Big Story | NATION

Fresh Tagimoucia Flowers For The Queen

She relives memories of her encounter with Her Majesty the Queen – ‘I recall having to practise my steps, stepping up to HM then stepping back after presenting the flowers, sitting and the cobo. This was overseen by the late Ratu Sir Josua Rabukawaqa.’
14 Sep 2022 10:02
Fresh Tagimoucia Flowers For The Queen
(L)- Alisi Kanaimawi Panuve. (R) Nine-year-old Alisi Kanaimawi (standing left) presents a bouquet of fresh tagimoucia flowers to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Labasa Airport during her tour here in 1977.

Alisi Kanaimawi Panuve, 54, was only nine years old when she greeted Queen Elizabeth II at the Labasa Airport in 1977, but memories of that day still linger fresh in her heart and mind today.

It was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II fifth visit to Fiji, and in her schedule was a trip up to the Northern Division.

Mrs Panuve, who was the daughter of then Commissioner Northern, the late Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, was tasked with the honours of greeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh with a bouquet of unique fresh Tagimoucia flowers that only grows on the island of Taveuni.

 

Following the news of the Queen’s passing last Thursday, Mrs Panuve relived memories of her encounter with Her Majesty the Queen.

“My parents told me that I was tasked with giving the bouquet to the queen. So, practise was done at home, and I recall being excited, but I didn’t know at the time how blessed and super privileged I was to be chosen to do this duty,” Mrs Panuve said.

 

Preparing To Meet The Queen

Sometime before the big day, she said she had to cut her hair because she wore her hair long back then.

“In preparation for my task there was a little traditional ceremony done for me on Bau Island where my late uncle Pita Balekiwai cut my hair surrounded by family,” she said.

“I recall having to practise my steps, stepping up to HM then stepping back after presenting the flowers, sitting and doing the cobo. This was overseen by the late Ratu Sir Josua Rabukawaqa.

 

“My dress (I think it is at the Fiji Museum now) was made of coconut fibre, with the vaivai red seeds intertwined into it by my aunt, my mother’s oldest sister Seini Sauvou Naulivou, wife of Ratu Tevita Naulivou, brother to the Vunivalu Ratu Sir George Cakobau from Bau.”

“My bracelets and anklets were made by women from Cakaudrove. They were specially made with magimagi and shark teeth hanging from them.”

She added that because her parents were busy preparing for the queen’s arrival, she was taken care of by Adi Litia Iloilo, daughter of the late President Ratu Iloilo and the women of Cakaudrove, who helped take her to the airport, dress and prepare her for the special task.

queenn

Meeting The Queen

“It was quite daunting standing on the tarmac on the prepared mats surrounded by many people waiting on Her Majesty that day,” Mrs Panuve recalled.

“It was quiet, super quiet as we all watched Her Majesty descend from her aeroplane. That’s when I got a bit nervous with butterflies in my stomach.”

She said she was advised not to say a word but bow her head in respect when the Queen Elizabeth received the bouquet.

 

“The queen smiled down at me and said thank you. I was told very strongly before the event by my family not to talk to the queen and to keep my mouth shut but just smile.”

“For all who know me, I would’ve easily had a good old chat with Her Majesty given the chance and so I was constantly reminded not to say anything.”

“Queen Elizabeth was gracious and beautiful. I was absolutely honoured and highly favoured to have been chosen to present her with a bouquet of Tagimoucia (native to the garden island of Fiji, Taveuni where I am from) and orchids.”

 

She will remember the late Queen Elizabeth II as an elegant, articulate, hardworking, loving and faithful monarch.

“And there’s so much more to her too. She’s a woman who has been very blessed by God and during her long reign she acknowledged and worshipped God. That is why I believe she has been received by Him hearing the words, well done, good and faithful servant,” Mrs Panuve said.

Mrs Panuve is married to James Panuve, a Tongan national. They have three children and two grandchildren. She lives in Tonga with her family.

 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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