The Coconut Revolution

The Coconut Revolution

2001, Environment  -   46 Comments
Ratings: 8.68/10 from 160 users.

This is the modern-day story of a native peoples remarkable victory over Western Colonial power. A Pacific island rose up in arms against giant mining corporation Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) - and won despite a military occupation and blockade. When RTZ decided to step up production at the Panguna Mine on the island of Bougainville, they got more than they bargained for.

The islands people had enough of seeing their environment ruined and being treated as pawns by RTZ. RTZ refused to compensate them, so the people decided it was time to put an end to outside interference in the islands affairs. To do this they forcibly closed down the mine.

The Papua New Guinea Army (PNGDF) were mobilized in an attempt to put down the rebellion. The newly formed Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) began the fight with bows & arrows and sticks & stones. Against a heavily armed adversary they still managed to retain control of most of their island.

Realizing they were beaten on the ground, the PNGDF imposed a gunboat blockade around Bougainville, in an attempt to strangle the BRA into submission. But the blockade seemed to have little or no effect. With no shipments getting in or out of the island, how did new electricity networks spring up in BRA held territory? How were BRA troops able to drive around the island without any source of petrol or diesel?

What was happening within the blockade was an environmental and spiritual revolution. The ruins of the old Panguna mine were being recycled... to supply the raw materials for the worlds first eco-revolution. A David and Goliath story of the 21st century, The Coconut Revolution will appeal to people of all backgrounds.

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46 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Mac

    Great story of David and Goliath. Would've been much better without the focus on the god/xtian foolishness though!

  2. ahmed zake

    This story has a happy ending. It sounds like the common decency of people were motivated back in 1997 from around the world to take action against the terrible injustice to these island people. Great documentary!

  3. Fenix

    I love this documentary

  4. jeri

    It's a good thing that gun control hadn't taken over the island before they needed the revolution.

  5. DigiWongaDude

    10/10 with ease...

    ...But what happens next is just as shocking... a second follow up short film picks up the story in 2008, by Australia's Journey Man Pictures, and reveals just how easily, and arguably inevitably, human beings turn good intentions and opportunity into corruption, greed and exploitation: search for "Bougainville: Killer Deal".

    Be sure to look up "Francis Ona" on wikipedia. He denounced the elections which brought his former deputy, Joseph Kabui, into power, which he says saw only a 3% turnout of eligible voters. Sadly, Francis, the man who started the whole revolution, died in 2005 of malaria.

  6. a_no_n

    good job it was a mine and not an oil refinery or else the US would have stepped in called them terrorists and nuked them.

  7. mark

    The power of the people!! we can do anything. I loved this documentary

  8. Trip E

    Watched this film a few years ago and was so blown away. Was glad to find it again and to review it, to see if it was as amazing as I remembered it to be. Yes, it is still so powerful, and the people are so ahead of their time. The rest of us are just catching onto sustainable living, usually giving it lip service, and these people fought off conglomerates and governments, and epitomize the essence of sustainable living, which is local innovation and community welfare. People know how to look after themselves, and people know what they want. Where was the UN??? Where is the UN??? What a big joke! Love the coconut oil. That is the most memorable aspects of it all.

  9. Concerned

    Impressive people in their resourcefulness, but I find the following statistic disturbing: 62% of men on Bougainville island have at least once raped a woman or girl. This is from a 2013 United Nations survey, p. 41,

    1. Concerned

      For some reason the link to the survey was deleted. It can be found at the Wikipedia entry "Bougainville Island."

    2. Will I am

      It could be propaganda, how do you know it wasn't visiting foreigners and soldiers? which those kind of statistics are normally representative of... So it looks like the UN is doing their part, spreading the misrepresentation...

  10. Ava

    Absolutely Amazing! These people are ingenious! After watching several heart-breaking documentaries about indigenous people being robbed of all of their land and resources, this is Extremely refreshing!
    I never knew it was possible in relatively modern times, that native people with limited to no technology could fight off such rich and powerful enemy's.
    Shows anything is possible.

  11. Dave Sansone

    This amazing documentary illustrates how sensitive 1st worlders are since they are dependent on massive imports. Any prolonged shipping disruption would mean major crisis to a population made dependent on imported food, fuel, and medicine. this inspires me to work on developing local production of our needs--so we aren't vulnerable and so we don't continue to rely on stolen "resources" made by people with little freedom. Let's go (coco) nuts!

  12. philip staley

    My wife and i just returned and have found the gold is in the people not in the ground. We went up to the mine and yes the devastation was like it says. We were invited to the mine by the BRA man Ishmael . It warmed our hearts but the blockade of did was unforgiving ...from the PNG and AUS sides ..We are going back second home ..

  13. Gloria Newton

    This is so powerful and moving.I admire these strong willed people for standing up..Great job on the Documentary.Everyone fighting for the same causes need to see this.Just impressive.

  14. sonicbphuct

    15 coconuts for a liter of fuel and double the miles... wow.

  15. Rick Derek Thorpey

    Wonderful documentary. I'm an Aussie and after seeing this I'm more disappointed at my government. I see too many doco's on governments defending HUGE mining companies that are carelessly abusing the land for money. f--kin disgraceful. BHP and Shell go **** urselves.

  16. Anton Bidzhiev

    Brave people, their example shows a way for all of us.

  17. Emil Gabriel

    This is a never-ending story.The next episode is Romania - Rosia Montana.

  18. elgama

    this is truly amazing...i would give up this city life in a heartbeat to go live with them

  19. Draw Vinette

    This story has a happy ending. It sounds like the common decency of people were motivated back in 1997 from around the world to take action against the terrible injustice to these island people. Great documentary!

  20. Draw Vinette

    This is one of those valuable documentaries that shows the atrocities that countries, governments and people can do today. Special thanks to the documentary film crew that captured the tenacity, inventiveness, and bravery of island people of Bougainville who were simply trying to stop the destruction of their land and their ecosystems that they depend upon to survive.

    The Panguna Mine on the island of Bougainville is an example of projects that are ill conceived and executed with little or no regard to the people / civilization that it will displace and the land that it will destroy.

    After viewing this documentary I hope that the Australian government and the Papua New Guinea government have taken immediate action to stop the blockade of the island of Bougainville and the violence against its people who are trying to protect the island and its natural ecosystems.

    I will also be doing my part to contact the Australian government and the Papua New Guinea government to express both both my anger and outrage at what they are doing both the island and its people.

    In the 21st century this type of government behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and it needs to stop!

    Everyone who sees this documentary and agrees with me should take the time to contact the Australian government and the Papua New Guinea government to express their anger at this attempt at genocide on the island of Bougainville and demand that the island blockade be lifted and the people of the island of Bougainville be compensated for what they have been put through.

    This is the “Avatar” movie in real life.

    It is tragic that this can happen today and that the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea completely support it.

    This is extremely bad public relations for Australia and Papua New Guinea.

  21. Guest

    She put the lime in the coconut and drank it all up.


    this is easily the best and most informative doc i've watched in a while.
    really and truly amazing stuff- and gives me hope about the future for some reason, maybe because given their example, anything is possible...i will definately share this one!

  23. Jeremy Allen

    Fantastic - thank you very much for the inspirational example shown by the people here, and fingers crossed, will continue to do so long into the future!

  24. Laurence Vanhelsuwe

    No cargo cults here! Hugely inspiring.. The modern world could crumble from 7 billion to a few thousand, as long as they're all on this island.

  25. Carlisle Henning

    ... so this year Rio Tinto has reopened the mine. Sad

    1. Clive Porabou

      No, Rio Tinto will not come back to my motherland. We kicked them out already

    2. Gloria Newton

      Good news.Don't ever let those evil,greedy vultures take what's yours.

  26. Sieben Stern

    i think this docu proves that humans are much more adaptable than we think - we're lead to believe that if our banks collapse we'll just sit down and die, or if that oil is too expensive that no one will figure out an alternative.

    'necessity is the mother of innovation' certainly rings true!

  27. amanda

    i thought this film was very moving it showed ways the land is very helpful to people if they just look i am very impressed at the lifes these people live and we complain cause we cant go buy thenext best thing i think that each school should make this part of their history lessons and culture learnings

  28. omega man

    just WOW

  29. The ImPoster

    Truly inspirational...

  30. Mike Dominguez

    I would like to air this on Big Island of Hawaii public TV, is it copy written? If it is I would need a written release.
    Please e-mail. Aloha..........

  31. Chelsa

    What a powerful documentary. Everyone needs to see this.
    I think the people of Bougainville are way ahead of us.

  32. phelanrocks

    I watched this powerful documentary and I was amazed at the intelligence and lack of self pity of
    these very determined extraordinary people.

  33. Anita

    Great to see the little guy take on the giants. My home town is being gobbled up by the giant Vale and they are showing NO MERCY. They will break us peasants and show us who's boss. Maybe our Steelworkers could learn something from this, or at least be inspired. It all seems rather hopeless right now.

  34. Dina

    A perfect example of indigenous people fighting for their freedom against the forces of colonization, and drawing on their indignous wisdom to maintain self sufficiency.


    it speaks for itself , great Doc. ( think for yourelf , adapt or ? )

  36. velly

    Very good and inspiring doc, go people !

  37. d.dolan

    Very inspiring. Liking the idea of coconut oil for fuel.

  38. K.X.

    Amazing Doc. A must for the whole world to see :D

  39. Gomard

    Inspiring doc. Good for the people of Bouganvilla.

  40. Bougainvillian

    these guys rock!

  41. Jeb Murphy

    Excellent! Thank You