Fiji Time: 1:32 PM on Sunday 18 February

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Love, respect and perseverance

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Sunday, September 10, 2017

YOUR hidden treasure is not in the value of money but in the values of your family. If your role is to lead, then lead with great care and love and if your role is to serve, then serve with total dedication.

These values, upheld by the late Mereani Radinivuna To'ika, have been passed down in the family and are the reason behind their success.

A fortnight ago, grandchildren and family members of the late Radinivuna originally of Tubou, Lakeba, Lau gathered for their first ever family reunion at Suva's United Club.

Their late grandmother, who died at the age of 94, had 10 children — nine sons and one daughter — and married the late Reverend Ratu Joji Toge Natuivau from Ekubu on Vatulele.

She had 33 grandchildren, 76 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.

The idea of having this family reunion was to get to know each other since they had grown in number and had been living far away from each other for so many years.

One of the older grandchildren, Puamau Sowane, explained they had lost touch of everyone and had agreed it was important to have this family reunion so they could at least get to know each other well.

"We also wanted to be updated around personal development and our children's field of study at tertiary level and the future.

"For us, our grandmother was probably the most humble person here on earth. You will never ever hear from her anything bad about another person," Mr Sowane explained.

"She was very conscious of what she ate and she loved to work. You would never see her sitting down idle. If she was sitting down, she would be doing other things like weaving mats or preparing coconut oil and other things.

"Her values are what we want to uphold and the reason we named this reunion after her."

Apart from the usual merry-making and fun that accompanies a family gathering, tears flowed as many of them finally got to know each other and it was the whole family of Mereani Radinivuna that was part of this get together — her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, husbands and wives of her children and her grandchildren.

The family had expected more than 200 relatives to attend this reunion but on the day, more than 120 people attended and some of their relatives could not travel long distances so they had opted to be represented by their children and their grandchildren.

The reunion was held for three consecutive days — a dinner, a family picnic and a thanksgiving church service.

The late Mereani Radinivuna was from the yavusa Vuanirewa from the totoka of Naivi of Tubou.

Sitiveni Yaqona's father was Sekope Halapulega (Wakolo), the youngest son of Sogotubu of the Vuanirewa clan.

Mereani had three sisters, Titilia, Matelita and Talanoa, and only one brother, Josua Bogidrau.

From Mereani's mother was Tagicimoala, who was named after Adi Tagicimoala, the daughter of Roko Taliai, the Tui Nayau, during that time. She was from Tonga and the daughter of Reverend Tevita Finau who translated the Holy Bible from English to Tongan. Rev Finau first came to Fiji as a missionary and was in Nairai.

When Tagici was born on Nairai it just so happened that Adi Tagici was at Levuka so she wanted the baby to be named after her. Mr Tevita went back to Tonga and later to England where he translated the Bible to the Tongan language. Later Tagicimoala returned to Fiji as a young girl bringing with her the Tau'a'tahine church and because of her relationship with Adi Tagici she stayed and established the church in Tubou where she met and married Sitiveni Yaqona.

The reunion was not just about getting together and getting to know each other. The main message behind the reunion was to reactivate the values of their grandmother — love, respect and perseverance.

"She used to say in Fijian, 'Dou dau vakarokoroko, vuli mai na veika dou dau raica mai vei tamamudou, maroroya ka katona na nomudou i tavo ko dou susugi cake kina, kua ni dau veikacacani ka doka na dodonu ni tamata yadua'. Humble yourself and learn from what you have seen from your father. Respect your values and and refrain yourselves from saying things that will have rippling effects on others and respect everyone with dignity."

These teachings have been upheld by most of her grandchildren who grew up around their late grandmother.

Grandparents, Mr Sowane explained, have huge responsibility in the upbringing of children in a household.

"Normally, they are the ones staying around us all the time while our parents are out busy with their daily cores.

"They are the ones that have more experienced in life and know which values are best for life so they would be the one instilling those values in us.

"Our grandmother passed on to the next life at the age of 94. She lived long because she knew what to eat and what not to eat. She had lived a stress-free life because of her values; she did not have any enemy nor tried to create one.

"She loved all her family very much and she knew all of them."

The late Mereani Radinivuna's message of inspiration has passed down from family to family and they have always ensured to keep this message alive for the next generation.

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