The final event of the Hiri Moale Festival ended today with the crowning of Miss Hiri Hanenamo 2019, Serah Vani from Hanuabada Village. The event is a part of the Hiri Moale festival, one of Papua New Guinea’s biggest celebrations that fall during the country’s independence month.
The festival itself depicts the trading between the Motu-Koita people of Central Province, (the traditional landowners of Port Moresby, PNG’s capital city) and the people of Gulf Province where the men from Motu-Koitabu villages would sale across the Gulf of Papua to exchange clay pots and other goods with the Gulf people for sago – a traditional barter system that existed between these two Southern Provinces of Papua New Guinea.
As the Motu oral history goes, the voyage which was travelled on a double hulled sea vessel known as the ‘lakatoi’ was first inspired by a fisherman from Boera village who went fishing one day and met a sea spirit that appeared as an eel, who gave him the idea. The villager, Edai Siabo, then led the first expedition of the Hiri trade across the Gulf of Papua.
The festival is usually trademarked by the sailing in of the ‘Lakatoi’ by men who have gone out for the voyage out at sea, the trip usually lasting for weeks and months even. The women keep watch over the horizon at the beach waiting for the safe return of these men, and as the ‘Lakatoi’ appears, the women begin singing and dancing to welcome the men.
The Hiri voyages were a part of the Motuan people however, it was interrupted by the Second World War, until the late fifties, when a heavily laden and storm-damaged lakatoi was found off Boera village on its return voyage with heavy loss of life. Further voyages were then forbidden by the colonial authorities. With independence, and the need for Papua New Guineans to preserve and celebrate their culture, the Hiri Moale Festival was established coinciding with the country’s independence celebrations, featuring traditional dances, the Hiri Hanenamo contest (a beauty pageant), the arrival of the lakatoi, canoe racing, musical presentations, and an arts and crafts exhibition.
The crowning of the Hiri Hanenamo was the last part of the festival which was postponed after bad weather caused disruption to the show after the arrival of the ‘Lakatoi’ on Sunday, September 22.
The 2019 Hiri Hanenamo contestants came out one by one as they gave out the famous call that most associate with the Hiri Moale festival, “Hediaro Bogebada…” swaying to the beat of Motuan chants as they were being judged.
The contestants came out in the following order, each representing the villages they come from:
1. Elenia Sardi – Gaire
2. Janaki Simeon – Kirakira
3. Winnie Dennis – Boera
4.Sarah Vani – Hanuabada
5.Salote Alewa – Boera
6.Agnes Albaniel – Tatana
7.Wilma Manase – Hanuabada
8. Bonie Vaihere – Elevala
9. Haro Malaia – Kouderika
10. Kari Oa – Boera
11.Joyce Laka – Porebada
12.Valisha Pala – Elevala
13. Angie Deklin – Tatana
14. Nao Boga – Elevala
The previous Hiri Hanenamos from (1971-2018) were mentioned in the lead up to the announcement of the 2019 crowning and were each presented with medals.
All 14 current participating contestants along with their tattooists also received a trophy each from the sponsors.
The final crowning was made on judgments based on 3 main criteria:
1. Oral presentation-speeches made by the women
2. Traditional Attire (the grass skirts and other attires used)
3. Revareva – Tattoo marked on the women’s body
After all the hype and considerations, 2019 Miss Hetura Hanenamo was presented to Nao Boga from Elavala Village, while the 1st runner up, 2019 Hiri Hanenamo went to Bonnie Vaihere, also from Elevala Village. The overall crown of Miss 2019 Hanenamo was given to Serah Vani from Hanuabada Village.