Let the Games begin, Pacific Games declared open

The Duke of York Prince Andrew officially declared the 2015 Pacific Games open in a spectacular ceremony showcased Saturday night by the people of Papua New Guinea that ranked with the top Commonwealth and Olympic Games openings.

The ceremony began with 1,000 women and children performing under blue lights that simulated waves surging and splashing from one end of the stadium to the other.

The waves came together to represent a serpent that harked back to the father of the hiri trade, Edai Siabo, who is said to have been given the knowledge that was needed to establish the exchange system by an eel.

Next, attention was drawn to the 12 traditional trade canoes surrounding the stadium, these lakatoi were flanked by women bearing pots and surrounded by dancing Motuans.

This imagery aimed to represent the importance of the hiri trade in the development of early Papua New Guinean society, and particularly the movement of clay pots in exchange for sago.

The ceremony shortly moved onto the “Call to Nation” segment with the four regions of Papua New Guinea - the Southern, Momase, New Guinea Islands and Highlands - being drawn into the festivities.

The drummers beat a rhythm that heralded the beginning of the “Sing-Sing, arguably the most spectacular part of the evening.

Sing-sing groups from all 22 provinces of Papua New Guinea came together, swaying, bouncing, stamping and chanting in a spectacular scene befitting of the country but on a scale never seen before.

Led by New Caledonia, the 24 nations represented at the Games soon marched into the Stadium with many pausing on the main stage to perform an impromptu version of their respective national dances or chants.

With the athletes in place around the performance area the ceremony continued, depicting the development of Port Moresby into a modern city.

The Pacific Games ceremonial flag was raised thereafter before a prayer and the athletes’ and officials’ oaths.

Pacific Games Chair lady Emma Waiwai believes that the Games have been a powerful catalyst for change in Port Moresby.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in his address expressed confidence in the Games and said it will be the best of their kind in history.  

“I know that these Games will be the best ever and many new records will be set.”

“The sporting facilities that we have built for these games are world-class, and they will continue to benefit our region for generations to come.”

They are also a demonstration of the change that is taking place, and the new standards that are being set in the Pacific.

“Today we are living in the Asia-Pacific Century - with global economic growth and development centered on our part of the world. This is a great time to live in the Pacific – we have a great future ahead of us,” O’Neill stressed.

“The Pacific Games brings together over 3,000 athletes participating in 28 teams and individual sports. But the Pacific Games is about more than a sports competition. It is all about people – about the athletes, about the coaches, the officials and millions of supporters all around the world watching these Games.

“The Games bring our vast region together and builds strong bonds between people, between teams and nations. On behalf of Papua New Guinea and its citizens, thank you to the Games Organising Committee and the very strong sponsors of these games. But more importantly, let me thank the thousands of volunteers, thousands of workers and officials who have worked very hard over the past three years to make this Games a success,” said O’Neill.

The Duke of York, the Chief Guest at the ceremony was amazed by the traditional performances displayed by PNG. He was sent by the Queen to read her message at the Opening Ceremony.

“I would first like to congratulate everybody on the most amazing spectacular Opening Ceremony.

“It has showcased a model of diversity and inclusion something PNG is very very important to them,” said Prince Andrew, who delivered the statement on behalf of the Queen wishing all teams the best of luck in competition.

“Prince Philip and I send our best wishes to the government and the people of Papua New Guinea on the occasion of the 15th Pacific Games. I’m pleased to see that Australia and New Zealand will be participating in the Games for the first time this year.

“It is encouraging to see 24 countries from around the Pacific region coming together every four years through sport, to reinforce their common bonds and shared interests. I wish all the team the best of luck in the competition over the next two weeks.

“It now gives me the greatest pleasure on behalf of Her Majesty to declare the 15 Pacific Games open,” declared Prince Andrew.

PNG’s Commonwealth Games weight lifting Champion Dika Toua lit the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games cauldron, concluding a night of colour, music, dancing and fluttering feathers that celebrated the Pacific nation’s rich culture.

Once lit, the conch shell ignited the words “wan solwara” meaning one ocean, to signify the unity between the Pacific nations and the night skies were lit up by an array of fireworks .

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