Follow my journey as I serve as a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Papua New Guinea.

Friday, 28 October 2022

Bedamuni Bibles

Recently I had the privilege of flying two plane-loads of a new Bible translation from our Kiunga base to the bush airstrip at Mougulu - 110 boxes, weighing over 1500 kg! There had been some logistical issues and communication breakdowns along the way, so the delivery was a few months later than expected, but at least we are now making progress...

Boxes of Bibles

Loading the plane in Kiunga

Walter is happy to play his part in securing the load

People in Mougulu help collect the boxes from the plane

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Kumul lodge

Last weekend there was a group trip organised to Kumul Lodge, about an hour's drive west of Mt Hagen and known for bird watching. Despite having only arrived back in Hagen the day before, I decided to go. Although there were about 30 of us, the birds near the lodge didn't seem to mind, which was good!

I don't know the names of any of the birds so have just given them my own descriptions :)

Stunning scenery en route

This bird's red face...

...turns yellow after it's eaten

These green parrots were hard to spot until they came to eat

The iridescent colours of this bird reminded me of a tui

Long tail feathers

Even longer tail feathers!

It was fascinating to watch these birds eat with their long, curved beaks.
They would pull off a piece of fruit, toss it in the air and swallow it.

Not a bird...

After our bird watching we enjoyed breakfast at the lodge

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Family holiday in Dunedin

As part of my mum's 70th birthday celebrations, we had a family holiday in Dunedin. The last time we'd been there was in the mid-90s, so it had been a while...

Playing games at the holiday house


Day 1

Since it was the last Friday of term before the school holidays, we opted to go to the museum as it would likely be less crowded than from the Saturday onwards. We also weren't sure what the weather was going to do - as it turned out, we needn't have worried!

The 'torque table' in the science museum

The obligatory walk up and down Baldwin St

Day 2

A road trip to Oamaru and back, with various stops on the way...

Coastline walk at Karitane

Moeraki boulders

Fur seal

Day 3

Being a Sunday, I asked if I could be dropped off at a church (since options in PNG have been pretty limited). It was good to be able to be anonymous.

In the afternoon, we went to the albatross colony at Taiaroa head.

View of Port Chalmers from Mt Cargill

Shags on their nests at Taiaroa head

Fully grown albatross chick, yet to take its first flight

Albatross chick practising

Day 4

Larnach's castle, then a maze and mini golf at Wal's Plant Land in Mosgiel before flying back home.

Larnach's castle and gardens

Staircase inside

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

A surprise visit

I couldn't write anything about this earlier, for obvious reasons!

At the end of September I took my first international flight since arriving in PNG on a one-way ticket in January 2022 (while NZ still had compulsory hotel isolation requirements for everyone entering the country). I arrived in Wellington at midnight on Friday and laid low at a friend's house on Saturday.

Sunday was the big day - my mum was turning 70, and she had no idea that I was going to be there. My brother picked me up and we went to the restaurant that had been planned for lunch. The look on her face was priceless!

About 5 seconds after the surprise was sprung

After lunch we went to my brother's house for games and cake.

The celebrations weren't over - Mum had arranged for the whole family (minus me, but with inside knowledge I had bought a ticket on the same flight) to go to Dunedin for a few days.

Prior to the trip, my friend and I went for an easy overnight hike to Rangiwahia hut.

The hut sits just above the bush line

Sunrise colours on Mt Ruapehu

Hiking across tussock hills

Another view of Ruapehu

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Independence day

The day before the NZ foreign minister's visit, one of the admin staff asked all of us Kiwis if we could bring our New Zealand flags to work - and was flabbergasted when each of us replied that we didn't have one!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to 16 September and his reaction made a lot more sense. Papua New Guineans love their flag and are proud of their independence, which was granted on 16 September 1975.

MAF Mt Hagen

I had a planned overnight in Kiunga on Wednesday and when I arrived back on Thursday I was greeted by our traffic officers. All the national staff were wearing their national colours (in many cases, with a local flavour from their as ples - place of origin). 

Village school celebrations

Five of us attempted to climb Mount Hagen - the mountain, not the town - on the long weekend. When we heard that the local school was putting on a 'show' we decided to go and watch. (It ended up raining in the afternoon so we didn't do the walk, but I'm glad we got to see the school event.)

Jess being mobbed by young fans

Singing the national anthem while raising the flag

Neighbourhood celebrations

When we arrived back from our shorter-than-expected trip, the field across from our compound was a hive of activity. Rugby goal posts had been erected and over the weekend we heard much cheering and blowing of whistles. It made a change from the spakman (drunks)...

Friday, 9 September 2022

NZ foreign minister visit

On Tuesday 6 September we hosted Nanaia Mahuta, NZ minister for foreign affairs, and a delegation from the NZ embassy. The plan was to take them to a remote village by plane to see the impact that NZ development funds were having in a typical community. Glenys and I were roped in as the two Kiwi pilots in country. We flew to Tsendiap, about 15 minutes from Hagen but at the same time a world away. It was clearly a moving experience for the minister as she experienced first hand both the isolation that makes life so hard for remote people in Papua New Guinea, and the warmth of those same people as they came to show their appreciation.

The community came to the airstrip to welcome us

Welcome banner at Tsendiap

Ceremony by the health clinic


Tupela meri pailot
(Two women pilots)
Tsendiap airstrip

Back in Hagen after our visit

Press releases:

Pacific priorities at the forefront

Support for health

Foreign minister to visit Papua New Guinea

Friday, 26 August 2022

Hagen Show

The Hagen Show is an annual event where tribes from all over Papua New Guinea come to demonstrate their cultural practises through song, dance and traditional costumes. This year, it was mostly groups from the Hagen area - some locals I spoke to at the event said that groups from further afield hadn't come because election-related tensions were still high. So maybe next year there'll be a bit more variety. In any case it was still interesting to see.

We arrived while the event was still being set up. As a group of white people we were initially treated like tourists and were told it would cost us K200 to get in. When we started talking in Tok Pisin and saying, 'Fesbuk peg bilong yupela i tok em faiv kina' (your Facebook page says it's five kina) they realised that we weren't tourists and were told to go to another gate. This happened to be where the various groups were getting ready. There was nothing to stop us from mingling with them, so we mingled. It was fun to talk to people in Tok Pisin and see them open up as they realised we weren't like some of the other white people who just wanted to take pictures of them wearing feathers and leaves and not much else. They took the time to explain which birds the different feathers belonged to and what some of the symbols mean.