September 16th is a public holiday and commemorates when the country gained independence in 1975 from Australia. Papua New Guinea is in Oceania. Throughout the country’s history, it has been under the rule of three countries including Germany first, then the United Kingdom, and finally Australia.
History of Independence Day
In 1884, the Colony or German New Guinea, was created. It was made up of the north-eastern portion of the island of New Guinea. The remaining portion of the island remained under British protectorate. The UK then placed British New Guinea under the control of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1902, and Australia took control of German-held New Guinea during WWI. After this, the Territory of New Guinea was created by the League of Nations in 1902 and given to Australia for governing.
At the end of WWII, New Guinea and the Territory of Papua merged, creating the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It was then renamed as Papua New Guinea in 1971. Just two years down the road, PNG became a self-governing nation and was granted its full independence on September 16, 1975.
What Goes on During Independence Day in PNG?
Many celebrations and festivities occur on this day. In the morning, flag raising ceremonies occur throughout the nation. After the flag raising, where both national and international guests are present, locals hold cultural dances, sing in the streets, and enjoy open air music and markets throughout the day. You can see the national colours of the country – gold, red, and black – on every street and hang from windows of homes and shops.
Each of the different towns and cities finds unique ways to celebrate and commemorate this day. For example, an annual event that both locals and visitors enjoy is the fireworks, which are shot from Port Moresby. These lights up the Yonki Township with a show that lasts for approximately six minutes.
In Gaire Village, a five-day celebration often occurs on the dates of September 13th to 17th. The denominations involved in this celebration include the CRC, Seventh Day Adventist, Salvation Army, and the United Church. In addition to a parade, led by a marching band, residents participate in an outreach program during this time to clean the beach and keep the community looking beautiful.
In virtually every city in the country, you can find black, red, and gold merchandise, along with the flags of all 22 provinces being sold in various sizes. Many young boys walk the streets on this day to sell the goods to those driving by.
If you are visiting the area on this day, it is best to have everything you need with you. All government offices and schools remain closed, and most businesses are closed as well. However, you can find food, drink, and street vendors everywhere, so you do have options.