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Nahau's haus krai: Reflections and shared moments

Late Nahau Elizabeth Kambuou Rooney was born on 18th April 1945. She passed away on 15th September 2020. Her life is remembered for the her remarkable journey from a village in Manus to one of the few PNG women who was elected as a member of parliament. In many ways at at many levels, her life symbolized many things about being Papua New Guinea at the time before and post Independence. It symbolized much about being an educated Papua New Guinean woman during this time. Her life also symbolized many things about the relationship between Papua New Guinea and Australia, through her marriage to her husband, late Wesley James Rooney. Her life story provides insights into different aspects of Papua New Guinea's history, politics, and social cultural life.

Between the date of her passing and her final laying to rest, many people came to Nahau's haus krai to pay their respects, grieve, engage in customary exchange, to share their reflections, celebrate her life, and support her funeral and burial. Her haus krai occasioned important opportunities for many people to share about her life, grieve her loss, and make amends, or reframe old or redefine new relationships, and say good bye to her.

Nahau's haus krai comprises a series of short video's and photo essays taken during her final journey. In sharing these, I hope that some insights can be gained into Nahau's life and her death and what they can teach us about many aspects of life during her time.

The following is a brief timeline of Nahau's final journey home from Port Moresby:

Tuesday 15th September: She passed away at her home in Korobosea, Port Moresby on Tuesday 15th September 2020.

Thursday 8th October: Funeral at the Port Moresby's Sioni Kami Memorial United Church where she regularly attended Sunday service.

Friday 9th October: Late Nahau Rooney was repatriated back to her home Manus. She was accompanied by members of her family and friends.

  • Upon arrival at Momote Airport, the Manus Provincial Government and community officiated over an official procession from the airport, through the Lorengau town.

  • On the way to Lorengau, the procession stopped at Loniu village, where late Nahau's sister, Karula lives. Karula is married to a Loniu man, Mr. Ezekial Koren.

  • Her casket lay in the Pihi Manus - Provincial Pihi Manus Association (Provincial Council of Women) offices that she established and built during her presidency of the PHA. Members of the council presided over this ceremony.

  • Her casket was then taken to the Manus Provincial Assembly where it lay in state with the members of the Provincial Assembly presided over by the Governor for Manus and Open Member for Manus.

  • The provincial government then handed her casket to her family at her long time residence and business, Lorengau Kohai Lodge.

  • Due to religious commitments and many people being both Seventh Day Adventists and Sunday church goers, it was agreed for her to be buried on Monday 12th October.

Saturday 10th October: Her casket was taken to the Pihi Manus Association office in Lorengau where the elected officials of the women's association presided over an all women's haus krai over night. She was accompanied by her female kin.

Sunday 11th October: Her casket was returned to the family at Lorengau Kohai Lodge where she lay in state with family and friends.

Monday 12th October: Late Nahau Rooney was laid to rest next to her beloved Wesley James Rooney on their land at the Lorengau Kohai Lodge.

Thursday 15th October: Cultural ceremony marking a number of days after her burial was held. Generally, this is spoken about in terms of 5 days, but the actual days depend on the circumstances.

Tuesday 27th October: Rausim haus krai was held in Port Moresby.

Many people were involved in Nahau's haus krai. It is important to note that what I share here represents only a fraction of all the different perspectives and stories that many others have in terms of their unique relationship with Nahau and also their involvement in her haus krai. Each story is important and I hope that others will one day also provide their perpectives. In this series Nahau's haus krai, I share my viewpoint based on what I was able to capture in photographs, videos, and my own experiences and observations. Others' have their own versions of events, their own stories to tell.

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