NATION

Leba Qarase: ‘Luckiest Woman In The World To Have Married Lai’

Hundreds of people from around Fiji were at the Mavana Methodist Church, Vanuabalavu, Lau to farewell the late Mr Qarase in a moving thanksgiving service on Wednesday.
02 May 2020 11:56
Leba Qarase: ‘Luckiest Woman In The World To Have Married Lai’
Mrs Leba Qarase farewells her late husband and former prime minister Laisenia Qarase. Photo: Inoke Rabonu 

“Moce mada moce noqu Daulomani.”

Those were the final words of farewell Leba Qarase uttered as she said goodbye to her late husband, former Prime Minister and Turaga na Tui Kobuca sa Bale Laisenia Qarase.

Hundreds of people from around Fiji were at the Mavana Methodist Church, Vanuabalavu, Lau to farewell the late Mr Qarase in a moving thanksgiving service on Wednesday.

Pallbearers carry the casket of the late former prime minister into his home 'Naivaka'. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Pallbearers carry the casket of the late former prime minister into his home ‘Naivaka’. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

In an emotional farewell at the communal burial grounds on Mavana, Mrs Qarase said: “I had always said that I was the luckiest woman in the world because I married you Lai. We end here today Laisenia, only death could separate us.

“Thank you for loving me, thank you for loving our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.

“I will make sure to work hard so that I will be able to see you again when God calls me home. Moce mada noqu daulomani.”

Mrs Leba Qarase farewells her late husband and former prime minister Laisenia Qarase at his tomb on Mavana Island on Wednesday. Photo: Inoke Rabonu 

Mrs Leba Qarase farewells her late husband and former prime minister Laisenia Qarase at his tomb on Mavana Island on Wednesday. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Mrs Qarase is from Dravuwalu village, Totoya.

Mrs Leba Qarase is greeted by her 2 year-old great-grandchild Alona Grace Levy at the Malaka airstrip on Vanuabalavu. Photo: Inoke Rabonu 

Mrs Leba Qarase is greeted by her 2 year-old great-grandchild Alona Grace Levy at the Malaka airstrip on Vanuabalavu. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

The late Mr Qarase had chosen to be buried in the community burial grounds alongside his mother, instead of the chiefly burial ground on the island.

He has also assigned a special plot for his wife next to his tomb.

Women of Vanuabalavu sat on both sides of the path leading to Mavana village covered with fine mats and masi as they farewelled someone they called ‘a true son of the island.’

Women of Mavana village await the arrival of former Prime Minister into Mavana village. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Women of Mavana village await the arrival of former Prime Minister into Mavana village. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Men blew conch shells as a sign of respect for the fallen chief.

Mr Qarase’s body was also taken to his home at ‘Naivaka’ in Mavana for an hour before the service.

Pallbearers carry the casket of the late former prime minister into his home 'Naivaka'. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Pallbearers carry the casket of the late former prime minister into his home ‘Naivaka’. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

CHURCH

Speaking on behalf of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Suva Circuit Rev Soko Kuruveivali said the late Mr Qarase was a man of unwavering faith.

“Mr Qarase was not only true to his calling to the Government and Vanua, he was true to his calling to his faith and that was shown in his service to the Methodist church of Fiji,” Rev Kuruveivali said.

“The Rev John Hunt building that stands today was his vision, the Lako Yani Management Limited that helped the Methodist church out of debt was his work, the new extension to Epworth house that had been approved is also part of his work in the church,” he said.

Mr Qarase was a lay preacher and a member of the Centenary Church in Suva.

The casket of the late former prime minister lies inside the Mavana Methodist Church in Mavana. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

The casket of the late former prime minister lies inside the Mavana Methodist Church in Mavana. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

VANUA

Na Turaga na Tui Mavana, Ratu Ene Colavanua while speaking on behalf of the Vanua said: “Qarase was a true son of Vanuabalavu.”

“Laisenia was a visionary leader and he worked hard to see his plans come to life.

“His plans for the island was one that would benefit everyone, one that would unite not only villagers on Mavana but Vanuabalvu as a whole.”

Ratu Colavanua said Mr Qarase would be missed as he was a man with little words but big actions.

FAMILY

Inoke Buadromo while speaking on behalf of the Qarase family said: “Mr Qarase was a true family man, though he had enagaged himself as a leader in Government and other capacities, family was always his priority.”

He said he loved his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren equally and always had time for them.

Mr Buadromo said the late Mr Qarase’s mom was a direct Jew descendant of the Borman family who had settled in Vanuabalavu in the 1900’s.

He is survived by his wife Leba Qarase, seven children, 26 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj


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