Tourism is Hela’s golden goose

Letters, Normal

I WOULD like to commend the editorial in The National (“Let’s seize this fantastic opportunity”, Oct 2) for having the audacity to think and see contemporary issues differently than many of my brethren from Hela and elsewhere in PNG.
I am a Hela man and come from Pureni, the same area of Paya Kakanalu, the man whose original photograph was used to portray the US president as an African witchdoctor.
I agree with various leaders from Hela and would like to condemn the manner in which our unique wig was used in a derogatory sense.
It would not be proper though to demand an apology from president Barack Obama or his government.
The Tea Party should bury their faces in the sand for being satirical about Obama’s healthcare policy by denigrating our rare human wigman.
I am persuaded by the suggestion in the editorial that Helas and the rest of PNG should pause for a moment and look at one positive aspect, which reminds me of a feature I saw recently (Oct 6) on the National Geographic Channel, where a couple of Huli wigmen in full traditional regalia were strolling down some popular downtown streets of London.
This was a special feature on the National Geographic Channel and was called The Reversed Civilisation.
I am proud of my culture not only because these two Huli wigmen promoted the primitive but exotic culture of Hela at no expense to the PNG Government but also because I knew these two wigmen.
Their story is something like a fairy tale.
The two tribesmen were strolling down to Tari market from Hiwanda village in the Tari-Pori electorate when their full traditional wigman regalia caught the eyes of one male foreign tourist who was sightseeing in Hela for the first time.
The British tourist could not help himself but to ask them whether he could take some pictures of and/or with them.
The two Huli wigmen agreed.
A little bit of chit chat and the British agreed to accompany them to their village in Hiwanda where he was given a rousing welcome in the usual Hela way, including dressing him up in full traditional regalia. 
The Briton went back to his country and promoted the Huli wigman to the extent of inviting the two Hela men to England and showcase the unique human wig in England and Europe.
The rest is history.
I salute them for a job well done.
Tourism is the point I am trying to stress in concurrence with the editorial.
Since Independence successive governments have given lip service to this multi-billion dollar sustainable industry.
One needs to sit down and observe the awesome beauty of our country.
With more than 700 ethnic languages, traditions and cultures, coupled with beautiful and exotic tropical locations, this country can offer first class tourism products to quench the curiosity of both local and foreign tourists. 
Hela is a tourism goldmine and can provide first class eco-tourism given appropriate level of training and knowledge-transfer to our local people.
Our leaders must have the foresight to develop this sector along with the LNG project.
The three current MPs should work with TPA and come up with pragmatic tourism policies on how the new province can harness the vast eco-tourism products in Hela.
This is a golden opportunity not to be missed for the Hela nation to market our tourism industry instead of whining.
Perhaps Helas should liaise with our TPA and showcase the Huli wigman abroad.
Yes, we can perform in our full traditional regalia in the United States or anywhere in the world and gain respect and recognition for our unique and exotic cultures that have been passed on from generations to generations.
Tourism is a sustainable industry which can generate millions of dollars for our economy.


Raymond Kuai
Pureni, Hela