Taim bilong ol meri?

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  • Published 20130604
  • ISBN: 9781922079978
  • Extent: 288 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN 1975, AS Papua New Guinea claimed its independence and imagined its future, officials set about commissioning a Parliament House for Port Moresby which might embody the spirit of the newly sovereign nation. It was a challenging task in a pulsating democracy of 850 proud ethnicities, each with distinctive language, art, songs, stories, totems, traditions; running the gamut from volatile highlanders to more chilled coastal types. Architects in the contest to design the parliament were encouraged to incorporate motifs from across the land in the (vain) hope this might mitigate offence, in a country where identity is defined by clan, rivalries run deep and symbolism is potent.

One core directive was to render the new capital ‘in the manner of a Haus Man (men’s house) in a village society’, familiar across most communities as the seat of local authority. The eventual structure, which opened in 1984, fulfilled the brief with a soaring interpretation of a Sepik spirit house, where men assemble and perform secret rituals.

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