By KELVIN JOE
RAU Siare was 18 when he joined the National Housing Corporation’s building and maintenance section 46 years ago as a carpenter.
Rau, 65, was farewelled last month by the NHC management and staff after serving the organisation for over four decades.
He remembers those early days when they were paid not in Kina but in Australian dollars and cents.
“I am the last NHC employee to have received Australian dollars and cents as my salary. The Kina and toea arrived when PNG gained independence on Sept 16, 1975.”
His carpentry career began in Port Moresby when he completed a training course for two years in a vocational school in Central.
“ I am the last NHC employee to have received Australian dollars and cents as my salary. The Kina and toea arrived when PNG gained independence on Sept 16, 1975.”
Rau was born on May 30, 1975 at Nabuapaka village in Kairuku, Central.
He married Vele Rerebona Siare from Cape Vogel in Milne Bay and have three sons. They today have six grandchildren.
He completed Standard (Grade) Six at Delena Community School (now primary) in 1970 before he attended a building and maintenance certificate training course at Yule Island Vocational Training Centre in Central in 1971 and 1972.
He was employed by the Housing Commission (now NHC) on May 15, 1975 two weeks before he turned 18.
He was attached with the daily labor unit for a year before he became a trainee works supervisor then as senior supervisor in the construction department, a position he held until 2021.
The Housing Commission ensures the collection of rentals from tenants occupying its estates and properties around the country.
“That’s why we went out to build properties and homes around the country – the core function of the commission.”
He was sent to Daru, Popondetta, Goroka, Hagen, Lae, Wau and Bololo, Kavieng, Madang and Mendi to build NHC properties.
“During those days, time was very important. We report to work from as early as 7am and not leave our work station until 5pm.”
His fortnightly pay was around K76 which was more than enough then.
“We had enough supplies (food) and savings until we reached the next pay day.”
His eldest son is now also working for the NHC. So Rau knows it is time to call it a day and return home to rest and spend more time with his family, relatives and especially the grandchildren.
“I am happy to retire at this point when the NHC is beginning to change because of a better management and funding received from the Government.
“We would have seen changes in the past but the Government and management were not working together to complete work on time and on budget.”
He hopes the current Housing Minister Justin Tkatchenko and managing director Henry Mokono are steering the NHC ship in the right direction to bring back those glory days when it fulfilled its mandate to provide affordable housing to the people.
“They need to restore trust and public confidence in the organisation. The Government and managing directors will change, but the organisation’s goals will only be achieved through the dedication and hard work of NHC employees.”
The teenager who joined before just independence knows he has done his bit, and is going home to take a well-deserved break.