The feast requires lots of work, so the whole community pitched in to help. The process starts early in the morning with the men collecting firewood and the women gathering greens from their gardens.
The women carry all their loads (including babies!) in woven bags called ‘nokens’ on their heads.
Next, they find and kill a pig. In Iratoi, the pigs are raised on the other side of the river, away from the village, to keep them from getting into the gardens.
The pigs are hunted with a bow and arrow. A pig can be brought down with one arrow if it’s aimed just right!
The pig (once killed) is carried over to the waiting fire where the hair is burned and scraped off. Once bare, it’s cut up, ready for roasting.
Next, the fire is built up and stones are placed on top to heat them up. Then they dig a shallow pit, and line the hole with giant leaves.
Everyone helps bring the smoking rocks over to the pit with giant tweezer-like sticks. More greens are stacked on top, with another layer of rocks being carried over and wrapped in leaves before going on the pile.
Finally, the pig is brought over and placed on top, and the entire bundle wrapped up tight to keep in the heat.
An hour or so later, and it’s feast time! Everyone waits patiently with their families while the meat is distributed to each group, along with the greens and sweet potatoes.
Mark and Kelly Hewes say they were honoured by the hard work involved in preparing such a delicious meal and by the community’s willingness to share this rich Papuan tradition with them.