Very few L1 speakers (1992 T. Dutton). L2 users: 120,000 (1989 J. Holm).
Central and Gulf provinces: concentrated in Port Moresby area; widely scattered elsewhere: Oro, Milne Bay and Western provinces.
3 (Wider communication). Recognized language (1975, Constitution, Articles 67 and 68). Used long before European contact by participants in the Hiri trade cycle between the Motu people and their neighbors on the south east coast of the island of New Guinea. Since about 1970 the use of Hiri Motu as a lingua franca has been declining in favor of English [eng] and Tok Pisin [tpi]; speakers are mostly older adults and concentrated in Central Province and Gulf Province.
Used as L2 by Abadi [kbt], Aneme Wake [aby], Bariji [bjc], Baruga [bjz], Bauwaki [bwk], Binahari [bxz], Buhutu [bxh], Dawawa [dww], Dibiyaso [dby], Dima [jma], Dobu [dob], Domu [dof], Doromu-Koki [kqc], Ese [mcq], Fuyug [fuy], Grass Koiari [kbk], Gweda [grw], Haigwai [hgw], Humene [huf], Kakabai [kqf], Kaki Ae [tbd], Kaninuwa [wat], Koitabu [kqi], Korafe-Yegha [kpr], Lala [nrz], Magori [zgr], Maiwa [mti], Maiwala [mum], Miniafia Oyan [aai], Moikodi [mkp], Morawa [mze], Mountain Koiali [kpx], Mubami [tsx], Nawaru [nwr], Ninggerum [nxr], Ömie [aom], Orokaiva [okv], Samo [smq], Sinaugoro [snc], Suki [sui], Tairuma [uar], Tawala [tbo], Turumsa [tqm], Uare [ksj], Wa’ema [wag], Wagawaga [wgb], Yareba [yrb].
The Papuan dialect was adopted as the standard for official publications.