Hundreds turn out to receive Wabiria’s body

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 12th February, 2013

HUNDREDS of Hela people gathered at Tari and Koroba last Friday to pay their respect and receive the body of their late leader Andrew Andagali Wabiria.
Police, led by provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia and Tari police station commander Insp Peter Buka, put on a guard of honour at Tari and later at the Koroba station, befitting a man who had led and lived his life for the cause of the province.
The late Wabiria was the pioneer Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP when he first moved a motion at the then House of Assembly to see Hela becoming a province of its own.
As soon as the chartered Dash 8 Air Niugini flight landed at Tari last Friday, hundreds of mourners, with mud and clay rubbed over their bodies, swamped the airport to pay their respect to the man regarded by many as the “founding father” of Hela.
After the formalities at the Tari airport, policemen marched alongside the casket and escorted it as it was slowly driven to the Hela provincial assembly building where the Hela Council of Churches staged the funeral mass.
Family member Larry Andagali said it was the final wish of the late Wabiria to see Hela leaders unite to drive their new province ahead.
Andagali said before Wabiria had passed away – at about midnight on Feb 7 in Port Moresby – he had urged the Hela leaders, including MPs (Governor Anderson Agiru, Finance Minister and Tari-Pori MP James Marape, Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape and Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP Philip Undialu) to put aside their differences and work to chart the path of their new province.
Andagali said Wabiria had indeed united Hela more than ever before in his death, as the four MPs attended the funeral and haus krai in Port Moresby. 
Andagali said Wabiria also called on all Hela politicians who had election court cases pending against the four MPs to drop them and work in peace and harmony.
It was a fitting finale of the great Hela man.
The province had its inaugural assembly sitting last November and passed its first provincial government budget of K300 million last month.
Agiru paid the first cheque of K300,000 for the funeral of the late leader.
The late Wabiria will be laid to rest today at Karai village near the Tagali river bridge on the border of Tari and Koroba according to his wish. He is survived by two wives, many children and grandchildren.