​Couple on a mission

Coastal villages along the LNG Plant site have lost much of their mangrove vegetation in order to accommodate the project.

However, a couple is on a mission to restore and regenerate their once lush mangrove coastlines.

Ulato Avei and husband William Kwara recently opened Koke Hanua bar and conference area at their home in Boera, Central Province, after successfully obtaining a loan from the National Development Bank.

“Koke is the name of the area and Hanua means villa in our language, so it’s translated to Koke Villa,” says Ulato.

One very visible sight customers will appreciate is the lush mangrove overlooking the sea.

“Our main attraction is the deck, not only that we want to protect our natural surrounds.”

Since the commencement of the LNG project, the way of life for their people have somewhat changed. This has made the locals lose focus in the importance of mangroves.

“Along the coast a lot of our natural resources have been stripped off. Boera is a fishing area and our main waterways have been closed off because of the LNG plant, therefore from where we are situated currently, we are making it our business to protect these mangroves.

“You can see the ones here have grown quite tall,” says the couple.

They are also well versed with the climate change issue and the role mangroves play as a buffer to the shoreline.

The couple has also been approached by the Tourism Promotion Authority because of their focus on eco-tourism.

“We have been approached by the TPA to use this place as a tourism hub as well. We have the Hiri tradition and we hope to revive the culture as well.

“Currently there are only two women that know how to make clay pots.”

The Koke Hanua Villa opened for business 6 months ago; it’s an ideal location for city slickers who wish to escape Port Moresby’s concrete setting. They also boast the best fish and chips in town.

“Most visitors say they will only stay for an hour but end up staying for hours, once they get comfortable,” says Ulato with a big smile on her face.

Meredith Kuusa