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Papua New Guinea, Host of the 3rd Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture 

Cover Image: Masthead of Kuokoa Home Rula published on October 15, 1909.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

Dear Reader,

This week’s post honors Papua New Guinea which, in 1980, became the 3nd nation to host the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture, under the theme, “Pacific Awareness.” This festival was held in Port Moresby.

The Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture is the world’s largest celebration of Indigenous Pacific Islanders, bringing together artists, cultural practitioners, scholars, and officials from member nations of the Pacific Community (SPC).

This traveling festival is held every four years and was first launched by the South Pacific Commission in 1972 to halt the erosion of traditional practices through ongoing cultural exchange. In June of 2024, Hawaiʻi will host the 13th festival on Oʻahu.

Over the coming months, we will honor each of the previous FestPAC hosts with posts featuring those island nations and their connections to Hawaiʻi’s own history.

In 1909, an article from Kuokoa Home Rula, found in the Hawaiian language newspaper collection of the Hawaiian Historical Society, describes the people of Papua and their extraordinary houses set atop giant trees.

Image: Motumotu, Papua, New Guinea. Showing roof and veranda of dobu (men’s house). Bishop Museum Archives. SP 115608.

Image: “Na Hale O Ka Lahui Papua.” Kuokoa Home Rula, October 15, 1909, belonging to the Hawaiian language newspaper collection of the Hawaiian Historical Society.

The houses of this people are up on giant trees. Indeed, if the trees are forty feet high, they build their houses up there. They sleep there, eat there, and give birth there where their children grow. They do not like their houses built on the ground, but instead they like them in the air, and they go up and down by ladder. This is for fear of being ambushed, the stifling heat of summer, the abduction of young girls, and persistent sickness in the family. This is a people who can walk for miles atop tree limbs. If [you,] a stranger walks the roads below, then those up on the branches will arrive at the intended place, where the taro, sweet potato, and chicken would be cooked before your arrival. And that is how swiftly they move above along the branches. Wondrous are the works of the creator of humanity.

Image: Tree house of the Koiari tribe. Mountain hinterlands of Port Moresby, Papua, New Guinea. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 103969.

Image: Woman and Child. Papua, New Guinea. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 46015.

Image: Village near Port Moresby. Hanuabada Village, Papua New Guinea. September 24, 1974. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 103967.

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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