Brighten the first contact.
To respect the ‘coutume’ (custom) means to offer a gift as a welcome gesture. It is a kind way to meet the population and its culture, a gentle mark of respect and a simple courtesy: after all, we bring a flower bouquet or dessert when we are invited to dinner, don’t we ?
UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?
Outside Nouméa and tourist facilities. The customary gesture is justified when:
- You enter an clan for the first time
- You disembark for the first time on a private beach and Kanak home
- You are invited by a family
- You wish to ask for an authorization to fish or go to a specific site (except if it is taboo – sacred)
IN WHAT MANNER?
This mark of attention carrying your request clarifies to your host (landowner, customary chief, etc.) the reasons of your presence and demand. A present is brought (a manou or pareo) and a 1,000 XPF note or a souvenir from your home country (tobacco is no longer offered). If the gift, symbolic, transposes your respect and attention, the gesture and speech matters much more. Your host’s talk in return, will signify his agreement and welcome.
Letting the Kanak explain the real subtlety of the gesture will bring you closer to their culture. Fully appreciate this sharing moment and mutual gratitude!
ACT WITH RESPECT & GOOD COMMON-SENSE
In the clan but also in general, during your visits and anchorages in New Caledonia, show your respect and modesty:
- Clothes mustn’t be provocative.
- Topless and nudism are forbidden on the beach.
- Ask before taking a picture.
- Some places are sacred and taboo without being clearly indicated, ask a resident to guide you.
- Chiefdom is not a site to visit.
- Some Kanak meetings are part of their private lives (wedding, mourning, sweet potato celebration)perhaps, you will be invited.
- Haggling and tips are not common practice.