After the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts & Culture Symposium, the Melanesian Forum Starts Today

 The Melanesian Forum – 03rd – 05th July 2014 – Holiday Inn Hotel, Port Moresby

Organised by The Melanesian and Pacific Studies Centre, The University of Papua New Guinea

Convener: Dr Nicolas Garnier, OL, University of Papua New Guinea

The Melanesian Forum, the first of this kind, aims to gather intellectuals, academics, political leaders and heads of departments from all over Melanesia. It is the result of collaboration between the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the Melanesian and Pacific Studies Centre (UPNG) and the National Cultural Commission of PNG.

The Melanesian Forum acknowledges the seminal importance of culture in the construction of political cooperation in the region. It hopes to unfold a series of reflections on some of the predominate issues among Melanesian cultures. Six topics have been selected. While some have been the subjects of debates within the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders since 1984, others introduce new themes for reflection.

Underlying or Customary Law is of key importance for economic development regionally. The panellists for this session will particularly focus on local implications of land issues.

Everywhere in Melanesia, political leadership is searching for new models to meet the expectations of diverse communities and citizens. The second session gathers specialists who will discuss traditional forms of leadership and their relationship to state institutions. Particular attention will be given to the status of women within traditional political systems and in contemporary political institutions.

The topic of the third session is the relationships between Melanesian traditional languages, colonial languages (French and English), and the Creole languages (Tok Pisin, Solomon Pijin, Bislama). The Melanesian Spearhead Group and Government(s) have been facing multiple issues related to the use of languages in administration and education. They are torn between the necessity to engage with the global world and the defence of local cultures and identities.

The very rich cultural heritage of Melanesia is threatened by modernity, materialism and commercial greed. Curators, Museum and Heritage professionals will debate about new initiatives to promote and preserve cultural diversity and to fight against the decline of traditional knowledge during the fourth session.

Education and preservation of traditional knowledge have been at the heart Melanesian Spearhead Group concerns since its first meetings. In the fifth session, we welcome experts from the MSG, UPNG and the UNESCO who will discuss their own experiences with a view to fostering regional cooperation.

Large cultural meetings such as MSG Festival of Arts and Culture are the greatest achievements of regional cultural cooperation. The last session will assess the value and the contributions of these projects and will elaborate a vision statement for future collaboration in the domains of art and culture.


The Melanesian Forum will host three exhibitions that highlight the Melanesian and Pacific Studies Centre’s commitment to the exploration of innovative visual expression in PNG. The centre has initiated projects in both Port Moresby and remote communities. Ongoing projects offer local communities the means to tackle new issues and opportunities to reach broader audiences.

The first exhibition was the result of a travelling workshop conducted in 2012 in conjunction with the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the PNG Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It was conducted in four different communities in Bougainville and offered new insights about the Bougainville Crisis. The second exhibition was also the result of a community based training workshop. It was conducted in 2013 in Chambri Lakes, East Sepik Province. Under the supervision of local elders, young Chambri men demonstrated their recently acquired mastery in painting and drawings. The last exhibition features an urban photography experience that moves away from stereotypes and photographic conventions.

Oe'ya wonock, West Papua at the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts & Culture, Port Moresby 2014. Image by Robert Weber
Oe’ya wonock, West Papua at the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts & Culture, Port Moresby 2014. Image by Robert Weber

Program – Thursday 3rd July 20140

  • 8:00-09:00 Arrival and registration
  • 09:00-09:10 Prayer: Rev. Piri Rahe
  • 09:10-09:20

1/ Welcome, Dr Jacob Simet, Chairman 5th MFAC organising committee

2/ Welcome Prof. Betty Lovai, Dean SHSS, UPNG

  • 09:20-09:45 Keynote: Mr Molean Kilepak, Deputy Director General MSG
  • 09:45-10:00 Official photograph
  • 10:00-10:30 Morning break
  • 10:30-11:45 SESSION ONE

Melanesian Underlying Law

1/ Dr Eric Kwa

2/ Dr Onne Rageau

3/ Armand Goroboredjo, Sénat Coutumier, New Caledonia

  • 11:45-12:20 Plenary session
  • 12:20-13:00 Recommendations and resolutions
  • 13:00-14:00 LUNCH

Session One Panellists

 Dr. Eric Kwa is the Secretary for the Papua New Guinea Constitutional and Law Reform Commission. He was formerly the Associate Professor of Law at the UPNG Law School and also a former Dean of that School. He is from Siassi Island in the Morobe Province. He is a lawyer and has practised law, appearing before all the different levels of court in PNG. He holds a PhD in Environmental Law from Auckland University, New Zealand. Dr. Kwa’s key interests are Environmental Law; Natural Resources Law; Constitutional Law; and Local Government Law. He has researched widely in these areas and has published six (6) books (4 as co-author), and a number of refereed articles and book chapters both locally and internationally in addition to presenting more than 25 papers at national and international conferences. His most notable books are: Constitutional Law of Papua New Guinea (2001, Law Book Co) and Natural Resources Law of Papua New Guinea (2001, Law Book Co).

Dr Onne Rageau is among the first Papua New Guineans trained as specialist doctors in the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He has had International work experience in Australia, England and Scotland. He has worked in various capacities in Administration and Clinical practice in both the Public and Private sectors for the last 33 years. He has attended numerous national and international conferences. He is currently a senior Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Consultant at Pacific International Hospital.

Dr Rageau incorporated a company through the Investment Promotion Authority called the “Communal Land Development Ltd” and developed the PNG Customary Land Law from the Underlying Law Act of 2000 to protect the interests of all indigenous Melanesians of Papua New Guinea as an alternative to ILG, VCLR and SABL.

 Armand Goredjo is a member of the Sénat Coutumier (New Caledonia’s Customary Assembly), an institution created to promote and manage cultural and customary matters. Its main goal is to reflect upon Kanak identity. At the moment the Sénat Coutumier is designing a customary land tenure map. Armand Goroboredjo has represented the Païci-Cemuhy constituency/traditional area since 2010, after working for a long time in the management of that customary area.

  • 14:00-15:15 SESSION TWO

Traditional systems of leadership

1/ Adrien Diroua, Adrien Kaouwi and Eloi Boehe, Conseil d’Aire Ajië-Arhö, New Caledonia

2/ Mr Noah Lurang, NCC Board Member

3/ Lora Lini, MSG secretariat

4/ Minister Rose Pihei, ABG

  • 15:15-16:00 Plenary session
  • 16:00-16:30 Afternoon break
  • 16:30-17:00 Visit of the exhibition

“Images from the Bougainville Crisis”

Session Two Panellists

Adrien Diroua, Adrien Kaouwi and Eloi Boehe are members of the Conseil d’Aire Ajië-Arhö, one of the eight customary councils of New Caledonia. [In New Caledonia, there are three main historical stages starting with the pre-colonial period, followed by the colonial time (mid 19th Century – Matignon agreement (1988)/Nouméa agreement (1998)) and followed by the current period. Today, the various political stakeholders are distributing responsibilities among the newly designed institutions, particularly the “Customary Areas”, based on linguistic families and the Sénat Coutumier. One of the major goals of these institutions is to give birth to the “Socle Commun des Valeurs Kanak” (Kanak Shared Values).

Noah Lurang is a National Cultural Commission Board Member in PNG. He has been instrumental in developing research and awareness campaigns in New Ireland, particularly at the New Ireland Tourism Office. Noah Lurang is an internationally respected expert on Malagan culture. He has recently engaged in research on traditional forms of leadership in New Ireland.

Lora Lini was a print journalist and active member of the Media Association of Vanuatu for 14 years and has worked for television, radio and newspaper in Port Vila. After a brief stint with the Communications and Public Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, United Kingdom, she joined in 2010 the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat as the Media and Information Officer. She was promoted in 2012 and now serves as the Executive Officer to the Director General of the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila.

Mrs Rose Pihei is a member representing women in the House of Representatives for the Autonomous Bougainville Government in a Reserve Seat for women. She is currently the Minister for Arts, Culture and Tourism in the Bougainville Executive Council. She is the only female Minister in a fourteen member Bougainville Executive Council. Rose was driven to the political arena by her passion to create and influence change in women’s leadership and peace building. She decided to involve herself with small women’s empowerment programmes through the churches in Bougainville right at beginning of restoration in 1992. Later in 2004, her determination to help empower women grew and drove her out into the larger community doing women’s empowerment programmes including Peace Building. By 2006, Rose got heavily involved in the Post Conflict war in Bougainville. She was instrumental in brokering peace in the six years post conflict which ended in November, 2011. At the political front, she is passionate about weaving culture into the social structures that are put in place by the Government, creating firm foundations for the development of communities in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Images of the Crisis:

Painting memories and experiences of the Bougainville conflict (1988-2001)

The PNG Red Cross, the University of Papua New Guinea and the International Committee of the Red Cross organized the Bougainville Art Project in 2012. It was designed to offer people a platform to express their memories related to the Bougainville conflict. To achieve this goal, a series of artistic workshops preceded by discussions were conducted in Buka (North Bougainville), Rorovana (Central Bougainville), and Moro (South Bougainville). In the process, the project facilitated participants’ expression of their ideas and concerns about Bougainville today and tomorrow.

The workshop consisted of artistic training that introduced a new technique to adults that consists in painting at the back of a transparent sheet of plastic. The participants were first invited to study the Art of Somuk a pioneer Bougainville artist who worked in the 1930’s and was perhaps the first contemporary artist from the Pacific to gain international recognition. The participants responded very enthusiastically and created quite innovative and moving images. The workshop clearly demonstrated the need for Bougainvillians to find ways to express their memories, emotions and pain related to the conflict (1989-2001). The method allowed participants to express themselves on their own terms. The artworks completed during the training show that such innovative methods could be part of the general process of peace and reconciliation.

The outstanding quality of the artworks created on this occasion could be further promoted internationally to showcase Bougainville culture.

Friday 4th July 2014

  • 08:00-08:30 Arrival and registration
  • 08:30-10:00 THIRD SESSION

Indigenous Languages

1/ Ms Stéphanie Rabault, Ms Annick Kasovimoin, Académie des Langues Kanak

2/ Professor Kenneth Sumbuk, UPNG

3/ Mr Sakarepe Kamene, UPNG

  • 10:00-10:30 Morning break
  • 11:45-12:20 Plenary session
  • 12:20-13:00 Recommendations and resolutions
  • 13:00-14:00 LUNCH

Session Three Panellists

Stéphanie Rabault is a scientific and technical officer at the Académie des langues kanak (Kanak Linguistic Academy). Annick Kasovimoin is a Research Fellow at the Xârâcùù section (Académie des langues kanak). The Académie des langues kanak is a government institution of New Caledonia in charge of normalisation of Kanak languages and spelling. It was established in 2007. It plays a central role in promoting and disseminating Kanak languages printed materials. It also designs language awareness campaigns.

Professor Kenneth Sumbuk is currently professor of Linguistics at the University of Papua New Guinea. He was Pro Vice Chancellor of this university between 2006 and 2013. His PhD thesis topic was his mother tongue, Sare, a Papuan language of Papua New Guinea. His research specialty is Papuan Languages, Pidgin and Creole linguistics and dying languages. Most recently, he has developed a research interest in language ecology. One of his current research projects is analysing gender-marking systems in Papuan languages.

Sakarepe Kamene is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and the head of the Linguistics and Modern Language Strand at the University of Papua New Guinea. His teaching and research experience extends more than thirty-two years. He has a wealth of experience in advising non-governmental agencies in Papua New Guinea, Melanesian countries and in the Pacific Region. His research interests cover aspects of linguistics, language, semantics, lexical grammar, pragmatics, literacy, and basic education. He is also interested in tangible and intangible culture, traditional legal concepts, ethics and moral issues. He has been actively involved in the UNESCO project on Cultural Revitalization in the Pacific.

  • 14:00-15:15 FOURTH SESSION

Cultural Heritage Preservation

1/ Mr Marcellin Abong, Director, Cultural Center, Vanuatu

2/ Mr Philippe Peltier, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris

3/ Mr Henry Isa and Lawrence Kiko, National Museum, Solomon Islands

4/Yori Yei, Secretary General, UNESCO, PNG

  • 15:15-16:00 Plenary session
  • 16:00-16:30 Afternoon break
  • 16:30-17:00 Visit the exhibition “Chambri Drawings”

Session Four Panellists

Marcellin Abong is the Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. He was awarded a Master in Ethno-Anthropology and Archaeology (Paris I-Sorbonne) in 1998 and the same year Master in Xylology and Anthracology (Paris IV-Université Pierre et Marie Curie). In 2001 he was appointed as permanent staff of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. His principal responsibility was museum exhibitions before he was appointed as Vanuatu Cultural Centre Director in 2008. The same year he was appointed as a member of the Land Steering committee and the Special Committee of Land. In 2010, he became Treasurer of the Pacific Island Museum Association (PIMA) and between 2007 and 2010 he was appointed as a member of the Vanuatu National Cultural Council.

Philippe Peltier is senior curator at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris in charge of the Pacific and South Eastern Islands collections. He conducted extensive fieldwork on the Sepik River (PNG). He participated in many exhibitions, among them “Primitivism” at the MoMA in New York in 1984, “Gauguin, l’Atelier des Tropiques” in Paris and Boston in 2003, “Altar”, Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, 2004, “Art of New Ireland” in Paris, Saint-Louis and Berlin in 2006. He is currently preparing an exhibition on the Sepik River in cooperation with the Ethnography Museum in Berlin.

Henry Isa was a former Chief Cultural Officer at the Culture Division of the Solomon Islands and prior to this position, Chief Curator at the National Museum. He has been instrumental to the success of the Solomon Islands delegation in the international cultural festival for the last two decades. Lawrence Kiko is a recently graduate in archaeology from the University of Papua New Guinea. He is currently Chief Curator in Archaeology at the National Museum. The Culture Division and the National Museum play a key role in Cultural Heritage preservation and promotion in the Solomon Islands and internationally. Henry Isa and Lawrence Kiko will open a reflection upon ongoing challenges highlighting the growing threat of cultural artefacts smuggling.

Yori Yei started his professional career at UNESCO after completing a Masters Degree in Education at the University of Bristol. His is currently General Secretary for the PNG branch of UNESCO.

Chambri Drawings:

Reinventing Ancestral Traditions

During fieldwork at Chambri Lakes in June-July 2013, The Melanesian and Pacific Studies Centre organised an art workshop with the support of Gordon Pampang, a former staff member of the NCC who lives in Chambri. The Chambri people were invited to draw on circular sheets of paper. During two weeks about forty men of varying ages took part in the project and produced a little more than a hundred drawings of outstanding quality. Most of the drawings were made in the various men’s houses of Chambri, mainly at night only with the light from battery torches. They are works of imagination, although some of the elders made clear references to traditional patterns. For the younger generation, the drawings made no direct references to traditions and these artworks can be seen as combinations of traditional and non-traditional patterns. Others can be seen as free interpretation based upon traditional designs. None of these drawings are openly realistic, but none of them are completely abstract either. These drawings reflect a tension between the real and a desire for abstraction and ornament.

The workshop provided an opportunity for creation of a very innovative series of artworks. These drawings have unusual formats; the coloured paper backgrounds are all circular. Although the format, the materials, and the techniques were non traditional, the participants in the project displayed an exceptional mastery and achieved a revolutionary reformulation of Sepik art principles. The drawings will be sold to support economic development of the village.

Saturday 5th July 2014

  • 08:00-08:30 Arrival and registration
  • 08:30-10:00 FIFTH SESSION

Regional Cultural Education Strategy

1/ Ms. Meretui Tuvou Ratunabuabua, Fiji

2/ Dr. Bernard Minol, UPNG

3/ Nick Mano (UNESCO PNG)

4/ Sipriano Nemani, Dpt. of National Heritage, Culture and Arts, Fiji.

  • 10:00-10:30 morning break
  • 11:45-12:20 Plenary session
  • 12:20-13:00 Recommendations and resolutions
  • 13:00-14:00 LUNCH

Session Five Panellists

Adi Meretui Ratunabuabua is an indigenous Fijian Chief from Vunamoli village, Navatulevu, Nadi. She grew up in Asia and Europe at British Army posts during her first 22 years. She taught from 1985 to 2001 at the Fiji Institute of Technology as the Senior Lecturer in Arts, Culture and Design. She initiated many arts and cultural programs at the Fiji Arts Council and at the Ministry of Fijian Affairs. She worked with the team for cultural mapping of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture, and with the listing of Levuka as a World Heritage site. She was the head of the Fiji delegation to the Melanesian Arts Festival in New Caledonia 2010. She was Chair of the SPC Regional Culture Strategy Investing in Cultures 2010 to 2020, the Pacific Islands Museums Association Chair from 2008 to 2012, and established the Pacific Heritage Hub at USP when seconded from the Fiji Government between 2012 and 2014.

Dr Bernard Minol is currently the Director for the Centre for Human Resource Development (CHRD) at the University of Papua New Guinea. He obtained a PhD at the University of Queensland. He is a distinguished academic and writer whose main interests are Pacific Literature, Manus Folklore and History and Christianity in the Pacific. He has published extensively and his latest book “A Brief History of N’Dranou Local Church” will be launched this month.

Nick Mano has been the Program Advisor – Cultural Heritage with the PNG National Commission for UNESCO for the past three years. Prior to working with the PNG National Commission for UNESCO Mr. Mano worked with the National Museum and Art Gallery, and prior to that he was the Minister’s First Secretary for the Office of Higher Education, Science Research and Technology. He also served the Minister for Culture and Tourism for more than four years in a similar role. Mr. Mano graduated from UPNG in 2000 with a major in social work, but most of his carrier has been devoted to to cultural issues. He has proven to be a capable leader and team player who delegates responsibilities and executes programs with innovative results.

Sipriano Nemani is Principal Policy Conventions Officer at the Department of National Heritage, Culture and Arts in Fiji. He has been instrumental in setting up a national Policy in Fiji. Between 2003 and 2009 he was Research Officer at the Ministry of Fijian Affairs. He earned a BA in Anthropology and International Relations at USQ.

  • 14:00-15:15 SIXTH SESSION

Regional Cultural Development Strategy

1/ John Tahinao (Solomon Islands), Director, Cultural Division, Solomon Islands

2/ Dr Steven Winduo, UPNG

3/ Ms Marianna Elligson, Director OTAC

4/ Mr Mali Voi, Festival Secretary

  • 15:15-15:50 Plenary session
  • 15:50-16:00 Closing Remarks, Hon. Boka Kondra, Minister for Culture and Tourism
  • 16:00-16:30 Afternoon break
  • 16:30-17:00 Visit of the exhibition “Contemporary Photography in PNG”

Session Six Panellists

John Tahinao is the Director of Culture in the Cultural Division, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Solomon Islands. He initially joined the Ministry in 2008 as the Deputy Director of the Solomon Islands National Museum. In 2009 he assumed the role of Director of the Culture Division. John Tahinao has been instrumental in the development of the country’s National Kalsa (Culture) Policy that was adopted and launched in 2013 and the development of the proposed Bill on Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture that is awaiting tabling in Parliament.

Dr Steven Winduo is the Acting Director of the Academic Audit Unit at the University of Papua New Guinea. He is a famous writer and scholar from Papua New Guinea. His recent book is Land Echoes (2014). He was awarded the Arthur Lynne Andrews Chair in Pacific and Asian Studies, which he took up at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawaii in 2010-2011. He served as a visiting professor, Department of English, University of Minnesota (2007-2008), and as research scholar with the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Canterbury, New Zealand (2006). He was foundation director of Melanesian and Pacific Studies, UPNG. He is a senior lecturer in Literature and English Communication at the University of Papua New Guinea. Steven is an advocate for cultures, arts, books, literature and literacy in PNG and the Pacific. Dr Winduo’s broad knowledge of regional intellectual networks makes him an expert in the domain of cultural cooperation. He will present an academic perspective on RegionalCultural Development

Currently, Marianna Ellingson is Acting Director-General for the Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture (OTAC). OTAC is the coordinating agency for the tourism, arts and culture sector which has three (3) sector agencies: the National Cultural Commission (NCC), the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) and the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA). Ms Ellingson is an experienced executive manager and development planner with 38 years of national and international professional experience. Prior to the current appointment, Ms Ellingson held the post of Deputy Secretary, Department of National Planning and Rural Development, and briefly in 2004 was Acting Secretary of the Department. Ms Ellingson is a former PNG diplomat who served in Indonesia in the early ‘80s. She is a singer/songwriter and recording artist, a Full Writer Member of the Australasian Performing Rights Limited, Member of the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society, and currently Deputy Chair of the PNG-USA Alumni Association. Ms Ellingson hails from Kwato Island in the Milne Bay Province.

Mali Voi is currently the Secretary for the Organising Committee of the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture. He worked as a UNESCO delegate and his invaluable professional experience made him a internationally recognised expert in cultural policy and cultural development.

Radically Modern:

A photographic experience by UPNG Anthropology Students

The UPNG Anthropology Strand developed a new platform for experimental photography beginning in 2010.

This platform was created to challenge several photographic approaches commonly practiced in Melanesia.

– a touristic approach, with a predominance of Festival photography (singsing groups, children playing…)

– a focus on sordid topics such as extreme poverty and spectacular trash incidents (burning sorcerers, rascals..)

– opposition between modernity and tradition (traditionally adorned people using computers…)

– cultural stereotypes

However other photographic practices have received little attention so far. There is a trend toward intimate photography among most Papua New Guineans. The availability of digital cameras and mobile phones has given birth to a new genre: photography of friends and family members. UPNG students decided to move away from the predominant genres and ventured into unexplored techniques and topics. They were eager to propose an innovative and challenging representation of reality. They were encouraged to pay attention to unnoticed aspects of life and environment. They assumed that reality can be staged and recreated. Students included Lawrence Kiko, Florence Amani, Deborah Andukaman, Kungu Nanao, Auvita Kilori, Freeman Manyavi, Susan Darel, Teuwe Jack, John Umba, Tomila Koni and several others.