Australian National Rugby League referee Bill Harrigan gets a taste of PNG hospitality in the mountains of Sogeri, BURI GABI
PAPUA New Guinea is often referred to as the land of the unexpected.
Unexpected visitors will oftentimes be overwhelmed by unexpected friendliness and hospitality.
Such was the case when former Australian top class referee Bill Harrigan, who currently heads video refereeing in the NRL competition, dropped in at the home of elderly Kila Koroi and her family at Depo village, Sogeri in Central province this month.
Kila and her daughter Maria Oboi ensured Mr Harrigan and bemobile company officials Chief Commercial Officer Chris Rapps, Products Manager George Trad, public relations officer Stella Bita and senior accounts officer Micheal Eluh were treated like royalty.
Mr Harrigan’s 18-year-old son Andrew even accepted the offer to try out PNG’s favorite nut, with mustard and lime offered to him by head of the household Yaba Koroi.
The visit to Yaba’s residence was unplanned. Mr. Harrigan and his group were originally scheduled to visit Ower’s Corner and war memorial site. Heavy rains however cancelled their days’ plans.
A bemobile official, Michael Eluh is married to a woman whose Mum comes from Depo village.
The couple decided to take Harrigan and the group to their uncle Yaba’s residence to give him a first hand experience of PNG hospitality.
Mr. Harrigan and his son Andrew were more than impressed.
“I love PNG and love coming back to this beautiful country because people are friendly and provide great hospitality,” He said this was evident in the unexpected visit to the Koroi’s home.
Harrigan and his group were warmly welcomed, and while they enjoyed their beer, Kila Koroi and her daughters prepared light refreshments for them. The Bemobile chief commercial officer, Chris Raps thanked the Koroi family for their hospitality. The Koroi family were just as thrilled. It’s not everyday that a well known Australian National Rugby League sports personality drops in to your home.
Mr. Harrigan was given a Koiari warrior traditional head dress to put on his head and made to beat the kundu to sing a traditional song alongside Yaba.
“I am amazed at the same time proud to see the person whom I always watched on television refereeing the NRL clashes. Its being a great feeling to see him in person and have him in my home,” said Yaba.
It will no doubt be a story he will proudly tell to all he meets.
The old women Kila Koroi was not sure who Bill Harrigan was. When told he was a famous person in the Australian rugby league arena and throughout the world, she was lost for words and rushed her daughter, Marie Oboi, Matrom John and Stella Bita to hurry up with the delicious fruits they were preparing for their guest.
With all the negative publicity surrounding the Kokoka Track and developments in the area it was indeed refreshing to see and experience the simple yet valuable hospitality of a family in the area.