Construction, Traditional Items, Agricultural Techniques, Natural Remedies, Industrial Processes, Hunting Techniques, Household Items, Cooking Techniques


A lot of cooking, particularly cooking of foods such as meats and root vegetables that are able to withstand high heat, is done directly on prepared fires, embers, or ashes. Often times tough roots or vegetables will be buried in the hot ashes of a pre-existing fire before leaving the house for a few hours so that the food is ready to be eaten upon return. Vegetables and roots such as spring onions and taro, a staple food of Papua New Guinea, are placed directly onto flames or embers.


Bamboo is a readily available resource that serves many functions in Qaqet society, including use as a cooking container. The bamboo provides moisture for steaming and adds a sweet flavor to the dish. Cooking in bamboo shoots reduces the need for villagers to use synthetic cooking containers to cook their food. This resource provides them with a free and highly available alternative to metal pots and pans. It is common to see children or men who are away from home for the day carrying a shoot of bamboo that holds either prepared or unprepared food.


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The sago tree is a central component of everyday life in Ngavalus, with every part of the tree being used in some way. The leaves of mature sago trees specifically are used to make roofing because they have become thicker and more durable over time. Roofs made using sago leaf “shingles” can last any where from one to three years, depending on the location of the house. If the house is positioned under trees, the roof will last up to one year simply because it begins to deteriorate with prolonged exposure to heavy branches or falling fruits.


Thatched roofs are the main method of roofing found in the communities of Papua New Guinea. They are made from layered bundles of cane, grass, and leaves tied onto roof supports. This directs rain water off the sides of the roof (see Figure 1). The fires made inside the house play a vital role in preserving the roof thatch. Eventually, the entire inside of the roof is preserved by the smoke, preventing decay. A space is left between the roof line and the top of the walls to allow for ventilation (see Figure 2).


Woven bamboo walls are cost effective due to the immense supply of bamboo and the willing community of laborers. Once woven, the walls are secured to a house frame using either nails or rope. The house frames are constructed using trees from the surrounding environment. The blinds are usually applied to the walls in double-layers. This and the tight-weave of the blinds result in the walls being completely watertight. The H.I.T. team was able to observe and participate in blind weaving in Anesmetki, a small village near Raunsepna.


There are several globally significant purposes of the tree planting process at Gobyn Undur. The first is to reduce desertification. The second is to provide food to local grazing animals. The third is to produce local business and employment. All of these issues are being addressed with the planting of saksaul trees in the Gobi Desert.


Pepper is one of the products grown, processed, and exported by Pacific Spices. The methods used at all stages ensure the organic quality of the product.


In the community of Alakasam, the harvesting, drying, and selling of peanuts is the primary source of income. Generally speaking, peanuts are grown in gardens among other crops or between harvest seasons to replenish the nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil. Using the funds raised from peanut sales, the community of Alakasam has been able to purchase a Land Cruiser and another truck that are left at Malasaet, the closest community accessible by vehicles. As a result, the travel time to market from Malasaet is reduced to roughly a three hour drive.


Patchouli is grown and processed for its essential oil. This oil is frequently used as the base for many perfumes. The processing of patchouli oil at Pacific Spices has produced a higher purity form of patchouli oil than is typically found in the market. In fact, Pacific Spices has been asked by their customers to “dirty up” their patchouli oil a bit because the high quality of their oil makes it unrecognizable and harder to use in perfume production. Both the distillation and separation process affords the production of two products, the oil and scented water.


Many of the communities of Papua New Guinea are located in mountainous regions with very little level land available. However, these communities have adapted their agricultural techniques to accommodate the existing terrain. This knowledge has been developed through centuries of experience living and farming the mountainous terrain of the country. Because working in the garden is an activity that involves the entire community, all community members have an understanding of hillside farming techniques.