Chapter 17: The First Professionals - Part 3/4

As discussed in the previous two chapters, even before Wautogig had university graduates it had produced educated men who held skilled jobs in both the private and the public sectors. But since then Wautogig has produced many highly educated professionals. Here I introduce those from the first generation:

William Nindim, son of John Nindim and Teibunar

William Nindim graduated from UPNG with an Arts degree. He then worked for many years on the political staff of Michael Somare. Mr. Nindim joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and was appointed Consul General to PNG’s Sydney office in Australia. He was later transferred to Suva, Fiji, as Deputy High Commissioner. William Nindim is the son of John Nindim, the first councilor of Wautogig village. John Nindim was responsible for gathering all Wautogigem on Huraimbo, the present site of Wautogig nation.1

Joseph Naguen, son of Nanguya and Dasuru

Joseph Naguen graduated with an Arts degree from the UPNG and became librarian. He also studied overseas in New Zealand. He worked in the Somare library where he was in charge of the PNG collection, probably the largest collection of PNG works in the country. Mr. Naguen’s father was a sergeant in the police force who worked with PNG kiaps before the war.2

Anton Naguen, son of Nanguya and Dasuru

Anton (Tony) Naguen is Joseph’s younger brother. He also graduated with an Arts degree from UPNG. He joined the Labour Department and later joined Ok Tedi Mining Limited as a recruiting officer. In 1997, he contested elections for Wewak Open. He now works for Highlands Gold on the Ramu Nickel Project in Madang.3

Anton Gabuogi, son of Gabuogi and Tuenjo

Anton Gabuogi graduated in Arts from UPNG and worked as the Housing Officer with the National Housing Commission, now called the National Housing Corporation. He resigned to run his own Pathology service in Lae.

Benedict Sokamia, son of Sokamia and Naisɨmon

Benedict Sokamia is the son of Sokamia and Naisɨmon, half-sister of Maria Mokoi. Maria Mukoi was the sister of Moses Yauieb, father of Andrew and Andreas Yauieb. Benedict Sokamia graduated in Arts from UPNG and worked as a librarian with the UPNG. He died tragically in a car accident on the University grounds.4

William Robui, son of Pita Robui and Marta Hɨrɨgien

William Robui is son of Pita Robui and Hɨrɨgien of Bogumatai. He graduated with a degree in engineering from the PNG University of Technology (Unitech) in Lae. He worked with the Steamship Trading Company as a boat engineer until he resigned and joined the Lutheran Shipping Company. He continues to work for Lutheran shipping.5

Desmond Rahiria, son of Matthew Rahiria and Dorothy Ningirawa

Desmond Rahiria is the son of Mathew Rahiria and Dorothy Ningirawa, both of Wautogig. He graduated in electronical engineering and works with the Ok Tedi mine. Desmond is the son of one of our first professional primary school teachers, Matthew Rahiria, who died in July 2005.

Michael Yagɨro, son of Yagɨro and Giamau

Michael Yagɨro studied forest science at Unitech in Lae. He then went to work at Bulolo Forest College before returning to Unitech to be a lecturer. He served as a forestry officer for many years until his retrenchment. Now he works in private industry.6

Wautogig has three PhD holders:

Andrew Moutu, son of Moutu and Monica Barisumon

Andrew Moutu is the son of Moutu and Monica Barisumon of Woginara. He graduated in anthropology from the UPNG. After working for two years with the PNG National Museum, Andrew undertook his Masters degree at Cambridge University in the UK. He then completed his doctoral degree in Anthropology from the same university, making him the third person from Wautogik to earn the PhD degree.7 He then went to work as a teaching fellow at Adelaide, Australia, before returning to PNG in 2010 to take up the position of Director of the PNG National Museum.8

Dr. Albert Mellam, son of Cleaophas Mellam and Lucy

Albert Mellam was the first son of Wautogig to earn a doctoral degree. He is the son of Mellam and Lucy, a woman of mixed Eastern Highlands and Buin parentage. Dr. Mellam graduated from the UPNG in Psychology and later earned a PhD from ANU in Australia. He teaches psychology at the UPNG, has taught overseas at the University of Finland, and has taught at Southern Cross University in Australia. He served as Dean of Humanities and then Chancellor of UPNG.

Dr. Felix Bablis, son of Felix Natopol and Tanguico

Son of Felix Natopol and Scola of Kwangen village, Bablis, obtained his Arts degree in Education from the University of Goroka and taught in PNG high schools for some years.9 Bablis then went to the University of Oklahoma in the US where he graduated in the early 2000s with a PhD.

When he returned to PNG, Bablis taught in Education at the University of Goroka, where he helped establish a school of Melanesian Studies. He was the second son of Wautogig to obtain a PhD.10

These are the second generation university graduates from Wautogig village:

Anthony Yauieb, son of Andrew Yauieb and Paulina (Polly) Wagumbie

Anthony Yauieb is the son of Andrew Moriwen Yauieb and Paulina Wagumbie, of mixed Hawain and Yangoru parentage.11 Anthony graduated with an MA degree in economics from Oxford University and did some further economics study at Australian National University in Canberra. Anthony led the second generation of university graduates.

Toby Gabuogi, son of Anton Gabuogi and Benedette

Toby is the son of Anton Gabuogi and Benedette of Tui village, Boikin (though her father is from Yangoru). He is another second-generation university graduate. He received an Arts degree from the UPNG and then worked for British Petroleum in Lae after a short stint with the ANZ Bank.12

Vergil Los Narokobi, son of Bernard and Regina Narokobi

Vergil is the son of Bernard Narokobi and Regina Sak of Kwangen. Vergil is a second-generation lawyer with a degree from the UPNG. He was awarded First Class Honours and participated in the Jessup International Moot Court in the United States. He obtained his Masters degree, Second Class Honours, upper division at University of Cambridge. He has worked for Price Waterhouse, for a private lawyer with his uncle, Camillus Narokobi, and for the PNG Ombudsman Commission. Vergil is the third generation of literate people in Wautogig.13

Emmanuel Narokobi, son of Camillus Narokobi and Cathy Samana

Emmanuel Narokobi is the son of Camillus Narokobi and Cathy Samana, half-sister of Utala Samana of Waria, Morobe Province. Like his cousins, Emmanuel is a law graduate from UPNG. He is also a second-generation lawyer.

Emmanuel has a website/internet company called Wantok and Masalai Trading.14 He is also a second-generation college graduate. Before starting his company he worked as a lawyer for his father, Camillus Narokobi. At one time he also ran the Port Moresby Rugby League.

Moses Romukori, son of Romukori and Nifa meri Goroka

Moses Romukori is the son of Romukori and a mother from Eastern Highlands. He graduated from the Divine Word University in accounting and then went to work as a public auditor in East Sepik, covering the Momase region. He is now based out of Lae.

Albert Sahamia, son of Hularuwo and Manasigien

Albert Sahamia graduated first from UPNG followed by a second degree from Monash University in Public Health.

Other professionally successful or important males:15

Other male college graduates:

Julius Yehaipim. High school teacher, worked at many different schools, retired from Brandi.

Don Mellam. High school teacher.

Philip Baiwog. Worked at Lihir mine.

James Yagoro. Forest officer.

Henrick Yagoro. School inspector.

Kevin Worebai. School teacher.

Moses Gabuogi. Headmaster, Inspector at top-up school.

Godfried Sokamia. Seminary trained civil servant.

John Silen. Parliamentary staff officer.

Daniel Narokobi. Speaker’s staff officer, bus owner in Port Moresby.

Anton Kwainger. Public administration.

Oscar Yauieb. Foreign affairs officer.

Steven Sallun. Accounting division manager Steamships. Has a degree in Business Management.

Phillip Moutu. Branch manager, stationery shop.

Leopold Robui. ELCOM tradesman.

Paul Kwasəmbi. Policeman and marksman.

Andrew Tigeni. Fisheries.

Harry Wochem. Elementary school teacher.

Jacob Sonin. Community development.

Alex Ulanji. Seminary trained, died in 2005.

Makul Watiem. Vocational training, carpentry in Lae.

Dominic Sahamia. Nursing, then Monash University graduate in health science.

Aluis Wairən. Vocational Training.

Damien Manga. Court official in Wewak.

Paul Bukombu. Brotherhood ministry in the Catholic church.

Wilfred Baiwog. Worked for the PNG Harbours Board in Wewak.

Mattias Manga. Switch board operator, PNG Post and Telecommunications.

Anton Manga. Technician, Brian Bell company weights/scales.

Vitus Sengu. Motor mechanic in Port Moresby.

Samson Narokobi. Aircraft engineer for Air Niugini in Dubai.

Anton Sowəŋa. Self-taught mechanic. His uncle was Inahur, who died in Rabaul.

Arnold Watiem. Self-taught mechanic and wood carver.

John Baiwog. First carpenter to graduate from Hawain Vocational School.

Felix Natopol. Driver for PNG government.

Bonifas Harowe. Long service as driver for PNG government16

Women were at first slow to advance in education because of harsh environment and the initial unfriendly parental co-operation. But now, women are doing just as well as men.


1 Jacob, Tony, and Julius recalled that he also worked on the academic staff of Goroka Teachers College (now University of Goroka).

2 Jacob, Tony, and Julius explain that Joe Naguen went to Divine Word University after UPNG, then to the Kaindi teachers college campus in Wewak. He became an advisor to Papua New Guinean lawyer and politician Powes Parkop. Listen.

3 The mine was formerly Highlands Pacific, but now it is run by Barrick. At the time of recording Anton had moved to Morobe to the Hidden Valley mine. Listen.

4 Julius Yehaipim remembers that the year was 1983.

5 Tony says that he works as a mechanical engineer.

6 Jacob and Tony helped put together this summary, which differs somewhat from Narokobi’s original.

7 Mellam was the first, Bablis was the second, and Moutu was the third. Listen.

8 Dr. Moutu continues to hold this position at present.

9 Narokobi wrote Natopol but the correct name is said to be Natukur. Listen.

10 Bablis was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to support his studies in the US (Bashkow 2020:188). He died in 2011.

11 The question of the correct pronunciation of the name Wagumbie sparked a conversation about how there could be different versions of a Wautogik person's name, and which if any is the 'right' one. Listen.

12 He moved on to become a regional manager at Coca-Cola, based in Hagen. Listen.

13 Vergil received his PhD in law at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2016. In 2019 he was appointed a judge on the National and Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea.

14 The company is Masalai Communications.

15 As the list continues it starts to incorporate others who Narokobi evidently thought were important members of the community deserving of mention whether they had advanced education or not. Some of them are from a previous generation.

16 There are many more educated and professional Wautogigem than the ones listed here. Listen.

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