FOR nearly 12 years between 1962 and 1974, Pita and Winifereti Duituturaga served in the Solomon Islands as education pioneers. The Solomon Islands were then still a British Protectorate.
And yesterday they were awarded with the 2013 Queens Birthday awards with Mr Duituturaga, 70, awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to education, policing and scouts. Mrs Duituturaga, 83, was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to primary education, the Brownies, Guides and sports.
Tears flowed as family members, friends and representatives from the Solomon Islands High Commission gathered at a thanksgiving service at the Temple Methodist Church at Pilling Rd in Nasinu to honour their selfless love and sacrifices.
The couple's dedication in the field of education flourished and had profound effect and was influential to their students. Students such as former prime minister Sir Peter Kenilorea, the country's first prime minister Francis Billy Hilly and former Solomon Islands governor-general Sir George Lepping.
With a trembling voice Mr Duituturaga stood at the pulpit, with tears streaming down his face, saying his achievement would not have been possible without the support of his family members from Lakeba in Lau and Navuso in Naitasiri.
"I am indebted to my parents, uncles, aunties, grandparents and cousins, for if it was not for their upbringing, I would not have achieved this big," Mr Duituturaga said.
"We've sacrificed a lot because of our commitment which made me rise to the challenge in a foreign country."
Solomon Islands High Commissioner Counsellor Trevor Unusu said the efforts of the two individuals as educators, law enforcement officers, sports coach, girl guide and scout master spoke volumes of the heart they had for the duty entrusted to them and the people they were tasked to serve.
"To be awarded recognition by the state is an honour that is bestowed on those deserving and this couple are a fitting example of great persons who deserve these awards," Mr Unusu said.
He said it was this spirit of servitude that made them great leaders and role models for the community, family and both Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
Emele Duituturaga-Jale one of the couple's six children, said family members were overwhelmed with gratitude and thanked the Solomon Islands Government for the special recognition.
She said the family would be accompanying the couple to the Solomon Islands for the investiture ceremony.