22 Apr 2004

Traditional Fiji warriors to stand guard over Ratu Mara

9:06 pm on 22 April 2004

Traditional warriors from Fiji's Lau province have arrived in Suva to stand guard over the casket of the longtime prime minister and former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Dressed in traditional costume and armed with war clubs, the warriors will maintain vigil over their paramount chief until he is entombed on his home island of Lakeba on May the 3rd.

Meanwhile, military engineers have arrived on Lakeba to build infrastructure needed for the many people who will attend the funeral.

Roads, the jetty and the island airstrip are being improved and temporary sheds being built to shelter the mourners.

Border control officers will move to Lakeba to monitor any international flights arriving directly on the island with one carrying the Tongan Royal family from Nuku'alofa already confirmed.

Ratu Mara will be laid to rest in a tomb alongside five previous paramount chiefs of Lau.

They include his father, Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba, the most eminent of all Fijian chiefs Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna and the Tongan warlord who conquered Lau in the 19th century, Ma'afu.