Breaking new ground: Tuhava Town shows the way for land use in Papua New Guinea


The ambitious housing development from Rhodes PNG Limited is a “first of its kind” land-use model that aims to deliver affordable housing to the country’s rising middle class.

Tuhava Town aims to deliver 4,000 homes over the next 20 years. Credit: Rhodes PNG

Land title can be a complex issue in Papua New Guinea, particularly when customary land is being used for commercial purposes. But a series of recent government reforms are making it easier to build new housing developments on customary land.

Rhodes PNG Limited is leading the way with Tuhava Town, which aims to deliver 4,000 homes over the next 20 years. The project is located in Napa Napa, around a half-hour drive from Port Moresby International Airport and ten minutes from the Motukea International Shipping Port.

“This project is the first one of its kind moving from customary land over to state [99-year] lease,” says David Cusick, General Manager Sales and Operations, Rhodes PNG Limited.

What we were doing two years ago compared to what we are doing now is totally different

“We work very closely with Roku village because they are the local customary landowners and they have been fantastic to work with during this process.”

Cusick expects the first families to move in soon. The site did not have existing water or power, so infrastructure has been a key focus for the group in preparing for the first residents.

Story continues after advertisment...

“We have 38 houses currently under construction – that is our initial investment – and in the next four-to-six months we will have people that are moving into homes because we will have all the sewerage in place, all the water in place and all the electricity in place as well,” says Cusick.

“People will have their finance arranged and the Department of Works has been out to do their sign-off so people can move in.”

Opportunities for local builders

The Tuhava Town project has provided a lot of lessons for the builder, which specialises in low-cost commercial housing and the use of locally sourced and manufactured materials.

“Being the first one of its kind in the country, we are tracking how certain things are going and we are learning as we go. What we were doing two years ago compared to what we are doing now is totally different,” says Cusick.

Although Rhodes has a construction arm, it will also utilise local firms to help build the 4,000 houses. Homes will be built to plans provided by Rhodes to ensure consistency, right down to the colour of paint used. These will range in size from two to four bedrooms, with two-bedroom houses starting from K390,000 for a house-and-land package, and four-bedroom homes starting from around K450,000.

Rhodes expects to attract buyers from Papua New Guinea’s expanding middle class, and is working with Westpac, Kina Bank and BSP on financing.

The firm is also working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to set up a women’s secondary college, as part of its ongoing commitment to gender equality in the region.

“We were the first construction and engineering company in the world to gain [IFC-administered] EDGE certification, where the main focus is gender equality,” says Cusick.

“We’ve got a new female director, and other senior management roles right down to trade level are occupied with skilled female employees.”


  1. To me this company (Rhodes PNG Limited) is a construction company that has for the first time to include Gender perceptions in their organizational structure and introducing Women’s Secondary School is a great news to commemorate 50 years anniversary next year (2025), especially for women advancement.

  2. Webster Yano Ake says

    Including Gender Perceptions in your construction space is a mile stone reminder for PNG as we are months away to celebrate 50 years anniversary. Great start on our PNG soil.

Leave a Reply