Papua New Guinean Culture

Business Culture



  • Although ‘PNG time’ is common throughout society, business culture is trying to develop an expectation of punctuality. Be punctual, but do not necessarily expect your PNG counterpart to be.
  • Meetings may start later than expected.
  • Introduce yourself using the person’s title followed by their surname.Have plenty of business cards and treat other business cards with respect when they are given.
  • Discern the age hierarchy and pay special attention to the opinion of those present that are older than you.


In a business setting, references to ‘wantoks’ or the ‘wantok system’ is common (see ‘Language and Wanok’ in Core Concepts for more information). Papua New Guineans often prioritise their kin group, feeling as though they have an obligation and responsibility to assist members of the same wantok even if it comes at a significant loss. Thus, nepotism is a widely accepted practice, further reflecting the way in which loyalty is first and foremost towards one’s wantok. Be mindful that Papua New Guineans may be thinking of ways to serve the interests of their wantok.


Papua New Guinean business people tend to favour seeing the same face representing a company on successive visits. Thus, having the same person represent the company, along with continuity of contact is central. Conversely, it is important to spend a significant amount of time investigating a company before establishing a relationship with the business, since the wantok system may influence where a business places its priorities.


  • English is generally the language used for business and government interactions.
  • Business laws are based on English legal principles. However, the application is less rigorous than expected in Australia.
  • Gift giving is not commonly practised in business dealings.
  • Men’s business attire is distinguished between ‘tropical informal’ and ‘tropical formal’. The former typically consists of long, lightweight trousers and an open-necked shirt. The latter refers to an outfit comprised of trousers paired with a long-sleeved shirt and tie.
  • Women’s business attire is generally conservative yet lightweight. They tend to dress more conservatively than in Australia.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2016), Papua New Guinea ranks as 136th out of 176 countries, receiving a score of 28 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat corrupt.
Papua New Guinea
  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Tok Pisin (official)
    English (official)
    Hiri Motu (official)
    Note: Over 800 indigenous languages spoken; some dialects have less than 1,000 speakers.
  • Religions
    Protestant Christianity (69.4%)
    Roman Catholic Christianity (27%)
    Other (3.6%)
    [2000 census]
  • Ethnicities
  • Australians with Papua New Guinean Ancestry
    18,801 [2016 census]
Papua New Guineans in Australia
  • Population
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Papua New Guinea.
  • Average Age
  • Gender
    Male (44.8%)
    Female (55.2%)
  • Religion
    Catholic Christianity (32.1%)
    Anglican Christianity (12.3%)
    Uniting Church Christianity (10.8%)
    No Religion (16.4%)
    Other (28.3%)
  • Ancestry
    Papua New Guinean (23.3%)
    Australian (19.4%)
    English (17.9%)
    Chinese (7.9%)
    Other (31.5%)
  • Languages
    English (76.4%)
    Tok Pisin (6.9%)
    Cantonese (5.1%)
    Pidgin [nfd] (4.0%)
    Other (7.7%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (92.7%)
    Not Well (3.7%)
  • Diaspora
    Queensland (54.1%)
    New South Wales (20.3%)
    Victoria (9.5%)
    Western Australia (6.6%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (74.1%)
    2001-2006 (7.9%)
    2007-2011 (12.0%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country PG Flag