Motu Koita villages in Papua New Guinea are filled with the sound of construction of the famed traditional canoe lagatoi that is set to take the baton to Port Moresby to open the Pacific Games.
Nau Iru, a village leader who has been overseeing the lagatoi construction, said that the Motu Koita people are excited that their canoe will feature at the games.
“We appreciate the opportunity that has been given to us as the host province, and we want to make every member of our community part of this games experience in as many ways as possible,” he said.
“We are proud to showcase our culture in so many ways, including our traditional singing, dancing, costumes and the Hiri Trade history"
Nau added that it was a great opportunity to expose the culture of his people. “These lagatoi canoes are purely made from the bush material, which is of cultural significance to us, and we want other Pacific Islanders to see this when they [come].”
Papua New Guinea has many cultures and about 750 languages. The Motu Koita people live along the south coast of Papua New Guinea and are a combination of Koita people and Motu people who are known for their superior sea technology and trading systems.
“We are proud to showcase our culture in so many ways, including our traditional singing, dancing, costumes and the Hiri Trade history,” Nau told the Pacific Games.
The Hiri Trade were voyages made by Papua New Guinea’s Motu people and traditionally carried cooking pots to the Gulf of Papua and brought back sago.
The baton has been travelling ahead of the games through the country’s 22 provinces since March as part of the Oil Search Pacific Games Relay.
“I ask all Papua New Guineans to welcome the baton and farewell it with true Melanesian culture as it passes through their towns, villages and provinces,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said as the baton commenced its journey in Port Moresby.
The first games were held in 1963 in Suva, Fiji and are held every four years. Now more than 3,000 athletes from 21 countries compete in 28 sports.
NITV is the official Australian broadcaster of the Pacific Games. Watch channel 34 (free to air) or channel 144 (Foxtel) throughout July.