Story: Pacific Islands and New Zealand

Bougainville peace talks, 1997

A peace agreement was signed after the second round of Bougainville peace talks, held at Burnham Military Camp, Christchurch. The first of those speaking in this October 1997 news report is Robert Igara, a senior Papua New Guinean official. The second speaker is Martin Miriori, a Bougainville interim government leader. The third is Don McKinnon, New Zealand’s minister of foreign affairs.

An immediate catalyst for action on the Bougainville conflict was the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government's decision to use mercenaries to ensure the island remained part of PNG. The Sandline crisis, named after one of the companies involved, erupted when this became public knowledge. One result was the PNG prime minister and other politicians known to have supported mercenary involvement losing their seats in Parliament. Another was the renewed involvement of New Zealand in helping bring the parties together and helping protect those involved in the talks on their return home. By this time, many of those involved in the Bougainville conflict were war-weary and a peace movement on the island was gaining traction. This was strengthened with the arrival of truce and later peace monitoring groups from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu.

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How to cite this page:

Jon Fraenkel, 'Pacific Islands and New Zealand - Melanesia and the Bougainville crisis', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/video/36878/bougainville-peace-talks-1997 (accessed 20 October 2017)

Story by Jon Fraenkel, published 20 Jun 2012