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The Journey to Paradise Photos of great cultural and natural beauties of Papua New Guinea

 
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:04 PM
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A Getaway to Tranquil Bougainville Atolls

...Memorable experiences on the Mothlock and Tasman islands

A MEMORABLE, treasurable and exciting experience was the Christmas school holidays for six youngsters who wanted to get away from the bright lights of Port Moresby city and all it entails, to a utopian life somewhere far away where man and nature are in harmony, in peaceful and tranquil surroundings.

Trevor, Denise and Martina flew from Port Moresby to Buka to join their cousins Olivia, Stacy, Vanessa and Caroline in Buka for an all round holiday cruise to the outer atolls of Bougainville, never for a moment dreaming that it will be a pearl of a vacation, one they will never forget.

For the four youngsters except Vanessa, it was their first time to travel to the Mortlock and Tasman Islands.

MILES FROM NOWHERE...A drop in the ocean is this tranquil island paradise, Mothlock Island...one of the many untapped tourist destinations on Bougainville
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:12 PM
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But for Trevor and Denise, the trip had another significance as it was an opportunity to meet with their father's family, relatives and people for the first time. Being of mixed Siwai and Mortlock parentage, they have been brought up with the mother's people and they had mixed feelings about taking the trip when they were first told of their holiday plans.

However, the holiday turned out to be their best ever and there are plans of going back again to enjoy the exotic beauty of what the remote coral atolls offer, their magic and tranquility, the peaceful and easy carefree life of the gently smiling islanders and well, a place where man feels at ease with mother nature, free from the problems and worries of modern urban life, as the youngsters discovered.


Excited to go on a holiday into utopia!...Young Trevor and Denise Hatutasi pictured here with cousins Olivia and Stacey doing last minute rounds at one of the stalls durig the Bougainville Provincial Show while waiting for the boat bound for the outer atolls of Carterets, Mortlock and Tasman islands, their Christmas holiday destination
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:20 PM
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Background of the islands

Apart from the abounding mineral, agricultural and natural wealth for which the island of Bougainville is renowned, it has a wealth of untapped tourist destination spots, stretched across hundreds of miles of sea from the mainland to the north easterly direction.
Little heard of are the atoll islands of the Mortlocks (Taku or Nukutoa) which comprise of 12 islands and only one, Taku, inhabited by about 3,000 people.

The Tasmans or (Nukumanu) which has 32 islands but only one inhabited by about 800 people and Fead (Nuguria) Island group which has 37 islands and two inhabited with a population of about 800. The islands are a speck in the ocean and miles from nowhere except the vast open sea which the islanders have mastered and depended on for their very livelihood and existence over the years, the blue skies which on a clear day, one can see the rolling blue waters of the Pacific for miles on end and the horizons closing in and stars above which for generations have acted as guides to the seafaring islanders.

The only means of transport there is by boat which the provincial government on Bougainville runs on a monthly basis. It (boat) is also the only means of communication for the Atoll islanders and the outside world and they look forward to its trips which bring in store goods, letters and other items from family members and friends working and living throughout PNG and news and updates regarding fellow islanders, friends and relatives, the situation on Bougainville and the country and world in general. Helicopters are used for emergency purposes and this happens once in a blue moon.

Being isolated and so much out of touch with the outside world, the people's culture, traditional and religious beliefs and customs remain very much intact.
Sales of dried beche-de-mer (or sea cucumber), and copra to a lesser degree or when the prices are good, are the only income earning means for the islanders who mostly rely on their relatives and family members living and working outside (the atolls) for financial support.

It takes 18 hours to reach the Mortlock Islands and another 18 hours to continue on to the Tasman group which lie further mid north easterly on the border between PNG and the Solomon Islands. The Fead Islands are 26 hours away by boat from Buka. Because of the vastness of the open sea between the island groups, it is not possible for-inter island travel by canoe or dinghy.
Unlike the typical Bougainvilleans whose skin color is distinctly black making them outstanding from the rest of PNG, the Mortlock Islanders on the other hand are light brown skinned and the women generally have long black hair. The existence of these islands was not known by many Papua New Guineans until recently.

They generally call people from the three island groups, Mortlocks. The islands are also known as the Polynesian Corridor and it is not surprising because their customs, language and way of life is similar to those of the the Polynesian peoples in Sikeiana, Bellona and Tikopia of the outer islands of the Solomon Islands, the Samoans, and the New Zealand Maoris.


Surrounded by nature and beauty abounding, these two young Tasman beauties relax by the beach. Most islanders find time to relax on the beach
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:27 PM
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" I also see that everybody wears lavalava (laplap), young and old alike including those in high school and other grown ups who have come home from outside for holidays.

"Another striking feature I notice is young girls entering puberty, around 13-15 year olds walking around freely only with lavalavas, bare breasted. It is a normal scene on the atolls and no one raises eyebrows, whereas in any other part of PNG or even on Bougainville mainland, it couldn't be so.

Chiefs are the authority on the islands and command much respect from the people. People can sleep all night outside on the sand by the beach, without fear of being harassed, no law and order neither rascal activities exist here. The cleanliness and neatness of the village, the lined houses are impressive. In the Tasmans, houses are built on the ground and people sleep on the floor in large open spaces. I am impressed with the floor which I first think is made of cement, but no. The people here mix ash and sand with water which hardens and they spread on the sandy ground inside the houses which they use as floor for sleeping.

The Mortlock Islanders houses are on the ground also but Fead Islanders build theirs off the ground on stilts. However, the roofs and walls are built with basically the same material, woven pandanus mats for the roof and woven coconut leaves for the walls. The hospitality, friendliness and easy care-free life and the beauty of the atolls really impressed me and I am looking forward to another holiday there again", Martina said.


Typically Polynesian Corridor ...Dressed in typiclly atolls islands style with "Lavalava" and T-Shirt, these mostly young Nissan High Schools grisl from Tasman of Nukumanu Island are enjoying their holidays with family and relatives
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:33 PM
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Very much impressed, Trevor is adamant on returning:
"Our aunties and cousins wait at the beach as the MV Sankamap throws anchor at Tasman. When we reach the shore on a dinghy, they come forward hug and welcome Denise and I, as well as our four other cousins. They have been told of our coming beforehand, so they are prepared for us," says Trevor who is a Grade 8 student at St Peter Chanel Primary school, Erima in the National Capital District.

"I love the sea, the white sandy beaches and the coral reefs and I spend most of my holidays out at sea, swimming, fishing and camping on the small islands with my dad, uncles and the other young island boys. I love the wildlife reserved island where the call of the wild and nature, undisturbed could be experienced to its fullest, hundreds of birds freely roam, nest, mate, lay eggs on the beach undisturbed.

"I also enjoyed the trips with my uncles and cousins to Pelau and Ontong Java islands which are on the Solomon Islands side, though the people there are related to the Tasman, Mortlock and Fead Islanders.

We encounter some rough seas on the three hour trip by outboard motor and spend three days there before returning to Tasman. The Tasman people use a lot of store goods from the Solomons due to its closeness to that side. People travel freely within the islands and they have access to Honiara and trade store goods. Even people on Tasman speak Solomon Islands pidgin as well as the PNG dialect.

CAptivated by the magic and beauty which the Nukunmanu atolls offer is young Denise
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:40 PM
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"This was one of the most enjoyable holidays I have had as my new found relatives really looked after us very well. I love the sea as I grew up by the seaside town of Toniva in Kieta prior to the Bougainville crisis so I just felt that this is the place for me and loved every minute of it swimming, learning the art of fishing and going out further into sea trawling. I definitely am going back to Tasman this Christmas.

"One of the things I found interesting in the Mortlocks is the ruins of Queen Emma's residence. The foundations, swimming pool area and other segments of the house still remain to this day," Trevor said.

The late Queen Emma of Samoa married to a German had her domain over much of the New Guinea Islands in the latter part of the 18th and early 20th centuries with the establishment and trade of the copra plantations and her empire which she controlled from her base in Rabaul and stretched over Manus, Kavieng, Bougainville and the atoll islands of Mortlock, Tasman, Fead, Carterets and Nissan So in the Mortlocks, the ruins of her estate building still remains to this day.
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:42 PM
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A true atolls child....named after the the provincial boat since she wasborn aboard on its way to Kieta during the Crisis in early 1989, little Sankamap of Tasman Island, fully enjoys the care-free atolls life, swimming playing and doing little chores for her mother and grandma as well
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:46 PM
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Vanessa spent her holidays in the Mortlocks. She was impressed by the Christmas and New Year celebrations, similar to that on Tasman Island.

"People enjoy the fun in the celebrations of the two events, with dances to both traditional songs and Jimmy Shand music where the young and old join in. Traditional dances similar to the haka are performed as people sit and sing the night away till dawn. Food and kareve, a locally home brewed drink made by the islanders helps to keep the celebrations alive and going throughout the night.

"I love the peaceful existence of the life here where one's worries and tensions which are so much a part of mainland Bougainville and PNG are forgotten," Vanessa.

All in all, the youngsters enjoyed a fun filled holiday. The splendor and beauty of the atolls, the peaceful, tranquil and carefree existence and the hospitality of the islanders captivated the youngsters who have been bogged by the war on Bougainville and the struggles and harsh life of Port Moresby city.

Ends..//


Anxiously waiting...A Mortlock family - Huko and wife Masana and children anxiously await at the beachfront for the arrival of the MV Sankamap, the provincial boat which calls onto the atolls once a month from its base in Buka. This is the only means of transportation and communication between the atolls, Bougainville and the outside world.
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Old 21-08-2003, 07:51 PM
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Over the Sea and Faraway....Olivia and Denise enjoy the first leg of their Holiday trip, catching the wind as cool sea breeze perching on a mangrove tree on Morthlock island
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