The late Justice Lenalia was one of the pioneer magistrates to be appointed as a judge.
He was in fact the first magistrate to be appointed who served his first full term as a judge. He even served as the acting Chief Justice of Vanuatu in August 1995, while serving in Vanuatu as a magistrate.
Having worked in the judiciary as a magistrate before obtaining his law degree, the late Justice Lenalia was described by Justice Kandakasi, his fourth year classmate at Law school, as a gentle giant, who did quite well in law school.
Fellow judge who was also appointed to the bench in March 2001, Justice Panuel Mogish, said he was in disbelief on the morning of August 15 when he learnt of the late Justice Lenalia’s death.
Being from the New Ireland province, he said they both had been actively following the progress of the election in the province for obvious reasons.
He thanked the children and family of the late judge for sharing him with them, and for their patience in allowing members of the judiciary to take lead in organizing his funeral.
Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika said the late judge’s life is one that speaks for itself.
“Yes he was a very humble giant, he carried himself with integrity and dignity, wherever he went. To his children, you should be proud of your father, and the life he showed us as judges,” Sir Gibbs told those who gathered to celebrate his life.
“The evidence of work he left behind is written in the books of PNG.
“To our brother, you’ve run a good race, you’ve put up a good fight. Rest in peace our brother,” he added.
Son, Salatiel Lenalia junior, in paying tribute, said he had a good father-son relationship with his father.
He said he remembers his father vividly, as the words of a song.
He said his late father was raised by a single-parent, who comes from a family of seven children.
“Even when sick, he would get up and go to work. He truly believed in doing good,” Lenalia jnr added.
The casket of the late judge will be repatriated to Kokopo tomorrow and later to New Ireland on Sunday where he will be laid to rest.
Seven judges will be accompanying the late judge in his journey home.
Picture: Casket of the late Justice Salatiel Lenalia, during the ceremonial sitting in court today.