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A recent incident deeply affected Curragh. Two sisters, aged 12 and 14, were living with their mother and stepfather. The man had raped one girl and sexually violated the other. The older girl told the mother, a nurse, about the crimes. The mother paid compensation to her own daughters. And the sexual assaults happened again. A few years later, when the older girl was 17, she attended a community talk Curragh gave about incest, rape and sexual abuse. The girl later went to Munda police station to report the incidents. The statement given by the girl to RSIP constable Rozlyn Maekera still haunts Curragh. "When I read that their own mother had provided compensation to these two girls and thought that it was the end of the matter, that it was going to go away - this is where the system has completely broken down." The man pleaded guilty and is now in jail.
In police parlance, Curragh is proactive; it's her fate to be working in a sea of inertia. At the small police station in Munda, the local officers clock on for duty and wait for instructions. Curragh says the officer in charge here provides no leadership at all. "He's not competent and the staff don't listen to him," she says. "I have to motivate the staff, otherwise they will sit there and do nothing." But in this quiet place, where time means little, wanting to "Go, go, go!" gets you nowhere. Curragh has had to change her approach; from the human fridges, she's learned to just chill. Australian and New Zealand officers, who make up 80% of the PPF, are used to hectic schedules; Pacific Islanders have found it easier to take things a little more slowly - especially in the 18 outposts - and have been more readily embraced by the Solomons police. "I'm not a Solomon Islander," says Curragh. "I'm not here to bring in what I think policing should be because it works in New Zealand. I'd like to pass on my knowledge and adapt it so that it works here. So that when I'm gone, hopefully the RSIP will carry it on." The senior Solomons officer on New Georgia Island is Inspector Alpheas Sikajajaka. Based at Noro, a fast-growing town and busy fishing port a 30-minute speedboat ride north of Munda, "Sika" is pleased that the provincial election day is turning out to be a peaceful one. While crime is generally low in Noro, a high-profile double murder in the area three years ago is still being investigated by police; one of the people arrested for the murders of two special constables was the area's former provincial member, Billy Veo, who is not a candidate today. (At his recent High Court trial, prosectors withdrew the case against Veo.) By 3 p.m., with two hours to go before polling closes, there's a busy stream of voters at Noro's Town Hall. Town clerk David Riapitu Mamupio, perhaps the only man in the Solomons who wears a tie, says the maintenance of law and order is the most important prerequisite for development. "Security is paramount. Without it donors don't have the confidence to fund projects - and we've got plenty here in Noro on the drawing board."