Tumbuna has its origins in the Kuanua language of East Britain where it refers to one’s grandparents on both the maternal and paternal sides. Overtime it accumulates itself with kinship history through genealogical connections, it amounts to what we mean by ancestors.

Tumbuna refers not just to immediate grandparents but also the cumulative connections with previous generations of ancestors known either through genealogy or other putative connections. In New Britain and New Ireland, the word is pronounced tubuna while in the mainline New Guinea it is called tumbuna and in the southern region of Papua it is known as tupununa where it also resonate with Polynesian cultures.