Mazzella Maniwavie is not on Facebook, but her story must go on | By Eva Kuson

About a daughter completing her biologist dad's work. Words & pictures by Eva Kuson.


Sila is the daughter of late Thomas Maniwavie, one of the country’s pioneer scientist in Marine Biology.

The family resided at Bootless bay while Mr Maniwavie researched extensively around the bay and neighbouring Motuan coastlines along the Magi highway.

Sila as young as twelve would pack her dad’s under water writing pads and science apparatus and send her dad off to work in the morning.

While many dads use land transport to head back home, Sila would eagerly wait on Bootless Bay wharf for hers to arrive home by boat.

She would rinse off the equipment with fresh water and set them up for the next day adventure for her scientist dad and would hit the sack.

Not an obligatory exercise, but because she enjoyed it, something she was able to do at that age. Not the big complicated stuff like holding down the boat.

I’ve known Sila for nearly 30 years now, only girl child in the family of three. A real tom boy and has the neck of a real mafia.

No one messed with me in primary school, though we both petite, I was more timid and vulnerable. She off course was like a honey beaver shoving off big bully kids in school when they try me.

On school holidays, I would jet off to Magi Highway to spend holidays with Sila and family.

We roamed Bootless bay with Mr Maniwavie while he measured mangrove seedlings.

Sila and I would pick up old shells for decor purposes or tried new diving stunts on the wharf when tide is up while we wait for him.

Sila and I have deeper connection to the marine life and the sea was and is our element.

When we were in high school, Mr Maniwavie had a nasty fall, resulting in lower limb paralysis.

Sila as daddy’s girl was devastated, the whole family was. The lively, talkative and adrenaline junkie dad was reduced to a wheel chair.

In late 2008, Mr Maniwavie passed away. I cried like I was on meth. I couldn’t get over the news for days, I couldn’t console much as I was away in Madang.

I was crying over all the warm memories around Bootless bay and Motupore Island, but more so at the loss of my best friend’s beautiful bond with her dad.

Sila off course was composed and openly recieved the departure. She told me, “Don’t worry Bee, Dad was in so much pain. He’s gone to rest.”

The childhood memories of that simple seaside life that most of us city kids wouldn’t have the pleasure of knowing still visits me .

After Mr Maniwavie left our shores, Sila was renewed in his mission. She wanted to finish off her dad’s work of planting the seedlings her dad had in their backyard nursery.

She took up Marine Biology, graduated with her degree in 2011 completed her honours in 2012 and went on to continue planting the seedlings.

Sila secured some climate adaptation funds and guess who she called up to cover her awareness and education program. Me off course. You can only imagine my joy!

Watching her present the seedlings to visiting delegates at the event was more of a special moment. Standing at the exact spot her dad used to kneel down when naming mangrove species.

Sila is now in her first year of a three year masters program at James Cook University under the Australian Aid Awards Scholarship.

Her work took her around the world and to all maritime provinces in the country, and landed her some funding to continue her dad’s passion and love for the marine life. She also took out the Young Wespect Women Awards 👍

I have great admiration and love for this sister.

Much respect to those who continue the good work in saving our environment, including my very own Sila the sea saver.

8 comments on “Mazzella Maniwavie is not on Facebook, but her story must go on | By Eva Kuson

  1. Nathan Tai Tombe

    What an inspirational story. Keep up the great work.


  2. I had the pleasure of meeting Sila through my sister inlaw Leonnie Paranda.
    Thumps up Sila.


  3. Gladys Gule

    Yes!! Go mala shes my big sister
    Am so proud of her!!😍


  4. Chris Binabat

    While working with Care International in PNG as Project officer doing Climate Base Adaptation in Nissan &Pinepel Island. Miss Mazzella was contracted as a consultant to carry out Rapid Assesessment of Marine Ecosystem for both Pinepel and Nissan Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. That where I knew her and assist her. Thumbs up Mazzella for continuously protecting our environment.


  5. Helen Rose So-ong

    A very admirable, inspirational and heartfelt story. Very proud of Knowing stories of Papua New Guinea women like Sila.


  6. Wow an inspiration indeed


  7. Dr. Frank Griffin

    Hi Eva – great story…late Thomas was an inspiration and a true researcher…could you please on his year of death because I don’t think it was 2008…when I took office as Executive Dean of SNPS in July 2009, he was still alive and we worked on securing a grant from the US Embassy for his research into mangroves…thanks again for this piece…great story…


  8. Geam Feekings

    The story worth telling. I congratulate the young scientist, Miss Sila Maniwavie taking up what her father started. All the best in your studies at JCU.


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