Causing quite a Papua New Guinean spectacle in New York City in earlier this summer were Huli Wigman, Mr Mundiya Kepanga and New Ireland Malagan mask carver Mr Fabian Paino.
Dressed in their traditional ‘bilas’ they caught the attention of dozens of curious New Yorkers who brought out their cameras to take pictures of the odd but fascinating pair.
Barefooted and wearing grass aprons, leaves, a bird of paradise head-dress and sporting an eerie Malagan mask Mundiya and Fabian were seen catching a train at the New York subway, peering through the ‘tower viewers’ at the Empire State Building and hanging out with famous New York characters at the Times Square – namely the Three Statues of Liberty and the Naked Cowboy.
Mundiya and Fabian were guests at the PNG Pop Up Village held on the 12th of June. The PNG Pop Up Village was an initiative of the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority’s North America Office to generate interest in the American market to visit Papua New Guinea .
Showcased at the PNG Pop Up Village were stunning arts and crafts from Papua New Guinea, including Highlands billums, carvings, mini-garamuts, kundus, including masks from the provinces of East Sepik, New Ireland, Eastern Highlands, and canvas paintings by local PNG artists and even burlap sacks of the best Highlands coffee.
PNG Pop Up Village guests were treated to a friendly and welcoming ‘Papua New Guinea’ reception that included a one-on-one meeting with Mundiya and Fabian who were happy to talk about their Huli and Malagan traditional ‘bilas’ and pose with guests for photo opportunities among the PNG Artworks and Crafts on display.
The schedule of events that followed the welcome began with a presentation on PNG’s famous Birds of Paradise titled ‘Curious Birds You Never Knew Existed’ by renowned American Ornithologist Dr. Bruce Beehler from New York’s Museum of Natural History & Smithsonian Institution on birding and culture in Papua New Guinea.
That evening a 100 guests were treated to a sold out screening of Marc Dozier’s documentary ‘Dancing with the Papuans’. The film documents the true story of three French Cabaret dancers who journey to Papua New Guinea for a unique mission – to join Mundiya’s village as they compete in the country’s largest tribal gathering using the feather-clad women as the tribe’s “secret weapon”. The viewing was topped off with an engaging Q&A with Mundiya and the director of the film Marc Dozier, where they discussed and amused the audience with their experiences in Papua New Guinea and France.
The New York night offered the ideal atmosphere for the last event of the PNG Pop Up Village – the Art Gallery. Here guests browsed the wide array of incredible art and craft works brought over from Papua New Guinea. Fabian brought the event to a perfect end with a live carving demonstration of a Malagan mask and explained the interesting stories behind the masks he created.
The PNGTPA North America Office and Head Office worked incredibly hard with trade industry partners to bring to life the PNG Pop Up Village in New York.
“We had quite a large task of bringing Papua New Guinea’s rich cultural diversity to North America but we were confident we could do it as Team PNG. It was a collaboration from everyone from our LA and NY offices, to our Port Moresby head office team, to PNG operators all around the country—we all came together to help build a bridge from Papua New Guinea to North America.
“Together we were able to construct a PNG Village to showcase Papua New Guinea’s world-famous art and film and it’s wide array of adventures such as scuba diving, surfing, cruising, sport fishing, trekking and birding. We were able to give New Yorkers a real “taste of PNG” with rich Highlands coffee at each of our events and we even partnered with a NYC top chef, Will Horowitz of Duck’s Eatery, to prepare a PNG-inspired mumu pig roast at his restaurant in the lower east side!” said Ally Stoltz, PNGTPA North America Marketing Manager
Last year 12,449 visitors from the United States of America and Canada visited PNG. As North America’s Downunder specialist, we’ve been sending travellers to PNG for decades, and know exactly how to arrange your dream trip there, give us a call!