by Sai Lealea - 21 July 2011
Yesterday, in a small and solemn ceremony at the newly refurbished Government House in Wellington, NZ's first Asian Governor General with close ties to Fiji, Sir Anand Satyanand and his wife Lady Susan, returned a Tabua (whales tooth) to the Fiji community. The Tabua was given to him by the Wellington Fiji community in 2006 in a Fijian ceremony of welcome to mark his recent appointment as Governor General of NZ. As he comes close to the end of his term next month, Sir Anand wanted to return the tabua for safe keeping back to those who presented it to him.
Members of the Fiji Community in Wellington from Fijian and Indo-fijian groups were present at the ceremony with a number of the staff at Government House. The ceremony began when the GG presented the tabua to his spokesperson for the event, Sai Lealea, who in turn spoke of how Sir Anand had treasured and valued it over the years as a gift from a community with whom he has close links. Sir Anand's parents were from Fiji and came to NZ where Sir Anand was born and raised.
The tabua was received on behalf of the Fiji community by Waisele who again thanked Sir Anand for his trailblazing achievement and distinguished service to the community and the nation. Waisele also acknowledged Sir Anand's close ties to Fiji and how proud the Fiji community have been given his links to Fiji.
Speaking to the group following the traditional presentation, Sir Anand spoke of his high regard of the Fijian culture and practices and how privileged he had been in being presented with the tabua. Now that he is close to the end of his term, he felt obliged to return the tabua to its rightful custodian for safekeeping. There is no doubt, Sir Anand placed great importance and value in cultural gifts given to him over the years.
Later over afternoon tea with the group, Sir Anand lamented not being able to visit Fiji during his term given current situation there. Together with Lady Susan, they are both looking forward to stepping down at the end of their term but have no immediate plans as to where they will settle in New Zealand. They both proved to be very warm, friendly and hospitable hosts during the whole occasion. NZ has been truly blessed to have such a wonderful couple as residents at its Government House in Wellington for close to 5 years.