Authentic PNG handicrafts exclusive to Pasifika Business Market

Handcrafted bowls from PNG artisan Gudi – a 72 year old craftsman.

Authentic handicrafts from Papua New Guinea will be a feature at Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand’s Pasifika Business Market at Pasifika Festival on March 24-25.Papua New Guinea Artisan Culture is showcasing the handicrafts as part of PTI NZ’s Path to Market programme to the Pasifika Festival.

The Path to Market programme is a 7-stage structured approach to helping potential Pacific Islands exporters understand the New Zealand market.  PTI NZ works with in-country economic development partners such as the Chambers of Commerce or Investment Promotion Authorities to identify suitable companies to participate in the in-country Path to Market workshop.

Once identified, the potential exporters are  invited through to the next step of the programme – attending Pasifika and then completing final steps of the programme.  This year PTI NZ has more than 35 companies from 11 countries invited into its first ever Pasifika Business Market promoting Pacific Trade and Investment.

Finding authentic handicrafts originating from the Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu is often rarely seen in New Zealand.  But this year will be different as PTI NZ has arranged for two PNG organisations specialising in handicrafts.

One of these organisations is PNG Artisan Culture a 100% locally owned Arts and Crafts business established to preserve PNG culture and traditions.

Some of the handicrafts are sourced from weavers living in remote areas of PNG.  Transport and travel throughout PNG can be challenging with tough mountainous terrain so bringing these handicrafts to market is no mean feat. The beauty of the crafts tells a cultural story unique to areas and traditions of PNG.

PNG Artisan Culture has been supporting several artisan weavers from Milne Bay Province and an elderly gentleman carver named Gudi.

Gudi is 72 years old from the Dayagila Village, Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay Province.  His wooden bowls and walking sticks are expertly crafted from, Ebony, Kerosene and Kwila wood, the bowls in-laid with beautiful designs that are his own but reflecting traditional cultural patterns.

The handicrafts include, The Triangle Ladies Baskets.  These baskets are uniquely crafted by the weavers in Walalala/Gandudu Village.  Dried and coloured pandanus leaves are the raw materials used, the colourful patterns telling the story of the clan and tribe totems.  The baskets with intricate butterfly motifs underlining the village’s connection to nature.  The modern twist to the Triangle Ladies Baskets is how they are frequently seen on Sundays when used for church.

Artisan Jane Kalaho of the Ailuluai Village of the Esa’ala District in Milne Bay has taken a lead from Samoa and Tongan weavers with finely woven fans made from pandanus leaves and edged with wool and feathers.  The influence harks back to the 19th Century missionaries who came to PNG.

Ms Kalaho is self-taught and earns an income from the sale of her fans whilst teaching others the craft.  Another weaver, Nancy Tony is from the Wallapapalina Village of Sewa Bay, Normanby Island in the Milne Bay Province.  Her handicrafts also usesplain and coloured pandandus to create the Ladies Triangle baskets.  It’s a family affair with Ms Kalaho’s mother and sister expert basket weavers.

PNG placemats are artworks in themselves.  The tradition is handed down through the generations to young women.  The work of 3 artisans will be featured as part of the showcase, Mila Kairekuta, Jelma Torome and Lynette Taukum from the Wamira Village in the Alotau District in Milne Bay Province.  Originally, the practice of making placemats was painstaking to make, but has now been contemporarily adapted.   Placemats were once used by women to carry clay pots on their heads, but now they are colourful and their sales support the weavers and their families.

PNG Artisan Culture representative Susan Bakani will represent the organisation at Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand’s Pasifika Business Market at Pasifika Festival.  The organisation employs one permanent and two volunteer workers. The organisation aims to improve the livelihoods of isolated and underprivileged tribes located in the remote parts of PNG through buying their cultural products and stories and marketing them online; linking artisans to the online shop through friendly mobile applications, increasing customer awareness of social responsibilities when buying cultural products and providing financial literacy and sustainability programmes.

PNG Artisan Culture hopes to attract buyers, local and international tourists, souvenir buyers, private investors and collectors through their social media platforms, events.  PNG Artisan Culture has strategic partnerships with the Government of Papua New Guinea and development partners such as New Zealand and Australia Aid programs.

For more information please contact: Ian Furlong, Trade Development Manager. Pacific Trade Invest NZ on ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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