papua new guinea

Papua New Guinea

I am fully aware and appreciative of how lucky I am to have a job that, on occasion, allows me to travel to places many people never get a chance to see. For my most recent project, a pilot for a documentary series produced by my longtime friends at White Nile Media, I had the pleasure of filming in the highlands of Papua New Guinea—the most remote, unique and beautiful place I have ever been.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse and isolated places on earth; more than 800 languages are spoken there! The indigenous peoples in the highland provinces where we filmed, isolated by miles of rugged, mountainous terrain, didn’t encounter their first westerners, Australian gold prospectors, until the 1930s. During World War II, the island saw fierce fighting between Japanese and allied forces, and many locals were recruited to fight on both sides of the conflict.

Today, many of the highlanders we met still live in villages of grass huts with no electricity, running water or sewage systems. They are, however, excellent farmers gifted with wonderful soil in which any plant seems to flourish, so hunger doesn’t seem to be an issue. Although PNG has a reputation for lawlessness, cannibalism, abysmal woman’s rights, and is, without doubt, struggling with many social and health issues, the people I encountered there were among the friendliest I have ever met. We were welcomed into villages with great enthusiasm and hospitality. It was an eye-opening adventure that I will be talking about for years to come.

Elder of the Bollen village. Chimbu province

Member of a bridal party wearing a kina shell necklaces. Bollen village, Chimbu province

Bollen Village, Chimbu province

Nokondi tribesmen dressed to perform their Spirit Dance. Eastern Highland province

Nokondi woman. Eastern Highland province

One of the famous Asaro Mudmen shows off his clay mask. Eastern Highland province

Sharpened bamboo claws are an integral part of the Nokondi Spirit Dance costume. Eastern Highland province

A young Asaro Mudman in training. Eastern Highland province

A child in traditional garb. Bollen village, Chimbu province

Tribes gather to celebrate their heritage at the annual Goroka Show sing sing

Boar's tusks complete the look. Goroka