Porebada farewells pioneer pharmacist

Weekender

By PAUL MAIMA
THE United Church bell rang louder, sending eerie sounds of sorrow into the neighbouring village of Boera to the west and Kouderika and Roku village to the east.
The church flag flew at half-mast, all fishermen retired back to the village and many public servants remained home to farewell Porebada Village’s pioneer medical pharmacist Mea Koani last week.
Mea was a gentle and soft-spoken man, always wearing a smile to greet anyone he came across. He taught many lessons to those who were close to him.
He was always encouraging his work mates and family members not to take revenge and use violence as a means of solving a conflict but use the Melanesian way and Christian principles of love and peace to reach a consensus.
He remained true to his faith until his passing at the age of 71.
For those who have met and known him, they wept till their tears ran dry. The emotion that filled the atmosphere was heart-breaking. He was famously known in the village as Kope Tauna. As the family members grieved for their father, brother, grandfather and the only bread winner, we are reminded of how short life is that we must live in peace and unity to help each other in enhancing quality of life.
Mea was a man with a good conscience and a humble leader full of compassion ready to help anyone who needed his assistance. He was indeed a symbol of peace in Porebada village and the Motuan community. Like a dove he stood the test of time until his passing on April 28, 2019.
Mea succumb to his ailing health after being admitted to hospital and being on medication since last year.
He had a colourful history as one of the few intellects during the colonial era leading up to independence in 1975. He was trained by the British and Australians during the and groomed as one of the few finest pharmacists that time to serve Papua New Guineans in the newly created Health Department.
Mea Koani, Kope Tauna was born to mother Konio Igo from Gunina Larina clan. His father was Koani Arere from Gunina clan. His forefathers were the first few to settle in Porebada after migrating from Hanuabada village.
He had three sisters, the late Poini, Maraga and Pastor Dika Koani. His three brothers were the late Mavara, late Kevau and Pastor Seri Koani. Maraga Koani is the only surviving member of the family.
The late Mea was described by his clansman and teacher Arua Dabara as an intelligent person who collected a lot of prizes during his school days to become a pioneering educated elite from Porebada village.
“As a family member we are grieved by his passing but at the same time we are proud of his achievement as a professional medical pharmacist from our village to be educated before PNG got independence,” Dabara said.
Mea completed grade six in Porebada Primary school in 1965 then went on to Sogeri National High School and complete year 10 in 1969. In 1970 he worked as a personal officer with the Health Department then under the Australian Government.
From 1971 to 1974 Mea was enrolled at Papua Medical College now the University of Papua New Guinea Medical Faculty. He graduated with a Bachelor degree as a qualified pharmacist.
One of his close associates and friends is renowned cardiac surgeon Professor Sir Isi Kevau. Interestingly both of them fell in love with two sisters from Pari village who are relatives of the famous Kidu family. Sir Isi is married the elder sister Koriki Kevau while Mea Koani married the younger, Arere Kevau Guba.
At the funeral service in Porebada last week Sir Isi spoke highly of his comrade Mea Koani as a humble man of integrity who had dedicated his life to serving the country in his profession when PNG just got independence from Australia in 1975.
“Mea Koani is a pioneer educated man from Porebada and the Motuan community to work as a pharmacist in serving our people in the Highlands, New Guinea Islands and the Southern region, when our country was at its youthful stage.
For that we must salute him for his services to the country and we are proud of him as a Motuan,” Sir Isi said.
Mea Koani started his medical practice in Kerema, Gulf in 1975. Then he went on to serve in Goroka, Eastern Highlands and Arawa in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
In 1990 he retired back to Central and National Capital District to work at the national headquarters of the Health Department. In 1993 he built his family home at Porebada.
After serving the Health Department for 37 years, he retired in 2007. For 11 years while living in Porebada village, he helped the community as a United Church elder and deacon.
Late Mea Koani was a deacon in Poini congregation in Porebada United Church untill he retired from church leadership in 2017 relinquishing his duties to his eldest son Guba Mea.
He is survived by six children, Konio, Guba, Koani, Dairi, Morea and Patrick. He has 19 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Many community leaders and family members who paied tribute to him describe him as a Christian leader who has remained dedicated to his profession and faith in serving many people in PNG and contributed enormously to the medical fraternity of PNG.
Rest in peace, Nakimi Kope Tauna.

Paul Maima is a freelance writer.

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