In Focus

Hiri Moale – Port Moresby’s premier cultural festival

The shrill call of Edioro ooooo! will ring out once more in September as the Hiri Lagatoi gracefully sail down to the shore in replica of the days when the lagatoi would return from a successful Hiri voyage from the west.

In those days, there was feasting and celebration for the successful return of the men who had spent months and months away from home to relieved and happy families in particular the womenfolk who were subjected to strict rituals of the hiri practices for a successful trade and safe voyage by the men.

Port Moresby celebrates these famous trade expeditions in a big way through the Hiri Moale Festival dubbed as the premier cultural event of Port Moresby.

At the official launching of the 2018 Hiri Moale Festival, the Chairman of the Hiri Moale Festival Committee and Acting Chairman of the Motu Koita Assembly, Opao Udia, laid down the expectation on the festival and made it very clear that the Hiri Moale Festival must live up to that expectation as the premier cultural event of Port

Mr Udia made it clear that the festival was not just another cultural festival but one that depicts the livelihood of the Motu and Koitabu people.

“The Hiri Moale Festival is a celebration of the successful trading expeditions our ancestors undertook with the people of Kerema and whose return ensued survival of our people throughout the entire drought that would have otherwise brought great misery.”

“The Festival is a celebration of courage, determination, commitment, discipline and ultimately the friendships that were established and have lasted to this day. Our ancestors braved all difficulties to go on this often difficult expeditions thus, the staging of the Hiri Moale Festival as a mark of respect and honour for their goodwill,” Mr Udia said.

As the diversity of Port Moresby grows with the rapid development of the city, the indigenous landowners of the city feel marginalised to an extent. The issues and others culminate as concerns for the existence of Motu and Koitabu people in the city and any means to recognise their existence is importantly needed.

This aspect of the Hiri Moale Festival and its relevance to the status quo of the Motu and Koitabu people was clearly expressed by the Festival Chairman.

“ ….. we, the Motu and Koitabu people need the Hiri Moale Festival to remind us of our origins, our identity and more importantly our standing in this wonderful city of ours as the indigenous landowners of Port Moresby.

“We need to be recognised accordingly and the Hiri Moale Festival is capable of portraying our existence that is sadly eroding on so many fronts,” Mr Udia emphasised.
Hiri Moale Festival 2018 will be extra significant this year coinciding with the all-important APEC meeting in Port Moresby. This is a golden opportunity to showcase the culture, traditions and history of the people to the rest of the world.

The festival is anticipated to live up to this expectation of the APEC opportunity and the colour and glamour will be certainly on show for the world to see.

The September 14 – 15 event will re-live the Hiri trade and prominently featured will be lagatois (huge dug out traditional vessels), the hanenamos (young women) in full traditional regalia and a colourful display of traditional dancing, singing and festivity in a grand promotion of the Hiri trade, its cultures and traditions.

The festival brings the entire Port Moresby city together in one location in a demonstration of unity in diversity.

City Manager Bernard Kipit committed the ongoing support of the NCDC towards the festival in recognition of the need to maintain culture and traditions in this modern time and in particular for the Motu and Koitabu people and their existence in the city.

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