12 Months in Papua New Guinea

Today, officially – I have been in PNG for 12 months.  So far – it has been an amazing journey, all be it frustrating at times

From a work perspective, my IT team has grown immensely – I am very proud of their achievements.  When I arrived, they didn’t have a lot of real world IT direction, and now they are on track building their careers and enjoying what they do.  I am very satisfied, that my team has had zero turnover – they obviously see the real benefit in my mentoring approach.

We have achieved a lot, including Project Management Frameworks, Change Management Policies right through to our technical projects.  This year we deployed Windows 7  Enterprise and Office 2010 to 180 odd clients, migrated from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange, and deployed Sharepoint 2010.  We have done heaps of work on disaster recovery, have moved into a Virtual world with Hyper-V and are gradually pulling things back into a framework that Papua New Guineans can manage – such as moving from Pervasive SQL to Microsoft SQL.  This might seem odd – but it’s important here to ensure that systems are self managed using locally developed skills.  In general, it is very expensive to access the internet, use power or even buy a PC – so the type of research that we would do in New Zealand is decidedly difficult here.

On the home front, Jacinta and the kids have settled into PNG life.  Xaria (our youngest) is off to the lik lik pikinini school (little kids school) on the 20th of August, and both Xavier and Xanthe have made good friends in their respective classes.  Both the two big kids are on the advanced side with schooling, with Xavier being an almost straight A student and Xanthe not too far behind.  I was very proud when Xanthe was told to stop reading school supplied books after school.  She has been reading some of our fantasy novels that we have at home 🙂 and Xavier is part way through The Hobbit.  Not bad for a 9 and a 7 year old…

We now get cold when it is 24 degrees, and the pool at our compound looks rather fresh – I hope it warms up soon!  Our social life is pretty hectic with the weekends generally full starting with the Friday drinks…

Of course – we enjoy being Kiwi’s here, and make sure that we shout it out…  Today, I am wearing an All Blacks top to work – just to piss off the Aussies.  And on Monday, when we win the rugger this weekend – I’ll be wearing Black business attire, just to rub it in some more 🙂

We have made many friends here – and lost some to ended contracts – but not lost for good…  Expat life in PNG can be tough at times, and good at other times – it can be very isolating…

Our life is luxurious compared to how some Papua New Guineans live, but in general – I think we have a better quality of life in New Zealand.  We do have a house keeper here (Maria – Our Haus Meri) but more for the fact that we are employing someone, than any real need.  It also does mean that Maria can babysit on the odd (so far once) occasion that we go out with no kids.

I think some of the frustrations I have here – is with the Sir Michael Somare coined phrase “Boomerang Aid” that is prevalent.  I don’t really get why Aid workers are on such high, untaxed salaries, except that it sets them up back home for the future.  It would be interesting to look at all monetary aid in PNG and find out the percentage that actually hits the community.  Even so, some of our friends work for Defense and AusAid – and are wonderful people with amazing jobs and attitudes.  I just wish the Aussie government would grow a pair and review the methodology in aid packages.

I’d also really appreciate anything from the IT community out there to help me develop my team.  Literature, magazines, software etc.  Anything physical can be mailed to:

Aaron Bird, PO Box 1141, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea

Appreciate anything you can throw our way J I don’t mind that it takes 2 months to get here

Above all – thanks for continuing to read my blog


12 thoughts on “12 Months in Papua New Guinea

  1. My wife and I have really enjoyed reading your blog and we have found it very useful. We are coming out this year (I hope before Christmas) when my my work permit is approved. We are going to West New Britain to an oil palm plantation. Would it be ok to email you some questions I have regarding mobile phones, Internet, etc in PNG? I’m trying to get some kit bought in the UK before we leave that will work there. I’d be more than happy to send you some stuff. I’m not from the IT world but if you let me know what you want I can probably find it.
    Cheers, Ollie.

    • Hi Ollie, sure you can contact me. I don’t know a lot about West New Britain as I haven’t been there, but apparently Kimbe is pretty awesome. My email address is highflyingkiwi gmail com

      Glad you are finding my blog useful 🙂


    • We were only there for 20 minutes, and she was happy as. Not a lot of photos… I said “should daddy take your photo” her reply “nope”…
      Had to secretly take them at home *sigh*

  2. Aaron do you know much about working for OK Tedi mining? I have come across a job there and wondered what the area is like. Appreciate any help/info

    • Hi ya, the OK Tedi mine is pretty remote – it sits in the middle of the island, maybe as far from anywhere as you could be. They have had a few environmental issues up there, apparently it is meant to wind up by 2013 – but where it sits now I am not sure. There has been some pretty bad publicity in the past. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much of an overview as we are isolated from the mining scene down in Moresby. Sorry I can’t be much help, Aaron

  3. hi Aaron
    my name is jeffrey i am about to consider an IT manager position in Lae, could you give me an idea of a good salary range as I nothing to compare against.
    congratulations on your 12 months.

    • Hi Jeffrey, why don’t you email me with the package range and I’ll compare it privately. It’s not something I would be happy discussing in an open blog 🙂 On the flip side, I wouldn’t really consider living in Lae, but you do have a good unitech there, so lots of good IT grads – just don’t steal them all 😉 my email is highflyingkiwi AT gmail DOT COM

  4. Hey how’s it’s going I’m moving to P.M in 2 days I was just wondering if there’s any good places to meet great ex pats?
    And if there’s any info that you could give me thanks and merry Xmas

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