Archive for the ‘Culture and traditions’ Category

Savé PNG's Jennifer Waiko speaking at the Slow Foods festival in Italy last month

Savé PNG’s Jennifer Waiko speaking at the Slow Foods festival in Italy last month

PNG’s farmers and traditional cuisine took centre stage at one of the world’s major food events last month.

Markham Valley-based non-profit Savé PNG spoke at the Slow Foods (‘Salone del Gusto’) festival in Torino, Italy.

At the event, Savé PNG director Jennifer Waiko was invited to speak on a conference about ‘Indigenous Peoples and Local Food Sovereignty: A struggle for self determination’, where she said the farmers who are severely neglected by the PNG government hold the key to PNG’s economic independence.

“The majority of Papua New Guineas have is the ability to earn a livelihood from the land,” Waiko said. “We have the skills, but we need the training and market opportunities to gain financial independence.

“Political decisions in Papua New Guinea are based on money: that is, on short term aspirations. Make the people financially independent and they will make more choices based on long term aspirations.”

Savé PNG is working to inspire Papua New Guineans to embrace their cultural identity and protect their traditional foodways. They believe that celebrating traditional food is the first step towards community resiliency in the face of health, climate and cultural threats in PNG.

They are currently working on a educational video series called “Cafe Niugini” which explores indigenous cuisines and cultures of Papua New Guinea.

Slow Food is a global movement that aims to “counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions, and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” At this year’s four-day festival, there were 950 food exhibitors from 130 countries.

Savé PNG’s Bao Waiko is hopeful PNG farmers will be represented at the 2014 Slow Food festival.

“Salone is the perfect opportunity for small local PNG food groups working on agricultural products such as coffee, chocolatecoconut oil, honey, dried fruits and other locally grown and processed products to gain international exposure and recognition”, Bao said.

If you would like to know more about Slow Food go to www.slowfood.com. Read more about Save PNG here or contact Jennifer and Bao at savepng@gmail.com.

Tomato growers at theSlow Food Festival in Italy

Tomato growers at theSlow Food Festival in Italy

When PNG achieves the above, then it is becoming self-reliant. If we are able to create that, we will truly have a reason to celebrate Independence every year on September 16. National sovereignty and self-reliance are very, very important. As John Momis, one of the Constitutional Planning Committee members, said earlier this year:

“National sovereignty calls on leaders not to sell their people’s rights. Not to allow this country to be ripped up and raped by foreign investors. National sovereignty calls on leaders to reject bribery. National sovereignty calls on leaders not to use public funding to make investments overseas while their constituents are barely making enough money to buy medicine, school fees, and so on. Self-reliance means embarking on a massive program of empowering people to get involved in small scale socio-economic activities. Activities that would take into full account the Melanesian way”.

While PNG is officially Independent, we are in fact still dependent, both economically and politically. In simple terms, it is the agenda of white-men to keep the black men poor his entire life and for that they have influenced us with their western ways of doing things. It’s obvious that everything we do is in their interest. They have brought a system in which we do the work and they get all the benefits and profit and the only thing left for us is deteriorated social indicators and people living below poverty lines and political disputes which accompanies instability in the government system.

Inap lo yumi kamap developed country pinis. It’s time we shift away from imperialist control and colonialist and neo-colonialist exploitation, and approach full independence on the basis of our very own National Goals and Directive Principles, our goals, founded upon the values of Papua New Guinea. If we keep on holding onto a foreign model of development and keep neglecting our PNG ways, we will remain like this for the next 100 years.

 

 

Economic independence

Economic Independence is domestic ownership of wealth. Real economic independence will be seen and felt if the government has the capacity to provide for its own resource needs or own resources necessary for domestic development. This relates to political independence, because in order for the government to fully exercise its power as an independent body, it should discourage the ownership of resources by a few elites or foreigners, as it will function in their interest and reflect their will.

It is the citizens who should be supplying the needs of the state if we are to see our nation achieving full economic independence. According to Namorong,

“all Governments need resources to exercise their power. If the state owns and supplies its own resource needs, then the state promotes its own interests. If corporations supply the resource needs of the state, the state protects the interests of corporations. If citizens supply the resource needs of the state, the state protects the interests of its citizens.”

Government’s focus is all about mining, commercial fishing, commercial logging – big industry and less or even no attention is given to smallholder extension services or to the so-called informal sector. However, PNG’s economy is dependent on agriculture. At the same time, a majority of the population is dependent on agriculture. The National Informal Economy, given adequate government support, can provide economic independence for the nation, while creating broad and sustainable employment for citizens throughout the nation.. Recognition and strengthening the informal sector, rather than the formal sector (‘cash economy’) can be a breakthrough for PNG.

There’s big potential there because that’s what we are good at doing. We are productive people and it comes naturally in a sense that local people, even without any proper knowledge in agriculture, can produce something and sell. All we need is better transport network and general infrastructure to support the people. Policies should be people-friendly, producer-friendly. We already have the background, in the 2011 National Informal Economy Policy.

For our economy to be fully economically independent, we might also consider the importance of a developed manufacturing sector, in terms of downstreaming processing. PNG export approach is to ship our natural resources as raw materials: this is the central attraction for foreign investment and it’s going to remain that way unless our government takes a step forward on this sector of the economy. It is not necessary that we hand over our resources to foreigners in order to see progress. If it was, the founders of this nation would not have called for National Sovereignty and Self Reliance or for the wise use of natural resources.

Another important inducement for economic independence is being less dependent on foreign aid and foreigners to stimulate our economy.  That includes foreign grants, aid and foreign investment. Our economy is greatly dependent on foreign investment: for example, almost all mining companies are foreign owned. This is not economic independence. Nor is accepting aid, dependence on which disempowers the government from fulfilling its duty to its citizens. A study made last year by the Australian Government’s Joint Intelligence Organization found almost two-thirds of PNG’s economy is controlled by Australian companies and individuals.  And with the rapidly increasing Asian involvement in economic activity here, it is clear that we Papua New Guineans at present control only a very small part of our own economy, and will remain in this subservient position unless firm action is taken to change the existing situation in a meaningful way.

So I would say that this is the real independence struggle of Papua New Guinea. What economic independence really means to me is that our government owning the wealth of the nation and getting only its own citizens to supply its resource needs, not from any other third parties (as in foreigners). We should not be relying on foreign aid and investment to maintain our economy. Economic independence means people of the nation are in charge of generating cash, which stays in the domestic economy. Economic independence is the control of the wealth of a nation by a majority of its citizens. Because of this, developing the subsistence or informal sector in Papua New Guinea can really contribute to the overall independence of our economy. Improvements in road networks and basic infrastructure are the main motivational factors required for people to contribute to PNG’s economy, if they are not already doing so.

 

 

 

Third Goal: National Sovereignty and Self-Reliance

 

Introduction

Papua New Guinea’s National Goals and Directive principles are our home-grown set of objectives and aspirations founded upon the traditional customs of our peoples and incorporated into the Constitution of PNG. The National Goals were set as a sense of direction and a guide for every PNG citizen in pursuing and achieving their aims.  Importantly, it captured our very own traditional diverse cultures, beliefs and values, and identified proper and applicable mechanisms to promote them. This paper is produced to review and evaluate PNG in terms of National Goal number 3, National Sovereignty and Self-reliance.  It asks if PNG is fully exercising its power as an independent state or is still partly independent.

Despite this goal’s inscription in the preamble of the Constitution, it is yet to be realised. It is just another paper plan, decorating our Mama Lo (Constitution). I argue that we are Papua New Guineans and in order to see change and progress, we have to go back and realise this National Goal along with the other four National Goals.

Political Independence

Political Independence is when a government has the full authority and power in making decisions for the nation, which are more or less free of foreign influence and control. Apparently, the National Parliament and Constitution are the benchmark and authority for this. However, the main meaningful measurement of how independently the government is exercising its power is whether it operates in the interest and will of its citizens, rather than serving a handful of elites and private and multinational organisations (foreign investment). Serving such interests keeps our government under the control of foreigners in one way or the other, which in turn sees government neglecting its own people.

Goal 3 declares it is a fundamental goal of the people that PNG should make its own decisions, and that its sovereignty should not be reduced by external political, economic or military dependence; that national leaders should always be free to make national decisions.

Now we want these words to be actions to lead us towards realising and achieving National Sovereignty and Self-reliance. But to do so, our governance must differentiate itself from the colonial manner of administration, which is better termed as the western Model of Development. This model of development is inducing our government to be dependent or serving the interest of foreigners and not becoming the true representative of the people who voted them in. PNG blogger Martyn Namorong has identified this so called western model of development as the root cause of all evil in PNG.

I see that if our government preserves this foreign imposed model, it is likely our elected representatives will function perpetually in the interest of foreigners and elites without worrying about the National Goals set for Papua New Guineans to realise development on our own terms. The current model, a colonial legacy, is deliberately designed by westerners in a way that it will induce our government to function in their interest, even though we have been given the opportunity to govern ourselves. Moreover, this model of development disempowers indigenous people, and leads to law and order problems and political instability. This model is not in the interest of PNG citizens and contradicts with our traditionally established values. It seriously ignores the directive principles integrated into our Constitution.

Therefore, political independence to me means that we should go back to the eight directive principles inscribed under the National Sovereignty and Self-Reliance goal, and put them into tangible practice. Political independence will only occur if our political system is reformed on the basis of PNG values. Achieving stronger government decentralisation and devolution would be of great benefit towards this. As former Constitutional Planning Committee member John Momis said recently, “We must not be afraid to make a detour from wayward ways and go back to the past that the National Goals and Directive Principles of our Constitution prescribe for us.”

Another area undermining PNG’s political independence is foreign influence. It is stated in principle eight that PNG’s sovereignty

“must not be undermined by dependence on foreign assistance of any sort, and in particular for no investment, military or foreign-aid agreement or understanding to be entered into that imperils our self-reliance and self-respect, or our commitment to these National Goals and Directive Principles, or that may lead to substantial dependence upon or influence by any country, investor, lender or donor”.

One on-going problem that triggers foreign dependence is debt.The government always branches out to international agencies such as International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for assistance, which allows these international ‘aid’ agencies to implement a range of strict economic and administrative policies without the people’s say. Furthermore, even churches and other non-governmental organizations undermine political independence.

Thus, the Goal of Sovereignty and Self-reliance means to me that our government must be reformed in a way that really reflects the wills and values of PNG. Instead of operating in accordance with the flawed system left behind by the whiteman, and with less foreign assistance of any sort. This requires, critically, decentralisation. Government agencies and the public service should be fully functional and efficient.

In addition, it also means that people should have much more power to execute decisions about the destiny of their lives. When our government becomes the true representative for our people, then we might well see real political independence.

A Pacific alternative to the negative effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is founded on indigenous values as opposed to economic globalisation, which is erected on the value of material goods. We want to live lives of dignity that are sustainable, peaceful and all embracing, where as TPPA  globalisation is unsustainable, damaging, conflict-ridden, and excluding.

These concepts are not merely a dream. It is founded in reality and has been our normal life all through out the Pacific. The institutions and values embedded in our culture & custom may not create wealth on a massive scale but they will never be responsible for creating second class citizens, destroying the environment at will, causing poverty, the debasement of humanity and denial of human dignity, as economic globalisation is doing.

Against all the odds, and the threats we face to our lands, our cultures, and our ways of life in the Pacific, we have survived and we continue to resist. Evolutionary processes have taken their course in the Pacific and the time has come for us to reach out across the vast ocean that binds us to support each others’ struggles and start to organise to halt the annihilation that we as a peoples are facing.

The struggle for the power to freely exercise the right of self-determination now takes on a new dimension–indigenous peoples themselves will now come to believe we not only have the right, but we have the duty to freely choose our own social, economic, political and cultural future. The Pacific will see increasingly determined peoples seeking to be free of Colonialism and its twin, Capitalism. The struggle begins!

With an Indigenous orientation and practice we can potentially contribute to a world that will overthrow the economy of control and the class who benefits from it. Those who seek dignity and freedom in the Pacific should settle for nothing less.

From the post ‘Aotearoa is not for sale’ – http://uriohau.blogspot.com/2012/04/aotearoa-is-not-for-sale.html

Rita Aroga, Grade 8, Holy Spirit Primary School, Madang

The fourth goal of Papua New Guinea is for its natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of everyone and be replenished for future generations.

The environment is everything around us including our resources. Papua New Guinea is well known for its land and water resources. A resource is anything that we have the knowledge of using. Banana is a food resource for many Papua New Guineans; kunai grass is a resource traditionally used for building houses and stone is a non-renewable resource used in making tools and axes.

Papua New Guinea has traditional subsistence lifestyles. We have plenty of natural resources and we use these for food, medicine and building houses and canoes.

  • Land resources include plants, soil, domestic animals, wildlife, minerals, forest, swamps and wetlands. They meet our basic human needs.
  • Water resources come in different forms: oceans, rivers, mangroves, marine life etc.

All of these land and water resources are for personal use or for an income. However, as population increases the consumption of these resources is becoming unsustainable. This is because of poor management and the selfish attitude of people.

The use of land and water resources must be managed wisely if we are to provide for the needs of people now and in the future. There is a need for appropriate ways of managing resources. Some of these include: conservation, reforestation, sustainable fishing/hunting/gathering, coral reef protection, protection of the natural environment, water conservation, wildlife management etc. If these resources are mismanaged, human life is in danger.

Sustainability and conservation methods are needed in order to preserve these resources for the next generation.

The exploiting or taking away of resources is happening in both land and water resources. In our country today, exploitation is taking place in three main areas; that is in the sea, on the land, and under the ground.

  • In the sea, fishing is the common purpose of exploitation. We have big fishing companies who use illegal fishing methods. For example, a large fishing boat from RD canners is using a large trawling net to catch tuna. The boat pulls the net very slowly while it swallows anything passing by including young breeding stock and their habitat. The entire marine environment is destroyed at that time. The boat makes one harvest and all the tunas are gone in that particular fishing zone. They take certain sizes and quantity and the rest (already dead) are thrown back into the sea. This then creates major problems such as a decrease in the endangered species and water pollution. This type of fishing should be banned by the government and the companies should find a more safe method of fishing.
  • On the land, forest environments are becoming scarce because people clear the land for agricultural purposes, infrastructure development and the introduction of logging companies Forest areas must be conserved because most of our basic needs come from it. For instance, a man living along the [Gogol] River wanted to make canoes for his family. He selected a few mature trees and cut them. He made the canoes but according to an awareness of future generations, he replanted young new ones so his sons and their children may be able to make canoes in the future.
  • When exploitation takes place under the earth’s surface, we know that it is generally mining of minerals. We have a lot of operating and possible mine-sites in our country but the question is: minerals are non-renewable resources which means nature does not replace them, so if all of them are exploited today, what will our future generations benefit from? This question should be reconsidered by the government very carefully before allowing mining companies to advance onto our local areas. They must think of sustainable ways and how to manage these resources so that they won’t run out very quickly. One solution could be to only allow four major operating mines, one in each of the four regions. The other mines can be closed and re-opened when the fixed time is up. In that way, we can save some of the minerals for future generations.

The environment as a whole must be protected and conservation law enforced if we are to provide for the needs of people now and in the future. In addition to that, sustainability and conservation practices depend on our positive actions as well as positive attitudes.

Conservation has always been important in the traditional life of Papua New Guinea. There are many ways that our natural resources and environment can be conserved. The wise use of resources depends on our attitudes towards the environment. We should reuse, recycle and replant, use traditional and safe methods and good practices. In this way, our needs are satisfied while safeguarding resources for the next generation.

Conserving is an appropriate way of managing resources. By conserving resources people can use the same garden land without cutting down more forest. Reforestation – that is, repantin young trees after old ones have been cut down, is another way. Sustainable fishing, hunting and gathering are good sustainable practices that involve taking only what you need for useful purposes.

Community leaders must educate people so that they use the reef wisely to meet their needs as well as sustain it for future generations. Wildlife management is needed in order to preserve our beautiful birds, butterflies and animals. If they are not protected, they will be in danger of extinction. Good management can allow wildlife to flourish in their natural environment.

There are many ways to protect our environment and natural resource, both modern and traditional, but traditional methods are the best when it comes to conservation of resources.

As the pre-independence Papua New Guinea Constitutional Planning Committee rummaged the length and breadth of what was soon to be the new PNG, the many thoughts of the citizens were given. These were all compiled into what we call the National Goals and Directive Principles.

The very first goal outlines what the Constitutional Planning Committee wanted every citizen Papua New Guinea to reach, in order to unify and strengthen the state.

In simplified terms, Integral Human Development is the ‘creation of a person that is ‘whole’ or a ‘complete being’ within the state of Papua New Guinea. In the Constitutional Planning Committee Report (1974) it is written:

This means that we use the term development to mean nothing less than the unending process of improvement of every man and woman as a whole person. We take our stand on the dignity and worth of each Papua New Guinean man, woman and child.

‘Dignity’ and ‘worth’ of every Papua New Guinean is what the citizens wanted as the very first goal of Papua New Guinea as a nation as from 1975. The people wanted the independent state of Papua New Guinea to be the catalyst towards citizens respecting each other. Through citizens seeing value in each other, development should flow freely for all, the First Goal argues.

When the lawmakers tapped into Integral Human Development, they addressed the human person as a ‘whole’. For in the ‘whole’ human person, we connote the three main parts of a person: a man is made up of the spiritual, physical and mental components. Manifestation into these parts meant the Constitution was truly holistic. It was dedicating itself into getting every PNG citizen to be free spiritually, physically and mentally.

In the spiritual aspect of life, for example, the National Constitution was to uphold the Melanesian traditions, cultures or norms that connect the man to his environment. I say this because Melanesians were spiritual beings long before Western colonisation of our islands.

In terms of physical well-being, by enshrining Integral Human Development as priority number one, the government was telling the world that it would provide for its citizens. Equality, fairness and justice in the political, economic and social spheres was its obligation. This would imply, for example, that poverty would be eradicated for every citizen. In terms of mental well-being, the first goal implies the state is to provide easy access to services such as education and health care, without discrimination.

To the Constitutional Planning Committee, providing these things were the new nation’s top duty. It recognised that by a total commitment to the people, the newly independent nation could create a stable and viable state where every person was free to access and benefit from every development in Papua New Guinea.

To me, positive change for Papua New Guinea’s progress was well catered for on paper. The National Goals provide a nice foundation for any nation builder’s strategizing. But the leadership, on the other hand, were already engaged in denying citizens from seeing his or her fellow countryman or woman as having his or her own ‘dignity and worth’.

Inequality and injustice was what the colonial administration blessed the government of Papua New Guinea with to start off as an independent country, directly contradicting its written laws including National Goal number one.

A classic case in this regard is my Solomon island of Bougainville. The Government of Papua New Guinea was not willing to respect our ‘dignity and worth’ as non-Papua New Guineans. It was not willing to allow us to develop with our own values, despite goal number one, and despite being a member of the United Nations that protects minorities or marginalised peoples against all forms of genocide, exploitation and suppression.

At the cost of Bougainvillean land and people’s ‘dignity and worth’, Papua New Guinea was trying to get the new state up and running economically. Our dignity and worth was nothing to the state, which was built to sustain the bicycle tyre called Papua New Guinea and not those spokes that strengthen that tyre to carry the country.

And today, despite our very first goal being ‘Integral Human Development’, we still witness Papua New Guineans denying each others’ dignity and worth.

In summary, Integral Human Development is for the state to empower each individual citizen’s dignity and worth in its own unique setting for a harmonious national sustenance and developmental progress. But, for Papua New Guinea, the respect for its citizen’s dignity and worth has been neglected in the name of national progress, at the expense of the development of each citizen as a whole person.

We must look after our natural resources and environment. In the past people used resources to meet their own immediate needs. Nowadays people need cash income and practices have changed.

Mismanagement practices can bring short-term benefit and long-term losses. Forests have been cleared for large-scale plantations, logging, agriculture and minerals exploitation. When pollution takes place it destroys the natural resources and environment.

Therefore we must look after our resources and environment for the future generations.

– Grade 6, Holy Spirit Primary School

The aim of the first National Goal is ‘for every person to be allowed to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that every woman and man will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others’.

What then do we mean by ‘Integral Human Development? We can say that Integral Human Development is all about the holistic approach to dealing with the affairs of Papua New Guineans. By holistic, we are talking about the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of human beings as an approach to addressing some of our national issues.

How can people be dynamically involved in the process of freeing themselves from every form of dominance or oppression?

Forms of dominance or oppression that are stopping individuals to develop freely as a whole person in relationship with others include: lack of education, unemployment, gender bias, discrimination/stigma (HIV/AIDS victims), crime, poverty, child abuse/neglect, disability, violence etc. Those vulnerable to domination by others include: people with disability, old age, women, children, unemployed, less educated, and men and women of lower status.

Economic

The economic approach to integral human development is to do with empowering Papua New Guineans to participate meaningfully in economic activities to sustain a living. Those who are unemployed must seek ways to help themselves. It is amazing how women in business have expanded. These are women with integrity and power. They have realised that they have potential and cannot be dependent on their spouse. They work in order to earn that respect.

Economic wise, people should not rely heavily on government handouts but must be innovative in their economic activities so that they can manage their own living. Our country must be self-reliant.

Social

Social aspects of integral human development might encompass literacy, education, unemployment, poverty, and crime, for example.

One of the factors that contributed to lower literacy rate is a lack of education. People have their reasons as to why their education was not completed. In most cases, people could not complete their schooling because of the cost of education. Some others aren’t given a choice: think of those young women who had to leave school to marry so they could take care of their families. These are individuals who have dreams and potential to do greater things. Some of them may have been forced into these things with or without the awareness of their human rights. They have had their right to Integral Human Development stolen.

Women in Papua New Guinea have always been looked down on in a male dominated society despite their achievements. How can Papua New Guinea achieve Integral Human Development without humanity and respect for fellow citizens? We have to change the mindset we have towards each other. No matter the ethnicity or sex we carry, we must begin to realize that we are equal and can depend on each other as we work together towards the common good of Papua New Guinea. Women and men, we need each other. No one should be deprived of their human rights.

Cultural

Papua New Guinea is going through a transition from traditional culture to modernization. The impact of modernization is evident in the world today. And as Papua New Guinea is part of the global community, people and cultures must adapt to these changes.

Although our cultures identify who we are, some of the beliefs are unfair and ridiculous. For example, in traditional times and according to our cultures, a man who had wealth, status and role was an important person that must be respected and people had to be submissive to. Oftentimes, justice and fairness could not prevail. Men were seen as more important than women. Women were totally submissive to men and they could not express their views or opinions.

Today, most women remain afraid of letting their voices be heard. They are afraid to talk about rape, domestic violence and other issues because of fear and cultural constraints. This has affected many of them socially and psychologically. Man has labelled woman as inferior: this is a mentality that we must encourage all women to brush aside. We must support them in their pursuit of life without dominance and oppression.

Conclusion

Just how can one achieve a life without dominance and oppression by others? As individuals, we have our own dreams and passions and we cannot rely on others to support us all the way. We should not be dependent on others for our own happy endings.

At the same time, as much as possible, we must encourage and promote unity in our land. Women and children must be encouraged and given the opportunity to participate meaningfully in their communities.

We need respect and we must be respected. The preamble law of Papua New Guinea says that all of us, regardless of whether we are men or women, rich or poor, superior or inferior, we all have human rights which should be respected.

Integral human development is the way forward and provides the way towards sustainable development. With this national goal, Papua New Guineans must understand that they have basic human rights. Regardless of whether we are men or women, integral human development as a national goal emphasises our rights to education, literacy, employment, health care, security and safe relationships. With integral human development, we have the freedom of speech, choice, and expression. Achieving this one goal means Papua New Guinea can achieve all the other four national goals as these goals are part of Integral Human Development. Achieving the first one paves the way for the rest.


In the coming weeks, OPWs will be publishing the work of the winners and finalists of our PNG National Goals and Directive Principles essay competition.

These are the voices of our youth. They seethat PNG has not fulfilled the promise of the National Goals, created in 1974 after a team of men and women travelled the length and breadth of PNG to find out what values and aspirations would best guide the newly independent country.

Our ancestors, following the wisdom of their ancestors, told them PNG’s future history should always be based on the following five goals:1. Integral human development
We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others.

2. Equality and participation
We declare our second goal to be for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the development of our country.

3. National sovereignty and self-reliance
We declare our third goal to be for Papua New Guinea to be politically and economically independent, and our economy basically self-reliant.

4. Natural resources and environment
We declare our fourth goal to be for Papua New Guinea’s natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of us all, and be replenished for the benefit of future generations.

5. Papua New Guinean ways
We declare our fifth goal to be to achieve development primarily through the use of Papua New Guinean forms of social, political and economic organization.

The students who entered our essay competition see that our National Goals are just as important now as they were in 1975. Maybe even more important, with PNG under increasing pressure from outside influences and powers trying to make our nation dependent.

Dependent on foreign countries for bank loans, for aid. Dependent on foreign companies for wealth generation, in the form of mining, logging, fishing, oil palm and other projects that destroy our natural resources, and rob people of their customary land and the ability to make money for themselves. Dependent on foreign, processed food and soft drink, rather than enjoying our own healthy organic food.

These students, the voices of our future, believe our five goals still provide the roadmap for a TRULY independent Papua New Guinea. The goals tell us we already have the answers to our problems – we don’t need to be holding out our hands, asking for someone else to save us. The answer is believing in our strengths. We don’t need to be saved, the goals tell us, because we are already rich and strong. Perhaps we have lost sight of our strengths as a people.

As individuals, it is up to us to try to enact these goals by living them through our actions, in our own communities, and by pressuring our government and elected representatives to do more to realise them. Start today.