Goodbye to the Great Storyteller

William Takaku
William Takaku

I was sad to read about the death of Papua New Guinea’s most celebrated actor, William Takaku. The National (04/01/11) reported that Takaku collapsed at the Jackson’s International Airport domestic terminal after returning from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Takaku was a film, television and theater actor and screenwriter. He became famous locally after the writing and staring in the film Tukana. In the international scene, he acted as Man Friday, alongside Pierce Brosnan in Robinson Crusoe (1997) and as Magnus in the mini-TV series Violent Earth (1998).

Goodbye, great storyteller and thank you for Tukana.

William Takaku as Friday in Robinson Crusoe

Author: Bernard Nolan Sinai

I’m a writer, publisher, IT personnel and martial artist.

5 thoughts on “Goodbye to the Great Storyteller”

  1. My thoughts are with William’s friends and family who must be struggling to cope with such a sudden and enormous loss – I am ten thousand miles away from Bougainville and it’s so hard to grieve from such a distance with no one to share the sadness. I remember those evenings under the stars at the National Theatre and the open air theatre at UPNG. William was wonderful when he was using his performing skills to express his concern for environmental and social issues. He participated with John Kasaipwalova in a film called “The Last Magician”. I worked with him in the early 90s on “Em I Graun Bilong Yumi” a film that documented the value of theatre as an information tool in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the Republic of Vanuatu. My son Tom’s middle name is William – I’m not sure I ever told Takaku that I had named my son after him – Tom is now studying Performing Arts and hopes to visit his sisters in Rabaul and work in Vanuatu later this year. I am so sorry that he will not have the chance now to go to Bougainville and sit at William’s feet and learn from him. I am so sorry. Simon Swale.

    1. Thanks for sharing. He was truly and inspiration for upcoming actors and theater arts students. Unfortunately, I have only viewed a couple of his films that is Tukana and Robinson Crusoe alongside Pierce Brosnan. Now that you have mentioned a couple of other titles, I will be on the hunt to find and view them. Thanks.

  2. I have the good fortune to work with William when he first came to NIDA and was in the class with Mel; Gibson, Steve Bisley and Judy Davis and held his own in every way equal to them and surpassing in many. His stage presence, his sense of humour, his intuitive accuracy in all his acting and his courage and leadership in so many other ways – as he later proved invaluable to his country. I last met him and his family in Port Morseby when he had just set up a new Drama school with Garry Stonehouse, and was looking like the king he really was. I feel incredibly privileged to have been inspired by William.
    Aubrey Mellor, Dean, Performing Arts, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore

  3. I just watched “Robinson Crusoe” this evening and was so impressed with William Takaku. What a downer to come online to look him up and find that he has passed away! He had such intensity and humanity! I pray he is at peace and that his family finds comfort.

  4. By chance, I found out about William’s death only in February 2013 when I started a conversation in Canberra with some performers from Bougainville. When William was at NIDA he lived in International House at the UNSW and so did I. We formed a strong friendship and shared many happy times that year, often singing original compositions about college life while William played the guitar. We kept in touch for a while after he returned to PNG and I visited him once in Port Moresby and once in Pidia Village. Rest in peace good friend, I will never forget your good nature and kindness.

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