Proud of her Fijian heritage, Eseta Claire Navunisaravi, the newly-elected head girl of Avonside Girls’ High School in Christchurch, New Zealand, chose to open her speech in the iTaukei language.
The 17-year-old described her traditional role of a bati or warrior to her fellow students from where she hails from in Nakorovou Village in Dreketi, Rewa.
This character of the bati she said, she wishes to share with the students of Avonside to uphold.
Within the one year, she spent at the school; she was involved in many school activities and events and participated in the senior basketball and netball teams.
“What it means to be a head girl, is a person who can work well with a team and demonstrate leadership in any situation, not only through direction but also through encouragement,” Eseta said.
“Being a Fijian girl, I was always taught to hold my values close to my heart and to be firm in what I believe in.
“In the Fijian culture of being respectful of others is a core value upheld in every household.”
Eseta hopes to inspire and encourage everyone at Avonside to “allow you the best person of yourself.”
Learning To Be Resilient
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eseta has not seen her parents in a year.
But that has taught her to be resilient – to overcome her challenges and succeed.
“To understand that although it may have been hard, you still rise above it,” she said.
Eseta was surprised when the school chose her to lead as she had been there for just one year.
“I felt happy as I had not only achieved something for myself in a year but also for my family back home. I knew that they would be pleased and proud of me,” Eseta said.
“In a way, I feel proud of myself, as I am sort of getting my name out there – and my name reflects my background and who I am. I am proud of my identity and where I am from, and I like that to be reflected.”
School principal Sue Hume said that Eseta was an impressive young woman who speaks very well.
Ms. Hume said there are 1100 students at Avonside Girls High School, one of the two-state schools in Christchurch.
There are 33 students in head roles of houses or councils while the head girl is in charge of them all.
Proud father, Paula Navunisaravi said his family were very happy with his daughter’s achievement – for donning the head girl badge, but also for not forgetting her heritage.
He said the video of her speech went viral, have reached 15.9K views, and has been shared more than 300 times on Facebook.
“The video in itself has inspired many youth groups and has been shared among the Fijian communities in New Zealand,” Mr. Navunisaravi said.
“I would like to encourage our youths not to forget our structures even though westernization is filtering into our core values,” he added.
Eseta was born in the United States of America, attended Year 1 to Year 8 at Saint Marcellin Primary School in Vatuwaqa and Year 9 to Year 11 at International School Suva at Laucala Beach.
She joined Avonside Girls’ High School last year for Year 12 and aspires to become a psychologist in the future.
Eseta also represented Fiji in the Under 15 Oceania Basketball in Papua New Guinea in 2018.