By PETER ESILA
AFTER 44 years in the civil service, it’s time to retire and relax at home for 68-year-old Morea Veratau.
“It is a challenge for me to make this transition – from being a public servant for 44 years. (But) I need more time with my family because I have not really spent that much time (with them).”
He leaves the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as the acting Chief of Protocol, a position he has held for the past five years, of the 28 years he spent with the department.
He is from Saroa village in Rigo district, Central.
“I am 68. I am not young. I have three sons. One is a professional rugby player. One is in Australia. Denno is with me. I would like to assist him establish himself.”
Morea served at the South Pacific Commission for five years based in Vanuatu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.
He then spent seven more years with the Federated States of Micronesia, assisting UNICEF and the Peace Corps Micronesia on short-term consultancy services.
He returned to PNG in 1991 and rejoined the public service in 1992.
His public service career began after graduating with a Diploma in Tropical Agriculture from the Vudal Agricultural College in Rabaul, East New Britain in 1975.
He spent the initial five years as a rural development officer with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock based at Tapini in Goilala, Central.
He attained another diploma at the College of Allied Health Sciences in Hohola.
He became a lecturer at the Highlands Agricultural College in Kagamuga, Mt Hagen before being awarded a Food and Agriculture Organisation Fellowship at the University of Reading in England where he got a post-graduate degree in Agriculture Extension Methods.
“ It is a challenge for me to make this transition – from being a public servant for 44 years. (But) I need more time with my family because I have not really spent that much time (with them).”
On his return, he was seconded to the South Pacific Commission to join a team of trainers to implement its regional mobile training unit programme in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. After the completion of that programme, he remained in Micronesia on another contract for seven more years as an agriculture extension and rural development adviser.
He returned to PNG in 1991 and was offered a position in the Foreign Affairs department. He then served in Jakarta, Indonesia as second secretary, then deputy head of mission in Honiara, Solomon Islands, then deputy head of mission in Wellington, New Zealand, and later acted as high commissioner.
“My advice to young foreign service officers is to be knowledgeable about PNG issues in all sectors – fisheries, forestry, mining, minerals, culture – because you are always challenged. Our country’s image overseas is different because of the bad publicity.
“Be knowledgeable so you can give them real facts and figures. I have been in a diplomatic functions and asked: Are you from PNG? Do your people still eat humans?
“You have to constantly put up with that. We are probably the most diverse country in the world. But they do not know that.
“To be a good diplomat, one has to be fully aware of all those issues so you can talk sense, so people can respect you for that.”
His work colleagues farewelled him as he heads home to put his feet up, relax and spent time with his family.
It has been a long time away from them, proudly serving his country and people. Now his family is priority.
Thanks for your service, Morea.