A fascinating insight into a side of Fiji that is rarely seen. The book tells of the author's life as a 'local European' growing up in a depressed suburb of Fiji's capital, Suva during the dying days of the Colonial era, attending local schools and living a free and open life. The author experienced at first hand the dichotomy of being a 'local European' in a British Colonial society ruled by expatriates. The book looks at Independence through those eyes, speaks of the political adolescence post independence, of the 1987 military coups, of the National rebuilding thereafter, and of the central role the author played in that rebuilding as the Chief Executive of the National airline.
The author was Fiji's first Aircraft engineering apprentice, one of the first locals to be granted a licence to certify aircraft and spent 15 years travelling throughout the Pacific Islands during a period of pioneering aviation. The book tells of that period and of dealing with hurricanes and unscheduled engine changes on remote Pacific atolls. It also tells of the camaraderie amongst the crews and the close relationships established with the people of those tiny Islands. He became Chief Executive of Fiji's Blue Lagoon Cruises, built three ships for them in Suva to International safety standards and grew that company to be an icon of Fiji's tourism industry. During this period he rose to prominence in the international Tourism scene as Fiji Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association. He returned to Fiji Airways (by then renamed Air Pacific) as its Chief Executive at the time of the 1987 military coups. The airline had the largest accumulated loss in the history of Fiji and its mainstay of tourism was hanging by a thread; Fiji's economy was in tatters. In an environment of political instability, and with soldiers still on the streets, he moved the entire company from the capital city Suva to the tourism hub of Nadi, introduced a new fleet of jet aircraft, retired the debt and created the profitable international airline that it has become. He set a target of carrying more than half of all tourists to Fiji and more than sixty percent of all air cargo. That target was achieved within three years. The company was profitable throughout his ten years as CEO and paid dividends to its shareholders, including the two major shareholders, the Fiji Government.and Qantas.
The book tells of things accomplished in difficult political times, the complexity of Fiji's society, of the things that shaped Fiji's history in the final half of the last Century, and of the central role the author played as the country rebuilt itself after the coups.
Talk about minorities - a local European in Fiji; now that's a real minority - and here is Fiji seen from that perspective.