Culture & History
Culture & History
A Flynn’s Tours fully escorted adventure will usually be timed around the staging of one or more
Cultural events. Enjoy a feast of Cultural Festivals performed with an authenticity not found elsewhere. Become immersed in cultures where ancient animist beliefs are celebrated in skillfully made artworks and enthralling performances of music and dance. Over 850 languages are spoken and unique rituals still actively practiced. Experience up close the vividly spectacular and vastly varied forms of customs, art, costumes and cuisine in one of the most culturally intact places in the world at the largest gatherings of diverse tribes in the South Pacific.
The largest more iconic “Sing Sings” or cultural shows are held annually at Goroka in the Eastern Highlands and Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands. Both events have been running for around 60 years and were originally organised by Australian Patrol Officers known as ‘Kiaps’ as a way of bringing warring tribes together for a peaceful competitive event showcasing their traditional songs, dances and ritual performances.
The Mask Festival of East New Britain commences with the 'Kinavai' – the welcoming of the Tumbuans - at a dawn performance with the active volcano Mt Tavurvur as a backdrop.
The following days celebrate the region’s local culture, including the local Tolai customs and rituals and the dramatic night performance of the Bainings Fire Dance. A further two days provide a rich and varied program of music with the Warwagira Festival.
The Kutubu Kundu and Digaso Festival held in a remote corner of the Southern Highlands in the mountains surrounding Lake Kutubu. It offers an intimate and up close encounter with a fascinatingly unique culture with “sing sing” group performances, theatrical presentations, sago making and digaso oil extraction demonstrations, kundu displays, tapa cloth beatings and bilum making. The seven main lakeside villages participate in dugout canoe races and other demonstrations of local culture.
Flynn’s Tours can organise your visit to other cultural events including events on the Sepik River where a bond with the crocodile is celebrated in the globally renowned art of master carvers, artisans and potters. Milne Bay’s National Kenu and Kundu Festival highlights the long and sleek war canoes that include over 20 paddling warriors.
Other events include the Hiri Moale festival in the country’s capital, Port Moresby, the Enga Cultural show and the Bougainville Chocolate Festival amongst others.
Humans may well have occupied Papua New Guinea around 60,000 years ago. Evidence of gardening dates to 10,000 years ago recognising the inhabitants as the world’s first agriculturists. Portuguese sailors are credited with being the first Europeans to set foot on the mainland in 1526, naming it “Iiha dos Papuas” – island of the Fuzzy-Hairs. Due mainly to the hostility of the natives and it’s rugged terrain the country was largely left alone until the late 1800’s when the Germans laid claim to the northeastern section of the eastern half of the mainland and its adjacent islands, leaving the less productive southern and eastern half of Papua to the British. The Australian government was progressively given control of Papua by the British in 1906 and took over the administration of the German occupied areas during the First World War up until the country gained independence in 1975.
Discover the lasting impact of the often dramatic and oppressive occupations by the Germans, British, Australians and Japanese. Christian missionaries and the church still play a large role in the country’s modern history dating from their permanent arrival in the 1870’s.
The horror of both World Wars, particularly the Japanese occupation in the 1940’s and their eventual defeat by the Australians and Americans brought much death, destruction and disruption. Military relics from this period are plentiful still today.
Asians, particularly the Chinese, Malay and Indonesians dominate the commercial life of the country where sadly only 10 per cent of the business activity is owned by the Papua New Guineans.
Despite enormous interference from outsiders, Papua New Guinea remains the most culturally intact place on earth!
In a population of only 8 million people we find over 800 tribes who speak around 20% of the world’s total number of languages, emphasising the amazing diversity and intrigue of these peoples.