Buna in Papua New Guinea

The Buna have only been reported in Papua New Guinea
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Buna people live north central Papua New Guinea (PNG) near the coastal city of Wewak. They live in several villages and speak two dialects. All generations use the Buna language as their primary language. All also speak Tok Pisin, which is useful for trading along the Sepik River.

Unfortunately, literacy levels are low among the Buna. Less than five per cent can read their own language, and less than 25 per cent can read Tok Pisin. Such low literacy presents a major obstacle to accessing God’s word and growing spiritually. At the present time, only audio recordings of the Bible are available in the Buna language.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Buna make their living through subsistence agriculture in their villages. They grow coconuts and palm oil to trade for the things they can’t make for themselves. Buna trade for cotton clothes and metal tools. Sweet potatoes and taro are the stable crops. Chickens, pigs and goats furnish the Buna with animal protein. The Buna make most things they need such as their homes, baskets, mats, furniture and boats.

The Buna practice monogamy, marriage to one spouse. Buna tend to have many children as they are seen as a blessing from God. Many children die before adulthood due to disease and lack of modern medicine. It is the role of adult children to take care of their parents and elderly relatives.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of the Buna claim to be Christians. Their brand of Christianity is often mixed with folk religion, animism and ancestor veneration. Since so few of the Buna are able to read the Bible, they can easily fall victim to false teaching.

What Are Their Needs?

The Buna have many needs. The Buna need to be discipled in the ways of the Lord. They would also benefit from solar panels to enable them to use cell phones and small appliances. The Buna need schools for their children and access to modern medicine. They need biblically sound pastors who can teach the word of God.

Prayer Points

Pray that the Buna would have access to audio recordings of the Bible.

Pray that the Lord raises up mature pastors and Bible teachers for the Buna.

Pray that the project to translate the Bible into the Buna language would proceed smoothly and that soon the Buna would have the word of God in their language.

Pray the Lord provides teachers who would be able help the Buna learn to read and write.

Scripture Prayers for the Buna in Papua New Guinea.


The National Research Institute 2010, Papua New Guinea District and Provincial Profiles, link here.

National Economic & Fiscal Commission 2014, Go Long Ples Reducing inequality in education funding, A Report by the National Economic & Fiscal Commission for the National Department of Education.

Kitur, U., Adair, T., Riley, I. and Lopez, A.D., 2019, Estimating the pattern of causes of death in Papua New Guinea, in BMC Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7620-5.

Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2021. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-fourth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://www.ethnologue.com.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Buna
People Name in Country Buna
Alternate Names
Population this Country 1,400
Population all Countries 1,400
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 5
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 4  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed
People ID 11013
ROP3 Code 101740
ROP25 Code 301473
ROP25 Name Buna (Papua New Guinea)
Country Papua New Guinea
Region Australia and Pacific
Continent Australia
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country East Sepik province: Angoram district.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Papua New Guinea
Region Australia and Pacific
Continent Australia
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country East Sepik province: Angoram district..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016

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Primary Religion: Christianity
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 12.00 %)
80.00 %
Ethnic Religions
20.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Buna
Language Code bvn   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Buna
Language Code bvn   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Buna

Primary Language:  Buna

Bible Translation Status:  Translation Needed

Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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