Hau’ofa passes away

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Prominent radio personality Roger Hau’ofa, king of Papua New Guinea talkback radio, passed away on Saturday night after a long illness.
Hau’ofa, 73, one of the most-loved radio voices in PNG for almost 50 years, died peacefully in the presence of his family.
He suffered kidney failure in 2015 and had been on a dialysis machine since.
His daughter, Michelle, told The National yesterday that Hau’ofa had undergone so much pain and it was his wish that he be taken home.
“He was a dialysis patient for over a year.”
Michelle said her father had gotten tired of the needles and treatment and requested that he be taken home to wife Pauline’s Iare village in Kairuku, Central.
“He was in so much pain,” she said.
“We wanted to honour his wishes and consulted with the wider family.
“He wanted to come out of hospital. He wanted to come home to the village. He didn’t want to die in hospital.”
Michelle said Hau’ofa had his last dialysis last Thursday, came out of hospital last Wednesday, and was flown home by Robert Agorabe of Helifix last Thursday.
“When they took him home to the house, and laid him on the verandah, he fell asleep,” she said.
“For the first time in weeks, he had a really, really good sleep. He was happy to be at home and at rest.
“All my brothers and sisters were able to come down to the village, nine altogether, close family members, uncles and aunties and we were there when he took his last breath.
“He went out on his own terms.
“He was full of dignity and courage.”
Hau’ofa was born of Tongan missionary parents Isikeli Hau’ofa and Mele Sikimeti on Misima Island in Milne Bay on Dec 28, 1943.
He had two sisters and two brothers. One of the sisters, Mele, ironically dying on the same day as he did but 21 years ago.
“He grew up in PNG, went away for schooling, came back as a young adult and got into radio and broadcast for almost 50 years,” Michelle said.
“He came back here, married a Papua New Guinean woman, and made this his home.
“Originally, he was in ABC, NBC, and other jobs in between but always gravitated back to radio, Kalang FM and more recently FM100.”
Michelle described her father as someone who was “passionate” about PNG and its people.
“He loved Papua New Guinea and he loved Papua New Guinea people,” she said.
“That’s why he loved radio so much because that’s how he got to interact with the nation.
“He was the voice through talkback radio for ordinary Papua New Guineans.
“His contribution to nation-building is very hard to measure.
“He was full o humility, there was nothing grandiose about him, he did it all out of love.”
Michelle said the tentative programme was to have a haus krai this week, funeral service on Friday and take the body home to Iare for burial on Saturday. The Media Council of Papua New Guinea has expressed sadness at the passing of the veteran radio broadcaster.
President Alexander Rheeney said his death was a blow to broadcasting in PNG.
“It robs radio listeners throughout the country of a talk-show host, who knew the issues affecting citizens and held leaders to account on air. The name Roger Hau’ofa is synonymous with talkback radio in PNG as he spoke with confidence, had a good voice for radio and knew the issues citizens wanted to raise,” Rheeney said.
“Papua New Guineans connected with Roger when he was on air as he greeted a lot of his callers in their tok ples, which gave them confidence and the ability to interact and engage.
“He was a maestro behind the microphone and will be missed by listeners.”
Rheeney passed the council’s condolences and sympathies to the family of the late Roger Hau’ofa and said: “The Papua New Guinea media industry joins them in mourning his passing.”

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