Bikes, Camera, Neverland and a Uke
A tribute in Memory to lau Turagu Namona, (my best friend) Greg
13 August 1958 – 12 June 2012
Gregory William Bluett, late son of Noel and Margaret, passed-on last Tuesday (June 12) evening with his family praying by his side in hospital.
He died peacefully and by accounts from his family, so very unexpectedly at the age of 53.
His doctors had suggested survival for about 6-12 months.
But he stopped breathing, and his pain vanished, far sooner.
The tragic, sudden turn of events had me, and I am sure many more, in shock and disbelief.
Greg’s wish was that his celebration funeral, held in Cairns last Saturday 16 June, be rich in colour and joy.
His wish was well honoured.
His motorbike and friends at the gravesite
An entourage of special friends played the ukulele and sang beside him, and the Chapel of Memories was full of rainbow colours.
A family friend said that anyone not knowing what has happening would think it was a “Wiggles Conference,” and Greg would have loved that.
Greg was a real-life Peter Pan, the fictitious, character about a mischievous, ageless boy that wished to be youthful forevermore and fly.
Greg was the epitome of “Pan” - enjoy life to the max and only he could fly with a motor-bike.
A man with such a love for doing the extraordinary leap-of-faith, and if it had an engine so that he could do that, oh! even better.
Greg was Mr. Energy; a thriller and thrill-seeker, claiming a closet of victory trophies and awards in the sport of motocross, and was renown for his ability to perform ‘crazy’ stunts whilst dressed in a clown-costume at the Lae Show in the 80’s.
With his parents and siblings, he grew up his most of his time in PNG in Goroka and Lae and then later in Port Moresby.
His eldest brother, Paul, who continues to serve Papua New Guinea in business remarked that “I just gave up trying to look after my brother.”
I can understand that babysitting Greg would have been like watching over a beehive on a rainy day!
His mother’s tribute was blunt about his larger than life son always baiting the local police to chase him on his cross-country motorbike across Lae.
Greg would have been grateful that the young black kid he grew up with, Hon. Moses Maladina, Minister for Police, had come to say goodbye to him and celebrate his life, on Saturday in Cairns.
And in keeping with Greg’s wicked one-line humour, his brother Paul, joked that finally the police had caught up with him!
I met Greg at EMTV in Port Moresby, at a time when the company was still finding its feet in the market, and we started in commercial productions under our mentor, Alun Beck.
Adam Delaney (left) and Greg Bluett in Cairns at Amateurs Carnival 2001.
Television had finally tamed Greg and opened up the path of his dreams.
His passion for creativity, people, nature, travel, had merged with his love for photography and better still it culminated a career where he could find his dreams as an individual.
He often said that “you have a camera anywhere in Papua New Guinea and the whole village becomes your friend.”
His marvellous images around PNG and of the people seemingly unaware of the problems around them, are testament of this wonderful relationship.
He was finally happy on a road to self-belief and family.
Greg was a Papua New Guinean in a white-man’s skin with blonde hair.
Sometimes he was more Kiap, than Kiaps.
The guy was down to Earth as it came, and sincere in his belief that other people were in far greater need than he was.
We shared a common distaste for how people were paid in PNG.
As a Papua New Guinean he earned far, far less than the ‘expert’ expatriate that came into Media Niugini with little knowledge of the country.
They had company cars, and ‘luxury’ apartments.
Greg was forced to earn the national equivalent, because he identified himself as being a PNG national, even though his technical and people skills were superior.
But he plugged along.
Greg ‘shot’ some of the best pioneering television commercials such as, the original Coca Cola fun-in-the-sun ads on the beaches around Port Moresby, and various Motor Car advertisements.
We showcased “House of Gemini’s” fine jewellery with a memorable ‘shoot’ at Daugo Island using Bob Garner’s “Heart of Gold” yacht.
When Greg finally left PNG, his spirit had remained.
He would often return to his spirit-land, and did so recently, including to New Ireland for the “Mask Festival” and catch-up also with his wantoks from the Bahai Faith.
He set up his own company, GBTV, and was closely connected with WIN Television in Cairns and the Cairns business community.
It was a rare moment for me helping him, part time, set-up cameras and film races during the signature event- Cairns Amateurs Carnival.
Our job was to record the horse races, which could be used as evidence of any irregular behaviour by Jockeys – like using whips on another horse.
Greg would have left a legacy of at least 8,000 television commercials produced in his lifetime.
He drove from the West Coast of America in a rent-a-car to New York City, and stayed with my family and I in the late 1990’s on Roosevelt Island.
He couldn’t stop filming.
For a man of film, the City was jungle of images.
Greg’s greatest heart was his beautiful daughter, Rebecca, from his former wife, Elaine, whom he met in Cairns.
We last spoke almost six weeks ago when I treated him and his partner, Gabby, for lunch at a Japanese restaurant in town.
He was a ‘happy chappie’ as usual and didn’t know then, according to his family, that the lingering pain in his throat was something far sinister and, as it turned out, fatal.
Over lunch, I invited him to join me in playing over 35’s (age) soccer at Trinity Park and he seemed enthusiastic.
When the match was scheduled, I emailed him and in true Greg cheek, he responded that “we should train, as he hadn’t kicked a soccer ball in almost 20 years.”
I laughed out loudly and replied that as it was an “over 35s competition” our team does not even warm-up before a game!
So very sadly, I never had the chance to see him kick around.
Greg you will be missed mate.
A true wantok, with many friends from so many walks of life.
You taught many in PNG how to use a camera and edit better.
If there’s a speedway in Heaven, I’ll be looking out for a man in a clown-suit, waving a PNG flag, dancing his bike amongst the clouds and blasting Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” on a ukulele.
Bamahuta lau Turagu, God Bless until we meet again.
Adam Vai Delaney was a former PNG Diplomat and now works as an Independent Consultant in Asia-Pacific.