Explore Namatanai

Wall painting pic

Known to the local people as Matanaian (mata = eye/focus; aian = fish so it is the place where fish are) it became Namatanai through a European misunderstanding of what they were hearing and has remained with that official name ever since.

Or so the story goes!

There is no doubt about the fish, though -- they are plentiful and in the kind of variety in shape and color that makes a display of temperate zone fish look tragically drab!

The mountainous southern part of New Ireland (the stock of the musket as it was know, referring to the island's long skinny shape with a bulbous southern end) appeals to visitors with adventurous tastes and a desire to experience something different from the ordinary run.

Attractions include mountain trekking, mountain biking, caving, bird watching, butterfly watching, diving in the dry season (roughly April-September) and surfing during the north-west monsoon (October-March), fishing, and World War II history and relics.

We are working with a range of groups in the region to develop new tour packages covering these activities and interests.

Most fascinating of all, though, is the diverse cultural life of the people. In New Ireland generally, culture and tradition are strongly held (one reason for claiming the title of "bilas ples"), but no more so than in the Namatanai region.

There is a reluctance among many to openly display cultural events, ritual, and properties -- there is a deep concern that "commercial" performances or inviting the uninitiated and simply curious to see or participate in events will cheapen and eventually degrade the culture leading to the loss of its heart.

13-08-11 P8104300 Kabai symbol.250

This makes open events which do occur from time to time all the more precious.

An exception which is part of daily life: the Kabai "tambu" (forbidden) symbol, Sawai, here shown in stylized form in front of the Local Level Government offices in Namatanai town (quite what that means for gender equality in government is perhaps a moot point since one of the functions of the sawai traditionally is to ban women from an area).

Less formal sawai can be seen in villages throughout the district serving their normal purposes -- marking areas from which ordinary people are barred. Click here to see a real life example.

We at Namatanai Lodge are people of this region and are uniquely placed to ensure guests have the opportunity to attend open cultural events when they happen.

Keep in touch!

In the meantime, visit newireland.info to learn more about New Ireland culture and see the New Ireland photo album.

13-10-02 PA026806 Namatanai sunset

Sunset seen from the gates of Namatanai Lodge. Tropical sunsets and dawns are swift but often spectacular!

© Geoffrey Heard 2013 -- www.bushtrackpng.com -- Tel: 7384 7177