MALUM NALU recounts a day spent in Goroka with New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand
THE haunting lyrics of that unforgettable Goroka anthem “Welcome to Goroka” reverberates through the air as New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand steps off the Air Niugini Dash 8 plane in Goroka on Tuesday.
“Welcome to Goroka, the land of Nokondi, from Daulo Pass across to Kassam Pass , we assure you, the best place is Goroka,” sang school children at Goroka Airport.
On the tarmac, Sir Anand is welcomed by Asaro mudmen, famous for their intimidating headwear.
Some dance with spears, others beat kundus, to welcome him into their exotic and beautiful mountainous land.
Sir Anand and wife Lady Susan Satyanand mingle around with the iconic mudmen and dancers.
It wasn’t as high profile as Australian Prime Minister Kevid Rudd’s visit in March last year, when he received a welcome more befitting a modern messiah than a visiting foreign politician, but Sir Anand’s visit nonetheless shows the importance New Zealand places on Goroka.
Sir Anand’s convoy drives to Kabiufa Adventist High School outside Goroka, which is thick with students chanting and waving their national flag and New Zealand’s.
At Kabiufa, he assures vegetable growers of Papua New Guinea that his country will assist in whatever way it can to assist the development of PNG’s fresh vegetable industry.
The once-famous vegetable-growing hub at the school is being revived with the assistance and expertise of the Fresh Produce Development Agency.
Kabiufa Farm Fresh Vegetables – during its heyday until closure in 1995 – was renowned for its trademark vegetables.
Sir Anand is impressed to see the fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers of Goroka, which is known for its perennial springtime climate.
“I can see what a wonderful, fertile place this is,” he tells an appreciative, cheering audience of flag-waving students.
“I have been told about the wonderful potential for food (in PNG).
“I think that the initiative to grow food is something that is so vital for the future of Papua New Guinea.
“It is something that New Zealand can assist with.
“It seems a vital project for the future, which will benefit everyone.”
Kabiufa principal Terry Haru says it is an honour to have Sir Anand visit as New Zealand was once an agriculture development partner with the school.
“Some 20 years ago, the New Zealand government became a partner with us in agriculture, where your government funded some agriculture projects here at the school,” he says.
“With the revival of the farm, we are planning to look at developing an agri-business curriculum, where we could train and equip young people with knowledge and skills that they would be able to use to earn their living.
“Our project will aim at addressing issues like school dropouts, employment creation, participation of women in agriculture and agriculture extension service delivery.”
Mr Haru acknowledges the fact that the New Zealand government regularly supports projects initiated by FPDA and the school.
“Through the assistance and partnership of FPDA and your government and through our partnership with FPDA, we will extend our agriculture training programmes to women, youth and the local community farmers, who could benefit in acquiring knowledge and skills to produce vegetables and other farm products and to sell or know how to run their own businesses in other areas as well,” Mr Haru says.
Sir Anand and Lady Satyanand are draped with gifts including bilums and Highlands woven caps.
The unfazed New Zealand vice regal then walks through the busy Goroka market to see growers and their produce.
After his market walk, there is a visit to Family Voice, a family rights/counselling NGO which has received NZAID assistance, and Coffee Connections, a fair-trade registered, organic certified trader which has exported to New Zealand, as well as other New Zealand-funded projects.
Sir Anand has lunch hosted by Eastern Highlands Governor Malcolm Smith Kela at the Bird of Paradise Hotel before a chartered direct Air Niugini Dash 8 flight to Kopopo in the East New Britain province.