Bougainville News : President Momis pays tribute to Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare : an icon in the rich history of Papua New Guinea

 ” Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea.

It was a mark of a true leader when he took the bold step of making things happen and taking ownership of major decisions unpopular as they might have been.”

JOHN L. MOMIS : President Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Today we pay tribute to a great leader, an icon in the rich history of Papua New Guinea – Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. Occasions like this are reserved only for people who have done so much outside of themselves. It is a time to recognize the messenger and the message he will leave behind for us and the next generation to keep and cherish.

My personal encounter with Sir Michael Somare dates way back to our younger days. Fate must have brought us together over barbecue and beer in Wewak. Little did we know that soon we would be working together and forge a path for this nation.

I was then full of idealism and he was brimming with pragmatism. The combination of two different yet attuned minds resulted in greater efforts to trail blaze a path not many at that time dared to tread.

Our minds were somehow shaped by the events of the tumultuous 60’s when young men in America were sent to wage war in Vietnam, where personalities like Martin Luther King and the Kennedys were taking the world in storm with their ideals and advocacies, the impending domination of communism, the construction of Berlin Wall, Cuban Missile crisis, Civil Rights protests among others.

Shouts of freedom from colonialism, racism, inequality, communism and capitalism reverberated in all corners of the world. I must say the stage was set, the curtain rises.

If there is anyone who would have known him up close as a person, I consider myself honoured and privileged. He is not perfect like all of us.

There will always be critics and dissenters from his style of leadership but this I have to say, for over 49 years in public service that I have known him he gave his whole life to the people of Papua New Guinea.

He was true to his commitment to the people. He pursued relentlessly the right to be free and pushed to unify a diverse country like Papua New Guinea.

He did much and he did them faithfully. This I would say is loyal service at its best yet to be matched by and emulated by our current breed of politicians. He exercised his role as a true politician – guided by his faith and embracing his role as a vocation, he ventured into the unknown responding to a call without fear.

He was there always ready to listen and to implement results of choices and judgements. Unknown to him perhaps, his biggest contribution was in politics in the tradition the philosopher Aristotle and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas who believe that politics is the noblest of sciences because it is through politics that one can do the most good by passing good laws and politics in the natural order.

He exercised and maximized his political strength systematically by not taking the shorter route of traditional politics where the needs of a select few typical of a Melanesian mind takes precedence over the common good.

Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea. It was a mark of a true leader when he took the bold step of making things happen and taking ownership of major decisions unpopular as they might have been.

I owe him much. For a pragmatist to put his full trust and confidence in an ideologue like me is a rarity. Here is a man whose vision is achieved because he trusted everyone, he encouraged camaraderie and he collaborated without any reservation if only to achieve results.

Upon my election in 1972, he made me Deputy and working Chairman of the Constitutional Planning Committee paving the way for everything that we citizens are enjoying now.

Later he made me the Minister for Decentralization that again opened more doors of opportunities for governance and development in every province in Papua New Guinea. Our professional relationship was never near perfect.

We had clashes and disagreements in many instances. There came even a point where I challenged and stood up against him. This, however, did not deter us from reconciling and collaborating to secure the best collective interests of Papua New Guinea. How can you turn against a man who all the way was a sincere and charismatic politician?

His reputation to calm things down where there were incongruities and eventually convince everyone to move forward is an endearing trait that makes him a cut above the rest.

Si Michael Somare, the man of the people clearly understood that Parliament is the best venue where one can do the most good for the whole country; where his commitment to serve the people is unparalleled; where collegiality or first among equals (primus inter pares) took precedence in his leadership style.

All these things clearly indicated the quality of a true leader who never assumed that he was better than everybody else.

At this juncture, may I on behalf of the people of Bougainville express our heartfelt gratitude to this man who together with Sir Paul Lapun stood up for the just right of the landowners against CRA and the Colonial Government when many leaders opted to look the other way and keep quiet. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare understood and supported the peoples; aspirations and grievance and rights not to mention that we were the first provincial government to be recognized under his vision of decentralization.

As the curtain falls, we give our applause and standing ovation. Thank you! May history be fair to you, acknowledge your contribution to this nation and the Pacific Region and put you in its annals which you rightfully deserve.

So long my dear friend! We who share your dream stand ready to forge a new human solidarity necessary for the transformation of our society so that your legacy of always imagining inspiring future will be realized.

God bless Papua New Guinea!

God bless you Sir Michael Somare!



Autonomous Region of Bougainville


Bougainville News : Tribute at the State Funeral for Sir Michael Ogio, GCL, GCMG, KStJ


 ” In the annals of Bougainville’s recent history, Sir Michael’s name will always be etched with and alongside other political leaders of Bougainville as a peace maker, a peace broker, a stabiliser, the one leader who always displayed conciliatory traits and tendencies.+


The Late Governor General of Papua New Guinea

His Excellency Grand Chief

Sir Michael Ogio, GCL, GCMG, KStJ

Speech and Tribute by the Speaker of Bougainville House of Representatives Simon Pentanu

(St Mary’s Cathedral Port Moresby)

Picture above from funeral program cover

Updated 25 Febuary

Arrival of HE GG the late Sir Michael Ogio’s remains at AROB’s Buka airport.

A contingent of AROB’s disciplined forces and school children provide welcoming guarded entrance as the casket is carried to a welcome by ABG’s dignitaries. 25|02|17



After the welcome ceremony at Buka airport HE GG the late Sir Michael Ogio’s casket was brought and laid in the Bougainville House of Representatives where the Vice President Hon Raymond Masono MHR led the tributes. Several other members also paid their tributes including AROB MPs in the PNG National Parliament.


Speech and Tribute by the Speaker of Bougainville

House of Representatives Simon Pentanu

We are gathered at this solemn service this morning to pay respect and tribute to an amazing man whose public service to his country and to his province and region, I can honestly say, was only surpassed by his humility, friendship and his moderating influence to achieve a fair outcome by everyone he came across in his lifetime.

From the rural beginnings in his hamlet in the hills of Tinputz in North Bougainville this former teacher, schools inspector, provincial and national politician found his way up the ranks to become Governor General in a country that is diverse in language, culture, tradition and its people.

The late Sir Michael Ogio was elected the ninth Governor General by the National Parliament in January 2011. At the time he was a serving member of the National Parliament representing North Bougainville open seat.

In a proud line of elderly and mature, seasoned and experienced politicians that have represented Bougainville, Sir Michael will be remembered well by his constituents for his decision to vacate his seat and to be popularly elected by the National Parliament. He may have thought it better to continue serving his people as their member. However, he chose a higher calling and a higher national duty to serve the country.

The election of Sir Michael as Governor General at the time is an occasion that made many Bougainville leaders and the people of Bougainville very happy.

First of all he was the first Bougainvillean. He was one them.

Secondly, because of his election there was a lot of renewed respect in Bougainville for the process of election of the Governor General by the National Parliament.

The life story of Sir Michael Ogio is the story of a man who gave and who spent his life serving the people and the country he knew and loved. He never stopped serving until the very final days in office as Governor General.

His story also represents a generation of people that gave meaning to public service, giving of themselves and their whole life to the service of the people. Sir Michael had a firm conviction and worked and lived true to the belief that there is no higher calling in terms of career than serving the public to make a difference in people’s lives. When we look back at the service of such men of Sir Michael’s generation they make it seem so clear that public service, especially in a developing country like ours, is a privilege. It is a privilege based on the moral foundations that we should value and espouse at all times.

The Office of Governor General has served this country well. The Vice Regal Office served so far by men of such mettle, calibre and dignity of Sir Michael Ogio and the eight Governors General before him have served Papua New Guinea with honour and dignity.

The Office has become an enduring and respected institution like an asterisk in the context of our democracy in this country. It has not been influenced or mauled by party political leniencies despite the fact that the Governor General is elected solely by the Parliament. Once the Parliament makes its choice the person that holds the office is not identified for whatever purpose with any party or any part or region of the country. Our constitutional fathers will be happy to acknowledge that the constitutional provision and protection of the Office is working well.

There have been mainly two observations, often both criticisms and support from sectors of the public, which emerge from time to time in respect of the roles and responsibilities of the Governor General. We often hear how and why it is important that in the parliamentary democracy and system of government we have adopted it is important to have and guard the ceremonial roles and functions of the Head of State.

The Head of State epitomises, personifies and symbolises the State its power and authority that we must treasure. This is why it is important if we have political milieus and spoils in the political governance of the country the Office of the Governor as Head of State must be zealously guarded and protected. To do this, the experience and wisdom of whoever is in office is called to the fore. I believe that Sir Michael Ogio and others before him when called to face up to the challenges have been able to call upon their experiences in public life, including in political life, combined with their wisdom and maturity as elders in our society, to be steadfast in upholding the Office.

We also hear from time to time how some sectors of the public view that the Head of State be endowed with more power, even the power to hold the government of the day to account. This view is borne out of either ignorance or misunderstanding of the roles and functions of the Office of the Governor as head of state assigned and provisioned by the constitution.

I make these remarks to illustrate the late Sir Michael Ogio has had to deal with these scenarios, as did his predecessors to varying degrees. In making these remarks I also pay tribute to Sir Michael Ogio in particular and to other Governors General in general for living up to the callings of the Office every time. It also supports that the election of the Governor General by the National Parliament is the most appropriate way how these wise and elder men are selected through the most exhaustive secret ballot.

The people of Bougainville are saddened by the loss of Sir Michael. Sir Michael was many things to many people. He was held in high esteem as a community leader in his community in Tinputz. He was a peace maker, a moderate in the midst of inflexible, hard line voices. He always wanted to balance things out so that the outcome for all parties is a win-win situation. He was a friend to everybody, a jovial one who liked to listen to everyone that had something important to say.

Sir Michael didn’t buckle under pressure, whether it is the normal pressures at work or at home or the worst life threatening pressures that he had to deal with in some of the darkest hours in Bougainville when he was serving his people in Parliament. He always acted the part of a Bougainvillean that spoke to people saying that Bougainvilleans are very reasonable people. He believed that even in the worst of times when all seems lost there are voices of reason we must muster and listen to ourselves. And that in the rough and tumble of politics there is always a time to be humble, to show humility and to be reasonable human beings.

In the annals of Bougainville’s recent history, Sir Michael’s name will always be etched with and alongside other political leaders of Bougainville as a peace maker, a peace broker, a stabiliser, the one leader who always displayed conciliatory traits and tendencies. He had a moderating influence during the peace negotiations and peace process where these took place among the different factions in Bougainville and offshore and in meetings with the National Government.

Sir Michael followed through his belief and convictions with other leaders that the only way to peace is a negotiated settlement. That in choosing leaders to carry through with the Bougainville Peace Process a choice through the ballot was preferable to the bullet. That reconciliation was far and away better than confrontation.

Bougainville still elects four members to the National Parliament. It is because of both the participation and intervention of collective leadership which has included a very important contribution of leaders like Sir Michael Ogio that Bougainville still maintains its representation in the PNG National Parliament.

The people who will miss Sir Michael Ogio most are of course his close family and relatives. The other people that are still mourning his passing away and will also miss him are the people from the electorate of North Bougainville. They have continually stood by him because they have continued to return him as their Member in Parliament up to the time when he was appointed Governor General.

I am at this funeral service with a delegation of three Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives. The delegation and representation I lead includes the Minister for Education the Hon Thomas Pataaku and two senior parliamentarians, Hon Ezekiel Massat who is chairman of PAC and Hon Joseph Watawi, chairman of our parliamentary committee on referendum.

May I finally express on behalf of the President, Hon Dr John Momis and the Bougainville Executive Council, on behalf of all Members of the Bougainville Parliament and on behalf of the Bougainville people our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the National Parliament, to the Prime Minister and the National Government and to the rest of the people in this country for the honour and privilege in bestowing the honour to a Bougainvillean, Sir Michael Ogio to hold and serve in the highest Office in the land as Governor General. We know he has lived up to his pledges in office and has not let anyone down. He has served his term right to the final days.

The President and the People of Bougainville will receive the late Governor General Sir Michael Ogio in Buka today (26 Feb )  and many people will accompany him to his community and village in Tinputz where will be finally laid to rest on Sunday afternoon.

We offer and extend our sincerest condolences to Lady Esmie and the family.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.


Bougainville #RIP News : Sir Michael Ogio served #Bougainville #PNG with pride, honour, dignity and distinction


 ” It is with a heavy heart that leaders and people of Bougainville, especially those of us who  knew him, received the news of the passing away of the former  Governor General Sir Michael Ogio.

He was strong, committed and stoic public figure whose contribution to Bougainville and the country is well known and widely acknowledged.

He passed away serving to the last.”


See Below 1. Chief Dr. John L. Momis, MHR, GCL President

See Below 2 The Prime Minster, Peter O’Neill, has released the following statement in the passing of H.E. Sir Michael Ogio, GCMG CBE.

Sir Michael Ogio’s life is a story of selfless public service deserving of praise by all Bougainvilleans and the rest of the country.

The PNG National Parliament chose him to be the Head of State, a Vice Regal, representing Her Majesty the Queens in PNG. He was good, suitably qualified choice.

His own clan chieftain status in his society in Bougainville, his personal humility and his immense knowledge and understanding of the country, the nation and the people made him a good choice as Governor General.

The Bougainville House of Representatives and its Members express and extend our sincere condolences to Lady Esmie Ogio for her loss at this difficult time especially so soon after the end of Sir Michael’s term as Governor general.

The ABG joins his family, his people and the whole country in remembering and celebrating Sir Michel’s lifetime.


Pic Above Caption: President Chief Dr John Momis welcomes the Late Governor General Sir Michael Ogio on his first official visit to Bougainville as Viceregal in 2011 for the 6th Anniversary of the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The trip was the Sir Michael’s only official trip that he ever made to Bougainville in his capacity as Governor General. Pic Courtesy of Bougainville Tourism Website


It is with the greatest of sadness that I mourn with the rest of Bougainville the passing of one of this nation’s finest statesmen in the Late Governor General His Excellency Sir Michael Ogio.

The Late Sir Michael Ogio served this nation and the people of Bougainville with commitment and great distinction. His long career began first as an educator, a politician and peacemaker and finally holding the highest office in the land as the Viceregal. Sir Michael Ogio was a staunch Catholic and family man; he was a man amongst men, a leader with the heart for his people and his selflessness and Christian values were the hallmark of his jovial attitude to life to which he lived a full one.

As a teacher His Excellency had taught in many schools throughout the country prior to PNG gaining independence. His love of teaching was very well reflected in his demeanour and the manner in which he carried himself. Sir Michael Ogio was then elected into the then North Solomons Provincial Government and served as its first Minister for Education and from there he contested the National Elections and was elected into office as the Member for North Bougainville. As a National MP he held various government Ministries and further distinguished himself as a leader at the national and international level.

It is worthy to note his time as Member for North Bougainville which was through the darkest years of Bougainville’s history during the Bougainville Crisis (1989-1997). The immense contribution that he made in the peace process and the peace building after the Crisis during this tumultuous period must be lauded as he was one of the foremost leaders who led our people into the peace that we enjoy today; that is by far Sir Michael’s greatest legacy, to finally see Bougainville at peace and the people’s drive to self-determination to be enduring as ever.

I pay tribute to this great man who was a friend and contemporary of mine and on behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the people of Bougainville I offer my sincerest condolences to Lady Esime and the family of our Late Governor General Sir Michael Ogio. Let us not be bereaved by grief but also celebrate the life of this extraordinary man who for more than 40 years dedicated his life to serving this country through the public service and through public office as a politician and statesman. May God our Father grant him eternal rest.

Chief Dr. John L. Momis, MHR, GCL


The Prime Minster, Peter O’Neill, has released the following statement in the passing of H.E. Sir Michael Ogio, GCMG CBE.

“It is with great sadness that I have been informed of the passing of the Governor General of Papua New Guinea, the Late Sir Michael Ogio.

“As a nation and as a Government, we have prayed for His Excellency to return to good health, but this was not to be.”

“We now pray for the family of the late Sir Michael Ogio, and thank them for the commitment that Sir Michael gave to our country.”

“As a Member of our Nation’s Parliament, as a former Deputy Prime Minster, and as the Nation’s Vice Regal Representative, Sir Michael Ogio was an outstanding representative for the people of Papua New Guinea.”

“He was humble, he was sincere and he was a man who took an interest in the development of our nation.”

“We thank the late Sir Michael Ogio for his service to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, to the advancement of our people and to his role in strengthening the unity of our people.”


Bougainville Tribute : To the memory of life and times of Anthony Korokoro


“If he were to relive his life again, you would see him repeat of many of his successes and achievements that were destroyed in the crisis in Bougainville and in what he left in Port Moresby“.

–  Simon Pentanu

Anthony (Tony) Korokoro. A husband, father, grandfather, an elder, a friend to many. He has passed on. It is sad, he will be missed. But this old man chose his time to leave. He left in peace. This is a choice that not everyone has the opportunity to make.

Tony Korokoro leaves a well endowed and successful children behind. They are proud of him. He will always be adored by his family and relatives and remembered by his friends. He made good choices in his lifetime. He served and fulfilled his time well. He lived, loved and reared well as a father and cared as a grandfather. For this and more, the life he shared with them is worth remembering and celebrating.

Most of all Tony lived and served his pledge as a husband and father to his children with pride, he saw and witnessed them bear the fruits of his labour as a teacher, a manager who minded his own business, a private individual, a community elder and a peace loving man to the last.

He was a quiet maestro when it came to planning and achieving what he set out to do. He walked and talked with purpose and an end result in mind. He saw many rainbows at the end of the day. He shared his laughs, jokes and joys with close friends and new friends.

I will remember him and count him as someone who shared his advice, vision and experiences openly and friendlier-ly with and among those he knew.

There were many that knew him and that related to his life and times.

Sincere condolences.