Carteret Islands: A Good Omen from the Sea

Today the community held a church service to commemorate the youth from the Carteret Islands who will travel to the mainland to discuss climate change and the relocation (the islanders plan to relocate from the Carteret Islands to Tinputz on mainland Bougainville).

The Carteret Islanders share the same clans – the eagle, dog, chicken and hornbill – and a similar culture and language with the Tinputz community. The elders are concerned, however, because some of the communities on Bougainville still have guns from the crisis – the 10-year civil war between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville. Violence can be a problem on the mainland.

Yet today they received a good omen from the sea. The tour leader, Nicholas, caught up with us after the service and invited us down to the beach where a fisherman was divvying up his catch – a giant stingray.

A crowd of children gathered around the stingray, still alive and heaving like a novice scuba diver gasping for air. One of the men sliced a huge slab of meat with a machete. The kids ran with the meat to one of the huts nearby where a woman was stoking the fire under a barbeque made from an oil drum.

The fisherman told us the catch is a good omen for the tour.