The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) completed its visit to Papua New Guinea, the 31st country out of the 72 Commonwealth nations and territories it is visiting.
The Baton was taken to Wewak on Saturday, 29th of January and was officially welcomed by, PNG Commonwealth Games Association President and Honorary Life Member of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Sir John Dawanincura, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird and the British High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea His Excellency, Keith Scott. The Baton spent three (3) days in the country and will leave our shores on Tuesday 1st February 2022.
During its time in Papua New Guinea, the Queen’s Baton Relay and PNG Commonwealth Games Association (PNGCGA) took part in various activities and festivities hosted by Governor Bird and the people of East Sepik, which involved over 80 baton bearers that have been specifically selected to showcase and embody the three themes of the QBR, Youth, Journeys that Matter, and Stories given the opportunity to carry and run with the baton.
The Queen’s Baton arrived on Saturday morning, January 29th to a Guard of Honour and Traditional Welcome at the Boram Airport in Wewak witnessed by hundreds of East Sepik locals, that turned out in troves to either accompany the Baton on its journey, or play host to it with unique celebrations in their respective villages.
East Sepik is known for its diverse culture, traditions and prestigious tourism hotspots’, from the mighty Sepik river to the mountains, and down to the seas with three (3) natural landscape boundaries and localities that give rise to its six (6) districts in the province.
In East Sepik: The Queen’s Baton Relay celebrated the youth in sports and sustainable activities, journeys that the notable Game Changers and leaders have taken to alleviate social issues impeding on national development aspirations and foster conversations and stories to bring common good and peace, unity and prosperity to advance developments and growth in sports, health, education and agriculture.
Day 1: Saturday 29th of January 2022:
Among the notable places visited on Day 1, a special visit to Kreer Heights, at Wewak Town, was made to honour and pay respects at the mausoleum of the founding Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and the longest serving Parliamentarian in the Commonwealth, the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare. Here, the Papua New Guinea Commonwealth Games Association President and the British High Commissioner paid their respects with the laying of wreaths at the tomb of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare. Michael Somare, the son of Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was one of the baton bearers who participated in the relay in Wewak.
The relay continued through Wewak town ending Day 1 with official speeches in the heart of Wewak town by Governor Alan Bird, British High Commissioner, Keith Scott and President of PNG Commonwealth Games Associations, Sir John Dawanincura.
Day 2: Sunday 30th January 2022:
At Angoram District the Queen’s Baton Relay visited Kopar, where it witnessed the opening of one of the Largest and Biggest Rivers in PNG locally known as Maus Wara (in pidgin), where the largest breeding ground of Tuna is found in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Baton then went to Kambaramba to visit and see the unique lifestyle of its people. Unlike most Sepik villages, the people of Kambaramba build their houses on the river and have maintained this practice for generations as part of their community’s preservation of their natural habitat and river ecosystem.
The Baton then journeyed on to the Chambri Lakes to visit the very beautiful Islands, Lakes and local tourist hot spots for perfect getaways to both local and international tourists. It is also where the sacred traditional Haus Man culture and norms are very much alive and still practiced by its people.
The Baton then visited Ambunti Dreikikir District, which boasts the vast grassland of the Greater Sepik, and is home of the renown Sepik Crocodile Festival, the largest in the country.
The final District completing the journey of Baton was Maprik District, where the Baton visited the tomb of Sir Peter Lus at Maprik. Sir Peter Lus was another founding father of the nation and also a long-serving parliamentarian in PNG’s political history.
Maprik is also significant in that the Papua New Guinea National Parliament was built and designed to mirror the Maprik Haus Man. Maprik is locally known as Central Sepik, as it serves as the central and economic hub of the Greater Sepik Region. Sir Peter Lus was one of the greatest supporters of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and his political, educational, economical and social endeavours for the greater good of PNG and its people when he was alive.
A short relay and reception in Maprik ended the Queen’s Baton relay in East Sepik Province.
Upon its return to Port Moresby, the Queen’s Baton made courtesy visits to the, British High Commission, Papua New Guinea National House of Parliament, PNG Sports Foundation and the PNG Commonwealth Games Association’s Olympic Haus at Boroko, before heading to the Government House where the Governor General, His Excellency Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae will host a Sunset Reception.
Since its inaugural appearance at the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton Relay has been a tradition for the Commonwealth Games. The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay started at Buckingham Palace on 7 October 2021, when Her Majesty The Queen placed her Message to the Commonwealth into the Baton.
PNG Commonwealth Games Association President, Sir John Dawanincura said “I am filled with pride that Papua New Guinea had the opportunity to host the Queen’s Baton Relay and be part of this momentous journey. Not only did it give us the opportunity to celebrate the spirit of being Papua New Guinean but it represents the coming together of communities across the whole of the Commonwealth.”
Sir John further added “We have relished in the opportunity to commemorate our community’s part in the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay. Everyone here has had a great time taking part in all the activities and supporting our local champions, as they represent Papua New Guinea as Batonbearers.”
The Baton will now travel to Solomon Islands to continue in its journey touring the other Commonwealth nations and territories in the build up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay is an epic journey covering the entirety of the Commonwealth as it will travel to all 72 nations and territories, covering a distance of 140,000 kilometres. For 269 days, the Baton will travel to Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas, before it embarks on the final stretch of its journey across England for 25 days.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will complete its journey at the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on 28 July 2022. This is a traditional and fundamental part of the Games and the Opening Ceremony, as the final Batonbearer will pass the Baton back to The Queen. The Queen’s message to the Commonwealth will then be removed from the Baton and read aloud, marking the official start of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
For further information about the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay visit: www.birmingham2022.com/qbr