The National – Monday, February 14, 2011
By JASON GIMA WURI
ONE of Papua New Guinea’s founding politicians and former Gulf governor Sir Thomas Koraeafrom Siviri village in Gulf, passed away at the Pacific International Hospital last Wednesday.
Sir Thomas died following a short illness and his body is at the Port Moresby Funeral Home awaiting funeral arrangements.
His eldest son Sam Koraea told The National that his father was a truly remarkable man who was a well respected leader in Gulf, even throughout Papua New Guinea.
“My father will be remembered as one of the pioneer politicians who, together with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Sir Ebia Olewale and other former politicians, paved the way for our independence,” he said.
“In 1968 he resigned from public service to contest the national elections for Kikori open seat. He won the seat by defeating Keith Tetley, who was the deputy chairman of parliamentary committee of Public Works and member of other parliamentary committees.
“In 1972 he contested the Gulf regional seat against former member Bert Counsel and won the seat and he held it from 1972 to 1977.
In this time he became chairman of the parliamentary committee of public works and the member of the other parliamentary committees and assistant speaker,” Koraea said.
He was again elected as Gulf regional member from 1977 to 1982. In 1977-78 he was the minister for media and broadcasting in the Somare-Chan government and also minister for works in 1978-79. He later became minister for justice in 1979-80.
He lost the regional seat in 1982 national elections but contested the Kerema open seat in 1992 and won. He held several parliamentary chairmanship posts within parliament and also was the assistant speaker. He held the Kerema open seat for two terms from 1992 to 2002.
Koraea said that in 2007 his father contested the Gulf regional seat but lost and was planning to contest in elections next year but has passed on.
Sir Thomas was born on Oct 10, 1937, at Siviri village and attended the London Missionary Society boarding school at Petoe mission station for four years in 1951-54.
He then attended Kerema Coronation Intermediate School in 1955-58. After completing four years he went to Sogeri Secondary School in Central for two years where he gained a standard 10 education in 1959-60.
He later attended Mageri Agriculture College in 1961 and graduated as an agriculture field officer where he worked as a field officer in Kerema for some time. In 1962 he attended the Vunadidir Local Government College in East New Britain and graduated as a local government officer.
He served six years from 1963-67 in the public service as a local government officer in the department of district administration in Gulf before joining politics.
Sir Thomas’ haus krai is at the family home at Rainbow Village at Gerehu.
The late Sir Thomas is survived by his wife Lady Elizabeth, eight children (two boys and six girls) and 10 grandchildren.