Papua New Guinea
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Post-Courier loses keeper of historical records

Post-Courier is the original newspaper of Papua New Guinea and the oldest media organization in the country.

It is a small company with a near impossible task of putting out a new product on a daily basis all year round.

Apart from reporters and photographers, there are unsung heroes behind the scenes and they include the IT personnel and the Library.

The IT is the nerve centre of the newspaper business and is proudly managed by Papua New Guineans, compatible with any operation of its kind in the world.

The library on the other hand is the oldest archive of its sort in the country because record –– keeping started in the pioneering days of the South Pacific Post.

Three years ago, Post-Courier celebrated 50 years of newspapering. If you talk about the history of this great country, one of the best places to look is the newspaper archives and this; like no other archive of its kind is at Post-Courier’s Editorial Department.

The library has always been part of the newsroom so journalists can conveniently access it. It is open to researchers of all ages.

This strenuous task of compiling every newspaper that comes out from Lawes Road is an unenviable task that our two girls attend to with tender loving care on a daily basis. To do a search is like going into a thick tropical jungle, yet librarian, Lydia Veali and her assistant, Deborah Enaha always made it look so simple.

The library is a second home., not a glamorous corner perhaps but they were always there because they would be called upon to produce an old file on the double when needed. The best thing is their patience and willingness to assist in locating quickly what is sought from the dozens of large volumes of books they compile to add on to others from a very, very long past.

It is a growing responsibility and it is mammoth; a mountain with no summit –– a monument of great importance. Today (Wednesday 27 September, 2023) is a sad day for Post-Courier; Lydia Veali passed away, leaving behind Deborah to contend with the future. Unless you get into the newspaper business, you won’t know how everything comes together. At best, it is one of the toughest businesses there is and it is the passion and interest in information as an essential tool of society that draws the practitioners.

It is almost like having the interest to keep the wheels turning nonstop and our dearly beloved Lydia, born 14 May 1963, from Kaparoko in Rigo, Central Province had that sort of interest, having first joined Post- Courier on 17 August, 1992. Up to August, the month she fell ill, she was Post-Courier’s longest-serving employee.

Although her assistant Deborah is there, the library feels empty. Her friendly but stern voice is missing. The last time she sat in the Library was around a month ago when she fell ill. They days turned into weeks and then the bad news.

We’re a small family-oriented company so when a key player falls, the absence is profound. For years, Lydia was at the helm of Post-Courier netball team in the town comp which further testified to her love for the newspapering role as a way of life. She wanted to be part of something worthwhile to take her place among her Hula tribe and although humble by any standard, she achieved her heart’s desires.

Veitu Diro, wife of retired General Ted Diro, will be devastated by the news of her longtime sport collaborator’s demise.

Lydia was with the Diro’s for a time at their General Blame’s Crossing on the Sogeri Road until she fell ill. Some time before that, two years ago, she arranged for Patrick Levo and I to visit the old General and record some of his memories of the past.

I only recall seeing her byline just once. But she was conscious of the value of good information and content to stick to her role as the keeper of published records.

It does indicate a genuine sense of dedication to achieve some kind of standard. All we can say is that she has left the historical Post-Courier library in pretty good shape.

This effort of a life time cannot be insured because it is irreplaceable. Someday, someone will come along and save the country’s history by digitising the whole library so that digital copies can be kept and the system of compiling improved.

That will add immense value to the effort of our two ladies. An accidental disaster is just unthinkable as the value of the records is monumental. The country will be at a complete loss because history is needed to understand the future.

Thank you, Lydia, for your contribution to the cause. Lydia was a widow since husband George Vagi passed away in July 2017. Her mum Iamo Wari Momo was a centenarian who died on August 6, 2019 at the ripe old age of 98.

She was buried at Kaparoko on Saturday August 11 which happened to be Saint Laurence Day. Her husband died early and Iamo brought up the children single-handedly. Lydia was one of seven daughters. Iamo’s footprint was massive –– 44 grandchildren,116 great grandchildren and three great, great children. The stats would be vastly different now.

Lydia’s bro Vali Wari lived to be 96 so longevity definitely ran in the family. I told Lydia; I expected her to live long after she asked me to interview her mother in 2016.

One day towards the end of August 2019, she came to work, pinched me and said, mum had passed away. I asked about her last moments and Lydia said something incredible; the old mother just took a chair, tilted her head to one side and closed her eyes.

Few people have the good fortune to die in dignity. But to take a chair (throne) and leave this world was truly striking. The brave matriarch closed one chapter but in doing so opened many more.

She was the true champion of the paper behind the scenes having raised our dedicated record-keeper whom we have lost – to go and join her in the new Jerusalem.