Somare family thanks PNG, urges safety during mourning period

8:17 am on 13 March 2021

The family of the late Sir Michael Somare has expressed thanks to the people of Papua New Guinea for their outpouring of love and grief.

There's been widespread mourning in the region for the loss of Sir Michael, PNG's first prime minister, who died two weeks ago of pancreatic cancer aged 84.

The state funeral was held on Friday at Sir Hubert Murray stadium in Port Moresby.

Today, the body of the Grand Chief will be flown to East Sepik ahead of his burial at his property in Wewak.

Thousands of people have converged on both Port Moresby and Wewak for the respective services to pay respects to Sir Michael.

His family has released a statement, thanking Papua New Guineans "for the incredible outpouring of love and support" during their time of grief.

Sir Michael Somare

Sir Michael Somare Photo: EPA

But given this week's unprecedented rise in Covid-19 infections in PNG, the Somares have appealed to people to watch the event from home on tv if they can.

"Please avoid gathering in public spaces and if you feel unwell stay home to keep others safe. Always wear a mask when you are amongst others and avoid unnecessary travel."

The Somare family's statement noted the strain that Port Moresby General Hospital is under with a significant number of staff testing positive for the virus.

"POMGH have always taken excellent care of our parents and our thoughts are with them and all our front-line health workers," the Somares said.

"Your messages and warm memories shared about Sir Michael on social media have kept us comforted. His legacy, his kindness and his compassion lives on in all of us.

"Sir Michael would have wanted us all to keep each other safe, especially during these unprecedented times. Stay home if you can and follow the directions of health authorities."

Sir Michael Somare and James Marape at parliament where Sir Mekere Morauta is lying in state

Sir Michael Somare and James Marape at parliament where Sir Mekere Morauta is lying in state Photo: The Media Team for the Member for Moresby South and Minister for Housing & Urban Development