The Kākano Fund: Reporting back to Bel communities, Madang, Papua New Guinea

Dylan Gaffney, from the University of Otago's Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, received a Kākano Fund Award earlier this year. In this post he reflects on how this award enabled him to share his findings with his research participants in Papua New Guinea.

During July 2016, I presented short community reports to several villages along the Madang coast of Papua New Guinea, supported by the Kākano Fund from ASAA/NZ. These reports described the results of my Master of Arts project (2014-2016) in Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Otago, which explored the recent material culture and pottery traditions of the Bel people who live along the northeast coast of New Guinea.

The reports were written in Tok Pisin and English, in the form of small booklets with numerous colour photographs. These described several early museum collections from around Australasia, an ethnographic study of modern Bel pot making, archaeological excavations undertaken with the Bel on their ancestral sites, and scientific analyses of pottery and other artefacts. The reports were professionally printed and bound at the University of Otago Uniprint shop.

Dylan Gaffney presenting booklets to Kubei Balifun (community leader) at Bilbil village, Madang, PNG. Photo: Dylan Gaffney, 2016.

Dylan Gaffney presenting booklets to Kubei Balifun (community leader) at Bilbil village, Madang, PNG.
Photo: Dylan Gaffney, 2016.

Members of the Dugus, Murpat, Luan, and Gapan clans at Bilbil village reading the reports. Photo: Dylan Gaffney, 2016.

Members of the Dugus, Murpat, Luan, and Gapan clans at Bilbil village reading the reports.
Photo: Dylan Gaffney, 2016.

Copies of the booklet were presented to Bel clans at Bilbil village and Malmal village, who were enthusiastic to recieve results on the project. A copy of the booklet was also presented to Sir Peter Barter, ex-Governor of Madang who has been supportive of the research, and subsequently promoted the booklet in ‘Melanesian News,’ a short monthly newsletter disributed around Madang and online. Copies were also given to the National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea, which administers archaeological and anthropological research in the country, and the Anthropology Department at the University of Papua New Guinea.

The return of results to stakeholder communities in the form of booklets, oral presentations, posters, and other resources is an essential stage of anthropological research and is hugely constructive to produce positive relationships between anthropologists (and other researchers) and local groups. I am greatly appreciative to ASAA/NZ for supporting this kind of work.