Island News

Weather expert retires

Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . For years, the Fiji Meteorological Centre has had the difficult task of monitoring and preparing for the weather, especially for the threats presented from
12 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . For years, the Fiji Meteorological Centre has had the difficult task of monitoring and preparing for the weather, especially for the threats presented from storms and hurricanes. For over the past thirty-nine years, such work was done by Mr Josefata Cati in monitoring nature’s unpredictable weather patterns. Whether his work was done out in the islands or within the mainland, the results of his occupation were a great contribution for the Fiji Meteorological Centre, for the country and for the South Pacific.
Now, after nearly four decades in the business, Mr Cati has retired from his demanding position as the Senior Technical Officer.
A great number of the Fiji Meteorological Centre’s employees gathered together for an official farewell ceremony to say their goodbyes to Josefata Cati and show their appreciation for his many years of dedication and hard work.
As one of the longest running civil servants in the country’s meteorological industry, Mr Cati’s many colleagues went on to call him a hardworking and leading member of their community and a loyal friend as well. They spoke fondly of Mr Cati’s work, especially during his years on the island of Ono-I-Lau where he was also born and raised. They also reminisced that throughout the years; none of his fellow employees had any complaints against him or had any reason to dislike him.
Josefata Cati had begun working in the employ of the Fiji Meteorological Center’s outer island station for fifteen years. He raised his family on Ono-I-Lau and found many challenges of the job during those years. According to his wife, Mrs Cegu Cati, one of the many duties of her husband was to send an updated report every morning from the outer station to the mainland.
Mrs Cati said that there were quite a few times when the generator of the station was out of order which meant that Mr Cati could not always send his reports. Such reports were very essential, since the outer island stations were usually the first to receive any indication of an upcoming cyclone or hurricane and could indicate which direction it was heading. Mrs Cati said despite the many difficulties, water troubles and limitations, life on the island of Ono-I-Lau was precious to them as it usually meant that their family was always close together. However, whenever a hurricane would strike, Mr Cati was usually needed at his station while his family remained at home.
Now that he has retired, Mr Cati will be doing work on his farm lands. His wife said that he is very interested in gardening and will probably be planting and harvesting crops such as yams. One of the most memorable moments for this father of nine was before he started working in his Nadi station in which he served for seventeen years before moving to the Laucala bay offices in Suva. During his time on Ono-I-Lau, a storm known as Cyclone Mele was on approach which put all stations on alert.
Many weather experts who were monitoring the approaching cyclone determined it would hit the island of Ono-I-Lau; however, Mr Cati disputed this claim according to his own expertise. Mr Cati stood alone in his claim which proved to be correct as the cyclone eventually turned away from hitting Ono-I-Lau. This prediction resulted in a commendation for Mr Cati from their New Zealand Offices.
Josefata Cati thoroughly believes in the importance of the outer island stations. His wife spoke for him on the need for people to man them.
“You really need the human eye to detect the direction of the wind and you need someone to read the pressure. The machines usually just measure the direction of the rain falling, but in the end you need better people and better equipment to properly run them.” Mr Cati has always been a man who has been firmly rooted in to the protocols and traditions of his village.
“He has particular wisdom in a sense. He knows the traditional village protocol and he feels, as an educated man to encourage and work with people from the village. He is also a very generous councilor” said Mr Cati wife. One of Mr Cati’s nine children now follow in his footsteps and works for the Fiji Meteorological Center.
After several years of working his way upwards in the weather monitoring service and earning the respect and admiration of his friends and colleagues, Mr Cati will now take on a new direction in retirement as the members of Fiji Meteorological Centre try to fill the shoes of one of their most experienced, generous and skilled experts.

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