About East New Britain

The people of East New Britain are melanesian. The major ethnic group in East New Britain is the Tolai people with a population of approximately 100,000. The language of the Tolai people is called Kuanua. Other languages spoken in the Province are pidgin (pisin) and english. In Kuanua language, thank you is "Boina Tuna" and thank you and good night is "Boina Marum". The people have a warm and friendly nature unlike the New Guinea highlands people which have more of a warrior nature.

It is believed that trading on East New Britain occurred some 120 years ago. European settlement came as early as the 1700's with Dr George Brown setting up the first mission station in the Duke of York Islands. Mrs Emma Forsyth arrived from Samoa in 1878. She also set up a trading business on the island of Mioko and established herself as a successful business woman. She became known locally as "Queen Emma" and operated an extensive asset portfolio of land, businesses and properties.


The economy of East New Britain is based largely on agriculture with cocoa and copra (a by-product of the coconut) being the key industries of the region. Rural villages carry out subsistence farming for their own consumption or for sale at the local market. The new Kokopo market is a hive of activity with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, kulaus (young coconuts) and of course the local drug called "bettlenut" all available for purchase. The Rabaul Mango is a long and juicy mango which comes into season about twice a year. This mango gave the main street of Rabaul its name - "Mango Avenue" as it was lined with mango trees. The fruit is absolutely delicious. Local vegetables like pit, pit and taro are available almost all year round. The rich volcanic soil allows market gardeners to produce these bounties for very little input.


The rich volcanic soil also produces vibrant tropical flowers and lush foliage on trees. Large varieties of heliconias, bouganvilleas, frangipanies and hibiscus are found around Rabaul and Kokopo. In fact in1937, the first flower to bloom after the eruption was the frangipani and Rabaul became known as the Frangipani Town and hosted a frangipani festival each year. A song was composed after the 1937 eruption called "Dust over Rabaul" which told the story of the aftermath of that eruption. It is still popular today.

The tropical nature of the province, with its evergreen rainforest vegetation and rugged mountain ranges, the imposing volcanoes which surround the town of Rabaul and the beautiful Simpson Harbour have made East New Britain an attractive and adventurous place to visit. The marine resources are diverse and the tropical environment provides many opportunities for activities. War wrecks litter the surrounding reefs and the excellent visibility makes this an exciting dive spot all year round.

These factors combine to make East New Britain a destination of choice for both international and local visitors. We invite you to visit us and enjoy our warm and friendly hospitality.

Boina Tuna

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