Bula Vinaka! It's a great pleasure for me to be in the beautiful Mamanucas today and especially at Mana Island to help celebrate your 40thanniversary. Mana, of course, is among the brightest jewels in the Mamanucas
This is no surprise to our international guests and especially to those of you who are here for the annual Multi-Returnees Week. You keep coming back because you discovered this secret a long time ago.
You have had an intense love affair with Mana and Mana has had a love affair with you. It's been mainly smooth sailing—except for the odd cyclone or flood—and both parties have remained faithful. On behalf of every Fijian heretoday, I want to thank all the multi-returnees for being faithful to Mana and to our country. In an economic sense, your repeat business over the years has been highly valued.
In a personal sense, the ties you have forged with our people are valued even more. Thank you for your support. We are grateful and proud to have you as friends. Vinaka Vakalevu.
The thoughts of all of us here today are with those affected by the fire on Thursday that destroyed part of the Naviti Resort on the Coral Coast. Fortunately, no-one was hurt, guests have been accommodated elsewhere and none of the staff have been laid off. It was a big relief. But it was also an inspiration. Because once again, we saw plenty of evidence of the bonds of trust and affection between our visitorsand our Fijian hosts.
As Prime Minister, I'm especially proud whenever disaster strikes in Fiji—that we respond properly to the needs of our international guests. It happened in the two disastrous floods that struck our country earlier in the year. Fijian hotel workers put the safety and security of their guests before their own needs.
We heard countless stories in the overseas media from ordinary holidaymakers about how well they'd been looked after, sometimes by workers who'd lost everything themselves. And it happened again at Naviti Resort on Thursday.
The resort was burning but visitors said they'd been greeted with a "Bula" and escorted to safety with confidence, competence and a minimum of fuss. I'm even more proud that some of these visitors pitched in to help fight the fire and salvage peoples' valuables and the hotel's fittings and fixtures. They could have stood there watching it all burn but they disregarded their own safety and dived in to assist. There is no better example of the bonds of affection between ordinary Fijians and our international visitors. There is no better reason why visitors keep coming back. Because we are more than just service providers. We are true comrades. We are genuine friends.
To the Mana Island Board of Directors, General Manager Masao Tanaka and his staff, vinaka vakalevu for this wonderful occasion.
Vinaka Vakalevu also to the Turaga na Tui Lawa, the taukei Nabukelevu for your traditional welcoming ceremony. I also want to pay tribute to the Japanese board, management and staff of Mana for their wonderful effort. Arigato, thank you.
I want to assure you all that we are building a solid foundation for the future - a new and better Fiji. And we are certain that it will be the bedrock of a better economy, with more jobs, more prosperity and a brighter future for everyone.
We are turning our backs on the divisions and instability of the past. We are forging One Nation in which all Fijians have an equal stake and which provides a viable and stable future for our children. I make no apologies for this because a just, modern and vibrant Fiji is the only true way forward. We have had to take some tough decisions and have sometimes paid a high price for pursuing our vision.
Some of our neighbours—at government level and in the unions—haven't understood, or don't want to understand, have spread misinformation and have tried to punish Fiji.
But the ordinary men and women of Australia, the US, China, Canada, India, Europe, New Zealand and Japan have seen through this agenda and have continued to engage with us, to support us. They visit us. They talk to us. They examine the issues. They take the trouble to understand.
Despite what happens by certain governments at the political level, the bonds between our peoples—and ordinary people the world over—can never be broken.
Yes, today we celebrate 40 years of the Mana Resort and Spa. But it is your loyalty, your trust and your friendship that is the real cause for celebration as Mana enters its fifth decade.
How wonderful that over 40 years, "Isa Lei" has been sung almost every day as visitors leave this place. How wonderful that in friendship and the spirit of Isa lei, those visitors keep coming back.
Today is truly a day for celebration. And so it is with the greatest pleasure that I declare open the celebration of the 40thAnniversary of Mana Island Resortâ€¦and of the Multi Returnee's Week. Vinaka Vakalevu again and enjoy the rest of the day.