The grainy old photo above is the official photo of PNG’s first ministry, formed as a coalition under Chief Minister Michael Somare. Judging from the formal attire I would say it was taken immediately after the 17 members of the executive were sworn in.
In the years following self-government and Independence, most of these men became familiar faces and household names, largely through their press exposure in the columns of the Post Courier newspaper. Now, 40 years later, it’s not so easy for me to identify them. Names are remembered but faces forgotten, and vice versa.
Denis Williams had this photo in his private collection but he didn’t caption it because he didn’t have to. His memory for names and faces was quite extraordinary. I don’t have that gift.
I think that the photo has some historical merit for teachers and students of PNG history, but I hesitated to put it in the blog until I had a complete list of the names. I found it in Somare’s own autobiography, Sana. Hopefully someone reading this blog will be able to put the names in the right order for me, starting from left to right.
Many of these politicians have since passed away. Assuming I can get the caption right, this photo would be a nice tribute to their pioneering role.
Michael Somare (Pangu Party) Chief Minister
John Guise (Independent) Dep. Chief Minister and Minister for the
Julius Chan (PPP Party) Finance Minister
Thomas Kavali (National Party) Minister for Works
Iambakey Okuk (Nat) Minister for Agriculture, Stocks and
Donatus Mola (PPP) Minister for Business Development
Ebia Olewale (Pangu) Minister for Education
Reuben Taureka (Pangu) Minister for Health
Albert Maori Kiki (Pangu) Minister for Lands and Environment
Paul Lapun (Pangu) Minister for Mines
Moses Sasakila (Nat) Minister for Forests
Paulus Arek (ind) Minister for Information
Gavera Rea (Pangu) Minister for Labour
Boyamo Sali (Pangu) Minister for Local Government
Kaibelt Diria (Nat) Minister for Post and Telegraphs
John Poe (PPP) Minister for Trade and Industry
Bruce Jephcott (PPP) Minister for transport
Some of these men went on to have illustrious political careers and eventually became much revered and respected elder statesmen.