At the Otago Chamber of Commerce in Dunedin yesterday Bougainville governor Joe Lera (centre) presents chamber president Ali Copeman with a gift, while (from left) Sidcorp director Mahmood Siddiqi, the governor's secretary Simon Koriakove and Dunedin television producer Mark Strickson look on. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Otago Polytechnic can help Bougainville rebuild from rock
bottom, Bougainville governor Joe Lera says.
Mr Lera said he would be leaving Dunedin today after a week
of networking to explore ways to rebuild Bougainville after
The crisis is another name for the Bougainville Civil War -
an armed conflict fought between Papua New Guinea and the
Bougainville Revolutionary Army in the late 1980s and '90s.
Before the crisis, Bougainville was ''the envy'' of Papua New
Guinea, Mr Lera said.
''We had the best political system and administration and
economy, but after the crisis we hit rock bottom.''
He met Otago Chamber of Commerce president Ali Copeman
yesterday and signed a memorandum of understanding with Otago
Polytechnic on Friday. He wanted an Otago Polytechnic campus
to be built in Bougainville.
''That is the dream.''
After the crisis, the Bougainville population increased from
150,000 to more than 350,000.
''Of that population, 60% are youths.''
About 40% of Bougainville's youths were illiterate because of
a lack of available schooling during the crisis.
A training institute could educate the illiterate for jobs in
agriculture and the fishing industry, Mr Lera said.
''That's why I'm here because Otago Polytechnic is the
institute that can help the Bougainville workforce.''
Education was key to rebuilding Bougainville and a campus
would be built on 15ha of land in Bougainville this year so
the 12 Bougainville public servants who studied at Otago
Polytechnic in Dunedin in January could continue their
education extramurally, Mr Lera said.
He wanted an Otago Polytechnic campus in Bougainville because
its qualifications were internationally recognised, he said.
Qualified Bougainvilleans could work globally and send money
home, Mr Lera said.
''They can be marketable in the world and get big money and
send it back and improve the internal revenue,'' he said.
Mr Lera was elected governor in 2012 after 36 years in public
He had been talking with Dunedin television producer Mark
Strickson about the logistics of setting up a television
The station would cost about $6 million to set up, Mr Lera
The Papua New Guinea Government gave him a $15 million grant
annually, which could be used to fund the station.
''Money is not a problem.''