Delegates to the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture in Port Moresby have paid special tribute to the Director of the Culture Division of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Culture and Tourism, following his death in Papua New Guinea over the weekend.
A statement from the Government Communications Units today says the late John Tahinao passed away unexpectedly in Port Moresby on Saturday, just before attending an official meeting with other Melanesian delegates.
The statement said on Sunday, senior officials from Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Vanuatu visited the Solomon Islands camp in Port Moresby to pay tribute to the leaders and participants of Solomon Islands in respect of the late Tahinao.
The leaders expressed sorrow for the unexpected passing of a colleague and a true defender of Melanesian cultures in the region.
Earlier on Saturday, the Solomon Islands contingent paid tribute to the family of the late Tahinao through his close relatives who also attended the festival through presentation of traditional shell money.
As part of the traditional respect to the late Tahinao, the Solomon Islands participants halted their participation for three days as arrangements were made to send the late Tahinao’s body home this Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the late Tahinao’s body will be escorted to Honiara from Papua New Guinea by the Minister for Culture and Tourism Samuel Manetoali and the Director of the National Museum Tony Heorake.
Minister Manetoali and Mr Heorake are part of the Solomon Islands delegation at the Melanesian Arts Festival in PNG.
In a message on Saturday, the Culture and Tourism Minister said the late Tahinao was a dedicated public servant who served the country with commitment and diligence up to the time of his passing.
The late Tahinao is survived by his wife and two children.