HANSEL Kakimo has come a long way from Airara village, in Northern.
The recently retired commissioner (provincial) of the Public Services Commission reached the pinnacle of an illustrious public service career through commitment, dedication and perseverance.
The only biological child of Allan Matawan Kakimo and Christabel Bogin Bari, he started formal education at St Peter’s Anglican School, Wanigela. Martyrs Memorial High School was next and eventually, the University of Papua New Guinea.
“We were taught to be independent and self-reliant from an early age by cooking our meals. Rice and vegetables were staples the school provided. At night the kerosene pressure lamps were used for evening studies and a New South Welshman, Fr Arthur Hendry Lidbetter was the headmaster,” Kakimo recalls his days at St Peter’s.
The girls were housed in a permanent building with Sister Helen Roberts whilst boys built their own accommodation from rough sawn timbers and sago thatched roofs. This instilled self-reliance and independence and promoted positive work ethics influenced by the religious institute.
“It was a part of our lives, being habitual at attending Sunday service and striving to gain as much knowledge as possible,” he says.
Young Kakimo liked gardening, fishing and reading, and developed a keenness in geography and history.
“In high school we were taught the values of unity and interacted with peers from Milne Bay, West New Britain, Eastern Highlands and even Madang. This happened well before self-government and Independence,” he says.
After Martyrs, a letter of success delivered to the nursing sisters at Airara landed him a job interview. In those days third level airliner Douglas Airways operated in Popondetta.
“Flying allowed me to see my province from afar, it seemed smaller and made me see the world from a different perspective,” he says.
Kakimo landed his first formal job with WR Carpenters as a trainee accountant in Lae, yet he yearned for university.
Perseverance paid off. During his accounting apprenticeship, his application as a non-school leaver to study Anthropology and Sociology at University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) was successful. Kakimo did his preliminary year, as PNG gained Independence in 1975.
New friends and peers were made at university through common interests in education and soccer. Early influencers in academia were the late Dr Ray Anere and Dr Russel Perembo; also Dr Graham Sam, Professor John Waiko and many others.
“These wise counsellors taught me that learning does not stop until one stops breathing,” he says. He successfully obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 and joined the public service a year later.
At 23, the fresh faced graduate commenced work in the Organisational Methods Division of the Department of Public Services Commission (DPSC).
“I spent 27 years in the Public Service Department as well as the Department of Personnel Management (DPM). The years were challenging and rewarding.”
A career of 40 years in public service saw this wily and experienced old hand remain committed and dedicated to the cause. He has also served in the Department of Prime Minster and NEC, National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs (NCOBA) and the Public Services Commission.
Dedication and perseverance epitomised his work ethic instilling discipline in public servants.
“Those moving up the corporate ladder must use their position of responsibility to empower fellow citizens. They must act like role models and be good examples for the right reasons,” he says.
Kakimo advocated against corruption, saying there’s no such thing as a free lunch, the adage that it’s impossible to get something for nothing. He reminisces about the challenges that were put in place by his early superiors from the United Kingdom.
“The English are very thorough and professional. I’d submit my work and the supervisor would sometimes say, young officer, go back and recheck your work, do it properly in the best way you can. You had to be diligent at your job,” he says.
Hela and East Sepik are the only places he has yet to visit in PNG. Internationally, he has traveled to the Philippines, Australia and Fiji on duty travel, and to the US to undergo a three-month programme in Human Resource at the University of Pittsburg.
His awards over the years include 2007 Executive Manager of the Year with DPM and the Logohu Medal for services to the national public service, for championing the devolution of powers and functions of the DPM to the national departments, provincial administrations and public hospitals throughout PNG, his most significant achievement in the public service. He also accomplished a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Queensland.
His message to the staff of the PSC Secretariat is to understand the reforms the Government is embarking on. “Public servants need to utilise opportunities and be responsive through an organisational perspective; reviews must happen, otherwise you become dysfunctional and eventually go out of business. Renew and keep up with trends to stay relevant!” he says.
He also applauded the secretariat for initiating capacity building and skills training. “Skills for investigating or reviewing personnel files take time to perfect and thus staff must be encouraged to undergo the necessary training to perform their duties diligently without fear or favour” he says.
“My family accepts that I have reached retirement age, although I feel I can still contribute in some capacity to the ongoing public service reforms. A legacy I leave for them and others is to be loyal to your employer, be honest and work hard to progress in your career,” he says with a smile.
His perseverance in public service has been rewarded. Commissioner Hansel Kakimo officially retired from the national public service last month.
We wish him well in retirement.
- Story and pictures supplied by the PSC Media and Publications branch.