From Ice Blocks And Rugby, To Aussie

The 24-year-old is one of the 177 Fijians who left the country on Tuesday for Australia, to work under the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).
29 Apr 2021 10:27
From Ice Blocks And Rugby, To Aussie
Inia Mate at the Nadi International Airport on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

Selling ice blocks and receiving some income from his Tailevu rugby club was a pathway for Inia Momoivalu Mate to turn his dreams to reality.

The 24-year-old is one of the 177 Fijians who left the country on Tuesday for Australia, to work under the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). The PLS was established under the Vuvale Partnership Agreement between Fiji and Australia as one of two labour mobility programmes accessed by Fijian citizens to work in Australia, the other being the Seasonal Work Programme (SWP).

The workers will take up positions in the meat work sector across New South Wales (NSW) on a three-year work contract.

Originally from Nakelo, Tailevu, Mr Mate also plays for his provincial rugby team and lives with his parents at the village.

His elder sister, Akesa Seru, said her brother was always faithful in carrying out his commitments to the church and selling ice blocks to support himself and his family.

“Our father is an Assemblies of God pastor. Inia is still single and lives with my parents. He plays drums in church and he is dedicated to what he does,” she said.

“After Inia left school, he engaged himself in playing rugby for Tailevu. Apart from that he used to sell ice blocks. That is where he gets his income from to support himself.”

Ms Seru said her brother had always dreamt of becoming a navy officer.

“He always tells us that God will provide ways for him to fund his studies. The Australian job is an answer to his prayers,” she said.

Like all families here and around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact.

“Now there is no church service, my dad was also being affected by the pandemic. We thank God that the opportunity that was given to Inia will be a blessing and a provision to him and our family,” Ms Seru said.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes, who wished the Fijian workers well, said: “By travelling to Australia these hardworking Fijians can better support their families and communities while Team Fiji works hard to stop COVID-19.”

The 177 workers consist of 45 females and 132 males. This brings the total number of Fijian PLS workers that have departed since November 2020 to 627.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: mereleki.nai@fijisun.com.fj

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