CULTURE

Weekender

Festival ends Indepedence celebrations

By WANPIS AKO
AMAZING Port Moresby is home to a million different journeys in one destination.
That means the city is a one-stop shop for a PNG experience. It is costly for visitors to travel to other local destinations for the same experience. Thus, one can stay back in the city and treat him or herself fully with a PNG experience that could otherwise be gained elsewhere.
It includes surfing, bird watching, white and black sandy beaches, war relics, trekking, local dishes, shopping, attractive sites, visits to local villages and research expeditions.
The city hosts almost a quarter of the country’s population of 8 million people who come from thousand different tribes with 860-plus languages, but they live together harmoniously in one city.
Having hosted several international events successfully, the city continues to break barriers to proclaim itself as a hub for culture, arts, dance, music tournaments and festivals in the Pacific Region.
The peaceful behaviour, vibrancy and energy shown by residents at the 2019 Amazing Port Moresby Independence Festivals citywide speaks volumes about this prospect.
One such event to showcase what the city offers to the country and the entire world is the century-old tradition of the Motuan people, Hiri Moale Festival.
It attracts both local and overseas visitors and is hosted in September every year at Era Kone (formerly known as Ela Beach). It coincides with the country’s Independence Day celebrations in the city.
It signifies the history of difficulties seafaring Motuan men would endure in the long voyage to the Gulf province, Central’s Hula and Keapara along the south coast of West-East axis for the Hiri trade which was enabled by handcrafted huge canoes (lagatois).
The trade involved thousands of clay pots and other artefacts that were exchanged for food amongst the people of Gulf, Hula and Keapara along the south coast of West-East axis. The trade was extended to the inland of Koita and Koiari people.
When the men were safe back home after being out on the sea for more than a quarter of a year braving winds and storms, women folk would celebrate their bravery and the successful voyage with stunning grass skirt dancers and chants to the beats of kundu drums. They would greet them and make feasts to rejoice their return for family reunion.

Asia Rarua, the 2018 Hiri-Hanenamo queen with Motu-Koita Assembly Chairman Dadi Toka Jnr NCD Governor Parkop at the launch of Hiri Moale Festival this year. 

Today in an increasingly modernised society, young Motuan women mark the successful trading expedition with the arriving of lagatois at the beach and the crowning of Miss Hiri Hanenamo Queen. Contestants are tested their knowledge of the tradition amongst others criteria.
After the launch of Hiri Moale Festival 2019 on May 2 at the Apec Haus, the Motu-Koita Assembly in partnership with National Capital District Commission and NCD Governor’s Office, it will be hosted on Sept 21 and 22 at Era Kone.
Speaking at the launch, Motu-Koita Assembly Chairman Dadi Toka Jnr said the festival celebrated the long-distance voyages undertaken by brave Motuan men.
“This voyages involved shell valuables and the local manufacture of tens of thousands of clay pots which were traded.
“The Hiri trade was part of a much larger inter-connected trade network that enchained people and distributed food and objects along a west-east axis along the south coast to Hula and Keapara, inland to the Koita and Koiari, to the near-west coastal villages of Waima, and westward to more distant lands like Kerema,” he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Governor Parkop commended the Motu-Koita people for keeping this tradition of Hiri Moale festival alive. They are the indigenous landowners of Port Moresby.
“It is a mark of respect and honour for our ancestors who braved great difficulties in a successful trading expedition to make better of their lives. The sailing-off of the lagatoi every year, now in its 101st year, marks the significance of this event to each and every one of us as residents of this city,” he told them at the launch.
He continued that the Apec Haus house proudly represented this tradition that everyone must never forget. “History and tradition hold important lessons in our lives that we cannot take for granted in this modern times.”
Parkop made reference to a famous person who once said; “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you can be for the future.”
He likened a group of people without the knowledge of their history, origin and culture to a tree without roots.
“Lessons we can learn from our ancestors and forefathers are relevant to us today. Let us look at the significance of the Hiri Moale Festival and its relevance to modern times,” Parkop said at the occasion.
He emphasised that the Hiri Moale Festival celebrated the courage and bravery of our ancestors.
“It celebrates discipline and determination of our forefathers. It is a celebration of friendships and commitments. It is a story of preservation and success,” he said, urging them to bring to the fore these important values today.
He related these values to his grand vision of “One City, One People, One future” which signifies them.
Parkop said he was advocating about raising the standards of the city not only in terms of infrastructure but also in the quality of our human capital.
“We cannot continue to feel marginalised. We need to come together, work together and change our mindset to being positive, constructive, and collaborative as one people.”
Parkop reaffirmed his and the Commission’s commitment to the partnership MKA.
He also called on the indigenous people and city residents to imagine what was possible under his vision.
“Let’s not waste money celebrating this festival if we cannot internalise, reflect and learn from lessons of the past and make good the sacrifices of our forefathers,” Parkop concluded.

  • Wanpis Ako is with the NCDC Media Unit.

Gordon stages its best singsing show

GORDON Secondary School in Port Moresby celebrated Independence with a host of traditional dance performances by students and relatives.
Here are some of the groups performed at the show.
–Nationalpics by MALUM NALU.

West New Britain boys
Chimbu students in their finery.
orobe group doing the siac.
A Milne Bay dancer.
Central students performing a dance pattern.

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