Large crowds have gathered in the capital of Papua New Guinea to celebrate the nation’s 40th anniversary of independence.
PNG gained independence from Australia on September 16, 1975.
Thousands of people attended the official ceremony on Independence Hill in Port Moresby, where the Australian flag was lowered symbolically once again to be replaced by PNG’s national flag.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who gave the Independence address, said the system of governance in PNG has worked.
“Obviously it has held together for 40 years, we are proud of that,” he said.
“It has consistently elected its government through a democratic process.
“The political stability has been good over the last few years and of course going into rebuilding many of our institutions.
“And I think Papua New Guinea has a bright future ahead of itself.”
Mr O’Neill acknowledged there have been problems achieving political stability and improving PNG’s poor standards of public health and education.
“As we build our nation over the last 40 years, we’ve made some mistakes. Those mistakes are very obvious, some very costly ones,” he said.
“But I think as a country we are coming back together to make sure that we’re a unified country with the right set of policies; educating our population, making sure we have a healthy population and of course, a safer community for our country with a strong economy.”
While Papua New Guineans are fiercely patriotic, they are also concerned about the country’s high rates of violence and seemingly deep-rooted corruption.
Social worker Serena Sumanop, from local group Femili PNG, said many people struggled with the fear and trauma of their violence upbringings.
“You can not build a nation on broken people,” she said.
“If they continue to be broken and if they aren’t healed internally, their outlook of the world will continue to be broken and they will continue to pass that on to their children.
“And unfortunately that is the environment that we live in right now.”