News Story

New Latter-day Saint District Organised in Fiji

The Labasa Fiji District of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organised on Sunday 4 June. A Latter-day Saint district is a group of congregations, called branches, in a geographical area.


For the past five years both major Fijian islands, Vanua Levu and Taveuni, came under the Church's Taveuni Fiji District.

The establishment of a second district will mean less travelling over rough terrain for Church leaders to visit with and minister to members.

Along with the organisation of the new district, some of the Church's branches were reorganised. In Taveuni the Qeleni and Matei branches were merged a few years ago but are now split again under the new district which will have four branches: Somosomo, Matei, Qeleni and Vuna.

The new president of the Labasa Fiji District is Taniela Vuniwai of Drekeniwai and his counsellors are Pita Vakalala of Nakawakawa, Bua; and Joeli Kalougata of Nabua, Savusavu.


A stake is a larger group of Latter-day Saint congregations, called wards.

President of the Church's Fiji Suva Mission, LaMar Layton, told the 500 members gathered on Sunday to witness the changes, "We’ve had a wonderful conference, split the district, and sustained new leaders."

"We’re now building the foundation of future stakes in Labasa and Taveuni."

President Layton encouraged parents at the conference to encourage their children to serve missions and worship in the temple.

While speaking to the members at the conference Labasa District President, Taniela Vuniwai, thanked his counsellors for "holding the fort" for the past six months while he was away in the US undergoing a medical treatment for a tumour.

Though he was away, he was constantly in touch with his counsellors and the work flowed smoothly, he said.

He was grateful for the changes as it will mean a smaller area for his leaders to cover and “the work of the Lord will be more manageable," he said.

Eliki Seniloli is the new president of the Taveuni Fiji District, and his counsellors are Peceli Bautarua of Qeleni and Epeli Bautarua of Lovonivonu.


Pita Vakalala, first counsellor in the Labasa District Presidency, was very emotional about the changes and thanked all the members for their great support.

Joeli Kalougata, the new second counsellor, thanked former President Sovasova and Timilai Lesuma who were the leaders of the district when he was a 23 year old and called to serve with them.

He said he "learned a lot from these two great men," and this is a reason he had "stayed strong in the gospel all these years."

"I have a testimony in my heart," Joeli Kalougata said. "How could I have survived three days and three nights in the sea, losing my entire family if there was no purpose for me? I have a purpose, and that is to build the kingdom."

His family was travelling to Suva from the island of Ono-i-Lau to get baptised and pay their tithing when their boat, the Uluilakeba, sank in 1973. Joeli Kalougata was the only member of his family that survived this tragedy.

He and his wife Elenoa have six children, three of whom have served missions and the fourth is currently at the Missionary Training Centre in New Zealand.


There are approximately 20,000 Latter-day Saints who live in Fiji.

Read more in the Fiji Sun.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.