Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A tribute to Mum

Moasing Nalu on her wedding day in 1963
Moasing Nalu and daughter Alison, 1966
Moasing Nalu with a baby whilst a nurse at Buangi hospital, Finschhafen
Mrs Moasing Nalu (fourth from left, back row) playing the flute with students at Buangi School of Nursing, Finschhafen

In October 2007, I travelled with my Mum, the late Mrs Moasing Nalu, to Malalo in Buakap, Morobe province, for the 100th anniversary of the Miti (Word of God) reaching the Malalo Circuit.
She was so happy and proud that I was travelling with her and excitedly pointed out places like Malalo Mission Station, atop that iconic hill near Salamaua, as well as the historic Bula Girls School.
Mum had a lot to be happy about that day as her fellow villagers from Laukanu Village, just down the coast from Salamaua, arrived in Malalo that day on a kasali, a traditional sea-going canoe which was used by the Laukanu to take the Miti from Finschhafen to Malalo 100 years earlier.
She happily told people at Malalo that day that I, her journalist son, would write a story and takes pictures of the occasion, which I did, and it was given a good run in The National newspaper’s Weekender edition a couple of days later.
The saddest thing about me standing up deliver Mum’s eulogy at the Balob Philemon Memorial Church at Butibam village in Lae last Saturday was that it was an incomplete story, which will never be fully told, because the heroine passed away at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae on Wednesday, Sept 2, without telling me the full story of her life.
I had promised her on countless occasions that I would interview her and write the full story of her life; however, this was not to be.
The night before her funeral service, as I was putting together the eulogy, I realised that I could not find out very basic things like her exact date of birth, baptism and confirmation.
I talked to uncles from Laukanu, including Mum’s younger brother, Yanganu, and he told me that she was born in 1938, not 1942, meaning that she turned 71 last month.
Uncle Yanganu told me that she was confirmed at Malalo in around 1954, while as for baptism, he would have to check with missionary records from those far-off days, which he said were still available at Laukanu.
That aside, Mum was truly a woman of substance, an unsung hero whose deeds have contributed so much to the development of Papua New Guinea.
She commanded respect, as was seen by the number of people at her funeral service, as well as the laments at the haus krai at our Butibam village home last week.
Like Ruth, that great woman of the Bible, she accompanied Dad, teacher and later school inspector Mathias Nalu, to far-flung regions of the country such as Iufi-Iufa in the Eastern Highlands in the early 1960s, Ilimo in the Northern District (now Oro province) in 1969, Wewak in 1970 and 1971, Buka from 1971-1973, Port Moresby in 1974, Goroka from 1975-1977, Lae in 1978, Alotau in 1979, and Lae from 1978-1992.
All of us her five children – Alison, David, me, Lepung and Anna – have unforgettable memories of growing up and travelling all over the country in those colonial pre-independence days in TAA and Ansett DC3.
It was at Bula Girl’s School in 1956 that life really began, so to speak, for the young Moasing Nalu as it was there that she forged lifelong friendships with many women, many of whom went on to become prominent in community and church affairs.
Mum was one of the pioneers of this iconic school, which was dedicated on February 24, 1957, and was there for three years, passing out at the end of 1959, and going on to Buangi Hospital in Finschhafen, where she was trained as a nurse.
Buangi was renowned for training its young women in the skills of life, such as homemaking and music, and all of us her children will testify to what a good mother she was as well as a skilled musician who would often serenade us with her flute.
It was while at Buangi that she forged a relationship with a bright and ambitious young teacher from Butibam named Mathias Nalu, who was teaching at Yunzaing in Finschhafen, and that friendship led to eventual marriage at this very church – where we all gathered last Saturday for her funeral service – in 1963.
The newly-wed couple moved to Iufi-Iufa where they would be for the next five years.
Sir Nagora Bogan, one of the prominent sons of Butibam, accompanied Mum and Dad to Iufi-Iufa and it was also there in the Eastern Highlands that their first child, Alison, was born on March 11, 1964.
David followed on December 4, 1965.
I was born in Lae on August 9, 1967, while Dad was doing a Queensland Junior course at the Administrative College in Port Moresby.
Lepung was born on January 15, 1971, in Wewak while Anna was born on September 7, 1976 in Goroka.
Our house at Butibam became a meeting place for friends from high school, university and work, and Mum became very well-known to them because of her openness, friendship and hospitality.
One of these many friends, Dr John Ombiga, who is now based in Cairns, Australia, became a brother.
Almost exactly 16 years ago, on September 17, 1993, Dad passed away, leaving Mum to single-handedly hold the fort, which she did, with the real strength of a woman, until God called her earlier this week to be with her husband.
There have been down moments too, like the death of Alison’s eldest son Jack Nawatz on October 25, 2004, and my wife, Hula, on Eastern Sunday 2008, which left me with four young children to look after.
Mum was so concerned about me and the four young children that she would constantly check that we were doing well, something that we will never forget her for.
She loved her 14 grandchildren and always had time and a kind word for them until the day she died.
Mum may be gone, but she will always live on in our words and deeds, and her memory will continue to be our driving force in life.
Thank you God, for a wonderful life.


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    May God cover you in his grace, in this time of trouble you and your families have encountered.

    A Blessed eulogy.

  2. Thank you for the kind thoughts.


  3. Malum,
    Thank you for this really lovely life story of your late Mother. I thought about my own late Mother who was also a teacher for many years but she was more than just a teacher and in some ways the description of your late Mother is very much like that of my own late Mother. Their life stories will always be incomplete because one or another we always take our Moms for granted whether we want to admit it or not. I found release from the sorrow of losing my late Mom by writing a song which Salima performed on their album 'Sinagu' meaning 'Mother' and the song was and is dedicated to all those who have lost their Moms. Thank you once again for sharing the life story of your late beloved Mother.

  4. Thank you for the uplifting words, Mari, as I try to come to terms with Mum's death so soon after losing my wife.


  5. Bebec Malum,

    Ngac atu oc mbo ma yob amac ma palikoc hong. Tangwalu mama Moasing sac andu. Ing awe ngayam ma nde mete ngayam oc yec ayac hong, bec hong. Kauc nem eng ma tanem dange bi ayac tambo tawing eng tackwing eng ma eng ayac neng blessing abum.