Carolus, who became Minister for Works in the Autonomous Bougainville Government after a long and distinguished career as a journalist, had been ill for some time and recently returned from a period in hospital in Port Moresby.
And so an illustrious, sometimes turbulent and high-achieving life is over. I’ll remember Carolus as a great journalist, an enthusiastic jazz musician and a good bloke.
Carolus was in the first group of Papua New Guinean journalists to train with the ABC in 1962 and became Director of Programs in the new National Broadcasting Commission in 1974.
He was also a talented musician – composing and recording the hit album Koitaki Cowboy – and a gifted jazzman, recording with Independence era musicians like Phil Charley and Doug Fyfe.
Early in his career, he married an Australian – a contract uncommon in those colonial days – and had two lovely children.
Like so many of those sixties marriages, mine included, the original did not last. Nor did the journalism. He left journalism to pursue a business career, becoming chairman of the PNG Cocoa Board.
In the late 1980s, with Bougainville falling deeper into civil strife and despair, Carolus returned home to be with his people, building a home outside the small town of Tinputz on the north-east coast.
Here he married again, this time to a young Bougainville woman who died tragically. Carolus started a small business, a music store, and a long personal struggle began with an island divided, an economy in tatters and his own health in bad shape.
With his life under threat from political opponents, he left his home and retreated to the bush. On a visit to Sydney a few years ago, he told me how - fearing his house would be torched while he was absent - he had wrapped his precious hi-fi equipment and record collection in plastic sheeting and buried in a hole in the ground.
When he returned home two years later, everything was intact but, ironically, the items he had hidden had been destroyed by water and mould.
Bougainville rose from its despondency – and so did Carolus. He was one of the architects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement; he restored his business enterprises; became chairman of the Tinputz Council of Elders and a respected company director; and was appointed Minister for Commerce and Communications in the Interim Bougainville Provincial Government.
He won, lost and then regained the seat of Taonita-Tinputz in the Autonomous Bougainville Government and was serving as Minister for Works at the time he died.
Carolus was the driving force behind the establishment of New Dawn FM in north Bougainville, a project I was delighted to be able to work with him to bring to fruition. He also founded the Tinputz Cocoa Festival.
Carolus’s body has been taken to Buka and funeral arrangements are expected to be announced soon.
I miss this charming, charismatic and humorous man.