Festival maintains Mailu ties with Milne Bay

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Generations have passed since the people of Mailu Island, in the Central Province, ferried between islands in Milne Bay and exchanged valuable arm shells for trade.
A practice that is now lost, however, the connection is still maintained thanks to events such as the National Kenu and Kundu Festival held last weekend.
The Mailu Island Cultural group stood out among an array of Milne Bay’s finest groups represented at the 16th edition of the cultural festival.
Belting out popular peroveta (gospel hymns) synonymous with Central’s deep ties to the United Church, the group of around 30 souls braved the trip by boat and PMV transport across the border of Central and Milne Bay to maintain a link that has beyond beyond Christianity’s existence in the country itself.
It was the sixth time the group has taken part in the festival, the first being 2004 according to the group leader Perry Kapa.
“This is the sixth time we are participating here at the National Kenu and Kundu Festival,” Mr Kapa said.
“Mailu people we normally come and look for arm shells here in Milne Bay and we go back and trade with the Motuans.
“That has been throughout history.
“So that is why we are very close to Milne Bay and just because of that we are here just to come up to this festival so we can still remember our friends from Milne Bay.”
He said their trip over to Alotau consisted of a two hour dinghy ride from Mailu to Gadaisu village just across the provincial borders and then they made their way via PMV to Alotau. “The trip is about two hours from Mailu to Gadaisu and there are about 32 of us.
Asked if the trading of arm shells continues in any form to date, Mr Kapa replied that the practiced has not continued.
“The young people have already forgotten about everything, but we are maintaining that link,” he said. “Our first trip was in 2004, we came up all the way to Engineer Group of Islands in Milne Bay, out of the six times out of 16 occasions the festival has been staged.
“Our old relationship between our people and the people of the Bona Bona group of islands of Milne Bay and also Suau, just to maintain our relationship that is why we are here and we are participating.”

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