Everyday People: Gemma Maraiapo

Gemma Maraiapo is a hardworking single mother of five from Miaru, in the Malalaua District of Gulf Province.

Inspired by the famous Gulf phrase of ‘Yu yet kam na lukim’, one would have to spend merely a minute with Gemma to understand why the Park looks so presentable daily as it is in her nature to ensure everything is set and ready for guests.

Gemma is no new face to the Tourism & Hospitality Industry. Since 1992 when she started her first job with the Granville Hotel in Port Moresby as a Housekeeping staff, she had never strayed from the field, which to date sees her clocking in 29 years of service in Housekeeping within the Tourism & Hospitality Industry.

She has a colourful career, working at some of the best hotels in Port Moresby such as Airways and Lamana, even taking up the challenge of working in remote mine sites in order to support her growing children. All has been worth the sacrifice as she now sees her grand children growing up with her children, following her footsteps and doing the best they can to raise their children under her watchful granny eyes.

Day one of her job at Port Moresby Nature Park was the day Gemma finally felt at peace and at home. It was a feeling she welcomed and hoped would stay with her daily. The peaceful, homely feeling certainly was a cushion for her job at the Park for the last eight years in Park Presentations.

Today, Gemma is the Park Presentation Team Leader and is part of the wonderful Guest Relations’ Team.

Gemma now leads a team of five women whose daily tasks would begin, sometimes starting as early as 6:30am simply to get everything presentable, including the staff into their crisp Green or Khaki uniforms, ready to open the gates daily to guests of PNG’s leading Tourism Attraction and Wildlife Park, the Port Moresby Nature Park.

As if these tasks weren’t enough for busy ‘Miss Gemma’, she also welcomed the additional role of being an active Committee Member on Nature Park’s ‘Green Team’, which advocates on sustainable practices in the office and at home that contribute to saving the environment.

It is no easy task maintaining Port Moresby Nature Park. But with a team, who share the same passion and level of commitment, the tasks become a breeze and all you see around the Park are happy team members either wiping down benches, refilling hand-sanitizing stations, mopping, sweeping, scrubbing and so forth all in a day’s work!

“It is great to be working here. Yes, I do have a lot to do every day but working for the Park has allowed me to have time for my family and most importantly, to have time for God”, says Gemma as she happily reflects on her life-changing journey with the Park.

“There are other staff members like me as well here at Park. We have all found a family here. This is our Nature Park family and we’re a great team,” adds Gemma.

Port Moresby Nature Park’s Park Presentation team is responsible for issuing staff uniforms daily, maintaining the Park’s laundry services for its 70-plus staff, cleaning and maintaining its admin offices, ablution blocks and other general Park clean-up which supports the Grounds department in ensuring that the Park is consistently presentable to its guests on a daily basis.

With over 550 resident animals and 30 acres of tropical gardens, the park relies heavily on its workforce to keep it maintained thus the organisation provides support and continued learning to all staff to continue the shared mission of environment conservation.

Port Moresby Nature Park is a charity organization that relies on grants and donor funding to operate. By visiting the park and joining its Annual Membership Program, you help support the Park’s efforts in preserving PNG’s unique natural environment for future generations, including the Park’s 550 resident animals, majority of which were surrendered to the Park for care.

Marysila Kellerton