News and Events

The New Zealand High Commissioner presents Laucala Bay to the Prime Minister of Fiji

In Suva for unveiling of the monument celebrating 25 years of the RNZAF during the flying boat years at Laucala Bay

22-24 March 2018

As the author of Laucala Bay – The story of the RNZAF in Fiji 1939 to 1967 I was invited to Suva, Fiji, for the unveiling of a monument celebrating 25 years of the RNZAF during the flying boat years at Laucala Bay. While there I had the opportunity to make a presentation on the book at the University of the South Pacific. The event received quite a bit of media coverage in Fiji, as did the book.


Monument Unveiled In Fiji For RNZAF Flying Boat Veterans

New Zealand Defence Force on Medium.com, 23 March 2018

A commemorative monument has been unveiled in Fiji to recognise the service of veterans from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) flying boat operations, based at Laucala Bay in Suva, from 1941 to 1967.

RNZAF’s №5 Squadron conducted anti-submarine patrols, maritime reconnaissance and transport and air-sea rescue missions, flying Short Singapore, Consolidated Catalina and Short Sunderland aircraft.

The monument, designed and made in Fiji, was unveiled yesterday by Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark at the University of the South Pacific, on the land that was formerly home to the RNZAF №5 Squadron. Read more…


Book Reveals Legacy of No. 5 Squadron

Fiji Sun, 21 March 2018

On September 3, 1939, the day New Zealand declared war on Germany, the New Zealand Aerodrome Services Branch of the PWD declared that “bare facilities” were open for operation at the flying boat operation, in Suva, a soon-to-be-released book says.

The book, Laucala Bay – The story of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Fiji 1940 to 1967, says “this was a bold claim given that the site had not yet been surveyed, let alone developed.”

“At that point the facilities amounted to a couple of mooring buoys and an expanse of water, not even the most elementary construction had been done,” wrote New Zealand author Bee Dawson.

“This extraordinary overoptimistic announcement so piqued the curiosity of the captain of a passing PAA (Pan American Airways) Boeing 314 Clipper that he detoured over Fiji in order to overfly the new seaplane alighting area. The sight of the flying boat over Suva and neighbouring Laucala Bay was a major event in this hitherto quiet Pacific spot.” Read more…


Strict Rules on Social Life Maintained Standards at Early Laucala Bay Base

Fiji Sun, 22 March 2018

While members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force at Laucala Bay in Suva were preparing for war, their social life also came under scrutiny, a new book soon to be released, reveals.

Rules were put in place to “protect them”, the book, Laucala Bay – The Story of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Fiji 1940 to 1967, shows.

The author, New Zealander Bee Dawson, wrote “it was fortunate that the station facilities were attractive, as there was little opportunity to go anywhere else.”

Camp bounds were strictly laid down by the army authorities in the early days of the base operations and with Fiji firmly under British rule.

“The following places are out of bounds to airmen: Nasese Village, Toorak Dance Hall, lounges of the Grand Pacific and Metropole Hotels.

“The first two of these locations were banned in order to prevent fraternisation with the locals, the second because the lounges of these upmarket hotels were to be patronised only by officers,” Ms Dawson wrote. Read more…


Romance Was In The Air When First NZ Women Joined Laucala Bay Station

Fiji Sun, 23 March 2018

Bee Dawson is the author of Laucala Bay -The story of the RNZAF in Fiji 1939 to 1967. Today she will make a presentation on her book at the University of the South Pacific in conjunction with the unveiling of a RNZAF monument and USP’s 50th anniversary

The excerpts from the book reveal an interesting perspective of life at the former flying boat base.

Romance was in the air when the first 12 members of the post-war WAAFs (Women’s Auxilliary Air Force) arrived in 1953 at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base at Laucala Bay in Suva.

As in the war years, romantic liaisons between WAAFs and the male personnel flourished under the tropical sun.

Within 15 months three of the first contingent of WAAFs were married to airmen. Read more…


Flying boat troops

The Fiji Times Online, 26 March 2018

LAST Friday marked a new beginning for Fijian and New Zealand defence ties.

A monument was unveiled to recognise the service of veterans from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) flying boat operations who were based at Laucala Bay in Suva from 1941 to 1967.

The unveiling of the monument also coincided with the visit by NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark and the celebration of the University of the South Pacific’s 50th Anniversary.

The event was a day of wonderful memories for many and especially those Fijians who once lived and worked at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base, who returned five decades later to their old home. Read more…


Flyer publicising my talk at the University of the South Pacific
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