brad brace

10/11/2008

ILLEGAL LOGGING ALARMING

Filed under: global islands,png,resource,solomon islands — admin @ 3:49 am

Landowners take companies to court

THE PARADISE FORESTS OF INDONESIA, PAPUA New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are falling at an alarming rate. Every year 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the logging of natural and ancient forests. Illegal and destructive logging in PNG is fuelling global warming which is melting icecaps, contributing to the drowning of Pacific Islands Countries and low-lying areas in PNG. PNG’s forests can either help fight climate change if left standing or put the foot on the accelerator of global warming if the destructive and illegal logging continues. In fact by protecting its forests from logging PNG could make hundreds of millions of dollars from carbon financing. But, as a University of Papua New Guinea report points out: “PNG’s forests could make a significant contribution to global efforts to combat climate change. “However, the current state of forest management and lack of effective governance means that PNG is a long way from being able to meaningfully participate in the carbon economy.” The World Bank estimates that up to 70 percent of logging in PNG is illegal. Greenpeace believes the figure is as high as 90 percent due to the fact that many timber licences are obtained without the proper prior and informed consent of landowners. “The PNG Government must put in place a moratorium on the allocation of any new logging concessions or extensions and conduct a review of all existing concessions. Any concession found to be in breach of the laws must be revoked. There should also be an immediate investigation into serious allegations of corruption between politicians and logging companies,” said Sam Moko, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Australia Pacific. “Landowners are suffering while US$40 million allegedly sits in a Singapore bank account of a senior government minister from a logging company.”

Revelations: New revelations that K100 million have gone missing from the PNG National Forest Authority is further evidence that the governance surrounding forestry is out of control. In April this year, the current Forest Minister, Belden Namah, said, “I have noticed a lot of corruption going on within the forestry department. Most [forest] officers are not supporting the landowners with their issues and are not promoting government laws and policies that are already in place to penalise the logging companies”. Currently, there are 15 cases where landowners are taking logging companies to court for breaching forestry laws. Greenpeace crew from the ship Esperanza have visited remote areas of Papua New Guinea’s Gulf and Western Provinces during September to document what is going on. We found there were many social and environmental problems caused by industrial logging, as well breaches of the PNG Logging Code of Practice by logging companies. Local people tell of total disrespect from the company towards them. Examples of this include the destruction of sacred sites, lack of promised development, withholding royalty payments, logging too close to villages and endangering the food supply. Infrastructure like roads, airstrips and ports are rudimentary for the benefit of the logging operation and usually falls into disrepair once a company moves on. The schools and medical facilities do not have materials, equipment or medicines. The logging industry is involved in a deception where exploitation masquerades as development. The industry also makes over-inflated claims about the numbers of people it employs and its contribution to rural development. Foreigners do most of the skilled work, while PNG nationals are paid a pittance for dangerous work, usually done with no safety equipment.
Payslips obtained by Greenpeace from two Rimbunan Hijau (RH) concessions—Vailala and Wawoi Guavi—show workers working long hours for very little pay. Many camp workers are brought in from other areas and have no local fishing or hunting rights so must buy goods at inflated prices from the company’s canteen, the only store in the area. One fortnightly payslip showed a worker being paid K185.25 for 114 hours of work. After costs for food were deducted, he took home K5.
Forestry workers are trapped in a debt cycle with logging companies and have no option but to continue working. Ken Karere, from Vailala, an RH concession, told Greenpeace, “The workload it’s very big…You have no food. You have to go back to the store and buy food on credit and their prices are very high. All is recorded. So once I get paid, all that money goes towards the credit and you’re only left with maybe K10, K15. You have to survive on that for another two weeks but after one day that money’s finished. How are people supposed to invest in their and their family’s future on this type of wage? This is not gainful employment that benefits PNG’s future, this is induced indebtedness verging on slavery,” Moko said. “These people work incredibly hard and are still well below the poverty line. They don’t even have enough money to pay to leave the area.” The International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) in a diagnostic report released last year stated: “It is believed that the narrow focus of the PNG Forests Authority on exploitation of the forest resource for the primary financial benefit of the national government presents a conflict of interest which colours decisions made by the government at all levels.”

Moratorium: If the PNG Government is interested in participating in the International Carbon Market they must demonstrate a genuine commitment to saving the forests of PNG by introducing a moratorium on the allocation of all new and proposed logging concessions and extensions. This must be done to improve Papua New Guinea’s reputation as a forest manager and address the key forest carbon issues of ‘permanence’ and ‘additionality’ before they can be taken seriously for REDD financial incentives. PNG must be able to demonstrate that they have the capacity and willingness to monitor and enforce forest protection, the ability to monitor and independently verify emission reductions, and establish national carbon accounting, before engaging with the international community on carbon financing initiatives. PNG must also move to develop a legal and regulatory framework for carbon trading and financing and/or Payment of Ecosystem Services that ensures protection of the rights of the customary landowners as well as requiring multi-stakeholder governance and the development of national forest carbon standards.

10/7/2008

Solomon Islands 2007 Tsunami

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands,weather — admin @ 3:32 pm

Relief workers reported the first signs of disease among survivors of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands, while aftershocks hampered efforts to get aid to survivors running low on food and water.

Some children in makeshift camps that have sprung up in hills behind towns hit by the disaster have diarrhea, the Red Cross said, as threats such as malaria, dysentery and cholera loomed.

Survivors terrified by the more than 50 jolts that have struck the region since the magnitude 8.1 quake — including several registering 6 or stronger — were too scared to come down from high-ground refuges, officials said, adding to difficulties assessing the number of victims and getting aid to survivors.

“There’s no water to wash, no water to drink,” said Esther Zekele, who fled with her husband and five children to the hills behind Munda as the sea surged through the town. About 40 other families were also huddled at their makeshift camp.

They ventured back home shortly, hoping to replenish their half-eaten bag of rice, but took to the hills again when they heard a rumor another wave was coming.

Now the families are just waiting, wondering why help hasn’t come, Zekele said.

Solomon’s deputy police commissioner, Peter Marshall, said the aftershocks had pushed some survivors even deeper into the hills.

“People are in a panic because of the continuous tremors,” said Rex Tara, a disaster management specialist with British-based aid agency Oxfam.

At least 28 people were killed, and authorities were checking unconfirmed reports of further deaths, including six people buried in a quake-triggered landslide on Simbo island, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s office said.

Marshall said that while the death toll may continue to rise, aerial surveillance flights over the past two days had revealed “no evidence of mass deaths.”

Authorities had no firm figure for the missing

Red Cross official Nancy Jolo said her agency had handed out all the emergency supplies it had stored in Gizo, the main town in the disaster zone, and was waiting for new supplies from a New Zealand military transport plane that landed in Munda.

“The priority need right now is for water,” Jolo told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. “What we are experiencing right now in some of the campsites is children starting to experience diarrhea.”

Six doctors and 15 nurses from Honiara were among aid workers who arrived at Gizo, where plans to reopen the airport the same day didn’t pan out and the wharf remained badly damaged.

Many of the 5,600 left homeless were scrounging for basic supplies under buildings knocked down by the quake and sludge deposited by the tsunami.

One police patrol boat arrived in Gizo after traveling 10 hours from the capital, Honiara, with tents, tarps, food and water. A second supply boat left Honiara, but two others were delayed because provisions could not be found to fill them, chief government spokesman Alfred Maesulia said.

“It’s very difficult to get the materials needed because Honiara only has very small shops,” he said.

A New Zealand military transport plane unloaded a shipment of tarps, water and rations at Munda.

“We have not reached people as soon as we could … because of the widespread nature of this particular disaster,” said Fred Fakarii, chairman of the National Disaster Management Council.

Many canoes and other boats were sunk or washed away by the tsunami and fuel was contaminated with sea water, adding to the aid delivery woes, Western Province Premier Alex Lokopio said.

Fakarii said officials had asked for two mobile hospitals from Australia and New Zealand. Hospitals at Gizo and Munda were wrecked by the disaster, he said.

The quake, which struck 6 miles under the sea about 25 miles from Gizo, set off alarms from Tokyo to Hawaii, testing procedures put in place after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left 230,000 dead or missing in a dozen countries.

Gizo’s proximity to the epicenter meant the destructive waves — up to 16 feet high — hit before an alarm could be sounded, rekindling debate about whether the multimillion-dollar warning systems installed after the 2004 tsunami are worth the cost.

No significant tsunami was later reported anywhere outside the Solomons, which are comprised of more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people.

Tsunami Facts: How They Form, Warning Signs, and Safety Tips

• A tsunami is a series of great sea waves caused by an underwater earthquake, landslide, or volcanic eruption. More rarely, a tsunami can be generated by a giant meteor impact with the ocean.

Scientists have found traces of an asteroid-collision event that they say would have created a giant tsunami that swept around the Earth several times, inundating everything except the tallest mountains 3.5 billion years ago. The coastline of the continents was changed drastically and almost all life on land was exterminated.

• Tsunami (pronounced soo-NAH-mee) is a Japanese word. Tsunamis are fairly common in Japan, and many thousands of Japanese have been killed by them in recent centuries.

• An earthquake generates a tsunami if it is of sufficient force and there is violent movement of the earth to cause substantial and sudden displacement of a massive amount of water.

• A tsunami is not a single wave but a series of waves, also known as a wave train. The first wave in a tsunami is not necessarily the most destructive. Tsunamis are not tidal waves.

• Tsunami waves can be very long (as much as 60 miles, or 100 kilometers) and be as far as one hour apart. They are able to cross entire oceans without great loss of energy. The Indian Ocean tsunami traveled as much as 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) to Africa, arriving with sufficient force to kill people and destroy property.

Scientists say that a great earthquake of magnitude 9 struck the Pacific Northwest in 1700 and created a tsunami that caused flooding and damage on the Pacific coast of Japan.

As Fast as a Commercial Jet

• Where the ocean is deep, tsunamis can travel unnoticed on the surface at speeds up to 500 miles an hour (800 kilometers an hour), crossing an ocean in a day or less. Scientists are able to calculate arrival times of tsunamis in different parts of the world based on their knowledge of water depths, distances, and when the event that generated them occurred.

• A tsunami may be less than a foot (30 centimeters) in height on the surface of the open ocean, which is why they are not noticed by sailors. But the powerful shock wave of energy travels rapidly through the ocean as fast as a commercial jet. Once a tsunami reaches shallow water near the coast, it is slowed down. The top of the wave moves faster than the bottom, causing the sea to rise dramatically.

• Geological features such as reefs, bays, river entrances, and undersea formations may dissipate the energy of a tsunami. In some places a tsunami may cause the sea to rise vertically only a few inches or feet. In other places tsunamis have been known to surge vertically as high as 100 feet (30 meters). Most tsunamis cause the sea to rise no more than 10 feet (3 meters).

The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 caused waves as high as 30 feet (9 meters) in some places, according to news reports. In other places witnesses described a rapid surging of the ocean.

Flooding can extend inland by a thousand feet (300 meters) or more. The enormous energy of a tsunami can lift giant boulders, flip vehicles, and demolish houses. Knowledge of the history of tsunamis in your area is a good indicator of what is likely to happen in a future tsunami event.

• Tsunamis do not necessarily make their final approach to land as a series of giant breaking waves. They may be more like a very rapidly rising tide. This may be accompanied by much underwater turbulence, sucking people under and tossing heavy objects around. Entire beaches have been stripped away by tsunamis.

Many witnesses have said a tsunami sounds like a freight train.

• The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami could rank as the most devastating on record. More than 200,000 people lost their lives, many of them washed out to sea.

The most damaging tsunami on record before 2004 was the one that killed an estimated 40,000 people in 1782 following an earthquake in the South China Sea. In 1883 some 36,500 people were killed by tsunamis in the South Java Sea, following the eruption of Indonesia’s Krakatoa volcano. In northern Chile more than 25,000 people were killed by a tsunami in 1868.

• The Pacific is by far the most active tsunami zone, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But tsunamis have been generated in other bodies of water, including the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. North Atlantic tsunamis included the tsunami associated with the 1775 Lisbon earthquake that killed as many as 60,000 people in Portugal, Spain, and North Africa. This quake caused a tsunami as high as 23 feet (7 meters) in the Caribbean.

• The Caribbean has been hit by 37 verified tsunamis since 1498. Some were generated locally and others were the result of events far away, such as the earthquake near Portugal. The combined death toll from these Caribbean tsunamis is about 9,500.

• Large tsunami waves were generated in the Marmara Sea in Turkey after the Izmit earthquake of 1999.

Warning Signs

• An earthquake is a natural tsunami warning. If you feel a strong quake do not stay in a place where you are exposed to a tsunami. If you hear of an earthquake be aware of the possibility of a tsunami and listen to the radio or television for additional information. Remember that an earthquake can trigger killer waves thousands of miles across the ocean many hours after the event generated a tsunami.

• Witnesses have reported that an approaching tsunami is sometimes preceded by a noticeable fall or rise in the water level. If you see the ocean receding unusually rapidly or far it’s a good sign that a big wave is on its way. Go to high ground immediately.

Many people were killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami because they went down to the beach to view the retreating ocean exposing the seafloor. Experts believe that a receding ocean may give people as much as five minutes’ warning to evacuate the area.

• Remember that a tsunami is a series of waves and that the first wave may not be the most dangerous. The danger from a tsunami can last for several hours after the arrival of the first wave. A tsunami wave train may come as a series of surges that are five minutes to an hour apart. The cycle may be marked by a repeated retreat and advance of the ocean. Stay out of danger until you hear it is safe.

Survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami reported that the sea surged out as fast and as powerfully as it came ashore. Many people were seen being swept out to sea when the ocean retreated.

• A tsunami surge may be small at one point of the shore and large at another point a short distance away. Do not assume that because there is minimal sign of a tsunami in one place it will be like that everywhere else.

• Tsunamis can travel up rivers and streams that lead to the ocean. Stay away from rivers and streams that lead to the ocean as you would stay away from the beach and ocean if there is a tsunami.

• It’s always a good idea to keep a store of emergency supplies that include sufficient medications, water, and other essentials sufficient for at least 72 hours. Tsunami, earthquake, hurricane—an emergency can develop with little or no warning.

Advice for Sailors

• NOAA advises that since tsunami wave activity is imperceptible in the open ocean, vessels should not return to port if they are at sea and a tsunami warning has been issued for the area. Tsunamis can cause rapid changes in water level and unpredictable, dangerous currents in harbors and ports. Boat owners may want to take their vessels out to sea if there is time and if the sailors are allowed to do so by port authorities. People should not stay on their boats moored in harbors. Tsunamis often destroy boats and leave them wrecked above the normal waterline.

• Heightened awareness of the potential for a tsunami to inundate the U.S. western coastline has caused NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration to initiate a program to predict tsunamis more accurately. As a tsunami traverses the ocean, a network of sensitive recorders on the sea floor measures pressure changes in the overhead water, sending the information to sensors on buoys, which in turn relay the data to satellites for immediate transmission to warning centers.

• The Tsunami Warning System (TWS) in the Pacific, composed of 26 member countries, monitors seismological and tidal stations throughout the Pacific region. The system evaluates potentially tsunami-causing earthquakes and issues tsunami warnings. An international warning system for tsunamis in the Indian Ocean was launched in June 2006.

• Use your common sense. If you feel or hear of a strong earthquake do not wait for an official tsunami warning. Tell your family and friends to join you in leaving for high ground.

10/5/2008

Tok Pisin = English

Filed under: global islands,language,png,solomon islands — admin @ 2:55 pm

haus / long haus = home
haus = building / house / hut
haus bilong king = palace
haus bilong pisin = nest
haus bilong tumbuna pasin = museum
haus bilong wasim klos = laundry
haus kuk / hauskuk / kisen = kitchen
haus lain = long house (Highlands)
haus lotu = temple / church
haus lotu bilong ol mahomet = mosque
haus luluai bilong longwe ples = embassy
haus moni = bank
haus marasin = pharmacy
haus marit = married quarters
haus pamuk = brothel
haus pater = monastery

9/30/2008

NZ official: Melanesian states still suffering

Corruption, disease and poverty threaten the futures of Melanesian countries that are home to 85 percent of Pacific Islands people, a top New Zealand official said Tuesday.

The populations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are rising at a pace that is outstripping economic growth, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban said at the opening of a symposium on Melanesia in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

The countries also suffer from youth unemployment, law-and-order “problems,” and adverse effects of global warming, Laban said. All these conditions together represent a “toxic mix” undermining growth and stability in these countries, she said.

“In combination, these factors pose clear and present danger to the ability of states in the region to provide for their people and ensure national viability,” Laban said at the event, sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

HIV, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are a brake on the region’s potential, while education trends are also troubling, she said.

Four years of communal fighting in the Solomon Islands have left education services “in tatters,” with only 70 percent of children able to access limited education, Laban said.

“To be blunt, corruption seems endemic and undermines governance at almost every turn,” she said.

Melanesian countries play a major role in the Pacific tuna fishery, currently worth around US$3 billion a year. But overfishing of a number of tuna species means reductions in catches are urgently required to preserve the industry’s sustainability, she said.

Laban praised Melanesian countries New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands for maintaining a unified front in pressuring Fiji’s military government to honor its pledge to hold elections by March 2009.

Melanesian leaders last month joined other Pacific Islands’ Forum states in expressing disappointment at Fiji’s delays in restoring a democratic government.

NZ official: Melanesian states still suffering

Corruption, disease and poverty threaten the futures of Melanesian countries that are home to 85 percent of Pacific Islands people, a top New Zealand official said Tuesday.

The populations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are rising at a pace that is outstripping economic growth, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban said at the opening of a symposium on Melanesia in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

The countries also suffer from youth unemployment, law-and-order “problems,” and adverse effects of global warming, Laban said. All these conditions together represent a “toxic mix” undermining growth and stability in these countries, she said.

“In combination, these factors pose clear and present danger to the ability of states in the region to provide for their people and ensure national viability,” Laban said at the event, sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

HIV, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are a brake on the region’s potential, while education trends are also troubling, she said.

Four years of communal fighting in the Solomon Islands have left education services “in tatters,” with only 70 percent of children able to access limited education, Laban said.

“To be blunt, corruption seems endemic and undermines governance at almost every turn,” she said.

Melanesian countries play a major role in the Pacific tuna fishery, currently worth around US$3 billion a year. But overfishing of a number of tuna species means reductions in catches are urgently required to preserve the industry’s sustainability, she said.

Laban praised Melanesian countries New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands for maintaining a unified front in pressuring Fiji’s military government to honor its pledge to hold elections by March 2009.

Melanesian leaders last month joined other Pacific Islands’ Forum states in expressing disappointment at Fiji’s delays in restoring a democratic government.

9/29/2008

Small Island States and Global Challenges

Filed under: cuba,global islands,png,resource,solomon islands,tuvalu,vanuatu — admin @ 4:32 pm

In the era of neoliberal globalization, the large centers of World power, headed by the United States and Europe, often forget the needs and problems of the small island states, whose physical existence is threatened by phenomenons for which they are not responsible.

These small and vulnerable islands, from the Caribbean or South Pacific for example, are seriously threatened by global challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, and problems of development, scarce energy resources or food crises.

It is no secret that these groups of States suffer from geographic isolation, communications and transportation problems.

Even between themselves they are separated by thousands of kilometers, making contacts difficult.

But without a doubt, the main challenge for these small territories are climate changes, as they are more susceptible to suffering the consequences derived from global warming, among them the alarming rise of sea level.

Archipelagos like Kiribati and Tuvalu run the risk of disappearing in the near future if the pace of the rise of sea level continues.

Cuba is also not exempt from these dangers, like the recent devastation inflicted by two hurricanes.

This is why it is necessary for an exchange of information and cooperation among the group of small nations to help each other in facing the challenges of nature and the environment.

On the other hand, Cuba, lacking financial resources and economically blockaded by the US government, has international recognition for its vocation to internationalism and solidarity not to contribute leftovers, but shares what it has, mainly its well prepared human capital encouraged throughout the last 50 years.

An example of these fraternal ties is the creation of a School of Medicine in the western province of Pinar del Rio for the training of 400 students from the South Pacific, of which 64 have already enrolled (25 from the Solomon Islands, 20 from Kiribati, 2 from Nauru and 17 from Vanuatu).

Also, Cuban medical brigades are offering their services in Kiribati, the Solomon and Vanuatu Islands, through the General Health Program, while details are being ironed out for the implementation of health cooperation with Tuvalu, Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

An exemplary cooperation, which is a clear revelation, without conditions and on an equal basis.

9/20/2008

Crocodiles enjoy gun-free Solomon Islands

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands,wildlife — admin @ 4:06 am

Attempts to turn Solomon Islands into a gun-free society has had an unintended deadly side effect.

It’s lead in part, to an increase in the number of fatal crocodile attacks.

Guns were banned on Solomon Islands following racial tensions and the arrival in 2003 of the Australian lead Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI.

Solomon Islands Acting Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, said at least six people have been killed by crocodiles in the past 18 months.

“We have various reports from around the provinces in Solomon Islands… of crocodiles entering into locations where fishermen are present or where children are bathing or where families are bathing and the reports that we are getting is that the number of crocodiles is increasing,” he said.

9/17/2008

Artificial Islands of Malaita

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands — admin @ 4:47 am

If you think that artificial islands could only be found in Dubai, then you are wrong.

Apparently, you could also find artificial islands in the Solomon Islands that existed many generations before.

Malaita Province is known to be the most populous island in the Solomon Islands. Because of this, Malaita also caters for a large number of artificial islands especially found on the LangaLanga and Lau lagoon.

According to some people, artificial islands were built by outcasts of inland villages or some were said to have been built because of the growing population

It was said that villagers usually collect or dive for boulders or stones to throw on top of the raised reefs, depending on how high and wide they want the island to be. The activity is usually supervised by the elders of the village.

According to some people from Malaita, these artificial islands were skills from their ancestors which had been passed down through generations.

Over time, more artificial islands were built and even expanded to cater for the growing population. Surprisingly, trees also grow on these islands.

“We have direct fresh air when we are on the island and it is also easier to catch sea food and although we have to travel to the mainland for water, living on the artificial island is what we are used to and prefer,” said Mr. Matthew Kaonia from Malaita province.

It has been estimated that almost 12,000 Malaita people in the Langalanga and Lau Lagoon live on the artificial islands.

And over time, the artificial islands have become an icon for the Solomon Islands just like that of the Bamboo Bands, Kennedy Island in Western Province, the Marovo Lagoon and Lake Tengano in the Rennell Bellona Province.

•••

Some Lau historians remember the beginning this way:

The ancestors, who were descended from worms, lived on a mountain above the jungled folds of Malaita. One day, a hero named Golo’au ventured forth from the mountain to discover the promised land, which was not land at all but a vast, reef-protected lagoon fringing the island’s northwest coast. Golo’au and his kin built rafts from bamboo and they paddled out onto that calm water. They pulled hunks of coral rock from the shallow bottom and piled them upon each other until they had created islands on which they could build thatch houses. The Lau raised their children on the water, safe from the headhunters and mosquitoes that populated the bush. Fish filled their nets. Life was good. When the ancestors died, their spirits did not leave the lagoon. Instead, they inhabited the bodies of sharks and birds and, together with other spirit creatures, they were able to protect their descendants with their magic.

For centuries the Lau people honoured the spirits by following their edicts and killing pigs for them. The priests of the Rere clan offered regular blood sacrifices to the speckled octopus that inhabited the reef near the island of Foueda, ensuring the octopus would protect them from the dangers of the sea. “The octopus took care of people,” the man with the scarified cheeks told me. “If they were lost at sea, he would bring them home. If they were drowning, he would save them.” Sometimes the octopus would crawl right up out of the sea into a priest’s canoe to let him know it was time for a sacrifice. It would crawl onto land, too. If you left a basket of food outside your door, the octopus would plunk himself down on top of it and engulf it. He preferred pork to fruit.

The Rere priests had kept the octopus’s name a secret so that lay people, fools, and enemies could not abuse its power.

You could call this story a myth, which is to say that historical accuracy is irrelevant to its truths. The archipelago that surrounds the Lau Lagoon has gained a reputation as a veritable Disneyland for anthropologists interested in this kind of narrative. The big guns of early twentieth century anthropology—Bronisaw Malinowski, W. H. Rivers, Maurice Leenhardt, and others—were convinced by their time in Melanesia that the real function of mythic stories was not to entertain but to serve as vehicles for moral and existential truths. They carried rules for living, values, messages from the ancestors. They told islanders about the most essential parts of themselves. They were metaphors, yes, but they were always sustained by lived experience. And as far as the islanders were concerned, whenever they obeyed the rules set out by their ancestors, they prospered.

But in an era of global cultural convergence, myths can shift as fluidly as the tides that push in and out of the Lau Lagoon. Waves of Christian evangelists have now convinced most Pacific islanders, including the Lau, to trade their guiding myths for those of the Bible.

The Lau had a complex and dangerous relationship with the spirit world. Life was governed by strict taboos handed down by the ancestors. Women were associated with the earth and fertility; life-giving power flowed from their vaginas. Men were associated with the sky, and they were careful not to violate the cosmic order by coming into contact with menstrual blood or by placing themselves below a woman’s pelvis. The people built walls in their villages to protect the most sacred aspects of life. Women retreated to their sanctuaries to menstruate and give birth. Male priests made their sacrifices at rock shrines and skull pits in their own enclosures.

9/16/2008

Tok Pisin = English

tok baksait = gossip about
tok bilas = ridicule
tok bilong bipo yet = fable / myth
tok bilong ol tumbuna = tradition of ancestors
tok bokis = secret language / parable
tok grisim = flatter
tok gude = greet
tok gumi = tall tale
tok hait = secret
tok insait = conscience
tok pait = controversy
tok ples = local language
tok tru = speak the truth / truth
toktok = talk / conversation
tokautim sin / confess
tokim = tell
toksave = advertisement / information / explain
tok save long = explain
toktok long = talk about
toktok wantaim = converse with
tokwin = rumour

8/29/2008

Cyclone Zoe

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands,weather — admin @ 6:00 am

The first contact has been made with people living on a remote island battered by a South Pacific cyclone which struck the Solomons group last weekend.

A New Zealand cameraman who arrived on Tikopia island by helicopter on Friday said all the island’s inhabitants appear to have survived.

“The whole way there I thought I would see hundreds of dead and festering bodies, but instead we were just overwhelmed with people running toward the plane,” cameraman Geoff Mackley told The Australian newspaper.

Mr Mackley’s report is yet to be independently confirmed, but a boat carrying relief supplies is expected to arrive at Tikopia at first light on Sunday.

There had been fears that many of the island’s population – estimated at between 1,000 and 2,000 – had perished when Cyclone Zoe hit the South Pacific last Sunday.

No information has been received from Anuta since the cyclone knocked out its radio communications.

Cyclone Zoe was one of the most powerful ever to hit the region, producing winds of up to 360 kph (225 mph).

Mr Mackley was the first to raise fears of disaster when he flew over Tikopia on 1 January, saying it would be a “miracle” if a huge number of deaths had been avoided.

But when he landed on the remote island on Friday, he said he was greeted by people rushing towards him with tales of survival.

“Every single person was alive and there they were, standing in front of me,” he said.

The islanders had apparently sheltered in mountain caves, following a centuries-old practice used by their ancestors during cyclones.

But while the death toll appears to be less than feared, the devastation caused by the cyclone is immense, Mr Mackley said.

“It looks like Hiroshima,” he told The Australian. “Whole villages have been inundated by the sea.”

The villagers told Mr Mackley how their homes and crops had been completely destroyed by waves of up to 10 metres high, and said they would need food aid for another three years.

Supplies of fresh water have also been contaminated by salt water and are only available at low tide, Mr Mackley said.

The true extent of the damage will be assessed when the first rescue boat finally reaches Tikopia and Anuta later on Saturday.

Australia and New Zealand, the two wealthiest nations in the region, have been criticised for delays in assessing the damage.

Both governments have said the sheer isolation of the two islands has hampered rescue efforts.

“How can you decide to parachute supplies in if you don’t have an assessment of what’s required,” an Australian government official said on Friday.

The two islands are part of the impoverished Solomon Islands, an archipelago 2,250 km (1,400 miles) northeast of Sydney, Australia.

Anuta

Filed under: global islands,solomon islands — admin @ 4:21 am

The island of Anuta is one of almost a thousand islands that make up the Melanesian nation of the Solomon Islands. Together, this group of islands cover a land mass of 28,400 square kilometres. Anuta island has been known as ‘te fatu sekeseke’, the slippery stone, due to it being such a small spot in the ocean – just half a mile in diameter and 70 miles from the next populated island, so hard to find and so easily ‘slid’ away from. Political and geographical circumstances have isolated Anuta and its Polynesian population throughout history.

The first documented sighting of Anuta was in 1791. Over the centuries, Anuta has been visited by occasional ships. Currently, a cargo ship sets sail from Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands, on a round trip of the outlying islands. This is the only guaranteed contact the island has with the outside world. The cargo ship is infrequent and cannot be depended on as its course and timings are severely affected by the weather patterns that blow across the South Pacific Ocean.

It was a cargo ship that first brought Christianity to Anuta in 1916. Anglican missionaries arrived on the island, and to this day the church still operates and plays a vital part in Anutan life with church services twice a day. The church is believed to be responsible for protecting the island and its population from harm (such as epidemics, droughts and other natural disasters). Despite the strong Christian beliefs on Anuta, life is still shaped by tradition. Although the Christian God has replaced the ancient chiefs’ roles in many ways, chiefs and their close relatives maintain a sense of responsibility for the island’s spiritual welfare.

The chiefs are highly regarded on the island. Taboos exist surrounding behaviour in their presence: the Anutans think of the head as sacred and the feet profane, and therefore, physical height in rituals is important. When inside the chief’s hut, people must crawl; standing up and being higher than the chief is very badly thought of. Anutans often greet each other with a traditional Polynesian nose kiss or pikita.

When greeting the chief it is normal to press one’s nose against the chief’s knee. The chief then lifts his hand under the person’s chin and lifts their face so that both parties are pressing noses. Although Christianity has taken the place of many of Anuta’s traditional beliefs, certain practices such as this are still strictly followed.

The resident population on Anuta is just under two hundred and fifty. Although Anuta is very isolated there is a steady flow of people and objects to and from the island. On Anuta young men in particular tend to come and go by cargo ships or visiting vessels. It is not uncommon for people who visit the island to become adopted into a family and end up staying.

On Anuta, everyone is recognised as being related to everyone else. Family members are related to other family members not only by genetics but also because of certain types of social behaviour. The realities of social life in a population as small as Anuta mean that it is impossible to stick to a simple model of family relationships. A relative who is classified on the basis of social rather than genetic ties is just as much a member of his or her family group. This is important on Anuta when a visitor to the island needs to be adopted into a family and made to feel that they belong.

Concern for others is the backbone of Anutan philosophy. ‘Aropa’ is a concept for giving and sharing, roughly translated as compassion, love and affection. Aropa informs the way Anutans treat one another and it is demonstrated through the giving and sharing of material goods such as food. For example, the land on Anuta is shared among the family units so that each family can cultivate enough food to feed themselves and those around them.

The gardens on Anuta are vital sources of food for the islanders. Every family unit is responsible for the production and maintenance of their own hill top gardens. The volcanic soils grow the main staples in the Anutan diet: manioc, taro and bananas. Taro, Anuta’s most highly valued crop, is fragile and needs care and attention to ensure its growth. Manioc, on the other hand is a lot hardier, providing the Anutans with a back-up in times of storm or drought. Crop rotation is practiced on Anuta; they rarely leave fields fallow, but rotate crops so that the soil is not exhausted. This way of farming is one of the most intensive in the whole of the Pacific, as it has to support the dense population of the island.

The threat of natural disasters leaving the island with little or no food is a reality for the Anutans. They regularly bury cooked manioc or taro in what is termed a maa pit. The food, wrapped in banana leaves, is allowed to ferment in a dark and air tight environment. There are maa pits dotted around the entire island and families will share whatever they have. In 2003, Anuta was badly hit by Cyclone Zoe and much of the island’s crops were destroyed. Maa food was essential in keeping the population fed after the cyclone devastated so much of the island’s resources.

It is not just the hill top gardens that provide the Anutans with food. The sandy soils of the beach areas provide prime growing for coconut palms. The coconut has many uses on Anuta. People drink the juice and eat the flesh. It is also common to shred coconut flesh and extract the cream from it, to be used in cooking. Coconut shells are used as bowls and cups and the dried coconut husks are used for wiping dirty hands and starting fires. Coconut leaves are also used to thatch roofs and cover canoes, and they can be woven to make mats, fans and baskets.

Fruit trees such as banana and papaya are scattered all over the island and add variety to the Anutan diet, as does sugar cane which is popular with the children. The slopes of the hills are also home to breadfruit trees, a variety of palms as well as turmeric, which the Anutans use to make their ritually important dye (turmeric is also used as a spice in flavouring certain types of foods).

The land provides Anuta with a great deal of its food, but the island’s most productive source of protein is the sea. The islanders catch a variety of small reef fish close to the beach, either by communal fish drives where everyone works together to trap fish in pools in the reef system, or by snorkelling or net fishing at low tide. Tuna, wahoo, bonito, sail fish, marlin and other bigger fish are caught in deeper seas, normally on sea-going canoe trips.

Anutan fishermen know the reef system well and have a great understanding of the waves. Today, the Anutans are among some of the last Polynesians to make sea journeys in their traditional canoes using navigation techniques that have been in practice for centuries.

When travelling at night Anutans use the stars to navigate. The bow of the canoe is pointed towards a succession of stars, each star is followed when it is low in the sky and as it rises up overhead it is discarded and the course is reset by the next one in the series. It is not only the stars that are used for navigation: the clouds, the directions of the waves and the ocean swells all provide the Anutan fishermen and voyagers with important messages.

Fishermen are the only Anutans who earn money. If they catch shark, they cut off the fins and dry them. The fins are then sold to passing cargo ships or in the capital city, Honiara, when the fishermen get the opportunity to leave the island.

It is common for men to leave Anuta in the pursuit of wage labour overseas. This time away, often throughout the Solomon Islands, can range from a few months to years. Wage workers occasionally send money or goods to relatives back on Anuta, and those returning to live on the island often bring back a supply of manufactured goods.

One of the major effects of overseas contact is a dispute between the generations over health care. Anutans who have lived off the island often get a taste of western medical care, but there are no modern medical facilities when illness strikes back on the island.

In the late 1990s the chiefs on Anuta and their advisors refused to accept western medicines on the island. They argued that such a move would indicate a lack of faith in the church. It is thought by many of the Anutan elders that medicines on the island will attract more disease.

The young people of Anuta do not share all of the chiefs’ opinions, but Anuta is one of the most isolated communities on earth so change happens slowly. At the moment the island is stable and balanced both socially and environmentally. The resources are sufficient to satisfy the population, and the attitude that the Anutans share for one another, aropa, promotes co-operation and sustainability.

If this balance of life is upset the future for the island will become less certain. Epidemics, natural disasters, climate change and the encroachment of the modern world are all potential threats.

Due to its remote geographical location, Anuta’s environment, traditions and culture have been well preserved. The Anutans value their traditional practices such as travelling in their hand-carved outriggers. The island provides an abundance of crops, fish, and a high quality water source from a natural spring; Anuta has successfully supported the dense population for centuries and will hopefully continue to do so.

8/24/2008

Economic, social crises loom over Islands

Filed under: fiji,General,global islands,png,solomon islands,vanuatu — admin @ 5:36 am

South Pacific island nations have armies of unemployed and underemployed people who will turn to violence if its economic, social and political problems are not dealt with, a report by a Sydney-based think-tank said.

“It is only a matter of time before the growing army of unemployed and underemployed turns from restless to violent,” said a new report on the South Pacific released on Thursday, adding that the region’s poor economic development lags similar island nations like those in the Caribbean.

The report by the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney said two million Pacific island men, or four out of five, were unemployed in towns or villages.

“These islanders are bored and frustrated. Unemployment and underemployment are at the core of the Pacific’s ‘arc of instability,’ ” it said.

The South Pacific has some of the world’s smallest and poorest countries, with economies reliant upon tourism, logging, royalties from fishing and foreign aid. The island nations of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji have all suffered coups, military rebellions and civil unrest, and have been labelled an “arc of instability” by Pacific analysts.

The report titled The Bipolar Pacific”said the South Pacific was divided into nations which are developing and those failing to even supply running water and electricity in homes. Those floundering islands included Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, while those developing were the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa and Tonga.

“Without employment-led growth, crime and corruption will worsen. Port Moresby (the capital of Papua New Guinea) has become one of the most violent cities in the world,” it said.

“With major criminal interests now operating in the region, the Pacific is developing its comparative advantage as a location for international criminal activities such as people-smuggling, drug production, and arms trafficking,” the report noted.

The danger was that about 80 per cent of the South Pacific’s population was found in the failing group of islands, where employment was rare and living standards were not rising, it said.

8/21/2008

Live WWII Bombs

Filed under: General,global islands,military,solomon islands — admin @ 3:07 pm

More than fifty years after World War II, the Solomon Islands Police Bomb Disposal Unit are still destroying live bombs.

Senior Sergeant Emmanuel Maepurina of the OIC Bomb Disposal Unit stated that since January, 732 live bombs were disposed at the Tenaru area where some of the bombs were also collected. It is estimated that thousands more are around, posing danger to unsuspecting citizens.

According to Mr. Maepurina, all Provinces except Makira Province, Temotu Province and Rennell and Bellona were visited to confiscate bombs. Makira, Temotu and Rennell and Bellona were believed to have never been visited during the war.

Three tours have been conducted to the Weather Coast in Guadalcanal, Central Province and the Western Province. Guadalcanal and Western Provinces were the main Provinces where both American and the Japanese had fought in. This is quite evident from the ship wrecks, plane wrecks, water tanks and the air fields built during World War II.

Senior Sergeant Emmanuel Maepurina advised the public to alert the police whenever a bomb is sighted. Either alive or dead, Mr. Maepurina advised that bombs are not to be touched or moved, as from experience, Solomon Islanders tend to move the objects not realizing it could be dangerous.

Mr Maepurina also stated that home made bombs are illegal, therefore anyone caught doing so will be dealt with accordingly.

“For example, early this year, a person from the Kakabona area was using a home made grenade made from World War II relics to catch fish, exploded before he could use it and was rushed to the hospital where he died the next day.” Says Mr. Maepurina.

He also confirmed that home made bomb victims are high.

8/20/2008

Will the village disappear?

Filed under: General,global islands,solomon islands — admin @ 5:53 pm

VILLAGE life lies at the heart of Solomon Islands. So its future fate has profound implications to the continued existence of the nation.

For the village is not simply a people’s residential site but it is shorthand for a completely different way of living than found in more developed parts of the world; a symbol of and a code word for the reality in which the overwhelming majority of our people choose to live.

The Solomons is most profoundly a nation of villages! 84%+ of our people live, work and exist in these settlements which are much more than dormitory sites. Children are born in, grow up and dwell in a particular village because it’s very location attests to the presence of life’s essential resource base.

It is the place of food production, house materials, water for drinking, cooking and washing, medicine, fuel supply, real estate, recreation, etc. etc. These are the material side of life.

But culture, politics, economics, life education, security, world view, etc. are an essential part of the reality of the village as well. All the stuff a person needs for basic living is found in the village.

Many in modern society, however, can and do move around to different parts of their country, choosing to live closer to work commitment or to enjoy better weather conditions or whatever.

For the Melanesian, leaving the ancestral land base, at least mentally, is often seen as but a temporary departure, with a strong intention, although not always followed through, of returning one day to one’s roots. Hence, in the Melanesian mind the village is not a temporary stop along life’s road but a permanent life structure.

However, the outsider, those born and raised in different societies, especially those living the cash economy, assume that Solomon Islands is evolving, slowly of course, towards a miniature version of the capitalist West. Hence to prepare for this kind of future requires an economic system, legal framework and political life reflective of those in advanced Western democracies.

The question, however, must be; is this an accurate assumption? Are the Solomons inevitably headed in that direction or is the nation trying to carve out for itself a different kind of nation. If in truth it is traveling towards a predominate cash economy, how long will this journey take?

The 1976 national census found that the Solomons urban population–Honiara, Gizo, Auki, Kira Kira, etc. etc.–worked out to be 12% of the population.

More over, it was widely accepted by many that by the turn of the century, almost 30% of Solomons’ population would have already flooded into the nation’s urban and peri-urban areas. Yet, the 1999 national census found something different. It established that only 16% of our people had taken up urban residence.

In a real sense Solomon Islanders were bucking a global trend whereby the bulk of rural people in other countries were drifting towards bigger and bigger urban centres. Some of the largest cities–Shanghai, Delhi, Jakarta, etc.–had more than 10,000,000 people and were growing by leaps and bounds yearly.

Over a 23 year period, then, Solomons urban growth had been a modest 4% rise much less than what had been predicted. The bulk of our people, contrary to expert predictions, had remained in the country side.

The present government as well as the previous Sogovare one both recognized this basic truth and built up national development plans emphasizing Rural Advancement and the Bottom Up Approach.

Each December, for instance, the nation witnesses a mass exodus of city people out of Honiara back to the village. The city noticeably thins out when its citizens head for different provinces but knowing full well that their home villages have little piped water, proper toilet facilities and a diet, for the most part, bland.

What is it then that continues to attract so many of them back to village life even if only for a few short weeks?

Some say that returning to village life, even for a short period, is a way or recharging internal batteries for the rest of the year of town living. I go a step further! Returning to village life is a re-confirmation of the Melanesian world view: they do not own the land but the land owns them!

Will the village disappear? No, far from it! Solomon Islands’ village life will not only not disappear but will grow stronger during the 21st century. In proof let the Social Unrest years speak out!

This 1998-2003 period witnessed a state seriously failing in its obligations to its citizens. It was the village alone that kept the nation together, not the government.

What lessons should RAMSI be learning from the idea that the village and all it stands for will strengthen? A strong case can be made that the Social Unrest years are fundamentally a cry for a different kind of Solomon Islands and not one which is a pale imitation of metropolitan nations.

A nation that understands and incorporates the villagers’ world view rather than one that imposes a new world vision.

8/1/2008

Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI)

Filed under: global islands,police,solomon islands — admin @ 5:13 am

A leading American political philosopher and economist is warning that the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) which includes nearly 100 New Zealand soldiers and police cannot end any time in the foreseeable future because of social conditions there.

The alert came in a paper by Professor Francis Fukuyama of John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

In a World Bank study, Professor Fukuyama says an exit strategy is not possible because RAMSI had made short term progress.

“The militias responsible for the violence earlier in the decade have been disarmed and disbanded, and the formal criminal justice system has been functioning to identify and punish those responsible for serious crimes,” he wrote.

“On the other hand, the social conditions that led to the violence persist in ways that make it impossible to consider ending RAMSI’s presence any time in the foreseeable future.”

A very large Malaitan population remained on Guadalcanal and there was a significant population of jobless and disaffected young people in the settlements around the capital Honiara.

Professor Fukuyama said the most troubling indicator of potential future problems was the Solomon’s police which, in the short term was RAMSI’s chief success.

The militias had grown out of the Solomon’s Police as they were more loyal to their ethnic group or wantok (extended family) than to the Solomons as a whole.

“It is not clear that any progress has been made in changing this mindset,” he wrote, adding there were still many officers in the police who were involved in the conflict and have not yet been purged.

Professor Fukuyama said one of the striking gaps was “the absence of any sense of national identity” in the Solomons.

“In the absence of a long-term nation-building project owned and promoted by the country’s political leadership, I am at a loss to understand how the country will ever overcome the divisions that led to the 1999-2003 violence.

“Ethnic and wantok loyalties will never disappear, but they can be held in check by a national elite that is loyal to a larger concept of nation. At the moment, I don’t see any dynamic that would lead the country in this direction.”

Few people were willing to admit to actively thinking about an exit strategy or are able to contemplate even a rough date for termination of the mission and handing back the currently shared state functions.

“RAMSI is thus operating under rather fictional premises, namely that at some point the country’s capacity will improve across the board to the point that RAMSI can be withdrawn.”

Professor Fukuyama argues that the region needed to give up the idea that RAMSI was a crisis response and should move to sharing sovereignty over the state and keeping the current monopoly it has on lethal use of force.

While RAMSI had dealt with the immediate issues, “there is no dynamic process that that will permit RAMSI to wind down at least a residual security role any time in the foreseeable future”

Fuel price increase squeezes transport sector

Filed under: General,global islands,png,resource,solomon islands,vanuatu — admin @ 4:45 am

Throughout the country goods and services cost more, thanks to the increase in the global fuel price, which is being passed on to businesses and consumers, according to the Bank of Papua New Guinea. In 2007, the fuel price per litre was around K2 (US$0.72) compared with K5 ($1.82) now.

Many remote communities in Papua New Guinea are not accessible by road so air service is vital to their local economies. However, some small airlines, including Madang-based Airlink, have cut back or ceased operations because of higher fuel costs. National flag carrier Air Niugini continues to increase fuel surcharges because of the high cost of aviation fuel.

In Bougainville, an autonomous island which is still an integral part of Papua New Guinea, taxis charge K100 ($36.45) for a three-hour ride to and from mainland Bougainville to Buka Island and another K2 ($0.72) just to make a three-minute crossing by boat to and from Buka Island. The whole trip used to cost only K20 ($7.00), a price that was quite affordable for a worker who earns an average of K300 ($100) a fortnight. The price increases really hurt, workers say.

One vehicle owner, Francis Baru, said, “We sympathise with passengers travelling in our vehicles but at the same time we also need to make enough money to repay our loans and look after our families.

“If fuel prices continue to rise,” he said, “we will be forced to pass on these additional costs to our passengers, but we hope they will fall … that will be really good for all of us,” Baru said.

In Manus, an island province north of Port Moresby, the capital, fares are even higher as people are dependent on boats, which are particularly costly to run.

Linus Pokanau, a fisherman and boat owner from Manus Island, said the price of zoom (petrol mixed with oil) was the most expensive and many boats now were anchored as fishermen could not afford the fuel.

Thomas Abe, chief executive officer for a consumer watchdog group, Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC), expects fuel prices to continue rising due to global demand. The ICCC regulates the pricing formulae of petroleum products in the country.

Even though Papua New Guinea is a crude-oil producing country, once the oil is refined by InterOil, a Canadian petroleum company, consumers pay a rate closely pegged to the world rate.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mining, Puka Temu, in June announced that the government would start subsidising fuel prices on 1 September 2008, by reducing the excise duties on fuel products, which would cut the prices of petroleum products significantly.

“Eliminating the excise tax on zoom will be of particular assistance to those that use small boats for transportation and for fishing in rural areas,” he said.

“Reducing the excise on diesel will also help PMV [taxi] drivers, transport companies and those who run power generators, while reducing excise on petrol will help all those drivers who dread having to fill up at the petrol station. This government says it is working with key stakeholders to see if there are other ways that the price of fuel at the pump can be minimized,” Temu said.

6/19/2008

Coin Shortage, Tooth Surplus for Solomon Islands

Filed under: General,global islands,solomon islands,wealth — admin @ 10:16 am

Yes, yet another nation is reporting a coinage shortage, this time it being the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean region. The difference between this shortage and shortages in other such places as India and China is that primitive money items traditionally used in barter may become a handy backup in the Solomons.

The Central Bank of Solomon Islands has called on citizens of the island nation to cash in their coins. Both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio New Zealand International reported May 1 that Solomon Island businesses and local merchants were simply running out of coins to use in commerce.

Part of the problem, according to the ABC, is that “The low value of coins in Solomon Islands’ currency has led many there to either hoard them, or to give them as gifts to children.” RNZ added, “However, the number of people doing this is starting to affect businesses.”

Denton Rarawa is the acting governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands. He was recently quoted by both sources as saying, “When coins don’t come back into the system we have to continuously mint new coins,” adding, “The bank has now begun a public appeal asking Solomon Islanders to cash in their coins for [bank] notes.”

So, what do you do if you live or work in this South Pacific archipelago and run out of coins to use in commerce? According to an April 30 Wall Street Journal article by Yaroslav Trofimov, you do business the old fashion way. You use dolphin teeth.

Have any doubts about if dolphin teeth, wild dog teeth, tapa cloth, feathers of specific exotic and likely endangered species of birds, or any of a number of other things that were at one time used as what in numismatics is usually dubbed “odd and curious money?” Ask the International Primitive Money Society. To put in a shameless plug for the IPMS, the organization can be contacted at 2471 SW 37 St., Ocala, Fla. 34474 or through Charles Opitz at opitzc@aol.com. The IPMS meets at the annual American Numismatic Association convention. It will hold its next meeting in Baltimore Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. in Room 318. The IPMS publishes a newsletter twice a year containing original articles on primitive money and offers free ads to members.

Getting back to Trofimov’s Wall Street Journal article, the author states: “Over the past year one spinner tooth has soared in price to about two Solomon Islands dollars (26 U.S. cents), from as little as 50 Solomon Islands cents. The official currency, pegged to a global currency basket dominated by the U.S. dollar, has remained relatively stable in the period.”

Apparently dolphin teeth must be all the rage in the islands. Central Bank of the Solomon Islands Governor Rick Houenipwela is described in the article as an investor in dolphin teeth, purchasing what is described as a “huge amount” a few years ago.

Houenipwela is quoted in the article as saying, “Dolphin teeth are like gold. You keep them as a store of wealth – just as if you’d put money in a bank.” It doesn’t sound as if Houenipwela’s commodity position will encourage people to want to put Solomon Island coins back into circulation.

Houenipwela has had his chance to literally put his dolphin teeth into the bank. Some time ago he was approached by local Solomon Island businessmen who wanted to establish a bank in which dolphin teeth could be deposited. Houenipwela declined the request not because he didn’t think it was a good idea, but because only conventional currency can be deposited in banks under Solomon Islands law.

According to the Trofimov article, “Hundreds of animals are killed at a time in regular hunts, usually off the large island of Malaita. Dolphin flesh provides protein for the villagers. The teeth are used like cash to buy local produce. Fifty teeth will purchase a pig; a handful are enough for some yams and cassava.”

According to Trofimov, the ancient native tradition of purchasing the bride with dolphin teeth is alive and well, also encouraging the use of odd and primitive money over that of metal coins. The Wall Street Journal article identifies one individual as needing 5,000 teeth for an upcoming double wedding of his two sons. This individual ordered the teeth through someone at a hunting village in Malaita.

The natives aren’t particularly humane about how they harvest the dolphin teeth, according to Trofimov. The natives still use the traditional method of nearly suffocating the dolphin, then cutting off its head with a machete.

One individual who sells dolphin teeth was quoted in the Wall Street Journal article as saying, “The white man’s money will end, but the dolphin teeth will always be there for us.” It would appear the Central Bank of Solomon Islands may have a challenging time getting people to put metal coins rather than dolphin teeth back into circulation.

6/13/2008

Malaria poses big challenge

Filed under: disease/health,General,global islands,png,solomon islands — admin @ 9:36 am

Malaria remains one of the major public health challenges in Papua New Guinea with more than one million reported cases a year.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Eigil Sorensen said this in a media release on Friday to mark World Malaria Day.

Dr Sorensen said outbreaks of malaria in the highlands region continued to have a high mortality rate and more efforts would be required if the country was to reverse the incidence by 2015.

According to a WHO research, 40 percent of the world population is affected by malaria. It affected more than 500 million and killed more than one million annually.
Dr Sorensen said the distribution of long-lasting insecticidal-treated nets and the introduction of malaria rapid diagnostic tests had contributed to the reduction of the disease in some parts of the country.

This was facilitated by increased funding from the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, and through the efforts of the PNG national malarial control programme, government staff and Rotary Against Malaria.

“Prompt diagnosis and treatment remain one of the key elements of malaria prevention but the availability and distribution of medical supplies are adversely affecting the programme in rural areas,” Dr Sorensen said.

He also commended the Department of Health for revising the guidelines for malaria treatment in March and for excellent consultation with national and international stakeholders in this connection.

The new national treatment guidelines would introduce the latest treatment for malaria as first-line treatment for malaria in the country. Studies had shown the insecticidal bed nets and the availability of effective drugs had led to a clear drop in malaria-related deaths among children in Africa.

Dr Sorensen said the challenge was to make bed nets obtainable for everyone at risk of malaria, especially children and pregnant women and make the new anti-malarial medicines in the revised treatment guidelines available in rural areas.

6/9/2008

Solomons looks to adventure tourism

Filed under: General,global islands,solomon islands — admin @ 7:55 am

Once lauded as the holy grail of scuba diving, the Solomon Islands is about to be reinvented as an adventure holiday and cultural tourism destination.

A tsunami devastated parts of the island chain’s western province last year, killing 55 people and the 2006 riots in the capital Honiara prompted travel warnings by Australia and other western nations.

But the setbacks have not deterred a new private airline, Sky Air World, from launching regular international services between Brisbane and Honiara.

Fishermen, boaties, kayakers, surfers and divers are among a new breed of travellers heading to the isles to unwind on island time.

“Shark point is probably my favourite dive site in the Solomons,” English-born dive guide Graham Sanson says.

“It has got to be one of the top 10 sites in the world.

“You always see reef sharks, rays, grey whalers, snapper and dolphins and then there’s a whole network of cave systems out there.”

While destination names like Shark Point may not be the most tourist friendly, there’s no disputing the Solomons as a classic palm tree, tropical island destination.

Visitors soon find friendly local people who maintain strong cultural traditions, an array of fascinating World War Two relics, delicious seafood and a choice of more than 990 islands to explore.

Within an hour of arriving on the island of Gizo, the gateway to the Western Province, I jump on a fishing boat and head out to surf the afternoon away in glassy conditions at a nearby point break called Paelongge.

A five-metre tsunami ripped over Paelongge reef just over a year ago, demolishing the overlooking coastal town and leaving only a church standing in its wake.

But memories of the devastating inundation have failed to deter a group of dedicated local kids who surf the break each day after school.

Freshly caught fish greets us as as we arrive on dry land and witness a relaxed trade in yellowfin tuna and whole bonito at the local markets.

I expect to be bombarded by hawkers selling their wares, but instead we are met by friendly vegie sellers and fishermen sporting orange betelenut-stained smiles.

Traversing the mountain spine of the island on the back of a four wheel drive the next day opens up a whole new perspective of Gizo.

Some villages are still being rebuilt with the assistance of aid agencies following the 2007 tsunami which forced many people to move from the coast to the dense jungle interior.

It’s a somewhat different experience to that which greets thousands of Australians who travel to Fiji, Vanuatu and more established Pacific island destinations each year.

But if you’re prepared to rough it a bit, there are great rewards.

Chief Executive of Sky Air World David Charlton has been in negotiations with Solomons officials to open up a new direct tourist route from Australia to the western province of the island chain.

But for now tourists need to fly to Honiara and connect with a small aircraft run by the national carrier Solomon Airlines.

“We are eager to fly to the western province once an upgrade of the Munda airstrip has been approved,” Charlton says.

“From there people can be ferried to Gizo and other nearby islands.”

Like much of the tropics, malaria is prevalent in the Solomons, so travellers should consult a GP before leaving.

It’s a great nation to visit if you want to meet locals untainted by western commercialism and for travellers who are eager to discover coral reefs and pristine islands dotted with traditional thatched homes on stilts.

There are hundreds of islands where the locals live simply, picking yams and fishing each day from their dugout canoes.

Other mangrove-covered areas have active crocodile populations which keep residents on their toes.

“Since the gun amnesty a few years ago, we’ve found people less inclined to fish around Munda at night without a weapon,” a local policeman tells us.

Now, it seems it’s wiser to stick to fishing during daylight hours.

It was with some unease however that we motored past fishermen in a high-powered longboat, examining the tourism potential for the island of Gizo, while many locals were still concentrating on rebuilding their tsunami-damaged homes and schools.

Boats are the primary form of transport, which makes World War Two history lessons as easy as taking to the water.

Little surprises greet you along the way, such as snorkelling on a sunken World War Two hellcat fighter plane and visiting Kennedy Island, where US President John F Kennedy swam ashore and helped his injured crew after his boat, the PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese Destroyer.

There are also limitless dive sites which offer access to a huge variety of tropical marine life.

And a mandatory visit to Skull Island leaves you with a fascinating, if somewhat stomach-churning, insight into the traditions of headhunting.

Hundreds of skulls of chiefs and honoured headhunters have been preserved within a stone memorial on the tiny island.

The permanent guardian, a weathered old man who still keeps an eye on the skulls collected since the early part of last century, has moved to a nearby island after the tsunami – but visits can be conducted with his approval.

“On headhunting raids the hunters would take the heads using axes and kidnap the women and the children,” Sanson says.

“The children were passed around the village and sacrificed if they did not cry.”

For now, travellers to the western province can fly Sky Air World in comfort to Honiara, but then have to take an older Solomons Airlines’ 19-seater plane from Honiara to the western province.

A range of tours and accommodation options are available throughout the year.

6/6/2008

Pacific population nears 9.5 million

Filed under: fiji,General,global islands,palau,png,solomon islands,tuvalu,vanuatu — admin @ 4:56 am

The population of the Pacific is set to reach nearly 9.5 million by the middle of this year.

New data from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community shows the region’s population is growing by 1.9 per cent a year, or 500 people a day.

The population estimates are compiled by the Secretariat from country statistics.

The report predicts the population of Melanesia will grow to more than eight-point-three million people, Polynesia to more than 655,000 and Micronesia more than 530,000 by mid-year.

The largest individual country population is that of Papua New Guinea, which has an estimated six-point-five million people, followed by Fiji with nearly 840,000.

The smallest is Pitcairn Island with just 66 people.

Predictably, the fastest-growing population is that of Guam, where thousands of American troops are being relocated from Japan.

Both Niue and the Northern Marianas are experiencing a decrease in residents, the latter because of the lack of jobs.

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