Short list of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition, Minerals Resources Development Corporation, Women in Writing Category

Five Women in Writing shortlisted for the 2017 Minerals Resources Development Corperations Women in Writing Award

The 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition experienced a stronger women movement in Writing. There were more women than men (55 % of total entries) submitting literary entry. Women had better quality writing and were superior in their choice of topics and ideas. A proper assessment on the entries could possibly illustrate more about the contribution in literature from the entirs.

This category is obviously meant to promote equity. Its an opportunity for women to have a larger space to showcase their talents gifts and abilities. The trend has been nothing but positive. The wave of talents have been strong. The following names of women listed below is the short list winners for this category.

 Kepan Kepas Winuan
 Evah Kuamin Banige
 Leila Parina
 Carol Kouron
 Kirsten Aria

The shortlisted literary entries above have been sent to the sponsors who have picked the overall winner. The overall winner will be announced at the Awards Reception event on the 22nd February 2018, here in Port Moresby. The brief biographies below illustrate a little bit more about the shortlisted authors.

Kepan Kepas Winuan

Kepan Kepas Winuan is a Teacher at the Kudjip Nazarene High School, Kudjip Nazarene Station, Jiwaka Province.

Kepan is currently working on publishing two books and a school magazine. These literary materials are; Book of Synonyms, Developing Writing Skills and School Journal.

Her first book (Book of Homonyms) has been completed. She is now negotiating with Notion Press Publishing Company of India to have it published.

Evah Kuamin Banige

Evah Kuamin Banige is an Administration Officer in Lae, Morobe Province.
She is passionate about writing, helping children and advocating for change and development in her community. She wrote: ‘Victims of violence have to rise up and speak out for their own good. I believe I have taken the biggest step to write about my experiences as a woman facing violence through this competition’

She has been writing since her primary school days. She won a prize for the story of her experience of the 1994 Twin Volcanic Eruptions which was published in book of collection of short stories. Part of 4th Year Journalism Thesis was published in the South Pacific Islands Journalism Communication. One of her entry won the 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) Best Award in the Print Category of the PNG Media Awards.

Kirsten Aria

Kirsten is from Ihu in the Gulf Province. She enjoys literature. Kirsten entered an entry in 2012 under the Heritage category. The Heritage category entry in that year was aired by EmTV as content in a program focussed on Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea.

Leila Parina

Leila wrote a candid and beautifully stringed words into a poetry about violence. Leila has been writing since at the age of 9. She mostly wrote in her private journals. Her first published work was out in 2017. It is called “A paradigm shift” which was featured in the PNG Anthology “My walk to Equality”.


2017 Competition Report

Compiled by Gretel Matawan and Emmanuel Peni

This is an account of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition

The Voluntary Organising Committee (VOC) of the Annual 2017 Crocodile Prize Literature Competition in PNG is happy to announce that a successful year of literature competition has come to a close. We would like to thank all the sponsors and the public who have sincerely supported this competition.

There have been several queries on when the winners will be announced. The VOC is excited too to know about the winners.  However, the winners will have to be administered through a lengthy process of judging and selection.  Our Volunteers have put together the folders (9 altogether) of the entries. Below is the summary of the entrants and the entries for this year.

This is the 7th year of the Annual Literature Prize.  This year the VOC received 245 entries from 87 Papua New Guinean writers and artists.

The Table 1.0 shows that the majority of the writers are from NCD. The VOC did its best to use several media platforms to reach every PNG citizens.  It is unfortunate that very few entries are coming in from outside of NCD.  The Committee is looking at accepting written pieces on paper from remote places in 2018.  Otherwise, the VOC will do its best to reach out to the people of PNG in 2018. Hopefully we get some entries from even those provinces not listed here:  West Sepik, Southern Highlands, Hela, Western Highlands, New Ireland, Central and other PNG citizens living abroad. We have an entry from Fiji.  We can confirm that it is from a Papua New Guinean citizen.  We would like to also report that the entries from Gulf Province were from Kikori secondary schools after a visit by a member of the VOC in 2017.   Our publicity and communications team have learnt a lot in promoting writing in the last two years of work in PNG. Literature spaces and activities in PNG have declined to a state of irrelevance.  This is a tragic and frightening trend when considering Google and fb and Alibaba and more are fighting and in the process spending billions to get information from people around the world. When will Papua New Guineans wake up and write our own history, experiences and our aspirations?  Why do we let outsiders do it from their reference point and own our stories?

Table 1.0 shows the Provinces and the number of writers/artists who have sent in their literary piece(s).

Provinces (Areas) Number of Entrants
East New Britain 3
East Sepik 3
Eastern Highlands 4
Fiji 1
Gulf 3
Jiwaka 2
Madang 2
Manus 3
Milne Bay 2
Morobe 5
Mt Hagen 1
NCD 46
No Response 2
Oro 1
Central 1
Simbu 1
West New Britain 3
Western 1
Grand Total 87


There are 8 categories showing here in which entries have been received for. Of these entries two other category winners will be selected from.  These are: Emerging Young writer and Women in Writing.  The figures in the table clearly show that poetry is the most preferred literary piece to be written and sent in at 53% of the total. It is exciting to see that short stories went over half a century.  The VOC will work hard to help the writers/artists of PNG write or illustrate more our experiences, past and our dreams. It is unfortunate that Heritage writing continue to register low levels of entries. One can easily imagine anyone telling a tumbuna story (we have thousands) or describe a cultural experience.

Writing for children is one category; the Crocodile Prize is going to promote more in the next couple of months. We are interested to have more stories for our children so they become readers of our own journey.    

VOC will be more available for Essay and Journalism category next year after the Crocodile Prize blog has been upgraded to Premium.     There will be more interaction and discussions on the entry pieces sent in.

Table 2.0 shows the number of entries received for the categories in which prizes were secured for 2017.

The 2017 Categories Number of Entries
Short Play 3
Essays and Journalism 26
FB & NBC Radio Comp 4
Heritage Writing 14
Illustrations 3
Poetry 130
Short Stories 52
Writing for Children 13
Total 245

It is exciting to see that the 60% of the entries came from the economically active population of ages between 21 – 40 years (refer to Pie chart 1.0 below). It is unfortunate that the older population who would have had many experiences and culturally more rooted sent in less this year.  It is presumed that those who have resigned or have their careers stalling (11% of the total entries) would find passion somewhere else and writing and illustrating could have been a healthier, productive and meaningful diversion.

Chart 1.0 also gives a good indication on the members of the writing societies whom the VOC will target next year to promote, guide and support and engage in the literature competition. Even if they do not want to participate, their entries or submission can be used to add to the body of knowledge captured for generations to use to understand the evolution of the PNG cultural heritage.    
Where to from here:

The process of identifying the winners will take two months. Firstly, the folders will be sent to those who will cull (select what can be judged) from whatever numbers down to 10 entries. The 10 entries will then be sent to the judges who will then select only the top 5 entries. The top 5 entries will lastly be sent to the sponsors who select the winner.  We will announce the 5 shortlist at the end of January 2018. The winners will be announced at a Ceremony at the Grand Papua Hotel on the 10th February 2018.  There will be an official gathering where the 2018 Crocodile Prize Competition will also be launched.  Stay tuned for the announcements and the winners and the launching.

A burning question to discuss is the participation of women in PNG. Both 2016 and 2017, (under the leadership of Papua New Guineans) have proven beyond doubt the participation of women in writing has gained its foot hold.  There are more women sending in entries (55 %) than men folks.  The quality and diversity of the entries far outweigh that of men. Women were the youngest of the entrants and the oldest. Last year’s winner of the Paga Hill Foundation Writing for Children Category was a 14 year old girl from Bougainville.   Females were more active in asking for information and following the rules and guidelines.  The tides have turned and so there must be a category for Boys in writing and Men in writing.

The only issue encountered by the administrative team of the VOC was the lack of respect to the rules and procedures. One of the entrants sent in 23 entries altogether. Clearly this person did ignore the rules or did not bother to ask for clarification.  Others continue to send in entries without the entry forms.  This may sound like hard work to you as an entrant, but technology has made it so easy. One can literally take a snap shot of the entry from and inbox this through fb messenger or email it in picture format.

The VOC takes pride in our work in one tiny area of literature in PNG. What we are especially proud about is our process on identifying the winner.  Our selection and judging process is very stringent. We want to instil integrity into the processes and give an opportunity for the public, sponsors, supporters and participants to believe that we have been transparent and accountable. We want to show and prove that we can be objective and manage wantok system, nepotism and any other possible foul play or conflict of interest.

Otherwise the VOC are privileged to be given the opportunity to lead the Crocodile Prize. The VOC would like to congratulate everyone on their efforts and wish everyone a success in their different endeavours.

 Our Sponsors:

Sponsors Category
Port Moresby Arts Theatre Best Short Play
PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Essays and Journalism
Haltmeier Family FB & NBC Radio Comp
Cleland family Heritage Writing
Yet to Announce Illustrations
Kina Securities Poetry
Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited Short Stories
Mineral Resources Development Corporations Women in Writing
Library for all, Australia Writing for Children


The Interim Working Committee

Chairman: Emmanuel Peni, (Author, Director – People Centred OD Consult)

Deputy Chair: Joycelin Leahy (Blogger and Author, operating out of Brisbane, Australia)

Other member of the working Committee:

Ruth Moiam, Consultant (World Bank Communications)

Martyn Namorong, (Blogger, National Coordinator – EITI)

Baka Bina, (Supreme Courts – Human Resources)

Gretel Matawan, (Communications, Institute of National Affairs)


The Resilient Mother of the Bougainville Crisis by Agnes Rita Maineke

Edited for the blog from an entry for the  2017 Crocodile Prize Competition, Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited Short Stories Category by Agnes Rita Maineke

Agnes Rita Maineke is from the Tokunutui area of Siwai District in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. She is a teacher by profession who won the 2014 Crocodile Prize Short Story Award for her entry called ‘The Roonou’.

 The Resilient Mother of the Bougainville Crisis

In December 1995, a young woman, twenty-nine years old and pregnant with her first child was caught in the midst and at the height of the Bougainville Crisis. She was one of the Haisi people who were at the time of her pregnancy, living in the Papua New Guinean Defence Force care-centre at the Mission Station near Arawa, called North Solomons Province back then.

Early in the wee hours of the morning of 1st December, a handful of the members of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army entered the care-centre on the pretext of talking about peace. Instead they forced all the civilians to evacuate the care-centre and move into the surrounding jungles. Along with others, this young pregnant woman, with her husband, packed their minimal belongings as speedily as they could and left in haste. Other close and distant relatives also silently and in swiftness left the care-centre as dawn advanced.

As soon as the people reached the safety of the jungle, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army started their onslaught on the Papua New Guinean bunker nearby. Fierce fighting broke out as soon as daylight came. The Defence Force Commander was shot on that morning by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. The refugees pushed further into the jungle that day to put solid distance between themselves and the gunshot launchers fire coming from the Mission Station. It was decided by the refugees’ elders that they all would travel northwest towards Jarara village. The young pregnant woman carried her bags at her back, besides the child within her womb and walked as softly and swiftly as she can. Fortunately,  for  her,  her  husband  had  not  joined  the  Bougainville Revolutionary  Army. He was by her side and today he shouldered their other household items which she could not carry. As they travelled towards Jarara, they arrived at the Upai River which was experiencing flooding. They retreated to one of the sites of the abandoned bush camps and slept there for the night. Some families huddled together under the stars because the roofs of those houses had already disintegrated. No one had eaten anything that day. The silence of the travelling day became a little louder at night as they all reposed they weary bodies, emotions and spirits.

As soon as daylight came, the refugees broke camp and headed towards Jarara. By then, the flood had subsided and they could cross to the other side of the river. However, the crossing had to be made further downstream and not at the usual place. They were fearful of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army who had set up camp at the Jarara. They crossed without much misfortune, arriving at a hamlet at the mouth of the Pu’u River toward the middle of the day. It was there that the refugees decided to separate. The young pregnant woman and her husband with five other families headed to a relative’s home along the banks of the Ororo River. This was a secluded place out of sight from both the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. It was learnt by the travelling refugees that there was a small group of Bougainville Revolutionary Army’s camped nearby.

So the refugees settled at Masapiri. There were two other pregnant women in that group that camped at Masapiri. These three pregnant women were fortunate to have a big double sized mattress to sleep on. They shared the tiny space of that mattress unashamedly but with sheer gratefulness. The mattress came by way of another member of their group, an old woman who had carried her mattress from the care-centre they had left that morning a day ago.  They soon settled into a routine village life in their hideaway at Masapiri.  As time passed, the pregnancy terms were encroaching onto the birthing date. On the night of the 24th of January 1996, the young pregnant woman felt the first pangs of childbirth. The young pregnant woman thought she had to defecate when she felt the childbirth contractions, this pregnancy being her first. She woke one of her fellow moms-to-be, but this other pregnant woman also being her first experience could not explain anything to her.

The young pregnant woman’s Aunt instructed her to leave Masapiri and go to another camp closer to the river called Kunnaha, when dawn broke into a lively sunny day. This was because there were no men at that other camp; it was more secluded from the rest of the other crowded camps.  When this young pregnant woman arrived, the older women of that new camp welcomed her and her husband.  The women soon realised that the young woman was going through the process of labour. Several of the women at this camp began giving conflicting instructions.  One of the women instructed her to lie down and rest, belly up and wait for the contractions.  The other woman instructed the young pregnant woman to walk around so as to induce and fast track the process of contraction. Others told her to swim in the river and rest.  Of course there were no doctors, operating clinics, aid posts or trained birth attendants anywhere. They were in the jungles hiding from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

The first day of labour passed, nightfall arrived silently through whispers but still the baby refused to leave its mother. The poor young woman experienced several painful contractions. She did not expect the pain and did not know what to do but to scream.  She could not scream so all she did was bite into hard wood and grabbed hold of the woman’s hand which she clutched and squeezed into a mangled pulp.  It was her first and a first for everyone in a very new situation.  During the night, an old midwife was fetched from another camp nearby, to assist the pregnant young woman. This midwife tried several traditional labour pain remedies.  The herbs that were gathered and used which had worked well for many mothers previously were not effective for this poor young pregnant woman. Her elder sister together with her children arrived at Kunnaha on hearing about the birth complications of her sister.

On the third day of the labour process, on 26th January, a local Aid Post Orderly was called by the young pregnant woman’s husband from a bush camp further away. This Aid Post Orderly arrived in the midst of the night.  He proceeded directly to attend to the suffering young pregnant woman. His diagnosis was not good news to everyone. He stated that the baby was not yet due.  Night came and the contraction pain continued into the third day. The fourth day dawned, the 27th January with less joy but more anxiety and uncertainty. The pregnant young woman’s sister knew that only the Christian God could help her beloved sister and her unborn child and therefore proceeded to offer prayers with intense pleading for mercy.  She prayed with the knowledge that Aid Post Orderly who arrived the previous night to assist her sister was an experienced man and together with God, they could all give birth together.  The Aid Post Orderly stayed with the young pregnant woman as the day turned to noon, then to dusk and then to evening. It was pitched dark, as dark as the pain experienced by the people in the hamlet as they empathised with the young pregnant woman. While the Aid Post Orderly continued to check, the prayers to Almighty God intensified. The elder sister of the young pregnant woman knelt on the ground and stayed there until at eleven o’clock at night, when her prayers were answered.

A lively, screaming and kicking baby boy, full of life and promise came out blaring as loudly as he can to announce to the world his arrival. He was named Keith, almost unceremoniously.  The occasion was mixed. It was more a relief from the long pain and uncertainty felt by everyone in the hamlet. Joy was more an afterthought.  Their mixed feelings about the baby quickly diverted to anxiousness, anxiety, distress and fear about their situation, given that the crisis had heightened. This feeling was in the air, as cobwebs heavy and encapsulating and stifling smiles and life.

News filtered somehow from one care-enters to other care-centres about atrocities committed by the Papua New Guinean Defence Force. One night, five weeks after the birth of Keith, the people in the hamlet were woken up by some young boys who had joined the Home Guards. The Home Guards kept sentry duties for the little hamlets around the region and communicated with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.  At this time, the Papua New Guinea  Defence Force was about to carry out Operation High Speed 1, so those Home Guards had asked permission to go out, make contact with civilians caught in the crisis and encourage these civilians to go the nearest Papua New Guinea  Defence Force care-centre.

On the 29th February 1996, with her five-week old Keith wrapped up in blankets, the young mother took her place in the midnight procession led by the Home Guards back to the care-centre at the Mission Station. Of course, there was the river again, and it was in flooding again, just like two months ago when they made the crossing.  The refugees could not return to Masapiri in fear of reprisal from Bougainville Revolutionary Army. The Bougainville Revolutionary Army was known to employ various methods of torture to their own people if they felt that the people were listening to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. The only option was to cross the flooded river.   The father and mother of Keith were both tall so the father held the wrapped baby aloft in his left hand while on his right he held his wife’s hand. Thus, they crossed the flooded river. Everyone was told to gather at a deserted hamlet on the outskirts of the Mission Care-centre as they neared their destination. When they were all gathered at a haus-wind a bonfire was lit. This was the signal agreed upon by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Home Guards to signal that they were returning with their relatives or civilians.  Everyone  had  to  hold  a  fire  stick  or  wood  as  they  re-entered the care-centre that they had left three months earlier. As they arrived, they were commanded to line up in front of the army. The previous day, the army had brutally tortured and killed a civilian and so they were in a foul temper. Little Keith and his parents had to be accommodate with four other families in a small house  because  their  house  in  the  care-centre  had  been  burnt  on  the  night  of  the  1st of December 1995, during the battle between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. Five months after their return to the Mission Station care-centre , all the people were told that they were now moving to another care-centre at Tonu, further south of Haisi. This was in preparation for Operation High Speed 2 which was to have been carried out by mercenaries from South Africa called Sandline.



Five month old Keith had to move again in the middle of the night. They left Haisi at eleven o’clock in the night. The exodus moved so slowly that night because it was dark and that the road had become overgrown. Several women and men cut through the overgrown bushes with machetes as they trekked through. The young mother clasped little Keith in her bosom while on her back she carried some of their personal items. Keith’s father put all their belongings in a wheelbarrow and pushed it all the way to Tonu. They arrived at Tonu early the next morning at about seven o’clock. The journey took eight hours, whereas today if one travels by foot one can complete the journey in four hours. The cycle began anew:  new houses, new routines, and new gardens for each family.  Little Keith learnt to walk while at Tonu care-enter. The family moved two more times during the crisis. Keith survived five different moves from the womb to his home at Kaamoi. When peace was finally established, Keith went to school at Haisi Primary School. He went on to Tonu High School to complete grade ten. Today Keith is 20 years old and is attending Vuna Bosco Technical Secondary School at Kokopo, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea.