More than a 1000 mourners expected

Mavana is preparing to host more than a thousand people at the funeral of former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on Vanuabalavu. There has been a massive outpouring of support towards the village located on the northern tip of Vanuabalavu over the passing of Mr Qarase on April 21.

Vuli Nukurewa 79, had just completed preparing fine mats and masi at Naivaka, the late PM Qarase’s house in Mavana, Vanuabalavu when the media visited tonight. First cousin to Mr Qarase, Ms Nukurewa led a team of women from within the late Qarase’s household to prepare the house for chiefly final rites. She said delegations from all over Vanuabalavu had visited with fine mats to adorn Naivaka, the house Mr Qarase built over 30 years ago.

“He was well known because he was the Prime Minister and he was our leader so people from all over Vanuabalavu have started to visit the village since news of his passing came.” “But he was an honourable decent man and everyone knew him as someone who was committed to the development of the island and its people.” “He gave his time and resources for his people.” Inside Naivaka, fine mats, tapa and flowers adorn the main living area. On the outer deck, masi kuvui (brown masi) used only on people of noble birth hang to signify the passing of the Tui Kobuca, the title the former PM held as chief of his village.

Nephew Etuate Tevita is part of the logistical preparations for tomorrow’s funeral. He said 10 cows would be slaughtered for the funeral rituals which began tonight after the arrival of immediate family members from Suva aboard the government vessel MV Veivueti.

“The Tui Mavana has decreed the blowing of the conch shell, a traditional practice to signify the passing of a high chief,” Mr Tevita said. Meanwhile, men from the village led by a former soldier who is from Mavana has just this afternoon completed construction of Mr Qarase’s final resting place.

The late sixth PM will be entombed at the burial grounds just outside Mavana village.

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