Saturday, December 22, 2007


FOR Samuela Kailawadoko, home is where the heart holds fondest.
That is why this Lauan man considers himself a proud and loyal servant of Nadi.
Mr Kailawadoko's love for the tourist town stems from the tale of struggle his father, Semiti Naiaba, would constantly relay to him.
It was a story of a wide-eyed 16-year-old who arrived from Matokana Village in Ono-Lau in search of a better future. It was 1954 then.
Mr Kailawadoko said his father had tried to settle in Suva and the old capital, Levuka, but it was not to be.
It was in Nadi town though that he found a place he could call home.
He said when his father and his cousin arrived at the Nadi Bus Station they did not know anyone in the area.
"They were still standing in the bus station when a man from Narewa Village, Jone Naqiri, came up to him and asked whether they were new to Nadi," he said.
"Upon learning that they had nowhere to go, Mr Naqiri offered to take them to his place in Namaka until they could stand on their feet."
Mr Naiaba was able to secure employment and eventually found his bride, Vale of Mualevu Village in Vanuabalavu.
They had four children two sons and two daughter, of which Mr Kailawadoko is the eldest.
Mr Kailawadoko said it was the display of great hospitality and genuine friendship shown to his father and the years spent in the town that convinced him to dedicate his time and resources on developing the town.
The 44-year-old said his father always reminds them of the kindness shown by Mr Naqiri, urging them to show similar respect and hospitality to the people of Nadi.
Mr Kailawadoko, who was born and bred in Nadi, since a young child has always kept the message passed on by his father close to his heart and strived to serve the people of Nadi to the best of his ability.
He has represented the town in rugby since he was a primary school student.
He played rugby for Nadi throughout his school days before moving on to district level and representing the tourist town for the converted Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy between the late 80s and early 90s.
Mr Kailawadoko even took up power lifting and represented the district in 1988 under the guidance of Epeli Ligairi.
"I had just started power lifting and one day while I was practicing in the Nadi Bula Gym, Mr Ligairi walked in. He had just returned from the United States after serving with the Air Force and when he saw the way I was doing the lifts, he offered to polish up my techniques.
"He helped me a lot and I believe it was this guidance that helped me represent Nadi.
The success he achieved in sports extended to his role as a sports administrator.
He was secretary with the Nadi Rugby Referees Association in 2005.
He is currently the secretary of the Nadi Rugby Union; a position he has held since 2003.
Mr Kailawadoko, who works as a manager with Sonaisali Island Resort, is also a member of an advisory committee for the Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji.
In 2004 he was appointed to the board of the Nadi College.
He contested the Nadi Municipal Election in 1999 then later helped Akanisi Koroitamana secure a seat during the general election the same year as her campaign manager.
He also held positions with the Party of National Unity and Bai Kai Viti Party during its initial stages and in the lead up to the 1999 general election.
He said all the positions and challenges that he took up was for the best interest of the people of Nadi.
And Mr Kailawadoko, who has spent the past 25 years in the tourism industry, is not about to give up.
He has always been fascinated by the open-heartedness of landowners in Nadi to offer their land for development projects.
He said with Nadi being the fastest growing center in Fiji, his focus was now on protecting landowners and ensuring they received a fair return for their co-operation.
Mr Kailawadoko lamented though the wrongs committed by certain investors against the some landowners.
He said he had witnessed several incidents in which landowners were exploited by developers and deprived of the true income they deserved.
Mr Kailawadoko believes he would be able to make a huge difference in the lives of the "Kai Nadi" by guaranteeing their rightful entitlements.
He urged others of different ethnic backgrounds to work in partnership with the "Kai Nadi" so that all, irrespective of their culture, age or creed, benefited from the generosity of locals.
He said Nadi had a lot to offer and its true potential would only be realised through a genuine partnership of all communities.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online