Island News

Firefighter plays king for a week

Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU . When an invitation was extended to Ropate Daucakacaka Pareti to be a King contestant at the Suva’s Hibiscus Festival, the 30-year-old firefighter from Daliconi,
30 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU . When an invitation was extended to Ropate Daucakacaka Pareti to be a King contestant at the Suva’s Hibiscus Festival, the 30-year-old firefighter from Daliconi, Vanuabalavu in Lau took it all in one stride, never looking back and embracing the opportunity with dear life.
Here, he tells his story about being part of the week-long festival and the experience that has made a huge difference in his life.
And even though after the end of the week-long event, he wasn’t crowned the winner, he feels that he walked away from the festival with a crown that could never be taken away from him and which is the crown of experience and confidence that no other contestant would ever have to defend in the next years to come.
“I sat in as an observer during one of the Hibiscus Committee meetings and at the end of that meet, an invitation was extended to me to be a contestant at the festival.
‘I didn’t even have to go through an audition unlike the other contestants,” Mr Pareti said.
He said the catch to the whole thing was that his sponsor would be a mystery but that he or she was somehow be connected to the National Fire Authority where he worked.
“What I was told was that I would never know who my sponsor was, but that there was a connection between my sponsor and the NFA.
“And the catch was I had to don the sash for NFA for the Hibiscus Festival,” he said.
Mr Pareti said almost four months of preparation geared him up well for the one-week event and he was so excited when the opening day of the festival finally arrived on his doorstep.
He said there were four things that he wanted to accomplish from his participation and he’s so glad he was able to achieve all four.
“When the whole festival started, I said to myself that when the whole thing finishes, I want to be able to say to myself I accomplished the four things I had put my mind to when it all started.
“When it ended I was able to make a difference in my life, build up on my self confidence, promote NFA on a much wider scale and I was able to prove to those men in other essential services like the Navy, Police, Army and other men out there that males can take part and make a difference,” Mr Pareti said.
He said throughout the four months of practice and bonding with other male contestants, he has been able to achieved and learn so much.
“There are not enough words to even describe the experience I’ve had. Throughout the four months towards the build up for the Hibiscus, I have had access to speech coaches, cat walk training and so many things,” he said.
“If I hadn’t taken up the challenge, I’d be the same old firefighter sitting at the office waiting for emergency cases.”
He said one thing that he’s so thankful for was the support he got from his colleagues at the National Fire Authority.
“I really want to thank them for their immense support and also their families. It was just so overwhelming and believe it or not, towards the build up towards Hibiscus, some of my colleagues were more excited then me,” Mr Pareti said.
He said that even though he had a mystery sponsor, NFA and Total gave him a lot of financial backing as well and his grateful to the two entities for helping make his week a memorable one.
“The firefighters even paid for a full body waxing and I must say that was so much fun. One of the highlights of my participation in the Hibiscus Festival,” he said.
Mr Pareti said he was surprised that after the event, he was able to come away from the whole thing with at least $5000 worth of clothes, some of them he hasn’t even worn. And he attributes all the cool designs he wore for the festival to renowned designer, Hupfeld Hoerder.
“But at the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s about the organisation I’ve represented and that is NFA.
“And I would do it all over again if I was given the chance to do so. I’m not only proud to have been the contestant for NFA, but I’m more proud to be working for the organisation itself,” said Mr Pareti.
He said it was God’s plan for him to have been part of the committee meeting because it eventually got him an invitation to be part of the festival and in a way through his participation he has been able to win the heart of the nation.
“I may not have won anything, but by taking up the challenge to represent NFA, I have won the hearts of so many people and it’s good to know that all that has happened has been part of God’s plan,” he said
Mr Pareti said all that he’s achieved wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t the great support that he received during the festival.
“The CEO of NFA, his administration and staff, the chief officer and his operational staff, firefighters spouses and children, my parents and my two brothers who for the past four months have been following me everywhere,” said Mr Pareti.
“I have never been more grateful for the opportunity I got and I still regard myself as a winner for completing the event and coming out of it wiser than ever.”
For the Procurement Officer at the NFA, it’s time to don his firemen’s uniform again and be prepared for the next major assignment. And even though he has been an ardent firefighter for the past seven years, the one week he got to be a king contestant is one he would never forget.

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