Accessing secure customary land for commercial opportunities in Papua New Guinea, Oceans & Islands Conference 2018, a paper report.
Through an academic exchange arrangement between the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) and the PNG APEC Study Centre, I had the opportunity to present my research at the NZIPR Oceans & Islands Conference held at the University of Auckland on 29-30 November 2018. My research paper titled ‘Accessing secure customary land for commercial opportunities in Papua New Guinea’ was amongst other research papers presented under the theme of ‘Pacific environments and extractive industries: managing land and natural resources’.
It was an eye-opening experience for me as the engagements and discussions relating to my paper prior to, during and after my presentation highlighted the similarities in challenges that Pacific people face despite the differences in geography, language, cultures, and political and administrative systems. During the conference, a common and recurring area of concern surrounding management of land and natural resources was the security of tenure for land under customary ownership, whether the land and natural resources be for communal or commercial use.
For the rest of the conference, there were many esteemed papers presented under various themes of relevance to Pacific peoples. However, an area that served me a great deal of interest was the work by Pacific researchers and scholars on Indigenous Pacific Research. The wealth and level of knowledge acquired to date by Pacific researchers and scholars is incredible and the presentations done on this area were enlightening.
Some of the terms used during the conference which I believe are an indication of the exciting future that Pacific Research has were ‘spiritual and cultural capital’ (Salesa, Oceans and Islands Conference, 2018); ‘oceanic relationalities’ (Sanga, Oceans and Islands Conference), ‘relational resources’ (Banks, Oceans and Islands Conference). Further, a key ongoing challenge facing Pacific research is ‘bridging the policy-research gap’ as rightly stated by Dr. Alisi Holani.
As Associate Professor Kabini Sanga (Oceans and Islands Conference) stated, ‘Pacific people are relational people’, and so I say, my conference experience was as such. It was a wonderful opportunity to contribute to and engage in the Pacific Research space. The 2-day conference taught me a great deal and served as a networking opportunity for future research.