This is the third post in a series of Origin Trip Reports written by our Managing Director, Mike Murphy, and Head Roaster, Sam McTavish from their trip to Papua New Guinea — August 2018. Click here to catch up on Part 1 and here for Part 2.
Our last day in Wasu
On our last day in Wasu we spent the morning talking with the Unen Choit executive team. We were provided with additional background information on the cooperative and we had an opportunity to provide some advice and feedback to continue to build on the (already very good) quality of coffee that the coop produces. By this time we had formed an even stronger bond with the cluster group leaders and executive team. We worked together with Fairtrade and CIC to discuss ideas and initiatives for the cooperative to consider for continuous improvement in the future.
Following this meeting we jumped back in the Landcruiser and took a 30 minute drive back up the limestone road to the Unen Choit Central Wet Mill. This is a Colombian made piece of kit that was facilitated by Fairtrade ANZ after they recognized the ongoing potential for Unen Choit as a Fairtrade cooperative. The land that the wet mill (and associated building) is located on is Lutheran Church land and again we received an unexpected welcome and gift reception including bilim, flower necklaces and even bone carvings.
On our last afternoon in Wasu, a Sunday, we went exploring and took the opportunity to see more of this sea-side community. We stumbled upon a local football game before heading to a river that met up with the ocean. All of us were pretty stoked to find a huge tree log that was strategically positioned in the middle of the river and provided the perfect platform for diving and bombs!
After our swim we headed back to the village for the official closing ceremony and thank you service. The group was more intimate than previous days and allowed us to sit around together and talk. We sat in the carport adjacent to the dwelling we had stayed in and the pastor started by holding a really good service that included thanks to us for making the journey and his wishes for a safe passage for us the next day. We all spoke and thanked the assembled Unen Choit representatives for their incredible hospitality and generosity. We made a point of reinforcing our strong emotional connection to the people of Unen Choit and their land, and we made sure everyone was aware that we would promote Unen Choit not only with New Zealand consumers but also with the people of Papua New Guinea when we met the media the following day.
Heading back to Lae & getting on the telly
Despite getting up early for our Monday morning flight from Wasu back to Nadzab airport we had a few hours to wait as we gambled on whether the plane would come across the mountains to collect us. We took bets as to when the plane would arrive and despite being on the grass airstrip from 7am we did not get in the air until around 10.45am. It was a bit touch and go as there were more passengers than seats – unfortunately not all of the UC Executives made it on the plane and they kindly let us get on knowing that we needed to catch international flights one day after this one.
On our last day in PNG we focused on spending the day in the cupping room at Niugini Tea Coffee and Spice Co. Anton and his team were very generous in allowing us to use their facility – we used our time constructively to sample roast some UC coffee including a micro-lot that we had identified on the trip. Molock Terry, UC Manager, had not been able to catch the plane with us back to Lae but fortunately his colleague and roaster trainee Henge Soki was in Lae and available to join us. He joined us for the roasting and cupping session where we provided feedback to the exporter and Henge. We reviewed samples that were from different cluster groups and compared the difference between machine hulled and hand hulled and polished green coffee samples.
Prior to our trip we had asked the Fairtrade ANZ team if they could assist us in facilitating interviews with local media to talk about our work and to communicate more about how Kōkako and Fairtrade are working with PNG coffee cooperatives. We were really impressed when the two main newspapers turned up alongside a journalist from EMTV – the main local television station in PNG. The media were really engaged and interested in what we had to say and were really keen to communicate our stories – you can watch our news clip which made the 6 o’clock news here or read the article in The National newspaper here.
The media spent over 1.5 hours with us and also interviewed Gabriel from Fairtrade (he's wearing one of our Offcut caps in the photo above), Henge from Unen Choit and representatives of NGTS.
We feel we achieved our goal and purpose for the trip and left looking forward to the latest crop of Unen Choit green coffee arriving in NZ – it landed in October 2018 and is now available in our 70/30 Blend. We will also continue to work collaboratively with Molock and the UC team as, like we have with HOAC in the Eastern Highlands, we see our relationship with Unen Choit as enduring and ongoing.