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Nov 23, 2017 international
The Nakanai Caves – Cultural Heritage Project, East New Britain

Project overview

  • Cultural Value Survey for possible World Heritage Cultural Landscape Assessment
  • 4 year project 2015 – 2018
  • Project Value $200k


  • ARC Linkage Project

This project was funded through the Australian Research Council as an ARC Linkage Project and with funds donated from us as the industry partner. In Linkage partner include James Cook University in Townsville and Cairns, Australian National University and Sydney University along with local NGO ‘Partners with Melanesians to deliver the Nakanai Caves Cultural Heritage Project.


Built in sucession between 1882-1906, the terrace row at 28-44 Campbell Street demonstrate brickfield workers’ housing from the 1880s to the turn of the 20th Century. Built from local bricks by brick merchant Henry Woodley, who owned and operated a several brick pits in the area, the dwellings provided housing for locally employed labourers. The terraces are representative of the middle class who inhabited the St Peters area during the industrial development, and are aesthetically significant as Victorians filigree style terraces. They are remarkable for retaining a largely uniform exterior from the front and rear, despite several additions in the following decades after their construction.

The Project

The Nakanai Caves in East New Britain are part of a large world class system of limestone caves, Papua New Guinea. This project will document and integrate the natural and cultural values of the Nakanai Caves in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in preparation for a cultural landscape World Heritage nomination. Our methodology incorporates community knowledge with archaeological and anthropological evidence to link natural and cultural values and define the landscape from local perspectives.

In 2015 we carried out a reconnaissance archaeological survey and in 2017 we carried out archaeological surveys recording Tambunna sites (from the prehistoric past), this included a range of coastal sites but also included a survey transect across the island from Palmalmal on Jaquinot Bay in the east to Kimbe in the west. Both field trips also recorded sites relating to WWII and the colonial history of the area. Working with local people we also recorded some of the stories relating to these sites. Other field trip undertaken by our university partners have focussed on anthropological investgation of cultural values.

Download the Project Sheet here