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Investiture Ceremony for the 2017/2018 Honours Roll

July 12, 2019       State House, Suva

The Acting Chief Justice, Honourable Justice Kamal Kumar;
Honourable Cabinet Ministers and Assistant Ministers;
Honourable/Leader of the Opposition, Members of Parliament;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Permanent Secretaries/Chief Executive Officers;
Special Guests/Recipients of the 2017/2018 Honours and Awards;
Distinguished Guests; and
Ladies and gentlemen.

Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste, Aslaam Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e mauri, and a very good morning to you all.

Again, my wife Sarote and I have much pleasure and are indeed honoured to welcome you all to today’s Investiture Ceremony for the recipients of the 2017/2018 Honours and Awards. At the outset, I wish to extend my sincere apologies for our inability to conduct the Investiture Ceremony any earlier as we have had to defer the ceremony for two consecutive years due to the fact that the State House had to be renovated over that period.

We have recently hosted national functions at the new Conservatory and I am personally pleased and thankful today to announce that the State House major exterior and interior renovation and restoration works has now been completed and my wife and I have just moved back into residence at the end of last month. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the Honourable Prime Minister and Government for its timely assistance with much needed funding allocation to have the work completed without any further delay.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Order of Fiji was instituted to appropriately acknowledge and reward those individuals who have, and continue to contribute significantly to Fiji’s development as a nation, in any field or endeavour.  Today is another opportunity to celebrate the distinguished and eminent services, and the bravery of our fellow Fijians, and our friends from abroad, for their selfless contributions to our beloved nation.

This Investiture Ceremony is another testament of the Government’s commitment to ensure that the Culture of Appreciation and its recognition of individual’s selfless contributions to nation building continues to be acknowledged and justly rewarded. On that note, I extend to all recipients of the 2017/2018 Honours and Awards our beloved nation’s hearty congratulations for your inclusion into the Honours Roll today.  Congratulations and Well done.

At this juncture Ladies and Gentlemen please allow me to acknowledge the exceptional contribution by the Former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Honourable Murray McCully for re-activating the New Zealand-Fiji Recognised Seasonal Employment Work Scheme in 2015 and for spearheading and coordinating New Zealand’s timely assistance to Fiji during the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.  Honourable McCully, Sir, I am deeply honoured to bestow you today with the Honorary Award of Fiji’s Companion of the Order for your personal commitment and perseverance in your former Parliamentary role as New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in assisting with our countries’ wish and endeavour to restore bi-lateral relations during a period of rather turbulent relations between us.
Congratulations and Thank you for gracing this occasion with your presence.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I am also pleased and honoured to present to Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Inoke Luveni, the Global Health Leadership Award, in recognition of the Outstanding Leadership in Global Health which was being awarded posthumously to his wife, the late Honourable Dr. Jiko Luveni by the World Health Organisation during the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, in May of 2019.  The late Dr. Jiko Luveni who was also our former Honourable Speaker of Parliament was indeed a Quiet Archiever.  She was an epitome of a very dedicated, humble and compassionate individual who was most passionate with her very notable and commendable achievements as a Dentist, Sportswoman, Civil Servant, Community Worker and lastly as our beloved nation’s first Female Speaker of the House.  The award of the World Health Organisation’s – Global Health Leadership is in my opinion, a most fitting and appropriate acknowledgement and tribute of the World Body for this great “Daughter of Fiji” whose selfless work for her country and humanity as a whole should be a proud and enviable legacy and inspiration to all of us.

During my investiture as the Chancellor of the Order of Fiji in 2016 and at the renewal of my term as your Head of State last year, I publicly expressed my commitment to continue cultivating a Culture of Appreciation and Inclusivity for our citizens in order that we can maintain good national morale and at the same time develop a strong sense of patriotism and pride as we strive individually or collectively in moving our beloved nation forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Order of Fiji was instituted to recognize and more importantly acknowledge and appropriately reward merit and achievement by citizens of Fiji, and occasionally, as honorary awards to non-citizens.  The recognition is made across a wide range of human endeavour and achievement, including, not limited to Government and the civil service only, but also all other areas and activities which deserve acknowledgement and reward.

Therefore Ladies and Gentlemen in order to strengthen and further develop my commitment in nurturing a Culture of Appreciation and Inclusivity, I have tasked the Fiji College of Honour to review the Terms of the present Act and recommend changes for Government’s consideration to improve our service delivery. The College members together with the Secretariat are continuously working towards improving its publicity campaign to raise the knowledge, awareness and understanding among citizens and invite a wide cross section of our communities to submit more nominations for the consideration of the College and Secretariat.

Ladies and gentlemen, it would be remiss of me if I do not acknowledge and commend Dr. Akanisi Kedrayate and her hardworking members of the College of Honour namely Mr. Nezbit Hazelman, Brigadier-General Apakuki Kurusiga, Ms Premila Kumar now Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Community Development and last but not least, Mr Dixon Seeto who sadly is recovering in a Brisbane hospital following a vehicle accident recently. We wish him a speedy recovery and our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Jenny who was supposed to be a recipient also today

To all the organisations and individuals who have gone out of your way to nominate personnel for the National Awards, you have played a much appreciated and pivotal role in sharing and progressing our vision of nurturing a Culture of Appreciation and Inclusivity and I sincerely thank you for your efforts. Keep up the good work and keep the nominations coming for sadly, the response from all sectors of our community has been rather mediocre.

To the Recipients, Congratulations once again on your achievements and today should be a proud occasion not only for you, but also for your families and friends too. Well done and vinaka valevu/Dhanyavaad.

May Almighty God continue to bless you all and our beloved Fiji.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Xie Xie, Fai’eksia and Thank you.