Director's Desk

The Services and Networks of the Melanesian Institute

The Melanesian Institute has been servicing the people of Papua New Guinea and beyond since 1969 in the areas of social research, publication and cultural Orientation courses for church Institutions, missionary societies, and interested individuals and organisations (e.g. Local and overseas NGOs, researchers, foreign dignatories and development workers, government bodies, etc.). These ‘core services’ have been greatly contributing to nation building, missionary work and gutpela sindaun(fullness of life) for local communities in Papua New Guinea. However, these services are still limited to expatriate communities and few privileged Papua New Guineans who can read and write. MI has not reached most of Papua New Guineans who are living in remote communities and having low literacy level. So, how can we reach out to these remote communities? How can we make these communities become active participants of the services of the Melanesian Institute? How can the services of the Melanesian Institute bring about social transformation for these local communities? How can we sustain the services at grassroots community level? How can grassroots communities become catalysts of genuine change and drivers of their development right in their own backyards? The Melanesian Institute team thinks that is within its capacity and institutional mandate to deliver a fourth service that supplements and consolidates the other three main services and that can address these collectively discerned questions and challenges. The newly emerging service of the Institute is “Participatory Processes for Grassroots Communities”.

Bro Martin Tnines, SVD

Director, Melanesian Institute

Why participatory community process?

We at the Melanesian Institute believe that the local people are not empty nutshell to be filled with knowledge and skills coming from outside of their communities. The people have local knowledge and skills to map out their social problems, to prioritize the identified social problems, to collect relevant information for the prioritized social problems, to analyze the collected information, and to translate the analysis into intervention programs and workable solutions to address the community problems.

How do we do this process?

The Melanesian Institute Research Team (MIRT) assists local communities to identify their local resources (knowledge, skills or traditional practices), enhances the capacity of local communities with technical assistance in mapping out and prioritizing community problems, collecting and analyzing data, and translating the analysis into viable programs to improve people’s lives.

What are the long-term benefits of this process for local communities?

  1. the local communities will be aware of and utilize their local resources to cope with everyday social stressors,
  2. the local communities will gain technical assistance from the MIRT that enhances their local resources in studying social problems,
  3. the local communities will take ownership of their problems and their local resources,
  4. the local communities can publish their study findings in MI’s publications,
  5. the local communities become community based researchers and educators for MI, and
  6. the local communities could receive financial incentives for their services of collecting data or offering courses for their communities on behalf of the Melanesian Institute.

What are the long-term benefits of this process for the Melanesian Institute?

  1. The Melanesian Institute will have community based personnel (researchers and educators),
  2. The Melanesian Institute will be able to downsize its Institutional personnel, and in the process, will cut down financial expenses for staff,
  3. The Melanesian Institute will have sustainable services at grassroots community level since the participatory community process empowers local communities with research well-rounded skills from mapping community problems to creating intervention programs.

The Melanesian Institute has started the Participatory Community Process known as ‘field school’ in two comparative pilot sites. One is in the Island and matrilineal context (Kiriwina, Milne Bay Province) and the other is in the Highlands and patrilineal context (Par, Enga Province). MI taps on well established infrastructures and community services of Alotau and Wabag Dioceses, and the service centers are managed by the Vincentians and Divine Word Missionaries.

Going beyond the Church backyards

The Melanesian Institute is currently expanding its networks beyond the church backyards and its church-associated overseas partners. The Institute continues extending its networks and partners with Local and international development partners, and with important social actors in neighbouring countries (SI, Indonesia, Australia) in various capacities, to deliver needed services for local communities in Papua New Guinea and traditional landowners who are living along Melanesian borders. Upon request, we also conduct ‘thematic‘ community processes and courses to address pressing issues and emerging agendas identified by affected communities themselves. If you are interested in our services or in partnering with us, please contact us by email:

  • phone: (675) 532 1777/1778 or Fax: (675) 532 1214.