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Aussie surfer delivers 100+ donated surfboards to Papua New Guinea

November 12, 2013 Tourist Boards No Comments Email Email

An Aussie surfer has travelled to Tupira, in the province of Madang, Papua New Guinea, to officially hand over 140 donated surf boards and equipment in an elaborate, cultural ceremony, attended by high profile PNG delegates.

Martin (Marty) Brown, initiated the donation drive in Victoria for pre-loved surfboards and equipment including leg ropes, rashies, fins and wax in September 2012 after visiting PNG on a surf trip and being touched by the people in local surfing communities. He worked with the Surf Association of Papua New Guinea (SAPNG) to fix the boards up and distribute them to coastal towns in PNG, where many local surfers often make do with planks of wood due to lack of funds.

This month and a year after setting up the donation drive, Marty travelled to PNG to host a board handover in one of PNG’s newest surf destinations, Tupira where he was met by more than 800 locals and eight PNG dignitaries. The handover ceremony included a traditional Sing-Sing where local men and women dress in colourful costumes and perform songs and dances. image004

The remaining boards were distributed to key surf destinations around the country including Vanimo, Kavieng, Wewak , Madang, Port Moresby, Manus and Bougainville.

Marty explained that giving surf equipment to PNG communities has more of an impact than simply providing sporting goods.

“By developing passion for surfing from a young age, people in these communities become more motivated to foster surf tourism, which provides a sustainable business model from which they can profit.

“When I returned from my first surf trip to PNG, I was so moved by the lack of money and the fact that people were surfing on splinters, or planks of wood, that I knew I wanted to do something,” Marty said.

“It wasn’t until I looked into it further that I realised the incredible potential for tourism and what that could mean for these communities, and being here again to hand over the boards has cemented the importance of what we’re doing.”

Marty has worked closely with the president of the SAPNG Inc (SAPNG) Andrew C. Abel, ML, to run the donation drive with the SAPNG offering its support to ship the equipment, carry out any ding repairs and re-conditioning and fairly distribute the donations to the key surfing areas. This included ensuring women received their share of the donations by painting the tip of half the boards pink, a simple step towards gender equality in PNG’s surfing world.

The SAPNG invited key PNG dignitaries to the ceremony including the Minister for Culture Tourism Hon Boka Kondra MP and Madang’s Hon. Deputy Governor Marisan.

Despite surf tourism still being in its infancy in PNG, the SAPNG has implemented a unique and ground-breaking Surf Management Plan (SMP) that not only protects the natural environment but also provides a financial benefit to local surfing communities. The SMP establishes a strict quota on the number of surfers permitted in a particular area at any one time – ensuring that the waves are always un-crowded in PNG and also requires visitors to pay a nominal fee to surf which directly benefits the local surfing communities.

Stuart Thompson, Papua New Guinea’s Tourism Promotion Authority’s Marketing & Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand said the drive is an important step for surf tourism.

“It is this Surf Management Plan together with initiatives like the donation drive that increases local PNG interest in surfing and provides more opportunities for potential surf areas to open up,” Mr Thompson said.

“Once the passion for the sport builds and the understanding of how beneficial tourism can be for individuals and families in these areas, then we will start to see real development in this area of tourism without the negative repercussions witnessed in other surf destinations.”

Marty Brown plans to recruit more Aussie surfers to broaden the next donation drive to include all of Australia.

“Now that people have seen what we’ve achieved, there is talk of making the drive even bigger, and that’s exciting.”

For more information on the surf drive visit the Facebook page PNG Surf Donation or for details on surfing in PNG visit www.papuanewguinea.travel

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