Alotau Hosted A Cultural Extravaganza

Most impressive!

Before 2010 is up I’d like to share some photos and enjoyable moments during the 7th Canoe and Kundu Festival in Alotau, the capital city of the Milne Bay Province.

Absolutely enjoyable to watch this cultural group...

I was so pleased to have made it because the last time I visited Alotau was in July 2004 before I left to take up a post in London, UK. Of course, this trip to Alotau was in my capacity as the head of the policy development, strategic coordination and monitoring and evaluation entity created last year. So it was part of the job to attend the Festival and what a kaleidescope of beautiful traditional dances and costumes. The cultural diversity blew me away! I was simply entranced!

Decorated kundu drums - a major accompaniment to traditional dancing and singing

I enjoyed the dances presented by many cultural groups who travelled many miles in some cases to get to the Festival. The Festival showcased the various cultures of the Milne Bay Province. Missing though were the traditional Kiriwina dancers from the Trobriand Islands. Hope they make it next year – they will no doubt add more colour to the already colourful dancing costumes and dances.

Quite unique traditional dance formation...beautiful

Being the 7th Canoe and Kundu Festival, people said it was bigger and better than in previous years. I guess like anything else, we learn and improve. So that’s how it was then.

However, I’d like to remember one of the key movers and shakers who is, if you like, the founding father of the Festival – the late John Wills Kaniku – RIP Uncle John. This Festival is his legacy. I think it would be a fitting tritbure to his memory to name one of the main events after his name or at least one of the trophies. I am so pleased that he spearheaded the cause and was the brainchild of this  Festival which is fast becoming a major cultural event in Milne Bay if not in PNG. I know that it will gradually become a major cultural event on the national cultural events calendar if not already.

The shell decoration on the canoe was stunning

The Festival was held from 5th – 7th November, 2010.

Here are some of the photos I took from the Festival. There was so much to take in and I was most impressed by the many different dances and costumes plus the traditional food exchanges at the Festival. Included are some shots from one of the canoe races.

Just grateful to have been there...

I have photos to show that it was a cultural extravaganza and one that I hope would be in the calendar of travellers heading towards the Pacific. The Festival is usually held in November – a great way to visit and pick up some really lovely exotic gifts for friends and family.

Children taking part in the food exchange - sagali. Our cultures live on in our children - most endearing.
A group of young traditional dancers - they hold the key to the survival of our cultural heritage
I had to battle some other photographers and the audience to take this was worth it!
Gorgeous traditional necklaces complete these women's traditional attire
The bagi and the grasskirt - quintessentially Milne Bay...
The magololo - the softer woven grasskirt made from sago leaves - also quintessentially Milne Bay especially in the Bay area. The making of the magololo is steeped in tradition...
Ladies in face paint - simple and elegant, and of course the disarming smiles - quintessentially Milne Bay, without a doubt!
The male headdress - I think this are made of cassowary feathers, and of course the betelnut stained teeth - betelnut chewing is one of the major characteristic of Milne Bay customs.
The kundu drum - a major accompaniment to traditional dancing throughout PNG. The top of the kundu is covered with lizard skin as seen in this photo.
This shell necklace is a popular item in traditional gear and can be worn by both males and females but mainly by males.
Traditional dancers with kundu drums, the men wearing shorter 'grasskirts'
This yellow thing looked like a shell but am not sure...
Men in body paint - after one of the canoe races
Shell decoration on one of the racing canoes at the Festival

It was a great Festival and I enjoyed it immendsely. I was able to witness once again diversity in action as PNG is one of the world’s most diverse societies – linguistically, culturally, artistically etc.

The town was the cleanest I have ever seen it, friendly and warm and the sun very hot but I am so looking forward to the 8th Canoe and Kundu Festival.

Moon Over Lamana Hotel, Port Moresby

Simply beautiful...

After the Sarong and Talent judging night for the Miss South Pacific Pageant on Friday, 26th November, 2010, we came out of the Lamana  Hotel where the contest took place and as the crowd – the non-Gold Club crowd that is – began to leave the Hotel parking lot, I automatically reached for my camera.

The sky above was aglow with the most awesome moonlight.

As I stood and admired the moon above, I recalled as a child a song I was taught about the moon which goes something like, “…moon, moon, beautiful moon…”. That’s all I can remember unfortunately.


Looking up at the heavens above on that evening I also thought, “…the moon is also shining over England and over all my friends and loved ones…” – I held on to that thought. It was a moment in time. It was as if I had just left England only the day before.

Moonlight....inspiring songwriters everywhere especially in the beautiful Pacific islands...

As a songwriter, the moon and moonlight always inspire me.  Some of the most memorable songs, at least to me are about the moon and moonlight. Some of the most memorable songs are classics, in my humble opinion and they remain some of my favourite songs for as long as I can remember such as:

“Moonlight and shadows…” – Hawaii

“Moonlight on the beach at Korolevu…” –  Fiji

“Sail along Samarai moon…” – Milne Bay Province, PNG

and many more…..

Through the mango leaves...a sight to behold

Whilst people were saying their goodbyes to the MSSP contestants and taking photos with them, there was much happy noise around but I just focused on taking shots of the moon – over Lamana that evening.

Another shot of the moonlight phenomenon
Somehow the Hotel looked different looking at it under the moonlight

As I walked away, I couldn’t help thinking that just over a year ago, I was taking pictures of the moon over Middlesex, England…what nostalgia I felt.

A sight to behold...anywhere on this Earth.

I recalled a poem I learnt at Primary School many many moons ago…”The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear and the stanza where it says, “…and hand in hand at the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon, the moon. They danced by the light of the moon”.

Fairfax Harbour At Dusk…Port Moresby

The view halfway up the Poreporena Freeway

One evening as we left the office,  I was so taken by the sunset and dusk over Fairfax Harbour, I tried taking my shots through the staff bus windows but none of them did justice to the moment. So when we were on the Freeway halfway on our ascent I asked everyone  if we could stop so I could take some shots of the unfolding dusk over the Harbour.  My colleagues readily agreed, so we stopped by the roadside and these were the photos I took of  Fairfax Harbour.

Peaceful and alluring…. 

Another shot from the Freeway
The rock face on the side of the Freeway
My, oh my, how the city has grown this side of town...
Another view of the lights of Port Moresby from this side of the city
As the sunset slowly disappeared...
Traffic on the Freeway...this used to be a mountain!
Could barely make out the lights of Government House

As we piled back into the bus and slowly climbed up the hill and away down towards Hohola, I couldn’t help  thinking how fast Port Moresby is growing. No doubt every nook and cranny and every hill that has a spectacular view of the Harbour will have a house on it one day. Don’t really want to contemplate that, no, not really.

I kind of liked this time of day when the dusk envelops the city and hides the dust-laden rooftops and roadsides. I think this is my escape from the headlines of the day that paint a totally different picture of the city of Port Moresby. How much of its historical significance is lost on us, the residents of Port Moresby – visitors, short term and longtime residents? How much of Port Moresby do we want to change? – hopefully not these views, especially of Fairfax Harbour at dusk.