Hunters of the South Seas

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The Kula Ring

Series 1 - Episode 3 The Kula Ring



A very different kind of episode. For a start, no fishing. Instead, sensitive explorer Will Millard looks at a tradition called Kula, whereby the people of an archipelago off Papua New Guinea travel between islands to exchange symbolic gifts.

It might sound a bit anthropological (the islanders have welcomed their share of Western academics) but in Millard’s hands it becomes a strange and fascinating portrait of how a network of status and obligation works. In a strange way it feels like a study in business, but filtered through tribal traditions. And the scene where the cruise ship tourists pay a visit speaks volumes.


Will Millard interacts with indigenous communities in the most remote corner of the Coral Triangle. He heads to the Trobriand Islands, 150 miles off the east coast of Papua new Guinea, where he discovers a trading network called the Kula Ring. On the largest island, Kiriwina, he meets Edric and Nagiya who introduce him to ancient customs including funeral rites, feasts and fishing traditions, which remain untouched by modern tourism.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Will Millard