Popular Torba entrepreneur Fr. Luke Dini dies

Well known Torba entrepreneur Fr. Luke Dini who died Friday morning at his bungalow at Sola, Vanualava.

By Jonas Cullwick

Well known Torba Province’s personality, Fr. Luke Dini, has died.

His death Friday morning at his bungalow in Sola, Vanualava, was reported by family members and relatives on the social media.

He is survived by six children — four sons and two daughters and grandchildren. Sadly, his wife, Rona passed away in 2015.

Fr. Luke Dini was a sports personality in his hay days, a church leader, politician and a well known entrepreneur, who first entered office in the 1978 election when he was voted into the pre-independence Representative Assembly and was Minister for Public Works and Telecommunications in the then government led by Chief Minister George Kalsakau that preceded the Government of National Unity, in which Luke Dini was also a Minister.

One person who knew Fr. Luke Dini said one of his projects, when he was minister was the construction of South West Bay airstrip on Malekula.

Fr. Luke Dini from Rah Island at Motalava was also an Anglican church priest, who trained in the Solomon Islands, and would celebrate mass and lead other church services when he had the time.

He was known in the last couple of years for his entrepreneurial skills especially in the tourism sector having being the Chairman of the National Tourism Board, the position he held until his death for his love and service to tourism.

He almost singlehandedly promoted the development of tourism in Torba and also most certainly contributed to the development of the sector in other provinces in the country.

Fr. Luke Dini’s venture into tourism was when he and his wife Rona purchased the property on the immediate right of the one-way street toward Menzies Apartments and the Ministry of Education and the Lycee in Port Vila, where they operated Luron Guest House in the 1990s until they sold it in about the middle of the 2000s.

He will be sorely missed for his services to tourism in Vanuatu. For his popular Rah Island Bungalows he and his family won a number of tourism awards.Our sincere condolences to his family and friends in Torba and in the tourism sector throughout Vanuatu.

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) Board and staff said they were very sad to hear of the passing of Father Luke Dini yesterday. In a statement the VTO says the Ministry of Tourism, Vanuatu Tourism Office and the Department of Tourism loses a pioneer in tourism with his passing.

“Father Luke has been an enthusiastic and engaged member of the VTO Board since 2012.

“As a strong advocate for the growth and development of tourism across all provincial areas in Vanuatu his counsel and perspective will be sorely missed.

“He was also deeply involved as Chairman for the Torba Tourism Council and President of the Torba Tourism Association.

“Father Luke was also well known for his belief in the potential of tourism in Torba province.

“He was instrumental in facilitating for support for the Skills for Economic project and the resulting development of new tourism products across Rah and Motalava islands.

“It was his belief and passion that the best of Vanuatu could be found on the outer islands, and his work focused on making this happen.

“Also recognized as an inspirational leader, he often brought people together to ensure the views of Torba province were heard in national discussions on topics such as foreign policy, community development and spiritual development through his work as a priest of the Banks and Torres Anglican Church.

“He encouraged local leadership and engagement and empowered people to share their view and opinions.

“Most recently he declared that Torba province would become free of western food.

“His wide range of contacts enabled this story to be heard around the world.

“It is hoped that this will be one of his lasting legacies.

“He was a warm hearted and engaging man and he will be missed more for this than anything else.

“We send out heartfelt condolences to his family. With Father Luke’s passing Vanuatu has lost one of its champions,” VTO said.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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