Hela Province

Hela is a province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital is Tari. The province covers an area of 10,498 km², and there are 249,449 inhabitants (2011 census figures). Hela province officially came into being on 17 May 2012, comprising three districts previously part of Southern Highlands Province.

FYI: The Start of the Hela Movement

No discussion of the Hela movement would be complete without mentioning the deep religious and spiritual mythology underpinning the Hela people. The Hela people see themselves as comprised of a number of clans living in a federation, ultimately seeking self-determination which amounts to the ability to define their civilisation through the Hela world view and philosophy. The creation of a Hela provincial government would formalise the existing Hela clans and allow for the recognition of the Hela world view and philosophy. The Hela world view, ‘revolved around the value of the ultimate common good of the collective wellbeing of this clan state’.

The people of Hela have their own version of the old testament and a reverence for Dadagaliwabe who commanded his own laws and spoke to the Hela people.

According to Hela mythology, the light (laitebo) burning within the Gigira (one of the prophetic mountains in Hela) would one day light up the whole land. The Hela people believe that the Hides gas project fulfilled this prophecy, as the actual gas, and also infrastructure associated with the project, have brought development to the Hela people, lighting up the whole land. The more recent LNG project is a further affirmation of this prophecy as development continues to come to the Hela people.

It was not until the 1950s that the people of Hela had any significant outside influence. In the late 1960s, the Hela people formed the Hela Association (now renamed the Hela Gimbu Association) to represent the people of Hela and their own interests. The Hela Gimbu Association survives today and was a key stakeholder throughout the fight for a new Hela Province and its formation.

In 1974, Hon Andrew Wabira, member for Koroba-Kopiago, moved a motion in the old House of Assembly calling for the creation of the Hela Province. The motion was debated in 1976 but it was not until 2000 when Hon Alfred Kaibe, member for Tari-Pori, lodged a petition in parliament to create the Hela Province that new life was breathed into the fight.

In September 2002, during a visit to Tari, Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare promised he would investigate the possible establishment of a Hela Province. Soon after, cabinet directed the establishment of a parliamentary committee, in consultation with the Boundaries Commission, to report on the establishment of new provinces.

FYI: PNG’s 4 Regions & 22 Provinces

Region Province Provincial
Capital
Highlands Eastern Highlands Province Goroka
Western Highlands Province Mt. Hagen
Southern Highlands Province Mendi
Hela Province Tari
Enga Province Wabag
Jiwaka Province Banz
Chimbu Province Kundiawa
Southern National Capital District Port Moresby
Central Province Port Moresby
Gulf Province Kerema
Western Province Daru
Oro (Northern) Province Popondetta
Milne Bay Province Alotau
Momase Morobe Province Lae
Madang Province Madang
East Sepik Province Wewak
Sandaun (West Sepik) Province Vanimo
New Guinea Islands Manus Province Lorengau
New Ireland Province Kavieng
East New Britain Province Kokopo
West New Britain Province Kimbe
Autonomous Region of Bougainville Buka

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