Polye in a statement described the welcome ceremony as something that will not empower Peter O'Neil or anyone else to become Prime Minister, describing invocations of ancestral spirits as calling on something that does not exist. Polye also described the ceremony as hocus-pocus to deceive the PNC Party and Peter O’Neill’s followers.
Mr O’Neill has countered that by saying that Polye’s comments are a distasteful take on a genuine and traditional blessing ceremony given on arrival to Manus last weekend. He described Polye’s comments as showing ‘a lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity.”
"He is using hate speech against Papua New Guineans who were going about their own, centuries old custom. Don Polye has no right nor credibility in calling the Manus blessing given to me ‘a hoax’ and that in any way this traditional blessing imparted on me was somehow spiritual or crazy business,” O’Neill went on to say.
“I was welcomed into late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s haus tambaran in Murik Lake, East Sepik and I have been welcomed into countless traditional ceremonies here and overseas. “These are not as Polye claims “hocus pocus” to deceive anyone, nor is it appropriate to question the beliefs that have been practiced for centuries. As we all know, our beliefs we practice in each of our tribal lands, live on adjacent and in harmony, with our own Christian beliefs. I believe strongly in God, and I believe strongly in the traditions and customs of our many and varied Papua New Guinean culture,” said Mr. O’Neill.
O’Neill clarified that the small and short ceremony was conducted in full view of the watching public and included the gift of a wooden paddle and a basket to signify his onward journey during this political campaign would be safe and the fruits of his efforts shared with Papua New Guineans. Mr. O’Neill went on to apologise to the people of Manus for the furore.