The symbol of Port Moresby is the Lagatoi, a traditional multi-hulled canoe used by the coastal inhabitants of Port Moresby and surrounding areas for trading in the era preceding Western contact and during the English and Australian colonial administrations. This trading practice, held over many generations, was known as the Hiri and existed long before the arrival of the first European in Port Moresby.
The Lagatoi was the lifeline for the indigenous people, the Motu Koitabuans, who, living in the dry environs of Port Moresby before the abundance of Western food supply, were forced to traverse the Gulf of Papua to the west to trade clay pots for sago with the people of Gulf.
A lagatoi was constructed when its hulls were fashioned out from huge tree trucks and tied together with strong bush vines to create a vessel that could hold thousands of clay pots during the forward journey and the weight of wet heavy sago on the return journey. The Lagatoi is distinguished by its crab-claw sails, usually made from woven frond mats.
The Lagatoi was adopted by the National Capital District Commission as the City's Official Emblem when it took its official status. According to Port Moresby historian Ian Stuart, the emblem was first displayed at a public ceremony at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium in Konedobu to officially recognise the first councillors of the Port Moresby Council (the predecessor to the NCDC), including Port Moresby's first Mayor Cr. Oala Oala Rarua.
The emblem is a silhouetted black Lagatoi against a yellow field, presumed as the South Pacific sun. The use of the Lagatoi is to commemorate the Hiri and honour the local people of Port Moresby whose original land the Nation’s Capital now stands upon.