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Welcome to this week's feature stories. The stories are from various Papua New Guinean writers. The main highlight this week is the story on .....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cultural mapping commences in Gulf


FOR the first time in history, the Papua New Guinea National Cultural Commission (NCC) is conducting a pilot Cultural Mapping Project (CMP) throughout the country.

The main objective in carrying out this cultural mapping project is to preserve, protect and promote both the traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of the people of PNG.

The pilot testing of the CMP was done in Tauri- Lakekamu Local Level Government in the Kerema District of the Gulf Province with the official launch on Friday, November 28, 2009 at Malalaua Station.
Prior to the launching and the initial research and collecting of data being carried out, awareness and publicity was conducted in advance making sure information is spread through them.

After the launch, the six teams of field researchers were recruited, trained and dispatched to the project area.
Those six teams consisting of 18 potential researchers then proceeded to their respective destinations in order to begin their data collection of tangible and intangible cultural elements as presented below in the subsequent sections.

The pilot testing of the cultural mapping project anticipates forming the basis of the inventory work on CMP for the entire country.

A preliminary research survey conducted by the National Cultural Commission officials in the Mailovera area in the Kerema District from 24th to 26th of January 2008 established dialogue with the local community on the understanding that Mailovera area would be the project area used for pilot testing of the CMP.
A preliminary report on the survey resulted in further consultations between elders of the communities and NCC.

These consultations were important in which identification of appropriate levels of protocols and channels of communication is necessary to ensure the local communities of the pilot project area are informed of the intention of cultural mapping project.

The project did not eventuate as originally intended at Mailovera. However, the NCC opted to include all the 9 wards in the Tauri - Lakekamu LLG, Kerema District in the Gulf Province. These include, Titikaini, Heatore, Heavala, Putei, Titikaini, Okavai and Kakoro. 
Wanton/ Ieva and Kakiva wards were left out due to the terrain and rugged mountain, cannot be accessed by either dingy or on foot.
A total of 18 potential researchers made of six teams both within the NCC and outsiders who have been engaged on part-time employment were deployed to the area to carry out research work for the durations of two weeks.  

After the completion of the research, they returned to Port Moresby with their information and data for the actual documentation to be recorded.   
The CMP should not have been done, fortunately it all began in the 1970s when our founding father Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare first visited Canberra and expressed his wish to preserve and develop the cultural heritage of our people.

It was evident that our former colonial masters were sympathetic towards such wishes but it also depended very much on who was leading the ruling party in Australia.
We can now acknowledge the good will of Australia as our former colonial administrator and an extra ordinary bond established between Honourable Gough Whitlam, who was then, Australian Prime Minister in 1973 and our founding father Sir Michael Somare, who was then our Chief Minister at the time.
In his visit to Australia, Sir Michael expressed his feeling for our nation's history and way of life and his Australian counter - part responded positively.

Again, in 1973 at the University of Papua New Guinea graduation ceremony; the Australian Prime Minister officially expressed his sympathy as well as his intention to fund the cultural development program for the graduating Papuans and New Guineans would soon be the leaders for the independent nation in not too far future.

He promised to make available Australian five million dollars which was to fund the construction of National Museum, establishment of National Arts School and Institute of PNG Studies.
These were the most needed infrastructural development which paved the way for the call for the overseas cultural institutions such as museums to repatriate our tangible cultural objects of cultural and historical significance.

This process was openly welcomed and supported by UPNG academics in the fields of Anthropology and Archaeology.  
We are now very privileged to venture into and taking part in that process of cultural development which began even before the birth of our nationhood.

Hence, the pilot testing is aimed at achieving the overall objective of the cultural mapping project and that is to identify record and document all the traditional cultural heritage of the people of Papua New Guinea. The outcome of the pilot testing should form the basis of inventory work for the full implementation of the national cultural mapping project throughout the country.

Having said this, the traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of the people of Papua New Guinea are prominent enough to be recognised at the top of the hierarchy of laws.

In this sense, the NCC is established with the responsibility to preserve, protect, develop and promote the traditional arts and cultures of the people of Papua New Guinea.

It functions through its three Institutions; the Institute of PNG Studies, the National Performing Arts Troupe and the National Film Institute in implementing work activities and programs to fulfil its mandate.

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