National Speaker Theo Zurenouc hands over body of late Agiru

​The death of Anderson Pawa Agiru – the shining star of Hela - was in deed a moment words cannot describe in the short history of Papua New Guinea politics.

Loop PNG’s political and Business Editor FREDDY MOU reports on events after his death at the PIH.  This is the final of the four-part series.

On May 13, 2016, National Parliament Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc handed the body of late governor to the provincial government.

The body was received by the Provincial administrator William Bando and the leaders.

Zurenuoc described the late governor as the prophetic son sent by God to deliver Hela Province.

He said the death of Agiru is a great loss to the people of Hela and the nation as a whole.

However, he said the death also is an example to the people of Hela and Southern Highlands to imitate his leadership and follow in his footsteps.

Truckloads and PMV buses full of people from Jiwaka Province have converged on the Andaija Oval the following day, May 13 to pay respect to the late Governor.

Speaking at the second day of mourning Jiwaka Governor William Tongamp said it was so sad to lose his “twin brother” as he described the late Agiru.

He said Jiwaka is holding onto the Hela Province by the tail as they were both declared separate provinces on the same time.

They gave K100,000, 50 pigs, two cows and garden foods towards the funeral arrangements of the late Agiru.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Southern Highlands leaders again went and pay their last respect on May 14 with foods and some disclosed cash towards the haus krai.

On May 15, the provincial government leaders visited the districts in Hela while on May 16, the Eastern Highlands team led by Governor Peter Ipatas paid their last respect.

Ipatas was also given an honor to hand the body over to the immediate families.

Customary obligations and other cultural rituals delayed the burial of the late Governor which is scheduled for May 17.

According to late Agiru’s media advisor Frank Kolma,  relatives from both parents of the late governor are still in discussion as to where the body should be buried.

Kolma said they will  most likely bury him at Tapanda (mother’s village) in Dauli on Friday.

Tapanda is where late Agiru grew up and where he asked for his house to be built four weeks before his death.

Finance Minister and Tari Pori MP James Marape dressed in the traditional Huli mourning gear on Tuesday welcomed the late Governor to his Dauli village.

He was accompanied by former PNG Power chairman Maya Larry Andagali and others.

Koroba Kopiago MP Philip Undialu will be paying their last respect to the late governor today at Dauli.

Late Agiru was 54 years old.

He had been receiving treatment for kidney malfunction since June 2015.

Agiru was leader of the People’s United Assembly and first Governor of the new Hela Province.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1997 and became leader of the United Resources Party.

He became Governor of the Southern Highlands Province which at the time included Hela.

He later left the URP to form PUA.

He was re-elected as Southern Highlands Governor in the 2002 and 2007 National elections and following the separation of Hela from Southern Highlands in 2012, successfully contested elections the same year to become the inaugural Governor of Hela.

Late Agiru was instrumental in the Gulf-Southern Highlands road link; the move to create Hela Province and the development of the PNG LNG project among other projects.

As host Governor, Agiru will be remembered for his long hard fight to develop an LNG gas project onshore.

In 2002 when the PNG Government proposed piping PNG’s gas to Queensland, Australia, Agiru fought bitterly against government to establish an LNG project onshore.

He witnessed the Gas Agreement in 2008 and led the provincial governments and landowners team to the Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement in Kokopo in May 2009 and fought hard for equity, high impact infrastructure projects and other benefits accruing to landowners and provincial governments today.

He championed the drive for agro-industrial centres throughout Hela at a time when the attention of the rest of PNG was focused on the benefits deriving from the LNG Project. He helped drive infrastructure projects throughout the new province and was building the Hela Provincial Government headquarters building at the time of his death.

His death is a great loss to the people of Hela, Southern Highlands and PNG.

Agiru held a Masters in Business Administration and has served in various capacities for several ministers before entering Parliament.

He hails from Dauli outside Tari town.

He was married to Cathy Kakaraya, daughter of Sir Pato Kakaraya.

They have no children since their marriage up to his death.


What now – with life after Anderson Pawa Agiru?  is the question that remains.

Freddy Mou