Vanuatu lost two prominent figures over the weekend.
The country’s first indigenous female lawyer, Mrs. Heather Lini Leo Matas died in Port Vila on Saturday evening.She was the first female lawyer after independence in 1980 and served in the State Law Office as Legal Counsel to the Attorney General, then in the Public Solicitor’s Office, the Ombudsman Office and as Public Prosecutor for four years at one time.
Until her passing away last Saturday night, the late Mrs. Heather Lini Leo Matas, served as the Manager, Legal Department and Legal Counsel with the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) of Vanuatu.
The second-Vanuatu’s first professional boxer, Philip Kating best known as the Tiger Shark and Golden Boy passed away at the Vila Central Hospital (VCH) midday Sunday.
Unconfirmed reports say he was assaulted and police have apprehended a suspect. The medical officer who attended to the deceased yesterday told Daily Post that there was a laceration on his chest.
The late Kating is believed to be in his late 50’s or early 60’s.
The titles he held included the South Seas Light Heavyweight Title (1989) and the South Pacific Middleweight Title (1984-85). In a past article on vanuafoot.vu, the President of Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Moses Stevens made reference to football players who contributed to significant achievements in other sports disciplines, the late Kating who “turned pro in Fiji in 1980, and became the holder of several boxing titles, including the South Pacific Light Heavy Weight, the South Paicific Middle Weight and the South Pacific Super Middle Weight titles.
“Kating started off as a football playing in then ‘junior’ team for Amicale FC. While training for a trip to New Caledonia, Kating sustained an angle injury and could not make the trip.
“That was when he was introduced to boxing by former well known amateur boxer from his home island of Tanna, Alexie Yolu.
Kating won the only Gold for Vanuatu in the 1975 South Pacific Games in Guam and he was declared the “Golden Boy”.
There was never another like him since.
The late Heather Lini Leo Matas, married Mr. Kalkot Matas Kelekele, former Head of State and the current Vanuatu Ombudsman on July 30th, 2014. Her husband Mr. Kalkot Matas Kelekele is also from a highly respected and well known family from Ifira Island on Efate and was also instrumental in the struggle for the political independence of Vanuatu before, during and after independence.
She is a sister of the first Prime Minister that led Vanuatu to Independence in 1980, the late Father Walter H. Lini, of a well-known and highly respected North Pentecost Lini family. Her other brother Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, is the President of the National United Party (NUP) and former Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the former Vanuatu Governments.
Her elder sister, Hilda Lini Mitarilavoa, was also one of the first Vanuatu Member of Parliament (MP) after Independence and a former state Minister also. The late Heather Lini Leo Matas was the eight of the 10 Lini children from North Pentecost.
She studied law in Papua New Guinea the United Kingdom and Australia. Prior to her academic and legal studies,she studied at her home Primary school of Nazareth on North Pentecost and did her high school studies at the former British Secondary School (BSS) which is today the Malapoa College.
Her funeral Service will take place at the Anglican Church in Tagabe in Port Vila on Wednesday this at 7.00 am in the morning and then flown back to Pentecost for final resting at Agatoa Village, where both her late parents rested.
Speaking to the Daily Post yesterday afternoon, her elder sister Hilda Lini Mitarilavoa, confirmed that her late sister Heather Lini Leo Matas, was very supportive of her newphew Charles Lini’s political campaign in Port Vila constituency up to the time of her passing away.
“Heather told us she had a special message of encouragement to support her nephew Charles Lini in his future political leadership for the good of the people of this nation. She had that message of encouragement passed on to Charles before she passed away,” said Hilda Lini.
One of the well-known quote by the late Heather Lini Leo Matas, to the women of Vanuatu after becoming the first Ni-Vanuatu female Lawyer after the 1980 political independence was, “ Stand on your own two feet and say, ‘i can do it’”.
This message has been heard by the women in Vanuatu over the past many years,is still ringing out today to the new generation of the Republic of Vanuatu and will continue on tomorrow.