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Opening of the Maramarua District School Kindergarten, Macuata Province, Northern Division, Fiji


  • Your Excellencies Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere and Adi Filomena
  • School Manager, Ratu Manoa Kalouniviti
  • Head of School, Mr Semi Goletoka
  • Australian High Commissioner, Mr John Feakes
  • Representatives of the Republic of Fiji Military Force and Australian Defence Force
  • Parents and students
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and thank you for hosting us today.

Linda and I are honoured to join Their Excellencies to formally open the Maramarua District School Kindergarten. We feel particularly privileged as we know this School lies within the President’s home province, Macuata. So, historically, this is a great occasion.

I have been informed the rehabilitation of this building occurred some time ago. The restrictions we’ve all been living under over the last two years has meant that only now are we able to celebrate its opening. That said, Fijians are well accustomed to living with extreme weather events. And whether it be floods, cyclones or drought, the resilience of the Fijian people shines through.

I have been keen during our State Visit to speak about and emphasise the importance of family – vuvale. The Australia-Fiji relationship is strong. It is built on hands together, working on projects, helping each other out, building communities and enriching lives.

This is felt most strongly when disasters strike. It is important to Australia that we work with Fiji and the local communities across Vanua Levu to rebuild the schools damaged by recent storms.

The pandemic, of course, has impacted all areas of our lives.

Linda and I have particularly felt for students and teachers. The disruption to learning and teaching has been significant and incredibly frustrating for all involved. I understand schools in Fiji were closed for a full school year, with remote learning posing a range of challenges. I congratulate the staff, teachers and students on persevering during this period.

Providing our children with a high-quality education is critical. Linda, who used to be a teacher, and I call it the transformative power of education. Put simply, many good things come from having an education. As teachers, school administrators and parents, you play a key role in the education of our children.

To the students here today – Linda and I have a very simple message: listen carefully to those around you, study hard and make the most of your school years. They will be gone before you know it, so make them count for something. A quality education can set you up for life. 

I want to again acknowledge the presence of our wonderful Forces – colleagues from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Australian Defence Force. Your tireless work in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclones Yasa and Ana is what is enabling schools to reopen. The Maramarua District School Kindergarten is a fine example of this achievement. 

We talk about vuvale, about family. Well, family starts with children, and in educating our children. The Maramarua District School Kindergarten is a fantastic grass roots symbol of the strength of the Australia-Fiji relationship and a wonderful way to complete our visit. The singing and dancing have been something else, absolutely heart-warming! Thank you.

‘Vinaka vakalevu' and God bless, Fiji – and God bless, Vanua Levu.