Life at 80

Peter Wong at the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Since migrating to Canada, 25 years ago, Peter Wong has never distanced himself from where his heart actually belongs – Namoli, Lautoka.

He has returned home after six years and this time not just for a holiday, but to celebrate his 80th birthday with people who matter to him the most.

He was born and raised in Namoli where his parents owned the then General Merchants Shop in Lautoka.

As he shared his journey at the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club, a week ago, he clearly remembers all the famous spots in Lautoka and all the places he had spent most of his young days in.

“That time all the shops were owned by the Chinese — the bakery, restaurant, sweets shops ­— and my late father owned General Merchants Shop,” Mr Wong said.

“It was not a city then, just a town and everyone was so close to each other. I remember having all the Fijian boys from Namoli as my friends and this was why I always call myself a kai Namoli until today.”

A fortnight ago, friends, families and loved ones gathered at the Suva Defence Club to celebrate a life full of memories and a life that he has always lived by example to the younger generation.

Mr Wong moved to Canada in 1994 with his wife and daughter in search for better life. His four sons stayed back home in Fiji as they had graduated and established better living.

His five children and 13 grandchildren joined him for the special birthday treat which they had prepared to honour their father and a person who has always been an encouragement to them.

Mr Wong’s wife is originally from Kabara, Lau and looks after 600 union members at the Vancouver Airport in Canada.

An ardent lover of rugby, Mr Wong dedicated his time to Lautoka rugby and a few other unions before moving abroad.

This, however, has not stopped his following of Fijian national rugby teams.

A photographer and lover of nature, Peter as he is fondly known, carries with him his Nikon camera everywhere he goes and he takes pictures of every flora and fauna he comes across.

He even still has fresh memories of meeting Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Fiji in 1953 when he was just a 14-year-old boy.

In Canada, a fellow Fijian he has always idolised is international golfer Vijay Singh.

“I always tell people when you talk about Vijay — give him credit, he started from nothing, he learnt his golf from nothing, dedication and practice got him into what he is today.”

Mr Wong leaves for Canada in August and for now, he is enjoying every moment travelling around the country and spending time with his sons and grandchildren.

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