Tribute to Sir Mekere Morauta

Sir Mekere Morauta

Flinders University has paid tribute to former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta KCMG PC, previously a high-profile international exchange scholarship student, who died of cancer on 19 December 2020.

A public holiday has been declared in PNG on Friday 8 January for the 74-year-old’s state funeral.

Credited with introducing key financial and constitutional reforms in the Pacific nation, Sir Mek as he was affectionately known was elected MP for Moresby North West in 1997 and served as the nation’s 7th Prime Minister from 1999 to 2002.

Inheriting an economy in disarray, Sir Mekere embarked on fundamental reforms of the country’s economy and political system – railing against corruption, transforming the banking and superannuation sectors and restructuring the public service as a foundation for economic growth through the 2000s.

He left parliament in 2012 but came out of retirement in 2017 to work towards a change in leadership at the country’s 2019 elections.

Flinders University’s Deputy Chancellor Stephen Hains was a colleague of Sir Mekere when he undertook his second year of economic studies at Flinders University in 1968 under a student-led scholarship, and remembers him fondly.

Current and former Prime Ministers have paid their respects. James Marape called him “the number one Prime Minister in the country”, Sir Julius Chan remembered him as a friend and “visionary leader”, and Sir Rabbie Namiliu eulogised “in every high office he held he served with the highest possible integrity. I personally observed that throughout his career. His integrity was absolutely beyond reproach and a shining example for others to try and follow”.

Sir Mekere was married to fellow economist Lady Roslyn Morauta. He had two sons, James and Stephen, from a previous marriage to Dr Louise Morauta. His younger son Stephen died in 1999.

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