But for the first time, Pukari in Gulf Province were able to speak up for their rights.
These needs include the right to access clean drinking water, primary health care, education for all and road link access, among others.
Road link is top on their agenda.
Even though Gulf Province is connected to Port Moresby by land, the feeder roads into the communities have deteriorated and are inaccessible.
This has in turn impacted other services like health and education.
Pukari has an incomplete aid post that has been left idle for almost four years now. Villagers walk to Kwaru station for health emergencies like snakebites, which is a common occurrence.
Some facilities of the primary school were recently refurbished, but teachers’ housing poses the main issue.
The youth is also a separate group to look at, having no alternative options nearby when dropped out from the formal education system.
Drinking water is collected from the wells, but becomes an issue during rainy weather.
And to travel to Kerema town or to Port Moresby, villagers walk for hours to reach the main highway – a safer option, or brave the rough seas and travel by dinghy – a riskier and expensive option.
Pukari community is now opening its doors to investors who are willing to develop their land and in turn, bring in the services they need.
Nixon Maika, chairman of the Hio Landowner Association, said the community is ready to lift their living standards.
“We need support from outside and we are ready to work with you,” he said.