Southern Cross Assurance Limited

southern cross assurance Limited


The name ‘Southern Cross Assurance Limited’ is inspired by the Southern Cross constellation and its significance to some cultures in Papua New Guinea and many others across the pacific region. It is appreciated as a symbol that epitomizes ‘guidance for a safe journey’. The Southern Cross was a constant guiding light that instilled feelings of security and confidence in sailors travelling by sea during risky trading voyages.

In times gone by before Papua New Guinea gained independence, the Motu people, the traditional land-owners of Port Moresby (PNG’s capital city) used to go on annual trading expeditions to the Gulf of Papua (now Gulf Province). The Motu called these expeditions ‘Hiri’. Each year Motuan men built large, multi-hulled sailing canoes called ‘Lagatoi’ and the women molded and prepared large clay pots used for cooking and storage called ‘uro’. The captains and crew members not only had to be prepared physically but they were also put through deep spiritual

preparation as well by the village elders. Traditional rituals and feasts were held to honor their ancestors from past expeditions to provide wisdom and guidance during the journey and create a common spiritual bond within the entire community . This also enhanced the bond of trust between the sailors themselves and their Lagatoi. During the voyage the sailors, especially the captains, frequently prayed and recited chants to their ancestors pleading for wisdom for good judgement, and asking the sea, the wind, the sun, moon and stars, for favorable sailing conditions for a overall safe journey. When the ‘Laurabada’ (south-east trade winds) started to blow, the Lagatois cast off to the west. The departing voyage usually took about a week to reach their destination, a village in the Gulf area that the Captain and crew of the Lagatoi had visited in previous voyages. The trade was easy and completed swiftly. However, the Lagatoi could not return immediately for two main reasons. First, the Captain and crew had to strip down the Lagatoi and rebuild it bigger to accommodate for the extra weight of the sago they obtained from the trade. Secondly, they had to wait a few months for the ‘Lahara’ season, a strong trade wind from the north-west that would carry them for the voyage back home. ​
Most times, Lagatois sailed at night or in the very early hours of the morning for safety reasons, using the cover of darkness to avoid being spotted by hostile villages along the way. In the darkness the only way for the crew to estimate the distance they were from the coastline and the distance to their destination was by using the stars in the sky. Sailors learned this from knowledge that was passed down from their ancestors that the positions of the stars in the sky remained relatively fixed, while the landscape on the shoreline changed through the course of a voyage. The Lagatoi captains would simply instruct the crew to follow a particular sequence of stars and constellations until they would finally reach their destination.