Meeting of Mortlock Islanders in East New Britain
Venue: Nukumuri Sione’s Residence
3.55 PM, 5th November, 2000
Mr & Mrs. Nukumuri Sione
Mr & Mrs. Sugihenua Apawa
Mr. & Mrs Tehuana Manoni
Mr. Lauatu Tautea
Mr. Pasini Marena
Mr. Harvey Napito
Mr. Faiva Sione
Mr. Tuare Atomu
Mr. Alohi Moilani
Welcome & Introduction:
Lauatu welcomed everybody and thanked them for coming. He also thanked Nukumuri for letting us use his house as the venue. Lauatu informed those present of the numerous exchanges between Mortlock Islanders on the internet regarding an Australian or New Zealand newspaper article about the sinking of Taku’u Island to whom Richard Moyle was the source. Lakoa was the first to raise the issue after being emailed by some people as far as France who were either concerned and wanted to shoot a movie on the islands to catalogue the event. Print-outs of the email were distributed to members of the group by Sugihenua and Lauatu.
The group was informed that according to scientific information circulated the sinking of Taku’u is attributed to subduction/tectonic movement or greenhouse effect. The sinking of islands due to the former was discarded as it has been pointed out that subduction has been been nullified by the formation of the Ongtong Java Plateau.
Many present told of their observations which clearly indicated that the island is going under water. Faiva, who has just returned from the islands said the matahenuas – especially matahenua Sieki is almost gone with erosion from eastern and western sides. Faiva said on Taku’u island itself one can see the ‘keris’ clearly from the beach unlike before. He also said that nowadays you only need a few steps to walk into tekava and taitelanui has moved closer to the cemetery. According to Faiva the Telaki winds that usually built up the western foreshores are no longer whilst the teanake winds that sweep away the sand dunes at matahenua seems to predominate. Avi said that the Telaki winds seemd to have moved more to Teuasei’s direction. Nukumuri informed the meeting that previously "keris" such as Peoro on the southern outskirts of Taku were reached by saltwater during the urutais – during the time of very low and very high tide, which usually happen over a week. Nowadays "keris" in the centre of Taku’u such as Senaurohu are worst affected.
Agenda 1: Election of Office Bearers
Everybody was asked whether we should form our own Association in Rabaul as it has been suggested that we should form one Mortlock Association. It was proposed that we in Rabaul should go ahead and form our own Association and there can be an overall National Mortlock Association. The Chairman of our Association should be an automatic member in the National Mortlock Association.
It was decided that an inaugural Executive be appointed to begin the work of the Association. The group agreed by consensus to appoint Lauatu Tautea as Chairman, and Faiva Sione as Vice Chairman. The two would run the affairs of the association including the books and funds until other office holders are appointed.
The meeting agreed that the Association be incorporated as this was important for the Association to engage in fund raising activities.
Due to an oversight, the meeting did not discuss the Association name.
Agenda 2: Land for Re-settlement
The group was of the view that the islands were sinking basing this on their individual experiences and agreed that this was the most important agenda or issue confronting us. It was agreed that the most important objective now was to seek land to relocate Taku’u. Some of the members present projected the island may not be able to support life in the next 5 – 10 years and re-settlement would be a long-term solution to the problem.
The second issue of sea-wall and land reclamation, though important was a temporary issue. The group questioned whether the required financial resources could be mobilised to fund this or whether the Government or donors would be willing provide funding for this. In any case we may need to undertake fund raising to carry out land reclamation where feasible.
The meeting felt strongly that the process to identify and acquire land to relocate Taku’u should begin immediately.
Pasini informed the group that they had met in Buka with Mr. Joseph Kabui and James Tanis to discuss the issue of re-settlement. Mr. Kabui and and Tanis indicated their support in making land available at Kuveria and Mabiri.
Lauatu informed the meeting that he is preparing a paper for Chairman Sam Tulo of the Cocoa Board to present at the Bougainville Summit. There is a suggestion for some of the plantation to be purchased and subdivided for re-settlement.
Faiva informed the meeting that we should urgently push for the Provincial Government to allocate land for a Taku village at this time when land pressure was not really high for Bougainville. If we left it too late, the landowners on Bougainville may not entertain the idea of giving away land. He cited the case in East New Britain where land pressure is now an important issue and the Tolais and Bainings are now opposing making any land available to the Duke of York Islanders.
Lauatu added that at the moment there is support from Bougainville leaders and Bougainvilleans as shown by the meeting attended by Pasini and there was a need to take advantage of that support before it is too late.
There was agreement for a Fund to assist with the campaign and contribute towards payment of the land.
Lauatu informed the meeting of the need to prepare a submission to the Provincial Government and Provincial Executive Council to re-activate a policy on resettlement for the islanders as only then will Government resources be committed to the project. Kapeatu Puaria, Taehu Pais and Puara Kamariki to be sounded out.
Agenda 3: Awareness Campaign
Awareness campaign was required at different levels and stages towards the issue;
Islanders; to convince them of the effects of the Global warming
National level; draw sympathy and support throughout PNG.
Provincial level; Support was already there and the aim is to get them
Agenda 4: Fund Raising
The group agreed to begin fundraising immediately by;
The money raised would be used for;
It was agreed the meeting would be held on Sunday 19/11/00 at 2 PM. The venue will be Nukumuri’s residence.
The meeting closed at 5.30 PM.
R a b a u l M o r t l o c k A s s o c i a t i o n
P O Box 291
East New Britain
6th November, 2000
Hon. Michael Ogio, MP
Deputy Prime Minister and
Member for North Bougainville
National Capital District
My dear Member and Deputy Prime Minister
Please allow me to convey on behalf of the members of the Mortlock Islands Association in East New Britain our congratulations on your elevation to the high office of Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Forests, Culture and Tourism. We would like to let you know that we also share with you the joy and elation as a result of your elevation to the high office of Deputy Prime Minister. Your promotion to the high offices reflects on your astuteness and exemplary performance and the respect you have gained amongst your peers as our Member of Parliament. It also shows the stable and visionary leadership you displayed so far as our leader.
Without taking too much of your precious time, we would also like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention the plight of the people of the Mortlock and other outlying atolls that are now sinking as a result of the effects of global warming. As you are aware, Caterets Islands has been the worst affected but present indications are that the water level is rising rapidly in the Mortlock Island group that is also accelerating the rate of soil erosion. We, Mortlock Islanders throughout the country have been concerned about it and are having meetings throughout the country to discuss solutions to the problem. It is our view that the construction of seawalls is a temporary measure to address the issue whilst a more permanent measure is to re-activate the re-settlement program that was implemented before the crisis as a matter of urgency. We probably need to undertake a study to determine the effects of global warming and the rate of rise in sea level in order to come up with concrete proposals to build seawalls and look at the option of relocating the village to mainland Bougainville.
We will be getting in touch with our colleagues in Port Moresby to seek a meeting with you to fully brief you of the situation.
Please accept our best wishes on your grand appointment.