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I have been this way before

Bougainville traditional mona
Bougainville traditional mona


KIETA - Canoes, not unlike boats, come in different sizes and varying shapes and different abilities to manoeuvre.

The ones most common in Bougainville today are outrigger canoes. Also still in use is the mona which has a colourful history and folklore but its use has been on the decline.

The outrigger is a common two-person canoe most often used by children to paddle to school, venture on a fishing trip or take a leisurely outing on the enclosed harbour or around the islands.

They aren’t designed for forays into the open sea. Far out and away from land is not their purpose.

Sunday adventure around Kieta harbour and the islands in a two-person canoe
Sunday adventure around Kieta harbour and the islands in a two-person outrigger

I have been this way before
between island and mainland
The shores are quite close
when the water is calm and quiet

And they can become distant
in waters are rough and rowdy
But either way
I have always left and arrived safely
As I know I will do, again and again


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Michael Dom

This reflection from Simon Pentanu has a relaxing quality about it which is reminiscent of the idyllic island lifestyle.

We join him in the canoe for this short paddle,
basking under a partly shaded sun,
fingers caressing the belly of the sea

Or maybe we are watching from the shoreline
where the fat warm salty lip of the sea
gently licks the sand between our toes

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