Retrieval for money and reopening: A special condition in Mathew Kove’s case


The late Mathew Kove, a paramount Chief of Guava was a major beneficiary of royalty payments made by Bougainville Copper Limited during the time of the Panguna mine operations. In 1988, he was murdered, allegedly by his nephews over a royalty payment dispute, and his body was hidden in the mountains of Panguna.

In a surprising and sudden turn of events, Mathew Kove’s remains were recently exhumed and given a proper burial by his relatives through the intervention of a Catholic Renewal Ministry in Arawa. From the time he was killed until the time his remains were exhumed, no one had any clue as to where his body was hidden.

The Mathew Kove case is significant in that he had a major part to play in the eruption of the crisis. And the reason for the retrieval of his remains relates to a payment to be made by the mining company Rio Tinto. To cut the chase, there is K40 million waiting to be paid by Rio Tinto which it has been holding on trust for the landowners and one of the conditions for that payment was the retrieval of Koves’ remains; and now that retrieval has happened.

To the people of Guava, Koves’ retrieval is one of the main conditions for reconciliation to wrap up unification for the reopening of the Panguna mine. Many attempts were made prior to the recent event, and the thing that always stood in the way of retrieval were the ramifications (both physical and spiritual) upon the people of Guava if the deceased remains were retrieved. One of those ramifications is the reopening of the mine, which the community stands firm in opposing. They want to keep the mine closed for good. The son of Mathew Kove, Junior Kove is keeping a tight lip on the reason for the retrieval. But the retrieval team, with the support of the ABG, were adamant to get the process completed so the settlement of the K40 million can be reached.

However, the issue of reconciliation between the family of Mathew Kove and the alleged perpetrators is an issue which will not take a one off reconciliation process to complete. Hence the community of Guava are not happy with the way in the reconciliation process was handled; very important issues were overlooked and ignored as there are many other matters tied to the death of Mathew Kove.

According to Joan Daterasi of Guava,

“My Guava family must not be forced by the government to reconcile the issue the way it (the government) wants. We have to take a pace or process to reconcile as these issues are so much rooted in our history.”

The people now feel threatened by this move, because the retrieval was initiated without addressing eminent concerns that are attached to the issue. Furthermore, the worst fear is that the ABG and BCL might capitalise on this move as a big step towards the reopening of the mine. Something the people of Guava, Panguna and Bougainville do not want, let alone need on their island.



Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

7 responses to “Retrieval for money and reopening: A special condition in Mathew Kove’s case

  1. Michael Makeham

    Ok- Ill meet you at coffee shop under your offices

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Does that now expose the murderers to prosecution?

  3. Kaumonu

    It is sad that the burial was seen this way. As far as I know, the burial was meant to lay the Late Mathew Kove and another two relatives to rest ONLY. It was part of healing wounds from the crisis and reconciling the families at Guava. Nothing to do with BCL and K40M. Obviously, it still has not been seen that way. My Grand-father’s clansmen from Kupe were also involved in this process to settle differences. I am hoping we can still move forward.

  4. People of Bougainville. The Treachery of the Colonialist shows up once again with the common theme “Divide and conquer’ The Blackmail tactics, While holding the Carrot in one hand of K40 Million and in the other hand smoking out the allegedly “Assumed” murderer (Has a court case taken place to convict this man to call him a murderer- This is slanderous and you have a case against your accusers for denigrating your good name- That is not the law even in a colonial land- innocent until proven guilty)

    BCL has no rights to hold up royalty payments to the Bougainvillean people
    Then tying this to the exhumed body (Another Sinister Tactic by the Colonialists – Law prevails even in this tactic)

    And then Tying this into Re-opening the Panguna Mine- Another sinister Tactic’

    “To the people of Guava, Koves’ retrieval “is one of the main conditions” for reconciliation to wrap up unification for the reopening of the Panguna mine”

    BS. Get over this one and all the others will come out of the woodwork plus their other condition -Re peace agreement- Dis-armament- What this means( And you can see the history books full of this treachery). Get the guns off them, they cannot resist our takeover-)

    Beware even within this small statement, there is many traps and legal arguments that need to be challenged with VIGOR and YOU will win otherwise they will walk all over you with their Legal Ease talk and you will not understand a word of it- That’s the way they work their legal cases- You legally Ignorant V’s overpower you with Money and LEGAL Arguments they get what they want. Remember they have proven this point in the world court when Bougainville took their case ” Crimes Against Humanity” and the colonial system had it thrown out of court,They own and control the World Court of Justice(WCJ)

    Also Be aware of Dr Mormis- Yes he is helping with his catholic background
    in the reconciliation process- but remember who is pulling his strings- If it was for the benefit of the Bougainvillean People i would say great- But actions and statements speak louder than the written words.

    The Colonial masters are in this up to their filthy necks. Be aware, Be discerning and stand united together and fight for truth and justice for all Bougainvilleans for their futures.

  5. Peter O'Donnell

    Does anyone have a contact address for Joanne Dateransi ? Or could my email address be passed on to her ? – Peter O’Donnell

  6. I am sorry to read here that the Emai families’ decent efforts to retrieve our uncle Kove’s remains from the jungle of Crown Prince Range has now been twisted by the people who have ulterior motives and who are hell bent on painting a wrong picture of the real reasons for doing what we did to the remains of our uncle. My father’s namesake, Kaumonu in his remarks above is correct in what he said. We did not do it for money and the amount of K40 Million and BCL’s return to open Panguna mine has got nothing at all to do with our returning home our uncle’s remains and giving him and his nephew who killed him a decent burial at home.

    To those of you who are making these comments, how would you feel if any of you have the same experience. I am saddened to read here that my cousin sister, Ms Joan Dateransi has the guts to talk like this here as it was under her brother Francis Ona’s “Order” that our uncle was abducted in the early morning hours of Friday 13th January 1989 and later killed and buried in the Jungle of Crown Prince Range. Sister Joan should now be getting ready to compensate the 20,000 odd Bougainvilleans that died as a result of her brother’s autocratic rule. We also did her dead brother, Ambrose Dateransi a favor by bringing home his remains from Koromira Catholic Mission cemetery and had her and their family give him a decent burial at home.

    The interesting move at home now is that since we retrieve our uncle’s remains, there has been two reconciliations so far. One in fact is to do with Ms Joan’s (Francis Ona’s) family by the Meekamui Defence Force Commander, Moses Pipiro. Another Meekamui Defence Force commander, Chris Uma has had his “Domangmita” (Bel kol) last week.

    So all these talk is all NONSENSE.

    Lawrence Daveona
    Chairman-SML Landowners Association Inc.

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