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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 15) - One of Papua New Guinea’s longest serving statesman, administrator, diplomat and Simbu’s only surviving knight Sir Joseph Nombri has died.

Sir Joseph, from Wagl village, Pari in Kundiawa, Simbu province, passed away peacefully at 8:30 a.m. yesterday in the presence of his wife and extended family at his home at Gordon 5, Port Moresby.

His death comes after a long battle with cancer of the throat, which took him to Brisbane, Australia, for specialist treatment but nothing much could be done as the cancer was too advanced.

He returned home to Port Moresby in late August last year and remained until his death yesterday. He was 70 years old.

The father of five and grandfather of seven dedicated his life serving Papua New Guinea, beginning as a kiap (patrol officer) throughout PNG and administrator of Western and Southern Highlands provinces.

Sir Joseph’s professional career in the public service began after his training at the Administrative College sometime in the middle of the 1960s, where he gained his managerial/ administrative qualifications.

He also met up with PNG’s first-to-be Prime Minister young Michael Somare when they all congregated at Sir Maori Kiki’s residence in Hohola for their now famous Bully Beef Club to discuss the beginnings of the political party -- Pangu -- that herald PNG into eventual gaining political independence in September 1975.

The young aspiring Simbu administrator was one of the first presidents of the then Bully Beef Club while at its early infancy, relatives of the late Sir Joseph said yesterday.

After graduating from the Administrative College, Sir Jospeh served as patrol officer in Western province in 1967 and 1968.

He was district commissioner (equivalent to governor) for Southern Highlands from 1969 to 1972. From 1973 to 1975, he was Morobe province district commissioner and in 1976 to 1978, he served as public service commissioner based in Port Moresby’s government bureaucracy.

From 1979 to 1991, he served as ambassador to Japan and also accredited as consul-general to China and South Korea.

He returned to PNG in early 1991 and served for a couple of months as provincial administrator of Western province but chose to retire the same year and went into private consultative work until his passing yesterday.

Sir Joseph was bestowed knighthood in 1988 for distinguished service to PNG. He was also nominated for the Vice Royal Regal in 1978 and 2003 but did not win the position to serve as governor-general.

Sir Joseph was the only child to his father, Nombri of the Kamanuku tribe, and mother, Degbabo of the Kengaku tribe, of Kundiawa in Simbu province.

He is now survived by wife Nicky and children Paul, Josephine, Kerenga, Esther and Oliver and grandchildren: Maria, Josephine, Mondo, Abagail, Gregory, Kerenga and Combuai.

According to relatives yesterday, the haus krai for the late Sir Joseph is at his home in Gordon 5.

Any enquiries regarding funeral arrangements can be made on the following contacts: John Kerenga – 697-9951, Peter Waieng – 688-8522, Esther Nombri – 691-6322 or William Michael – 72101739.

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