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Book Release - ... as Mothers of the Land

AUT Office for Pasifika Advancement
and WILPF present:

“…as Mothers of the Land”
The birth of the Bougainville Women for Peace & Freedom

9:30am, Monday 5 April
AUT Conference Room, WA Block
Wellesley St. Campus, Auck

Guest speakers Josephine & Sam Kauona Sirivi travel from Bougainville
As Mothers of the Land tells the story of one of the deadliest crises of the last decades - the Bougainville conflict - and the peace process that followed, not through the eyes of politicians or military leaders, but through the personal accounts of Bougainville aboriginal women whose commitment and determination played a crucial part in the resolution of the conflict.

Bougainville is a matrilineal society, in which the women are custodians of the land, but as the conflict escalated they became unwilling pawns in the fight to control the country’s destiny. During the nine year blockade many of the people of Bougainville had to leave their villages and were deprived of essential supplies and medicine. As a result of this and the war with PNG soldiers, 10% of the population died and the remainder suffered extreme hardship.

This is the story of the birth of the Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom as a response to the blockade of Bougainville by the Papua New Guinea Government which began in 1990.The strength of the women and their belief in a peaceful outcome to this crisis following the disabling of the Panguna copper mine as part of their land rights and independence struggle, is a story that needed to be told.


‘ … as Mothers of the Land’

Edited by Josephine Tankunani Sirivi
and Marilyn Taleo Havini
ISBN 1 74076 043 3
Published by Pandanus Books, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, ANU, March 2004.

Reviewed by Kathy Dyson:

For people interested in Development and Peace in the Pacific this book of women’s voices is of paramount importance. The birth of the Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom is described as part of the horror story of ten years war, incited by capitalist interests and demands of access to mining and despoiling of the sacred lands owned by the women of matrilineal Bougainville.

The Peace Process that followed, as Right Honourable Don McKinnon Commonwealth Secretary General writes in his foreword – through the personal accounts of Bougainvillean women whose commitment and determination played a crucial part in bringing about the resolution of this bloody conflict is the focus of this work. From all sides the women stood united in their resolve to build a lasting peace that continues to this day.

This is a book that challenges the politics of war and force. Women whose primary task is to sustain the dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities echo in Josephine Sirivi’s words (co-editor) “Will you continue to kill our children or save them? They suffer as they grow. We have lost many children.”

The Papua New Guinea government spent more than $800 million in the 10 years of fighting its war in Bougainville. They were prepared to pay Sandline mercenaries $36 million to kill, maim and defeat their own citizens and to put an end to their quest for self-determination in a post-colonial (Australia) Papua New Guinea.

Read this book, hear the women’s voices, heed the sorrow and demand that this must never happen again anywhere in the Pacific, or indeed, the rest of the world. Alas, West Papua is in the throes of the same conflict, capitalism versus peace, prosperity and self-government after supposedly throwing off the yoke of Dutch colonial rule.

‘Mothers of the Land’ work to build a ‘land of beautiful music … filtering through the hills, valleys and mountains whose children love to play in the moonlit night IN A FREE AND HAPPY LAND’ from A Song for the People, Josephine Tankunani Sirivi.

New Zealand Distributor: Addenda. Available at Bennetts Bookshop, AUT Queen St.

AUT Office for Pasifika Advancement
and WILPF present:

“…as Mothers of the Land”
The birth of the Bougainville Women for Peace & Freedom

9:30am, Monday 5 April
AUT Conference Room, WA Block
Wellesley St. Campus, Auck

Guest speakers Josephine Tankunani Sirivi and Sam Kauona Sirivi travel from Bougainville

Hosted by:
- AUT Office for Pasifika Advancement

The Office for Pasifika Advancement was established by the Auckland University of Technology to provide a vehicle for strategic leadership, decision making and advocacy on behalf of internal and external Pasifika stakeholders. The newly appointed Director of the Office for Pasifika Advancement is Laauli Michael Jones supported by Senior Advisor Pasifika, Toleafoa Alfred Schuster and Office Administrator, Lana Compain.

- Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Aotearoa)
WILPF (Aotearoa) is part of the international women’s peace organisation established in 1915 to 'bring together women of different political beliefs and philosophies who are united in their determination to study, make known and help abolish the causes and the legitimization of war'.

More info at Bougainville Freedom movement website:
Bougainville - The long struggle for freedom - By Moses and Rikha Havini
Indigenous Wisdom on Peace-Making and Peace-Building
How to make peace in post-colonial conflicts. By Jossie Kauona Sirivi (BWPF)

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