By ROSELYN ELLISON
THE eighth Governor-General of Papua New Guinea Sir Paulias ToNunga Matane had peacefully passed on at his home village at Viviran in the Gazelle’s Toma-Vunadidir local level government (LLG) of East New Britain on Saturday, Dec 11, at 9.30pm.
This was revealed by Sir Paulias’ daughter Magareth Matane Lepan during an interview at Viviran on Tuesday night.
Lepan gave a background history about her father’s life late Sir Paulias. She said her father Sir Paulias was born on the Sept 21, 1931 and passed away on Dec 11, 2021 after a short illness.
Sir Paulias died at the age of 90 and he was the youngest in the family of two sisters and three brothers.
“My father is survived by his elder brothers Joseph Kavanamur Matane who is now 95 years, and Daula, and two sisters IaWartovo and IaTaulil,” said Lepan.
His sister IaTaulil is the mother of ENB deputy provincial administrator Levi Mano.
Late Sir Paulias is also survived by his three biological children and two adopted children (all grownups) with 24 grandchildren and more than 20 great grandchildren.
Late Sir Paulias was married to Lady Kaludia Peril Matane also from Viviran in 1956 who passed on in 2016.
His biological children are Edward, Naril and Magareth (Lepan) and the two adopted children are Dokta and Varmaram.
Lepan further stated that, her father late Sir Paulias belonged to Birau tribe of the Pikalaba clan.
Pikalaba and Marmar clans are the only two major clans in the Tolai society.
Sir Paulias attended Tauran Primary School or Toma and after completing primary education he was selected to go to Kerevat and from there he was accepted to do teacher training in Sogeri, outside Port Moresby.
“When he was doing his teacher training, his classmates were the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and Sir Ronald Tovue,” Lepan added.
Sir Paulias started worked as a primary school teacher in 1957 and was posted at Tauran and within only a year he was promoted to head teacher position and by early 1960 he became school inspector and he went up to the Highlands region particularly in Minj, Jiwaka.
Lepan said late Sir Paulias was a school inspector there and inspected teachers up there and it was funny he also inspected white teachers.
“During those colonial times, there were hardly any black school inspectors; school inspectors were all whites and some of these white teachers felt offended when he came to inspect them so he had a bit of hard time but he still continued on with his work,” Lepan added.
He was sent to West New Britain in 1966 to become the district education officer there. During that time there were no high schools in WNB and all the children from WNB came to ENB to do their high school or secondary education.
While in WNB Sir Paulias chose the location for Hoskins High School, now a secondary school and he also wanted to set up a high school onBali Island but that never eventuated.
“In 1969 we moved to Port Moresby where he was appointed as a member to the public service board which was in charge of public service appointments. He was appointed along with the late Sir Sere Pitoi and this was rare too because they were the only Papua New Guineans, there rest of the board were all white people,” said Lepan.
In 1973 Sir Paulias was appointed as the head of the Department of Lands.
Lepan said after working with the Department of Lands, Sir Paulias joined the Department of Commerce and Business Development and was very active with the Stret Pasin Stoa scheme.
In April 1975 he had a call from the Government; they wanted him to go to Washington DC to setup the first diplomatic mission there.
“So in May 1975 we went to Washington DC, we never saw the Independence Day here and that was our regret. We missed out on that,” Lepan said.
“So when we were there my father became the ambassador to the United States, the High Commissioner to Canada and ambassador to Mexico. These three countries share common boundaries, with Mexico just South and Canada north-west from United States,”
One of the many achievements during his post in Washington was making way for the Summer Institute of Linguistic’s first aircraft to come to PNG to help with Bible translation programmes.
Sir Paulias served as ambassador/high commissioner in these three countries for two years in Washington DC. Later he spent three years in New York as the first Papua New Guinean representative to the United Nations. The UN General Assembly is located in New York so he and his family moved to New York.
In 1980 Sir Paulias was recalled back to the country and was appointed as the secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs when Sir Julius Chan was Prime Minister.
Simple village man
Lepan described his father late Sir Paulias as a very humble man who always loves his home.
She quotes her father late Sir Paulias “I am just a simple village man.”
After that he was involved in a lot of things he became the chairman of the censorship board, chairman of the committee for philosophy for education, chairman of the university councils and many other committees that he was part off. Even though he was retired he loved visiting schools encouraging students that were he loves doing. He was also a prolific author of more than 30 books and producer of the weekly TV programme. He was also a columnist of the The National.
On Dec 20, 2021 East New Britain and the nation mourned the loss of a great man a senior statesman.
They paid tribute and celebrated a life that was well lived.
That was done during the handing over of the body of Sir Paulias to the provincial government and his immediate family members by the State in an emotional ceremony at Vunapope in Kokopo.
ENB Governor Nakikus Konga said late Sir Paulias lived a life of commitment, perseverance and total honesty.
“The nation remains grounded and uncompromising to this very end and not many leave behind a legacy of such dedication and accomplishment,” Konga said.
Konga further stated that despite his established background and position Sir Paulias was a modest man a real gentleman.
He told the people of the province that Sir Paulias has put the name of the province, country and his community in the world map and all should be proud of such an achievement.
“We have lost one of the great leaders in the province.
“To the great man, you have done PNG proud and so much so your very people of East New Britain. We thank you the family of late Sir Paulias Matane; this is particularly a difficult and painful time for his family,” Governor Konga said.
Sir Paulias has contributed a lot through education and other areas in national life.
Konga commended the people of Viviran for bringing up such a man of principle, full of wisdom which he had served with humility and dignity.
“Sir Paulias was instrumental in writing a lot of his books which he had produced in the context of the country Papua New Guinea and has also been instrumental in capturing a lot of awareness programme on issues of concern in the country through our mainstream media through television, radio and print media.”
The four national MPs of the province also shared similar sentiments when expressing their condolences to the family of late Sir Paulias.
The provincial government also handed over the casket of Sir Paulias to the immediate family during the handover ceremony at Vunapope.
Kokopo MP Emil Tammur who spoke on behalf of his people said that Sir Paulias contributed enormously to the nation-building and was amongst the pioneer leaders who helped put this country on the world map.
“Today I join my people of Kokopo district and the people of this beautiful province as well as this great country of Papua New Guinea to mourn the passing of a great man, a mentor of the nation and a great role model for all of us to emulate,” Tammur said.
“From the humble beginnings in Viviran in the Toma valley of Gazelle district in ENB to the pillars of United Nations, the late Sir Paulias stood strong as a shining beacon for the young country which had just broken free from colonisation and embark on journey of independence.”
Tammur also added that Sir Paulias left behind a legacy that would be very difficult to match, and that legacy that would remain as a challenge for all of us.
“Today, as we mourn the passing of a respected leader, we must ask ourselves as to what we should do to equal the achievements of this great man. It is my sincere hope that many more people will rise up and continue the legacy and represent our province as strong leaders, beaurecrats and diplomats,” Tammur added.
The people of Eas New Britain bid farewell to a champion and true leader who lived a simple and humble life despite his status when they laid Sir Paulias to rest at his home village at Viviran, near Tauran Primary School, on Tuesday Dec 21, 2021.