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Tikotikoca Fondly Remembers Island Smiles

Tikotikoca Fondly Remembers Island Smiles
Colonel Glein King perform a traditional Maori greeting during the cocktail on board the HMSNZ Canterbury on Saturday night. Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI
April 18
09:33 2016


The memories of smiling children despite the devastation left by Tropical Cyclone Winston in Vanuabalavu, Lau will always remain in the heart of Royal New Zealand Airforce, Corporal Jale Tikotikoca.

Thirty-year-old Corporal Tikotikoca was among the New Zealand Defence Force team deployed to Fiji to carry out humanitarian assistance in various areas hit by the cyclone.

“One day I was driving through Sawana village when I came across a woman feeding her baby in a tent and behind them their house which was completely destroyed by the cyclone,” said Corporal Tikotikoca who has maternal links to Vanuabalavu, and is originally from Vuna in Taveuni.

“But then the resilience was something I saw in them; children were smiling and we always feel at home when we were with them; this is something I will never forget,” he said.

“Especially to see a beautiful place destroyed by the cyclone and living people homeless was just heart wrenching,” he said.

“Being a Fijian I am honoured to have the opportunity to come back and help my people who were devastated by the cyclone and to see my mum’s family in Vanuabalavu.

“I hope we have done a great job in carrying out our humanitarian work for the people in Vanuabalavu and for my Kiwi mates they were really amazed by the amount of resilience from the people in Vanuabalavu,” he said.

The former Queen Victoria School student said the New Zealand contingent had built a special bond between them and the people in Vanuabalavu; it was more heartbreaking for them when they left the island.

“We also faced challenges in delivering humanitarian aid assistance especially with the logistics side of things and communication was another problem but then were determined to carry out our work,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and Natural Disaster, Inia Seruiratu said Humanitarian aid assistance rendered by the Australian and New Zealand government during Tropical Cyclone Winston shows that despite differences we have they always had a heart to help Fiji.

He made the comments at a reception hosted by the New Zealand Defence Force on board the HMNZS Canterbury on Saturday night.

“We are so thankful to the New Zealand and Australian government for their contribution towards recovery efforts around various cyclone hit areas and they have done a tremendous job.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika



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