PNG speaker leads delegation to US to collect historic bible

3:42 pm on 16 April 2015

Papua New Guinea's speaker of parliament is to lead a delegation to the United States to receive a 400-year old bible which is being donated to the country.

The speaker, Theo Zurenuoc told local media the bible is the first to be translated from Latin into English.

Mr Zurenuoc and a delegation including four members of parliament leave on Friday for the US state of Indiana.

He says that when brought back to the country next week, the bible will be received by the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and given a guard of honour by the defence force.

The speaker has embarked on a so-called Reformation, Restoration and Modernisation programme which aims to re-assert PNG's parliament as a Christian symbol of national unity.

Under the programme, Mr Zurenuoc has removed various cultural artefacts from the parliament house.

The front facade of Papua New Guinea's parliament featuring recently removed anthropomorphic carved heads on the front lintel.

The front facade of Papua New Guinea's parliament featuring recently removed anthropomorphic carved heads on the front lintel. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The speaker's decision to remove carved anthropomorphic heads, which represented PNG provinces, from above the front entrance to parliament in late 2013 drew outrage.

It prompted the head of PNG's Catholic Bishops' Conference, Father Victor Roche, to warn about the influence of fundamentalist religious views within public office.

Papua New Guinea's parliament.

Papua New Guinea's parliament. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Theo Zurenuoc defended the removal of the carved heads, saying they were ungodly images linked to a lack of positive virtues in the parliament.

However his move was described by the PNG National Museum as cultural terrorism.