Temotu's Nelo Dancers in Action in PNG. Photo credit: GCU.

Temotu’s Nelo Dancers in Action in PNG. Photo credit: GCU.

Day one of the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Monday has highlighted Melanesian people’s close connection to their land and environment.

From the vibrant and colourful costumes of Papua New Guinea to the harmonious bamboo flutes and pipes of the Solomon Islands and the energetic movements of the Fijians and the Kanaky’s of New Caledonia, the festival brings together all Melanesians in the Pacific to celebrate under the theme “Celebrating Cultural Diversity”.

Also for the first time this year, the host country has extended invitations to other Melanesians from the Torres Straight Islands in Australia, West Papua in Indonesia and East Timor to give them the avenue to express their way of life as members of the wider Melanesian family in the world.

Dr Jacob Simet, Chairman of Papua New Guinea’s National Cultural Commission emphasised that Melanesian culture is increasingly coming under threat from external influences and the festival is an important avenue of raising cultural awareness for Melanesia’s young generations.

As the festival continues to grow and become internationally recognised, Dr Simet urges all Melanesian elders to lead in preserving and promoting Melanesia’ s cultural values and heritage.

For the Solomon Islands contingent, their participation in Papua New Guinea for the next two weeks is an important part of promoting, preserving and sharing their diverse and unique cultures through arts, music, dance and talents with fellow Melanesians.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands contingent is a mixture of elders, young male and female participants each representing their cultural heritages which is expressed through dance, paintings, carvings, handicrafts, songs and music.

This form of preserving and promoting the unique and diverse cultures of the country has been one of the National Government’s key policy areas.

This policy has been translated into action by the development of a national culture policy which is administered by the culture division of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Director of the Culture Division, John Tahinao who accompanied the team said Solomon Islands is rich in culture- if developed, would contribute positively to the nation’s development aspirations.

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