By Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
The Hiri Moale Festival is an annual celebration held at Ela Beach, Port Moresby. The three day event is one of Port Moresby’s big events and is normally celebrated around the month of September in-line with the independence celebrations.
During the event, traditional dances, the Hiri Queen Contest and the arrival of the Lagatoi, canoe racing and the art exhibition are featured. This is an article about the past story that today the people of Motu celebrate.
The main attraction, the canoe, is one of the more important elements. The canoe tells the story of a man named Edai Siabo from Boera who built the first sailing canoe. He named the Lagatoi “Bogebada”which means the sea eagle.
Because of their creativity in making clay pots, the people of Motu made many pots and filled the canoe.
The canoe took its first sail out during the south east trade winds called Laurabada, which brought the canoe to the waters of Gulf for trade. Their first journey was successful and they returned home.
The traditional dances and tattoos on the bodies of the women tell the story of the return of the canoe from the Gulf after the trade.
The wife of Edai was instructed to tattoo her body and stay in her hut next to the fire until the husband returned. Therefore she did that until the canoe returned.
When she saw the canoe, she jumped into the water, washed off her dirt, changed and shouted saying “Hedihoroha Bogebada” and danced.
The canoe returned with sago for their family.
From then on, the Motuan people continued the trade with the Kerema people because that is where they received their food from.
The practice continued up until World War II which disrupted trading between the two.
Until now the trade has not taken place, instead it is portrayed during the festival.
The festival signifies their past history and its importance. It is one amongst the many cultural practices that the Motuan people maintain to keep their past safe.
The festival has attracted many local and international tourists who come to enjoy the beauty of the history, entertainment and the show.