The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA53 - 19 April 2004

Death of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara

It is with great regret that I learned this morning of the death of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the former President of Fiji, on 18 April.

Ratu Mara was a key figure in the building of the modern state of Fiji. He served his country for 36 years in the most senior roles as Chief Minister from 1967-70, Prime Minister from 1970-87 and 1987-92 and President from 1992-2000.

An important stabilising influence on the domestic political environment in Fiji, Ratu Mara committed himself to nurturing national unity between ethnic Fijians and Indian Fijians. His position as the Chief of Lau also afforded him great cultural significance and respect.

Ratu Mara played a pivotal role in restoring stability to Fiji after two damaging coups in 1987 and 2000. His influence helped to return Fiji to pursue economic development and inclusive governance. Despite his retirement from public life in 2000, Ratu Mara's influence was unchallenged.

Ratu Mara was widely recognised in the international community as being the pre-eminent statesman of the Pacific. His staunch belief in the United Nations and Commonwealth systems made him an effective agent for the development of trade and aid relations between member states of those organisations.

I was privileged to have met Ratu Mara on a number of occasions and found him to be a man of integrity whom I respected greatly. He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.

Born in 1920 at Lomaloma in the Lau group of islands, Ratu Mara inherited the chiefly title of Tui Nayau and was Paramount chief of Lau. He was educated by the Marist Brothers in New Zealand and graduated with an MA from Oxford University in 1949.

I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Ratu Mara's wife, Adi Lady Lala Mara and their children.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500, Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555



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