Tuesday, June 24, 2008


People do not often get to hear about the lives and trials of people from the Old Capital. For 28-year-old Lydia Taylor feels been born and bred in Levuka is a blessing in disguise.
She is a senior ranger at the National Trust of Fiji Islands office based at the Levuka Community Centre. Life growing up was fairly normal although she spent her childhood days living with her grandparents.
Her father, George Taylor Thomas hails from Udukacu in Taveuni while her mother, Keresi Vai is from Nawaka Village in Nadi. The eldest in a family of four children, Lydia had an interest in art although she also wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps.
"My father was a dock worker and my mother was a staff nurse at the Levuka hospital. My parents worked very hard and made sure we had a good upbringing. Growing up with my grandparents and aunties is something I will appreciate forever.
"I count myself fortunate to be brought up in Levuka. Life was simple and pleasant till today. I remember going to school on foot, making friends with children of different races, playing in the park and not worrying about spending money or taking lunch to school."
Lydia said after moving to Nadi in 1991, life became challenging. She said being the eldest meant she was expected to help out a lot with family chores. The other challenges she faced then were beginning school in the village, learning more about the Fijian way of living, dress code, respect for elders and basically broadening her knowledge on Fijian culture and tradition.
"I attended primary school at Marist Convent from 1985 to 1990 from Class One to Six. The following year, we moved to Nadi because mum was transferred to Nadi. I completed Class Seven and eight at Nawaka District. I spent the first three years of secondary at Shri Vivekananda which is now SVC.
"I completed my secondary education at Nadi College from 1997 to 1999. While at high school, I had an interest in computing and I had very good typing skills. In 2001, I took part in the Nadi Bula Festival as one of the contestants. However, the experience was not only an eye opener but a challenge for me as well."
She was sponsored by Adams Investment and had to face her biggest fear of public speaking. Standing in public was something Lydia was not good at but it became something she was confident doing.
"In that same year until 2002, I completed my diploma in Information Technology at NZPTC in Nadi. In mid 2002, I went back to Levuka to teach certificate and advanced level computing studies at NZPTC branch there. Two years later, a vacancy was advertised for senior ranger at the National Trust of Fiji office at the community centre.
"I applied and was fortunate enough to be selected as a junior ranger. My work involved looking after the public library, school and village visits, typing, attending meetings and to customer needs both local and overseas. I love my job because I get to learn and know more about the history of Levuka and Fiji as a whole."
To her, everyday was a learning day. She said after leaving the shores of Levuka in 1991 and returning after 11 years, her hometown has not changed a bit. She said the old buildings still stand and the hospitality provided by the people is forever over-whelming.
"There is no need to think about what to feed the family tomorrow. Even though the pace is slow, we still manage to catch up with the latest developments and technologies. I am now happily married to Waqa Kabou Bower and have a beautiful three-year-old daughter.
"I am thankful and proud to be a kai loma or part European because our roots run deep into both the indigenous Fijian and European lines. Levuka Town with its fine legacy of old colonial buildings and visually dramatic settings is undoubtedly one of Fiji's finest cultural landscapes. To preserve the historical value of Levuka Town, there is a need for people to hold hands and work together to maintain the history of this town," she said.