2018

Death of rugby league star unites PNG

The shackles of regionalism and tribalism that so divided Papua New Guinea have been broken.

Tears fell freely for most. A moment they shall never forget, as s the death of our champion brought together a nation.

It has taken the life of a 23-year-old rugby league star to do that.
Papua New Guinea international Kato Ottio died on Tuesday after he collapsed at training in Port Moresby.
The sight that moved everyone to tears. Joyce Ottio, mother of Kumuls' superstar Kato Ottio, is comforted by Widnes Vikings-bound Wellington Albert after the funeral service at Sir John Guise Stadium. Ottio and Albert were to have left for England on Thursday, but for Ottio's death.

Ottio spent the last two years with the Canberra Raiders and had just signed with English Super League club Widnes Vikings following his stellar World Cup campaign.
Thousands of people gathered at the Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium on Friday to pay their final respects to a young man who had so touched our lives with his performance during the World Cup.
Hunters' and Kumuls' coach Michael Marum breaks down as he hands Kato Ottio's red, black and gold jumper to his mother Joyce Ottio at Friday's funeral service.

Tears fell freely for most, a moment they shall never forget, as the death of our champion brought together a nation.
We came together. All shackles of regionalism and tribalism broken. It had taken the life of a young man, who touched us all with his rugby league skills, to bring us together.

Ottio and PNG Kumuls' teammate Wellington Albert were to have left for England on Thursday after signing up with the Vikings last month.
He ain't heavy, he's my brother: Kumuls' team mates carry the casket of Kato Ottio out of the Sir John Guise Stadium.

Ottio will be buried at his Tatana village in Port Moresby next Tuesday.
Farewell Kato Ottio. Thank you for the wonderful memories.
Respect: Hundreds line up Sir John Guise Drive as the hearse carrying the body of Kato Ottio leaves after the funeral service at the indoor stadium.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Pilot was a world-class pianist

The National

North Coast Aviation Pilot David Tong, who lost his life in the rugged Saruwaged Range of Morobe in the Dec 23 air crash, was not just an ordinary aviator.

He was one of the top pianists in Australia and the world.
He could have chosen to remain in the top music halls of the world but opted to fly in Papua New Guinea.
David Tong the pianist at a concert.-Picture by Greater Geraldton Regional Library website.
David Tong with North Coast Aviation chief pilot Thomas Keindip in March 2017. Kendip died on Nov 26, 2017, after a short illness.-Picture from Thomas Keindip Facebook page

That fact about Tong’s life became known after his death.
His body, meantime, remain at the funeral home in Lae until funeral arrangements are made this week.
His mother flew in from Australian to see the body of her son and was moved to tears after seeing the display of emotions shown by NCA staff and the people of Morobe
According to the Greater Geraldton Regional Library website of Australia: “Born in Macao in 1983, David Tong migrated to Australia in 1988 and soon began taking piano lessons.
“Following an extensive period of study, he went on to study at the prominent Juilliard School of Music in New York and was awarded the Vladimir Horowitz scholarship.
“In addition to having been a frequent guest artist with all Australian symphony orchestras, David was regularly invited to appear with many of today’s top orchestras including the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, New York Philharmonic, as well as with the philharmonic orchestras of Rochester, Naples (Florida), and Hong Kong
“Of significant importance in David’s career was a performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the 2002 Sydney Festival’s Gala Domain Concert, where he performed to an audience of more than 90,000 people.”
Since 2014, Tong had worked as a commercial pilot.
He was based in Geraldton and worked as a line pilot for Geraldton Air Charter before moving to PNG in 2016 to join North Coast Aviation.
Tong, 34, survived the crash and made calls on his mobile but bad weather prevented rescuers from reaching him for three days.
The pianist Zsolt Bognar writes: “It is with great sadness that I learn my old friend David Tong was found dead on Tuesday from injuries sustained in a plane crash.
“I remember first meeting him in Texas in 2001 and being struck by his sunshine-filled spirit, his strong Australian accent, and vivacious temperament.
“He was an incredible pianist with a breathtaking technique–I remember how he burst into my practice room and deployed Chopin Etudes with ease–and as a human being and friend he will be missed.
“What devastating news.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

Late December 2017

By Malum Nalu

I take a walk along 2017 Lane
Enjoying the late December weather
Place looks glorious
After the 12th month rain

At every corner
Fresh fruit and vegetables
A good feeling in my heart
A spring in my step for 2018

Governor-General pays tribute to bush pilots of Morobe

Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae says the loss of another North Coast Aviation pilot is a great loss to the people of Kabwum, Morobe and Papua New Guinea.
The former Kabwum MP said this yesterday when passing his condolences to NCA on the loss of  Australian pilot, David Tong, after a Britten Norman Islander  crash on Mt Saruwaged in the rugged Saruwaged Range of Morobe last Saturday.
His death comes after that of NCA's chief pilot Captain Thomas Keindip, from Kabwum, after a short illness last month.
North Coast Aviation pilots Thomas Kendip and David Tong at Tari Airport, Hela, in June this year.

Tong crashed into Mt Saruwaged, the fourth highest mountain in the country at 13,520 feet above sea level, in very bad weather when returning to Lae from Kabwum.
From Melbourne, Australia, Tong joined NCA in Nov 2016 and has been described by friends and family as a friendly and likeable person.
He was alive when he crashed at 9000ft and called NCA at Nadzab on his mobile phone, however, bad weather prevented rescue teams from going in.

North Coast Aviation pilots Thomas Kendip and David Tong at Tari Airport, Hela, in June this year.

It was only on Tuesday, four days after the crash, that a search-and-rescue team from Porgera mine went into the crash site but Tong was already dead.
The death has already sparked off much controversy over search-and-rescue efforts, given that the crash site is not that far away from Nadzab, and the fact that he was alive at the time of the crash.
David Tong, Thomas Keindip and a fellow North Coast Aviation pilot at Teptep airstrip in Kabwum, Morobe, earlier this year.

Sir Bob said it was only because of dedicated NCA pilots like Tong and Keindip that goods and services had reached Kabwum over the years.
"Lady Hannah and I, on behalf of our family, people of Kabwum, Morobe and PNG would like to express our deepest sorrow and sadness to the family, management and staff of NCA for the death of another experienced pilot (Tong) in a short time after we lost Capt Thomas (Keindip) not long ago," he said.
"Having benefitted so much from NCA during my 30 years service in the province, I am very saddened by these tragedies.
"May God give everyone peace."

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The man I never knew

By Malum Nalu

As I look into the face in the photo
Into the eyes of the man I never knew

I see the pain
The hurt

He shows me the cloud-covered Saruwaged
The treetops
I hear the crunch
As the plane hits the branches

I see the hope in his eyes
As he makes an SOS
Hoping against hope
In the freezing cold as the pain sets in

I see the hurt
Of missing Christmas with loved ones
Help is not coming
Darkness is closing in

- To the Memory of David Tong
Who lost his life in the Saruwaged Range
Serving the people of Kabwum, Morobe and Papua New Guinea

Monday, October 02, 2017

Penrith rout PNG for NRL interstate title

Penrith have flogged Papua New Guinea 42-18 to take out the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith have spoiled Papua New Guinea's Cinderella story with a 42-18 rout in the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium.

The NSW Cup premiers ran riot with the game effectively over at 38-2 at halftime after Tony Satini ran in four tries in the first 40 minutes.

The victory was yet another feather in the cap for coach Garth Brennan who was amassed two NSW Cup titles and an under-20s premiership during his time at the foot of the mountains.

Along with the likes of Laurie Daley, Chris and Shane Walker and Jason Demetriou, Brennan is one of the contenders for the vacant Gold Coast NRL job.

He sent a loud and resounding message about his coaching nous by leading his side to an eight tries to three flogging on the NRL's grand final day but was coy on his future.

"It'd be nice. But I don't focus on it, I don't dwell on it, it's something I can't control," Brennan said.

"What I can control is preparing my team as best I can to get the result and if I do that the rest looks after itself.

"I've got an ongoing contract with Gus (Panthers general manager Phil Gould), it just rolls over. Keeping him happy is very good."

The Hunters came into the match as the feel good story after winning their first piece of silverware in last week's Queensland Cup grand final against the Sunshine Coast.

However the side from the rugby league-mad island nation was outclassed and overpowered.

Coach Michael Marum admitted his squad, who had never been to Sydney let alone played on ANZ Stadium, was overawed by the occasion.

The Hunters struck first with a penalty goal through captain Ase Boas however former Manly outside back Satini ran in three tries in seven minutes to put his side on top.

Halfback Darren Nicholls was also outstanding, stretching the Hunters defence and crossing under the posts to make it 22-2 after 21 minutes.

After Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 67th minute, the Hunters ran in consolation tries through Adex Wera, Bland Abavu and Boas.

"Maybe they were overawed in the first half. We let in seven tries," Marum said.

"But we won the second half. We got back in it but full credit to the Panthers, they're a quality side with a lot of NRL experience in it."

World's largest butterfly faces extinction due to Papua New Guinea’s palm oil industry

by TAGS,
September 28, 2017

It is perhaps because of their beauty and grace that they were named after the wife of Edward VII.
In the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea, the density of Queen Alexandra's Birdwing has shrunk to only 10 per sq km. Credit: Angelus Palik / SBBT
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing, the largest butterfly in the world with a wingspan of 30cm—at least 10 times the size of common butterflies—was discovered in Papua New Guinea in 1906. More than a century later, one of the world’s rarest species has become the most endangered. In the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea, the last frontier, the density of this butterfly has shrunk to only 10 per square kilometre. They are now handful in number, but what’s causing their race to dwindle?

New Guinea, which is the world’s second largest island, has an ideal climate for palm production, with Indonesia occupying the western half of the island and Papua New Guinea forming the island’s eastern side. Palm oil producers in the western part are fast expanding into Papua New Guinea to reach the goal of producing 40 million metric tonnes by 2020.

With traditional locations for plantations becoming saturated, companies are now turning to seemingly unexploited tropical forest in Papua New Guinea. The scramble for producing more palm oil is leading to rampant clearing of forests—natural habitat of birdwing butterfly. The country is already witnessing a steady increase in FORMA alerts—fortnightly updates based on satellite images on spots that have recently been cleared.

In 2013, Papua New Guinea received nearly 2,200 alerts—the highest since recordkeeping began in 2006. Not only are the trees being cut indiscriminately, the area earmarked for palm oil production is set on fire as a preferred method of clearing. The extent of damage done in the tropical rainforest is somewhat evident in satellite images.
Actively burning areas with significant smoke rising from these areas as detected by a satellite on September 24, 2015. Credit: NASA

There have also been reports about government losing control over palm plantations, which are being increasingly privatised, with Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian investors appropriating lands of the locals to increase the network of oil palm plantations.

Three endangered species in Papua New Guinea

The same region, whose landscape is undergoing a rapid change, is home to three out of the top 10 endangered species of shallowtail and birdwing butterflies. While Queen Alexandra's birdwing is considered endangered by the IUCN, Papilio moerneri is one of the rarest and least known of all Papua New Guinea Swallowtail butterflies that has not been seen since 1924. The Southern Tailed Birdwing is also considered vulnerable. Habitat alteration due to volcanic eruption in the 50s and habitat destruction for oil palm plantations are key reasons why they are pushed to the brink of extinction.

New conservation project

Fortunately, a new initiative is coming to the rescue of these beautiful winged creatures. The Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust (SBBT), led by entomologists and conservationists, has been established to conserve and protect butterflies of Papilionidae family globally. Its first project is Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing.

With funding from the Malaysia-based Sime Darby Foundation (SDF), the SBBT is trying to create a state-of-the-art captive breeding and release facility in New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL)’s Higaturu palm oil estate—the heart of the butterfly’s home. The captive breeding and release programme will be accompanied by habitat enrichment and protection of remaining forest areas around oil palm plantations.

“Sustainable conservation requires high quality, practical, on-the-ground conservation, with local communities and business working in partnership,” says Mark Collins, chairman of SBBT and ex-director of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The SBBT, according to its official website, is providing technical, scientific and international support for “studying the best areas to release the butterflies in the forests surrounding the palm oil estates, cultivating vines in those areas, and making sure there are supplies of the butterflies' favourite food plant, the Dutchman’s pipe”.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The woman I never knew


As I look into the face in the photo
Into the eyes of the woman I never knew, lying on her hospital bed, her mother beside her
I feel the hurt
The pain

She shows me the humiliation
Of being stripped naked
The most-excruciating  agony
As hot metal burns her body and razors cut through

I hear her cries
Which fall upon deaf dears
No one in this country can help her on Independence Day
They are oblivious to her pleas for mercy, as her life seeps away

I believe that this woman and many more, should never be forgotten
For they are victims of sanguma
And the Devil laughs as he takes control of this Christian country
The dark forces of evil take control of the land


-Dedicated to the memory of the two Enga women who were tortured with hot metal and cut with razor blades on Independence Day, on accusations of being sanguma, and subsequently died.

Monday, September 25, 2017

An ode to the PNG Hunters

This is a small piece which I wrote on my phone this morning. I hope you like it:

An ode to the PNG Hunters

They came from north of the border
To the colosseum at Suncorp
Modern-day gladiators
Hunters from Papua New Guinea

They carried the hopes and dreams of a nation
Upon their shoulders
So much gloom, doom and despair
A little ray of sunshine was needed

All was lost, it seemed
When in from the cold came Willie Minoga
Like a runaway freight train from Enga
Grounding the ball at the last minute

And for a moment in time
All of Papua New Guinea erupted
A crescendo from the islands to the mountains
As the sons and daughters of this beautiful land arose as one, singing a new song of hope