International airline pilot Captain GRANGER NARARA was invited by the Digicel PNG Foundation to speak to recipients of the recent 2017 Men of Honour in Port Moresby. Here’s an extract from his speech.
MY BROTHER Tim, or Tico as he is better known, is flying Airbus A380’s with Emirates. I remind him that he is the first Papua New Guinean commander of an A380 in airline operations but the second to actually fly the aircraft.
I had flown the test aircraft and did two touch-and-go landings with the French Airbus test pilots in 2005 during the desert testing phase in the United Arab Emirates.
We laugh about that, but Tim has done really well and we credit our father for giving us that confidence and drive and teaching us the ‘hard work’ approach to life.
I moved to Etihad Airways in 2006 as Vice President Flight Operations and once again found myself on the ground floor in the start-up phase of an airline.
My father’s teachings and instructions on being confident and moving forward with one’s life when opportunity presents itself rang through. I moved from a nice comfort zone where I was number 85 on a seniority list of a few thousand pilots to another new venture that promised very challenging work.
It was a good move as it allowed me other opportunities, like operating a flight that entered the Guinness Book of Records, flying in formation with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, and the opportunity to do other senior executive jobs which I hope will pay off later. It also allowed me the opportunity once to fly with my son, Nigel.
On completion of his training, Nigel worked for two years with Milne Bay Airways on a Twin Otter based in Moresby and Porgera. He moved to the UAE to fly as an A320 First Officer with a low cost airline called Air Arabia in 2008. He was there for four years prior to joining Etihad in 2012.
Nigel became an A320 captain in 2015 and now flies regional flights in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. He lives about 4 km away from me in Abu Dhabi with his Australian wife Kristen and my three precious bubus.
My second son Duane opted not to be a pilot although offered a flying opportunity with the Etihad cadet training scheme. Instead he completed studies in Brisbane graduating with a degree in international business. He then asked if he could pursue his first love - China.
Duane has now lived in China for three years, he is a teacher in a high school near Chengdu where he teaches world history and English to Chinese students. He can read, write and speak fluent Mandarin and, as told to me by one of my Chinese cabin crew who met Duane on one of my flights, he speaks it with a heavy Szechuan accent not a PNG one. I suppose that has to be a positive endorsement.
It would be remiss of me not to give credit to my first wife Regina, Nigel and Duane’s mother. She was a rock and an excellent home maker and mother for the boys throughout my time in Air Niugini and Emirates.
We have gone our separate ways but her strength and guidance helped form the boys into the great young men they are today. I am now supported by my Ethiopian wife Hana and my two daughters Delina (11) and Moiya (8). They bring a new optimistic outlook for the future and we greatly look forward to the challenges ahead. Bring it on!
My life has moved forward with such speed and momentum that I have never really paused and reflected on how I got here. I am grateful that, through this interface with Digicel Foundation, I have been able to examine and share how my life has unfolded and the basic rule that I applied for my success in the hope that it may help others in PNG.
I have found that by doing what my father did, following the template he gave for my life, I have been able to help my brother and my sons to go out do much the same thing and this has brought success to our family. What template are you giving to your children?
The work that all Men of Honour nominees have done and continue to do in both the grassroots and urban communities. This is the real mining that is being done in our great country: the gold and precious stones that are being discovered in developing young lives and giving them hope and opportunity will pay dividends to the country long after the cash from real minerals has evaporated.
Digicel Foundation is doing tremendous work supporting many aspects of PNG society through its initiatives in education, human development and tackling the crippling issue of domestic violence. Their work with Men of Honour goes along with my line of thinking in how we can help in these areas, especially in domestic violence.
As I have reiterated through the telling of my life story, if we are aware that many young eyes and minds are watching our every word, our every action and reaction, maybe we will be more deliberate and careful with what we say and how we act and react.
I go one step further, all men in PNG are all born as Men of Honour. It is not a choice, not a selection by others, but a more divine nomination from a higher source.
This was the way of our ancestors… a time when all boys had to undergo the initiation ceremony to become men and took their rightful place in the long house with the other men. This was not a choice but a birth right and by default they were born to be warriors, protectors of the village, protectors of village honour.
Although the initiation ceremony and the longhouse no longer exist in today’s PNG, as men our behaviour and our awareness of this behaviour is the sign of our honour. We must protect it at all times and always be conscious that we are being watched, being monitored and will be copied, there are many young eyes watching you.
So to all my brothers, wear your manhood privileges with pride, but be responsible and above all be honourable.
Remember, little brother is watching you.