Through a Community Driven Initiative, the people of Navunaram and surrounding ward in Central Gazelle LLG have set up a working committee to pull together a proposal that entails the erection of a two metre monument and construction and improvement of pedestrian access to the historical assassination site where Blessed Peter ToRot, a Catechist and martyr, was killed by Japanese forces in 1945.
The memorial cenotaph will be erected in the exact spot where two locals, ToVatuna and ToVurete, were fatally shot by police on the 4th of August 1958. The two were part of a protest at the Navunaram personal tax collection booth, expressing opposition to the payment of head tax to the newly established Multi-Racial Council in favour of maintaining head tax payment to their existing Local Council, where the proceeds of their tax was transparently used and administered for provision of basic services like roads, aid posts and schools affecting them in their own communities.
On Thursday (July 10), Gazelle DDA board chairman and Gazelle MP, Jelta Wong, presented a K300,000 cheque to the chairman of the Project Working Committee, Don Manoa, at Navunaram. It was witnessed by LLG presidents for Central Gazelle and Reimber-Livuan, other working committee members and Ward Members.
Minister Wong said the GDDA Board considered and made the decision to support this project because it was based on Community Driven Initiative, that on completion it would add value as brand-new tourism sites in East New Britain and, both sites have historical significance for the community, district, province and Papua New Guinea.
It was a way of giving something back to Navunaram ward that has a history of how past leaders stood up for what they believed was right on their principle of self-determination for self-rule and eventually independence, but they paid the ultimate price.
“It is a very good initiative and will put Navunaram back on the map of ENB as one of the prestigious wards in Central Gazelle,” he said.
Minister Wong said pilgrims from all over PNG and indeed the world will be travelling to these memorial sites to honour these men.
He said it is only proper for those in authority to consider the importance and significance of such sites and manage them for the benefit of Gazelle District and indeed the province.
Manoa thanked the Gazelle DDA for the assistance and assured that every toea will be fully accounted for and acquitted.
Preparations are in progress for a combined Church service on August 7, 2020, to commemorate 61 years since the men were killed and humiliated by the heavy-handed tactics sanctioned by the Commissioner at that time. It will also trigger the work on both sites.
Central Gazelle LLG President, Joe Endo, assured that combined church service will involve all 19 wards including those from proximity to the shooting site, particularly Vunagogo, Tinganagalip, Navunaram, Karavia 2, Talakua, Malmaluan, Tavui-liu, Latlat, Rakunai and Kabakada.
(Minister Wong and the working committee during the cheque presentation last week)