Extract from a paper, Law and Justice in Papua New Guinea, delivered at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (Queensland Branch). Download Justice Logan's full paper here
PAPUA New Guinea’s present population is approximately 7.3 million people. In my experience, this is not widely understood in Australia, even though Papua New Guinea is our nearest neighbour.
Though English, Tok Pisin (Pidgin), and Hiri Motu (the lingua franca of the Papuan region) are the official languages, Papua New Guinea has over 800 known languages.
The challenge of identifying custom which is nationally pervasive so as to adapt English common law as envisaged for the Underlying Law is considerable. What is genuine custom to one language group in one remote village may be unknown to a different language group on a different island.