PNG Catholic Church says deported man a justice fighter

1:09 pm on 13 June 2017

The Archbishop of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea believes a New Zealand lay missionary was removed from the country because of his work opposing Rimbunan Hijau.

The multi national company, which has wide interests in PNG, has a huge oil palm plantation at West Pomio in East New Britain.

Archbishop Francesco Panfilo said he brought in Douglas Tennent, a former law lecturer at the University of PNG, after he was asked by the landowners at West Pomio to look into the issues around their relationship with Rimbunan Hijau.

"When I asked the people why are you asking me to do that and they told me plainly "We do not believe in our politicians - we believe that the Church will help us," he said.

"So I got involved and the more I got involved the more I discovered the social issues that were involved and the solution to this problem was by asking RH [Rimbunan Hijau] to agree to have a new lease agreement."

Despite a court order staying the deportation of Mr Tennent left PNG on Monday.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference, in a statement today says Mr Tennent was deported for fighting for justice for the voiceless in Papua New Guinea.

It called the deportation an example of corruption of the highest order in PNG to protect and safeguard some big companies and national leaders.

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades