A tribute to Colin Philp

Colin meant so much to so many different people and as the many reflections and stories of his life and legacy pour in it is hard to know where he found the time for all of us. He was so many people’s go to person if they had a problem, needed advice or guidance.

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That was true for all of us within the Duavata Collective, and he was also the person we looked to for hope and inspiration. Someone that believed passionately in humanity and our collective ability – when we worked collaboratively and for a greater cause. Someone who believed that no matter how big the problem, it was still worth trying to solve.

As a colleague, mentor, friend and founder and co-chair of the, Duavata Sustainable Tourism Collective, Colin believed and demonstrated that tourism, when done well, had the power and the potential to support the preservation of traditional knowledge and culture, to regenerate our environment, to build long standing, respectful relationships between visitors and communities, for tourism operators to contribute to nurturing and restoring pride in Fijian food, history, art, music and culture. And he was comfortable calling out many examples of where the industry works in the opposite way. As a collective, we were brought together by shared values, not as a specific destination or area. Colin challenged us all to maintain our belief, that even when we felt that we were on a stormy voyage with no one listening to our calls, that tourism can be transformed. He has charted a course for all of us to maintain.

Over the last two years, Colin was a rock of solidarity and sanity in a period that tested the resilience of all of us but which we’re forever grateful that, in some ways, also strengthened our determination to make tourism work better for Fiji. We launched our Duavata Conservation Leadership Programme and held the first leg of our Duavata Challenge – both initiatives guided by Colin’s vision and passion and designed to reconnect Fijians to nature and stewardship. It was his quiet leadership in so many spaces – his beloved Uto Ni Yalo Trust, the Duavata Collective, the Sustainable Sea Transport Initiative, as Leleuvia manager, a home to so many artists, musicians, poets, conservationists, that provided a space to so many that needed his guidance.

And he will remain an inspiration to all of us in tourism in demonstrating how, with sheer commitment and persistence you can transform an island into remembering its place within the ocean environment- making it plastic, chemical free, switching to organic agricultural practices and supporting the regeneration of the ocean around it.

As the ocean leg coordinator during EcoChallenge, Colin ensured that the production lived up to its eco-credentials by working with the production team to pay respect to Fijian culture throughout, ensure there was a strong environmental management plan for the race, that it was single-use plastic free and waste was managed responsibly, and ensuring it contributed meaningfully to the work to revive traditional sailing by using Fijian-built vessels that could be later repurposed for use by communities and the Uto Ni Yalo Trust.

In true Duavata spirit, we all connected with Colin in different ways and spaces and it is only right that this tribute is a reflection of the many ways that he touched our lives so deeply. We are blessed to have shared time, sails, yaqona and laughter with you and you will be missed so very much.

Duavata team photo

Kasi Taukeinikoro, Director, Rivers Fiji and co-chair of the Duavata Sustainable Tourism Collective

He was an amazing person. We’ve known each other from our young days in Lami and he was always there for everyone, always trying to help everyone and I know a lot of people in Lami that he helped. He had a unique gentle charisma – not in a vocal way – but in a way that people were also attracted to him. Helping others was not an effort to him, it was just part of who he was. During one of our early meetings to establish Duavata, he asked me what we should call our grouping of various tourism operators connected by shared values. Duavata was the term I felt embodied what we are all trying to do – working together to make tourism better for Fiji.

Loma Mataika, Duavata Conservation Leadership Programme Manager

Colin, in the way he lived his life, maybe can be described as a movement or an awakening. Him being present in your current reality meant that all of the shadow work you were meant to do in the quiet and in private was brought out on display with a time limit to show results. 🙂 He is the kind of person who could catch a glimpse of the greatness in a person and carve it out. He demanded your higher self be present in times it was most needed. Then like his own shy personality allowed it to retract into its shell until the next open water near death experience on the Uto or a near loss on a morning paddle out in Suva harbour amongst other kawaii canoes. Isa Colin. Thank you for sharing the healing of Uto with us, the thrill of canoeing with Kaiwaii, the peace of Leleuvia and sensibility and focus of the Duavata Collective. Thank you for having the courage and discipline to channel and build communities that contribute beautifully to the world. Thank you for informing my humanity with your mana, grace and tenacity for living. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lee-Anne, and your family especially to your children to whom we send our love and light in this difficult time.

Danny and Jacqui, Namosi Eco Retreat

Colin seemed to have time for everyone. He was always there for everyone. Our Duavata Collective family will surely miss his presence, words of encouragement, support and wisdom, our sustainable warrior. Rest easy brother Colin.

Marita Manley and Matt Capper, Talanoa Treks

Colin’s quiet leadership had the ability to bring people together across so many different spaces. His love for the ocean guided most things – including how we look after the land.

Forever humble and modest, most comfortable as the person behind the scenes making everything happen and connecting the dots between all of the amazing causes he cared so passionately about. Words cannot express how much you have done for others and how much you will be missed. Such a huge loss to the sailing, sustainable tourism, organics and ocean community in Fiji and the world. Our deepest condolences and support to Lee-Anne and the entire family. Rest in peace our dearest Colin.

Jenny, Peter and Lara Bourke, Nukubati Island Resort

We are at a loss to express how we really feel about losing Colin.

Dear Colin, in you we found a kindred spirit in all that we believed in and therefore to lose you in your prime is an indescribable loss.
We shall miss your intuitive knowledge & wisdom & wise & steady counsel & your incredibly generous heart.

To Lee-Anne & the Philp family, our sincerest condolences and we send you our love & prayers. Rest In Peace Colin, we miss you terribly.

Seta Ledua, Drua Experience

We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of our mentors and dearest friend Colin Philp. Rest well Ta levu, thank you for your leadership and belief in us. We will miss you. Our condolences go out to Lee-Anne, and the Philp Family during this time.

Josefa and Viniana Bau, Dolphin Watch Fiji

I had known Colin for more than ten years. He guided and supported so many of my ideas and was always willing to give support and undergird his community.

One of the greatest lessons I learnt from him was how to appreciate nature. His passion for conservation encouraged me to do the same here in my area, Dawasamu. As I started my tourism journey , Colin was a man I always looked up too. He was a mentor to me and I appreciate everything he shared with me.

He had the ability to see beyond the idea, by his sheer will to bring so many of those ideas to life. I stand in awe of what he achieved during his life. He was a great example of community and if he was part of yours, you thrived. It pains me to see that he is no longer here with us but the legacy he has left will continue for years to come. He has given us a solid foundation for future generations to build upon. Moce mada my brother Colin. It was such an honour to know you and work with you.

Jean Tikaram, Waitika Farm

Colin was one of the first people I met when I came to Fiji 25 years ago. A quiet, giant of a man who had so much to offer in his own shy and humble way. Such a massive loss to not only his family but his wider green, organic and sustainability conscious family as well as the arts community that he so enthusiastically supported. Such a sad and premature loss.

Gareth Van Eyssen, Barefoot Manta

Colin had a calmness to him that instantly put me at ease. He always made me feel like good would prevail in the world and the world needs people like him. A huge loss for Fiji and the world. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Christine and Sam Tawake, Lawaki Beach House

We are lost for words. The very recent time since we knew Colin and the few times we have met will be kept in fond memories. We personally experienced his charisma for sustainable tourism, his generosity and his love and passion for the ocean and everything that relates with it. May we all find ways to continue, and remember Colin for his passion, encouragement and generosity.

What a loss to all who happen to meet him, to all the visions he passed on.

To Lee-Anne and all the family, may you all be consoled and take the unexplainable by faith, knowing the time lies in his hands. Our thoughts are with you.

Anne Moorhead, Richard Markham and Joeli Nataki, KokoMana

As relative new-comers to the sustainable tourism family in Fiji, we have had the privilege of getting to know Colin only in these last few years. But in this short time, we have deeply appreciated the role model he has provided – showing what a tourism business, based on caring and commitment, can do for community and the environment – and his support, guidance and encouragement, provided quietly and generously, through Duavata and in person, has surely helped to keep us going through these difficult days. We share in the sadness of family and friends that Colin has been so prematurely taken from us but we shall do our best, with everyone at Duavata, to keep alive his courageous, undaunted spirit.

Nate and Kelly Bricker, founders of Rivers Fiji

Colin was a great friend, mentor, and an amazing advocate for all that responsible tourism could bring to a country and to her people. We will miss his warm smile, his calm demeanor amid chaos, and his ability to always travel his true north. He did the things he knew were important and he was a guiding influence in helping all of us to find their way. His was the star by which we sailed. His legacy will live on in each of us as we carry forward all the good he brought to this planet, to the oceans, and to Fiji. We will miss him, and we will cherish the times we were able to have together. He was an amazing man who made this world a better place because of his kindness, because of his compassion, and because of his desire to create a kind and gentle place for all. May he always rest in the peace for all the good he sought and created, by teaching and helping others to navigate a better world.

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