Makaruka travellers: Guadalcanal Weather Coast

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Comments (10)

jhk on September 7, 2008

Splendid, this one! Traditional and very un-traditional, going in different directions. You could read a lot into this image! :)

Cheers, Justin

Ian Stehbens on September 7, 2008

You are right, Justin. The contrast does invite imaginative analogy. I love the way the two men are in eye contact with each other. Thanks for your visit and comment.

Warmest wishes,


Coal Miner's Boy on September 7, 2008

One can almost imagine the thoughts in their respective heads.

Guy in dugout, "I WANT one of those!"

Guy in power boat, "I used to do it that way."

Greetings from northern California,


Ian Stehbens on September 8, 2008

Dear Paul,

Thankyou for your thoughtful comment.

One goes shopping, the other goes fishing. One is finding the cost of fuel rather costly, the other hasn't even though about it.

You would be fascinated to watch the locals ride their dugout in the surf. They are rather long boards, but they work. A few Malibu boys would find them a challenge.

Regards from the southern seas.


Marilyn Whiteley on September 8, 2008

My thought, too, before I read the comments, was "What wonderful contrast!"

Greetings from Canada once more. We're home! Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on September 9, 2008

Great that you are home, via the best way! Hope you had a very special family time, Marilyn. This is one of the those pics for which there isn't much warning. You see it about to happen and you hope the camera turns on quickly. Thanks for your comment, my friend. I look forward to catching up with your uploads, too.



M and R on September 16, 2008

Reminds me of Christmas in St George, jet ski v's canoe with the Natives from Vanautu! Just need to add our boat (390hp) into the mix. R

Ian Stehbens on September 16, 2008

It was a wonderful Christmas, Robyn. Thanks for all you did to make it such a special occasion, holiday and family time. And the ni Vanuatu made it particularly memorable.

But, your boat mightn't be able to get here though, for it may not be able to carry enough fuel for the 220 kms to get here and the 220 kms return. We just made it with our 40HP.


Richard Ryer on September 16, 2008

Greetings Ian, What an incredible adventure you had there. There seems to be an unexpected contrast between the residents and the beautiful place they live in. I guess I remember to many movies about the south Pacific and don't have a current reference for the place. The scenery is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing all the beautiful images.



Ian Stehbens on September 17, 2008

Thanks Rich,

I am very pleased to be able to reacquaint you with the South West Pacific, in particular Guadalcanal. The people of Guadalcanal are naturally quite reticent, gracious and generous. Their culture is traditionally matrilineal and through their women they have custodianship of their land. Quite a different culture is the norm on Malaita, where the culture is more assertive and land is traditionally owned in a patrilineal system. The World War II conflict resulted in the principal US military base being established on Guadalcanal and after the war, this then continued as the centre of the political administration - today the capital, Honiara. The urbanisation of the modern era has brought many Malaitans to Guadalcanal, and as young people marry across the cultural difference, the Guadalcanal land comes under the control of Malaitan husbands. And in the old colonial days, the land of the Guadalcanal plains was alienated for colonial plantations on which non-local workers, principally Malaitans were employed intentionally by the plantation operators, establishing communities of Malaitans on Guadalcanal land.

Since independence, the tension between Malaitans and Guadalcanal people has intensified politically, at the same time as urbanisation increased, and economic and political differentials grew. Eventually, some determined Guadalcanal politicians gave credence to the justice differential and a band of Guadalcanal militia formed thinking that the Malaitans in the plantation settlements could be readily driven away. This violent removal of settlers escalated to the point that the militia thought that they would be able to drive everyone else from Guadalcanal including the residents derived from other islands out of the capital, Honiara. 50000 people were internally displaced quickly, and a Malaitan Eagle Force formed to counter the Guadalcanal militia. The MEF dug in around Honiara, and set up other strategic bunkers and followed through with surprise raids and 2 groups of Guadalcanal militia emerged. Prime Minister was removed from office at gun point, the police collapsed first along ethnic lines then altogether, and the nation descended into an inter-ethnic war around Honiara, and with militia rampant in the bush.

The economy collapsed: tourism, investment, mining, foreign aid all stopped totally. People returned to subsistence economy without salt, medicine, etc. Because this was an internal conflict, other nations including Australia and New Zealand were reluctant and slow to intervene. Once a peace accord was reached, a Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands was created which was a multi-national police force that restored civil law to the nation, and began investigating and bringing corruption into the courts, and attempted to support local communities.

My role has been to train and assist peacebuilders who work on the ground to transform hearts and open doors out of cycles of revenge, and enable local leaders to mediate and take account of local conflicts that emerged though the period of "The Troubles".

There are many other layers to all this, but I trust that has given you some reference by which you may appreciate Solomon Islands recent conflict. As you have seen it is a beautiful country, with potential, that was thought to be a harmonious nation, but it has changed irrevocably by this conflict.

While there has been damage and fear, there is also real strengthening going on. One of my trainees is now employed by the major gold mining company to guide them in developing a new social future, a environmental consciousness and a cultural sensitivity to the local Guadalcanal society.

I trust I have conveyed to you the beauty of Solomon Islands, the critical need for just-peace in every society, and the complexity of unravelling a colonial history at a time of rapid global change.

With warmest regards,


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 6, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens