ALL that has been said in tribute to the late and lamented Henry Kila is true. Both as a man and as a business executive, he was a credit to his family and his nation. As it is expressed in Hiri Motu, Henry was “tauna mai manada momokani.” He was a true gentleman.
I first met Henry in 1985 and what got us interested in each other’s stories was the fact that I had known Henry’s father, the late Kila Kone, a leading light in the co-operative society movement in the 1950s and 1960s. I worked for a short time with Kila and travelled with him on the co-op coaster mv Hiri where I remember hilarious yarn-swapping between Kila and the Hiri’s skipper, Frank Gorohu, another well respected identity along the Papuan coast in those days.
Henry’s father was closely associated with the late and also very well-known Mahuru Rarua Rarua, a founding figure in the co-op movement, and both an MLC, before – and an MP – after, self-government and full independence.
Both men were talented musicians, Henry once told me, recalling wonderful private “gigs” played by his father, Mahuru, and other musical friends at the Kila Kone residence.
Here. the young Henry, a schoolboy at the time, would be sent off to visit a known “bootlegger” who would provide the necessary lubrication for the musicians in those far-off “dry” days of discriminatory prohibition.
And of course, Henry himself became a top musician and formed his own band, becoming as well-known for this facet of his early life as he was later to become known for his leadership in the insurance industry, as a sporting administrator and as a quietly-achieving, respected communal leader.
Turagu, bamahuta.Emu toana ai do lalotau elabona aiemai lamepa danu bodo.