Five Fijian soldiers graduate from Australian training institution

Major Pio Varawa with Staff Cadet Viliame Matai, awarded the Stuckey Mitchell prize and outstanding international cadet award on 24 June 2019, in front of the Field Marshall Blamey photo at the Royal Military College – Duntroon. Picture: SUPPLIED

FIVE young Fijian soldiers have recently graduated from officer training from one of the world’s finest and most respected military training institutions the Australian Army’s Royal Military College, Duntroon.

Viliame Matai, Ratu Henry Qasevakatini, Malakai Lakoenailesilesi, Jeremaia Lakoinavuli and Vilimoni Masikau were among a graduating class of 84 trainees who completed 18 months of training.

Staff Cadet Matai stood out for his performance, overcoming injury to be ranked fourth on the Order of Merit list.

The 25-year-old lad from Nadoria Village in Rewa is only the second international trainee to join this list – the first was a New Zealand trainee in 2017.

Staff Cadet Matai won two awards including the award for the outstanding international trainee and the Stuckey Mitchell Award for the trainee officer who has demonstrated the most commendable level of leadership, military ability and physical fitness.

Matai is the first Fijian to win an award at Duntroon since the late Major Tevita Daurewa in 1998.

He was able to achieve this feat by drawing on the strength and support of his family from home, and new found friends in Australia.

“I came in as a stranger, but am going home with lots of new brothers and sisters. It’s been a real privilege studying with them,” Matai said.

The award was presented by the Commanding Officer, Royal Military College, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ryan who was impressed at the skill and leadership demonstrated by Staff Cadet Matai.

“It is an absolute pleasure to have our colleagues from Fiji train alongside us at our world-class officer training establishment,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan.

“It provides an important opportunity for us to learn from one another, and establish relationships that will endure while working together to ensure the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes said those young officers should be proud of their achievement.

“They are just a few of the many Fijian servicemen and women who train in Australia. These Fijians not only learn new skills but make mates for life in the Australian Army,” Mr Feakes said.

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