PNG Now magazine: February/March 2022

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ISSUE 08 | February/March 2022




Welcome to Issue 8 of PNG Now, PNG’s leading lifestyle magazine. In our ‘Vox Pop’ feature this issue (Page 6), we asked some of our readers which sportsmen and sportswomen inspired them. As you can tell from our readers’ responses, when we are inspired by the achievements of others, it’s often not just because of what they actually achieve, but also how they conduct themselves in achieving it. As far as inspirational achievers go, we don’t need to look further than PNG’s champion rugby league player, Justin Olam, who features on our front cover this issue. His achievements in the world’s toughest rugby league competition prove he’s an extraordinary athlete, but you need to read our interview with him (Page 24) to understand what makes him a true legend. Olam is a humble man who displays a great understanding of how he can use his standing to inspire others. “The younger generation – especially young boys – can see that if I can make it in rugby league, they can make it in anything in life,” he tells PNG Now. The MSME Council’s Des Yaninen (Page 8) is another person focused on encouraging and inspiring young people to achieve their goals. His youth program is about encouraging a change in mindset, so that young people see themselves not as potential employees but as potential employers. Like Justin Olam’s, Yaninen’s message is that hard work and an ‘iron will’ can get you to your goals. A sense of responsibility to others was also the hallmark of the career of one of PNG’s most respected elders, Dame Carol Kidu. She reflects on a life of public service on Page 18. We hope you find these people as inspiring as we do, and enjoy this issue of PNG Now. Join the PNG Now conversation on Facebook and Instagram @pngnowmag.



Vox Pop: Which sportspeople are most admired in Papua New Guinea? 06 Breakfast with small business advocate Des Yaninen 08 My World, what people are reading, watching and listening to 10


Beer art, POM run club, theatre set to return and more 12–17


The wisdom of Dame Carol Kidu 18


Online exhibition with PNG portraits 31


All the best that POM and Lae have to offer: restaurants, bars, hotels and more 32


The world-renowned architect with PNG roots 36


Joylene Tanfa releases an attentiongrabbing fashion accessory line


How to manage and prevent diabetes 38


Could PNG become part of the National Rugby League competition? 44 Locker Room Chat with rugby union’s Kenneth Vagi 45


Get up to speed with some of the latest tech developments in PNG, a special report 48–53


Business news at a glance, property report, tips for SMEs 55–61 At work with laboratory scientist Maisy Malala 62




How the nation celebrated Independence Day, Christmas and New Year


PNG Now is a free magazine produced by Business Advantage International Pty Ltd in association with

Justin Olam, the hero of a nation

Distributed by Pascoe Promotions, Port Moresby © Copyright 2022, Business Advantage International and contributors. All rights reserved. Join the PNG Now conversation on Facebook and Instagram @ pngnowmag.




Breakdancing hits dizzying new heights

EDITOR Robert Upe EDITORIAL ADVISORY TEAM Penny Burns, Aaron Chin, Leanne Jorari, Sylvia Pascoe

FOOD 40 & 42

CONTRIBUTORS Richard Andrews, Mary Aseari, Paul Chai, Natalie Cholohei, Ruby Gamoga, Bronwen Gora, Marisa Howden, David James, Godfreeman Kaptigau, Lemach Lavari, Poliap M’Buleau, Gabriella Munoz, Carmel Pilotti, Peter Schofield (designer), Sally Woollett (proofreader)

Fine dining at two of PNG’s best hotel restaurants

COVER: PNG’s Melbourne Storm champion Justin Olam, photographed by NRL Photos. See our story, Page 24.

Proudly printed in Papua New Guinea by BizPrint



Get set for the gym, or try our home workout


Vox Pop



Who is your most admired Papua New Guinean 01 sportsperson or team? Who is your most admired international 02 sportsperson or team? If you could go to any sporting event in the 03 world, what would it be? SERAH MERO 38, ancillary staff, Boroko

Justin Olam represents us Papua New Guineans playing for Melbourne Storm. That is something for us to be proud of.


For me, it is Serena Williams (tennis). She is the perfect example of a mum thriving in what she does. She gives hope to us mums that motherhood should not be an obstacle in what you can achieve. You can be an awesome mum, while being the best at what you do.


JOHN MARAI 64, driver, Boroko

I admire Justin Olam, a PNG boy playing for Melbourne Storm in the NRL. He bagged the Dally M Medal for best centre and is a good role model.


I like horse racing, so I’d say Australian jockey Glen Boss. He rode Makybe Diva to victory in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Melbourne Cups.


As soccer is my favourite sport, I’d love to watch the FIFA World Cup.


State of Origin. I am a die-hard Blues fan, so it would be a dream to see them win.


MADELINE K. DOTDOT 43, secretary, Kaugere


I admire Maka Muri (basketball). She’s a tough player and is from a famous basketball playing family.

I would say Dia Muri, Maka’s brother. He is a former international basketball player who represented PNG in a couple of Pacific games. He was even selected as a FIBA Oceania All-star, a big achievement.



Seeing the big guns shooting hoops in the NBA basketball finals would be bliss.


24, political science tutor, Waigani

I admire David Mead (rugby league), particularly because he started a podcast that talks about some interesting issues in regards to existing and aspiring sportsmen and sportswomen.


My most admired international sportswoman is Serena Williams (tennis). I’m amazed by her life story and how she and her sister have risen to the top of the game. Also, she has bigger muscles than I do!



A tennis tournament.

CHARITY PANI 24, security officer, Port Moresby

Toea Wisil (sprinter). I admire her persistence and determination to be the best in what she does. It takes a whole lot of self-discipline and dedication to be the best at something and her story proves that.


Serena Williams (tennis). As with Toea, I admire a woman who is determined, persistent, dedicated and self-disciplined. She has proved that dreams do come true when you work hard enough. Despite being a target of disgusting racist and sexist attacks she keeps getting better at what she does and she doesn’t allow these negative comments to bring her down.


State of Origin, because I am a rugby league fanatic.





Desmond Yaninen is a young Papua New Guinean entrepreneur who is president of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Council. He passionately believes in the potential for PNG to grow its economy and raise the standard of living by creating wealth through small business. What’s a usual breakfast for you? I just have a smoothie in the mornings, usually a blend of apple, beetroot, carrot and ginger. Then I have lunch around 1pm and that keeps me energised for the day. I’ve been on an intermittent fasting diet for the past three to four years. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates in the morning are not good for you, they pick you up and then you crash, so to keep my mental alertness, I just have this blend. Why did you choose the Copper Café at the Hilton for your smoothie this morning? I love the smoothies here. The ingredients are always really fresh so you feel you get that extra boost in the morning. How did you get involved in the SME sector? I was employed by the National Development Bank (NDB) and I developed a number of products for women and youth, including a ‘Women in Business’ product that has lent almost a hundred 8 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

million kina to women. Thousands of women have participated and many have become millionaires through that scheme. I’ve just remained committed to small business, even though I’ve left the NDB and I am now running my own firm, and also in my capacity as the head of the MSME Council.

My Youth SME Program is about telling young people, you don’t need to go to uni and get a job to be successful. I want them to think about being employers and not employees.

Why is promoting SMEs so important to you? I’ve been an evangelist for SMEs, and particularly women and youth in SMEs, for the past 10 years. The job market in PNG is limited. There are only ever about 500,000 jobs in the formal sector, and looking at our population, there are only enough jobs for 10% of our adult population at any one time. So you have around 90% of our population still looking for jobs, no matter how qualified you are. So we need to change the conversation and really get people to start looking at business. What projects are you working on now? Less than 20% of school leavers each year will have opportunities; 80% coming out (of school) will automatically be labelled as failures because they didn’t get any (job) offers. So you have a lot of smart kids that are missing out. This burden put on young people creates an atmosphere of negativity, which in turn breeds failure. We’re calling them failures for something that is not their fault – we don’t have enough space for all these young people, so we have to do something about it.

Left: Des Yaninen, urging Papua New Guineans to create wealth through their own businesses. Opposite: A morning smoothie at the Hilton’s Copper Café.

to success – you can’t succeed without failing, so I encourage people to fail fast. Start something and let it crash and burn; but you have to learn from it and start over again. And over time you’re learning from your experiences and collecting information, and as you put it together you’re able to come up with something that will serve you a lot better in the long run. What are some of the common misconceptions that SME owners have? The most common misconception is that anyone can apply for a loan without putting up any security or equity. Once small business owners find out that they have to put something up, many are deterred and never proceed. The definition of success is go to university, get a job, and work your way up the corporate ladder. So my Youth SME Program is about telling young people that they don’t need to go to uni and get a job to be successful. I want them to think about being employers and not employees. How did you get from working for someone else to working for yourself? I spent about 13 years working for the NDB and while I was there I saw an unmet need – every year the bank would receive millions of loan applications, but only a third could be funded. So I established my own financial services

company, Pacifund (there are 11 employees now), to address the problem of access to finance. And in particular not debt funding, but equity funding. So getting SMEs to pitch their businesses in a way that will encourage investors to come in and invest. What is it that inspires you to do what you do? I would like to see PNG go from a third-world country to a first-world country. That’s what inspires me long term – it might take 100 years, but I’m doing my bit. What is one thing you tell people to encourage them to take up the SME journey? Failure is a crucial ingredient

If you could wave a magic wand to make business conditions better for SMEs in PNG, what would you do? The biggest challenge is the mindset of our entrepreneurs. If you think something is too difficult, then that’s what it becomes. The opposite is true. There is immense opportunity in our country, and those who have persisted and soldiered on regardless of the limitations and barriers have become immensely successful. If I had a magic wand to wave, I would grant everyone an iron will to succeed despite all odds. The Copper Café is in the lobby of the Hilton and offers full cooked breakfasts, continental breakfasts, and lighter options such as smoothies. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 9




What new music are you listening to? I am a fan of local PNG artists and right now I am listening to Eldiz (Elijah) Mune’s new song titled Koros. The beat, the tune and lyrics bring out the best in the song. It’s the story behind the song for me. What’s the best live music act you’ve ever seen? I would say a 2015 performance by Tarvin Toune (Edward Misuraga) in Kimbe, West New Britain Province. He wowed me, and the reactions from his fans were overwhelming as he belted out some of his newly released songs. What’s the best book you’ve read recently? Oh, now this one got me. I must be honest, I last read a book almost two decades ago. My involvement with music has replaced my interest in books. But when I was reading, my old-time favourites were the Tintin books. Maybe because they resonate with my stage name of ‘Tintin’. Which Papua New Guinean artist do you most admire? This one, for me, is not just one artist, but several young



artists like Tarvin Toune, Hotwills (William Evaha) and Eldiz Mune. Their music careers are young, but I like their vocals, their songs, and the beats. What’s your favourite movie ever? I love Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies. This Belgian man never ceases to amaze me with his roles. Say I’m old school, but man, you won’t get me away from the screen when any of his movies come on. Have you binge-watched any TV recently? National Rugby League, of course! What’s one gadget you can’t live without? I do everything on my mobile phone, and I cannot go a day without it. From connecting with friends and family, to writing my songs and making music, I rely on my phone. Augustin Aden Reu, more commonly known by his stage name of Tintin Reu, hails from the Talasea District of West New Britain Province. He has been a songwriter and an artist in the industry since 2014. One of his songs, Tambu Lewa, has received more than 20 million views and downloads on socials such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram.



Supermodel releases tribal collection An attention-grabbing fashion accessory line, called ‘Mala’, has been released by Papua New Guinean supermodel Joylene Tanfa. The collection of unisex tribal contemporary neckpieces has been created with feathers, beads, rhinestones, paint and upcycled denim jeans handmade by Tanfa, who says she learned a thing or two growing up around her mother’s sewing machine. Tanfa says the collection came about from the reaction and interest she received when her first original neckpiece was featured in a photo shoot. “The pieces are workable and can be paired with any outfit,” the emerging designer says. “It can turn a simple shirt or dress for graduation, wedding or dinner, into a statement outfit. If you are someone who loves to stand out, this is for you,” Tanfa told PNG Now. Tanfa has worked as a model over the past eight years, starting when she was 17, and competed in the 11th World 12 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

Supermodel Pageant in Fiji where she was placed among the finalists. She is now focusing on building her brand and says, as someone who sees herself as a silent achiever, she will let her success speak for itself.

Above: Supermodel Joylene Tanfa. Left: A close up of one of her neckpieces.

Apart from modelling, Tanfa is an amateur boxer with the Tru Warrior Boxing Club and says since taking it up she has been in love with the science of boxing, keeping her fit and grounded. The Mala collection is available at the Miss PNG shop at Vision City.

The art of the beer can Many Port Moresby residents will already be familiar with the artwork of Peter Leo Elavera. He has brought the city to life in many places, including wall art at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium and SP Brewery, as well as his ‘Jungle Faces’ at the Jacksons Airport International Terminal arrivals lounge. Now, you’ll see his work on beer cans. SP Brewery has commissioned Elavera, 47, for an art series on cans of SP Export Lager. The limited-edition series

features designs from the 22 provinces of Papua New Guinea and will only be available for a year.

So far, can art has been released from East New Britain (pictured), Manus, NCD, New Ireland, Simbu, Central, Mt Hagen, East and West Sepik and Enga provinces. Designs from the rest of the country will be revealed later in the year. Artists who assisted Elavera on the series are Kenny Aua, Titus Clement and Tom Joel. Elavera left formal employment in 1995 to pursue his art and started SME Toolbox Productions in 2019. SP Brewery is just one organisation that has recognised his talent.


Developing future industry leaders We are extremely proud of our workforce. Out of 2,784 staff, 91 percent are Papua New Guinean with 20 percent female. This team has made the PNG LNG Project one of the safest and most reliable and efficient LNG operations anywhere in the world. ExxonMobil PNG is not only building a pipeline of qualified and experienced Papua New Guinean personnel to support our business, we are building operational and intellectual capacity that will benefit future generations of Papua New Guineans for decades to come.


Around Town

Running a long race For over four decades the Port Moresby Road Runners (pictured) have been meeting at 5pm every Saturday to get fit and have fun. They like to mix things up, meeting at a different location each week to run different courses. The week PNG Now showed up, the meeting point was close to Jacksons Airport and the distances on offer were about 2.5, 5 and 10 kilometres. Occasionally, they hold special events like the Mike Joyce Memorial 5km, the “Downtown 10,000 metres” and even their own marathon. The group caters to all levels of runner and everyone is welcome. While there are those who may be fast, lots of people just walk, some even with their kids. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly and although most runners are regulars, newcomers are made to feel very welcome. With an entry fee of less than a kina you have no excuse not to start getting fit. Be at the start 10 minutes before start time for race briefing.

Where is the next event? See the schedule online at:

WHERE TO FIND US PNG Now has extensive distribution in cafes, hotels and other social hubs. In Port Moresby, this includes Duffy outlets (pictured), Airways Hotel, The Hilton and The Stanley (cafes), Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CHM at Vision City, the POM City Markets and Harbourside Night Markets. In Lae, it can be picked up at the Lae Chamber of Commerce and the Lae International Hotel.


Around Town

POM theatre set to bounce back After being side lined for most of 2021 because of COVID-19, the Moresby Arts Theatre (MAT) is taking to the stage again with a musical comedy called Bottoms Up! Set in 1595, the story follows the Bottom brothers and playwrights Nick and Nigel, who struggle to find success in the theatrical world as they compete with William Shakespeare who, at the time, was all the craze in the theatre world. The MAT crew say the story takes an alternative ‘what if’ view on the times, providing


a comical and unusual explanation of how life might have been in the Shakespearean era. “The show contains a cheeky storyline with an array of colourful characters who will leave you momentarily forgetting the worries of life,’’ according to the show’s directors, Jacob Ilave and Natalie Pidik. The Bottoms Up! team extends its gratitude to the show’s partners, including major sponsor Credit Corporation with a donation of 10,000 kina, Cord Construction for set design and

construction, media partner The National newspaper, Moore Printing, the Port Moresby International School for rehearsal space, Keynote Music Houses for sound equipment, Badili Hardware for set and prop material, and transport partner Rides Inc. The cast and crew of MAT are volunteers with a passion to preserve and develop creative Far left: Jacob Ilave and Nelson Kokoa as the Bottom brothers. Left: The Bottoms Up! cast.

arts in Papua New Guinea. MAT has facilitated the performing and creative arts in Port Moresby for over 100 years, providing a space for community-led initiatives such as live theatre, art and photography expos, craft markets, annual youth arts programs ,and local and international film festivals. Bottoms Up! will be on at the Moresby Arts Theatre from February 23 to 26 and March 2 to 5. Tickets are 20 kina for students and 50 kina for adults and are available at Foodworld shopping centres.

PNG youth gathering A youth leadership summit organised by Equal Playing Field (EPF) brought together young people from around the country late last year. The week-long summit was hosted in Port Moresby, and youth in Bougainville, East New Britain, East Sepik, Southern Highlands, Milne Bay, Morobe and Hela provinces connected virtually. EPF founder and director, Jacqui Joseph, says that workshop topics included technology, entrepreneurship, multimedia and community development initiatives. In partnership with technology and content development business Niunet, EPF distributed Niunet ‘boxes’ to participating provinces. The boxes are an intranet-based educational resource for the production and dissemination of shared local content. “We’re hoping that this will create an inter-provincial link,” Joseph says. The EPF is planning to host another youth summit this year. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 17

Life Lessons



PNG is a country that still has the old world and the introduced world. Don’t just rush forward to the new world …

Dame Carol Kidu was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1948 to a working-class family. She studied anthropology and sociology at the University of Queensland before taking up teaching. She married Papua New Guinean Buri Kidu in 1969 in Australia, after he had been admitted to the Bar upon completion of a Bachelor of Law degree. They have five children. Moving to PNG in 1971, Dame Carol began 18 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

Above: Dame Carol Kidu says it has been a great privilege to live in a different culture.

teaching almost immediately at Port Moresby High School. She also taught at Boisen High School in Rabaul and Kila High School in Port Moresby. She entered politics in 1997, winning the Moresby South seat as an independent candidate. She was reelected for the next two terms and during the second was considered for the role of Deputy Prime Minister, but stated that she would not be interested in the position. Earliest memory Fishing with my family. Catching worms on the sand at Noosa (Queensland). An important lesson I’m still learning. The capacity to compromise, but not to compromise your ideals. A mentor My mother-in-law was an inspirational woman. I think she’d be my greatest mentor in terms of learning to live in a different culture. With politics, my strongest mentor was Sir Moi Avei, who gave me some very good advice. He and Bart Philemon, even though there were many things Bart and I didn’t agree on. Advice for young people Tread carefully. Papua New Guinea is in a unique position, but this is almost gone. PNG is a country that still has the old world and the introduced world. Don’t just rush forward to the new world, walk forward on two legs and get the best of both worlds. What we’re doing often is taking the worst of the old and the worst of the new. I’d like to see the young generation really analysing that. I learned so much by marrying into a different culture. I feel it’s been a great privilege to live in a completely different culture and learn from that. So let’s try to have some management of how PNG evolves socially. Anything you would change You take it as it comes; I don’t think there is. Parents and prejudice My parents were people out of their time – my mum would’ve loved desperately to have an education, so she was determined that all three of her children would be tertiary educated. In between her house-work she would sit and read my anthropology books. Those were the days of the White Australia Policy, and mum has told me since that she would get hate mail in the letterbox telling her how disgraceful she was for allowing her daughter to be with a black boy – it was a different era – but they recognised Buri’s character and his qualities and they backed me all the way. And I guess that rubbed off on me; that’s the type of people they were. Life after politics It’s been very painful, post politics and post Buri’s death, the way Motu society and all society in PNG is changing. It’s very painful when

people you think you can trust betray you, try to kick you off land and call you a foreigner. I worked very hard in politics, but there’s just nothing to show for it now, and that’s what gets a bit frustrating. Women in politics It is our Mama Law (Constitution of PNG) that states that there should be women in politics. If people are saying women didn’t have power in traditional times, it’s not true. The most powerful person in the Kidu household was my mother-in-law – she was an incredible matriarch. There was much decision-making among women inside the house, but men took the voice to the public sphere. Changes in PNG society People are interpreting culture the wrong way. Motu society was a proud, dignified society but it has become a beggar’s society. There was no beggar mentality in PNG. Nobody expected anything for nothing. The future of PNG It is incredible that we’ve gone through 46 years and we’re still hanging together; most ex-colonial nations have dissolved into political coups, revolutions …

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A Papua New Guinean crew could compete equally when breakdancing debuts as the coolest new sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics, according to hiphop expert Josh Cole. “The breaking I’ve seen in PNG is very high level and definitely as good as a lot of the professional crews I’ve worked with around the world,” says the UK filmmaker and photographer. With its bold footwork, acrobatic moves and dizzying spins, breakdancing has spread globally from its black and Latino roots in the streets of New York’s Bronx district. For the past 15 years, Cole has travelled the world to capture his emotional and gritty images of breakers in 30 countries – from townships in South Africa and the shanties of Manila, to the no-go La Boca area in Buenos Aires, Aboriginal communities in northern Australia and First Nations reservations in the US. “I want to show the passion and energy of people from the most deprived and supposedly dangerous areas who use the art form of dance to escape from hardship and trauma with an expression of creativity and joy,” says the award-winning artist. ‘B-boys or B-girls’ will take risks and push the limits with outrageous stunts, says Cole. “One guy did a parkour-style

I think the photo captures the rising of the human spirit from hardships and challenges, from darkness into a brighter future.


Above: UK photographer Josh Cole. Right: The photo of a PNG breakdancer that Cole considers the best of his career. Note the mesmerised local kids.


Dance Right and far right: Josh Cole has travelled the world for the past 15 years to photograph breakdancers in more than 30 countries.

jump off a second-storey balcony in a block of flats in London. Another did a backflip off a shanty town roof in South Africa. I even saw a crew performing near wild hippos in Burundi,” Cole says. Cole has also taken risks when capturing images in gang territories or conflict areas, but believes that an early background of poverty, drugs and violence prepared him. “You attract what you put out,” he says. “If you put out fear you’re attracting conflict to come back to you. People respond if

you stay fearless and positive. Most of the time they’re happy to see you. I’ve been around a lot of crazy and difficult people. So, I guess I’m probably a bit more streetwise than the average photographer.” Nevertheless, Cole admits a photo shoot in Congo was “very hairy.” “The area was overrun with guerillas carrying AK47s. You can’t go there now because the conflict has worsened. I’ll never forget the distraught looks on the local people’s faces. But in the


middle of all this insanity there was breakdancing.” Cole is assembling his photos and experiences for what he calls his Physical Graffiti book project. London’s Guardian recently published the image he considers the pinnacle of his work: a PNG breakdancer, performing just outside Port Moresby. The shot was taken in 2017 when Cole was filming a charity video. “Driving through the capital, one of the people I was working with spotted PNG’s best-known

Left: Cole’s photo of this breakdancer over water seemingly catches the man in suspended animation. Cole is collating his photos in a book project called Physical Graffiti.

breakdancer, George Tau, aka B-boy Monkey Stuntz. “My companion said: ‘Ah, that’s the guy you want.’ We stopped the car, George jumped in and we sped off. We sort of kidnapped him! “George agreed to bring 10 dancers to a photoshoot in a village outside Moresby. The performer in the shot is B-boy Fly, a world-standard dancer and acrobat.” Cole says the local kids gathered around and were mesmerised by the dance.

“There’s this amazing feeling of them lifting him up, like their energy is levitating him. I think the photo also captures the rising of the human spirit from hardships and challenges, from darkness into a brighter future. That’s my own journey too, as an addict in recovery trying to escape a life of poverty.” Cole’s talent for capturing street life at its most expressive has won him commissions with numerous international brands and he also has a successful gallery career. “Photography and hip-hop

saved my life,” he says. My next project is to establish a holistic healing centre, called Eye of the Storm, to help kids suffering from PTSD and trauma. Abuse of young people is more widespread than commonly realised. Dance art will be part of the program.” Cole admits the move away from commercial photography to a healing centre is a leap of faith. “Just like B-boy Fly in the picture,” he says. “And wouldn’t it be cool to photograph PNG breakers next, in front of the Eiffel Tower?”

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Melbourne Storm centre and Papua New Guinea local Justin Olam can smash through an opposition defence with ease, but a crowd of fans at a Storm training session is a different story altogether. Olam is stopped every few steps for a selfie or a handshake and fans simply yell at him from the stands. It makes for slow going for the centre to get to the dressing room, but he is gracious to each supporter, smiling for photos, engaging in conversation and waving to those further away. Olam still remembers what it was like to be on the other side of the player– fan relationship, growing up in Gon village as a young National Rugby League (NRL) tragic before the sport was widely available on television in PNG. “I would collect the Maggi noodles cards and that was how we knew the players,” Olam tells PNG Now in the dressing room in Broadmeadows in northern Melbourne. “At school we would go crazy about it, and we would call ourselves the names of the players when we played footy.” Darren Lockyer and Billy Slater were the names that Olam favoured, but now that a generation of Papua New Guineans can play as someone from their own country, they can see one of their own competing at an elite level in PNG’s national sport. Mark Mom, Pacific programming coordinator for the NRL, believes that it is important for kids in PNG to have a face, like Olam, to look up to. “It’s really a point of aspiration for our young kids who are playing the game as well and want to aspire to something greater than where they are,” Mom says. “Having someone playing at a level where Justin is keeps our kids thinking that you can achieve, and you can play and represent yourself and our country and our game at the highest level.” Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, said of Olam: “Justin is a testament to what a rural PNG youth can achieve through dreaming big, chasing the dream with hard work, dedication and 24 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

Justin is a testament to what a rural PNG youth can achieve through dreaming big, chasing the dream with hard work, dedication and discipline. JAMES MARAPE, PNG PRIME MINISTER

Above: Justin Olam with his game face. Opposite: Enjoying the game.


People discipline.” But instead of seeing that as pressure, Olam says that he chooses to see it as an opportunity to provide hope to people in PNG. “I believe that in PNG there is not always a fair opportunity for everyone,” Olam says. “You have people with degrees walking the streets that cannot get a job because there is not enough opportunity. That is one thing I want to drive in our community is that we are better than that and I feel that by being successful in rugby league the younger generation – especially young boys – can see that if I can make it in rugby league, they can make it in anything in life: in school, education, business. They can be the best and compete with the best across the world. “We all have potential. I remember there were boys in the village that were much better than me.” Though that may be true, Olam distinguished himself quickly in the local PNG league playing for the PNG Hunters side in 2016 when he was given a “train and trial” contract. Soon after he played a Test match in PNG and caught the eye of Melbourne Storm. Olam agreed to come to Melbourne quickly and says that is a key component of his success. “The only difference between having opportunity and missing opportunity is you have got to be ready when the opportunity comes, if you are not ready then you will miss it,” he says. Mom agrees, saying that local footballers who want to emulate Olam should set goals and never give up. “It doesn’t matter what you know, it is what you are willing to do to get what you want,” Mom says. “Regardless of your environment, where you are from, how much money you have, set your goals and do what it takes to achieve them.” For Olam, that was a Storm premiership – which he achieved with his team in 2020 – as well as scoring the first try of the match. Next, he set his sights on Centre of the Year at the Dally M awards which he received last year. “I came out with a goal at the beginning of the year to win that award, so it means that the work that I put in to improve myself is going in the right direction,” he says. It is a long way from Olam’s roots in Gon, where he was initially not allowed to play football as his parents wanted him to focus on his education. That, too, was a success, with Olam securing a degree in Applied Physics, but he was also coming up with inventive ways to keep his football passion alive. “A rugby ball back in the village was rare, you know, so we would get an empty plastic bottle and fill it with dead grass, and you would make sure you kicked it in the belly part, because if you kicked it in the 26 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

Above: Justin Olam and his teammates celebrate Storm’s 2020 premiership. Opposite and left: Justin Olam as the on-field warrior for Storm.

sides, it was game over for you,” he laughs. “I play with a lot of passion, and I like to play hard. I don’t mind getting hit and I enjoy the game. It is a PNG style; I grew up watching my uncles play hard, but I don’t like to hurt anybody.” Another thing that has been hard for Olam is the global pandemic has kept him away from PNG for the past three years and he has not been allowed to celebrate his successes with family and friends. The Melbourne Storm centre says he is not a city boy so on his days off he jumps in the car and heads for a coffee or a meal in regional Victoria to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Victorian capital. “I miss my family and Papua New Guinean food,” Olam says. “The food there is just different, the fruits, especially from the markets, and a home-cooked meal by my mum is second to none.” Can PNG join the NRL? Page 48 Locker Room Chat with Rugby Union’s Kenneth Vagi, Page 49 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 27


CELEBRATION OF A NATION PNG Now photographer Godfreeman Kaptigau captured these images of Papua New Guineans celebrating Independence Day, Christmas and New Year in Port Moresby.

Left: Gideon Soa walks along Ela Beach in traditional dress to celebrate independence and take photos with passers-by on Independence Day. Top right: PNG flags for sale at the Ela Beach markets on Independence Day. Right: Children were mesmerised by the fantastical Christmas lights set up along Ela Beach during the week of Christmas in Port Moresby.




Above: Myriad stalls set up along Ela Beach to sell independence memorabilia. Left: Partygoers try their best to assemble for a group photo minutes before welcoming 2022 at Element Sports Bar in Port Moresby. Below left and right: Friends ring in the New Year at Element Sports Bar.




One of Jimmy Nelson’s striking PNG portraits that appear in his online exhibition.

Pandemic restrictions on travel and gatherings have not stopped Jimmy Nelson’s global celebration of traditional cultures. The renowned British-Dutch photographer recently launched a virtual gallery exhibition with prominent portraits of Highlanders from Goroka and Mt Hagen.

Entitled The Last Sentinels, the exhibition and audio tour “immerse visitors into the world of Indigenous cultures who are protecting the natural planet.” “This 5% of the population protects 80% of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity,” says Nelson, 55. “We need these cultures to help save the environment.” From Australia to India, Mongolia, Africa, the Pacific and beyond, Nelson has risked wars, frostbite and illness to represent the traditional dress, jewellery, weapons and symbols of remote indigenous communities. Nelson’s critics say his stylised poses misrepresent the reality of Indigenous life, creating unrealistic and idealised images. As a self-described “romantic”, Nelson responds that he’s an artist, not a documentarian. “By romanticising, you get your point across more efficiently,” he says. “So-called ‘authentic’ pictures, showing mundane, everyday tasks don’t attract attention. I want to create icons – beautiful and positive images of strong and proud people.” With the Highlander images, Nelson says he “wanted to put the Huli on a pedestal.” “I felt they deserved the sort of attention we give to important people in our culture, like politicians or celebrities.” He believes the need to capture images of traditional cultures is now more urgent than ever, because the internet has increased the speed and reach of modernisation. Ironically Nelson’s virtual exhibition is using the internet to preserve the cultures he says it threatens. You can see Nelson’s virtual exhibition at exhibitions-events. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 31



☛ Duffy (pictured), three locations in POM, excellent coffee, bakery items, ☛ Edge by the Sea, marina outlook, alfresco, at Harbour City, ☛ Jeanz Cafe, great vibe, at the new Gordons Plaza, ☛ Rainforest Cafe, surrounded by living tropical rainforest wall at The Stanley Hotel, ☛ Deli KC, all-day, particularly good lunches poolside at the Airways Hotel,



☛ Heritage Bar, Monday to Saturday happy hour has free tapas and live entertainment, at Crown Hotel, ☛ Port Moresby Yacht Club, where you can enjoy a sundowner as the yachts bob in the water. Non-members need to be signed in by a member, ☛ Mojo Social, a hip spot for after-work drinks any night of the week, facebook. com/mojosocialeatdrink.

EATING LOCAL ☛ For traditional localstyle PNG cuisine try the Mumu restaurant (pictured) at the Hilton Hotel,, and the Sanctuary Hotel and Spa where Chef Donald David is cooking up a storm with his aigir, thesanctuary

☛ The Buffalo Burger with two beef patties, melted cheese, gherkin, caramelised onion and aioli is one of the best-loved hamburgers in Port Moresby. There are four Buffalo Burger stores in POM, including the town store in Hunter Street. The Dirty Burger now has three outlets in town (Ela Beach, Boroko and Gordons). Be sure to try the crunchy chicken burger with sweet pickles.


☛ Bacchus Restaurant at Airways Hotel has just re-opened after extensive renovations. See our review, Page 44.


☛ The new Daikoku at Harbourside has a sizzling-hot teppanyaki menu, Tel. 7111 0425.

☛ The PNG National Museum and Art Gallery at Waigani has artefacts from all 22 PNG provinces, some dating back to the 1800s, museumpng.


☛ Anna’s Kitchen, in Waigani, for Vietnamese cuisine and French pastries, Tel. 7068 1766.


☛ There’s great debate about the best pizza in POM, but we’ve settled for the pepperoni at Mojo Social in the heart of Harbour City, facebook. com/mojosocialeatdrink. It’s 50 kina for eight slices of pepperoni smothered in napoli sauce and mozzarella. Highly recommended are Mr Mike’s Pizza, Enzo’s Pizza and Yellow Captain’s.

DISCLAIMER The hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants and other businesses and activities listed in this guide have been selected on merit, chosen by PNG Now writers.



☛ Ela Beach has space for joggers; the volleyball and basketball courts are free for public use. ☛ The Southside Fitness Centre at Koki has modern equipment and fitness classes, ☛ The Royal Port Moresby Golf Club has 18 holes, accepts non-members (there’s a dress code) and hires equipment, royalpomgolf. com. ☛ Swim laps at Taurama Aquatic & Indoor Centre from 6am, ☛ Free programs and activities from yoga to kickboxing are available through the Active City Development Program,

OUT OF TOWN ☛ Betty’s Lodge is the place to stop if you’re looking to climb Papua New Guinea’s highest peak, Mt Wilhelm. A night at Betty’s in Gembogl village is highly recommended to help climatise before you begin the four-hour climb to base camp. It’s also the perfect place to regroup after attempting to summit. Unwind by the fire and rest your wearied feet as you take in the beauty of this charming lodge. The rooms are comfortable with touches of home, and the hospitality from Betty is superb. She’ll cook a delicious meal of fresh trout, caught locally from her farm, and regale you with the many tales she’s heard of those who have climbed the 4509 metres (14,790 feet) to Wilhelm’s summit. The lodge is worth a visit

MARKETS Saturday), POM City Market at the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery (second Sunday). ☛ Dates for the Harbourside Markets and Motu-Koitaba Market events are being varied due to COVID-19 restrictions. For updates see events.


☛The Lamana Gold Club has a reputation as the ‘party capital’, with resident DJs, live music stations and international artists,

She can also organise all of the guides and porters for your climb, and anything else you might need while visiting the area. Tel. 7175 8350 or

NATURE ☛ The Port Moresby Nature Park has 550 native animals and hundreds of plant species in beautiful gardens, and cafe,


☛ Laguna Hotel Craft Market (first Saturday every month), Moresby Arts Theatre Craft Market (second Saturday), POM City Market at the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery (second Saturday), Holiday Inn Craft Market (third Saturday), Ela Beach Craft Market (last

even if you’re not a climber, or if you’re only wanting to hike to base camp. With expansive grounds full of colourful flowers and native plant life, there’s plenty to do in the area, with Betty more than happy to arrange culture tours and walks.

☛ Airways Hotel, one of the best in the Pacific, close to airport, ☛ The Stanley, luxury accommodation adjacent to Vision City Mega Mall, ☛ Hilton Port Moresby, 15 storeys of typical Hilton comfort, ☛ The Sanctuary Hotel and Spa, most spacious twin-share rooms in Port Moresby, handmade furniture, walk-in bird enclosure, ☛ Grand Papua, a centrally located premium hotel with plenty of executive options, ☛ Holiday Inn Express, affordable, in Waigani,

The listings are not meant to be comprehensive and are not based on commercial considerations. They represent what we like.



☛ Lae International Hotel, Lae’s longest-standing hotel with expansive grounds, pool, gym, bar, restaurants and conference facilities, ☛ Lae Travellers Inn, affordable, comfortable and conveniently located in Top Town,


THE LAE GUIDE ☛ Lae Golf Club, lush outlook with cold beer, pokies and food, Facebook. com/laegolfclub. ☛ Lae Yacht Club, the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Huon Gulf, ☛ Jack’s Bar, a lively sports bar at Lae’s biggest hotel,


☛ Soul Sista’s Cafe, great coffee, juices, burgers and pies. In the Brian Bell Plaza in Montoro Street. ☛ Crossroads Hotel, located at 9 Mile with lush grounds, infinity pool, restaurant and meeting rooms, crossroadshotellae.

☛ Hotel Morobe, panoramic views with fresh juices, waffles and coffee, ☛ Foodmart, convenient location in Top Town with good coffee and meals,


☛ Lae City Hotel, excellent range of Asian and western dishes. Try the baby back ribs, ☛ Bunga Raya, Lae’s most famous Chinese restaurant, conveniently located at the Golf Club,


☛ Kokomos, classic fare at Lae International Hotel with fantastic Indian dishes, ☛ War memorial, a peaceful place honouring the fallen of World War 2, ☛ Botanic gardens, PNG’s only national botanic gardens is home to exotic tropical gardens with an extensive collection of orchids, as well as an RAAF DC-3, ☛ Rainforest habitat, home to native birds, fish and other wildlife, including ‘Agro’ the giant croc. Located at Unitech,


DAY TRIPPING ☛ Boat hire can be organised through the Lae Yacht Club. ☛ Salamaua, a historic township before it was destroyed in World War 2, is Lae’s best-kept secret with fantastic beaches and snorkelling. Guest house available. ☛ Busama, a picturesque beachside village with a nearby Buli Waterfall, 45 minutes by boat from Lae Yacht Club. ☛ Finschhafen, three hours from Lae by boat, is a small town settled by Lutheran missionaries and where you’ll find the iconic Butaweng Falls.

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Glenn Murcutt’s childhood in Papua New Guinea helped shape his career as one of the world’s most influential and celebrated architects. The highly decorated Australian was recently named an architectural laureate in the Praemium Imperiale awards, often described as the arts equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for their focus on transcending national borders and uniting people of different languages and cultures. Born in London from Australian parents, Murcutt and his four siblings grew up with local Papuans in a remote area of Morobe Province. His father was a gold prospector in the rugged Watut River region, now a popular adventure travel destination. As the Japanese advanced during World War 2, the family escaped on the “last boat” from Salamaua. “If we hadn’t been able to get out it would have been, you know, heads off,” says the 85-year-old architect. Murcutt speaks often of his early life in the Highlands, learning Tok Pisin and playing with the village kids. He says his environment sensitised him to “the richness of simplicity,” developed his love of nature and created an “understanding of inventiveness with scarce resources.” Built by his father, Murcutt’s first home was made of wood, roofed

Glenn Murcutt, whose first home in PNG was built of wood, corrugated iron and raised on stilts.

in corrugated iron, and raised on stilts, like many other dwellings in the country. Those elements and the construction shape itself are visible in many of his designs. The young boy’s fear of attack by a fierce Kukukuku or Angu clan in the area also influenced his work. And he recalls being terrified by a group of warriors that gathered around his house. “They eventually went away, but I remember wondering if they were going to strike,” says Murcutt. “That fear gave me a very keen perception of myself in space. In other words, I now know what’s


behind me, what’s around me, what’s in front of me.” As a result, Murcutt says his buildings are created as a refuge, with a “front” towards the outside and a “back” that protects against incursions. Biographers say his attraction to metal, as one of his common building materials, may be linked to a child’s fascination with the bush aircraft, which were the family’s source of supplies, transportation, and connection with the outside world. The design of the MPavilion in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens in 2019 relates to this interest. Murcutt says he was inspired by a visit to the ruins of ancient Mayan city of Yaxchilan in a single-engine plane. After landing, he took a break from lunch and sheltered under the wing from the hot Mexican sun. “I put my rucksack against the aircraft’s undercarriage and lay down. There above me was the beautiful wing, lined with aircraft fabric,” he says. “This experience came totally and powerfully back to me, when I was designing the MPavilion’s roof.” The building clearly expresses Murcutt’s love of functional design adapted for the elements. The pavilion’s overhanging roof is made from wing-like curved trusses along its edge, over which a translucent, tensile membrane is stretched. The effect suggests the aileron that enables a plane to

Top: Hundreds attended the opening of the MPavilion, a building inspired by an aircraft wing. Above: The interior of the Marie Short farmhouse.

Murcutt’s motto is ‘touch the earth lightly’ and he’s considered a forerunner in the construction of ecologically responsible buildings.

turn and manoeuver in flight. Murcutt’s motto is “touch the earth lightly” and he’s considered a forerunner in the construction of ecologically responsible buildings designed for the local climate. His Marie Short farmhouse in Kempsey, New South Wales, was seen in 1974 as a turning point in Australian architecture’s understanding of its environment. At a time of so-called Brutalism, Murcutt’s design was based on simplicity with the use of local timber and economic materials, such as wrought iron – as in his childhood home. With references to a rural Australian wool shed, the house is also highly functional in the way it harvests the breeze and the light, while dealing with the harsh summer heat. Murcutt’s unconventional designs and approach have sparked numerous battles for approval with conservative planning authorities. Nevertheless, his work has international influence, not just by example, but also through master classes for other architects. Murcutt is still “practising like mad,” and clients wait years for Murcutt’s services and pay handsomely. But he’s still made time to help an Aboriginal community in northern Australia get a share of the world’s best housing design. And he hasn’t forgotten where it started. A documentary made some years ago, when he returned to PNG, records him rhapsodising about his childhood influences. “Those mountains those hanging clouds, that lushness, that temperature change – the people – the culture – this is what I knew – this is what I was – this is what I am – I’m back home.” FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 37



Diabetes is one of Papua New Guinea’s most serious health issues, with it affecting close to 20% of the population aged between 20 and 79. But while its effects can be devastating, the upside is that type 2 diabetes – the form most prevalent in PNG – is manageable as well as preventable through healthy lifestyle choices. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body’s cells become resistant to insulin, the substance which converts blood sugar into energy. Symptoms are feeling unusually tired, lethargic, dizzy, and experiencing excessive hunger or thirst. Sufferers can also have difficulty concentrating, an increased


need to urinate, develop dark patches of skin and notice wounds are slow to heal. The disease has become so prevalent throughout PNG for two main reasons: a genetic disposition to type 2 diabetes in most of the population, and the adoption of Western sedentary lifestyles with diets rich in sweet or fatty ‘junk’ foods that lead to obesity. Overeating and lack of exercise become even higher risk factors when a person drinks alcohol to excess and smokes, the combination creating the perfect environment for the

DIABETES BUSTERS ☛ Lose up to 10% of your body fat if overweight ☛ Increase physical activity, such as brisk walking, to at least 30 minutes a day, at least five times a week ☛ Return to a traditional PNG diet high in vegetables, fibre and fruit but avoid excessive coconut cream

disease to develop. The International Diabetes Foundation identifies type 2 diabetes as a major cause of blindness, stroke, kidney failure, heart disease and limb amputation. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle – exercising and switching from sweet and fatty foods to a diet full of fruit, vegetables, grains, and lean protein – along with medication and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. Physical activity – simply moving more – is just as important as a good diet.

☛ Use low-fat cooking techniques such as steaming, grilling and mumu ☛ Lower fat intake to less than 30% of total kilojoules ☛ Reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total kilojoules ☛ Reduce alcohol intake to less than one drink per day ☛ Stop smoking ☛ Stop chewing betel nut for non-traditional purposes Recommendations from World Health Organisation





Port Moresby’s iconic fine dining venue, Bacchus Restaurant at Airways Hotel, has reopened after renovations – one might even say it is Bacchus in style. Bacchus was the Roman god of wine who had the distinction of being reborn after, in the words of one scribe, being “torn to bits” in battle. Thankfully, the second coming of his namesake, Port Moresby’s iconic fine dining venue at Airways Hotel, has been less dramatic. The management has opted for a slick renovation but carefully retained the old-world elegance that made this the go-to place for corporate functions and highpowered dining during the PNG LNG boom years. Likewise, the menu has been refined rather than re-invented. So I just had to sample the classic “fresh locally caught” tuna sashimi, which happily has not changed at all. It’s hard to imagine tuna, or indeed any fish, tasting better than this. For the purposes of this review (honestly) I thought I’d try the Tuscan white bean soup as well. Although it’s a favourite of mine, I was conscious it was rather a hearty choice for PNG’s tropical climate. So, I was pleased to find it had been processed into a smooth liquid (rather than containing whole beans) and had a rich, balanced taste. Wagyu steaks stand out in a very wide-ranging main course menu.

Top: The Wagyu fillet and baked lobster. Above: Bacchus has reopened after a slick renovation.

For the ultimate indulgence, order the duo of reverse-seared Wagyu fillet and baked lobster. I opted instead for the excellent star anise-spiced roasted duck breast, served with baby vegetables, roasted apple and blueberry gastrique (a sweet-and-sour sauce). From the dessert menu, try the crepe Suzette at least once, just to see your pancake spectacularly flambéed at your table. With a live pianist, extensive wine list and the luxurious Havanaba bar next door, Bacchus is the perfect venue for a special occasion, while the food remains divine.


TEL: 324 5200, ext 3400 OPEN: Daily. Lunch 11.30am–3pm. Dinner 6–10pm STYLE: Fine dining with an international focus. GO-TO DISHES: Duo of reverseseared Wagyu fillet and baked lobster, and fresh locally caught tuna sashimi. PRICES: Appetisers K45–59. Mains K89–119. Desserts K39–69.




Above: The elegant decor of the Grand Papua Hotel’s 15th floor. Left: Fresh tuna tartare. Opposite: The Gulf lobster with cheesy celery cream.

TEL. 304 0000 ONLINE OPEN Monday to Sunday 6pm to 10pm STYLE Upscale dining with an influence of local PNG products. GO-TO DISHES Tuna tartare, grilled Gulf lobster, braised pork belly. BYO No PRICES Four-course meal K155, five-course meal K175.

Dining at the quirkily named ‘15th Floor by Chef Krisna’ at the Grand Papua Hotel is like seeing a slow-burn film: your consumption is an experience, pleasantly unfolding piecemeal, at a pace set by practiced hands, so that when your date asks at the end what the best part was, your answer is a dumb, “everything”. From the elegant decor of marble walls and sleek wingback chairs to the muted lighting, easylistening jazz and expansive sunset views of downtown Port Moresby through floor-to-ceiling windows,


there is everything to love about this restaurant, which transforms from the executive lounge to restaurant at 6pm daily. And then there’s the main drawcard: the food. Chef Krisna Damarjati, who’s from Indonesia and has almost 20 years’ experience in kitchens in the Middle East and Asia, starts us on his surprise amuse-bouche (French for ‘mouth amuser’), a demitasse cup of vegetable soup layered with truffle foam and olive dust. It’s very light but just enough to whet our appetites.

For wine, we choose an Australian, full-bodied, spicy shiraz from a modest-sized list. Entrée is a fresh tuna tartare laced with lemon vinaigrette and crunchy pine nuts, served with a smear of watermelon syrup. The fruit brightens up the fish, delivering a dynamic, summery flavour. Next is the grilled Gulf lobster with a potato mash foundation. The presentation is aesthetic, so it seems a shame to muck up, but the tender flesh is easy to peel from its shell and, coupled with a spoonful of mash and a dash of the cheesy celery cream, the combined taste is thrilling. Dessert is a Highlander pineapple-infused cheesecake served with berry compote and sprinkled with biscuit crumbs. Airy and smooth, it is just the right

amount of sweetness to pair with the richer chocolate truffles and cup of PNG coffee. For 175 kina, the three-hour ‘movie’ is more than good value. Also on the menu, which the chef says changes every month, is an

inspired list of dishes like beet insalata, Ramu steak with redwine sauce, braised pork belly with pumpkin puree and Queen Emma mud cake. “We try to make use of local ingredients as much as possible,” the chef says.


The SP PNG Hunters during a training session.



The premier Australian Rugby League competition, the National Rugby League (NRL), is the most followed sporting competition in Papua New Guinea. Rugby league is considered PNG’s national sport because of its popularity, and it has become part of modern PNG culture and produced local superstars (see Justin Olam story Page 20). The broadcast of the NRL in PNG has helped in the growing popularity of the sport. When the Brisbane-based Redcliff Dolphins team was announced by the NRL as the 17th club to join the competition from 2023, talk turned to who might be the 18th team. Rugby league great and former Australian national representative, Mathew Johns, put forward the idea of the 18th team being a “Pacific nation side”, arguing it would be a way to harness the large number of talented rugby league players in the Pacific. Johns said the Pacific has become the heartland of recruitment for the NRL and a team comprising PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Cook

Islands could easily be the 18th NRL team. Johns further suggested that the team should be located in PNG because, unlike other Pacific Island countries, PNG has the financial potential to back an NRL team. The PNG government has in the past supported the idea of PNG having a team in the NRL. In 2008, then Prime Minister, the late Sir Michael Somare, launched the PNG NRL Bid. The bid aimed to

A team comprising PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands could easily be the 18th NRL team.


have a PNG team in the NRL by 2011. However, PNG didn’t have a sizeable stadium to host games and lacked a development system for junior rugby league. While the bid didn’t achieve its primary goal, focus shifted to developing the sport at the junior level, and elite player development. In 2014, PNG joined the Queensland state competition with the SP PNG Hunters. The Hunters won the premiership in 2017. PNG now has a 20,000-capacity stadium in Port Moresby and a school rugby league competition with a junior development system. In February 2021, PNG’s Prime Minister, James Marape, said PNG was aiming to have a team in the NRL by 2025. However, PNG’s participation must make business sense for the NRL. In early 2021, senior NRL reporter Brad Walter estimated that for a Brisbane team to join the NRL it would need about $A15 million (K37.7 million) for start up costs and an annual revenue of $A30 million (K75.5 million). This gives an idea of the costs involved and assumes that there is a fan base that can generate enough revenue annually and a talent pool that can provide elite players to compete at the NRL.




Kenneth Vagi is captain of the University Piggies in the Premier Division of the Capital Rugby Union competition. The Piggies are one of the oldest sporting clubs in Papua New Guinea, formed in 1965. Their sky-blue jersey has been donned by the likes of former PNG statesman Sir Anthony Siaguru, and former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta. Apart from leading the prestigious club, Vagi has played multiple times for the national rugby union team, the Pukpuks. In 2020, Vagi played for the Brest University Rugby Club in Brittany, France, until COVID-19 stopped the competition.

Kenneth Vagi on … Going to France was surreal, that was an amazing experience. I thought the language barrier would be challenging, but most of the players and the coach spoke English. We (Vagi travelled and played with other PNG players) had a few great games until COVID-19 hit and, unfortunately, our stay was cut short. I hope that after COVID-19 the opportunity

FOR THE RECORD Name: Kenneth Vagi Age: 27 Position: Scrum Half/number 9 Local club: University Piggies

It was great to play against top teams like Russia, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe

opens for us to play there again. I started playing for the Piggies in 2010, in the under 19s, and then in the Premier Division. I was then selected for the PNG team. To get a call up in the Premier Division team of the Piggies and then the national team in the same year was something special for me. It was a great experience to play with the Pukpuks in 2016 against top-ranked and wellestablished teams like Russia, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe (in the Regal Cup Nations Tournament in Hong Kong). I’ve grown more confident in my abilities from that experience. Training has become part of who I am, so even without any matches for a while (because of COVID-19 disruption) I keep fit. I enjoy working out at home or the gym. For strength training, I do deadlifts, bench presses and squats. Without weights, I do push-ups, planks, squats and pull-ups. For cardio, I like getting outside, so I do a few laps around the field, or a four-kilometre run along the road.

International representation: Pukpuks / Brest University Club Height: 174cm Weight: 84kg




To launch our brand-new fitness section, we call into one of the best training venues in Port Moresby, the Holiday Inn & Suites and chat to fitness enthusiast Chris Korearu. “There is huge interest in working out and staying fit in Port Moresby, and it’s only growing,” says Korearu. “However, there is only a limited amount of training facilities in the city.” One of the best venues is the Holiday Inn & Suites in Waigani, where Korearu works in the sales and marketing department. The complex offers a spacious, air-conditioned and well-equipped gym that is available to guests and external members, as well as a secure, shaded and picturesque walking track. This one-kilometre path is perfect for a cardio workout but, as Korearu explains, it also provides an appreciation of PNG culture: it is lined with sculptures, with each one “representing the various cultural and traditional beliefs in each of our provinces in PNG.” An arrow on each sculpture indicates the walking track’s direction. The track has two dedicated exercise huts where walkers can stretch or cool down. “When I go to the gym, I basically do a compound workout, to keep in shape and build strength,” says Korearu. “But as I live in Koki, in the Moresby South District, I also go jogging along the sea wall and refurbed Ela Beach area.”

Top left: Chris Korearu. Left and above: The 1.1-kilometre path lined with sculptures. Right: The Life Gymnasium. 46 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022


If you’ve taken a fitness ‘break’ over Christmas and the New Year, it could be time to go back to the gym, or to try a gym for the first time. Port Moresby has a good selection of gyms, offering the latest in treadmills, spin bikes and other cardio machines, as well as free weights and exercise machines. In addition, many of the gyms have fitness and yoga classes, sometimes included in the cost of membership. PNG Now caught up with Dominique Seddon, the manager of the Life Gymnasium at the Holiday Inn & Suites. Who can use Life Gymnasium? It’s open to hotel guests, while non-guests can purchase a day pass or a membership. There are memberships for one, three, six and 12-months. The 12-month membership includes a discounted renewal price.


Look good, feel great with this home workout Try this simple beginners’ workout, suggested by Life Gymnasium’s assistant manager, Mosiloku Vaia. He says: “Staying fit and healthy has always been important, but it is especially important right now. So even if you can’t make it to a gym, try working out at home to keep your body’s immunity stronger and help boost your mood and confidence levels.”

☛ Warm-up stretches (5 minutes) ☛ Star jumps (20) ☛ Crunches (2 sets of 10 reps) ☛ Short rest / keep hydrated ☛ Squats (2 sets of 10 reps) ☛ Donkey kicks (2 sets of 15 reps)

What does gym membership entitle you to? Membership includes use of all the facilities, including cardio machines, weights and other equipment. There’s also an area for stretching and warm-ups, a range of group fitness classes, squash courts and change rooms. Secure car parking is also included for members, along with a gym induction to show new members how to use the equipment. What kind of group fitness classes do you offer? We have classes in high-intensity cardio, semiintensity cardio, resistance training, interval training and flexibility. Some of the classes that you may have heard of that we offer are Zumba, yoga, step and bootcamp. What time is best to exercise? There really is no best time; it all depends on your body, so listen to it and hit the gym when it’s most

☛ Knee pushups or full pushups (2 sets of 10 reps) ☛ Short rest / keep hydrated ☛ Alternating knee-ins (2 sets of 5 reps) ☛ Lunges (2 sets of 10 reps) ☛ Plank (hold for 20 seconds) ☛ Cool-down stretches, relax and breathe Any new fitness program should be started under supervision of/ with advice from a qualified instructor, or a doctor if there are health conditions.

convenient for you. We open from 5am to 9pm. If you prefer your workout at a quieter time, go later in the morning, at lunch or in the afternoon. However, if you prefer an upbeat workout with more people, go between 6pm and 8pm. Where do I start? One of the most important things for a good workout is to properly warm up. Stretch to loosen up your muscles to help prevent injury and cramping. After warming up, if you don’t know where to start you can ask one of our attendants. They will happily show you which equipment is best to use for what you would like to achieve. Do you offer personal training? Yes, we have in-house personal trainers available. What gear do I need? Gym-appropriate clothing, gym shoes, a sweat towel, water bottle and a gym bag to put everything in. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 47

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Papua New Guinea’s move towards online banking and e-commerce is accelerating, in part because of the effect of the COVID-19 crisis. Business and banking initiatives are also intensifying. According to the Bank of Papua New Guinea’s December 2020 Quarterly Economic Bulletin, the pandemic has pushed consumers towards online options, boosting the overall market. Retail sales increased by 3.1% in 2020, compared to a decline of 0.5% in 2019, “mainly attributed to higher online spending.” The banks are acting quickly to provide internet options in an effort to expand their market in PNG’s chronically under-banked population. They also have an eye on reducing the capital costs associated with running physical outlets, something that is notoriously expensive because of the country’s difficult geography. Kina Bank offers retail mobile banking and personal online banking. The bank has established an Internet Payment Gateway (IPG) service that allows customers to use ATM cards for online payments, which is more cost-effective and allows all of the bank’s customers to pay for goods and services online. Users will get an SMS message or a WhatsApp message to securely validate their transactions. Bank South Pacific has launched its BSP Pay service. The bank says it has 200,000 debit cards in circulation but over 1.8 million bank accounts; the move is designed to entice those extra 1.6 million customers to use an online payment system instead of going into the physical bank. It is expected that mobile payments will become the customers’ preferred purchase option. BSP offers full-service personal internet banking and is moving into providing online commerce services. In 2020 Tapioca Delight, a bakery and catering company, became the first SME in PNG to accept online credit and debit card payments through Bank South Pacific’s online payment gateway. Elsewhere, progress is patchy. Moniplus provides

its products (personal loans, asset finance, term deposits and foreign exchange) online. But the rollout of online services has a long way to go with many of PNG’s 13 licensed financial institutions, 16 savings and loans societies (SLS) and over 70 small community-based non-government organisations. On the other side of the ledger, online retailing has surged, helped by the pandemic. Many of the international online shopping options were already available, such as, and ebay. com. But more PNG options are springing up as well as the market matures. Bzzmart is a PNG-based online market that sells food, consumer products, electronics, auto and motorcycles. The company claims to undertake quality control on the products before it offers them to customers. Another online market place that launched recently in PNG with a very local focus is Jungle. Like Bzzmart, the company claims that it checks all vendors on its site, and that only businesses registered with the Investment Promotion Authority are permitted to have a storefront. The site has 18 different product categories and uses Kina Bank’s online payment platform. The most established online player in PNG is Fortuna Online, which offers supermarket products, beverages, computers, clothing, pharmaceuticals, furniture,

The pandemic has pushed consumers towards online options.


The crew at Tapioca Delight, which became the first SME in PNG to accept online debit and credit card payments through BSP.

vehicles and spare parts. The site uses credit cards or mobile phone payments. Smaller niche players are also emerging. Barata, an online apparel-shopping site (or is an innovative option. The word “barata” means “brother” or “friend” in Tok Pisin. The company started selling in shopping centre car parks, then expanded by creating strategic partnerships with retailers in Port Moresby and Lae. It now offers bucket hats, fitted caps, shorts, board shorts and T-shorts online. A slightly different online service is POSS (PNG Online Shopping Services), which buys products in Australia and then ships them to most PNG cities and towns. About 85% of PNG’s population does not have a bank account and only 18% live in urban areas where the traditional banks are concentrated. But mobile phones are widely used and the central bank is moving to exploit this. Loi Bakani, outgoing Governor of the Bank of PNG, has said a range of innovative technological solutions are being explored to increase the population’s access to financial services and ability to do business. These initiatives include trials of blockchain and the use of digital IDs. There is still a lot to come in PNG’s online world. | (675) 313 3929 |















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Which operating system you use is a very important question to ask. Windows (or PCs generally) has the biggest market share and it is supported more readily with software and advice. PCs are considered to be a more serious solution for people who know a bit more about computing. Macs, or Apple computers, have an operating system that is easier to use but you might find it more difficult to get help if things go wrong, and harder to find compatible software.


The central processing unit, or CPU, is your computer’s brain that carries out all the computational processes. It is the most important component of your computer and you need to do some research to find out the right one for your needs. Do you do simple tasks? Are you a gamer? The two biggest companies are Intel and AMD and they both have their pros and cons, but generally Intel is less expensive.


Buying a computer is no small purchase, so you want to get it right. Not to mention the fact that technology moves so fast that even relatively computer-savvy shoppers can easily get left behind. With PNG increasingly moving online, a computer can be an important addition to your home or office, so we offer up a simple guide to getting yourself the right hardware.


This decision will impact budget, space and the capacity of your computer. If you are not working on the move, a desktop computer offers a betterperforming machine for less money – you pay for portability. But if you are always on the move, then a laptop is the right choice. You just need to think about how you work. 52 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

RAM, or random access memory, affects how fast your computer works and how much it can handle doing at once. The higher the RAM number the better, but a lot of RAM also costs a lot of money. If you are a mad multitasker who uses a lot of programs at once you need a lot of RAM, but if you are just using your computer for simple tasks you can get away with less.



For general computer users, the graphics card that comes with the computer is enough, but if you play games on your computer or use graphics-heavy software, like that for an architect or graphic designer you may need a more powerful graphics card. You need to consider a lot of things when buying a computer, from what the rest of your friends and workers use to how far you can stretch your budget. But if you learn a few of the basics the choice can be less scary.

Technology/Digital Payments

A NEW WAY TO PAY Papua New Guinean financial technology company NiuPay is helping PNG push into the world of e-commerce with a range of digital payment options that help businesses collect revenue and modernise their e-commerce operations. E-commerce is new to PNG, but NiuPay is growing quickly as these technologies and platforms enhance the capability and reliability of government and private sector systems in a costeffective and secure manner. Put simply, NiuPay is making e-commerce easier for government, businesses and SMEs to access but the technology also allows businesses to do away with some of the old paper trails. NiuPay assists organisations in modernising technical practices by providing cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Business-Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS) solutions with a focus on customer experience and revenue collection. They make it easier for your business to receive and track payments and simpler for customers to utilise online payments. What sets NiuPay apart from other web-based applications and cloud-based infrastructure is that it has been specifically developed from the ground up for the PNG public and private sectors by directly addressing the unique challenges and complexities of the PNG digital landscape. NiuPay is solving problems that are unique to PNG, says company

NiuPay is making e-commerce easier for government, businesses and SMEs. director James Inglis. For example, the company’s ‘eLands’ platform built for the Department of Lands and Physical Planning has streamlined back-of-house processes and paved the way for the digitisation of land dealings.

This benefits the people of PNG by making the often-confusing system of land ownership far more transparent and by having accurate record keeping around who owns what land. Next up for modernisation is the tax system. NiuPay will shortly be deploying its ‘myIR’ platform for the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC). This platform will enable individuals and organisations, for the first time, to lodge returns, pay their outstanding taxes, as well as perform other interactions online; these things that previously only available at an IRC office. NiuPay is committed to extending the “front counter” of the PNG government and business into the homes and offices of all Papua New Guineans, says Inglis.

Phoning in your tax The IRC recently announced it would be communicating with SMEs via text message to remind them of the due dates for small business tax filing. The move comes after the IRC received feedback that many SMEs do not have access to emails and prefer to receive communications on their mobile phones via text. There are almost 700 registered small business taxpayers who will be receiving the new text communications and it is hoped it will aid with compliance and assist with any questions SMEs may have.


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How PNG could be in for a windfall

56 END OF AN ERA Oil Search merges with Santos

58 PROPERTY REPORT Latest trends and market analysis



HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR SME 5 tips from the experts at Kina Bank

AT WORK WITH … Laboratory scientist Maisy Malala


PNG Moni/News



Winds of change

Oil Search merges with Santos After nearly a century of searching for and developing resources in Papua New Guinea, Oil Search has ceased to exist. The giant PNG resources company has merged with fellow petroleum and gas company, Australianbased Santos. The decision, supported by around 95% of Oil Search’s shareholders, paved the way for the creation of a resources company with a pro forma market capitalisation of $A23 billion (K56.88 billion), making it one of the 20 largest oil and gas companies globally. The merger met with regulatory approval and the company has taken on the name of Santos with Oil Search confined to the history books. The merger will see Australia’s Santos greatly expand its interests in PNG. “This merger will create an entity that will have the balance sheet to fund major projects in PNG,” said Santos

CEO Kevin Gallagher. It will add Oil Search’s 29% interest in the productive ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project to its own 13.5% interest, making it the single largest partner in the project, although there is some expectation that Santos may offload some of this interest. In addition, Santos will take over Oil Search’s interests in two future gas projects: Papua LNG (based on the Elk-Antelope gas fields) and P’nyang. The change means shareholders in Oil Search are now Santos shareholders and, with Santos now replacing Oil Search on the PNGX, PNG locals can easily buy shares in the newly-merged company. And for those sad to see the Oil Search name disappear, there is a little Easter egg in the new name: Santos originally stood for South Australian and Northern Territory Oil Search.


Could wind power be the answer to Papua New Guinea’s intermittent power? And could it even see PNG export power to the Pacific? Talking at the 2021 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference, Sean Whittaker, Principal Renewables Specialist with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), said that PNG would be ideally placed to start the journey to renewable energy. “You have a world class resource,” Whittaker said. “We did an exercise recently where we did some mapping of the offshore wind resource for countries around the world and PNG comes out very strong.” To qualify as world class you need a wind speed of 1–10 metres per second according to the Global Wind Atlas. “PNG’s offshore wind resource is an amazing attribute – you have many locations with wind speeds over 10 metres per second,” Whittaker added. The IFC is a big investor in wind power. It currently has a $US1 billion portfolio in countries including Pakistan, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Egypt. “The basic thing here is the need for a roadmap to look at all the links in the chain that would need to be in place for offshore wind to grow and to prosper in PNG,” Whittaker said.

Taking PNG to the world Papua New Guinea has been courting investors at the World Expo in Dubai, highlighting the cultural, geographical and natural resources on offer. PNG’s pavilion at the expo also seeks to highlight PNG’s potential as a home for tourism and eco-tourism. See

US to ramp up PNG power investment There has been a lot of talk about increasing the reliability and affordability of electricity in Papua New Guinea. Announced in 2018, the PNG Electrification Partnership sees Australia, PNG, Japan, New Zealand and the US work together to support PNG’s target of connecting 70% of the population by 2030. Current connectivity is 13%. The US has been quiet about its own share of the project until recently, but is now making progress, according to senior officials from the USAID-PNG Electrification Partnership (USAIDPEP). USAID-PEP is being funded through the United States Agency for International Development and it differs somewhat from the contributions of the other donor

nations. Rather than fund all its projects entirely, USAID is aiming to use seed funding to leverage private sector investment into PNG’s electricity sector. An initial $US57 million (K200 million) has

been allocated for this purpose, through which the project is looking to generate investment worth some $US200 million (K701 million), much of which will help PNG’s state power company, PNG Power Ltd. “PPL’s (PNG Power Ltd’s) financial viability and operational efficiency will be improved. The aim is for PNG Power to have 130,000 new household connections, a reduction of 15% in the share of diesel-based generation, losses reduced by 8% and revenue increased by 10%,” said Julinette Bayking, Senior PPP/ Project Finance Advisor for the USAID-PEP. Five provinces in PNG have been initially identified for the program: East Sepik, Milne Bay, Bougainville, Oro (Northern) and Hela. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022 PNG NOW 57

PNG Moni/Real Estate


8 Mile is no doubt Port Moresby’s fastest developing suburb, with residential and commercial property mushrooming throughout the once-quiet countryside. The latest exciting commercial addition for 8 Mile residents is the new Sunway Mall, set to treat customers to a wholesome shopping experience without the need to drive into the centre of POM. Good news for businesses as well is that Sunway has some of the most competitive rental rates in Port Moresby and management is now eagerly welcoming interested tenants.

The mall will accommodate grocery and clothing retailers, restaurants, health and beauty shops, pharmacies and clinics, banks, a cinema, travel agencies and those looking for office space. There will be no nightclubs or gambling outlets on the property.

Ever wondered just how high the top is when it comes to the city’s luxury rental options? Here are the top three most lavish living spaces in POM. Number one is undoubtedly the Crowne Apartment’s

Penthouses coming in at K10 – K14,000 per week. You’ll probably be surprised to know that the complex has a 65% occupancy rate, as many people have asked, “who can possibly afford that?!” 42 on Le Hunte is Brian Bell’s executive residence at K4–500 per week plus Hitron pay TV, 25GB data and up to K600 per month on electricity, saving tenants over K850 per month. And that’s not all; you also get complimentary barista-style coffee – that’s definitely a real estate first for PNG. One and a half grand down from the last but worth a mention for its pretty design and interiors


When using your VISA Debit Card, simply 'Touch & Go' for convenient and safe contactless payments. 58 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

Our Bank. Our People.

is the Davetari Apartments by Valkyrie Estate. There’s no beating the view from this side of Toaguba Hill, and – there’s a sauna – that certainly ticks the luxury box.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way we think about almost everything, and the real estate industry around the world is also being transformed and disrupted. Investing in “post-COVID competitive” office spaces may become a trend as companies bring their staff back to work, providing more space, better air filtration and sanitisation systems, among other requirements. In time, it is predicted by a James Cook University study that

such features will add more value to these spaces, and those that are unable to keep up with these trends will eventually become obsolete. For those with the skills and capital to take this path, however, various opportunities should open up throughout the industry.

The annual property survey by Hausples is underway, with results expected to be released soon. The real estate web site recently put out a call for people to participate in the survey, with an incentive of a 1000-kina phone giveaway. Hausples says that while 2020 was a disruptive year for PNG’s economy due to COVID-19, 2021 saw the country regain

some ground across all sectors, including the heavily impacted real estate industry. With the vaccine rollout and the stabilisation of COVID-19 cases, some confidence has been rejuvenated in the real estate market from potential property seekers looking to find a new home. This has been proven, with a significant increase in searches for properties on the hausples. platform. Hausples says the survey will help to better understand the sentiment from property hunters and to better picture the state of the real estate industry. As this is the sixth annual survey, Hausples will be able to compare the results from previous years and analyse trends in the market. The survey results will be made available on the Hausples website.


PNG Moni/Small Business


SME owners should ensure that proper strategic objectives are set for their businesses. This will help focus everyone involved with the enterprise, from business partners to employees. Set periodic goals (weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually) to drive and measure performance.



Good governance is the foundation of every successful business. SMEs that engage in ethical business conduct benefit from having business reputation and improved employee engagement. Businesses known to embrace good practices generally have easier access to financing, which promotes growth.

Set specific goals so everyone in an SME has the same focus.



While most SME owners have the knowledge of handling their dayto-day finances, it is also equally important for SMEs to ensure proper management of their cash flow and financial reporting, which paves the way to effective business planning. For those who lack the financial skills, the function can be outsourced to a certified accounting firm, or hire an accountant to do the job.



In the age of rapid growth in digitalisation, SMEs that take their businesses online have proven to have the upper hand. They will generally benefit from having access to a larger network of customers faster, more easily and in a more cost-efficient manner. Many businesses no longer operate out of office space, but anywhere with access to cloud services and network drives.


Growing at your pace is the key. Successful SME owners know the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses and will know their capacity. Continue to replicate what has worked well for the business and continuously review efforts to improve business flaws. Avoid the temptation of expanding beyond the means of the business, which may result in cash flow constraints hampering flexibility in managing the business. Tips provided by the Business Partners Team at Kina Bank,





Maisy Malala is a resident medical laboratory scientist with the Port Moresby General Hospital. The Gulf lass joined the hospital in January last year and is working towards obtaining her laboratory scientist licence. She also works as the business development manager with Majestic Pharma and Biomed Imports Limited, a newly established pharmaceutical company in Port Moresby.

Maisy Malala on … Juggling two jobs is necessary because it’s quite tough living in the city and putting food on the table for the family. I love my work because I can help people. Our findings in the lab help doctors with the treatment of patients. It’s something to be happy about when patients get better through some of the work we have done. On a typical day, I come into work early and I do maintenance on the lab equipment and instruments before processing patients’ pathology samples. My inspiration and passion for this job is being able to help people. My goal is to obtain my licence as a lab scientist, and then I’ll mostly likely go into public health. I’m hoping to achieve this in the next three to five years.

A highlight of my career has been working in the tuberculosis lab, where we are responsible for the microscopy. We release our findings to the doctors and they adjust the patients’ treatment accordingly. For the past week, we have had so many patients recover that I have been overwhelmed. The threat of COVID. So, people should really take this for real and try to practise new normal measures – wash your hands, protect yourself and your family, because that’s your responsibility.

Our findings in the lab help doctors with the treatment of patients. 62 PNG NOW FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022

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