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Port Moresby
February 26, 2021

PNG’s 11th Gogodala Canoe Festival

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The Gogodala people in the Middle Fly District of Western province are well known for their canoe building, artistic work and colorful feathery designs.

These people are closely linked with their waterways to survive, travel and access services.


Over the weekend, they held the 11th Gogodala Canoe Festival, which coincided with the arrival and launching of MV Iyapa. MV Iyapa is a vessel which will directly improve and bring more health, education, and other basic services to the doorsteps of the people.


Jack Lapauve Jnr was at the festival and filed this EM TV Special Report.

Over 4, 000 people in the Balimo LLG gathered at Kewa village to celebrate the 11th Gogodala Canoe Festival, an event which has been held annually to signify the art of canoe carving, paddling and the people’s connection with their clan spirits.


The 3-day event saw a total of 28 canoes in grades A, B, and C with clan colors of red, yellow and white.


People were walking with paddles to their canoes while humming, guided by their spirit.


Led by their animal spirits, the canoes raced the Alamia River, with a range of about 49 to 80 paddlers, but the 2014 Canoe Festival was not an ordinary race.


It was the most significant in years, as it saw the arrival and launching of the vessel MV Iyapa at the festival site.


It is a passenger and cargo boat bought by the district at a cost of K7 million. The arrival of the vessel brought tears to many who had to travel for miles to seek health services and education for their children.


This boat will now bring infrastructure and development for these villages.


Middle Fly MP, Roy Biyama, who fought hard to seek JDPBPC’s approval to purchase the boat, said the boat will serve the 5 LLG’s of the electorate.


Mr Biyama told his people that the boat will operate with strict marine regulations and will be managed by an agent and not the district, for transparency.


The locals then toured MV Iyapa to get a feel of it. The people of Middle Fly District are now optimistic that life will no longer be the same with MV Iyapa visiting villages to deliver goods and services coordinated by the district.


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