There’s something about Sir Dadi Toka that makes you think he doesn’t age. He jogs, he walks and he sings too which is why the Knight from Hanuabada still lives life to the fullest. He’s not slowing down for sure and whilst he might be “semi-retired”, in his words “I haven’t retired from life”.
This Saturday, Sir Dadi Mahuru Toka will be celebrating his 80th birthday at the Royal Papua Yacht Club – a club of which he was awarded life membership in 2014. His association with this predominantly expatriate club goes a long way even before the days of its current premises at Harbour City. In fact, the Knight played a crucial role as a local landowner in the relocation of the club’s premises at its old location along Champion Parade to where it is now.
And it is at this new location in which he actively played a hand in where the party will start. And what better way to celebrate than to dance to some of the biggest Motuan hits of yesteryear. The “birthday boy’s” Lalokau FM radio station in association with Keynote Music House will be showcasing popular Motuan hits with live performances from Hanuabada bands and their brothers from Tubuseriea Village, the popular Dejays.
Sir Dadi is re-known for taking the stage singing some of his favorite Motuan songs and this weekend will be no different.
I’ve known Sir Dadi for a while now and I met him through his son Dadi Jnr whom I attended school with at the Ela Beach International Primary School. My father also had a close business relationship with him so we would meet regularly at the old Yacht Club or at school.
The first time I saw Sir Dadi sing was at a Christmas party hosted by Mick Larmer of Arman Larmer Surveyors. My father was the “chief” organiser of this annual event and it was always much looked forward to by those in the business circles. The timing of the party was perfect as most business associates were winding down the year and the event was a way of “letting their hair down“.
After a few SP Brownies, Sir Dadi would dance his way up to the stage taking the mic from Clockwork Orange band member Jack Clunn (Late) and sing those beautiful Motuan songs. The locals would sing along too, Sir Dadi’s wife Geua would make that facial impression “oh please, not again” while the expats loved it and danced like there’s no tomorrow.
Sir Dadi wasn’t the only Hanuabadan invited to this prestigious party. There were two other “regulars”: Mea Podi Vai and Sinaka Vakai Goava (both of the Kwaradubuna clan of Hanuabada). Ironically, these three have become the “Three Wise Knights” of Hanuabada. Sir Mea being the first to be knighted followed by Sir Sinaka and more recently Sir Dadi. Of the three, Sir Dadi was the only one who traveled to England to be knighted by the Queen.
At the time Sir Dadi was Knighted, he was quoted “It is definitely a great honour, a milestone achievement for me personally.” And it is certainly a milestone when you consider the journey the man from Hohodae clan of the Big Village has taken to receive this prestigious award.
A young Dadi Toka attended the London Missionary Society School at Metoreia in 1953. He then proceeded to take up a job as a personal staff of Lady Cleland when Sir Donald Cleland was administrator. Little did he know that some 50 odd years later, he too would get the Royal nod.
Sir Dadi, until recently, has been very active both in business and sport. At one time, he successfully won a seat in the then Motu Koitabu Council and became a member of the National Capital District Commission.
In sport his involvement in rugby league goes back to 1955 with the Lahara Club of Hanuabada and a founding member of Papuan Rugby League and Hanuabada Rugby League. He later played for the Kone Tigers club in the then Papua Rugby League competition and while it has been some time since he hung up his boots, Sir Dadi considers himself a Tiger for life.
In true Sir Dadi style, instead of buying presents the Knight has kindly requested donations to the Sir Dadi Toka Foundation Inc. instead to help build a Learning Center for Hagara Elementary School.
Certainly looking forward to see him sing and rekindle those wonderful years. Maybe his children might give that facial expression their beloved mum so often did at the Mick Larmer Christmas parties. But hey, it’s his birthday…
Happy Birthday Sir!