culture Somare

The gifts presented by Bougainvilleans to Sir Michael Somare’s family and what they represent

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is a collection diverse cultures. The delegation led by President Ishmael Toroama, presented a set of gifts from various parts of Bougainville. Each has its own significance.

Below is a list of gifts provided by members of the Bougainville Community.

 1. Paiou – The Paiou is made of a special red rope from the bark of a tree and shark teeth. It is the most significant gift and the highest in traditional monetary value in the North Bougainville society. It is mainly reserved for the Paramount Chief or Head of the Chiefs for Peace building ceremonies and Bride price.

2. Bwerwana /Mimis/ Oru/ Tui kikilani  – The popular shell necklace comes in either brown or white colors that is widely used throughout Bougainville and serves a similar role as the Paiou. However, it is used widely for other traditional and customary and obligations within certain societies on Bougainville.

Picture from Bougainville Autonomous Government Facebook page

3. Mona/ Pogoaru/ Te’vaka – This is the popular Bougainville canoe with no outrigger. It is the traditional mode of sea transport used by our forefathers for sea navigation and migration and warfare in acquiring land from the enemies.

3. Tui’i/ Tui’ruma/  Te’karamutu – Tui’i is a traditional garamut widely used throughout Bougainville and the Atolls.  It is used for  sending messages. Different beats are sounded on the Tui’i to  impart information to clansmen and  the community for feasting, death or other events.

4. Te’ekomu  – This is a traditional sword for warfare by the sea warriors of Mortlock island made from ebony tree wood and shark teeth. Grand Chief, Sir Michael Thomas Somare was our warrior who fought for our freedom and independence.

5. Bukai – A man’s bilum from Buin, South Bougainville – It is made from the bark of the tulip tree and carried ONLY by men. It signifies what a man can provide for his family, clan and tribe.

6. Sike’e (Nasioi dialect)  and Aratai (Torau dialect of  Central Bougainville) – This is  fan is made by women of Bougainville. Its journey begins when young Licuala Palm leaves,  yet to unfurl are cut, boiled and laid to dry in the sun. It is  used by Bougainville women in traditional singsings and rituals.

 7. Kakopi – Cane tray. Presented by the great grand son of one of our founding Fathers, the late Sir Paul Lapun.  (Young Israel Kassman was  accompanied by his mother Denise, Sir Paul’s  grand daughter.)

8. Traditional spear from  Buin, South Bougainville – The spear is made from a tree called Kukuinu in the Telei language. It  is used for special traditional ceremonies and rituals in welcoming chiefs. This is a special gift presentation by the President of Bougainville, Ishmael Toroama to signify its importance to the people of Bougainville.

-This list is provided by the Bougainville community through Meriba Tulo.

2 comments on “The gifts presented by Bougainvilleans to Sir Michael Somare’s family and what they represent

  1. John Samo

    Well documented, Scott and Meriba, thanks for the coverage.


  2. Thank you ol wantok na thank you Scott for documenting a piece of history for Bougainville. May our Chief Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare RIEP.


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