Fiji's Family Network
Bula Bee and the former The Bula Tribune today joins our colleagues in Fiji on the untimely passing of a colorful writer with a pretty intense mind when it came to stories and features, both in news and sports.
Paula Serupepeli Vela Tagivetaua, 54, passed away at his Raiwaqa home at 10.30am on Saturday morning.
Fondly known to family, friends and colleagues as "Mod", Paula was the son of schoolteacher Semisi Tagivetaua of Nasarowaqa in Bua, and Rufina Kasaia of Dawasamu, Tailevu.
He began his career as a sports reporter with FM96 in the 1980s before he joined The Daily Post in 1990. He later joined The Fiji Times in the mid-90s where he worked until his passing.
"He was a family man, he was very quiet and reserved but he was one for education ù he valued and emphasised more on education and its importance," eldest son Maximilian Kolbe Tagivetaua, 28, said yesterday.
"He was a good writer. He was also a man of little words but he wrote a lot of it."
Paula was not only an ardent supporter of his two son's rugby games, he was also renowned and respected for his uncompromising critics of anything rugby, particularly Fiji rugby. His favourite though, which he has never missed, was the Sukuna Bowl.
The Fiji Times Ltd general manager Brian O'Flaherty said Paula would be missed tremendously. He said Paula's loss left a big gap in journalism.
"He was a great writer with a huge following among readers of The Fiji Times and Fijians living overseas," O'Flaherty said.
"Paula travelled all over the country writing fascinating reports and bringing to reality for everybody the life of people in remote areas. His unique writing style made you feel as though you had been there with him," he said.
"Our thoughts are with his family," he added.
The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley said: "The newsroom and the rest of the staff are shocked.
"Paula or 'Mod' as he was nicknamed was respected, admired and loved by his colleagues. And he loved them back. He was an inspiration to young journalists, particularly."
"Mod joined The Fiji Times in the mid-1990s. His writing and reporting style had a big impact on the paper, readers and the country."
Mr Wesley said Mod was mad about rugby and the national team.
He said over the years, his constructive analysis of the game and his writings influenced the way the Fijian team played the game.
"That was true up to the way Fiji played in its great win over New Zealand at the Gold Coast on Saturday," Mr Wesley said.
"Many wonder how he got the nickname Mod. One legend is that it came from a resemblance to one of the lead actors in the mid-1990s film the Mod Squad. Mod was too modest to say.
"Mod will be missed by us all; journalists, contacts and readers."
Funeral details will be announced on Wednesday. Paula is survived by his partner and two sons; Maximilian and Daniel Mateo Tagivetaua, 16, who just left for New Zealand a day before his dad's death.