(transcribed by Makereta Mua from Fatiaki Misau's speech at Churchward Chapel)

When Marieta asked me to speak this morning I had a problem and the problem was, what to omit, what to include--because the history of this man was so wide and so broad that I had to be ruthless at certain points and cut off this and cut off that. I pray that what I am going to say will do justice to this great man.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-2:

To every thing there is a season
a time for every purpose under the sun
there is a time to be born and a time to die

Aisake Auri Wiliame was born on the 15th of May 1913 at Davuilevu. His parents were Auri Taito of Oinafa and Semantafa of Malha'a. Aisake Auri Wiliame spent his early education in Rotuma and later on at Davuilevu Methodist Boys which is known today as Lelean Memorial; later to the Davuilevu Teacher Training Institute where he graduated as a teacher. He was posted to the various Methodist Mission schools in the country. His first posting was at Nausori Methodist Mission School then to Niusawa Methodist School in Taveuni then to Tia Methodist Mission School in Rotuma, Navuso Agricultural School, Lelean Memorial School, Suva Methodist Boys School then called Toorak Boys and Delana Methodist School. He was married to Kauata Pasepa of Matagi, Lopta, Oinafa. His interests did not stop at teaching. He was a member of the Boys Scouts Association. He joined the Saint Johns' Brigade and also was enlisted in the Royal Fiji Military Forces. His interests included singing, rugby and community work. He was blessed with six children, nineteen grand-children and seventeen great-grandchildren. He retired from classroom teaching in 1973 but continued in a broader sense of the word, his teaching, passing onto others his vast experiences and knowledge until God told him it was time to come home.

Auri Aisake Wiliame was born to parents who were at that time trained at Davuilevu to become catechists. He was one of the few babies to be baptized at the new Baker Hall. His primary education was disturbed when his parents returned to Rotuma to serve as the catechists for the Methodist Church in their home district of Oinafa. But his parents saw the need to send young Auri back to Davuilevu to continue his education and at the age of 14 years, Auri Aisake returned to the place of his birth (Davuilevu). As I said earlier, at Davuilevu he completed his primary and secondary schooling and entered Davuilevu Teacher Training Institute where he graduated as a teacher.

Now this was a milestone achievement by a young Rotuman lad who, when he arrived at Davuilevu, could hardly understand or speak correctly a word of Fijian. In his own words quoted by the Sunday Times on 2 October 2005 he said and I quote "it was hard at first but as time passed I got used to Fiji and soon I was part of the community" (Aisake Wiliame, pers.comm). He was a teacher, a preacher and a chief.

During one of his trips to Fiji in the late 1940s or early 50's Tokaniua the then District Chief of Oinafa in Rotuma, saw the need for the people of Oinafa in Fiji at that time to have in their midst, a traditional chief for the easy observation of culture and traditional protocol during important occasions. Auri Aisake Wiliame himself of chiefly lineage of Oinafa was the unanimous choice. He was therefore traditionally installed a chief and bestowed the chiefly title of 'Kauturaf'. And because of his links to the chiefly clan of Malha'a, through his mother, Semantafa, Gagaj Kauturaf was also accorded due respect by the people of Malha'a in Suva. Eventually through his influence and charisma he was affectionately embraced by the Rotuman community at large, not only as a traditional chief, but also a pillar of strength, in the maintenance and security of their identity.

Teaching was Gagaj Kauturaf's passion. When the late Tokaniua was retiring because of old age, the chiefly households of Oinafa began their search for a successor. Their search focused on Gagaj Kauturaf, who at that time, was trying to make his mark in the teaching profession. He told his elders in Oinafa of his option to remain in the teaching profession and thanked them for their kind thoughts. When the Methodist Church transferred Gagaj Kauturaf from Lelean to Toorak Boys School in the late 1940's he was made the Assistant Head Teacher of the school and also appointed the catechist for the Rotuman Methodist Community in Suva and it was during this period that the Rotuman Methodist community in Suva, at his instigation, began conducting their church services and also the birth of the Rotuman Methodist Church Choir.

Before moving to Delana Methodist in 1957 the Church sent him on a year's deputation mission to Australia. It was a teaching and a preaching mission. Gagaj Kauturaf was the first lay preacher to be sent on such a mission and also the first taukei at that.

He was also a man of discipline. Many of his past students have probably not forgotten that Master Aisake was a man of discipline, one who believed in the biblical proverb that "if you spare the rod you spoil the child". Two of his former students were quoted in the Sunday Times on 2 October 2005 saying and I quote, the first student saying:

I found Master Aisake a very fair and inspirational man and in the same token, very hard to please. He was a one talk man who wanted all his students to excel. He would not spare the rod to correct us; our parents thought he was sent by God to help us reform and I guess if it was not for him we would be in Korovou by now (Vijay Raghwan, Raghwan Construction Company).

After the second disciplinary measure I promised myself not to appear before Master Aisake again. Belting and caning really did me good (Pita Nacuva).

His passion was clearly summarized in his statement in the Sunday Times on 2 October 2005 - Master Aisake said that:

As I look back in the 92 years of my life, my fulfillment and joy comes from having taught so many students throughout my teaching career many of whom have contributed well to society. I owe it all to God for giving me the opportunity to live life to the fullest. For me the only ambition I have left is to be with my Lord. When he calls I am ready. (Gagaj Kauturaf)

His Lord called him last Saturday. His former students call him "Master Aisake" or "Master Wiliame". The Rotuman community refer to him as "Gagaj Kauturaf". Some Rotumans however, particularly those in the Rotuman Methodist Choir when Gagaj Kauturaf was choir master, refer to him, quietly though, in his presence but loudly in the presence of his wife and children, as "Napoleon" -- comparing him to that great man of history, Napoleon Bonaparte, who was renowned for his no nonsense stand in his strive for excellence and greatness. He was also a man of faith. The Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians Chapter 5:8-16 "See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time". Gagaj Kauturaf was the steward of his time. Throughout his life he knew full well that God had given him a little chunk of eternity called time and those golden moments of opportunity were bestowed unto him for his benefit and for God's glory. He knew he had to use them wisely for they were woven by God's own hand into the fabric of eternity. He lived by the old adage "Only one life and it will soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last". His entire life was a testimony to that fact. He was entrusted with a slow portion of the capital of time. When his wife, Kauata Pasepa breathed her last breath that dark Wednesday morning of 22 February 1978 this faithful servant of God looked up to the sky from their bedroom window and with deep sorrow but with humility asked the question "why Father, why?" I have no doubt in my mind that in the thirty years that followed, the loving hands of God did not just wipe dry the tears of this great servant of his and the children but more than answered that question that was put up to the throne of grace. Gagaj Kauturaf was a devout Methodist through and through. His commitment to the church did not only just see him through difficult times, it took him around the world to places like Kenya, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, Rome, England and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Apart from his involvement in the church and school, he was a member of the Scouts Movement, rising to the position of Scout Master, a member of the Saint Johns' Brigade - he attained the Order of Serving Brother. He enlisted in the Fiji Military Forces in the 1950s and was a member of the Fijian Teachers Association, then called Raivo. In October 1995 he was awarded the 25th anniversary Independence Medal and also made a member of the Order of Fiji in the General Division.

Perhaps his biggest contribution to the Rotuman community was through his assistance in the translation of eight books of the old testament Bible to the Rotuman language.

During one of his bouts of illness his doctor told him that he had five more years to live. Of course after having lived his very eventful life through his faith in God, he was quick to correct the young doctor by saying:

" I live until my Father in heaven tells me to go" (Aisake Wiliame, pers.comm).

God proved that man may diagnose and propose but He disposes. For Gagaj Kauturaf lived much longer than the five years given by the doctor.

To the children, grand-children and great-grand-children of Gagaj Kauturaf, your father, grandfather and great-grandfather has gone on the path described by Shakespeare's Hamlet "all that live must die; passing through nature to eternity". He has certainly passed through nature to eternity gone to where he has always longed to be - with his Lord. His entire life was one of untiring service -- first to his God and his church then to his fellow men. Your father, grandfather and great-grandfather was a man of upright character and also one who was very meticulous in all that he did. His faithfulness and trust in his God was excellent. His love and care for all those who sought refuge under his wing was more than freely given. He was a man, though of highly chiefly standing, never lost touch with the common man. In fact he was an inspiration to those around him. Such was your father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He has left behind a rich legacy for your keeping and you will be the poorer if you do not follow.

To Gagaj Kauturaf, whom to many of us is like a father figure, I thank you for being a beacon of light and a tower of strength to all of us (your family, relatives and friends and to the Rotuman community in Suva and other parts of Fiji) -- thank you for being a father to us. I also thank you on behalf of your vanua of Oinafa for your contribution to its overall development both materially and spiritually. Your unshakable faith, dedication and trust in God, your faithfulness in your calling as a teacher and a preacher of the Word are indeed exemplary, the hallmark of your character and personality. You have left on the barren sands of time footprints so large and so obvious that those who follow will not miss the final destination. There is no reason why you should not stand with St Paul and utter the same words he said to Timothy:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (Timothy 4:1-8)

And I have no doubt that the response to that statement from the Throne of Grace will undoubtedly be "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14).

La'au ko 'Ofa Gagaj amis tala fakmuriofua.


Comment by Tieri Christopher

My name is Tieri Christopher nee Wiliame and I now live in Auckland, NZ. I recently attended my grandfather, the late Gagaj Kauturaf’s funeral at 15 Dudley Street, Toorak, Suva as well as the church service at the Rotuman Churchward Chapel. On returning home to Auckland, I read the script on grandpa’s eulogy prepared by Mr. Fatiaki Misau on the Rotuman Website and I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the wonderful script prepared and delivered. He has done justice to grandpa’s life and I don’t think any other eulogy would have been better presented. I didn’t have time after the funeral service to thank Mr. Misau and thought that this would be a good opportunity to do so.

To Mr. Misau, thank you for putting pen to paper all that grandpa was and more. Reading through your prepared script brought back memories of a grandfather who was firm yet loving as I recall the years of discipline and affection on us grandchildren. His legacy will remain in our hearts forever.
I would also like to thank Makereta Mua and Mr Alan Howard for their efforts. May God bless you all and your households.

Faiaksia e hanisi,
Tieri Christopher nee Wiliame