First visit to Viti Levu

Mereoni Mataika, Shangri-La Fijian Resort and Spa's corporate social responsibility manager show the children around the property's Marine Education Centre. Picture: MARGARET WISE

THE first time eight students from Batibalavu Primary School on Vanua Levu laid eyes on the Suva skyline, their eyes lit up in wonder.

For six of them, it was their first trip on an inter-island ferry and the first time to Viti Levu.

A few days after docking at Suva harbour, the students joined 42 others from Nadroga-Navosa schools at the famous Sigatoka Sand Dunes national park.


First time at a five star hotel…the children with Shagri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa general manager general manager Francis Lee. Picture: MARGARET WISE


The get-together was part of the Heritage in Young Hands program, an environment stewardship education program pioneered by Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa and the National Trust of Fiji.

For Manu Elisanake, a Year 5 student at Batibalavu primary, the trip to Suva was an eye-opener in more ways than one.

“Everything that people said about Suva did not prepare us for the first time we saw Viti Levu,” the 11-year-old said.

Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort manager Chris Hamilton said apart from how much the 54 students had learnt during the program, being able to bring them to Suva and the Yanuca Island property was an experience in itself.

The resort’s corporate social responsibility manager, Mereoni Mataika, who helped establish the program, said she had witnessed a change in mind-sets and attitudes since Heritage in Young Hands kicked off in 2016.


Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort manager Chris Hamilton with the eight students from Batibalavu Primary school. Picture: MARGARET WISE

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