The man who designed Vanuatu’s Coat of Arms, Emblem and the Speaker of Parliament Chair, Rick Frazer of Australia, relates to the Daily Post how he came to be so privileged and tasked to design these very important national symbols.
The well-known water, acrylic paint artist from Australia came to the then New Hebrides in 1970 when he was 23 years old, after graduating in water, acrylic paint from Gordon Institute, Geelong, Australia.
In 1973, the Joint Court of the New Hebrides appointed him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because he was neither British nor French and being an Australian, he was suited for the position and hence his appointment, which he revealed to the Daily Post Post that many people in the then New Hebrides nor Vanuatu today ever knew about it.
He remained in the then New Hebrides for 39 years and applied his skills in watery acrylic paint that made him become well-known to both the locals and the expatriate communities in Port Vila.
As the New Hebrides was approaching Independence, and independence committees were formed, different people were appointed for different tasks on different committees to decide on the national symbols, the 1979 national general election was held, the then President of the Vanua’aku Party, Father Walter Lini,was appointed the new Chief Minister of the New Hebrides Interim Government and Rick Frazer found himself chosen to design the new nation’s Coat of Arms, the Emblem and the Chair for the Speaker of the new Parliament of the new Republic of Vanuatu.
His designs of the country’s coat of arms, emblem and the chair of the speaker of Parliament have remained the most respected national symbols, along with the national flag designed by Kalontas Malon, of Emau and the National Anthem written and composed by Francois Aisav of Malekula.
On the 34th anniversary of Vanuatu’s independence, Rick Frazer visited Vanuatu one more time with his wife, Martini Frazer, originally from the Lumbukuti Village on the island of Tongoa in the Shefa Province. They have been married for 39 years and now living on the island of Bribie in Brisbane, Australia.
Rick Frazer, as he simply wishes to be called, has received three awards from the Head of State, including the 1980 independence medal and the 2nd class badge of honor which is the highest national award.
Thirty four years on, Rick Frazer pointed out to the Daily Post that back in 1980 when he was chosen to design the coat of arms, the emblem and the chair for parliamentary Speaker, he was called by the Chief Minister Father Walter Lini to discuss the designs with the Chief Minister’s Office with suggested variations that Chief Minister Walter Lini wanted to see included in the national symbols. These included, the emblem which Father Lini wanted to be included in the national flag and the national anthem which Lini also sought his opinion on the anthem written and composed by Mr Aisav and the national flag design by Mr Malon which were wonderful and great,” said Rick Frazer.
“So with a few minor additions, all the national symbols were prepared, printed and produced just in time for July 30, 1980, the actual Independence Day.
“The national government and the people of Vanuatu must always make sure that all the original national symbols which are the prides of the nation must be guarded and remain in the original forms without alterations which can be taken as an insult to the State of the Republic of Vanuatu,” Rick Frazer cautioned before he returned to Australia.
“I have come to realize that one or two minor modifications have been made to the Coat of Arms. If you look carefully at the Coat of Arms, the original turban around the chief’s head has been modified and it now looks like and Indian turban. The Chiefly traditional dress around the waist of the chief has also slightly changed its color from the original one of total white color,” he said.
“I am simply pointing this out so that the authorities of Vanuatu will make sure that all original designs must always remain as they were in 1980 without any variations by different organizations within or outside Vanuatu.
“The then Chief Minister in the Interim Government of Vanuatu Father Walter Lini took careful considerations with his office staff and the Independence Committee and the selection panel, which chose and recommended the national symbols to the Chief Minister and the interim Council of Ministers prior to independence on July 30, 1980.