Paine visits island of birth

The Paine siblings Christopher and Romany travelled all the way from England to share Chris's birthday at Tramonto Bar in Taveuni. Picture: LUKE RAWLAI

FOR Englishman Christopher Paine, returning to the land of his birth after 85 years and celebrating his birthday on Tuesday on Taveuni was “a dream come true”.

Born in 1934 at Waiyevo Hospital to famed Pacific entomologist Ronald Paine and his wife Irene, Christopher moved to England when he was six months old after his father finished his work in Fiji.

Mr Paine said being in Taveuni was special because it brought back memories of his late father who was regarded as the savour of Fiji’s present day coconut industry.

“On this trip I am accompanied by my sister Romany Paine since my wife is ill and this place has truly brought us back to our roots and beginning, one that is dipped in Fijian history,” he said.

“Back in England I would proudly tell my friends and acquaintances that I am Fijian since I was born here and people would look puzzled because they did not have an inkling of where Fiji is.

“Dad worked here and had a house in Lavena on the north side of the island named Wawaceva which we visited on this trip.

“Back in 1877 when the coconut industry in Fiji was being attacked by a moth known as the Levuana irridescens, dad and three other entomologists worked on finding a cure to the plague.”

Mr Paine said his father and his team found the answer through a wasp that they had to import to Fiji from Malaya.

“In 1934 dad had to return to England but I remember visiting Fiji when I was young with the family and dad was highly regarded by the then Government for his contribution and he was often assigned a car for his use whenever he visited.

“I am a true a’i Taveuni and it is good to be back to the place of my birth at this age because it is truly paradise.”

He is the eldest of the four Paine children and has three children and eight grandchildren all living in England.

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