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Minister of Local Government Housing and Environment;
Tui Tavua;
Management and Staff of the Tavua Town Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka and a good afternoon to you all.

I am delighted to be here with you today to open this newly renovated sporting facility for the people of Tavua. Our aim after the terrible storms we have been suffering is not just to build back, but to build back better and stronger. And that is what we have done here after the damage these facilities suffered in Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Government has worked closely with the Council to upgrade this famous Garvey Park with the hope that it will spur the development of sporting activities and training in the area. Garvey Park will also be a venue for social gatherings and events for the people of and around Tavua.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all know the importance of sports, training and fitness. There is a saying that goes, “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Facilities as these would be a great training ground to prepare our men and women to excel in sports and to lead healthier lives. Tavua, no doubt, has a rich athletic community and has the potential to continue developing first-class athletes and strong district teams.

But these facilities are also here for our fellow Fijians who do not want to compete seriously, who simply want to stay fit and enjoy sports and other activities with friends. As we all know, the TC Winston badly damaged a great deal of our infrastructure, and this sporting ground was not spared. It was badly damaged and required a major upgrade.

The preliminary assessments after TC Winston were quite grim: It was generally accepted it would take several months—if not years—to rebuild damaged properties. But we did not accept that. Yes, we can’t rebuild everything at once, but we can make a firm commitment to build back faster and build back better. The upgrade and refurbishment of the Garvey Park and its multi-purpose stands as a landmark testament to that. One year later, it is rebuilt. And it is better, isn’t it?

This is the lesson of the past that we must take into the future, because we can expect more severe storms. We can hope and pray to be spared, but we must plan for them. That means that resiliency must be a part of every structure we build, every piece of land we develop. Everything built in Fiji from now on must be built to withstand severe storms as much as possible. And we will have to go back and renovate some of our structures, such as schools, to be more resilient to storms.

Ladies and Gentlemen, make no mistake about it: this will take money and commitment—commitment on the part of very Fijian to build properly and to respect the new building codes.

This year, as Fiji leads the UN Conference on Climate Change, we will speak out not just for a reduction in carbon emissions, but for the world to come together to assist vulnerable countries to adapt to the realities of climate change even as we try to combat it. We will need assistance. We will need insurance mechanisms. And we will need the good will of the world community. But most of all, we will draw from our own commitment to make sure that Fiji is a wonderful and safe place to live and raise a family far into the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are investing in upgrading facilities all around Fiji because Government is committed to the principle that every place in our country be given equal attention. We have many needs in Fiji, and all communities must share in the resources we have to meet those needs and in the blessings those resources can bring when Government uses them wisely.

Here in Garvey Park, Government has invested in better floodlights for the park, the perimeter fence and the Pavilion, which makes it safer at night. And we have built a basic hall in this Park for holding indoor sporting events, meetings and other functions. And we have built it to last. So, with an investment of close to half a million dollars, we have created a sports facility and a community centre.

It is my great hope that you will take advantage of these facilities by developing new training, recreation and fitness programs. We are a people who love sports, who value living healthy lives, and who have shown the world that we can compete on any field with any nation. So let’s keep striving.

Tavua Town now has this upgraded facility to go with a multi-purpose sports facility that was officially opened in 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the implementing Agency, Tavua Town Council, for successfully completing this project and offer my best wishes to all as we open this Park for your enjoyment and as a centre for a healthy community.

Ladies and Gentlemen with these words, it is my great pleasure to officially declare the upgraded Garvey Park open.

Vinaka vakalevu - Thank you.

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