Kwainaai’isi Cultural Centre partners with Bougainvillian Conservation Group

Researcher from the Atoifi Health Research Group, Mr Tommy Esau, has just returned from a trip to Bougainville where he worked with Dr Tyron Lavery, Biologist from University of Queensland and Dr Jeffery Noro, Director of the Kainake Conservation Group. The team were in search of giant rats and monkey-faced bats as part of an Australia National Museum project.

The purpose of Tommy’s trip was to join the ‘Bats And Rats’ expedition at Bougainville and learn about conservation in that area. It is part of the 'look and learn' trips planned by the two community based organizations to build partnerships and strengthen conservation capacity in local contexts.

Tommy explains, “While there I was able to witness the sighting of a giant rat known as the Kamere for the first time, captured by the local hunters during the field trip.” “This is great news for the Kainake community and their future plans for conservation.”

In addition to the capture of a Giant rat, the smaller, more common Pteropodids (flying fox) were caught.

Dr Tyron and Tommy were invited to talk during the community meeting about the importance of caring for the environment, and other ideas about conservation.
Dr Tyrone highlighted that there is a need for recognition of local traditional ecological knowledge with scientific knowledge. “The local’s traditional knowledge should be treasured and encouraged as a way of building local capacity”, Dr Tyrone said.

Tommy also shared with the community about the work and challenges of the Kwainaa’isi Cultural Centre, and the Atoifi Health Research group. Dr Jeffery Noro, Director of the Kainake Conservation Group responded saying, “This sharing (by Tommy) was an inspiration to our group and motivated us to look beyond the challenges we face.”

The two groups are looking forward for more future exchange programs and collaboration on a conservation projects, cultural exchanges, and joint capacity building.

For more information, please email Mr Tommy Esau: fataiaman[at]

Photos (L-R): (i) Dr Tyrone and Tommy in Bougainville; (ii) Dr Jeffery, Dr Tyrone and community members of the Kainake Conservation Group

Health workers asked about pilot test kits

This week the Atoifi Health Research Group (AHRG) travelled to Gounabusi, Nafinua, Aerei, and Namolaelae Clinics. In addition, interviews have been conducted in various departments of Atoifi Adventist Hospital. The purpose of the trips was to understand the health worker's experience of using The Yaws and Syphilis Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT).

In July, Michael Marks from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, partnered with the AHRG to begin the Yaws and Syphilis Treatment and Survey Project. During this time, the AHRG introduced a rapid diagnostic test kit. This will make the confirmation of positive cases and treatment much quicker for patients, as the diagnosis now being made in the clinics. This week, The AHRG team visited a number of the clinics where the test kits had been rolled out, and interviewed the health workers.

Now the interviews have been completed, the data will be analysed and used to inform future training and support of health workers using the RDT. Results from this study in East Malaita will also help inform national testing procedures in Solomon Islands and across the Pacific.

For more information about this study, please contact Dr. Jason Diau. (

Planning for next Medicinal Plants project

Twenty-eight people from the East Kwaio mountains come down to Atoifi Hospital on Sunday 7 August to participate in a plant documentation workshop. This workshop was run in anticipation of the next phase of Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF) funding. The first phase of CEPF funding resulted in the production of the first ever bilingual book (English/Kwaio), concerning the medicinal and cultural uses of 15 plants from the East Kwaio region. Small video clips were also made about the uses of these plants. The second phase will see the book and videos expanded in content, with the East Kwaio participants taking on a greater role in the production of content.

Dr David MacLaren of James Cook University ran the workshop where the group learnt about the next phase of the project; it was explained to the group what the outcomes of the next phase of the project were. Due to the unique system of governance up in the mountains, the group were heavily involved in helping establish best practice methods of how the project will function. Hands-on training with the photography and video equipment was an aspect of the workshop, with the group practicing filming and photography techniques instructed by Ben Speare, of Speare Shot Media.

The two instructors were amazed at the perseverance and resilience of the East Kwaio group; the workshop started at 9:30am and finished after 7pm, at the behest of the participants! Everyone was very happy to be involved, and excited by the prospect of the next phase of the project.

To read the first Medicinal Pant book, visit:

For more information about the project, email Tommy Esau: or David MacLaren:

Story by: Ben Speare, Speare Shot Media

Australian Museum partnership with East Kwaio a success

Congratulations to members of the East Kwaio community, including members of the Atoifi Health Research group, who have been central to the success of the recent Expedition. An Australian Museum-Kwainaa'isi Cultural Centre partnership has contributed to a greater understanding of the rats and bats in Kwaio, and the Pacific more broadly.

Today the Expedition was featured in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio story. Opinions from Expedition leaders, Dr Tyrone Lavery, Chief Esau Kekeubata and Mr Tommy Esau were reported, and photos published. Many of the photos in the story were taken by the Expedition's photographer, Mr Benjamin Speare.

Bo'a le'a ba'ita to everyone who has contributed so far in an effort to maintain the health of well-being of people and the environment in Kwaio. More to come!

To read the ABC web story, listen to the radio story and/or watch footage, please visit:

Photo: Chiefs, researchers and community members dicuss Expedition plans in the mountains of East Kawio. Photo credit: Benjamin Speare, Speare Shot Media