2019 will be a momentous year for Bougainville.
This region of Papua New Guinea, that has had an autonomous government since 2005, is to hold a referendum on whether to extend this to full independence.
It is the culmination of a peace process that began in 1997 and which had ended nearly ten years of civil war - a war that is thought to have claimed as many as 20,000 lives.
In 2001 the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed by Bougainville and the PNG governments, giving as its ultimate step a vote on possible independence. In the intervening years various governmental powers were to be devolved to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the ABG, by Port Moresby, with the aim that it would become progressively more autonomous.
The referendum was set to come within 15 years of the first ABG elections in 2005 and the government wanted it this year to avoid a clash with the provincial election next year. After some debate the referendum is to be held from 12 October, after a tentative arrangement to hold it in June was deemed too soon as Bougainville wouldn't be ready.
As far as the Bougainville government is concerned the national government was at fault for this delay because it had not been advancing constitutionally guaranteed funding which would have aided preparations.
A five-member agency has been set up by both governments to prepare Bougainville for the vote. Headed by former Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, the Bougainville Referendum Commission's role is to oversee and conduct the vote.
It has now been awarded some funding from the national government to carry out its work. Meanwhile, an American with experience in elections and referendums, Mauricio Claudio, has been appointed as the chief referendum officer. Mr Claudio previouly helped run elections in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia. He has also been in Bougainville, having supported the 2015 local elections, and 2017 national elections.
In recent days an ABG roadshow has been touring the region to raise awareness and answer questions about the referendum. It included president John Momis, members of his cabinet, the UN resident co-ordinator, Gianluca Rampolla, and the PNG minister of Bougainville Affairs, William Samb. One of the conditions that the Peace Agreement requires be filled is that Bougainville is weapons free, or that the threat of illegal guns is removed.
Most constituencies have now declared themselves to be "weapons free and referendum ready," but recent violence in the main town Buka, earlier this month, indicates otherwise.
Two people were killed and 34 houses burnt down. Helen Hakena, who runs the Leitana Nehan Women's Development Agency said easy access to alcohol and illegal guns was behind the violence.
John Momis blamed it on a lack of jail space.
Any discussion on Bougainville, the civil war and its outcomes, always has to put the Panguna mine front and centre.
Huge deposits of copper and gold were found in the 1960s and a mine development by Rio-Tinto got underway. PNG, at this time, was preparing for independence from Australia, and the vast mine became the cornerstone of the new country's economy.
But right from the start there was Bougainville opposition to the mine - the destruction of the land and the importation of workers from other parts of PNG and overseas, their impact on the cultural life of Bougainville, and the perceived underemployment of Bougainvilleans, were all factors.
These views never dissipated and by 1989, with the environmental damage now stark, opposition to the mine broadened. Francis Ona, part of a landowning family at Panguna, first raised concerns about the distribution of returns within his family, but this soon encompassed issues such as the environmental damage and a revitalised quest for independence.
After he fled into the bush with his supporters following attacks on Bougainville Copper Ltd installations a broad conflict developed, eventually forcing the closure of the mine. Fighting escalated, involving PNG Defence Force troops, supported by Australia, along with Bougainvilleans loyal to the Port Moresby government, confronting Mr Ona's new Bougainville Revolutionary Army.
Many of the thousands of deaths during the war resulted from a blockade imposed on the province by Port Moresby, which meant the Bougainville rebels were denied basic medicines and other services. For these reasons Panguna has always been the focal point of discontent on Bougainville.
Despite the grim legacy of Panguna there is now a scramble to re-open the mine, led by president Momis. After placing a moratorium on Panguna development a year ago he announced in January plans for his government to become directly involved in mining, working with an untried Australian company.
Both the original miner, BCL(of which the ABG is now, ironically, a major shareholder), and another Australian company, RTG, also want to get a foot in the door.
Many others on Bougainville do not want the mine to ever re-open, but would rather it develop its fishing, agriculture and tourism potential.
The referendum and what happens after
The referendum will be held from the 12 October. People will be asked whether they want full independence from PNG or greater autonomy within PNG. An unarmed international security team, made up of soldiers and police from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Solomon Islands is to provide support. It will be led by New Zealand and mirrors similar unarmed forces that helped to police the peace on Bougainville when hostilities ended 20 years ago.
President John Momis says his government will advocate for Bougainvilleans to vote for independence.
Australian academic, Dr Ted Wolfers, who has had a long involvement in Bougainville issues, says people need to understand what greater autonomy means.
There are also divergent views in the PNG parliament which will be charged with ratifying a decision, based on the vote, and reached in discussions between the two governments. When Bougainville struggled for funding from the national government last year the deputy leader of the PNG opposition, Tim Masiu, who is the member for South Bougainville believed it reinforced why Bougainvilleans want out. Prime minister Peter O'Neill parliament last year that it would be difficult to let Bougainville go].
For the estimated population of 350,000 on Bougainville, and those Bougainvilleans living in other parts of PNG, there will be a lot to take in and lots of differing views being offered them over the next seven months, but the decision they make could lead to the creation of the world's newest country and the first in the Pacific in nearly 40 years.