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The Amazing People of M’Buke Island, Manus, Papua New Guinea

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28 – 30 June 2010

S2 22.915 E146 49.513 – M’Buke Island

S2 18.697 E146 51.595 – Anun Island

At low tide, the incredibly healthy coral reefs of Anun Island, Mbuke At low tide, we navigated our small boat through the incredibly healthy coral reefs of Anun Island, M’Buke. Anun and another beautiful island called Champoin are proposed ecotourism sites by the M’Buke Islands People Association (MIPA)

Pronounced Bu-ke with a silent M, M’Buke are several islands off the south end of mainland of Manus, Papua New GuineaManus Province is the smallest and the least populated of PNG’s twenty provinces. Known also as the Admiralty Islands, this group of eighteen islands is within the Bismarck Archipelago.

From Lorengau, the provincial capital of Manus, our ride to the remote M’Buke Islands was three long hours in flat calm seas. We were in an open banana boat with a 40 hp outboard motor engine. Selarn Karluwin, Manus staff of WWF WMP and our guide even saw a leatherback turtle along the way!

Mbuke Island has a community of about 600 peopleM’Buke Island has a community of about 600 people The community was expecting us. We were warmly greeted by many high level citizens of MbukeThe community welcomed us to their island. We were warmly greeted by many high level officials from the Chief all the way to the councillor!

Now why did we have to go to such a remote area you might ask. Is diving there great? Well it was not about diving this time. We were there to visit WWF Western Melanesia Programme’s only marine project in PNG. It was a most enlightening trip. The people were so eloquent in expressing their jokes, thoughts and opinions. They surprised us with their wisdom of the most unexpected sort and upon asking one question after another, we found out they were people of the Wind Nation.

The flag symbolizing the Wind NationThe flag that symbolizes the Wind Nation

Councillor John Tokios explained what the Wind Nation was all about. It was their religion and majority of the people of M’Buke Islands belong to the Wind Nation. The Wind Nation believes in total freedom. Freedom from hardship, hunger, old age and decease. They believe in a continuous life – an ongoing life that has no end.

Councillor Tokios said: “The Wind is the creator. Without air, no living thing will live. This is the reason why the Wind is the creator. Wind is the creator’s name, not what he is. The Wind is what everything revolves around in. The Wind creates and the Wind can take away.

Wind Nation’s Five Fundamentals to Total Freedom:

  1. To live a life, you must like people. To be accepted, you must accept people.
  2. You can joke a happy joke – not one that creates anger. While joking, it must not be insulting.
  3. You should be happy and smile. Be playful.
  4. Be honest.
  5. Get together as a community through rituals – discuss things that will answer all objectives to create total freedom.

M’Buke used to be a German coconut plantation and the linguistic group Titans or the seafarers that live off coral reefs from mainland Manus relocated to work here in the early 1940s. There are three linguistic groups in Manus – the inland people are the Usia. The coastal dwellers are the Matankol. The seafarers are the Titans. And the people of M’Buke are Titans.

An old fisherman bent with age paddled out to collect firewood for his homeAn old fisherman bent with age paddled out to collect firewood for his home

The Titans believe that when they die, their spirit does not go to heaven but stays with them. Their dead are still amongst them but they are not seen. They don’t go to heaven because there is no air in heaven. They are all earthly beings and they will always belong to the earth.

This evening moon illuminated image shows the Mbuke houses were on stiltsThis full moon illuminated image shows the M’Buke houses on stilts at night with the streaks of stars in the sky

The M’Buke Island people both young and old make up the rich character of this amazing place. We loved our short stay here as Yogi and I deeply share the Fundamentals of Total Freedom. I told the councillor we were in essence wantok which, in Tok Pisin, means “someone who speaks my language”. Here are some faces and moods of M’Buke.

Some characters are like magnets to the lens and this man is one of themSome characters are like magnets to the lens and this man is one of them I was told that wisdom is naturally born to the people of Mbuke. Well this man's face shows it . . .I was told that wisdom is naturally born to the people of M’Buke and this man’s face shows it Be happy. These little girls followed us around and yes, they were a happy bunchBe happy. These little girls followed us around and yes, they were a happy bunch Is this total freedom? Yes. It is.Is this total freedom? Yes. It is. Freedom from hunger. Within a few minutes, this man can catch his family's dinner by simply paddling around the area where they are allowed to fish, outside the marine protected areaFreedom from hunger. Within a few minutes, this man caught his family’s dinner by simply paddling around the area where he is allowed to fish. With a Marine Protected Area managed by the local community, there is an abundance of fish for everyone Play. You should be happy and smilePlay. Be happy and smile

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  • yunaing

    I like the Wind Nations Five Fundamentals rule.
    It’s great.Everyone should be follow.

  • MA

    Yes, we need other nations to take up these principles and apply them universally. What do the photographers think? Could this lifestyle work in other places?

    • onai

      real.it kooks good;

  • Kusunan Pokiton

    M’buke is indeed a beautiful, both the people and the landscape. Please do visit us again.. nice pic of the guy with the cap… papa ground lo wharl ya!!

  • Flora Pondrilei

    Stella and Yogi, you captured the life of my people brilliantly. I hope to catch up with you soon.

  • http://www.nfa.gov.pg Manoi Kutan

    great article.the mbuke people are unique in many ways. and are smart too. A tribute to the adaptation of the Win Nation principle.

  • http://facebook.com Soni Siski Pondrelei

    @Manoi Kutan & others; totally agree wit yr comments…i am already homesick just by lookin at the pics…keep up the gud job @WWF…thanks to Selarn Kaluwin

    Viewing wit me now is John Kadou,Chalapan Pongi, Kutan Salaiau

  • Ian Kially

    I am always proud to be part of this ‘Chosen Home’. It has been said to be setting an ‘example’ for every village in Manus and the country as a whole as well.- Taiton.

  • http://www.newmont.com Francis.Jonty.Moyap

    I am proud to be one of the sons of this Island(Mbuke) which I call Home,and with the wonderful work you’ve done is truly amazing.
    No wonder it is a place in its own special way so unique and so real.

  • Moyap F Niakuam

    MBuke will forever be a paradise on earth so long as we look after it well. Thanks Stella and Yogi for your work and visiting us and Uncle Selarn for your tireless effort in educating us this so called titan words, PRESERVATION or CONSERVATION.

    thankyu a mandrean..

  • http://www.jurgenfreund.com Stella Chiu-Freund

    Nowhere during our entire expedition blog entries have we had so much response than from the people of M’buke. Your people are amazing and yes, preservation and conservation will happen and is happening in this remote but nonetheless fantastic place.

  • http://yahoo parkop Kanawi

    Yeah, its good to see preservation and conservation doing a good job out there at M’buke Island, as I am part of that Island,Wian KEEP up the good job Selan,
    Parkop Kanawi

  • Pomokeu

    Thank you people of M’buke for the work you do, the world you share and for hosting me when i have been fortunate enough to visit. All the best!

  • Andrew Kutan

    I suppport all the above>>

  • Kapopoi Siski

    M’buke is an island of beauty.Its marine resources is endless.I am one of those who tries to teach the commmunity about preservation and conservation.We all work together to preserve for our future generations to see and use what we have achieved…Thanks Stella and Yogi for bringing our island for the world to see.

  • Mpotuan

    Mbuke is a colourful place and a unique place

  • lyly

    it is a very nice place

  • veyvey

    it is a great place to go to

  • http://google Veronica Hannette

    Seriously the place is just paradise….I love it…It really shows the unique culture of our province…….Admiralty Island…the name says it all

  • karcher

    awesome people, culture and history…epic

  • http://www.nicta.gov.pg Tapas Kapita

    Mbuke is very unique in its place. We have just completed an Improved Agricultural Technolgies Project on the Island to sustain the livelihood of the Mbuke community in terms of food security. Thanks to PNG Sustainable Development Program for funding the project. “All good things are made possible”. The Mbuke community are now enjoying the agricultural produce. Together, we can help conserve and preserve our cultural heritage, sustain our livelihood and keep our environment safe for our future generations.

  • Reck Danagi

    Yes,,, very true

    I would say Manus island in general is a trouble free island and the people are very kind and helpfull in terms of new faces on the island. Truely when you set foot on the island, I bet you would never want to leave the island ….

    I had been to the island say 6 or 7 times and this truely my experience …. why not you ????? have a try visit to a beautifull island over populated by female..

  • jjay

    I am sure it s a beautiful place from the pictures I saw and with all respect for the locals, but what about this detention center for refugees from Australia and allegations of rape and abuse in front of the camp officials according to the Guardians news in Manus Island.

  • Emma

    Love my island home. Retire there 🙂 Only best place i call home

  • steven pukay moyap

    i’am proud 2 be a born sunamist…tradewinds@steven pukay moyap

  • Elizabeth M’buleau

    Thumbs up Uncle TSk for keeping up with our (TSK/me) promise to conserve M’buke Islands reefs….you deserve praise….And thank you very much Stella and Yogi for putting M’buke Island on the world map…please keep visiting the island…