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Finding Mac: Search brought us together

Search party
One of the many search parties looking for Maclarence

| Academia Nomad

A student from the University of Papua New Guinea is reported missing. A week goes by and he is not found. Students conduct one of the biggest searches the city has seen. Mary Terriette Aseari is a third year student at the university.

PORT MORESBY - Maclarence Akua - a 22-year old third-year student, a good friend and a course mate of mine at the University of Papua New Guinea - had been missing for almost a week.

Mac is of mixed East Sepik and Bougainville parentage but grew up in Kimbe.

A search party was organised by his family and friends and we were put into groups and stationed in different locations in the city to cover the ground. 

The groups that searched for Maclarence comprised people he is actively involved with in school.

Peer mentors and Clean Generation covered Gerehu and Rainbow; West New Britain students covered Boroko; School of Humanities and Social Science students searched 3 Mile and Manu; Madang and East Sepik students covered Gordon and Erima; and Lae and Bougainville students, including his family and friends, searched the 9 Mile area.

The groups consisted of 25-50 people each and the search begin around 9:30 am. It was successful and Maclarence was found in the afternoon at Sogeri, an hour’s drive north of the capital.

Someone from Sogeri saw posters, approached one of the groups and said he’d seen Maclaren. The students followed him to the village and met up with him.

The successful search for Maclarence raised countless negative comments on social media.

Amidst all the negativity I would like to share three positive things I witnessed and experienced in the search.

In all my 21 years of living in Port Moresby and calling myself a “pikinini POM” I have never been to the parts of Gerehu I visited in our search.

Maclarence Akua
Maclarence Akua

Walking from Gerehu Stage 6 all the way to Gerehu Stage 1, visiting every little street to put up posters and ask bystanders if they had seen Mac, allowed me to see parts of Gerehu and for that I am grateful.

I truly saw the kindness of humanity being displayed in our search for Maclarence. Mothers shed tears as we held up the posters to show them, some even said they would keep him in their prayers.

Random boys on the street volunteered to escort us to help find our friend, bus drivers and boss crews willingly displayed the missing person poster on their buses, tucker shop owners also displayed the missing persons poster in their shopfronts.

When we ran out of posters the people we approached took out their smart phones so they could take a snapshot of the poster to show their families and friends in their efforts to spread the word.

Seeing this made me appreciate humanity and really appreciate being a Papua New Guinean because I could see that displa pasin blon helivim em e stil stap strong yet [the spirit to help others remains strong].

The unity I saw on display by University of Papua New Guinea students and others who volunteered to search for Maclarence was heartwarming.

People showed up in numbers and had with them personally printed posters of him. The search made me to forge friendships with people I wasn’t even acquainted with in school.

Through sharing water and snacks as we searched for our schoolmate, some lifelong friendships were formed. We have the search for Maclarence to thank for that.

Sometimes we have to look past the negativity that life throws at us to see and experience the beautiful things that life has to offer.

In the words of Marcandangel, “Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”.

Thank God our friend Maclarence Akua has been found.

Mary Terriette Aseari
Mary Terriette Aseari


After Mac was found, some people criticised the young man for disappearing without notifying his family. But there were many more who supported him, saying they didn't know what he was going through or what his reasons were and that he must be given the privacy he needs.

His friends and colleagues are happy he was found and in good health. Apart from finding Mac, the great thing was the experience of comradeship and the humanity the nation and city showed by coming together. We are so strong together.

And this experience has shown just how much people really care, even about others not of their own blood. And that is what we should take away from this whole experience.


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Lindsay F Bond

Mary Terriette, your whole nation needs your story about finding Mac.

Found is Mac, also cohesiveness of belief in PNG wholesomeness.

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