Papua New Guinean Culture

Do's and Don'ts

  • Be patient and accepting of ‘PNG time’. Papua New Guineans are not strict towards punctuality, and often do not mind having to wait for others.
  • Identify those who are older than you and make sure to be polite and sensitive to their opinions.
  • Be considerate of Papua New Guineans’ expectations of modest dress. Whilst they are generally relaxed and informal, modesty is expected.
  • Have a respectful approach when voicing an opinion or discussing a problem. Expectations of social practices will by and large depend on the customs of the community the person comes from. Generally, a respectful, sensitive yet lighthearted approach is sufficient.
  • If you have some criticism to express to a specific person, it is best to have the message passed on through a third party. This is particularly important in the case of men.

  • Avoid calling someone from Papua New Guinea a 'kanaka' (also known as ‘cane cutter’). This may be regarded as offensive and derogatory.
  • Avoid mentioning contentious topics in Papua New Guinean society unless you are sure you can approach such conversations with tact.
  • While it depends greatly on the relationship you have with your Papua New Guinean counterpart, it is best never to criticise their country too heavily.
  • Avoid putting pressure on a Papua New Guinean in social situations, for example, pushing them to drink alcohol. Given their generally conservative attitudes, and since their communication style is sensitive and generally informal, they may find it difficult to combat pressures.

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