by Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sports
At over thirty feet in length and grounded along the estuary, with the LNG plant in the background, the coastal Hiri Village of Lealea set the scene for the ceremonial launch of the third Lagatoi.
The vessel will be used for the final leg of the baton relay, and will join two other crafts from Boera and Gaire villages, a few days before the opening ceremony of the Pacific Games.
Lealea, toward the west of the nation’s capital, is located in a separate district to Gaire village, which had its own launching earlier in the week, however, the culture and language being almost identical.
While there were regrets expressed by building supervisor, Nao Iru, that no members of the village were participating at the Pacific Games, the honour still remained intact of being part of the event through cultural traditions.
Iru, also stating that while history has it that a lagatoi launching was always a sad time, on the contrary, the return and welcome was a joyous occasion.
Ever present, the chairman for the Motu Koita Assembly, Miria Ikupu, led in by dancers of the Hehona group.
The Badia Tauna or Captain, of the Lagatoi, Nao Ani Morea, officially handing over the Sede or drum, symbolically turning over possession of the Lagatoi to the Motu Koita People with Chairman Ikupu, as the recipient.
The vessel will able to support a crew of just over twenty, and will sail 34 kilometres eastward to Manubada Island where it will meet the Bogebada and Kiserebada 4 vessel’s, before sailing together to Ela beach on the shores of Port Moresby where the baton will be delivered.