Justin Parker tells the story of pain that helped him build his life and become a successful businessman. Simon Eroro reports on Lae’s rising star.
PAPUA New Guinea turned 35 years old on Thursday. Lae businessman Justin Parker is 38 years old this year. That three year gap is the essence of this story.
Parker believes he knows the pain the country is going through because as a child he experienced the same pains, evolved around those hardships, addressed the issues that affected his life and has come full circle to be a successful businessman.
Parker believes with foresight and strong leadership, our country can achieve the stability that every Papua New Guinean dreams off.
While the country celebrated independence with fun-filled events and feasts, Parker, now the owner of Golden Valley Enterprise, reflected on his own experience of growing up in PNG.
Parker’s story is not an ordinary rags to riches one. It begins in colonial era Papua and New Guinea, in the highlands of PNG, where the rule of the white man was slowly being eroded by the awakening of the politically hot headed Bully Beef Club.
Parker is the offspring of a liaison between a white father and a Chimbu mother. He was born in Minj on August 28, 1972.
His mother migrated to Minj with her grandparents during the colonial days where his grandfather worked for a government bulk store.
Parker said he hardly knows his Australian father besides the fact that he came to PNG in early 1970s as coffee buyer and worked with Sigmill coffee factory in Minj and later married his mum.
Parker stayed in Minj until on his sixth birthday and moved with his grandparents to Warawau Tea Plantation now owned by WR Carpenters where he started school at age seven at Kagamuga Community School.
He returned to Minj and did his grade two and three at Minj, and then to Fatima High School where he did his grade seven before returning to Minj to complete Grade 10.
It was during these formative years that he realised that everyone treated him differently because of his fair complexion although he tried his best to blend in with his fellow Papua New Guineans.
The hurt from this rejection made him believe he had to rise above his skin colour, to show he was a truly “pikinini man blo PNG” and Parker believed the only way he was going to win the affection of his people was through innovative hard work.
After high school, he attended Popondetta Agriculture College now University of Natural Resource and Environment - Oro Campus but did not last long.
Parker left school after six-months and returned home where he later found a job with Plumes and Arrows Hotel as a waiter.
He joked: “I had asked for a tea boy’s job.”
Parker said his life beyond that was miserable but he was tenacious in his belief that one day he would succeed.
“Everyone saw me as different because I was white-skin ... regarded me as a mixed-race, although I did not see myself like that. My peers thought I was different but at no time did I think I was different,” he recalled.
He said this did not discourage but it was so much for him then.
Parker says: “I remember going to high school with a pair of shoe and clothes and can also recall ... I wore the same many times.”
“But I had a dream that one day I wanted to live a quiet life on my own, have a stable marriage life and raise my children away from the life I grew up with better education and give them my utmost love,” he said.
Armed with that dream, Parker resigned and with his K500 finish pay, started selling beer at black markets. “No one knew what I wanted to be,” he said.
He started buying gold and coffee and looking after pigs and today with the little he saved, he is now a well established businessman.
Asked how he wants to be in future, he said, “I have a dream to operate my own mining company.”
“I was born two years before PNG gained Independence but I see myself having matured this far together the difficulties I have faced in my life as an individual and seen PNG as a country struggling to develop, encourages me to put 10 steps ahead in everything I do.”
He has three beautiful girls and two boys. Four go to school in Australia while one is in Port Moresby. He loves residing in Lae but dislikes the potholes and is an avid bike rider who likes the rough terrains in the Markham Valley.
His company buys gold and exports cocoa and is based in Lae with branches in Wau, Bulolo, Tabubil, Ningerum and Wewak .
He is now setting up office in Madang and Port Moresby. Parker is also into small scale mining.