4°31′30″S 159°24′00″E / 4.52500°S 159.40000°E / -4.52500; 159.40000

NASA picture of Nukumanu Atoll
Nukumanu is located in Pacific Ocean
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates4°31′S 159°24′E / 4.517°S 159.400°E / -4.517; 159.400
ArchipelagoGroup of three atolls
Total islands22
Area4.6 km2 (1.8 sq mi)
Highest elevation2 m (7 ft)
Autonomous Region Bougainville
DistrictNorth Bougainville
Local-level governmentAtolls Rural
Population730 (2000[1])

The Nukumanu Islands, formerly the Tasman Islands, is an atoll of Papua New Guinea, located in the south-western Pacific Ocean, 4 degrees south of the Equator.


Comprising a ring of more than twenty islets on a reef surrounding a large lagoon, Nukumanu's sandy islands are located on a strip of coral rising no more than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level. The main inhabited islands of Nukumanu are located on the eastern end of the atoll.

Administratively Nukumanu is part of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, but it lies quite far away from the closest territory of Papua New Guinea proper, which is the coast of New Ireland island at 682 km (424 mi) to the west. The nearest land is Ontong Java Atoll, located only 38 km (24 mi) to the south of Nukumanu. The border between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands runs between these neighboring atolls, which form a small geographic group together with the wholly submerged Roncador Reef at the southern end.[2]


In Polynesian history, the main cultural and commercial exchanges took place with the inhabitants of neighboring Ontong Java Atoll, with whom Nukumanu people share many cultural affinities.[3]

Towards the end of the 19th century Nukumanu became part of the German colonial empire.[4] It was captured by Australia in 1914 and formally transferred to Australian administration as a League of Nations mandate in 1920 by the Treaty of Versailles,[5] after Germany's defeat in World War I.[6]

Nukumanu's most recent claim to fame is that it was the last place on the path of Amelia Earhart before she and her co-pilot Fred Noonan disappeared forever into the vast Pacific Ocean. Their last known position report was near the Nukumanu Islands, about 800 miles (1,300 km) into the flight.

The land resources of the Nukumanu people are quite few and they grow a kind of taro and bananas. Coconuts are an integral part of the islanders' diet with the soft inside being a staple food and coconut flesh being consumed with raw fish and clams. They are also competent fishermen, who dive for bêche-de-mer in the lagoon. This is exported mainly to Asia, and along with trochus shells, used to make mother-of-pearl, they comprise the backbone of the Nukumanu economy.

Anthropological studies

This atoll has a Polynesian population whose ancestors migrated westwards out of Polynesia. Their language is classified in the Samoic–Outlier branch of Polynesian.[7] The Nukumanu Islands, together with neighboring Ontong Java retain a Polynesian character despite their location in the Melanesian Archipelago of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands respectively.

The first serious research on Nukumanu's inhabitants was conducted by German ethnographers Ernst Sarfert and Hans Damm, during a German scientific expedition of the Southern Seas that took place in 1908–1910. This expedition visited both Nukumanu and neighboring Ontong Java Atoll, where they also carried out their research. Their work, "Luangiua und Nukumanu" was published in 1931.


  1. ^ David Stanley, South Pacific handbook
  2. ^ Remote Atolls and Offshore Islands of PNG and the Solomons
  3. ^ Sarfert, Ernst, and Hans Damm. "Luangiua und Nukumanu." Ergebnisse der Südsee Expedition, 1908-1910. Hamburg 1931. Vol I
  4. ^ "Tasman Islands". Sydney Evening News. 31 January 1902. p. 8. Retrieved 5 February 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Australians Seized Bougainville In 1914". Brisbane Courier-Mail. 3 November 1943. p. 1. Retrieved 5 February 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Hermann Joseph Hiery: Die deutsche Verwaltung Neuguineas 1884-1914, in: Derselbe (Hrsg.), Die deutsche Südsee 1884-1914, Paderborn u.a. 22001, S. 279ff.
  7. ^ [Polynesian languages Ethnologue - Nukumanu Language]