DR TRANSFORM AQORAU pays his tribute to Sir Peter Kenilorea in a moving eulogy he presented at Tuesday’s funeral service in Honiara...
O LORD support us this day, until the shadows of sorrow lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of our tired life is over, and our work here on earth is complete.
Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last.
Farewell, Sir Peter, farewell. Farewell, from all the corners of our beautiful country; from the hilltops, to the valleys, along the streams and rivers, and seashores and lagoons.
A great sadness covers our beautiful country; clouds of sorrow have hung over of us these past few days.
In the days of old, conch shells would be blown day and night as a reminder of a departed hero.
We are congregated today for the last time to pay tribute to a Statesman; our Statesman.
Sir Peter is the last; the last of the constitutional tripod that bequeathed to us, this beautiful Nation.
There will never be any other like them; for they had the honour of being the first; pioneers in the Constitutional positions they held; Sir Lloyd Maepeza Gina, Sir BaddleyDevesi and Sir Peter.
Our tears are shared across the Pacific family of nations, from the peaks Mount Vaea; to the blowholes of Houma; to the rocks of Sokeh, and the pristine lagoons of Arno Atoll; a Statesman who not only gave forth a Nation but defended its region is mourned ; for not only was Sir Peter, our Statesmen; He was a Regional Statesman; a Nation Builder like those with whom he served with great distinction and affection; Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara of Fiji, Tosiwo Nakayama of the Federated States of Micronesia, Fr. Walter Lini of Vanuatu, Amata Kabua of the Marshall Islands, Robert Rex of Niue, Hammer De Robert of Nauru, and Sir Albert Henry of the Cook Islands.
There are only two pioneer heads of Government remaining in the region; Sir Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea and Ieremia Tabai of Kiribati.
Their footprints are indelibly imprinted across our regional architecture, from the Pacific Islands Forum, to the Pacific Community; Perched high over the best vantage point in Honiara overlooking the iron bottom sound, is his handiwork.
The Forum Fisheries Agency is a landmark in the geographic configuration of Honiara. Whether you are coming from the East, North or West; one will not miss it, because it stands out.
It is here that the thousand of fishing vessels that traverse the millions of square miles of the Pacific are monitored.
Sir Peter’s shadow hovers strongly over this monument dedicated to the protection of our fisheries resources, the preservation of our rights and the ideals of self-determination through the utilization of our God given fisheries resources.
Indeed, it was his assertion that “we do not interfere in the coal mines of the United States, so why should they interfere in the way we manage our resources” in the often times difficult negotiations in the lead up to the establishment of the Forum Fisheries Agency that has provided us with inspiration that we must manage what is bestowed upon us for the best of our peoples.
There are many people who no doubt will remember with fondness how Sir Peter touched them.
A former colleague at FFA, Sam Taufao said, “I remember him as a great Statesman, the physical manifestation of true humility and charisma. We will all miss him. I think Solomon Islands has lost her greatest son and leader”
Last Thursday, “a piece of our heritage died that moment”.
Yet in death Sir Peter gave of himself to us. He has united us in our grief because of what he represents to us.
He gave us of a good heart from which the laughter came, because he also had lovely sense of humour.
He gave us from a profound wit from which a great leadership emerged, Sir Peter gave us of a kindness, and strength fused in a human courage to seek peace without fear.
HE GAVE us of his love that we, too in turn might, give of ourselves, what we might give to one another that we serve this country with leadership, not politics; that those who are charged by public duty put the Nation’s interests above their own; and that they serve others first, before they serve themselves.
In leaving us – these gifts, I ask the question, will we take them? Will we have, now, the sense and the responsibility and the courage to take them?
Sir Peter is gone, and all over Solomon Islands there is a feeling of having been left desolate and forlorn.
Knowing he was around provided comfort; we felt secure that if all else failed we still had Sir Peter to provide us with wise counsel.
All sense that feeling, and I do not know when we shall be able to get rid of it, and yet together with that feeling there is also a feeling of proud thanksgiving that it has been given to us of this generation to be associated with this mighty person.
In ages to come, centuries and many millenniums after us, people will think of this generation when this man of God trod the earth and will think of is, who, however small, could also follow his path and probably tread where his feet had been. Let us be worthy of him. Let us always be so.
The final curtain is drawn, the door is closed and the final chapter in Solomon Islands political history is ended.
Our founding Prime Minister, our Peter the Rock, is no longer with us. There is a silence that permeates across the seas, along the shores, the valleys and hills of our thousand islands.
If only he could have stayed a little longer with us to restore this beautiful and lovely country of ours to the state with which he founded it.
It is not to be. So we say, farewell our brave and faithful soldier, march on to the victory. Your race here on earth has ended.
We mourn your loss, but celebrate your legacy.
Rest in Peace eternal Sir Peter; thank you for what you have done for our country and region.
As you sail across the sea to your final resting place; to be laid to rest in the stillness of the lush green hills of your home at Rara; May the Angels carry you safely and watch over you as you sail for that one last time; may the dolphins swim beside you to give you protection and calm seas.
Farewell Sir Peter, farewell from a grateful Nation.