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2 April 2015

Warwick Cuneo emailed from Sydney:

I made my first contribution to your site a few months ago - see here - to correct some misinformation about Colleen and Graham Hoskin’s boat, the St Joseph. I write again to perhaps ‘fill in some more gaps’, if not correct.

I note from other sites that the Arawa Bulletin began publication in the late 70’s. Now unless there was indeed an Arawa Bulletin before Arawa Town was properly established, then it seems unlikely that there might have been any sort of newspaper-type publications for general readership.

Personally, I landed on Bougainville on 20th November, 1970 and my wife Vesna joined me there some six weeks later. Transiting through Kobuan ‘rest camp’, through Kieta and Arawa, it was noted by our driver, as we forded the Bovo River (no bridge) that ‘that’s where Arawa will be’; we saw a large copra plantation, owned by the McKillop family. I was probably among the first of what BCL called ‘support staff’ and was initially attached to the Training Centre in Panguna. We did in fact live in Panguna for about three months, in a little one-bedroom fibro house on what was then Married Hill. I understand the pit ultimately swallowed both Married Hill and the Training Centre.

Any sort of printing plant on the Island was operated by the contractors Bechtel, who had a photocopier and an offset printing machine, both of which were quite inundated, all the time. The next surfacing of printing gear, besides perhaps some of the missions, was the BCL Training Department, and I was the incumbent ‘graphics person’ if you want call me that. Some might call me something very different! A couple of Rex Rotary ink duplicators and a couple of stencil cutters were the extent of the equipment. As one of very, very few printing or duplicating installations on the island, I was first stop for the organisers of the proposed Arawa Bulletin. I can recall scratching a very rough image onto a duplicating stencil, one night at my house, which was by then in Taunas Place, Arawa. Nothing particularly remarkable about the artwork, except that I included a large pair of testicles and other appendages hanging from one of the coconut palms. This inclusion didn’t go unnoticed, I might add. Anyway, I’d reckon that would have been around mid-1971, so the Arawa Bulletin can be credited with more than six or seven years prior to the late seventies.

There was another publication, published out of Kieta, I believe, called the Kieta Krap. Pretty scurrilous it was, too. I didn’t ‘do’ it!

Concentrates Magazine, a sort of staff newsletter, began publication around 1972, I think it was. I can verify the first sheet, as I have a complete collection of Concentrates from inception to when I left the island in August, 1975. I’ll look up definite dates for further inclusion. The first Concentrates was a ‘broadsheet’, single-page, two-colour effort printed in Moresby by PNG Printing. Around the same time, BCL embarked upon another bit of ‘blurb’, called Panguna and this was to be the ‘lead’ publication and concerned itself with very general ‘stuff’. This I can vouch for first hand, as latterly, as the printing section grew, we included typesetting capacity among our gear. We ( BCL Printing, as it was then known) took over setting of the ‘galleys’ for Panguna Magazine around 1973, or thereabouts.

The ‘troubles’ on Bougainville were just beginning as we left in 1975 and one riot closed the mine for two days and nobody had the faintest idea of what was transpiring. A meeting was called with myself in attendance and it was decided that a special issue of Concentrates, reverting to the original broadsheet format, be produced. As one of those ‘at the coalface’, I do assert that some of my input was at least listened to, particularly that expats needed to know the facts, with no managerial mumbo-jumbo clouding the issues. Don Vernon, to his credit was quite ‘up front’ with his assessments and these were duly published in the first issue of Concentrates actually printed on the Island. The next three issues were set up and printed in the BCL Print Shop, under my direction until I left in August, having been localised by Shong Babob, who took over as Printing and Duplicating Supervisor.

As I said, I have great wad of those early Concentrates and will scan and e-mail stuff from ‘em, if there’s any demand. The broadsheets might be a problem, as I’ll have to fold ‘em to fit my scanner.

Warwick Cuneo