Richard Moore: Spear a thought for your neighbour

By Richard Moore

Add a comment
The spear-throwing Wogasia Festival is in the Solomon Islands.
The spear-throwing Wogasia Festival is in the Solomon Islands.

Neighbours are like family - you can't pick them.

Seemingly they are chosen by The Fates and you can either be lucky, or terribly unlucky.

In the lucky stakes are people who have great folk next door who they get on with really well. There are regular barbecues, or dinners, between families and everyone is mindful of each other and makes sure their lifestyle does not impinge on the houses around them.

But you don't have to be in each others' pockets to be good neighbours. Sometimes that is just a greeting, or a wave, but again it does involve thinking about how your actions affect others.

Then we have those neighbours who don't give a rat's about anyone else and will basically become the unpleasant next-doors from hell.

They would include types like an American chap who reportedly chases people with a chainsaw and is said to have once slapped a quadriplegic man in the face with a fish!

Or you could move in next door to a Nazi war criminal, or an Islamic terror cell.

Drummers also come to mind, as do home mechanics, time-ignorant lawn mowers - before dawn or after dark - and those training on bagpipes.

I once had the misfortune to have a horde of 20 skinheads move in below me when my eldest boy was a baby. During the day it was fine but, come 10pm, the partying would start.

In the end I got so peeved I stomped downstairs, thumped on the door and gave them a force 5 version of an irate Richard. Expecting to die, I was surprised when they agreed to turn the music down.

Turning around I was even more surprised to see my brother - in his police uniform - standing there. Good timing bro.

You may be wondering where all this is going and I am just about to tell you.

In a couple of days I am hopping on a plane and heading to one of the most remote places on Earth to see how they deal with people who have annoyed them during the year.

It is the Wogasia festival and it is held annually on the island of Santa Catalina in the Solomon Islands.

Now the Solomons are not that remote - they are but a three-hour flight from Brisbane to the capital Honiara.

But to get to my destination I then need to grab another flight way down south of the country, over the island of San Cristobel, to the very southern isle of Santa Ana. From there it is a boat journey to the even smaller islet of Santa Catalina.

Only a few hours travel maybe, but a world away from everything but the most basic comforts.

The reason I am heading there is, as mentioned, the Wogasia festival. It is held so that people can sort out their differences and frustrations built up against someone over the previous year.

And the way these guys calm down - is to biff spears at each other!

Yup, real spears. Real biffing.

Now it isn't just grab a spear guys and let's get into it - there is a whole ritual to go through before the major action starts.

It begins before dawn with conches sounding out to start what is known as the beating of the ground. That involves running at full tilt through the jungle in absolute darkness while villagers throw offal and smelly liquids at those running. I have also heard of flaming coconuts husks adding to the danger levels. Villagers also hit the ground with palm fronds while screaming wildly.

After that the now rather mucky runners are tossed into the sea to get cleaned up.

At daybreak the first spear fight starts, which involves younger guys and "the uninitiated".

Unfortunately, I have been prohibited from taking part. That's a real shame as I thought I could get in a bit of practice before bringing the idea back here and sorting out a few folk who have peeved me in 2015-2016.

Next up comes a mock raid by the men into the village of Aorigi, after which they head for the beach for some serious spear action.

People do get hurt in this and I am going to have to balance getting great pictures with one eye on how to avoid being skewered.

With luck I will be back in a couple of weeks with some great tales of the Wogasia Spear Festival.


Call me slightly sick, but I think Isis is mellowing and moving into the modern world.

The Islamic terror organisation has shown a touchy-feely sort of side that few - particularly me - would have thought they were capable of.

Yes, the masked maniacs have done the right thing by minorities and have employed a wheelchair bound executioner.

Good to see them being an equal opportunity employer.


- Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 27 Oct 2016 16:08:51 Processing Time: 1070ms