Powerlifting champion heeds the 4FJ campaign call

SUVA, Fiji – Dubbed the Iron Lady, Fiji’s powerlifting legend Senimili Tabuakula Turner is putting her muscle behind the 4FJ campaign, becoming the newest champion to promote the revival of kawakawa and donu in Fiji.

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“These fish have become too expensive as the stocks decline. I want to ensure all Fijians can enjoy them again, like we once did,” Turner said. “We need to let them breed and we can have more later.” 

Turner said she grew up eating kawakawa and donu on Taveuni. She fondly remembers her mother taking her fishing for them as a child. 

“I remember as a little girl tying a little noke (basket) around my waist before wading out to the deep. If it got too deep, I would hold on to my mum. We would usually catch a lot of them,” Turner said. “My favourite is having it boiled with bele or deep fried with lemon. That was life in the village and it was a good life.” 

The 4FJ campaign asks people to avoid all species of kawakawa and donu during their breeding season from June through September, to give the rapidly disappearing fish a chance to breed and restock our reefs. The A-grade fish are critically important to the food security, livelihoods and culture of Fiji’s communities.

Starting in 2018, the Ministry of Fisheries banned the collection, possession, sale and export of all kawakawa and donu species from 1st June to 30th September, to help reverse the decline. 

At 66, a widow and grandmother to 9 grandchildren, Turner still competes. Her accomplishments include a world record in the Master 3 powerlifting category and numerous gold medals from the Pacific, Asia/Oceania and Commonwealth games. Turner began competing at 45, after her husband passed away, taking her grief and channelling it into the sport.

“Senimili is a testament what determination can accomplish and we are deeply grateful she is putting her boundless energy behind the 4FJ campaign,” said Scott Radway, founder of cChange, the organisation that created the 4FJ campaign. 

Turner has commitment to sharing the 4FJ message with her family, friends and fans.