An obscure woman from Lau is set for global recognition at the centerpiece of Air Pacific’s new design for the re-launch of the airline as Fiji Airways next year. Makereta Matemosi is an artisan with a strong reputation in i’Taukei circles for her innovative masi or tapa cloth designs. Yet her fame is about to spread far beyond Fiji from having been chosen to design the national airline’s new branding. Makareta’s logo is set to be seen at airports throughout the Asia Pacific region emblazoned on the new Fiji Airways state-of-the-art Airbus A330s.
A video clip released by the airline tells her inspirational story – truly a national treasure keeping alive one of the most important of i’Taukei traditions. For anyone who doubts the value of Air Pacific’s decision to re-connect with its Fijian roots, this remarkable lady’s story should lay those doubts to rest. It was a bold decision by the airline to eschew the traditional advertising route of glamorous flight attendants to promote itself. Makarata’s story has an authenticity and credibility that is truly inspiring. These are the real heroes of Fiji, ordinary people with special talents that make the whole nation feel proud. And the country could not have a better ambassador than this wonderful, down-to-earth woman with a special creative gift.
Makareta has been practicing the art of masi making for 32 years. She worked closely with Air Pacific personnel to design something that doesn’t just have visual impact but tells a story. It’s the story of where the airline sees itself not only as Fiji’s home-grown transport link to destinations throughout the region but as the flag carrier of the Fijian nation and its values.
At the centre is a distinctive Teteva motif, which Makareta says represents spirituality, consideration for others, Fijian hospitality, and the connection that Fiji Airways will offer the rest of the world. “What I’ve created is something entirely different, and has never been seen in any of the Masi designs in Fiji,” Makareta explained. “I hope this Masi symbol means a lot to our nation, our people, and our visitors, because we are proud of our country and proud of the new ‘Fiji Airways”.
Air Pacific’s CEO, Dave Flieger, said the announcement of the new logo was the culmination of more than a year’s work “While the new name had a lot of history associated with it, we decided that we wanted a new and distinctly Fijian symbol and brand that would help us best represent the country while also ensuring our planes stand out at some of the world’s busiest international airports. In short, we wanted a flying billboard for Fiji and its stunning 333 islands in the South Pacific”, he said.
The new design was described as “wonderful” by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama when he officially unveiled it at a ceremony on Denarau. He said the new logo would transform Fiji Airways’ planes into welcoming symbols of Fijian culture. “What better could symbolise the unique blend of the past and the future, what better could symbolise the unique blend of our cultures and traditions, and what better could symbolise our commonality?”, the Prime Minister said.
The airline’s new fleet of three A330s begin arriving in Fiji next March sporting the airline’s new motif and colour scheme, which will be fully revealed on October 10th in conjunction with Fiji Day. The complete re-branding is due to be finalised by the end of 2013, with the new logo on ticket offices, check-in counters, airport lounge facilities and the airline’s official website.
The new planes, of course, will be the most obvious stars of Fiji Airways at airports from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Sydney. But it will be a matter of intense pride for the whole country that the spirit of the new airline has been captured by an ordinary Fijian woman with a most extraordinary talent. Vinaka vakalevu Makareta! Sa totoka sara ga na nomu cakacaka. (Thank you Makareta! Beautiful work.)
POSTSCRIPT 21/8: As we predicted, Makareta has gone global with this article in the British style bible, Design Week.