One of the biggest cultural  events in the South Pacific – the Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival – ended in Vanuatu this week – and it was just about the death of me. 

Cultural groups from throughout the region including Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, The Torres Islands, West Papua and host country Vanuatu, were all there to perform over 10 days at three different venues.

But, despite an official program being printed and handed out at the start of the festival, no one had a clue who was performing where or on what day (let alone the approximate time), leaving most of us media types to run around like chooks without a head to ensure we didn’t miss anything. Added to that, there was the inclement weather (rain), the congested traffic (like, is there a local who hasn’t headed to Australia, earned money picking fruit, and come back to buy a bus), and the fact Port Vila was in the midst of a flu epidemic (joy).

In among this, PNG – or specifically the Huli Wigmen – who I’d been commissioned to shoot while I was there, had pulled out altogether but were reported to have charted a plane and “might turn up” at one of the venues for what I knew to be one of the shortest cultural performances in the world (they’re like that, tending to arrive briefly, shake their tail-feathers or pandanus leaves, then leave as mysteriously as they appeared).

Still, as exhausting as it was, it was fun and rewarding to attend this once-every-four-year event.

Here’s a few of my favourite photos. The rest have been added to my library:  

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