PNG Culture Minister, Tumbuan Society Resolve Issues

admin's picture

Minister Kondra, other officials inducted into society

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 19, 2013) – Papua New Guinea Minister for Tourism, Arts, and Culture Boka Kondra has resolved the Tumbuan Mask issue with members of the tumbuan society in East New Britain Province following a "Vanga" (a tumbuan penalty ceremony for breaching the society’s by-laws) that was held at a taraiu (men’s sacred place) at Ranguna outside Kokopo last Friday.

The society was outraged with the recent handing over of two tumbuan masks by Tanga Islanders to the National Museum and Art Gallery which were received by the Minister with a picture of the handover on the front page of the Post Courier.

Members were concerned saying that the handing over of the sacred masks in Port Moresby was against tumbuan laws and a picture of Mr. Kondra’s touching of the two masks on the front page of the Post-Courier was also considered unlawful since Mr. Kondra was not part of the society nor was he initiated to do so.

Before the ceremony last Friday, Mr. Kondra said he thought it was just a gift when he received the two masks in Port Moresby not knowing that he had just broken a tumbuan rule.

He said when concerns were raised, he took up the responsibility to apologise and that it was best for him to go to ENB to resolve the issue with members of the society.

The minister arrived in Kokopo last week Thursday and went straight into an induction ceremony at Ranguna. He was accompanied by ENB Governor Ereman Tobaining Junior, senior officials of the ENB Provincial Government and officers from his ministry including the Director of the National Museum and Art Gallery Dr. Andrew Moutu and National Cultural Commission Executive Director Dr. Jacob Simet.

Mr. Kondra was inducted into the tumbuan society along with some male members of his party including Dr. Moutu which allowed them to enter the tumbuan sanctuary (taraiu) to resolve the issue.

Last Friday, Mr. Kondra and his party were up at around 4 am in the morning to witness the emergence of about 60 young boys who went through the first phase of their initiation.

Soon after that, society members from Vunadidir, Tavuiliu and Kokopo with a total of 24 tumbuans entered the taraiu at Ranguna for the proceedings of the resolution of the issues between the Minister and the society.

Amongst the topics discussed were the importance of the tumbuan to the Tolai of ENB and the people of New Ireland and the need to protect it; the minister making contact with the tumbuan in public as breach of the tumbuan rules and regulations; the acceptance of the two masks for keeping at the National Museum and Art Gallery as breach of tumbuan protocol, the means of redress for the two breaches; further possible action to be taken against those involved in the gifting of the two tumbuans and action to be taken by the National Government and the ENB Provincial Government to protect the tumbuan of ENB and New Ireland including the identification of the rules, regulations and protocol of the tumbuan and enacting appropriate legislation.

Members who were present thanked the minister for making the decision to resolve the issue adding that it was important for the society and also for the cultures of PNG as a whole.

They also stressed the tumbuan’s importance in maintaining peace and harmony in the local communities as well as instilling discipline and general good behaviour among the youths and because of that, many spoke about the need to protect it from abuse by those who do not understand it.

Mr. Kondra once again apologised to members of the society and in response, the leaders accepted his apology and assured him that nothing will ever be said on the matter again.

He thanked the society for allowing him to be inducted which enabled him to become a member adding that at least now he has some idea about what the tumbuan was all about.

All parties also witnessed a compensation payment of a certain amount of tabu (shell money) and the payment was made during the resolution proceedings in according with tumbuan rules and regulations.

During the occasion, the minister was strongly urged by the members to find a way to impress Namatanai MP Byron Chan and the people of New Ireland to resolve the issues they have created in the last few weeks and while this was a matter for the people of Namatanai and Tango to resolve, the people of ENB would be watching very closely and would want a final resolution.

Tumbuan leaders also supported the minister’s recent statement about the need for custodians of indigenous institutions such as the tumbuan to agree on the rules, regulations and protocol of these institutions and to make them public knowledge.

They called on the minister and Mr. Tobaining to support such consultations in the province to clearly draw up the rules, regulations and protocols and to make them into law.

Meanwhile, the leaders thanked Mr Kondra for coming to the province and extended their appreciation to the O’Neill/Dion government for being sensitive to cultural matters as those relating to the Tumbuan.

Mr. Kondra and his party left the province for Port Moresby on Saturday after making peace with the society in ENB.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment