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Bougainville before the conflict

Bougainville before the conflict OPEN ACCESS

Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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    Bougainville before the conflict
    Book Description:

    One of the most beautiful island groups of the Pacific, Bougainville has a remarkable history. Tragically, it is as the site of devastating civil conflict that Bougainville is perhaps best known. In exploring the rich environmental, cultural and social heritage of Bougainville before the conflict, this collection provides an insight into the long-term causes of the crisis. In doing so, it surveys such topics as Bougainville’s prehistory and traditional cultures, the impact of German and Australian colonialism, the attempts by disparate local cultures to find a common identity, the assertion of political autonomy in the face of coercion to integrate with Papua New Guinea, and contemporary efforts to resolve conflict and plan a viable future. A landmark collaboration between expert commentators on Bougainville and Bougainvilleans themselves, this volume provides a comprehensive picture for those seeking to understand Bougainville’s history and future directions. Bougainville before the conflict was published in association with the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project, which is supported by The Australian National University and the Commonwealth of Australia.

    eISBN: 978-1-921934-24-7
    Subjects: History, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. INTRODUCTION (pp. xxv-xxxvi)
    Helga M. Griffin and Anthony J. Regan

    One of the most beautiful group of islands of the south-west Pacific, with a population estimated to be less than 200,000 in 2005, and a human occupation of almost 30,000 years, Bougainville has had a remarkable history. Apart from one significant known wave of migration about 3,000 years ago, Bougainville and the nearby islands to its south and east — where peoples of similar language, culture, and appearance live — remained in virtual isolation until European interventions in the 19th century.

    Bougainville attracted European interest because of its beauty, the aggressive fighting qualities of some of its coastal groups in...

    • Matthew Spriggs

      A whole new vista on Bougainville’s past was opened up in 1988 by the publication of Stephen Wickler’s dates for his excavations at Kilu Cave near Malasang Village on Buka. A series of radiocarbon dates, back to nearly 29,000 years ago, extended the known history of the main Solomons chain by almost 10 times [Wickler and Spriggs 1988]. Previously, the earliest dated sites for the Solomon archipelago were about 3,000 years old, relating to colonisation by agricultural, Austronesian-speaking populations who made and used a very distinctively decorated pottery called Lapita. Assemblages of Lapita pottery include red-slipped pots of various shapes...

    • Hugh L. Davies

      Bougainville and Buka islands and the other islands of the Solomons chain rise from a north-west-trending submarine ridge that is bounded on both sides by deep sea trenches [Map 1]. The islands are constructed almost entirely of volcanic rocks with a mixing of the other kinds of sediments that one would expect to develop around a volcanic island, such as reef limestones.

      Construction of the islands began 45 million years ago when volcanic rocks were first erupted on the seafloor along the line of the present Solomon Islands ridge. In time the initial cycle of volcanic activity died off and...

    • Darell Tryon

      The Bougainville Province of Papua New Guinea consists of the following islands to the east of the Papua New Guinea mainland: Bougainville, Buka and adjacent islands, and the offshore island groups including the Nissan (Green Island), Nuguria (Fead), Takuu (Mortlock), Nukumanu (Tasman) and Tulun (Carteret) islands [Hanson et al. 2001: 282].

      The languages of Bougainville belong to two major language families, the Austronesian Family and the Papuan, or non-Austronesian, language group. The Austronesian and Papuan languages are not genetically related, that is, they have different origins, and, as will be discussed below, very different chronologies. The Austronesian languages are located...

    • Eugene Ogan

      Although there has been much written about Bougainville during the past three decades, most especially since ‘the Conflict’, drawing together all the strands of prehistory, history and ethnology to present a composite picture of the people who live in Bougainville (including Buka but not all the outlying islands) remains a daunting task. What follows cannot pretend to be definitive, but rather is offered to provide a suitable background for the more detailed papers included in this volume.

      Some general, preliminary comments should be made. ‘Cultures’ — broadly defined as the life ways of people — are dynamic, not static. People...

    • Jonathan Friedlaender

      One of the great puzzles of Bougainville is why its people are so distinctive in appearance from most other people in the region, particularly why they are so black. Did some Africans somehow move into this area thousands of years ago? Or were these people descendants of the ‘original’ inhabitants of the entire region, who were all black-skinned? Another explanation was that they simply had lived there, under the tropical sun, long enough to develop their jet-black colour independently from other black-skinned groups. I have been told by more than one Seventh-Day Adventist from Bougainville that there are also Biblical...

    • James Griffin

      There has been an entrenched view among educated Bougainvilleans that their province was once under British control and became part of a trade-off between Great Britain and Germany. As will be seen, this did not happen. This misapprehension, however, is a reminder that many people are unaware of the origins of Papua New Guinea’s boundaries.

      The earliest flag raising in Melanesia was probably by the Spaniard, Ortiz de Retes in 1545 at the mouth of the Santa Augustin River (Mamberamu), north coast of (West) New Guinea. In the Solomon Islands this was done by another Spaniard in 1567, Alvaro de...

    • Peter Sack

      On 10 April 1886 Germany and Great Britain signed a ‘Declaration relating to the demarcation of the German and British spheres of influence in the Western Pacific’. It defined a ‘conventional line’ which cut the Solomon Islands roughly in half. Great Britain agreed not to interfere with the extension of German influence west and north of the line and Germany did the same in favour of Great Britain for the area south and east of it.¹ This declaration gave the two powers a free hand in relation to each other to make territorial acquisitions in their respective spheres.

      The German...

    • Hugh Laracy

      In few parts of Papua New Guinea has involvement with the larger world been much harsher or more forcibly and persistently experienced than on the island of Bougainville, in what became the (now) Bougainville Province of that country. There, where the fact of separation has long sustained a smouldering sentiment of separatism, the desire for secession flared into open warfare from 1988 to 2000 [Laracy 1991; Regan 1998]. This latter conflict, in which the national government was the immediate enemy, is but the most explicit and recent expression of what for Bougainville has been an often painful engagement with external...

    • Hugh Laracy

      In 1966 I made the first of what would eventually be three extended field-trips to Bougainville and Buka in order to study the history and activity of the Catholic Church there. This was an undertaking in which I enjoyed the cooperation of church personnel, as informants, translators, hosts and transport providers. In particular, their assistance enabled me to observe at first hand the notably large scale of Catholic operations in the principal islands of what in 1898 the Vatican had designated the prefecture apostolic of the North Solomons (Salomons Septentrionales), and had entrusted to the French-founded Marist congregation [Laracy 1976].¹...

    • Hugh Laracy

      As was also the case for the rest of what in mid-1914 was still German New Guinea, the political future of the Bougainville district was profoundly affected by World War I. The change from German to Australian control was a major step on the way that, in retrospect, at least, led directly to its eventual incorporation into the nation of Papua New Guinea. Portentous as their coming was — yet consistent with the neglectfulness that has tended to characterise central government’s management of the remote south-eastern district — the Australians were late in getting to Bougainville.

      On 19 August 1914...

    • Peter Elder

      Bougainvilleans have inherited the effects of two major foreign wars. The first started in Europe in 1914. Germany’s participation had important consequences for the Pacific after the allied victory of 1918 when Germany lost its colonies. The terms of the 1919 treaty of peace put German New Guinea (including Bougainville) into Australian hands [Lyng 1925: 213]. At the peace conference Australia’s Prime Minister William Morris Hughes had demanded New Guinea to counter Japanese aggrandisement in the Pacific. An ally of the victorious powers, Japan had been awarded control of other former German island colonies in the Pacific. These were the...

    • Hank Nelson

      1. — Just after dawn on 1 November 1943 twelve transports carrying over 14,000 American marines steamed north-west towards Empress Augusta Bay on the west coast of Bougainville. Those looking towards the land saw the curve of the beach and the jungle rising ridge to mountain all the way to smoking Mount Bagana. It was, their official historian wrote, ‘wilder and more majestic scenery’ than they had encountered anywhere else in the South Pacific. Just before the transports halted and the marines transferred to landing craft, one of the captains asked his navigating officer for the ship’s position. The navigator replied,...

    • Helga M. Griffin

      Documentary and other records on pre-mining Bougainville (that is, Bougainville before the mid-1960s) are, of course, essential for the writing of a comprehensive history of the province. That so far only one scholar — Douglas Oliver, the doyen of Pacific anthropologists, — has attempted anything like such a general history [1973, revised and updated 1991] suggests that there may be problems with the sources. And that is so. But there have been other reasons for the neglect of this subject. Before the advent of mining little public interest was shown in Bougainville because it was seen as a backwater. Furthermore,...

    • Scott MacWilliam

      When the revolt broke out on Bougainville in late 1988, an immediate if less often noted target of attacks than on Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) was property owned by the Bougainville Development Corporation (BDC) and other indigenous firms. Raising the language of class struggle, ‘those in revolt failed to confine their campaign to the Conzinc Riotinto Australia Ltd majority-owned mine at Panguna’ and ‘deliberately destroyed plant, equipment and property owned by “fellow” Bougainvilleans’ [Thompson and MacWilliam 1992: 103]. If such attacks confused observers who were certain that the conflict was yet another instance of a ‘local’ opposition to the destruction...

    • Joachim Lumanni

      Cocoa and copra production have been an integral part of agricultural development in Bougainville, copra since the early 20th century and cocoa mainly since the 1960s.¹ The decade of civil war from late 1988 saw a significant decline in the production of these crops. Since the late 1990s, however, agricultural activities have once again been given priority. Resumption of mining, the major factor in the Bougainville economy in the 1970s and 1980s, is not currently being considered seriously because of the problematic social and environmental costs associated with it. While emphasis on perennial tree crop plantations, such as cocoa and...

    • THE PANGUNA MINE (pp. 258-273)
      Don Vernon

      The mineralisation which led to the development of the Panguna mine was discovered in 1961 and confirmed by Conzinc Riotinto Australia Ltd (CRA) in 1964. After extensive exploration and the preparation of a detailed feasibility study, an agreement was negotiated with the Australian Government and subsequently ratified by the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly in 1967 (renegotiated in 1974 by the pre-independence Papua New Guinea Government under its first prime minister, then Chief Minister Michael Somare) and a decision to proceed with developing the mine was made in 1969. The plant was commissioned in 1972 and closed as a...

    • Melchior Togolo

      When I started thinking about this paper, I thought I should write in the third person with the idea of being a detached and objective observer or a dispassionate social scientist. As I wrote about the Torau, my own people, I became more and more emotional. As I thought and wrote I could feel my whole body trembling and my emotions bursting at the seams. I was confused: should I be objective and dispassionate or let my thoughts blow and flow. I decided to abandon detachment and objectivity, throw them away, and write the stories as they were told to...

    • James Griffin

      Although there were isolated calls for secession in Bougainville before 1964, it is an apt date to begin a discussion of relations between the colony of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville District (later Province). Following the Federal elections in Australia in December 1963, a new regime was established in the Australian Department of Territories under Charles Barnes (minister) and George Warwick Smith (secretary); the first exploratory steps were taken in what has been called ‘the greatest single event in the economic history of Papua New Guinea’ [Downs 1980: 340]; and the first nation-wide elections for a national legislature — the...

    • John Lawrence Momis

      For a Bougainville leader I had an unusual birth and upbringing. I was born in 1942, far away from my true home in Buin, in the small coastal town of Salamaua, the pre-World War II district headquarters of Morobe District. My father (Joesph Kakata) was from Morou Village in Buin, and my mother (Helen Shoon Wah) was of mixed Chinese and New Ireland descent. At the time my father was probably the first Bougainvillean man to marry a woman of mixed Chinese and ‘native’ parentage.

      I was later told that our family was ostracised by many of my mother’s relatives...

    • Elizabeth Ibua Momis

      This chapter examines localisation practice in the Catholic Church in Bougainville. In doing so, it touches on some related questions: how has the Church fulfilled its apostolic mission to plant the Word of God in the various communities who have welcomed Christ? Did the Marist missionaries, the first proselytisers to come to Bougainville as early as 1901, interpret and apply the gospel values according to the contemporary needs of the people when preaching the Word of God? How influential have these missionaries been when one considers what, in recent times, Bougainvilleans have lived through, how they have struggled, killed, wept...

    • Jared Keil

      The Buin of southern Bougainville Island (Papua New Guinea) are most closely related, linguistically and culturally, to their western neighbours, the Siwai. Yet the Buin and Siwai differ dramatically in certain respects. The Siwai, made famous in the writings of Douglas Oliver, are characterised by ‘big man’ politics and matrilineal descent (although Oliver discusses regional variations within Siwai; see below). What about the Buin? The Thurnwalds have described Buin society as characterised by hereditary strata and a paternal emphasis (more below).

      Richard Thurnwald spent seven months among the Buin during 1908–09 [Thurnwald, R., 1934b: 119 fn 3; Melk-Koch 1992:...

    • Bill Sagir

      ‘We are born chiefs’, Haku chiefs (tsunono) in Lontis village in the north of Buka Island would tell me time and again during the course of my fieldwork for my PhD thesis. Their claim is supported by a popular Haku belief thattsunonodo not have to achieve their positions but are simply born into them. It occurred to me, however, that over timetsunonomay possibly have constructed an identity of themselves as superior beings whose chiefly positions, titles, power and responsibilities belong to them as a customary birthright. Most other Melanesian leaders have to work hard to achieve...

    • Roselyne Kenneth

      Entitlement to land constitutes an important base for a person’s status in Haku society on Buka Island. Associated with it are political consequences for the individual as well as for the society. This chapter focuses on the part played by both men and women in negotiations and decisions governing access to agricultural land in their communities, especially the part played by ‘maternal uncles’¹ and womens’ voices in such processes. It also examines to what extent sociopolitical changes have affected the standing of women and their authority in contemporary society.

      On occasions when matters about customary land are discussed, the scene...

    • Eugene Ogan

      Returning to Bougainville after an absence of 22 years left me with a kaleidoscope of impressions that I am still sorting through. The month of July 2000 seemed both too long and not nearly long enough to enable me to produce a careful analysis. Here I find it more appropriate to borrow from Bill Clarke a rhetorical device from an earlier collaboration [Clarke and Ogan 1973] and to offer a set of verbal snapshots, taken at different points in time during the 38 years I have visited the Nasioi speakers of central Bougainville. Snapshots cannot be more than suggestive, but...

    • Jill Nash

      I lived in Nagovisi for a total of two and a half years during the period between 1969 and 1973. First, I was collecting data for my doctoral dissertation [Mitchell¹ 1972]; on a subsequent trip, I was a post-doctoral fellow. After leaving Nagovisi in 1973, I did not return until July 2000, although I had continued to correspond with one individual. I attempted to inform myself about developments though reading and contact with colleagues, but especially during the ‘Crisis’, this was difficult and not very successful.

      In this account, I discuss some important aspects of life in Nagovisi during my...

    • Jared Keil

      This is not a ‘history’ of the Mogoroi region and nor does it pretend to reflect the priorities or emphases of the people of the region. Rather, it is a very impressionistic and idiosyncratic survey of some of the significant developments in the Mogoroi region over a period of some 33 years.

      I first visited Mogoroi Village,¹ in the Buin area of southern Bougainville Island, in November 1971. It was then part of the Bougainville District of the Australian-administered Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I was there as a doctoral student of anthropology at Harvard University, under the supervision...

    • Anthony J. Regan

      It is widely accepted that a pan-Bougainville identity has emerged in the past 100 years.¹ Some observers refer to it as Bougainvillean ethnicity, on the basis that it has become a political identity, associated with secessionist demands. The views of many observers on the development of this identity are summarised by Nash and Ogan who note that ‘… events of the 20th century — particularly plantation colonialism which was succeeded by modern industrialised neo-colonialism as represented by the copper mine — helped to create a pan-Bougainvillean sense of identity where none had existed before’ [Ogan 1992, summarising Nash and Ogan...

    • James Tanis

      Violent conflict between armed Bougainvilleans and the Papua New Guinea security forces erupted in November 1988, the armed Bougainvillean elements pursuing secession from Papua New Guinea. By March 1990, the Papua New Guinea National Government withdrew its forces from Bougainville, and on 17 May the leader of the secessionist Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), Francis Ona, announced Bougainville’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). A few weeks later, the National Government suspended the North Solomons Provincial Government (NSPG), by which time it had become clear that the premier of the provincial government, Joseph Kabui, was working with the BRA.

      Since 1990 the...