Winds of change in the isles

This is Part One of a three-part series on a Pacific family’s survival and dream to revive ancient canoe technology as a cultural tourism venture. It is a story of despair, wonder and pride for the ocean and holds answers for the future.

JIMIONE Paki was 71 when he decided to do something for his children and grandchildren. His children had moved from the island of Moce in Lau to the city to study and work.

Life was tough on the island. His village of Korotolu was fast emptying. The young were moving to Viti Levu, leaving the elderly like him behind in their search for a better life in the fast-growing capital Suva.

It was in the ‘80s and early ’90s and the people of Lau were the leaders in Fiji’s urban drift. The furthest islands in the Fiji archipelago, Lau was investing in the education of its children and quality education was then only available in urban centres. Jimione’s wife was from the neighbouring island of Ogea and they had 16 children.

He sent some of them to the mainland on Viti Levu where they were educated and found work.

But with no home of their own in Suva, he worked hard to secure a place that his kin of Korotolu could call their own.

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