From moody mother nature to top Olympic honors, and plenty in between, 2016 has been a momentous year for Fiji.
Here are 5 key events which highlight the highs and lows of 2016.
Tropical Cyclone Winston
On the 20th and 21st of February, Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston cut a path of destruction across Fiji. TC Winston was the most powerful cyclone of its kind to make landfall in the southern hemisphere, smashing its way through villages, schools, houses, roads, and crops.
As a result of Winston’s destruction, the overall cost of national damage sits at around $1 billion, over 20% of Fiji’s GDP (2014 World Bank data).
Just as the nation began to pick itself up from the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston, an unnamed tropical disturbance caused severe flooding as torrential rain coated the contours of the country. The town of Nadi was submerged in flood water; hundreds of residents had to be evacuated from their homes, and many sugar cane growers faced the harrowing prospect of losing their crops.
Super Rugby comes to Fiji
In July, Fiji enjoyed its first ever glimpse of Super Rugby as the Waikato Chiefs and Canterbury Crusaders battled it out in front of a packed out crowd of 20,000 at Suva’s ANZ Stadium.
Due to the outstanding success of the fixture, coupled with a drive to promote the positive effects of sport within the country, a rematch has already been locked in for 2017.
As Fiji began to flourish once again and the success of the Super Rugby filled the air, the country’s sporting spirit began to thrive, and in August, history was made. Fiji won its first ever Olympic medal at the Rio games, one of the most prolific competitive feats in the country’s history – an achievement so monumental that the Prime Minister declared a public holiday on August 22nd to celebrate this triumphant occasion.
Said to contain miraculous healing qualities, long queues of vehicles, or buses packed with passengers became a common sight in the village of Natadradave as droves of people waited for hours to gain entry and bath in its miracle waters.
Whilst not an exhaustive list of powers, these waters have allegedly helped with the healing of ailments relating to the skin, eye infections, and even dietetic patients.
Fiji is a multicultural melting pot with a huge heart and no matter what happens, its resilience will always see it through. With the holiday season upon us, I would like to wish everyone a safe and wonderful festive season wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, and let’s make the next 12 months the best yet.
Have a promising and fulfilling New Year.