Celebrating life stories...



Memorial created 10-30-2010 by
Andrew Mack
Paul Igag
February 24 1964 - October 29 2010

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11-02-2010 1:40 AM -- By: Abiro Sipelung,  From: Morobe  

Kande Paul.

Abiro here.

I last met you at Lamana Hotel mid August this year on your trip back from Kikori on transit to Goroka. I gave you my business card without knowing that this will be our last meeting.

Kande Paul our time at RCF will for ever be in my heart. There were many good & exciting experiences we shared you, Paul Hukahu & Muse in Haia & us at Goroka base. I will always remember our radio call sign"So omo calling Tugo". We have all left RCF since but memories will linger forever.

Kande Paul till we meet again.

Abiro Sipelung

Ex RCFer 1998 to 2003


11-02-2010 12:09 AM -- By: John Caine,  From: Brisbane, Australia  

I was fortunate to have had the acquaintance of Paul at the PNG LNG pre-construction environmetal survey work only a few weeks back (Sept 2010). He was a true professional in his field and lived up to the task with passion, a valuable member of the team. He was the life of the group, always had the stories and there never was a dull moment having him on the team. I personally will remember Paul as the guy who gave me a hand after I climbed out of a bad fall which I escaped miraculaousy as witnessed by members of the team. Paul left a vacuum in our team and I believe amongst his colleagues, family, friends and associates.

Farewell my good  friend. Thank you for the memories.

John Caine

11-01-2010 11:45 PM -- By: Stanley Jacob,  From: RCF , Goroka. PNG  

Dear Uncle Paul,

I can't forget the joke we had together at Haia Guest House in Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

What a great loss to the work of Conservation in PNG and the world as a whole.  Uncle Paul thank you for the tree climbing skills.  Because of you I am the only one in RCF who know how to climb a tree using tree climbing kit...

From all the boys of Haia, Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, who have been part and parcel of your projects, to name a few: Miso Helikope, Henry Nore, Sam Obe, Ian Hounore, etc....     You as one of them speaking in their local Pawaian dialogue, a brother and a son to them, they would like to thank you for your influence in their lifes and well being.. Your first project in Haia has change most of the women from cooking in bamboos to cooking in pot..Thats a bonus you brought to them... Most of them, men & women,, its now a sad day and tears drops..  They will see you when the time is right.. Mao (Big bro)..is the word from all your former TLOs of Haia.. Mao will miss you..

As from me, " PI".. You never say no when I ask for any thing.... Thank you very much....Catch.. No more winpop jokes from PI...will hear from you later and rest in peace...

11-01-2010 11:29 PM -- By: Bega Inaho,  From: PNGIBR - Goroka  

11-01-2010 11:27 PM -- By: ,  From:  



You just said good morning to me on your way to your corner in the office. Then we went up to Gahavisuka to get the climbing gear I left there. We attended Ken’s presentation, then talked about investments and shared some jokes and laughed; it was just another normal Friday. We had coffee on the porch over with a roll of ‘brus’ than we sealed the day with a deal about the office ‘sande’ (credit).

It was just a normal day and all was well. We went down to the market and you went of with Mikes, and I didn’t realise that was the last of my good byes to you.

It was a surprise to hear of the news on Sunday night. I thought it was a joke, but realise it wasn’t on Monday. I cannot still figure it out, I think I was just dreaming but felt strange when I went to your corner looking for the lighter. Then, on my own on the porch with a cup of coffee and a piece of rolled up ‘brus’ (tobacco). Now I realise there is somebody missing.


Uncle you were really a role model to me in the field and in the office. You always wanted people to be happy and were really open and had time for all. Even if you are very busy, you stop to listen and help out at the instant when ask.
I have learnt a lot to work with birds and the ropes with you.

You were very open and ready to help in all aspects, with my studies, work and also on personal issues, that I always feel comfortable to share with you my personal stories and problems, and you were always encouraging and cheerful.


When I see uncle standing on the office porch, I know he is having a buai, coffee, smoke, or a combination of one of the 2 with the later. I knew he is free for a chat and I always leave my desk to join him cos these moments are always fascinating.


Uncle, I will be missing the moments we used to have on the office porch with cigarettes and buai or coffee and the jokes and laughter that go with it. And the times out in the field.

Your jokes and the knowledge on birds, rope and the many others that you have imparted in me will live on.

Thank you for being a part of you.


RIP Uncle.

11-01-2010 10:23 PM -- By: Helen Perks,  From:  

What a sad shock. I, like many, remember that laugh and that way he just made you feel so included, an instant friend.  I also remember his calm wisdom in a crisis. Although his death is sudden and premature, in so many ways he lived a full and vibrant life – something to smile about and celebrate as we remember.

11-01-2010 8:41 PM -- By: Burke Burnett,  From: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  

Paul was an incredible person. His passing is a huge loss not only for his friends and family, but because he was such an important player in conservation, also for PNG and the world. He will be very missed.

My deepest sympathies to his friends and family on their loss. Much aloha.

11-01-2010 8:22 PM -- By: Katayo Sagata,  From: IBR, Melbourne  

Oh MERO, I can't believe I am writing this. How could you leave us so soon?  You leave me devasted down under.

Paul and I never called each other by name, we just call each other MERO (brother) and that is how it has been since I first met him in 2001. He and Muse were the first PNG WCS honours students under Andy Mack and Debra Wright when I joined WCS as another honours student. We started calling each other brothers and it always has been that way for a good reason- brothers away from our own brothers.

Mero you inspired we with your field work earlier in my career, shared deep thoughts on science, conservation and religion that broaden my mind. I will miss you dearly.  You rest in peace MERO and will talk to you latter!!

11-01-2010 8:05 PM -- By: WCS global staff,  From:  

Many emails of support have come from Paul’s ex-colleagues and friends in WCS, and I wanted to post some extracts here. Ross Sinclair


From: John Robinson, WCS Global Conservation

Very sad to learn of the loss of someone who was doing so much and had so much more to do.  My support to all of those who were his friends, colleagues and family.  Conservation also loses someone hugely important.  


From: Joshua Ginsberg, WCS Global Conservation

I can only say that I too am devastated by the loss of someone so capable, and kind.  I remember Paul all the way back to when he started his work as a coordinator for RCF in Haia, and then through his work on palm cockatoos and beyond.  A lovely man with so much to give. Please send the family my condolences.


From: Arlyne Johnson, WCS Lao PDR Program

Unbelievable.   I am so saddened by this news. 


From: Colin Poole, WCS Singapore
Sorry, such terrible news.


From: Peter Zahler, WCS Asia Program

I was very saddened to hear of Paul Igag’s death this afternoon. Please pass on my condolences, and the condolences of the entire NY staff, to his family and friends.


From: Yook, Lisa, WCS Asia Program

I’m so sorry to hear about Paul’s passing – the loss of the friend and the loss to PNG. My thoughts are with everyone in Goroka.

11-01-2010 7:42 PM -- By: David Hapoto,  From: Bougainville  

We called each other lapun. From Aiyura to the University of Papua New Guinea to study Biology. I can still remember the laughter and the fun we had together. Sail on Brother, sail on. Till we meet again.

11-01-2010 5:27 PM -- By: Leo Legra,  From: Writing in from Kikori  

It is sad to hear of the loss of a great friend, a brother, a collegue and the uncle that many of us who got to know so well.

I got to know Uncle Paul when I was with WCSPNG as a student and then a staff with PNGIBR. He taught me rope climbing, ornithology and I was privileged to co-teach the two topics with him. I remember the heated discussions we always have on any topic whether it was to do with conservation, education, health or anything for that matter, and there would be Uncle Paul, BG, Karts,  Muse, Mikes, Enok and I all arguing our point of view and then Uncle Paul will step in and give his famous punch line ....you know!! in between words......

Uncle Paul was here recently to help us with Preconstruction Surveys (and we were expecting him to be back) on the PNGLNG project and as one of  the team members his input and participation on the PNGLNG project will be missed.

When he was here recently  we were talking about carbon trade in the middle of the pouring rain up at CIVPAC camp in Gobe and went through a whole pack of cigarettes with coffee and laughter.......gosh I will surely miss him.....

Uncle, thanks for all that you have done and thank you for just knowing you.......

We will surely miss you

Leo Legra


11-01-2010 4:16 PM -- By: Miriam Supuma,  From:  

A dear friend who will be missed. I especially admired his humbleness, generosity, enthusiasm and energy for work and was in awe of his knowledge of birds when I spent some time with him and the BBC crew filming the Bird of Paradise Documentary back in Aug 2008---I am lucky to have worked with Uncle Paul.

Like most scientist, there is this thirst for knowledge, inquisitiveness about various things in life that intrigues one. Apart from biology, I found Uncle Paul to be someone who read broadly especially on religion, spiritualism, astrology, and history.

Here are some examples of Paul.

Humbleness-- Jephat and I invited him over to dinner early this year when he came out from field work in Nakanai to watch the DVD on Birds of Paradise soon after its release.  When it came to the scenes when Uncle Paul was interviewed, he was embarrassed and asked if Jephat could fast forward the scenes.  Jephat gave Paul a firm handshake and said, “it is an honour to be sitting and dinning with a PNGian who has knowledge such as yours......I’m going to be a bad host by not doing as  you ask” Uncle Paul cracked up laughing at Jephat’s reply, so did we all!

Generousity ---The early days of IBR in 2008 were tough times especially starting a new NGO at the onset of the US recession. Staff members sought ways to ease the financial stress so they and their families could get by the difficult time. Uncle Paul and his family planted vegetable gardens outside their home at Kabiufa. When it was time to harvest, Uncle Paul invited the staff members over with their bag and bilums to harvest sweet potato and greens. He told them to take as much as they needed.

Enthusiasm/energy for field work--- I believe everyone knows how hard he works in the field. He would usually be the one laughing after a gruelling field work, while the younger biologist (like myself) were applying Dencorub on our knees!

Inquisitiveness ---I once heard Uncle Paul talk about unusual or sinister encounters in the field. He once told us a story of an experience along Bulldog trail, Lakekamu Basin. He was checking mistnests early dusk (mid 1990s ) and mentioned of this truck in the middle of nowhere honking its horn and chasing Uncle Paul through the dense foliage! He later went on to give another example of himself and Michael Kigl doing field work in Manus and experiencing something similar. He wanted to understand why this phenomenon occurred. Whether it was the mind playing games after a long exhausting day, or the fact that there really existed a spiritual realm. He read the bible  and other literature to try to understand this phenomena.

Back in early August, Uncle Paul sent an email attachment (powerpoint) about Astrology to the team. The email specified a date (August 28) in which one gets to witness a rare moment in history in which the planet Mars and moon are almost the same size while viewing from earth in the night’s sky (due to the weak force of Jupitar’s pull). The powerpoint mentioned that the last time this event occurred was 2200 odd years ago.

On the night of August 28th, Liam  and I stepped out to the veranda to see this once in a lifetime phenomena. To our disappointment, the night sky was covered with dark clouds, and the moment we looked up, rain started beating down on our face. Oh, well maybe we’ll be lucky the next time around!

I will miss you.

Rest in Peace.


11-01-2010 3:48 PM -- By: Ed Scholes,  From: Ithaca, NY - USA  

 Paul was the first Papua New Guinean biologist that I got to know when I first started doing fieldwork in PNG.  I remember when we first met in 1999 -- he had just arrived at the Wara Sera research station to "check in and say hello" on his way back to Haia after one of his field stints searching for/monitoring Palm Cockatoo nests.  At the time, there was another visiting student/researcher at the station who was very interested in New Guinean parrots, and so the arrival of Paul was met with much anticipation by us "newbies" after hearing so much about him from Deb and Silas before leaving for the bush.  I remember Paul arriving at the station wet and tired but laughing, smiling and telling stories of what he'd been working on only to subsequently find out that he was in serious pain at the time he arrived because he'd just slipped while crossing a log bridge (while carrying his own pack) and slammed his ribcage into the log (probably cracking a rib or two).  I remember thinking I'd be packing up for the chopper to Goroka if that happened to me and he was just getting ready to head out and check some more nest sites before heading back to Haia! 

My thoughts are with all who knew and loved him.  He will be missed.

11-01-2010 1:49 PM -- By: Marie & Mark Stafford ,  From: California, USA  

Our condolences to all that knew him.

So sorry for your loss.

11-01-2010 11:03 AM -- By: Bruce Beehler,  From: USA  

 Paul's passing is a great blow to us all, and a loss for Papua New Guinea natural history. He will be remembered.

11-01-2010 8:08 AM -- By: ,  From:  

Here is an update on the funeral arrangement for late Uncle Paul.
Today (Monday 1st Nov) the families requested a post mortem examination be carried out. The findings indicate that uncle Paul died from a heart attack.
On Thursday 4th November, there will be a funeral service for friends and family, collegues to show last respects. Details not out yet.
On Friday 5th November, the body will be flown via New Tribes Aviation from Goroka-Madang. Close friends, family intending to view funeral and final resting place in Madang will start to depart Goroka Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

11-01-2010 6:10 AM -- By: Silas Sutherland,  From: Australia  

Paul - my brata and true friend, your memory is one of the most enduring I have of my PNG mates and I now regret not coming to see you in Goroka last year more than ever.  You made me laugh in the most difficult times and taught me so much about PNG's culture and environment - your jokes, smile and wonderful personality will remain with me to the end.   The memories of the years we spent in the field and office together, learning from each other and even enjoying a few SP's I will continue to cherish.  You lived a full life that touched so many and it has been cut far too short as is often the way with the best.  Mangi Kranget, mi missim yu tumus - RIP

11-01-2010 5:28 AM -- By: Dorcas J.Mileng,  From: Lae, PNG  

Buddy, I am so sad to hear of your passing. You have now taken with you the interesting bird stories that you never got to complete during our last meeting at Boroko.

Buddy, I will surely miss your every way...

My only comfort now is knowing that you have gone ahead to rest in Our Saviour's arms.

Buddy 'D' - Auckland, NZ

11-01-2010 5:14 AM -- By: Janine Watson,  From: Australia, mid north coast of NSW  

I met Paul in Goroka when I travelled there to work with the young Research and Conservation Foundation in 1997 with my partner Silas and son Oscar.  Oscar who was only two loved Paul and would sometimes sing in Pidgin to him and laugh his infectious laugh.  He had a worldly wise warmth and even as a newcomer/white meri I felt instantly comfortable with him.  He also 'got it' as far as the importance of environmental education in combination with scientific research.  He was able to explain his research (in particular Palm Cockatoo) in a way that would inspire fascination and understanding.  I will always remember him.

11-01-2010 4:06 AM -- By: Michael Balke,  From: Germany  

 My deepest condolences, rest in peace Paul.

Papua has lost one truly outstanding human being, one, as many said before me,  you do not meet very often. I never talked much to Paul, but always felt comfortable knowing him around. I was at a service a while ago, and the pastor said that our loved ones never truly die, as they live on in our hearts. So true, and Paul has his place - in my heart, and in so many other's hearts - he has has helped to create something realy great! Catch up with you later, Paul!


11-01-2010 3:30 AM -- By: Brett Perry,  From: Adelaide, Australia  

What a devastating loss to all those who knew him, he was a truly great man who had an amazing and contagious positive approach to life. He was one of those rare people who bring a positive vibe and smile to all around them and change people’s lives for the better, a genuine and kind Wantok. Thanks all for the laughs and smiles Mate, I feel privileged and honoured to have worked and laughed with you, this would be a far greater place if there were a few more men with half the passion for life that Paul Igag always displaced.

Cheers your mate Brett.


11-01-2010 3:18 AM -- By: Craig Symes,  From: South Africa  

I met Paul in 2002 while working on bird communities in the Eastern Highlands. I had read about some of his work on Palm Cockatoos and because I had worked on parrots in Africa thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him. Whenever I think of the spectacular sightings I had of these birds in PNG I think of Paul. His character was unique and he was one of those people, once you had met him, you would never forget.

11-01-2010 2:32 AM -- By: Kobus Meulenbroeks,  From: Brisbane, Australia  

 I had the privilege of working with Paul on the PNG LNG Project.

It is of little surprise, when reading other people's recollections of Paul, that his infectious  laugh and beaming smile are mentioned on a number of occasions. Even when waking up every morning at 4:30AM ahead of a gruelling 15-hour day, I would be met with a happy "Morning bra!"

His professionalism, in-depth knowledge and the passion with which he carried out his job were also things that I will not forget. 

Thanks for the memories, mate.


11-01-2010 2:19 AM -- By: Billy Bau,  From: Lae Herbarium  

I came to know Paul in 2000 through the late Alois Sitapai who assigned me to do his plant identification for his research work on Palm Cockatoos and found him to be a person with a very nice personality. Later in 2008 at Wanang, I became one of his students in the Tropical Biology Course and his transfer of some bird knowledge to me will be treasured.

It is surely a big loss for Science in New Guinea on the passing away of this ornithologist. My condolence to colleagues at IBR, WCS, RCF and his family in Madang. 


11-01-2010 2:18 AM -- By: Ross Sinclair,  From: Goroka, PNG  

I was playing soccer with Paul on Wednesday and he was his usual energetic and funny self.  We were ribbing each other about who was older and therefore the oldest on the field. He may have been slightly older, but he would’ve fooled any observer the way he dazzled me with his footwork and burned past me to put another shot on goal.  His death came as such a shock because he was looking fitter and healthier than I had seen him in ages.  

Paul was the easiest guy to get along with.  You just had to hold his eye for a few seconds and he would burst out laughing, and such an infectious laugh you couldn’t help but laugh yourself.

Paul was the best PNGean fieldworker I’ve worked with.  He was really good.  And tireless and uncomplaining.  And so damn cheerful all the time. He was surveying birds in the Adelbert Mt’s once and I was heading in to join him.  He’d called me on the satphone to say I’d better bring some more rice.  When I arrived at the camp he was feeding basically a whole village that had turned up.  I said to Paul we can’t feed all these people; I thought they were there for free food.  That night I realised they were actually there for free entertainment.  After we’d finished feeding ourselves and the village, I saw something amazing  – an entire camp collapsed in laughter.  He was telling his favourite but politically incorrect joke about the deaf mute dynamite fisher.  After he delivered the punch line he was laughing so hard he toppled backwards off the chair into the mud.  Through my tears of laughter I looked around to see everyone collapsing about and falling over each other - some guys had thrown themselves down in the mud beside Paul they were laughing so hard.  When things settled down, Paul looked up from the ground all covered in mud, paused for a moment as if to catch his breath, and burst out laughing, once more sending the whole camp crazy.  Those mountains had never seen anyone like Paul Igag before or since, and neither will we.

11-01-2010 1:00 AM -- By: Mellie Samson Junior,  From: WCS-PNG  

I will always remember Uncle Paul's infectious humour. I admired the way he moved his feet with such agility on the soccer pitch. He was such a humble man and very approachable, Uncle always had something to say and make any person within earshot laugh. His smile will always linger in my memory. Farewell Uncle Paul, you will greatly be missed by everyone who knew you. Thank you for the life that you have shared with us. May God grant you eternal peace with Him.

11-01-2010 12:52 AM -- By: Jephat Kol,  From: PNG  


What a huge loss? I will miss you dearly - Uncle Paul. I truely enjoyed your laughter and your insight knowledge of the bird life in our beautiful country . It was a pleasure knowing you. You are a great person and a true friend.




11-01-2010 12:38 AM -- By: Bill Sagir,  From: Lihir  

This is very sad news indeed. Paul, as others have said, was a truly wonderful person to know and be with. He touched the lives of all those who knew him. I always felt proud of him, not because he is my wantok from Mandang, but because he was a very smart Papua New Guinean. A shame he passed on too soon.

I recall the words of a Robert Frost poem:

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep"

Alas, Paul, you had so many miles to go but you've gone to sleep too soon. I grieve for you my brother, my wantok.

My sincerely condolences to Paul's wife and children. This is a very sad time and we all share your grief. 

11-01-2010 12:31 AM -- By: Dan Kamien,  From: Perth  

I can’t remember a time when Paul wasn’t smiling.  He was a fantastic person and will be greatly missed.

10-31-2010 11:20 PM -- By: Peter Bosip,  From: Banz (currently doing postgraduate studies in NZ)  

Paul was a colleague in the field of conservation and will be sadly missed by us who knew him well. I am deep;y shocked to read his sudden passing away. He has got a lot to share for the benefit of PNG and we will dearly missed him.

My brother Paul, may you rest in peace.

Peter Bosip

University of Canterbury, NZ


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