SEPTEMBER was the month for cultural celebrations in PNG, with the Kutubu and Digaso Festival and Hiri Moale Festival celebrating the preservation of local customs and Papua New Guineans’ connections to the sea.

The Kutubu Kundu and Digaso Festival took place in Southern Highlands Province where people from the Kutubu, Bosavi and Samberigi areas joined together to celebrate, showcase and educate local communities on the importance of preserving traditional cultures.

PNG LNG project operator ExxonMobil delivered donations totalling K42,000 to help fund each of the celebrations, with company employees interested to get a look at the unique Digaso oil extraction method as part of cultural demonstrations.

The festival, the fourth and biggest since its inception, also included demonstrations of Kundu and tapa cloth making, shared information about the ancestral salt trade route between the highlands and the coast, and traditional music and dance.

ExxonMobil PNG deputy production manager Dale Pittman said the company recognised and valued the rich and diverse culture of Papua New Guinea.

“Educating children and young people on the importance of their cultural heritage is a key step in preserving and promoting the unique culture of Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“As well as supporting festivals like these, we also share with students books that both encourage literacy and an understanding of the various cultures around PNG.”

ExxonMobil’s donation went towards funding the transport and logistics of the sing-sing groups, where different tribes and villages come together to display their traditional dress, music and dance.

More than 23 sing-sing groups from the Kikori River basin were invited to participate at the festival.

The Hiri Moale Festival, which took place a few days earlier on 15 and 16 September on Ela Beach, aims to preserve Hiri trade traditions and was kicked off with the arrival of welcoming of the lagatoi, a large Papua New Guinean trade boat.

“The Hiri Moale Festival is a great way to showcase the wonderful culture and traditions of Papua New Guinea and the communities where we work,” Mr Pittman said.

“Thousands of people come together at this festival and we’re excited to be able to help make it a successful one.”

Organising committee chairman James Irimaru thanked the PNG LNG Project and ExxonMobil for their support.