Island News

The rose of the Garden Island Taveuni

Written By : NANISE VOLAU. There are numerous features that make Taveuni unique. Firstly it is the third biggest island in the Fiji Group after Viti Levu and Vanua Levu;
12 Sep 2009 12:00

image Written By : NANISE VOLAU. There are numerous features that make Taveuni unique.
Firstly it is the third biggest island in the Fiji Group after Viti Levu and Vanua Levu; secondly, it is the home of the Tagimoucia-the national flower of Fiji.
Tagimoucia is not found anywhere else in the world and grows only on one spot on the island – a mist shrouded, primeval setting like nowhere else on earth.
Tagimoucia is rare and so is the legend underneath its roots.
Its scientific name is medinilla waterhousei, a member of the seventh largest family of flowering plants in the world – melastomataceae.
Then the Tavoro Waterfalls, a spectacular series of three waterfalls of 24 metres, 15m and 10m.
These falls are also called the Bouma Falls as they are in the Bouma National Heritage Park. The tallest waterfall is the Lower Bouma (or Tavoro) Falls.
Then, the Middle Bouma (Tavoro) Falls has the next tallest drop.
Finally, the double-barreled waterfall of the Upper Bouma Falls has the shortest drop of the three, but has an interesting character to it.
The Bouma National Heritage Park sits on the eastern side of Taveuni Island.
Taveuni is known as the Garden Island of Fiji.
But here FijiSUN tells you the story of the rose of the Garden Island- Masi Valentine; the post master at the Taveuni Post Office.
Valentine once earned his living by working on his yaqona plantation.
He dreamt of other things but there were not many alternatives on the island for a school dropout like him.
When the island needed a mail boy in 1992, Valentine, then 17, jumped at the job.
Only a few addresses were given to him at the start to deliver mails.
As the days grew into months, then into years, he gradually came to know his way across the island and met different people.
Taveuni is one of few places in the world (along with Rabe Island and Siberia) that lie on the 180 degree meridian, the point at which one day turns into the next.
The length of the island is around 42 kilometres and is about 15km wide.
This is Masi’s workstation-walking daily and for days to deliver mails, even before the days of mobile phones, television and frequency modulation (FM) powered radio transmission which later brought about easy communication between islanders and link to mainland Viti Levu and the world.
Taveuni approximately has a population of about 15,000 people- mainly indigenous Fijians.
It has eight public and private schools, one hospital and three nursing stations servicing more than 49 villages and 30 settlements throughout the island. These are all service area to Valentine and the countless rounds he has made over the years made him the most popular figure and name in Taveuni.
He describes Taveuni from the tips of his fingers; even the most deteriorating roads on the island he will pinpoint without difficulty.
This once young Qamea Island lad who started as a mail boy at the age of 17, used to travel by punt every morning to work.
He has not missed a day at work and today he is the proud owner of a big three bedroom concrete -dividends of hard labour as a mail runner.
He climbed the rungs of employment until the post master position.
“I love my work,” he said.
“It taught me a lot and no matter what life circumstances I went through, I had to keep in mind that my customers were the most important people of the day,” he added.
“I find peace in my work as a public servant.”
“I believe that humility, generosity and gracefulness are three things that led to my success.”
“I give my best service everyday and sometimes people who meet me for the first time return to shake my hand for appreciation to my duties,” he added.
“I had wonderful and supportive parents. Starting from Day One and until today, they will always call to find out whether I am doing fine at work or not,” his voice was soft and the words were hard to come out indicating the emotions in the memories of the years gone by.
“They had been the pillar to my success and despite living far from them; their love and care surround me all the time.”
Although Masi dropped out early at Bucalevu Secondary School, he believes that he succeeded through sacrifice and determination.
“I am a staunch Christian and I believe that to have a sincere heart, you will be at peace with everyone, especially God.”
He is married and has two children.
“I love my work and when I smile the work load fades and a new chapter approaches,” he said.
“Every human being is unique, but we may not realize what potential our unique individual character posses.”
“We all posses various individual skills, talent and character, but plenty people are discouraged by obstacles and life’s difficulties.”
“Not all young people can succeed in the classroom and I have a role to play for youths to make them become good ambassadors for tomorrow.”
“Everything starts from home and one should remember that how far we may go, the people back home are the ones who will be at peace and satisfied with your achievement,” he said.
“Learn to live your dreams with an open heart.”
The open and gentle heart in this former mail runner has been rewarded the title as the rose of the garden island because he is as unique as the Tagimoucia flower.

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