NEWS

Nawaka Proud Of Brave Son, War Hero

The vanua o Nawaka is proud of its very own son, the late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, of the famed British SAS (Special Air Service). He was involved in the Battle of Mirbat
23 Oct 2018 14:29
Nawaka Proud Of Brave Son, War Hero
The late Talaiasi Labalaba's son Isaia Dere (right) with a relative at the Nawaka village in Nadi on October 21, 2018. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

The vanua o Nawaka is proud of its very own son, the late Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, of the famed British SAS (Special Air Service).

He was involved in the Battle of Mirbat in Oman on July 19, 1972 which cost him his life in the line of duty to the crown and saving the lives of his colleagues.

Yavusa Toga spokesperson Mataiasi Nabau said the bravery shown by Labalaba was no surprise because his traditional duty was to guard their chief, the Tui Nawaka.

“Labalaba has been taught from the young age to abide and upheld the chiefly household of Nalagi,” Mr Nabau said.

“His duty to safeguard the crown and the queen is like an obligation he was born for.” 

The people of Nawaka want to  thank the project committee for organising and placing the statue of the late Mr Labalaba at the Nadi International Airport on behalf of the Tui Nawaka and the Yavusa e Tinikarua (12 tribes of Nawaka).

This statue will be unveiled by the Royal couple, the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.

“We hope that the relationship between the Tui Nawaka and royal visitors will be strengthened through the unveiling of the statue,” Mr Nabau said.

The late Mr Labalaba is from Tokatoka Wereyanitu, Mataqali of Vucilevu at the Yavusa Toga. 

His father Jolame Tuidroto and mother Virisila Ramata hail from the house of Nalagi, which is the household of the Tui Nawaka.

School buddy 

A school teacher, Waisea Narema, attended Swami Vivekananda College with the late Labalaba 57 years ago in 1961.

The late Mr Labalaba was  educated at Nadi Muslim College from Year Nine and Year 10. 

He passed Fiji Junior in 1960, and joined Mr Narema at SVC in 1961 for Year 11.

That year Labalaba was interviewed for the British Army, unfortunately, Mr Narema missed out since he was at the boarding school and was not allowed to attend the interview.

“At school he was a very bright student, eager to learn” he said.

“One day I remember meeting him in the morning when he arrived in school sweating heavily. So I asked him what happened.

“He replied that he had missed the bus so he put his uniform in school bag and ran all the way from Vaturu,

“He rested for a while and then had his shower and went to class. 

“Inside the classroom and outside he was well behaved.”

Edited by Percy Kean

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