The first inhabitants of New Guinea and the large islands to the east arrived from Southeast Asia between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago.  Living for thousands of generations in near isolation and in a wide variety of environments has led to the remarkable diversity in the physical appearance, language and culture of these people called Melanesians.

These photographs, taken from 1982 to 2019, are of rural people, who still make up roughly eighty-five percent of the population.