Monday, May 28, 2007

Mary Nabunobuno Vuniwaqa's Profile

My name is Mary Nabunobuno. Koro:Vatukarasa, Taivugalei, Tailevu. Koro ni Vasu: Saleaula, Savai’i, Samoa. I was born to my parents, Eminoni and Upumoni Ranacou in 1979. I am the 4th of 5 children, one brother and 3 sisters. I am married to Joe Chang-Vuniwaqa and we currently reside in Hillsborough, Auckland.

2. What schools did you attend? (If you can include primary, secondary and tertiary)

My schooling started at Nausori Primary and Veiuto Primary and we moved back to NZ in 1987 (before the 1st coup). Then I continued at Kedgley Intermediate, then Auckland Girls Grammar School. At tertiary level I studied at both Manukau Institute of Technology and UNITEC.

3. What is your job title, and why did you choose that particular field?

I am a Project Engineer and I work for a civil/structural construction company called Fulton Hogan Ltd. My job involves managing time, money and resources to build infrastructure, whether it be motorways, bridges, water reticulation etc. The main aim is too make a profit for the company at the end of each project and as equally important to keep our people safe by preventing accidents.
After 7th form, I wasn’t certain of what I wanted to do and in fact didn’t know much about civil engineering or construction. I initially chose to study civil engineering because my strengths at secondary school were math and the sciences, particularly physics. I immediately became interested in the field that I was studying and now enjoy a very rewarding career in construction.

4. What subjects (secondary school to tertiary) are required to do the field of work that you do?

At secondary level math and physics are very important. General science and technical drawing will help and like most jobs basic computer training. There are many tertiary qualifications available in this field which includes Bachelors, Diploma’s, and Certificates in civil/environmental engineering and construction management. A bachelor of engineering degree would probably be the most reliable qualification to have as it more widely recognized (internationally) next to work experience.

5. What is your view as being a woman doing this work?

My line of work is very male dominated and admittedly does get tough, not necessarily physically but certainly mentally. Being female in this industry has its ups and downs. There are too many positive aspects of my job to name and the only negative thing I can think of just now is that wearing a hard hat all day messes up my hair!! But like any job, as long as you enjoy your work and feel that you are fulfilling a purpose then that is motivation enough to get the job done. Life is too short to be stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy!

6. What other opportunities are available in this line of work?

Other opportunities that are available in this line of work are basically anything that involves construction and civil/structural engineering. There are mainly two parts to engineering. There’s the design part which is where a project is conceptualized and designed to ensure that the structure, project etc actually works in real life i.e. will serve its function and withstand its environment over time. Then there’s the construction side (which is what I do) i.e. working on site and getting someone else’s design built.

7. What is a major highlight of your work that you would like to share?

The major highlight of my job is on completion of a project and watching it serve its purpose i.e. watching traffic driving and pedestrians walking over a bridge that I’ve helped build. Like all challenges in life, what keeps me going through the difficult parts, is to visualize the final result of what it is we are trying to achieve. For me, it’s visualizing of the opening ceremony of whatever it is that we are building at the time.

8. What are your plans for further studies? What opportunities are there for you?

I plan to get a BE(civil) degree which I have been putting off for a while now because of work! Other opportunities for me include consultancy to local authorities and the private sector etc and to design infrastructure.

9. Any advice you would like to give our youngsters who may be interested to follow your footsteps?

Get information on the industry and opportunities which exist both locally and internationally, whether it be through company websites, watching construction documentaries(I enjoy watching mega-structures on National Geographic) or through the universities and school careers centre’s. Also anyone who is interested in what I do can contact and me, I would be more than happy to take young hopefuls around my construction site. And last but not least, the old cliché “study hard!” Compared to the rest of your life, studying takes up a small fraction of your life – so we might as well give it 100%, get it over and done with and enjoy the lifelong benefits.


Nancy Sheehan's Profile

1. Can you please introduce yourself: Your name, family and your links to Fiji?

My name is Nancy Sheehan (nee Ratumaitavuki)

My parents immigrated to NZ in the early 60’s. My Father Maciu is from Nairai and my mother Ro Silo is from Moturiki,both from the beautiful province of Lomaiviti.

I have one brother (two deceased) and two sisters we all live in NZ. We have 16 children between us, ages range from 24 – 2 years.

My husband Michael and I have four beautiful children, I have enclosed a photo, so from left to right its Edward, Mereana, James and Emily. They are of Irish, Maori, Yugoslav and Fijian ethnicity and they all identify strongly with Fiji.

2. Your primary, secondary and tertiary education?

My schooling was mainly in Palmerston North where my parents still live.

I completed all my tertiary qualifications in New Zealand; a Batchelor of Business Studies in Marketing from Massey University in 1981 and then was employed in a number of corporate roles in Auckland. I later returned to study, completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Business (Finance) from Auckland University in 1993, and a Master of Business Administration from Massey University in 1998.

3. Where are you based now?

I live on the North Shore in Auckland, in Beachhaven a nice unpretentious suburb. I like it as I have a superb view of the Waitemata and the area has a lot of different ethnicities living there it is also right by the water and the parks are great value for the children.

4. What work do you do now and can you please explain what your work involves?

I have been self-employed for 14 years and have my own company, with offices in Grey Lynn, Nancy Sheehan & Associates a Business and Economic Development consultancy firm which specialises in evaluation research and strategy, organisational capacity building and performance based management. We have a focus on projects that inform organisational responsiveness and ensure effective engagement. My daughter Mereana works for me and I have just negotiated an alliance with a strategic development and communications company L2S which is really exciting.

I usually work with associates on large evaluation research, organisational capacity and training projects for the New Zealand government in the social, health and business development sectors both in New Zealand and in the Pacific Region. I’m starting to look to Australia now for work.

5.What are some key points you need to highlight in order for someone to do the work that you do?

Be motivated, have a thirst for learning, always work with integrity, do it right the first time, always look to maintain relationships and want the best for your clients.

6.What are some challenges you face in this career?

Being a smart black woman! That’s both a challenge and a bonus.

7.What are some of the benefits you gain in this career?

I am living the professional life I had designed for myself 20 years ago. I was always a nerd with a voracious appetite for reading, I am also the consummate workaholic but my family give me lots of reasons to not work too hard – so its all about ensuring balance and doing the type of work that makes your heart sing.

My skills are internationally competitive so to ensure my knowledge base is current with international best practice in my specialist areas I regularly undertake training overseas, this has included:

· In 2001 the State of the Art Business Development Services Training with the SEEP Network in Washington DC in 2001;
· I returned in 2002 to a Training the Trainers workshop with SEEP Network and then assisted in facilitating the 2002 State of the Art Business Development Services course, again in Washington DC.
· In 2006 the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) supported by the World Bank in conjunction with the School of Public Policy and Administration of Carleton University, in Ottawa Canada.
· In 2006 a course on Building Partner Capacity with the International NGO Training and Research centre (INTRAC) in Oxford, United Kingdom.

I also regularly attend or present at national conferences and fono’s (meetings), I also have attended or presented at international conferences in Rarotonga, Washington, London, Kuala Lumpar and Melborne.

I’m also a professional director and the first Pacific person to sit as a Director on a Crown Research Institute, Crop and Food Research. I have had a number of ministerial appointments and currently sit on the Council of Manukau Institute of Technology, which I am enjoying, quite a few Fijian’s graduated last year.

8. If you have traveled internationally with your work, what place do you enjoy the:

a. Most and why? I regard myself as a daughter of the Pacific this is my region so anywhere in the South Pacific feels like home, otherwise I really like London for it’s vibrancy but the shopping in LA is great!

b. Least and why? Anywhere where I have to travel by diesel boat, I get seasick

9. What advice would you give young ones who want to pursue this career?

For those still at school – do your homework, and develop a good work ethic and always make your parents proud (which loosely translates to behave yourself and don’t do anything that will affect your career options at a later date)
For those in University - Get a few degree’s, the first should give you a strong technical discipline, then at least one postgrad that is research based, travel, open up your mind, read widely and be prepared to take advice
For those who want to pursue self-employment – make sure the market wants your skills, actively network, be prepared to work long-hours and manage your money well.

10. How did you know about, and if you would like to recommend this site to others, why should you do so?

I got to know Fijituwawa through knowing the Vunidilo’s and I am supportive of community vehicles such as these, its innovative, full of resources, practical and easy to use…I’ve already forwarded this site onto others around the world.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dr. Vaiula Tuato'o


What are your heritage links to Fiji?
My father Dr. Vaiula Tuato'o, a Samoan who attended the Fiji School of Medicine in the mid- 1950's and met my mother Elaine Giblin a Fijian, born in Savusavu. They got married and had 8 children. Three of them were born in Fiji in the late 1950's. In fact my father has Tongan roots as well. Talk about the Pacific Triangle connection. Sounds like that rugby tournament they hold each year!

What privileges have you received as someone of mixed heritage?

More than words can explain, I take as much pride as being a Samoan just as I am Fijian. It's a powerful combination. Can you imagine if one of my brothers or myself would have pursued a rugby career? I hang my head high because Fiji has the best sevens in the worlds no matter what they say. Until my mother died in December 2002, she was a die-hard Fijian Rugby fan, always blasting her radio for all our neighbors to hear, especially when they played Manu Samoa. I am blessed because not too many Samoans can say that they are half Fijian. I take my roots very seriously.

What is like growing up as someone of mixed ancestry of Fijian, Samoan and European heritage?

It's a blessing and honor like I mentioned. It shows that we live in harmony despite our geographical, political and social differences. I am never ashamed to tell people my mother is Fijian, because without her love and guidance all my brothers and sisters would not live successful lives like they do today. My parents divorced in the early 1980's, but my mother never left us, she continued to work hard so my brothers and sisters would have a bright future. She never remarried. She could have left us and returned to Fiji, but she left Fiji in the late 1960's and never returned. That's the commitment, dedication and love she shared for so many years with our family. She is a very intelligent and wise woman. She held the position of medical records director at the LBJ hospital in American Samoa for over 30 years. That's the Fijian side that I'm very proud of. She was so bright and would stress nothing else but the best. She taught us to serve with humility and encouraged us " Never to let any Samoan beat you in your studies". She held high expectations for us all.

What are some achievements in life you would like to share?

Because of my Father's education in Fiji, we all moved to Dunedin New Zealand for 5 years while he was receiving his preliminary training. So I have been around the Maori All Blacks crowd as well. I'm blessed. My greatest personal achievement occurred in November 1993, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I believe it is not a religion but a relationship. God has been faithful to my family and me. I am happily married to Masae Tuato'o a Samoan. I have three lovely children, all born in American Samoa. My oldest Elaine is named after my mother. She is married and lives with us. Go Fiji! Bula! My second oldest daughter is Knisha, she is a current senior in high school here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My son Tobias is going to be 5 on March 16th, 2007. He's a blessing because when my mother passed away in December of 2001, I had a big void in my heart. I felt really empty. However, my wife's sister allowed us to adopt Tobias in March of 2002 when he was born. My life has never been the same. My mother had always wanted my wife and I to have son, I believe my mother sent him to us. What a story! I also hold a Doctorate's Degree in Public Administration. I have taught in both at the high school and college level. I have been an educator for exactly 20 years. My family relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2003. I am also an assistant pastor with the Samoan Assembly of God church in Colorado Springs. God is Good- All the time.

What is your vision for future generation of mixed Fijian, Samoan and European youngsters to appreciate their ancestry?

Nothing better than the word of mouth!!!! Just as my mother taught me the importance of sharing our life story, I will do the same to my children. In fact, they all would like to visit Fiji one day. We have to keep the story and tales alive. Continue to tell them the same good things my mother relayed to us. It would only succeed as we parents make it important and successful. Keep the vision alive! You can take a Fijian out of Fiji but you can never take Fiji out of Fijian! Keep in mind; Blood is always thicker than water. We have to continue to dig our roots deeper. Educate them, show them pictures, magazines, sporting events, etc…. do whatever it takes. We all can make a difference.

Any other comments or advice to those of similar ancestry as yourself reading your story online?

Never, ever be ashamed of being of mixed descent. In fact, almost every human beings are of mixed descent or nationality. You are who you are today because of your ethnic background. You are special and very unique. I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world. Fijian and Samoan ancestry-it just doesn't get any better…It is my goal to find out more about my Fijian side of the family because I owe my life to it……and it would have been my mothers request and dream as well. Keep the fire burning!!!!!. God Bless.



Eseta Robo Mateiviti-Tulavu

Our first community profile is ESETA ROBO MATEIVITI TULAVU. She is of a mixed ancestry of Fijian and Solomon Islands. Eseta is married to Moape Tulavu, from Nakorosule Naitasiri and they have three beautiful children. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts at the University of Auckland. We sent her the following questions and below are her stories.


What are your links to Fiji and the Solomon Islands?
My links are through the blood ties that existed historically; my grandfather came to Fiji searching for his two older brothers at the age of 16 and since then, all the male members of the family came. All women folk, however were left behind in the Solomon Islands to look after the land and to look after the rest of the family members.

What privileges have you received as someone of mixed heritage?
Firstly, we are grateful to the Fiji Government for providing us with land to live on. These are the lands that our forefathers have lived until our current generation. The second most privilege is the opportunity to get academic scholarships so I can pursue the career of my dreams.

Explain what is like growing up as someone of mixed ancestry of Fijian and Solomon Islands?
It is not easy. The reasons being that you feel you don't belong to one particular group. I remember my mum who is from Lomanikoro in Rewa, telling us to work hard because education is to us, just as land is to the indigenous population. I remember applying for the FAB scholarship and got through because of my maternal links (vasu). There was only a few of us who worked really hard to get the FAB scholarship, one of whom was Ropate Cabealawa who got a Fijian Affairs Board scholarship to study law and is at the moment practicing at Guam. Being a part Fijian is something that I will always treasure because knowing my mothers roots, the customs and traditions, the language is very important part of my identity. Now, I am trying to trace my roots to the Solomon Islands. My aim is to try and relive that story that links the Fijians to the Solomon Islanders. I would like to do this through my research on Indigenous Epistemology, which is part of my Masters research.

What are some achievements in life you would like to share?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Secondary Teacher Training Certificate, and tutor at the University of the South Pacific for the Commonwealth Youth Program (Labasa Center) and right now pursuing a Masters degree at Auckland University.

What are your plans for your children in appreciating their ancestry from the Solomon Islands?. . . . . . . . .
I talk to them about their family history, from their father's side from Nakorosule in Naitasiri to my koro ni vasu in Rewa. I emphasize to them the importance of knowing their Fijian and Solomon Islands roots. I share to them stories and songs that was taught me when I was young, so they remember the relationship between the indigenous Fijians and the Solomon Islanders. I want them to appreciate their maternal identity. I am now planning to take them to the Solomon Islands to meet their cousins and relatives who are back there. As they get older, I will tell them about the many things that the Solomon Islanders have done to develop Fiji, one of which was that my great grandfather was part of the people who had developed those Fiji roads. I want them to be proud of that.

Are there any other comments you would like share to those of mixed Solomon Islands ancestry reading this online?
For those who are of Solomon Islands ancestry, we need to realize that we cannot hide our identity. We need to hold our head up high and be proud of what our forefathers have done for Fiji. I believe this was part of God's plan that one day we will be living side by side with our fellow indigenous Fijians who are our brothers and sisters.

We need to encourage our children to hold on to education and keep on persevering so our visions and dreams will be fulfilled. It is important that our future generations know where they are from, their identity and how they got to be in Fiji, so we need to tell our stories and sing our songs like our forefathers used to do.