Bilingual book documents medicinal plants of the Kwaio, Solomon Islands

A CEPF supported project in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands, has produced a bi-lingual book and series of videos about the traditional use of medicinal plants in the area.

Chief Laete`esafi with the bilingual book on medicinal plants

The booklet, written in both English and Kwaio language, provides information about 15 plants that are commonly used by the traditional Kwaio people who live in the mountains of central Malaita. The area is unique in Solomon Islands because people maintain many aspects of traditional culture and traditional religion. Traditional knowledge, lost in many parts of Solomon Islands, informs everyday life in the mountains of East Kwaio.

The project was a collaboration between Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre, James Cook University, Australian Tropical Herbarium and Atoifi Health Research Group. The project was a partnership between traditional Chiefs, Natural and Social Scientists. Mr Tommy Esau is a trained teacher and comes from Kafurumu in the Kwaio mountains. He is the first person in his tribe to gain a university degree. Tommy is fluent in both English and Kwaio language and was key to collecting stories, taking photos and video and writing the bilingual book.

The bilingual book is now complete. Celebrations are planned at the Kwainaa`isi Cultural Centre during December when the book will be presented to Chiefs and the Kwaio community. The booklet and videos will be an excellent teaching tool for schools and community groups in areas where traditional knowledge has been lost (the booklet is available online at As a teacher from Kwaio, Tommy is very keen for younger generations to understand the importance of traditional knowledge, especially about the local rainforest. Understanding how rainforest plants can be used for medicine and the importance of conserving the rainforest is a key message Tommy wishes to share with his people and the world.

Project and Initiatives: 
Go to top