East Sepik hosting Queen’s baton relay

Bird: We won’t let the country down

EAST Sepik will host the Queen’s baton relay for two days when it arrives in Papua New Guinea from Brunei on Saturday.
The worldwide relay is held prior to the beginning of the Commonwealth Games with the 22nd edition of the event to be held in Birmingham, England, from July 28 to Aug 8. Papua New Guinea Commonwealth Games Association and the
British High Commission will welcome the baton in Port Moresby before handing it over to East Sepik Governor Allan Bird for the two-day tour.
President Sir John Dawanincura said his PNG Olympic Committee decided to select East Sepik as the host province in memory of the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
“PNG will be the 31st nation to host the Queen’s baton relay and the first in Oceania,” he said.
“It’s excellent that it will hosted on the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s home soil.
“It’s an opportunity for East Sepik to showcase its cultural diversity to the world because it’s an event that will be captured on the baton camera.
“Some of you may be asking, why East Sepik?
“It’s the home of the late grand chief and we have to keep him in our minds as the father of the nation.
“This is the fifth time that the Queen’s baton will visit PNG and we’re looking forward to its visit in East Sepik for the first time.”
The baton will arrive on Saturday and travel on the same day to Wewak before returning to Port Moresby where it will be received by Governor-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae before its departure on Feb 1 for Honiara in the Solomon Islands.
Bird said his people were privileged to be selected as the host province.
“We don’t take this privilege lightly, so we’ll be pulling out all the stops to make sure that it’s a successful event and it gives credit to your committee and PNG,” he told Sir John.
“Sepik people will be very proud hosts and we won’t let you down.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to do something positive, it’s not only us in East Sepik but all across PNG.
“There are many negatives.
“I’m hoping that our young people can be organised to carry the baton and move it around the province. Sir Michael’s passing last year has now provided an opportunity for the committee to select our home province as the host.
“I think it’s important that we see this as a huge opportunity.
“Many people don’t realise that they call us all Sepiks.
“But we have about 98 different languages, so that’s how many different tribal groups are in that one province. If we can bring out 20 to 30 of those different cultural groups, (we will) use it as a snapshot of what PNG looks like.
“We hope that we will do justice, not just as the home of Sir Michael, but also as a representation of PNG.”