Papua New Guinean Culture




  • Direct Communication: Papua New Guineans tend to be direct in their communication on general topics. However, they are typically sensitive on cultural matters and can become easily ashamed. Thus, Papua New Guineans are often less direct when discussing sensitive topics such as their culture. Moreover, criticism is best expressed through a third party who can pass on the message rather than face to face – especially in the case of men.
  • Communication Style: The typical style of communication is informal and relaxed. There are not many strict social norms related to how one ought to communicate to particular people. However, this will vary depending on the structure of the community. For example, in chiefly social structures, there are specific ways of communicating to the chief.


  • Expressions: Movements and gestures involving the head, eyes or eyebrows are generally relied upon to add meaning to communication. Pay attention to these expressions.
  • Gestures: Most often, people will point with their chin rather than their finger. A short hiss and a sideways motion of the head often refer to disgust. Typically, one points their fingers downward and makes a scratching motion to gesture for a person to come.
  • Eye Contact: Direct eye contact or staring is not usually considered rude. Moreover, avoiding eye contact is seen to be negative and may be interpreted as communicating slyness.
  • Personal Space: It is common to have approximately an arm's length of personal space, especially when communicating with someone of the opposite gender. As people become more familiar with one another, personal distance reduces. For example, in family circles, people tend to stand very close to one another. However, crowding in public is thought to be acceptable and normal.
  • Punctuality: Papua New Guineans typically have a relaxed approach towards timekeeping and punctuality. This is commonly referred to as ‘PNG time’.
  • Pointing: Pointing at someone who is not a part of the conversation tends to be interpreted as gossiping about that person and can cause offense.
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