By DELORESE TALASI
WHEN she was crowned the 2019 Hiri Queen, Serah Vani achieved a childhood dream.
“I had been preparing for this day since I was a child, having a mother who was once a Hiri Queen.”
Mum Marcella Ginate was crowned in 1996. And Serah, 21, dreamt of one day follow in her footsteps.
“My inspiration is my mother. I always look up to my mother as my idol and role model. I am grateful that she raised me giving me the moral (standards) to look up to.”
Serah is from Hanuabada and Boira village in Central. She is eldest daughter of Ebore Vani and Marcella.
She is the only girl in the family of six. Her five siblings are all boys.
She was born on June 24, 1998. She did Grade Three to Grade Eight at the Wardstrip Primary School in Port Moresby, then Grade Nine to Grade 12 at the Gordon Secondary School.
After Grade 12 in 2017, she was offered an opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Economics programme at the Waikato University in New Zealand. But she had to give it a miss because of financial reasons.
In hindsight, she is glad she did not go to New Zealand.
“I see it as a blessing in disguise because if I had gone to Waikato, I wouldn’t have been crowned Miss Hanenamo.”
“ As the 2019 Miss Hanenamo and Hiri Queen cultural ambassador, I will reach out to the younger generations represent my culture through storytelling, dancing and singing to ensure the younger generation understand the culture.”
She enrolled at the University of PNG Open College last year for a Linguistics and Modern Language programme. She is currently in her second year.
“I didn’t follow any short cut even though I am starting all over again. I am getting my things together, working hard and starting to fill out forms to transfer from the external open college to internal. If I do get into internal then I will pursue my course which I always been inspired to do which is to become a lawyer.”
Serah plans to complete her education and get a degree now that she is being sponsored by Paga Hill Estate.
She was taught when growing up her traditional dance – the tabu dance – which belongs to her clan. She displayed it during the Hanenamo contest.
“I want to give credit to my mother for having raised me as a queen. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a crown to be a queen. In fact all the girls and women are queens. (But) I am so grateful to my mother because she raised me with the attributes, personality and values which embody the qualities of being a queen. Now being the Hiri Queen gives me the right to really express what I have been thriving to do.”
“The first shoe that I wore was the first shoe I danced in. One of the highlights of my love for my tabu dance is when I was featured in the Air Niugini inflight magazine.”
Serah is excited and ready to inspire the next generation of Hiri Hanenamo queens.
She wants to promote women empowerment through education. She also wants to promote her culture so that it does not die out. She lives it in her blood as was taught her culture since she was a small girl having spent most of her time around her late grandmother who passed away last year and other elderly people who taught her a lot about Hiri and her origin.
“As the 2019 Miss Hanenamo and Hiri Queen cultural ambassador, I will reach out to the younger generations represent my culture through storytelling, dancing and singing to ensure the younger generation understand the culture.”