Chapter 16: The First Professionals - Part 2

This is the next generation of professionals who got an advanced education. Many of them were trained overseas.

Dr. Tom Talonu, son of Joseph Numbojuor and Bakicho

Dr. Talonu was the first Wautogig man to enter Papuan Medical College, complete a diploma in Medicine, and qualify as a doctor. He was born in 1941 or 42 and died while still a fine young man in 1986. He and the author were clan brothers and closest friends, having studied together at Utepiguh, then at Brandi High and Keravat National High School. After getting his diploma in tropical medicine, he studied in New Zealand and later in London, specialising in hematology.

Dr. Talonu was one of the first directors of the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society. He started a private medical clinic in Wewak and later in Port Moresby in blood testing (pathology). He was also a lecturer in medicine at the University of Papua New Guinea medical school.

Dr. Talonu was a beautiful man. He was loving, caring, and gentle. He was a fine swimmer and a fine fisherman. He was also a great dancer, especially of Mendep singing. His death in 1986 is still mourned today. In memory of him Mendep singsing has not been danced for many years.

Dr. Talonu had two brothers, Jacob Sonin and Joseph Gabut.1

Bernard Narokobi, son of Anton Narokobi and Maria Mokoi

Bernard Narokobi was the first Wautogig man to undertake university studies. The year was 1966, just before the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) opened its doors to bring higher education to PNG citizens. He graduated in law and was admitted a lawyer of the National and the Supreme Courts of PNG. He was the first Papua New Guinean lawyer of the former Trust Territory of New Guinea and third in all of Papua New Guinea. The first was Joseph Aoal Mekeo. The second was Buri Kidu of Pari. Buri Kidu later became the first Chief Justice of PNG. Narokobi was later admitted to practice as a Barrister of the High Court of Australia.

Narokobi served as a civil servant, chairman of the PNG Law Reform Commission, and a member of many national organisations. He served as a legal consultant for the Constitutional Planning Committee and became an acting judge of PNG’s National Court between 1980 and 1981. He helped Vanuatu write its Independence Constitution.

Narokobi entered politics in 1982, and in 1987 was elected to the Wewak Open parliamentary seat. He served as Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Opposition Leader, Leader of Government Business, Chairman of a Ministerial Committee on Law and Order, and Speaker of the National Parliament. He retired from politics in 2002.

Mr. Narokobi has published papers, books and, plays. He has also taught law and Melanesian Philosophy for which UPNG awarded him an honorary Professorship. Mr. Narokobi was PNG High Commissioner to New Zealand. He died in 2010.

Andrew Yauieb, son of Moses Yauieb and Lakanas Getrud

Bernard Narokobi was the first child of Wautogig to enter university. However, Andrew Yauieb was the first to acquire a university degree. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of PNG. He later got another degree in Forestry from the Australian National University, thus becoming the first Wautogig man to graduate with double degrees and the first to graduate from an overseas university.

Mr. Yauieb worked as director of PNG’s Department of Forests and later as the Secretary to Prime Minister Paias Wingti. He then served as Ambassador to Germany and the Holy See. At the time of writing he was serving as an executive at Highlands Gold, tasked with opening a multibillion dollar Nickel and Cobolt mine in Ramu, Madang. Mr. Yauieb’s brother, Mr. Andreas Yauieb, is the Assistant Secretary of Parliament House. Andrew Yauieb died in 2007.

Camillus Narokobi, son of Anton Narokobi and Maria Mokoi

Bernard Narokobi's second brother Camillus Narokobi is a lawyer. He graduated in law from the UPNG and later earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Washington in the USA. He specialised in the law of the sea and international law. He served as a lawyer for the Foreign Affairs Department, negotiating the Tuna Treaty and PNG border treaties with Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and Australia. He served as Commissioner General in Savila, Spain, in 1994.

Camillus Narokobi now runs his own private law practice and is a special consultant to Right Honourable Michael T. Somare in the Bougainville political and constitutional negotiations. He is a member of the UPNG Council.

Mr. Joseph Gabut, son of Joseph Numbojuwor and Bakicho

JJoseph Gabut is the last of the three sons of Joseph Numbojuor, the former giɲau of Wautogig. Before Numbojuor died, he anointed Bernard Narokobi as Chief.2

Joseph Gabut is also a lawyer with a Bachelor of law degree from the UPNG. Like Camillus Narokobi, he was also an international law advisor to the Foreign Affairs and Trade Department.

Mr. Gabut later served as Secretary to the Department of Fisheries and Marine Products and now (around 2000) he serves as the Secretary to the Department of Petroleum and Gas. He has been responsible for the development of the Gas Act and for the opening up of gas and petroleum industries in PNG. He hopes to sell gas to Australia through an open pipeline from Kutubu to Gladesville in Queensland.

Marcus Weibun Yahaipim, son of Yahaipim and Undumari

Marcus Weibun is a medical officer. He gained his Bachelor of Medicine from the UPNG. Dr. Weibun has also studied abroad in Australia. He has been the chief medical officer of Sandaun Province for the last fifteen years. Dr. Weibun was conferred a Queen’s award for service to the community, thus becoming the second Wautogig to receive a state award. The first man to be given a Queens award was Mr. Andrew Yauieb, who was honoured with a CMG award.3 Bernard Narokobi was honoured with an OBE award, but he declined it, as it was inconsistent with his republican views of the State of PNG.4

Andreas Yauieb, son of Moses Yauieb and Lakanas Getrud

Andreas Yauieb holds an Arts degree from the UPNG. He has served as First Clerk Assistant in the National Parliament and Maintenance Manager of the Parliament. Mr. Yauieb is the third of four brothers in Moses Yauieb’s family. He is the brother of Andrew Yauieb. After he resigned from the Parliament he ran his own business.

James Rahiria, son of Rahiria and Piosɨmon

James Rahiria is the brother of Matthew Rahiria, of the second batch of Wautogig primary school teachers. Mr. James Rahiria is a Bachelor of Science graduate of the UPNG. He worked with the Department of Forestry and now works as a water analyst with the Department of Health. He is the first of the Wautogigem to study in Australia at the secondary school level. He attended St. Gregory’s Marist College, Campbelltown, NSW.

John Haugiə, son of Sengiromo and Aikesumon

Like Dr. Talonu, John Haugiə died a young man. John graduated from the UPNG with an Arts degree. He started working as an executive officer of the National Cultural Council shortly before independence. He worked closely with the first Chief Minister and later the first Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Somare. Mr. Haugiə is the son of the first Wautogig dokta boi, or medical orderly, Mr. Sengiromo. Haugiə later became a successful businessman. He has one brother, Michael Sengiromo, who graduated in law from the UPNG, and worked with the Lands Department as a lawyer. He is now a self-employed private consultant on land matters.

In Wautogig’s socioeconomic network, the Sengiromos are the Narokobis’ wiəgəri or wabɨrin buaɲin. This is a close relationship which ensures mutual support and interdependence in feasting, food exchange, and community relationships. This relationship may or may not be filial. It allows for intermarriage, though it remains very intimate. 5


1 Jacob Sonin’s extraordinary traditional knowledge is evident from the commentary throughout this exposition. Joseph Gabut was Secretary of Petroleum and Gas. Later he served as a private attorney for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and was appointed Land Title Commissioner for the Ramu Nickel project. Listen.

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3 This is an award for service in Commonwealth affairs overseas.

4 Bablis, Gregory. 2020. ‘Which Way?’ Big Man, Road Man, Chief: Bernard Narokobi’s Multifaceted Leadership Career. The Journal of Pacific History 55(2):297. Lise and Ira had it in mind to propose some honors such as these for people of Wautogik, not realising several had already received them. Listen.

5 Jacob and Tony discuss the institution of waburiɲ buaɲin (wiəgəri is the Boikin term). Listen.

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