Let’s Write Books! – A Letter from His Excellency

08 NOVEMBER 2020


In 1957 I started my career as a primary school teacher at Tauran Primary School in New Britain where I was a student from 1947 to 1955. I found that we did not have many books about Papua New Guinea. The few reading books were written by expatriates.

When I became headmaster of the same school the next year, it dawned on me that unless we wrote books about our own country, we would continue to become slaves on our own land. I wanted to write books but I found it difficult because there was no one to help me. In 1964, when I became a school inspector in Minj Sub-district of Western Highlands, the then manager of Oxford University Press in Melbourne visited me. To my surprise, he asked me to write a book about anything and send the manuscript to him. I decided to spend weekends in nearby villages, talk with the people about their ways of life and work with them in their gardens, on their houses and pig fences. I learned so much I wrote something which I sent to Melbourne. Not too long after, I received a letter from the publisher informing me that they would publish my first book titled Kum Tumun of Minj. When I received the first copy I was so happy that I danced around the room, beat my chest and sang aloud.

Not long after, I received a request from Oxford University Press, London, to write a book about my early life in my village of New Britain. I wasted no time to write the book My Childhood in New Guinea. It was accepted and published in 1972. This book has been reprinted so many times. It has also been translated into Japanese.

The publication of these two first books encouraged me to write more books. Up to now I have written and published forty-two (42) books. I am now working on my 43rd book titled Education for Life.

I have used my gained experiences to help other Papua New Guineans to write their own books. So far, 28 Papua New Guinean writers have had their books published with my help – not only here but also overseas. Five have had their second books published. This shows me one thing: We are just as good as anyone else in the world to write books if we are committed to putting our thoughts and experiences together on paper.

Because of the experiences some of us have gained in writing and having our books published, we urge all Papua New Guineans to write. There are many things to write about like cultures, history of families, clans and so on. Books can be factual or novels. There are many genres Papua New Guineans can write in.  

Some of my books described in this catalogue are not only about Papua New Guinea but about other parts of the world. I urge you to order copies from “Paulias Matane Foundation Inc.” Address and prices are at the back of the catalogue.

Here is the link to the catalogue http://www.gullonline.org/…/Books_by_Sir_Paulias_Matane…

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Write Books! – A Letter from His Excellency

  1. I am one of the writers mentored by Sir Paulias Matane. Thank you, Sir. I owe all my success stories in writing and publishing to you. You are truely a great Papua New Guinean. Thank you again, Sir. I will always remember your kind words and assistance.

    Liked by 1 person

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