Malaita Province

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Coordinates: 9°00′S 161°00′E / 9.000°S 161.000°E / -9.000; 161.000

Malaita Province
Flag of Malaita Province
Solomon Islands-Malaita.png
Coordinates: 9°0′S 161°0′E / 9.000°S 161.000°E / -9.000; 161.000
Country  Solomon Islands
Capital Auki
 • Premier Edwin Suibaea (since Jan. 2011)
 • Total 4,225 km2 (1,631 sq mi)
Population (2009 census)
 • Total 137,596
 • Density 33/km2 (84/sq mi)
Time zone +11 (UTC+11)

Malaita Province is one of the largest provinces of the Solomon Islands. It is named after its largest island, Malaita (also known as "Big Malaita" or "Maramapaina"). Other islands include South Malaita Island (also called "Small Malaita" or "Maramasike"), Sikaiana Island, and Ontong Java Atoll.[1] The provincial capital and largest urban center is Auki, located on Big Malaita. The population of the province is 122,620 (1999). The area of the province in 4,225km². This province with Guadalcanal Province started to use Korean hangul in October 2012 for the written form of their tribal language.[2] The Melanesian population of Malaita has unique cultural traditions in social aspects of life. Brideprice is a tradition which is unique to Malaita compared to the other islands of the Solomon Islands. In this practice the groom's parents present customary money of shells and food to the bride's parents.


The people of the main island are of Melanesian ethnicity. The outer islands of Ontong Java and Sikaiana are of a Polynesian ethnicity and are recognised as Polynesian outliers of Polynesian culture.

Traditional practices[edit]

Malaitan shell-money, manufactured in the Langa Langa Lagoon, is the traditional currency used in Malaita and throughout the Solomon Islands. The money consists of small polished shell disks which are drilled and placed on strings. It can be used as payment for bride price, funeral feasts and compensation, with the shell-money having a cash equivalent value. It is also worn as an adornment and status symbol. The standard unit, known as the tafuliae, is several strands 1.5 m in length. The shell money is still produced by the people of Langa Langa Lagoon, but much is inherited, from father to son, and the old traditional strings are now rare.

The violation of cultural taboos and practices as well as causing personal offence is considered a cultural affront. Malaita culture calls for the exchange of valuables to ease and resolve the alienation that may thus arise. This is called fa abua or fa okae (compensation).

Reef Islands[edit]

Reef Island off North Malaita.

The people of Langa Langa Lagoon and Lau Lagoon in Malaita, Solomon Islands built about 60 artificial islands on the reef including Funaafou, Sulufou and Adagege.[1][3]

The inhabitance of these lagoons call themselves wane i asi 'salt-water people' as distinct from wane i tolo 'bush people' who live in the interior of the island.[4][5] There was a history of conflict between the bush people and the salt-water people. The people of Lau Lagoon build islands on the reef as these provided protection against attack. These islands were formed literally one rock at a time. A family would take their canoe out to the reef which protects the lagoon and then dive for rocks, bring them to the surface and then return to the selected site and drop the rocks into the water. Living on the reef was also healthier as the mosquitoes, which infested the coastal swamps, were not found on the reef islands. The Lau people continue to live on the reef islands.[1]



  1. ^ a b c Stanley, David (1999). South Pacific Handbook. Moon South Pacific. p. 895. 
  2. ^ Solomon Islanders to adopt Hangeul to keep spoken language alive, Korean Herald, 10 October 2012
  3. ^ "Historical Photographs of Malaita". University of Queensland. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Akimichi, Tomoya (2009). "Sea Tenure and Its Transformation in the Lau of North Malaita, Solomon Island". South Pacific Study Vol. 12, No. 1, 1991. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  5. ^ Akimichi, Tomoya (1992). The ecological aspect of Lau (Solomon Islands) ethnoichthyology. 87 (4) Journal of the Polynesian Society. pp. 301–326. 
  • Roger Keesing, Kwaio Religion: The Living and the Dead in a Solomon Island Society. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.
  • Roger M. Keesing and Peter Corris. Lightning Meets the West Wind: The Malaita Massacre. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Janet Kent. The Solomon Islands. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1972.
  • James Page, 'Education and Acculturation on Malaita: An Ethnography of Intraethnic and Interethnic Affinities'.The Journal of Intercultural Studies. 1988. #15/16:74-81; available on-line at
  • Ples Blong Iumi: Solomon Islands: The Past Four Thousand Years. Honiara: University of the South Pacific, 1989.
  • Harold M. Ross. Baegu: Social and Ecological Organization in Malaita, Solomon Islands. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973.

External links[edit]