By CLAIRE HUKAHU and THOMAS HUKAHU
VISIT Wewak town in East Sepik, and ask any long-time resident there where you can find Paul Stanley Hukahu, the fatherly figure, and they will point you towards Nuigo Road, and towards Tangugo Pastoral Centre.
After passing the centre, you should take the Saure Road.
Just up ahead, you will find a village called Wlarina (or Ularina), which is a part of the bigger Kremending village.
There is where the old man resides.
The old man has passed on
Sadly though, they’d tell you, that as of Aug 9, 2021, the former primary school headmaster, teachers college principal and Wewak town manager has left for the other world, after battling with medical problems for a few years.
In this article, we briefly detail the life of Hukahu, who was a father, bubu (grandfather) and great-grandfather to many, not just his biological children and nephews and nieces and their children, but to Wewak folks, Sepik Highway people and the province as a whole.
The details of Hukahu’s life were first penned by Claire, a granddaughter of his, who wrote that as part of a school assignment while she was a student at Bishop Leo Secondary School.
The material has since been edited by Thomas (her uncle), and he added other information.
When life began for Hukahu
Hukahu, the Old Man, was born on June 5, 1946.
He was 75 years old when he passed on as he was on a sick bed at the Boram General Hospital.
Hukahu was the third born son of Lucas Yawilomo Wohuinangu and Sophia Friwe of Haniak village, in Kubalia, East Sepik, however he and his family made their home at Wlarina in 1947.
In the immediate Wohuinangu family, there were oldest sister Maria Muri Kriosaki, older brother Peter Waliawi, Hukahu and Joseph Wohuinangu.
But as a typical Melanesian family, old man Wohuinangu and his wife took care of their many nephews and nieces as well as their families over the years, including those who lived in Wlarina.
Starting his formal education
Education for Hukahu started in the village, under the strict guidance of his father, Lucas.
His father was a disciplinarian and ensured his sons did what was right.
Even though Lucas was illiterate, he must have sensed that western education would be vital and sent his sons to school when they were of school age. (All his three sons, at one time or another, got educated in Australia.)
Hukahu started his formal education at St Mary’s Primary School, in Wewak, in 1956.
He completed his Standard 4, as it was called then, in 1958.
In 1959-60, he continued on to Kairiru Primary School (on Kairiru Island) to do Standards 5 and 6. Then he was selected to further his education at St Xavier’s High School, still on Kairiru, to do his Form 3 in 1963.
Training and working as a teacher
After high school, he was successful in being selected to do teacher training at St Paul’s College in Rabaul, East New Britain, in 1964.
He studied there and graduated in 1965, obtaining a certificate in primary school teaching.
In January 1966, Hukahu took up the headmaster’s post at St Patrick’s School in Sassoya, East Sepik, and taught there for three years.
In 1969, he was transferred to St Benedict’s Demonstration Primary School in Wewak, where he served as the deputy headmaster for a year. Then he was transferred to St Michael’s Primary School at Warabung, in Yangoru. He served there as the headmaster.
Working as a lecturer and studying overseas
After five years of teaching in different schools in East Sepik, Hukahu decided to pursue further studies. In 1970, he attended the Administrative College in Port Moresby.
After graduating in 1971 from the college, he continued in his teaching career. A little later, he left teaching in primary schools and started lecturing in a teachers’ college.
While instructing trainee teachers, Hukahu still had the desire to advance his learning in education, so he applied for a scholarship to study overseas.
It was while he was lecturing at St Benedict’s Teachers College at Kaindi, East Sepik, in 1972, that the call for him to study overseas came.
In January 1973, he attended the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now University of Canberra), in Australia, where he studied for a year. (Back home, his wife Clara, a teacher, with the help of relatives, took care of their children then, two boys and a girl.)
After returning from Australia, Hukahu continued lecturing at the Kaindi college until he got a call to teach at the Holy Trinity Teachers College in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands.
He served as senior lecturer at the Mt Hagen college from 1974-1978, and in the last several years he served as the principal of the institution.
Hukahu met his future wife, Clara Gulgul, in 1965 in Rabaul, while she was attending the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Teachers’ College, Kabaleo, in East New Britain.
After three years of friendship, Hukahu asked for the hand of the woman from Koil Island, in East Sepik, to be his wife. The island woman accepted the request and the two were married at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Sassoya, in Kubalia, in 1968.
The couple had five boys and one girl from 1968 to 1981.
Sadly, in 2010, Hukahu lost his wife due to a heart attack.
She was 63 then and exited the teaching service in 1978 due to a medical problem.
Despite being at home and not providing everything that a mother should, Clara continued to help her children with homework if they did not understand work at school.
She was gifted in mathematics and loved algebra, something that she managed to pass effortlessly onto some of her children.
Apart from his six children, Hukahu has 15 grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren. Over the years though, the couple had assisted their many relatives and friends in many different ways.
His years in the private sector
Hukahu left his job as a lecturer at the end of 1978.
His entry into the private sector first came when he joined Hebamo Press in Port Moresby in early 1979.
However, his time with the firm lasted only a few months, when he and his family had to leave the city and return to Wlarina, where his father was severely ill.
It was while he was in the village that his father passed away.
For the next few months, the family lived as villagers with mother Friwe and his sister Maria Muri’s family and other relatives.
It was while there that the former educator applied for a job with a retailing/wholesaling firm that had a branch in Wewak.
He was successful and started work with Burns Philp PNG Ltd and started work as a salesman.
His work ethics was recognised and that saw him rising quickly up the ranks to managing different departments within Burns Philp.
Apart from Wewak, his work with the firm took him and his family to different parts of the country, including Port Moresby where he worked at the headquarters, as well as at Madang and Kiunga, in Western.
He was the last senior manager of the Wewak branch in 1992 when Burns Philp ended operations. By then two of his oldest sons were in university, one studying business/economics and the other physics/mathematics.
Back again in the public sector
In 1992, Hukahu applied for and won the East Sepik Provincial Government-advertised position of director or town manager of Wewak Town Development Commission, or Wewak Town Commission.
He started in that role in February 1993.
While working as the town manager he, with other delegates from the province, went to Seoul, South Korea, and signed a deal for the realisation of the Wewak Town Storm Water Drainage Project.
The project was vital for the seaside town where most portions of land were below sea-level and swampy. The better drainage now enjoyed by Wewak residents was part of the storm water project.
In November 1995, Hukahu was transferred to Wewak Town Storm Water Project as public relations officer, after applying for and winning the position. The transfer was to ensure that the storm water project that had kicked off was completed fully.
In December 1998, he again applied and won his former position as town manager.
He was then simultaneously doing public relations assignments for the Wewak Town Storm Water Project, and continued in that role until September 2006.
While he was still working as the town manager, he planned and pushed for the Wewak Town Market Funding and Feasibility Study in early 2006.
With funding received from the Japanese Government, the new-look town market was constructed and completed and the grand opening was held on January 22, 2011.
He also worked with other officials to realise the completion of the jetty projects for small boats in Wewak, which were also supported by the Japanese Government.
After the completion of the town market, he continued to assist with its management.
After the market project, Hukahu was then attached with the East Sepik Provincial Administration as a public servant until his retirement on October 3, 2013.
In his time in different jobs in Wewak, he also used his vast experience in the education department to assist the East Sepik provincial education board.
Like him, three of his five sons have taught in schools and all his sons have gained tertiary qualifications, with four of them obtaining bachelor’s degrees.
Thomas remembers the father: He helped me read
Old man Hukahu has influenced many people over the years.
There are many things I, Thomas, have learned from him, some from simple conversations about education or public service, or how to keep a town clean.
He was indeed a walking textbook.
I can say that the patriarch helped me get interested in news and reading and writing at an early age. That is why I write today.
At the age of three or four, I already knew that when the ABC evening news was to come on air, the house should be quiet. I knew the word “news” at the age of three.
I remember in 1975 and 1976, some of our best moments were those of Dad taking us into the shoe shop in Mt Hagen for each of us to select new footwear.
The even more delightful and regular place of visit was the newsagency, where we, the kids, could get comics, and he would get copies of the newspaper and Reader’s Digest. Those were memorable moments.
When I was 12 and in Grade 6, I developed the desire to read with my older brother bringing a library book from his Bomana boarding school for the weekend and he gave me 48 hours to complete it before he returned on Sunday.
When there were no Famous Five or Three Investigators books to read, I checked for Dad’s novels and that was when I first read his copy of Leon Uris’ Exodus and an Agatha Christie novel featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
The advanced skills in literacy I possessed can be attributed to Old Man Hukahu. I was privileged to have grown up as his son.
Final words from family
The late Paul Stanley Hukahu was laid to rest in Haniak village on Aug 26, beside his wife Clara.
Though he will be absent in person, his influence still lives on in the lives of his relatives, former colleagues and friends.
The extended Wohuinangu family is grateful for all who have shared with them in their time of mourning for the former educator and manager.
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