Former PM's homage to community leader
A former Fijian prime minister and coup leader has paid respects to a Brisbane man described as a great role model and friend.
President of the Queensland chapter of the Social Democratic Liberal Party of Fiji,(SODELPA), Peceli Vitukawalu Matanitobua, passed away on August 7 following an illness.
Originally from Vunaniu, Fiji, the Kenmore resident worked as a field scientist SEQWater for the past eight years.
Friends and family, including the former Prime Minister of Fiji and leader of SODELPA, Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka, paid tribute to the 56-year-old on Facebook.
"On behalf of the SODELPA family, I pay tribute to the late Doctor Vitukawalu Peceli Matanitobua, President of SODELPA Queensland Chapter, who passed away peacefully at home in Queensland last week, after a short illness," he said.
"I express my condolences to Mrs. Vani Vitukawalu and their four children, to the Vanua in Vunaniu, Serua and Dr. Vitukawalu's maternal family in Rukua, Beqa, on the loss of the late academic, environmental scientist and former teacher."
Mr Rabuka said Mr Vitukawalu was an ardent SODELPA supporter.
The Social Democratic Liberal Party of Fiji was established in January 2013 after the dissolution of the predecessor Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party.
Mr Rabuka said he and other politicians were hosted by Dr Vitukawalu and his family during a 2017 visit to Brisbane.
Friend Temo Raravula described Dr Matanitobua as a "great leader."
"Isa Master Peceli. I remember our days at UQ … and how instrumental you were in leading our Fiji Students Association," he wrote.
"A great leader, a role model and a great friend.
"We will miss your passion and your work within our Brisbane Fijian community."
Dr Vitukawalu taught at various secondary schools in Fiji for many years prior to emigrating.
He graduated from the University of Queensland with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Toxicology Medicine and a Masters in Philosophy - Environment Chemistry.
Teresa Ligaiviu said Dr Matanitobua was a humble man.
"A very humble gentle(man) who never boasts of his great achievements," she wrote.
"May you rest in his loving arms."
Samu I. Turagacti agreed.
"Yes, Dr Peceli was a high achiever but humble and down to earth. He is sorely missed," he wrote.
Tawake Cutler wrote that Dr Matanitobua had also previously worked as a school principal.
"R.I.P Tau, served your country well as a teacher in Fiji, and later on as a Principal before migrating to Australia and finally fulfilling your lifetime dreams in achieving a Doctor of Philosophy.
The erudite also obtained an Associates Degree in secondary teacher training at the Fiji College of Advanced Education and a Bachelors degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.
Mr Matanitobua also previously worked as a research associate at UQ, Wide Bay Water Corporation and the University of South Australia, according to his social media accounts.
Ani Batibasaga, 41, said a "condolence gathering" also known as a "Reguregu" was scheduled for 6pm tonight at the Brisbane Fijian Uniting Church Hall, 29 Cracknell Rd, Annerley.
A funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday.
Originally published as Former PM homage to Brisbane man