3 years on, our PNG adventure continues

I began this journey well over 3 years ago, but arrived here in Port Moresby on the 18th August 2011, 3 very short years ago.

Over the past 3 years, I think I have answered a few thousand emails from people wanting to move to PNG, met lots of people via my blog, and I think it’s fair to say, generally given people a balanced viewpoint on living and working here in Port Moresby.

Some people that have contacted me through my blog have become our lifelong friends, our family. Moving here with a young family has meant that we have watched our children and our friends children all grow up together, and as some of our friends depart these shores to parts and places all around the world, we know that in the future we will meet again. Our children will always have wantok’s no matter where they go, and the world becomes a much smaller place.

When we arrived here, my little one was 1 year old. She doesn’t remember living in NZ and Papua New Guinea is her home. We go “on holiday” to New Zealand, which must be amazing for a little girl. She doesn’t “see” race, or skin colour, and she is happy with the little things she has. My big kids need more, but they are now more in tune with the effects of poverty and hardship than they ever could be back in NZ, and I hope that when they grow up they will take a lot of the life skills they have learned here in PNG and turn them to do good in the future.

And although this might be the end of our 3 year contract, it isn’t the end of our journey here in Port Moresby. My company has extended my contract for another 3 years, which really sounds like a lifetime away now. As the older children transition into High School, we may have to reassess if things don’t work out, but we are still here, still trying to make a difference, and still helping new people and families with the information and tools that they need when they move here to PNG.

Sadly though, we have watched many of our friends depart. Some have finished contracts, some have had other opportunities, a lot are finishing up this year. It is sad knowing that your support group is leaving, but I am sure that those voids will be filled by other families, and our close bonds will get closer.

We have experienced amazing things; just 2 weeks ago, Xanthe (our eldest) had a week long school camp at Tufi Dive Resort. Last year it was Kokopo and Rabaul… Awesome memories! We have had some real highs, (Kokopo was a high) and some real lows (being stuck in the middle of a bush knife fight), but we have never really regretted the decision to come here.

We have watched Port Moresby grow into a very modern city at such a fast rate, and have watched as my staff have gone from
a young team, to one that could easily perform on the world stage.

We are onto our 3rd High Commissioner (maybe there is a job there for me one day – not!), and back home in NZ we are about to have another general election (the 2nd since leaving). Our home back in Dunedin is onto its 2nd lot of tenants, and the place might needed to be painted this year – it is hard having a rental back in NZ, and if I did it all over again, I would have sold the property so that would be one less thing to worry about.

We’ve also had some fantastic holidays, not just back to New Zealand, but also here in PNG, to Singapore, Australia, and Vanuatu. Next year we may go a little further and take the children to Disneyland whilst we are all together.

We never bought a boat here, and for some reason don’t get invited out that much, however – with 3 kids, it can be hard for others to invite such a big family… If I was to move up again, I would have thrown a couple of jetski’s into the container – much cheaper back home than here. But we are Ok with the time we get to go out, and of course are very grateful when we do.

I have some pretty cool ideas to take the next step with my blog, and have been doing some video’s that I intend to upload to YouTube so hopefully I can get that going soon.

But until that happens, there is plenty of work, Bedisloe Cup watching with the Kiwi Club, and the bi-annual Kiwi Club ball is coming up in October. There’s always plenty of parties – sometimes too many, we’d love to catch them all, but it can be hard. And there is the annual trip back to NZ for Christmas coming up soon. Jacinta and the kids get out for the entire school holidays as it is a little boring, but also damn hot here in Moresby.

As I turn another chapter over, I would like to thank everyone for commenting on my blog, and making it into the resource it is. There was nothing like this when I moved up here, and I trust that the information and insight into PNG and Port Moresby really does help.

Again, if you see us out and about, please stop us for a quick Hi! We really appreciate knowing that we helped in your decision to make a difference here in Papua New Guinea.


23 thoughts on “3 years on, our PNG adventure continues

  1. Wonderful entry Aaron, keep up the blogging – we all benefit from your balanced view of living in POM. Especially appreciated for us newbies, now 6 months in…….indeed how the time flies and this place grows on you. Great to hear you have signed up for another tour- what will the next 3 years bring!?

    Happy to bring you all on our small banana boat when the wind dies down!

    Hope to finally meet you and the family soon,

    • Thanks Doug πŸ™‚ Please tell me that you weren’t the guy out at the Chess tourney at TEMIS πŸ™‚ Cause that would be embarrassing! If you were, then my boy was the 9 year old that wanted to play…

      • Yes, that was us running the chess tourney – I guess we did meet! πŸ™‚

        Chess Tourney was a great success so we will be doing another soon. We are also thinking of starting a debate club………all the better to get the kids involved in some brain testing activities……

        Cheers, Doug

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences about living in Port Moresby.
    I will be moving up in a few weeks (from Aust) for the start of my contract, with hubby and 2 kids to follow soon after.
    It would be lovely to meet you once we’ve all arrived and settled.
    Cheers Ali

  3. Totally agree with Ali and Doug, your blog is most helpful. Like Ali, my husband and I will be moving up in the next couple of weeks from Cairns and we hope to make as many friends as possible during our 3 year stay.

  4. Hi Aaron, We found your very interesting blog while trying to find more on life in PNG. We are older long-term Canadian expats (late 50’s) who are considering a position based in Port Moresby. How would life be for an older couple? Any info/links you have on safety, activities and life in general would be most appreciated. It has been rather difficult to find much on PNG which is current.

    • Hi Deborah, Port Moresby doesn’t place too much focus on how old you are, you will fit in with people somewhere. πŸ™‚ there are plenty of people here in their 50s, and there is lots to do. You just need to put yourself out there and engage with people and you will be fine.

      As you have found, there isn’t much info on PNG that is current. There are a few Facebook groups, but not really much out there apart from my blog.

  5. Hi Aaron, you might be able to help with this, can’t get a straight answer from anyone! Is there a limit on how much money you can transfer out of PNG each month to your country of origin? Since we still have a house and other expenses to pay in Australia, we are obviously going to need to make those payments from PNG (transfer to Australian bank account). Do you have any advise on how to go about this? Go through bank, use a broker?

    • There is currently a Bank of Papua New Guinea enforcement on fx out of PNG of K50,000 per day.

      You can transfer up to K200,000 with no tax implications as far as I am aware.

      I get paid both here and in NZ (my company handles the bank transfer each month) and have never had a problem. Talk to your company, or talk with the bank once you have arrived. Just about everything is doable, it just comes down to how you personally do it πŸ™‚

      • Thanks Aaron, will talk to bank and our employer. There seems to be an endless list of things that pops up in my mind, so many uncertainties. Your help is much appreciated!

      • No problem Harriet. It’s a huge step coming up here, but rest assured, lots of us do it and everything works out in the end πŸ™‚

  6. Dear Aaron

    Grateful to have found your site and will read it avidly before arrival in January. Have lived in the Gulf (ie up to 50 celsius temperatures) but wondering how you and your family coped with the humidity. Thankyou in advance

    • Hi Brenda – we turned the AC off, just use the ceilings fans and acclimatised pretty quickly. January will be hot and bleh, but in reality it will range between 30 and 40, there will be rain but mainly at night, and the pool will get lots of use πŸ™‚

      Glad you found my blog πŸ™‚


  7. Hi Aaron,

    thanks for the info. I’m moving in at POM during December this year. I’m from India and while trying to find the most current info, I came across your blog. Its highly informative and gives a accurate picture of the state. I have few more queries though and hope you would be able to help me out:
    1) How is the Security situation at POM?
    2) I have been offered Private accommodation, without family and hence I may leave that few months later and will try to move in my family. How much will accommodation cost me? Is it a viable plan at all?
    3) Is it safe to have family there?
    4) Do expats (Indians in my case) blend with locals? Are they accepted among other groups, say between Kiwis & Aussies? Do Indians have a group of their own?
    5) Hope would you rate the education system on a scale of 1-5? I have a pre-schooler.
    I hope you would be able to give me an insight on this. Would look forward to your inputs.

    • Hi ya,

      1. Actually not too bad at the moment – but could change rapidly. Things happen if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, just unlucky, or not playing by the rules
      2. Lots! http://www.hausples.com.pg is your best source
      3. Some do, some stick to themselves. It’s all on the individual to be honest… If you stick within your ethnic group you may miss some of the best parts of expat life,
      4. Preschool at Ela Murray 5/5. Primary school, 3/5. Although our kids and us had exceptional schooling in NZ


  8. Hi Aaron,

    I think you’ve done a wonderful job putting up this blog and filling everyone with great insights on life in PNG. My husband is on a three year assignment and we will be moving to POM (from Melbourne) with our two year old daughter in three weeks time. When I told friends and people at work that I’ll be moving to POM, people thought I was crazy, stupid and foolish, and some responded with sarcasm. Just like yourself and I guess everyone who has moved to PNG, we took up this offer because we wanted our daughter to have a different perspective of life and to live life at its simplest. πŸ™‚

    Was wondering if you know of any playgroup that my two year old could attend? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi ya, everyone listens to the media! When you get here, hook up with all your mates and work mates on FB and constantly bombard them with pictures of parties, boat trips, swimming in the pool, parties, parties etc πŸ™‚

      There are quite a few groups for your 2 year old – you will have no problem with keeping your little one entertained πŸ™‚

      • Hi Aaron, this is probably a very stupid question but I just have to ask. Everyone tells us not to wear any fancy or expensive jewellery or watches and I understand the reason for this. So does this mean the women do not wear their wedding/engagement rings? I’ve started to pack and just don’t know whether to leave ALL jewellery behind.

      • Hi Harriet – apologies, having a few internet issue here at the moment πŸ™‚ My wife wears the same as what she wore in NZ, wedding rings etc as well as gold bangles… She doesn’t have an armful of gold, but she did bring everything. Just be prepared to lose it if you aren’t lucky.

      • Jacqueline – it is interesting how we view POM from outside of PNG (through the media of course), and when we actually come to POM, it’s not as bad as people say it is. I hope you will have a wonderful time in PNG…

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