Island News

Teeing off for a great mentor

Written By : VASITI RITOVA. Anasa Waqa recollects growing up in Queen Victoria School. One particular teacher, a Senior House Master, represented the ultimate authority and bored down the halls
08 Aug 2009 12:00

image Written By : VASITI RITOVA. Anasa Waqa recollects growing up in Queen Victoria School.
One particular teacher, a Senior House Master, represented the ultimate authority and bored down the halls of residence with an air of esteem and a somewhat different approach to life.
The name Master Netani Tokalauvere Druavesi was sacred but became a surety to induce into his mind the very essence of Fijian culture, values and tradition. His very presence made Waqa and his mates sit up because they held him with high regard in whatever he made life out to be at QVS.
Waqa and his school-mates remember his firm voice and ideals. Na Qase mai Bau, as he was referred to, because of his position as Senior House Master for Bau House, became a strict disciplinarian and mentor for thousands of young men at QVS for at least 40 years.
Former Head Boy, Army Commander and Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, remembered him as the teacher who was visually-impaired but who saw everything that was happening. He even suggested that many old boys knew him better than the grand monarch, Queen Victoria herself.
Some of Rabuka’s recollections through the years bordered on elation and the inner-most feelings of a young man, separated from his father in the village but having one in the prestigious institution to replace that symbol.
“He never raised his voice when lecturing a wayward student, but his message was always loud and clear,” Rabuka once said. “When he pointed his finger at a student it was like laser cutting through skin, flesh and bone, into the soul of that person who would remember that lesson for the rest of his life.”
For QVS students, particularly those who entered its gates from the 1940s to the 80s, Master Netani Tokalauvere Druavesi (NTD), who was known by names like Na Qase o Tu Drua or Na Qase mai Bau, had obviously become an important name.
Rabuka’s memories and views would count.
He said Master Druavesi went to QVS with all four Fiji Presidents (the late Ratu Sir George Cakobau, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and retiring President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu). Among his students were three of the six Prime Ministers of Fiji (the late Dr Timoci Bavadra, Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka and Laisenia Qarase).
Rabuka was also proud that more than half of his Cabinet and more than half of the Members of Parliament on the Government side were Master Druavesi’s former students.
He also recalled that the upper echelons of the civil service list were former students of the old man. Even his son, Bani Druavesi, was Government Whip. Bani donated the trophy on his family’s behalf. If that was not enough, his daughter-in-law, Ema Druavesi, was General Secretary of the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT), a QVS-emphasised political party.
“Master Druavesi hailed from Taci in Noco, Rewa, but his sons are in the Vola ni Kawa Bula of all Tokatoka, Mataqali, and Yavusa of all provinces in Fiji, and in Rotuma and some of the Pacific Islands that used to send students to Queen Victoria School,” Rabuka said.
Rabuka also recalled the importance of having Master Druavesi around at the time – which he deemed it critical to speak his own dialect and went straight into the English language from there without speaking the standard Fijian (Bau dialect).
“He never went on to the pulpit at the School Chapel but he preached and gave sermons everywhere he was, even when he was silent.”
It’s these qualities in the life of a Fijian leader in Master Druavesi that thousands of QVS old boys got together some years ago to propose a golf tournament that would honour his memory.
Every year they gather in large numbers to pitch their golfing skills and excellence against one another in a bid to raise funds for their cause and celebrate the memories of NTD. They have always converged at the Fiji Golf Club in Vatuwaqa to contest the coveted Druavesi Memorial Golf Trophy.
All four Houses, Bau, Rewa, Tovata and Verata, have won the Trophy through the years. In the last two years, Verata won it in 2007 and Tovata wrested it off Verata last year. Verata had secured it from Rewa in 2005 and had it for two years (2006 – 2007). It was a special win for Verata because QVS celebrated its centennial anniversary the same year.
The icing on the cake that year was also winning the coveted Dean’s Trophy by the QVS Under-19 rugby team and one that the school community would treasure all their lives.
Tovata House is hosting this year’s tournament and took a different dimension yesterday when they launched it in the West for the first time ever.
They did that to attract the interest and golfing prowess of more West-based old boys. They also wanted to promote its values among the corporate sector.
The West launch occurred at Ohana Restaurant & Bar in Martintar, Nadi and drew a wide cross-section of QVS old boys together. Ohana belongs to golf enthusiast and former national player, Eroni Mavoa, a QVS old boy.
The tournament has attracted some very generous sponsors in the past, like Fijian Holdings Limited, Flour Mills of Fiji, Telecom Fiji Limited, Fairdeal Earthmoving Contractors Limited, Signz Plus, FINTEL and vibrant Punja company.
Preparations are now underway and various Houses would now be planning strategies on player selection to ensure victory.
A fifth team participates every year and QVS friends form the Veiyanuyanu Team. Tournament rules dictate that scores would match those normally returned by regular golfers’ Ambrose teams, even with more than 70% of the players playing golf only once a year at the Druavesi Memorial Golf Tournament.
“It is a spirited drive and matches the enthusiasm of school-boy competition,” said Waqa. “Everyone is looking forward and this launch in the West has generated a lot of support from the old boys because many of them are based in the West.”
Old boy Isimeli Cerelala headed the Verata House Committee in 2007 and even suggested it was not a tournament “for the weak at heart”, adding that the intensity was like playing the Ryder Cup.
“It is a savage affair,” he joked. “It’s a QVS affair and it’s savage!”
“It’s also a fun day when politics and individual biases and differences are locked away and everyone just focuses on enjoying the day and what it stands for,” he said.
The usual Druavesi Memorial Golf Trophy tournament is coloured with registrations in the morning, teeing off and enjoying the day with good food, great drinks at special prizes, and a sumptuous dinner in the evening during a prize giving ceremony and of course, the Fijian Taura Tale at the end.
And all for the memory of NTD, the old man from Taci, Noco, Rewa.

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