The Fiji Times
Gathering for Wairiki’s celebrations
THE Fiji Times on September 17, 1964 published an article on how Fijian custom and hospitality, in its most remarkable way, took care of the 3000 people who attended the centenary celebrations for the Church of the Holy Cross at the Wairiki Mission Station on Taveuni.
The article stated that groups of visitors from Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Rabi and Viti Levu were divided among different villages on the islands, which took over catering and housing arrangements.
The Rev Father M Bransfield, priest in charge at Wairiki, assisted by the Rev Father J M Desbois, the Rev Father J M Raicabe, and Brother Kevin were responsible for the overall work of organising the celebrations.
“In 12 vakatunuloa (sheds), copra sheds, garages, school dormitories and other buildings these 3000 people were housed,’ the article read.
“At the Wairiki centenary the groups of visitors were divided up among the different koro, who took complete charge of housing and feeding them.”
It was reported that the Fijian system of doing things worked well “as it always did”, making the event a success.
“The largest group of visitors consisted of 500 people of all ages, and it took five sittings at every meal to provide for them.
“The Holy Name Society which had branches in every koro (village) was responsible for much of the overheard organisation.”
“During the celebrations most of the beef requirements were supplied on the station, the variou koro paying for the cattle consumed.” The article noted that one particular koro took over the catering for the visiting priests, brothers and sisters and how they supplied all the food. The catering was of a very high standard.
“Plates of eggs and dishes of fried tomatoes and other vegetables as well as cakes, biscuits and jugs of coffee were available at all hours of the morning.”
“Among the priests present was Father Soubeyran, a french priest who was at Makogai and was 84 years old, the oldest priest in Fiji.”
It was revealed he had been stationed at Wairiki in 1905 when the first cross was built on the hill and was associated with the building of the church.