Page 1


Melanesian Tourist Services LTD | P.O Box 707, Madang, Papua New Guinea, 511 | Ph: +675 4222766 | W: www.mtspng.com


NDA, Cleanathon Madang’s PADI Dive Centre and its historical resort cleans Madang’s Harbor.

Raymond and a tourist during the Easter Cruise in 2019

Why the Sepik River needs Tourists Drenched in rain, his black raincoat flattered with the wind, Raymond gladly smiled as he helped tourists to make their way aboard Kalibobo Spirit’s river truck. Born and raised in Migendo Village, along the Sepik River in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea, Raymond Maika enjoys his job aboard the Melanesian Tourist Services’ (MTS) Kalibobo Spirit. Raymond’s father was a worker for the Catholic Mission during the 60’s, “he taught the Alphabet and the phonetics to local villagers,” said Raymond, “he taught most of the local villagers how to read and write,” he said proudly. While Raymond’s father travelled from Kopar, at the mouth of the Sepik River, to villages across the middle Sepik River, Raymond and his six other siblings all grew up happily at Migendo. “My mother is a humble village woman, she took good care of all six of us- I was the last born,” said Raymond with a smile. Raymond finished his primary school at Angoram, “I enjoyed schooling at Angoram, one of the fondest memories from my childhood,” said Raymond. “After finishing my high school at Brandi Secondary, I decided to come to the Madang’s Nautical School (now known as the Madang’s Maritime College),” said Raymond. Raymond was offered two choices, “we were given two choices, Deck Hand or Engine Room, I picked Deck Hand,” said Raymond with a thoughtful stare. With his sights set on becoming a captain, Raymond quickly excelled after his maritime training. “I started working for Poroman Shipping, really old company, I then later joined Mybasa,” as he laughed. “Working for Sir Peter Barter during those days was a very memorable experience,” said Raymond. “Operating the Ramu barge along the Ramu

River, I worked for 11 years in that company,” he said as a proud smile spread across his face. In 2005, Raymond became the first officer for MTS’ Kalibobo Spirit, “I was called to worked there after one of the previous first officer was laid off. “Fast forward the three months of probation and I became a permanent worker,” said Raymond. “I enjoy every minute of it, especially when I bring tourists to show them my home,” said Raymond. Raymond’s love for tourism grows with time, “since I started working for MTS, operating the KS (Kalibobo Spirit), I realized that tourism is something that this country needs,” said Raymond with a steady tone from his voice, Raymond is firm with his belief. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” said Raymond. The Kalibobo Spirit, through MTS’ Melanesian Foundation, “we have donated more than 30,000 school desks to school along the Sepik River, provided solar kits for homes and materials for classrooms at Boisa Island,” said Raymond. Raymond urges tourists and Papua New Guineans, “even Papua New Guineans, we need to see places like the Sepik River to truly understand our own people,” said Raymond, with a serious tone to his voice. “I’ve seen many vessels try to make their way though the Sepik River, but have failed,” said Raymond. “Kalibobo Spirit is an ideal vessel, it carries a maximum of 16 passengers, with its compact size, it allows us to go deeper and further into the heart of the Sepik River,” said Raymond with a proud voice. “Please, I would like to urge more people to experience this amazing destination, said Raymond, as he pleasantly smiled. “Every trip that I make is always different, it is an amazing place,” said Raymond gleefully.

Both the staff of the Nuigini Dive Adventures (NDA) and the Madang Resort worked closely together to clean the Madang Harbour during Madang’s Clean-athon on Saturday the 21st. NDA’s Chief Dive Instructor, Nacanieli (Nathan) Yavala, said that a lot of rubbish can be found in the Harbor. “We concentrate on the rubbish on land, but we forget our ocean,” said Nathan. The Managing Director for the Melanesian Tourist Services (MTS), Sir Peter Barter, said that his companies continue to clean the seas around the Madang Harbor. “It is not a new event, the staff and myself are very concerned over the appearance of Madang.” Sir Peter also said that his main concern is the environment that the rubbish affects. “The environment, which in the case of the Madang lagoon, is a fragile area and a prime breeding ground for various forms of sea life,” he said. “The real challenge is for awareness to be made to the public to stop trashing the harbor with plastic bags, bottles and cans, which when digested by turtles and other sea creatures can cause a very painful death. Sir Peter said that the rare species of sea creatures “are more susceptible of being harmed and the destruction of the eco system,” he said. NDA’s Japanese Dive Instructor, Tetsuya Nakamura, said that maintaining cleanliness in Madang will take time. “Keeping our oceans clean is a big problem because of the people’s habit, they throw rubbish into the sea as if it’s a trash can.” Tetsuya said that NDA and the Madang Resort’s staff will continue to do what they can to keep Madang’s seas clean. “We have stopped asking from any help from the government, we try to educate people and we continuously clean the seas at a daily basis.”

Madang’s Traditional Maritime History

Beg, the son of Keni from the Kakon Clan in Yabobo Village standing in from of his father’s balangut. Beg and his father went on many trading trips to Rai Coast with cargoes of hundreds of traditional claypots for exchange.

The Madang’s Bel people, who encompass villages such as Kranket, Sek, Riwo, Siar, Yabob and Bilbil, speak the common Belan Language (Mennis, 2006, p. 2). The Bel people have fished and have used the seas as a source of their livelihood traditionally and also in today’s modern Madang. For many decades, traditionally, the Bel people have voyaged the seas around Madang, skilfully navigating their voyage routes; they are the masters of their seas. Due to the raised coral reefs that has created stony soils throughout the Bel Villages along Madang’s coast, many villagers found it difficult to cultivate the land for crops, they then turned to their voyaging skills to trade with other villages along the Rai Coast of Madang, “they depended on their earth-ware pots for trading for food (Mennis, 2006, p.2.)” In September 1871, a Russian ship visited the Rai Coast of Madang, this took place many years after the trade between the Bel people and the villagers from Rai Coast,

(the trade still continued during this time). Russian Explorer Nikolai Nikolovitch MikouhoMaclay became the first European to set foot on the Rai Coast of Madang. The Russian explorer became acquainted with the people from the Gorima Village in Rai Coast and wrote many detailed recounts of the Madang people and their traditional trade. Maclay, through his observation, “he observed that the traders, as visitors, commanded respect from the host villages who had to follow a set of procedures when the traders arrived offering them betel nut and pigs, (Mennis, 2006, p. 106.)” Madang is the most diverse province in PNG, with its complex traditional hierarchy and knowledge of their land and sea, MTS and its vessel, the Kalibobo Spirit, navigates throughout the PNG seas with the knowledge and respect of Madang’s historical sea voyagers.

NDA Prints New Japanese Booklet Niugini Dive Adventures’ (NDA) dive instructors are proud of their brand-new booklet. NDA’s Dive Instructor, Tetsuya Nakamura said that the new Dive Description booklet has now been translated to Japanese. Tetsuya was speaking recently in an interview at the PADI Dive Centre, at the Madang Resort. “For me, I think that this is a step towards a smarter campaign to attract divers- especially the Japanese Divers to come to Madang and Papua New Guinea.” Tetsuya also said that Japanese Divers are very interested in unique sea creatures found in PNG and Madang. “Japanese divers are very interested in different species of fish and small sea creatures,” he said. “The great thing about this new booklet, it is so detailed and it is filled with facts on so many different things.” The new Dive Description Booklet is aimed towards a campaign to target the Japanese market for next year, “this is in preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” said Tetsuya. Nacanieli Yavala, NDA Chief Diving Instructor, also said that Madang needed to have more exposure in the Japanese market. “Madang is simply a dive destination that hasn’t been properly exposed to the world, for our Japanese divers, they’re our biggest group of divers that we receive here in Madang every year.” Tetsuya added that Madang’s unique dive sites can now be properly understood by Japanese divers, “both the professional divers and for the ordinary Japanese tourist,” he said. “They would want to come to Madang to just snorkel and see for themselves the history and the unique sea creatures that have been described in this new booklet,” said Tetsuya.

Nigel Marsh’ Walking Shark Adventure “One of the big highlights of our trip to Madang, Papua New Guinea last week was seeing and photographing the rare hooded epaulette sharks,” said Nigel Marsh. Nigel Marsh was at the Madang Resort recently with his wife Helen. The Australian photojournalist and his partner, are both talented underwater photographers. With the Niugini Dive Adventures (NDA), Nigel was eager to photograph Madang’s rare ‘walking shark,’ “we did six-night dives to find them,” said Nigel. The rare Hooded Carpet Shark, classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is only found in the Wester-central Pacific, in Papua New Guinea they can only be found in Madang. “Our most memorable dives were done at night when looking for a very unique little shark,” said Nigel. These shy and unique species of shark can only be seen at night, walking on its fins. Looking for food at night, these rare sharks can be seen at a dive site, named by NDA. “For these dives we headed to Leper Island to dive at a site called ‘The Hood,’ in the hope of finding the most unique animal found in Madang – the hooded epaulette shark,” said Nigel. After a rewarding search for the rare species,

Nigel was satisfied with what he saw, “We actually encountered a dozen hooded epaulette sharks, but most were hidden under a ledge or quickly disappeared into a hole when we got close,” said Nigel. “Fortunately, a few were brave enough to go about their business as we watched and photographed them,” he said. Diving at night-time in Madang, with NDA, is not only limited to seeing walking sharks, “These wonderful little sharks were not the only thing we saw on these night dives, as we also encountered cuttlefish, octopus, moray eels, crabs, shrimps, basket stars and a conger eel.” Madang has been rated as the 7th best dive destinations in the world, out of 14 different countries as described by Tetsuya Nakamura, NDA’s Dive Instructor. “The amazing thing about diving in Madang is the proximity of all the dive sites to the resort,” said Tetsuya. “You can literally start diving at the jetty and you will never be disappointed.” Nigel and Helen’s trip to Madang was a very enjoyable dive experience, as described by Nigel. “Special thanks to the Madang Resort and the Niugini Dive Adventures for an incredible dive trip.” The experienced underwater photographer has extensively promoted dive sites around the world,

Copyright, Melanesian Tourist Services LTD’s Marketing Division, 2019. All rights reserved.

publishing his work in magazines, newspapers and books. Nigel wondered why Madang’s dive sites did not gain enough exposure as it should. “This area is easily the most under-rated area of PNG, for most of the week Helen and I were the only divers,” said Nigel. “Why the lack of divers? We don’t know as we had a great time seeing healthy corals, masses of fish, a great range of nudibranchs, reef sharks, muck critters and the endemic hooded epaulette shark that is only found in this area.”

Photo by Takuya Nakamura. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/salesmts

2019 Highlights- Madang Resort Celebrates Xmas

Madang Resort had celebrated another successful Carols by Candlelight at the resort’s Sugen Aben Park. The annual event took place on the 14th of December in 2019, more than 2000 people attended the gathering. The Managing Director for the Melanesian Tourist Services (MTS), Sir Peter Barter, said that he is always proud to be a part of the annual event. “I am proud that we, as a company, can sponsor such events as it brings the community together.” The Carols by Candlelight event is sponsored by the Madang Resort in partnership with the Madang Rotary Club. More than 21 different items were presented by various different groups, which included Madang’s Philippines, Fijian community and the local Bel youth groups in Madang. Tumbuna Tracks had provided the audio speakers for free to help assist the event. Sir Peter said that such events are a great way to keep the community together. “It brings the community together which was evident last night when a thunder storm disrupted the program for half an hour and hardly any one left.” The Carols by Candlelight took place at a venue that was lit with Christmas lights and “a beautiful ‘Mango’ Christmas tree,” said Sir Peter.

MTS’ ‘Potential’ Expeditionary Cruise Vessel MTS’ Managing Director has travelled to New Zealand with his son. Sir Peter and his son Andrew flew to NZ to inspect a catamaran designed by Seacat in Australia to determine if the design will suit PNG conditions, specifically the Sepik River. Sir Peter said that he was impressed with the design. “I would have to discuss minor changed to suit our operation, which operates between 5-12 nights in duration as opposed to overnight accommodation.” “Changes are expected to be completed, providing that the foreign exchange is available, we expect construction to commence in time for the vessel to be built and launched for the 2022 season,” said Sir Peter. Sir Peter said that in the meantime, MTS will continue to operate the Kalibobo Spirit to meet the immediate demand, which is considered to be PNG’s ultimate travel experience.

Cairns Sheridan Hotel Luxurious Accomodation at an Affordable Cost

...undergoing refurbishment that should be completed by 2020.

Email: functions@cairnssheridan.com.au | Call: (07) 4031-6500 295 Sheridan Street, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia Copyright, Melanesian Tourist Services LTD’s Marketing Division, 2019. All rights reserved.

Closest to the Airport, only 10 mins from the Cairns CBD. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/salesmts

A Warrior’s Shield, Tales from the Sepik River.

The iconic and magical Sepik carvings lay waiting outside the Madang Resort’s gate. These artefacts lay motionless, yet like a time capsule it holds the stories of one of the most diverse cultures in Papua New Guinea. Telling tales of myths, legends and magic, these sacred artefacts pay homage to the unique cultures that are spread throughout the vast communities along the Mighty Sepik River. One of the most unique set of carvings, are the sacred Warrior Shields that lay sprawled across the grass near an elderly looking, yet experienced 67 year-old man. As if they were intended to protect their maker, Morris Pirak gladly holds one out to show the detailed feature of a scary-looking ‘Tambaran.’ Delicately etched into the wood, these carvings tell a tale of the mighty Sepik Warriors and the journey of Morris from the Sepik River to Madang’s coastline. “August 8, 1972,” said Morris as he looked at

his artefacts to reflect on the vivid memories and their dates. The dates seemed so clear to Morris now then they were back in that August morning, when he decided to leave his home in Nundumundo Village in the Angoram District, deep in the heart of the lower Sepik River. Seeking a new life, Morris travelled to Madang. After settling in Madang, young Morris looked for opportunities to further his adventurous heart. Morris travelled to Rabaul in 1982 where he worked at a sawmill factory, “I don’t know why, but it’s something to do with wood,” he said. “I have always loved to work with wood-to create and to shape something, this has always been my passion,” said Morris as he dusted his gleaming Sepik shields. In 1986 Morris decided to come back to Madang, to make Madang his home. “I’ve been here ever since, and I love Madang,” he said. Morris lived a very humble life during the 90’s, but he had something special that had lingered inside his heart- he had brought something from his home along the Sepik River. “I just decided to start carving, I was taught by my Pwapa (uncle) to carve shields and other Sepik artefacts,” said Morris as he smiled. During the 90’s, Morris said that he made a lot of money through the Melanesian Tourist Services’ ‘Melanesian Discoverer.’ “Those were the glory days, when tourists flooded Madang,” he said. “I could hardly keep up with their high demand,” said Morris. The Melanesian Tourist Services (MTS) has travelled throughout the most remote locations in the Sepik River and have forged relationships with villages along the Lower, Middle and even

the Upper Sepik River. With more than 50 years of experience with expeditionary cruises along the Sepik River, MTS’ recent 30m luxury motor yacht, the Kalibobo Spirit, travels through the Angoram District. These expeditionary cruises have visited places in the Sepik River where Morris knows too well. “I have always been proud of MTS and the close relationship that it has with my local people along the Sepik River,” said Morris with pride. Kandibang (Warrior’s Shield), as translated by Morris means a lot more than just an ordinary fighting shield. “The unique thing about these shields that I carve, it represents manhood, courage and knowledge,” he said. Morris described his sacred artefacts as a rite of passage. “It is very strict for any ordinary person to carry these shields,” he said. “Only the men that have been bitten by the crocodile (initiated) can carry these shields as a protection during battle,” said Morris, while he demonstrated the different ways to use the fragile artefact in his hand. Like Morris, and so many other experienced artists from the Sepik River, who tirelessly paint, carve and greet tourists that arrive at the Madang Resort, they can all agree on one thing: “Sepik is better seen by yourself than being told by someone else” said Morris. The Kalibobo Spirit will be travelling to the Sepik River this Easter. A 5-night adventure that will penetrate deep through lower and the middle Sepik River. Visiting villages, experiencing the unique cultural dancing and also seeing the ‘mythical’ Haus Tambarans (Spiritual Houses). “I would like to tell people to travel to the Sepik for themselves,” he said. “What people like us show here, through our artefacts, is just a sample of what people can actually experience if they travel to the Sepik,” said Morris.


Experience the Mighty, Magical and Mythical Sepik River.... Kalibobo Spirit’s Scheduled Cruises 2020




Cost P/Person


Sepik River

6 Nights


April 8 (Easter Cruise), April 15, May 30, Jun 07, Jul 01.

Island Cruise

8 Nights


Oct 14, Dec 21

Milne Bay Cruise

5 Nights


Dec 02, Dec 09, Dec 14

Sepik River

6 Nights


Jan 13, Feb 17, Mar 17, Apr 14, May 29, Jun 09, Jul 30

Island Cruise

8 Nights


Oct 13, Dec 21

Milne Bay Cruise

5 Nights


Nov 28, Dec 01, Dec 08

*Costs shown include twin/double, per person. all meals, excursions, cultural events, wine with meals and an experienced expedition leader. Costs do nt include airfares, charter flights or items of personal nature. Exclusive charters are also available to any destination in Papua New Guinea. OPTIONAL: Overland 4x4 tours available to the Higlands. Copyright, Melanesian Tourist Services LTD’s Marketing Division, 2019. All rights reserved.

Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/salesmts

Profile for Melanesian Tourist Services

Melanesian Newsletter Issue #15  

The Madang’s Bel people, who encompass villages such as Kranket, Sek, Riwo, Siar, Yabob and Bilbil, speak the common Belan Language (Mennis,...

Melanesian Newsletter Issue #15  

The Madang’s Bel people, who encompass villages such as Kranket, Sek, Riwo, Siar, Yabob and Bilbil, speak the common Belan Language (Mennis,...