Tributes paid to Sir Pita

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Sir Pita Lus’ casket being carried out of Parliament yesterday by Correctional Services officers. – Nationalpics by JOEL HAMARI

GOVERNOR-General Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae paid his last respects to former Maprik MP the late Sir Pita Lus at Parliament yesterday.
As did Prime Minister James Marape and wife Rachael, Information, Communications and Technology Minister Timothy Masiu, Transport Minister William Samb, Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon and Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta.
Sir Pita, who died at 86, played a vital role in helping create the Constitution to form the nation and gain independence on Sept 16, 1975.
His casket was taken to the Christian Revival church for the funeral service after an hour at Parliament.
During the eulogy at the funeral service, his daughter Fay Lus revealed that Lus was not her father’s real name.
“His real name was Pulinga Pita Jombe,” she said.
“He was swept away by the flooded Sakalau River in Manus in the 1950s when attempting to cross it,” Fay said.
“An old woman saw him being swept away and shouted Pita i lus, Pita i lus (Pita is lost) and her shouting alerted other villagers to rescue him.
“That’s how he became known as Pita Lus.
“It was the Manus people who gave him that name.
“Sir Pita was born in Lehinga village, Maprik, East Sepik, on Sept 16, 1935, and did his prep classes in 1948 at Brigiti and Iligita primary schools.
“In 1949, he joined other local boys and went to work in plantations in New Ireland and East New Britain and then he came back home.
“In 1952, he went to Manus with his older brother to work as a labourer for the Australian Navy.
“He worked as a painter and in the kitchen.
“He then became a spokesman for the labourers and complained of long working hours.
“He returned to Maprik in 1959 and entered politics in 1964 by becoming the Wosera-Dreikikier MP in the old House of Assembly.
“He then became the Maprik MP in 1968 when Maprik was split from Wosera-Dreikikier.
“Sir Pita lost in the 2002 elections after 38 years in politics.
“During his term in Parliament, he was the minister for police, Corrections Services, commerce and culture and tourism.
“He was knighted in 1978.”
Fay said her father entered politics largely to remove Australians and for Papua New Guineans to have their own government.
“He was mistreated by the Australians in Manus,” she said.
“He was bashed up for wearing a trousers as natives were not supposed to wear trousers but laplaps. He suffered such mistreatment also back in Maprik.
“Sir Pita died on Oct 1.
“He is survived by his wife Sana, six children, 20 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.”