By MICHAEL LAI
ASIA Rarua, 21, from the Pari village, was crowned Hiri-Hanenamo queen as the tradition of the Motu and Koitabu tribes festival climaxed in Port Moresby on Saturday.
Coinciding with the independence anniversary celebrations, the Hiri-Moale Festival, featuring maids in traditional skirts from the two tribes dancing and swaying away before judges at Era Kone Beach and at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.
Rarua, a self-employed woman, beat 13 others aged between 18 and 25, for the crown, with Iamo Kaema, 25, from Boera the runner-up and Nana Leke, 22, from Poreporena Laurabada, taking the Miss Hetura, Friendship Award.
Though the performances and judging in the contest remain a feature of the event, the festival awakens the knowledge of the historical Hiri-trade between the Papuans and Gulf people.
The first judging was done at the Port Moresby Nature Park and the second during the traditional performance at the welcoming of the Lakatoi, returning from traditional trading expedition in Gulf with clay pots for sago at Era Kone Beach.
The best dancer to welcome the return of the Lakatoi is usually crowned the Hiri Queen.
Motu-Koitabu Assembly chairman Opao Udia said the event was culturally important for the families of the two tribes.
He said it recognised the challenges the forefathers and mothers went through during the trade.
“Women have to sit in the house waiting for the return of the Hiri men gone for trade, depending on the length of the voyage,” Udia said.
“When they return, the family reunites. It’s an amazing moment where families from Motu and Koitbu tribes come together to celebrate.
“Our Hiri-Moale Festival is the very reason to keeping our history alive.”
By MICHAEL LAI