As our April 2015 team performed their traditional meke dances, and drank grog and ‘hop hopped’ until the early hours of Thursday morning, the curtain came down on a truly incredible 6 years on the island of Moturiki for Think Pacific, and it was an evening and an event filled with huge emotion and reflection for so many!
But before reaching the closing scenes our team had enjoyed a huge final few days, with the build project completed ready for the grand opening, a farewell tea party at Moturiki District School, which was Think Pacific’s first ever school placement, and the epic end to the House Cup competition and youth initiatives, as well as one last sports session of course!
The final day for Think Pacific on Moturiki, and our volunteer team, began with a farewell Church service in Navuti village, attended by many of the community, and with hymns sung in full voice. There were also a few poignant words of thanks from Think Pacific’s very own ‘Moturikian’ and Expedition Leader Lulu.
The whole team and Navuti village members then gathered together for the official opening of the newly renovated and extended community hall, a project which has been a key aim and objective for the village for many years, and one that is now a huge source of pride. Think Pacific’s Community Development Advisor Ratu Philip Komai, formerly of the Ministry of Health in Fiji, offered a word of thanks, before the Ratu for the island itself cut the ribbon and welcomed everyone inside.
Once seated in the hall, which looks stunning following the 8 week development, a traditional sevusevu was presented, before the island presented a ‘tabua’ (whales tooth) to Think Pacific, and the team, which proved a very significant and indeed humbling moment. As the grog then began to flow, our volunteers changed into their traditional ‘masi’ for their meke performances.
The team did a incredible job with their mekes, much to the delight of the packed crowd of community members within the community hall, and loud whoops and cheers of encouragement rang out across Navuti! It was then time for one last feast with the village, as the ladies prepared a huge spread, and with stomachs full there was only one thing left…the grog and hop hop party!
Navuti is a village known for its parties, and it certainly did not disappoint. But within the fun and laughter the emotion of the evening was tangible, particularly as our volunteers each took time to thank the village as a whole, but also their families and friends specifically, with a few words of farewell. Think Pacific also presented their ‘tabua’ to the Ratu (Chief) of the island as a ‘tatau’ (farewell), with a few words from the Co-Founder Harry Hunter, who reflected on the very many special moments and memories that Think Pacific has shared with Moturiki Island over the last 6 years.
As the boats pulled away from the Moturiki shoreline early in the morning the villagers stood to sing ‘isa lei’, Fiji’s farewell song, and there were tears for many, as our April team left their new home of Navuti, and Think Pacific left its first home of Moturiki. To the families and communities of Moturiki, we would like to say a heart felt ‘vinaka vaka levu’ for 6 incredible years, and the old saying is certainly true…you never forget your first love!
Vinaka vaka levu Moturiki!