Protecting PNG’s Historic Sites

One of the most exciting and mysterious lands in the world is Papua New Guinea (PNG).  The country is home to a diverse indigenous people speaking in 820 languages who have very unique cultural traditions. PNG, for the most part, has very rugged terrain and a major part of the country is covered with primeval nature – mostly rainforest. The country boasts to having some of the most impressive sinkholes, gorges, canyons, cliff walls and springs in the entire world.


The government’s National Cultural Commission, the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, and the National Film Institute record, document, and promote activities associated with traditional cultures, while organizations promoting tourism market aspects of those cultures to potential audiences overseas.

In 2008 the Kuk Early Agricultural Site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. That land in the Western Highlands has been worked almost continuously for at least 7,000 years, and the site contains even earlier evidence of the beginning of organized agriculture and its subsequent development.

However, recently, there has been a call for the Papua New Guinea government to explain what is happening to the country’s culturally important sites. The president of the Farmers and Settlers Association, Wilson Thompson, has been appalled at the lack of action by relevant agencies to save critical sites such as the original PNG legislature building, and its grounds, in Port Moresby.


National Parliament of PNG, photo from

Thompson who has served on many of the boards and trusts of cultural institutions, such as the National Museum & Art Gallery and the National Cultural Commission, said, “It was in the prime commercial area in the capital and what has happened, and everyone knows that is the site of the old House of Assembly or the first parliament of Papua New Guinea. But all of a sudden that site has been offloaded, or given it away, or somebody came in and took it and it has now become a private facility altogether.”

Wilson Thompson said other key sites, including Paga Hill National Park and Lae’s Amelia Earhart Memorial Park, appear to have also gone to private developers without explanation to the public.

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