In the biggest boost to broadcasting in PNG since the halcyon days of the great Sam Piniau OBE in the 1970s, the PNG Government has allocated K21 million to the National Broadcasting Corporation for the rehabilitation of its radio network and a further K12 million for the pilot phase of a proposed national television project. Communication and Information Minister, Patrick Tammur, said the contributions were positive signals for the NBC network to move forward.
As NBC Chairman from 1973, Sam oversaw a huge expansion of the NBC that took its radio stations into every Province and significantly boosted the skills of the national broadcaster. Thirty-five years later, however, the broadcasting system, where it is working at all, is decrepit.
The PNG Government’s announcement comes as Sam Piniau’s relatives prepare to celebrate his life at a large ceremony in Rabaul. “In September 2008 the family is hosting a feast to commemorate Dad’s life,” says eldest son Harold Piniau, a bank manager. “It will also to complete the Tolai tradition of saying ‘thank you’. This process involves a lot of preparation like breeding pigs and growing garden foods leading up to the event.”
The tentative date for the feast is Thursday 18 September when it is expected many hundreds of the Tolai people will turn out to mark the life of a man who, after doing much for his own country turned his attention to the welfare of his own people in the Gazelle Peninsula.
When I was in Rabaul late in 2006, just before Sam died, he talked of his family and children and told me how proud he was of them. I’m grateful for the two days Sam and I spent together, he and Dulcie perfect hosts. I did not realise then that he’d been very ill, and Sam was too dignified to mention it. In retrospect, it was great good fortune that took Ingrid and me to Rabaul at that time - otherwise Sam and I would never have seen each other again.
Sam died of metastatic lung cancer on 20 February 2007. “In his final moments he wrote down his last words of what he wanted done,” writes Harold. “He prepared himself before he departed us. His last moments with us were indeed very sad. Amongst other things, I knew Dad as a very humble man. His passing has basically changed my life in terms of my spiritual relationship with God and also my outlook on life in general, especially not taking life for granted any more.”
Any of Sam’s friends who wish to contribute to the final celebration of his life in September can do so by arranging a telegraphic transfer with your bank to the following address:
Beneficiary Name: Stella Piniau
Account Number: 880482
Bank Name: ANZ Bank Wewak
Bank Swift code for ANZ PNG: ANZBPGPX