Kiriwina, Trobriand Islands, Papua New G
Kiriwina is part of the Milne Bay province of Papua New Guinea. As the largest of the Trobriand Islands, it’s also home to most of the 12,000 or so inhabitants that live across the 174-square-mile archipelago.
Arriving here offers a fascinating glimpse into local society and long-held belief systems. This includes the belief that pregnancy is caused by ancestral spirits, and the use of magic spells, often as a means of becoming more attractive. Specific, and more senior, social roles on the island include a paramount chief and a rainmaker. Residents speak the Kilivila language, or various dialects of it.
Although small, the island is well cultivated for sweet potato and cassava, but yam in particular. It’s actually a currency in Trobriand society, and you’ll probably spot yam houses across the island. If you’re lucky, you may also encounter the local take on cricket. Since conflict between Trobriand tribes was banned, elements have been woven into their unique version of the game. Numbers of players are not limited and the intriguing spectacle often involves songs and dances derived from battle rituals, as well as bawdy taunting of their opponents.
There is a relatively basic infrastructure on Kiriwina Island, and most transport is by private motor vehicles. You might take one of these to visit a village.
Around the port area, and at other more densely inhabited parts of the island, you may well find stalls selling local handicrafts. Among these are often trinkets and jewelry intricately made using shells, as well as carved wooden items such as walking sticks; these are often honed from ebony, which is incredibly difficult to carve, and the intricate designs are a testament to the craftsmen’s skills.
On the north of the island is Kaibola Beach, a vision of white sands and clear waters, with a coral reef that invites you to snorkel or dive. The more energetic may take the hike to Kalopa Cave. It’s actually a series of deep burial caves that contain skeletal remains. Legend tells of a giant named Dokanikani, whose own bones are said to lie with those of his victims.