28.10.2013 - UNESCO Office in Apia

ICH Inventorying Rolling Out to Alotau, PNG

Since Papua New Guinea (PNG) ratified the ICH Convention in 2008, the PNG National Cultural Commission (NCC) has organised a series of consultations and workshops on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). The National Implementation Workshop was held in Port Moresby in May 2012 and the first Community-based Inventorying Workshop for the highlands region was held in Goroka in October 2012. As a follow up of the Goroka Workshop, the second ICH Community-based Inventorying Workshop was held in Alotau, Milne Bay Province from 22nd to 28th September 2013.

The Workshop was attended by around twenty trainees, including those from Milne Bay Provincial Administration, Alotau District Administration, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, representatives from local level government and interested individuals. The Workshop was officially opened by Ms Gunema Bagita, the Principal Advisor for Community Development, on behalf of the Governor of the Milne Bay Province, Hon. Titus Philemon, Member of the Parliament and the Provincial Administrator, Mr Michael Kape.

Topics presented at the Workshop included the following; concepts in safeguarding of ICH, community-based inventorying, identification and inventorying of ICH, designing inventory questionnaires, storage and access protocols of ICH databases and safeguarding measures. After each presentation, participants were given the opportunity to comment and raise questions relating to specific topics. In addition, participants were divided into small groups for information sharing and discussions.

On Friday, a half-day field exercise on identification and inventorying of a special canoe prow called Balu was conducted in Rabe village, Huhu Local Government. The Balu is usually placed on the front and back of the ceremonial canoes called Lopo. The object is carved with wood from the Maliwa and Tuitui trees. Only specialist carvers called Tululkidi are allowed to carve a Balu which has magical powers to protect them from their enemies. The finished Balu then undergoes special rituals.  Information on these rituals is withheld because of its sacredness.  The Balu can only be taken out into public view when the Lopo is prepared for a voyage, either for war or peace.  The Tulukidi then wraps the Balu and brings it to the beach in a process of war dance.  The Tulukidi then places the Balu into the slits on the canoe prow. The Workshop participants interviewed the custodians of this unique ICH and recorded the rituals carried out especially for the group.

The two facilitators for the Workshop were Ms Llane Munau at the National Film Institute, and Mr Anthony Parak, UNESCO accredited trainer.  The Workshop was jointly funded by the PNG NCC and UNESCO under UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust.

By Anthony Parak

ICH inventorying at Rabe village (c) A. Parak

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