PEOPLE: Life on the farm

Veikoso, 44, says copra was the only source of income in the village. Inset: Veikoso tends to he piggery section. Picture: SUPPLIED

From an early age Ponito Veikoso began to explore what the world had to offer.

Raised in Muamua Village in Vanauabalavu, Lau, Veikoso always wanted to live an independent life. With almost every family having a copra oven in Muamua, he said from as early as three years old, he followed his siblings and father to collect coconuts.

Veikoso, 44, said copra was the only source of income in the village. He said he felt that if he continued schooling he would be a burden to his parents and dropped out of school in Class 8.

At 13 years old, Veikoso began to help his father sustain the household and attend to the calling of the vanua, and went through the daily routine of a villager until he was 20.

“I joined my dad. For seven years I was a normal villager carrying out what the elders required,” Veikoso said.

“But things changed when I was asked to join the Nabavatu copra mill.”

The mill is owned by Tony Philip and Greg Lola.

“I worked for eight years and I just fell in love with the work.”

He said he later joined Naitauba Resort as a farmer.

“I experienced a new life. I saw guests and even some workers and locals who joined the religion. With curiosity and my thoughts of never to rely on others, I just kept working.”

He credits his experience at the Naitauba Resort to former truck business owner Temo Sukanaivalu, a former politician.

“I have been here at Bureni for four years as a farm caretaker.”

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