Hela Province

Hela Province – Most recently in 2012 defected from Southern Highlands Province is this new Hela Province with Tari its capital. The province is named after the Hela language that is spoken by people of this region. The defection was to form a province that had all the Hela speaking people. Like the Engan people, the people of Hela region speak one common language, meaning they have one common tradition.

The Hela region's first contact with the Europeans was in the 1950’s. This region is highly regarded for its distinguished culture. Traditional beliefs are common in the area that is practised along side Christian beliefs.

Their tradition of wig growing and initiation of young boys to manhood has played a significant role in maintaining and making all Hela men to be proud of their unique culture. The Tari Basin is a stretch of a large valley starting from the foot of Ambua gap which joins up with Tani valley in Koroba which is the home of the famous Huli Wigmen. The Ambua gap at 2800 metres is an excellent birding spot where most of the Bird of Paradise species are found. Likewise, high altitude orchids are plentiful here.

Tari town is relatively small to be given the status of provincial head quarters, however, since it is the only biggest town in the region, it has been declared as the provincial head quarters. There is only 2 big shops in town, a police station, a hospital and a bank agency.
The discovery of oil and gas in the region has changed the lives of the Hela people at an alarming rate. Social problems are also imminent by these changes. New roads, schools and health facilities are being built and old facilities maintained which has seen much needed development taking place in the region. Even with these changes, you will still see people in traditional dress , a sign that the traditional cultures are still alive. Pigs are of great importance to the Hela people, therefore, particularly the Tari people and often there are tribal fighting’s over the matter of pigs. Pig play a important role in the Hela communities, thus, pigs are special to them.

Province Facts

Population: 353,000 people
Land Mass: 10,500 km2
Common Languages: English, Pigin & Hela
Temperature (degree celcius): Min 24 /Max 32
Rainfall: 2,750 mm per year


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