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142°50' East
The Wuvulu Research Center for Wuvulu Island and the Other Western Islands of the Bismarck Archipelago, Bismarck Sea, South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Manus Province.
News, correspondence and other related items concerning the Western Islands

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Japan's rapid scanning system can digitise book in one minute
TOKYO - Japanese researchers said Friday [9/10/2010] they had developed technology to scan a book as fast as a person can flip through it. See: Japan's rapid scanning system can digitise book in one minute [Accessed September 17, 2010]
We are interested in this upcoming technology for its impact on future bibliographic research.

John, from Awin Island, tells of sinking island...
TJ Korst, Director of Empface Productions posted a very interesting video regarding sinking islands in the Ninigo Group. See: No More John, "TJ On The Road" travel blog. [Accessed February 17, 2010]

Manus into coconut bio-fuel production
Coconut seedlings from Aua and Wuvulu Islands are used to rehabilitate and replant senile coconut plantations in the province. See: Manus into coconut bio-fuel production by Roselyn Ellison, Malun Nalu (2009 Papua New Guinea Blog of the Year) [Accessed January 7, 2010]

Rotary donates wheelchairs to Wuvulu
Boroko Rotary Club donates three chairs to Wuvulu Island. See: Rotary reaches remote Wuvulu, The National online [Accessed September 17, 2008]

Survivors of Sunken ship "Sumiho"
We have received a request for information from Brian Thompson:

"Hello; My name is Brian Thompson. I was captain of a ship called the "Sumiho", which was sunk by Cyclone Carlotta in February 1972, near Samarai Island in the Milne Bay Province.
There were 21 people (passengers and crew) on board the ship when she went down, and all survived.
I am interested in talking to anybody who remembers anything about this event. I'm almost certain that some of the people on board came from Manus Province and probably Wuvulu Island, even though the ship only traded between Lae and Port Moresby.
Also I see that that the Wuvulu Community has a cargo vessel called the m.v. Thompson and wondered if there is a connection between that ship's name and mine? Any information would be gratefully received. Regards, Brian Thompson."

Still looking for ancestors
October, 2009.  Following the April, 2005 posting below, we have received the following communication from Vincent Matthies (at times also spelled Matthias):

"Re: Looking for ancestors.
Dear Sir,
Back in 2005 I was family poor. Now thanks to your website I am family rich.
I have found and made contact with relatives since the posting of my request on your site.
It turns out I am the grandson of one Charles Henry Matthies, a naturalised German man who lived on Aua Island in the early part of the 20th century. He married Funo, the daughter of the chief/king of Aua. Unfortunately my grandfather was captured by the Japanese during WW2 and I believe he was beheaded on the island. However, no one seems to know what happened to Funo. She simply disappeared. My mother Rose Matthies was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese, but later rescued by the Americans and brought to Australia on board the Sea Scamp in 1944.
If anyone has any knowledge of what happened to my Grandmother Funo, or indeed what happened when the Japanese arrived, I would be grateful for this information.
Many thanks for your help in the past and your assistance in making contact with my lost family.
Vincent Matthies"

If you have any such information, please .  Thank you very much."
April, 2005.  The Wuvulu Research Center has received a request for genealogical information.  Please pass the word and let see if we can help this research effort.

"My name is Vincent Charles Matthias (at times also spelled Matthies) and I was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on 21st January 1949.  My brother, Patrick Joseph, was also born in Brisbane on 8th August 1951.  Our mother, Rose, was born on Aua Island in 1932.  We do not know our mother's maiden name and we would be very grateful to any person who could provide us with information regarding her or any member of her family from Aua Island.  If you have any such information, please .  Thank you very much."

16 rescued at Bismarck Sea, 14 still missing
MORE than 10 people were rescued by a fishing boat at the Bismarck Sea after their boat was swept away from the shore and into the open sea by strong waves.

"Sixteen people, four female and 12 male who were identified as from Aua Island in Madang province were returning back to their island from Wuvulu when their boat was pushed away by huge waves. The group, who returned from a soccer match with other islanders, was rescued on January 18 at around 2.30pm by F/V Dolores, a fishing boat which belongs to RD Tuna Canners Ltd based in Madang. The rescued group were offered food and accommodation on board by their rescuers and dropped off the next day near their island where they offered thanks and paddled safely back to their home island."
Read full article by ***aCe*** on the  PNG Forum  [Accessed October 10, 2010].

Lost at sea
We have received a reliable report (March 4, 2000) from Jimmy Toro of Lorengo stating that:

"You will be sad to hear that Wali Asi and five other people from Wuvulu and Aua got lost at sea when returning back from Wewak on a 19 footer dingy and never arrived back at Wuvulu.  That was in 1997."
[Note: a photo of Wali Asi appears in Peter Stone'sarticle in Air Niugini's inflight magazine, Paradise, Island of the Tiger PeopleSee Ecotourism Melanesia, page 3, center. [Accessed July 18, 2008].

The July, 1998 tsunamis
We received a reliable report (July 25, 1998) from Mark Tell of PNG stating that:

"There was no reported damage to any facilities on the Islands, they were too far north of the quake's epicentre.  The damage was spread over 40 kms of coastline from Aitape to the west."

We have been trying to contact friends on the mainland of Papua New Guinea in Vanimo without success as all telephone circuits are still cut off (July 25).

If you do have any other information, please contact us so that we may post it here.

News from and about the Western Islands
Regarding telecommunications in the islands
From:      Mark Tell, TE PNG [Port Moresby]
Date:      Wednesday, November 05, 1997 12:43
Subject:   Wuvulu

I am the Marketing Manager with TE (PNG) P/L, Communications Division.  In December 1996, I traveled to the Western Islands [map] of Manus province [map] with my senior technician to install High Frequency radios for the National Health Radio Network.  The Barrett HF radios are very advanced and are now providing a number of areas in the Western Islands with Communications to the outside world.  For the first time Wuvulu, Pateku [Sama Group], Mal [Ninigo Islands], Liot and Panesilu [a Village on Rambutyo Is, south east of the main Island of Manus] have direct communications with the Hospital in Lorengau [Manus Island] and access to the Telikom [PNG's PTT] radio telephone services. 
Our company will be sponsoring the 1998 Inaugural World Sea Kayaking Championships in Manus in Oct. [1988]  We will be supplying a wide range of Communications Products for the event.  Our trip to the Western Islands was by boat [two vessels owned by the Dept of Health] and was indeed the scariest trip of my life bouncing around the open ocean in a 20ft open boat.  But for the islands people it is a daily routine.  I have spoken to the islands on the radio from Port Moresby [map] on dozens of occasions and they are very happy with the communications and how is has opened up the area.  Communities are now able to sell shells and other goods to customers via the radios and sea [travel] has been made safer.  We hope the next stage will include Aua Is. and the upgrade of an old radio at Luf Is. [Hermit Group].

Friday, November 07, 1997 05:28 [Follow up message]

Any radio that works in conjunction with the National Health Radio Network can communicate with any other NHRN radio throughout the country on specially allocated chat channels.  It does not cost anything.  Western Islanders also communicate between islands and the mainland.  They obviously pay for any calls that are connected to the Telikom Network.  Our company designed the Health Radio Network and we have installed over 350 radios during the past 2 years.
The Barrett HF radio system, scans 12 channels from 3 to 10 MHz, allowing Communications throughout the country.  The radios use Selective Calling and are fitted with Remote Diagnostics and Paging facilities.  The equipment is powered by a Solar Power system and it is connected to a Broadband HF antenna.

Mark Tell

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Links to News Sources in and about Papua New Guinea
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Publications of Interest
  • Demerath, Ellen Wrchota, 1997, The impact of economic modernization on adult nutritional status in Manus, Papua New Guinea - Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.

    Demerath, Peter W., 1997, The social cost of acting 'extra': Dilemmas of student identity and academic success in post-colonial Papua New Guinea - Ed.D. dissertation, Department of Educational Policy, Research, and Leadership, University of Massachusetts.

    Roll, Fred, 1997, A Photobiography, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel. [With striking B&W photographs of Pere Village, Manus Island]
    Highlights a photographic career that began in 1975.  In a rare account in a book of this genre, Fred Roll's wife, noted anthropologist Barbara Honeyman Roll, sketches the warm and intimate circumstances of the meeting with Fred that led to his embarking on a serious pursuit of photography.

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