Canoe Festival A Culture Maintained

The Milne Bay Province is known for its annually held event, the Canoe Kundu Festival. The Festival held every year in November marks the historical war rivalry between the Wagawaga and Maiwara people of Milne Bay Province.


The story behind the festival tells of a competition between the two villages for a female who takes part in a traditional dance held in Gabugabuna near Maiwara village.


To show the villagers frustration, the villagers built war canoes in preparation for war. The war between the two villages lasted until the arrival of Charles William Abel who introduced Christianity. A long lasting peace united the two villages together. Today, the festival brings together the two villages to commemorate their historical past.


During the festival, the people race three types of canoes. The outrigger canoe “Kewo kewowo”, the sailing canoes “Kuka” and the war canoes “Gebo”. Of the three canoes, the most attractive is the war canoe “Kuka”. The sailors dress to look like warriors of the past while the women, children and the remaining men dance the traditional dances. Traditional dances such as the “Kwatu” war dance, “Saugei,”canoe dance and “Talubiga” are some of the dances that the villagers do during the event. This signifies the traditional dance that was held in Gabugabuna where the conflict started.


The ancestral event is known attracting many tourists both locally and internationally. It is an important event that means a lot to the people of Milne Bay. Today, the practice is still alive and fresh as the people know that their culture is still being maintained and is safe.

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