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Academic meets the Queen

A senior academic of the Fiji National University Mr. Joji Marau had his dream turn into a reality this week after he met with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, at her hometown in Windsor Castle in Britain. The Head of School of Mechanical Engineering – Higher Education, at FNU’s College of Engineering, Science and Technology […]

Salote Qalubau

May 19, 2016 8:45 am

A senior academic of the Fiji National University Mr. Joji Marau had his dream turn into a reality this week after he met with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, at her hometown in Windsor Castle in Britain.

Mr. Joji Marau Meets Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during the tea party .(FNU)
Mr. Joji Marau Meets Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during the tea party .(FNU)

The Head of School of Mechanical Engineering – Higher Education, at FNU’s College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST) was invited to be part of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.

The man from Ogea Island in the Lau groups was no ordinary guest at the celebrations as his prestigious handiwork the authentic traditional ‘Drua’ (double hull) Adi Eta, is one of the centerpieces during the birthday celebrations.

MARAU: “I will never forget this day for the whole of my life when I and five other members of the Fiji Delegation were part of the tea party with the Royal Family in the Castle what an opportunity.”

FNU Chancellor Mr. Ikbal Jannif said the milestone has strengthened the University’s position on the global stage.

JANNIF: “The Fiji National University has certainly a very proud history with Colleges established 130 years ago.”

Mr. Jannif said the display of the ‘Drua’ on the global stage at the Queen’s birthday celebrations was an opportunity to showcase FNU’s vast array of talent embedded within the Pacific.

JANNIF: “FNU will also continue to support its staff in development as we continue on a journey of creating a strong knowledge-based society that would advance Fiji and other developing Pacific Island nations.”

After the birthday celebration, Adi Eta will then be transported to Norwich where it will be showcased in an exhibition later in August before it moves to its new home the National Maritime Museum, where it will be maintained and kept.

A senior academic from the Fiji National University (FNU) will be attending Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II 90th birthday celebrations, in Windsor Castle in Britain from the 12-15th of May.

Mr Joji Marau is the Head of School of Mechanical Engineering – Higher Education, of the College of Engineering, Science and Technology at FNU.

The man from Ogea Island in the Lau group will be exhibiting this prestigious handiwork the authentic traditional ‘Drua’ (double hull) Adi Eta, which will be one of the centre pieces during the birthday celebrations.

I just can’t put in words to describe how I felt when I was given the news. I never thought that I will be invited by the Queen for her birthday and to have by canoe displayed for the whole world to see. It’s indeed a great honour for me.

Mr Marau said that he is out of words to describe how he felt when he was given the news. He never thought that he will be invited by the Queen for her birthday and to have by canoe displayed for the whole world to see.

Professor Steven Hooper (left) from the University of East Anglia in United Kingdom visited the Head of School of Mechanical Engineering – Higher Education, Mr Joji Marau (right) earlier this month to assist in the preparation to his visit to Britain. Photo:FNU
Professor Steven Hooper (left) from the University of East Anglia of United Kingdom visited the Head of School of Mechanical Engineering – Higher Education, Mr Joji Marau (right) earlier this month to assist in the preparation to his visit to Britain. (Fiji National University)

Mr Marau said canoeing was a hobby to him at a very young age.

In 2012, with the support of Fiji National University, he got his biggest breakthrough when FNU sponsored him in his research work to design and built a traditional canoe – Camakau.

In 2014, he was approached by Professor Steven Hooper from the University of East Angli in the United Kingdom to work with a Non-Government Organisation in Germany in the designing and building of a two hull canoe to feature in an exhibition organised by the organisation. Thus, the birth of Adi Eta transpired.

Built in 2014, the Drua – Adi Eta as it’s known – is the only authentic traditional double hull canoe to have been built after the Ratu Finau, which is now kept and displayed at the Fiji National Museum.

Mr. Marai said, the invitation from the UK brings him a lot of emotion and happiness because it shows they are interested.

In designing ‘Adi Eta’ we had to refer also to the libraries in London to help us because we don’t have records available locally on literature aspects in making a Drua. My four member team of craftsmen was too good because they knew exactly what they were doing.

‘Adi Eta’ stands at 8 meters in length and 2.15 meters in width and is made from Damanu tree from the interior of Viti Levu in Nakorosule, Naitasiri.

Mr Marau (standing) with the other four craft men in front of the ‘Adi Eta’ canoe. (Fiji National University)
Mr Marau (standing) with the other four craft men in front of the ‘Adi Eta’ canoe. (Fiji National University)

The canoe was recognised globally featuring in the local newspapers and also in the New York Times.

Canoes have always played an important role in the history of Fiji. Transportation from an island to another was only possible by sea and that with the use of canoes when the first settlers of Fiji arrived, however, with modernisation taking over, tradition and traditional means quickly died out, and canoe building and sailing was many of the unfortunate.

Mr. Marau said that the passion and interest in traditional canoes has been revived.

The successful completion of the making of the drua was a breakthrough in itself. Now with the pageant, it shows we have achieved what we started years ago and that was to revive traditional sailing.

In the final day of the pageant, the Queen, Members of the Royal Family, government and international delegations will tour and inspect the displays.

‘Adi Eta’ will be transported in an exhibition later in August at Norwich before it moves to its new home the National Maritime Museum, where it will be maintained and kept.

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