Hiri Moale Festival - More Details
Port Moresby: The Hiri Moale Festival takes place annually at Ela Beach in Port Moresby coinciding with the country’s Independence Day celebrations. This year it was held from September 16 to 18. The Festival is a celebration of the unique culture of the Motuan people of the Papuan region and the renewal of the ocean voyages of the ancient days. In ancient days the Motu Koitabu people used to travel west in lagatois (large, multi-hulled sailing canoes) in order to trade with the people of Kerema. Every year Motu men prepared the lagatois , while the women shaped and fired the uro (pots). When the lahara (south-east trade winds) started to blow, the canoes set off to the west. These trips were very dangerous, but the Motu Koitabu people considered this travel very significant, as this was the only way to bring food to their family so that the families could survive the severe drought in Port Moresby in those days. The return of the voyagers from the trip was the celebration of the region (moale).
The Hiri Moale Festival marks the celebration of this trip. Though the trip is no longer existent as the region has developed in the recent times and there are several sources to over come any type of calamity. The festival is still there and people celebrate every year.
With independence, and the need for Papua New Guineans to preserve and celebrate their culture, the Hiri Moale Festival was started. The festival featured traditional dances, the Hiri Queen Contest (a beauty pageant)-Hiri Hanenamo, the arrival of the lagatoi, canoe racing, musical presentations, and an arts and crafts exhibition. The 2011 Miss Hiri Hanenamo went to Vagi Arua of Elevala village. As part of the prize, Miss Arua will be employed by the Motu Koita Assembly on a casual basis and will be involved with any Motu Kiota Assembly activities which also include an exchange visit to Townsville, Australia.