Pouébo lives mainly from bananas. This agricultural mainstay has taken on a cultural dimension with the establishment, in 1997, of the Journées Mwata (Mwata Days) which are celebrated each year in October. A festival born from two obvious facts: the 16 tribes in the district were looking for a way to come together around a unifying theme…which logically was the banana! The Mwata is a traditional culinary preparation based on green and ripe bananas and coconut milk, all wrapped up in banana leaves which protect the ingredients during cooking. During the festival, many activities are organised, but one of the highlights remains the now traditional horse race along the beach, with the riders riding bareback, without a saddle, saddlecloth or bridle. A novelty that never fails to attract crowds.
Pouébo is also home to a major talent pool of sculptors, particularly in the Yambé tribe. They work on several materials, including wood, but soapstone, soft and tender, is what they most turn to advantage. The district offers numerous possibilities for exploring, in the valleys or near the seaside. For example, go and cool down in the crystal clear water of the Colnett (Pwe-Weina) waterfall, on the Mahamate white-sand beach or Saint-Mathieu Beach, or hike through the exceptional Mazedet mangrove swamp, right in the heart of the “North and East Coastal Area”, registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Located in the Pouébo district, Balade is both the name of a tribe and of a historic site. Indeed it was here that James Cook set foot for the first time in 1774 on this land which reminded him of Scotland and which he therefore named New Caledonia. This was also the place where France, in the person of Rear Admiral Auguste Febvrier Despointes, took possession of New Caledonia on 24 September 1853. Also in Balade are a commemorative monument and the Church of Saint-Denis.
Location and access: 60 kilometres from Hienghène and 440 from Noumea.
Tourist information: Mairie de Pouébo (Town Hall), tel. 47 64 38.
District festival: Mwata festival at the end of October.
Markets, craftwork: Market every Saturday morning in Pouébo village.
Gendarmerie: Pouébo village, tel. 47 89 65.
Dispensary: Tel: 47 74 90.
Banks: CCP Pouébo village, tel. 47 64 30.
Post Office: Post office agency, Pouébo village, tel. 47 64 30.
Service stations: Mobil Mainguet Pouébo.