Joanne Heming

Joanne Heming identifies as a Bougainvillian/North Solomon Islander and as British, and is fluent in Tok Pisin and English. She lives and works in Cairns.

She has always loved music and when growing up her father was never without a guitar in his hands. She enjoyed music in school and sang in the choir all through high school. However, it was not until 2012 that she undertook formal study in music, completing Certificates 3 and 4 at Tropical North Queensland TAFE in Cairns.

About her song-writing, Joanne Heming says: “I write, sing and perform because I believe my songs resonate with each and everyone who hears them in one way or another. You never know who is listening and what they are going through. So if I can help someone through the power of song, then I’ll keep writing, singing and performing”.

Bougainville Mona Cultural Festival


Bougainville is the largest island in the Bougainville Autonomous Region of Papua New Guinea. It is mountainous and forested with substantial rainfall. Geographically, it is part of the archipelago and ecological region of the Solomon Islands but politically part of Papua New Guinea.

It has been inhabited for many millennia by Austronesian peoples, with the first European colonial contact by the French explorer Louis de Bougainville in 1768. At the turn of the twentieth century, it was within the German colonial empire as part of German New Guinea. During World War One it was occupied by Australia and was incorporated into the Australian Territory of New Guinea in the 1920s. During World War Two it was the site of fierce fighting between Japanese and Allied forces and after the end of hostilities Australia resumed control.

Bougainville was incorporated in 1949 into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but it mounted a bid for independence when Australia declared Papua New Guinea independent in 1975. However the goal of independent status failed to gain international recognition and in 1976 it and nearby Buka Island became part of Papua New Guinea, albeit with some provisions for self-governance.

Conflict arose over large-scale copper and gold mining activities by the multinational mining company Rio Tinto at the Panguna Mine, and the subsequent distribution of royalties. Therefore between 1988 and 1998 there was a civil war. It led to the loss of tens of thousands of lives and devastated infrastructure and social and cultural life because of the protracted hostilities and a wide-ranging blockade. Eventually, in 2001 a peace agreement was signed.

Language: Along with Indigenous languages, many Bougainvillians speak Tok Pisin as the main language of communication, with English also used as an official language for governmental and business purposes.