PNG artefacts return home

AUSTRALIA’S ties with Papua New Guinea have been celebrated during the weekend APEC meeting in Port Moresby, including the largest return of traditional artefacts by an Australian museum.
PNG artefacts return home PNG artefacts return home PNG artefacts return home PNG artefacts return home PNG artefacts return home

Researcher Kiri Chan with book ‘Kambek’ and old PNG fishing kite. Picture: Stefan Armbruster, SBS

Staff Reporter

Australian news service SBS reports that the decades-long project has involved thousands of PNG objects being repatriated to the National Museum, with thousands more still to go.
Writing on the SBS website, Stefan Armbruster  reports that every-day, disposable items from PNG make up the MacGregor collection at the Queensland Museum, assembled more than a century ago.
Kari Thomas from the PNG community in Brisbane is at the museum contributing to the "Kambek", or "come back", book to help interpret one of Australia's great collections of PNG artefacts.
Holding a plain woven, palm-leaf bag that is more than 100-years-old, she is overcome with emotion. 
"Sorry," she said with a tear in her eye.
"Because I've been in Australia for a long, long time, when I see these things, it takes me back home."  
Thomas is from the famous Hanuabada village on stilts over water near the fringe of the capital Port Moresby but in the decades since she came to Australia the palm leaf bags are now rarely made or used there.
This PNG collection consists of rare, fragile daily items sent to the museum by Sir William MacGregor, the colonial governor of Queensland colony of British New Guinea in the late 1800s.
"It gives a glimpse of ordinary lives, usually the flashy gets collected and the mundane forgotten about," said Queensland Museum's head of cultures and history Chantal Knowles .
"MacGregor very much had the people of Papua New Guinea in mind.
"His vision for the collection was to have legacy material for the future generations to connect with, and that was very much the future generations of New Guineans."



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