Why Provincial Headquarters has to return to Saratamata

Trade Officials from left to right: DG of Trade Roy Mickey Joy, Finance Manager Ben Joseph and and Director of Industries Jimmy Rantes relax under historical Nabanga Tree at Longana People’s Centre where Father Lini demonstrated meaning of Independence during colonial era

In the same way that the late Father Walter Lini had identified East Ambae as the most suitable site to build Longana People’s Centre to demonstrate to the people the literal meaning of Independence, so the Council of Ministers’ Decision on Santo Island this year reiterated the same vision when it approved of the Headquarters of PENAMA Province to return to Saratamata.

The insistence by the Chiefs of Pentecost to keep Saratamata at Loltong is not in line with the vision of the Leaders of the Independence Struggle who identified Saratamata as the most central site to benefit all three islands of Maewo Pentecost and Ambae.

Also Loltong has neither existing infrastructure nor availability of land space for expansion.

Minister of Trade, Tourism, Cooperative, Commerce and Industry, James Bule delivered the message to explain why the COM Decision which is the highest decision making body in the land, reiterated for Saratamata to return to its birth place.

“Most importantly, Saratamata already has all the necessary infrastructure in place including water, electricity, telecommunications facilities and offices to house all relevant sectors of the Government machinery”, explained the Minister.

“It would be far too costly for new facilities to be built from scratch at Loltong.

“Then there is Lolowai Hospital and St. Patrick’s College at Vureas, Ambaebulu Bilingual Secondary School and Torgil Vocational Training Centre which is approved by the Vanuatu Qualifications Authority. All these academic institutions are located within reach of Saratamata”.

For the information of those that do not know why the important social sectors are located within reach of each other in East Ambae, the original request was made approximately two hundred years ago by a once notorious cannibal chief from Lolovinue called Kwevu. Kwevu had a son called Kwatu.

It was Kwevu who specifically requested an Anglican Church Pioneer (Missionary) to build three institutions to benefit his people; a school, a hospital and a ‘Gamali Tamata’ or Nakamal of Peace.

St. Patrick’s College and Lolowai Hospital were built to fulfill the chief’s request and he gave all the land from Vureas to Saratamata for that purpose.

While the proposed ‘Gamali Tamata’ is still debated by Ambaean intellectuals as to what exactly the chief meant, it is suspected that even in those dark days of savagery, it might have been his prediction of the current Provincial Government or the island’s Council of Chiefs.

It was Kwatu his son who implemented his father’s wish and ordered the land cleared to build the social institutions.

Kwatu was baptised and named William Kwatu. He got married and had a daughter called Cecilia. Cecilia got married and had a first born son called George Vina who is now a retired Anglican priest who lives with his family above Lolowai Hospital.

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