WHEN William Powi took over as governor from Anderson Agiru, who left to contest the inaugural governor seat in Hela, the people of Southern Highlands had high hopes with the beginning of a new era.
Powi, with good experience in public service at the national and provincial levels, was an ideal candidate for the new look Southern Highlands.
His introduction of a five-year master plan was seen as a catalyst for new things and it drew Southern Highlands people far and wide together to offer ideas and collectively chart the way forward.
This was a time people got together for a common cause.
There was so much excitement, unity was so strong and you could literally feel patriotism in the air.
It was until after the 2012 election that things started to change.
The united front collapsed.
The provincial government from thereon was marred with corruption.
Many Southern Highlands people were quickly subsumed into the system and have indulged in the trappings of power and the opportunities that came with corruption.
In the new chapter, Southern Highlands needs smart, honest and exemplary leaders with proven track record in private and public life.
Next year is a very crucial moment for Southern Highlands as far change is concerned.