Gnau in Papua New Guinea

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

Introduction / History

The Gnau people are an indigenous group residing in the Eastern Highlands province of northeastern Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Gnau, also known as the Ganaw, are a small but distinct ethnic group with a unique culture and history.

The history of the Gnau people can be traced back to the pre-colonial era, where they lived in isolation in the highlands of PNG. However, their traditional way of life was disrupted with the arrival of the European colonizers in the 19th century. The Gnau people were forced to abandon their traditional practices and adopt the customs and traditions of the colonizers.

The primary language of the Gnau is their own language of Gnau. Global Recording Network has provided some audio tapes of Bible stories in Gnau. They need a Bible translation.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Gnau people still hold onto some of their traditional customs and practices. The Gnau people are known for their intricate carvings, which are made from wood, bone and stone. These carvings are used for various purposes, including religious ceremonies and cultural displays.

The Gnau people have a strong sense of community and family ties. They live in small villages and practice subsistence farming. The traditional diet of the Gnau people consists of sweet potatoes, taro and yams. Sago is their main food. Sago is a starch made from the pith of the branches of some palm trees. Hunting and fishing are also an essential part of their subsistence livelihoods. Roads are lacking in the section of PNG where the Gnau live. The only reliable form of transportation is water. The Gnau must often walk an entire day to bring their products to market.

Most Gnau lack access to modern medicine. Hospitals and clinics are often hours away from the region where they live. Many children under 10 years old die of preventable diseases.

Generosity is a social norm. Hunters are prohibited from eating any of their own catch but must distribute what they kill. Further, if a community member asks for something then one is expected to give it.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The large majority of the Gnau say they are followers of Jesus Christ. Their form of Christianity is mixed with their traditional beliefs in animism and ancestor veneration. Religion plays an important role in the lives of the Gnau people. They believe in a variety of spirits, both good and evil. They perform elaborate rituals to appease the spirits and ask for their blessings. They believe that their ancestors play a significant role in their daily lives.

What Are Their Needs?

The Gnau people of PNG have many needs. They need access to modern medicine and schools for their children. Solar panels could bring them electricity. The Gnau need the Bible in their own language if they are to grow spiritually.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to bring literacy skills to the Gnau.
Ask the Lord to raise up pastors who can teach them the word of God in the local language.
Pray for modern medical facilities in the Gnau homeland.
Pray that soon the Gnau would be able to read the Bible in their language.

Scripture Prayers for the Gnau 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

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Gnau
People Name in Country Gnau
Alternate Names
Population this Country 2,700
Population all Countries 2,700
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 5
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 6  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed
People ID 11910
ROP3 Code 103395
ROP25 Code 302719
ROP25 Name Gnau
Country Papua New Guinea
Region Australia and Pacific
Continent Australia
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Sandaun province: Namblo census division, northwest of Maimai.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Papua New Guinea
Region Australia and Pacific
Continent Australia
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Sandaun province: Namblo census division, northwest of Maimai..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Primary Religion: Christianity
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 13.00 %)
90.00 %
Ethnic Religions
10.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Gnau (2,700 speakers)
Language Code gnu   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Gnau (2,700 speakers)
Language Code gnu   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Gnau

Primary Language:  Gnau

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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