Shaping up a lagatoi

Normal, Papua


MANUMANU villagers are pleased that the task of constructing a lagatoi (multi-hulled traditional Motuan canoe) for the Hiri Moale festival, which coincided with the country’s 35th independence anniversary, has enabled their ancestors’ skills of canoe-building to be passed onto the younger generation.
“We are very pleased that our young men were involved in the construction of the lagatoi.
“That opportunity enabled us to ensure the canoe-building skills of our ancestors are maintained in today’s generation,” Rea Mabata, who is a United church pastor, said. 
Manumanu and Gaire, two Motuan villages, won the contracts from Motu Koita Assembly (MKA) this year to each build a four-hulled lagatoi for the festival.
The National reported that the lagatoi built by Manumanu villagers was launched last Monday by Miria Ikupu, the MKA chairman, at Port Moresby’s Ela Beach.
The contracts were awarded to the villagers on Aug 10 but it took the Manumanu villagers a much shorter time to complete the lagatoi.
The vessel is a smaller replica of the vessel that was used by their ancestors who travelled west up the Papuan Gulf to villages in the Kerema, Kikori and Vailala areas of the present day Gulf in their trade expeditions.
“We at Manumanu are fortunate that we have all the raw materials to build the lagatoi – logs, canes, bush ropes, pandanus leaves, sago and mangrove stems.”
Mabata and Guba Ume a skilled lagatoi builder was with others on the lagatoi when it sailed from Manubada Island to Ela Beach last Saturday morning.