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Fiji Time: 2:59 PM on Friday 18 April

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Life starts at 71

Samisoni Pareti On Vanuabalavu, Lau
Friday, January 03, 2014

IT was a Boxing Day with a difference on Vanuabalavu, Lau, when clan leader Anare Peni married his new bride Merelita Canauvi.

Having celebrated his 71st birthday already, Peni's bride is only 20.

The age difference of 51 years, however, did not dampen celebrations by the Yaro clan of the chiefly village of Mualevu.

There was a lot of feasting and dancing to mark the historic occasion.

A cattle was slaughtered to feed the hundreds of well-wishers who attended the wedding. Island elders could not recall a wedding where the age difference in the newly wedded is so marked.

Peni is head of the yavusa Yaro, one of three clans that make up the chiefly village that serves as the traditional seat of the Mualevu district chief, Turaga na Tui Mavana, ka Sau kei Mualevu.

Merelita is from Namuka Village in Nakelo in Tailevu and she travelled to Lau onboard the Lomaiviti Princess 2 before Christmas to meet her would-be husband for the first time, and exchanged vows before a Seventh-day Adventist minister on December 26.

Asked whether she was happy on her wedding day, the new Mrs Peni whispered "yes".

Mr and Mrs Peni have settled in Mualevu where, apart from leading his clan, Mr Peni also runs a successful grocery store.