The name of this gallery space honours the Late Susan Karike Huhume – as she was known after she married.
Susan Karike was from the Gulf Province and she was 15 years old in 1971 when the Selection Committee on Constitutional Development visited her Catholic Mission School at Yule Island, Central Province, and showed the proposed flag design to students. Students were instructed to colour the proposed flag design with the colours they preferred. Karike did not like the layout and colours of the proposed flag design and so she changed it.
She thought it was not traditionally appropriate, so she altered it by first drawing a diagonal line to separate the two segments of the flag. She then colored the lower segment of the flag black with the stars of the Southern Cross in white. The stars symbolize the country’s relationship with other Pacific countries. The top segment of the flag was colored red with the bird of paradise in gold. Susan explained that the bird of paradise symbolized the cultural vibrancy of the different parts of Papua New Guinea, since the bird’s feather were used by many cultural groups for decoration and adorning traditional attire. The bird of paradise was soaring above the Southern Cross which also symbolized Papua New Guinea emerging into nationhood. The colors Karike used were described as common colors used during traditional ceremonies.
Today this flag flies not only in Papua New Guinea but also in other countries where Papua New Guinea has foreign missions. The flag symbolizes the national pride and identity of the people of Papua New Guinea.
A decision was made in the Second House of Assembly and Susan Karike’s flag design was recommended and eventually accepted as our national emblem. On 1 July 1971 the flag became official as the national flag for Papua and New Guinea. The new flag gained more of its status as the national flag when it was raised on Independence Hill on 16 September 1975 on the day the country was officially declared as the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.