The National, Thursday, May 19, 2011
HELA leader Daniel Mapiria yesterday organised his own haus krai (house of mourning), funeral feast and church service.
He was adamant that he was dying, so, rather than wait until it finally happened, he opted for a “live” funeral service at his Erima, Moresby Northeast, home.
The flamboyant businessman, easily recognisable in the past in his pink suit, polished brown shoes and white Panama hat, was a former chairman of the National Gaming Control Board.
But, yesterday, the suit and hat were missing as he lay on his sick bed to bid farewell to loved ones, fellow Hela leaders and friends. He had been seriously ill for some time.
In this cart-before-the-horse scenario, Mapiria’s grieving Pina clan relatives of Kuranda village, Koroba-Lake Kopiago, expended about K40,000 to farewell their leader.
They slaughtered 19 pigs and 50 chickens and provided 100 cartons of soft drinks for the unusual funeral feast.
Then, they hired 80 motor vehicles to bring scores of Mapiria’s invited guests to the 4pm event. They had been invited through an advertisement placed in The National yesterday to come for “the final goodbye”. The bed-ridden Mapiria, who was brought in his 30-seater bus, had insisted on the feast so he could meet relatives and friends before he dies.
The invited guests included Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru, Tari-Pori MP and Education Minister James Marape, Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape, Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP John Kekeno and Hela Transitional Authority chief executive officer William Bando.
Mapiria’s business partners and former SHP MPs joined the 2,000 people at the pre-wake formalities.
Mapiria’s friends and relatives spoke of their friendship after Wesleyan church Pastor Ipanda delivered his sermon.
Agiru rejected suggestions that Mapiria would soon die, giving K200,000 for medical treatment in Australia for Mapiria and another Port Moresby-based Hela businessman John Tari, who had also been sick for some time.
Kekeno expressed similar sentiments, saying that only God would make a decision on Mapiria’s life.
Cooked food from the mumu pits and canned drinks were later distributed to the invited guests to remove the haus krai.
Mapiria had insisted that when he dies, he wanted to be buried peacefully without any funeral service and haus krai.
Mapiria, a property developer in Port Moresby, had been dumped as chairman of the gaming board after he was charged with misappropriation of its funds but was never jailed because of illness, conversion to a re-born Christian and promised to repay some of the money he allegedly stole.
He unsuccessfully contested the Koroba-Lake Kopiago seat in past national elections.