The Bougainville Referendum Commission chair and former Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, says he knows there will be mixed emotions surrounding the vote.
People from the autonomous PNG region are this Saturday to begin a two-week polling period for a non-binding vote on whether Bougainville should be independent or have greater autonomy.
The result of the referendum is subject to ratification by PNG's national Parliament.
Mr Ahern told the Post Courier his agency was placing great importance on the referendum being a positive part of the peace process, as mapped out by the leaders who created the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001.
The vote should be a "joyous occasion", he said.
However, Mr Ahern said conducting the Bougainville referendum was "no easy task".
He said the aim of his independent, neutral agency had been for a "credible, efficient, transparent referendum", which would deliver an inclusive vote for the people of Bougainville on the question of independence or greater autonomy.