Eighteen-years ago William Pita Kutini left the Solomons in the height of the ethic tension as a ten-month-old boy; dreaming of a bright future— yesterday he achieved his dream as one of the few Solomon Islanders’ to join the Australian Defence Force.
And Kutini’s mother, Emily Kutini Leong could not hide her joy when asked by SBMOnline: “People will celebrate their children’s degrees, masters, PHDs and careers in various fields. Today I celebrate my son William Pita Kutini for his achievement in joining the Australian Army Defence. I am humbled and proud that this makes history for our families on both sides.”
Kutini was born on 31 July 2001 at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara. He (named after his grandfather senior William P Kutini) and is the second child of six children born to Phillip Kwong Leong and Emily.
His father is from Langalanga (Malaita), Kiribati and part Chinese whilst the mum is from Choiseul and Simbo in the Western Province.
On 4 June 2002, Kutini and his family left the Solomon Islands to Australia because of the ethic tension back then.
“I was taking Kutini who was 10 months old and his elder brother Daniel who was two-years old to rejoin my husband Phillip who is an Australian citizen working and living here in Melbourne,” said Emily, the mother of Kutini.
She recalled that moving to Australia was purposely in search of better life for her children’s future.
However despite leaving home, Emily said she ensured the children didn’t forget about their Solomon Islands culture.
“I have raised and taught my children of their Solomon culture even though they grow up and adapting the western lifestyle. They are always proud of their culture,” she said.
At school, Kutini involved a lot in his school Cultural and Diversity Day, performing Solomon Islands custom dances along with his brother and sister and also participating in the Solomon Island Victoria Association. He is always proud of where he comes from.
Speaking about his son’s achievement, Emily said: “Today (14 Friday) Kutini graduated after completing his Army Recruit Course in Kapoora in New South Wales. This is a dream come true for him as it is something that he always wanted to do as his career at a very young age in his early years at high school.”
“As a mother, to be honest, at first when he told me that he would be joining the army, I did not want him to. My reason is because I was fearing what my son would face as a soldier but on the other hand I supported him from day one by driving him down to Melbourne city early mornings for his fitness trial tests, assessments and other tests that he had to do and passed before he got selected into ADF in May 2020.
“It is not easy. Kutini had prepared for this and he put a lot of time and effort for his fitness and health.
“He made sure that he was ready,” said Emily who now lives with her family in Melbourne.
She added: “Because of Covid19 I didn’t have the chance to attend Kutini’s enlistment ceremony on 22nd May and his march out graduate ceremony which is today (yesterday). But that does not stop me from congratulating my son for his achievements.”
Kutini attended Melton Secondary College in Victoria where he was the school vice-captain in Year 12 in 2019. After completing Year 12, Kutini decided to join ADF.
He put his application for the Australia Defence Force in 2019 and had been enlisted for recruitment in May 2020.
When asked how would his son feel about his achievement, Emily replied: “ If you ask Kuti how he feels as a Solomon Islander joining the ADF, his reply will be, ‘I’m proud to be a Solomon Island boy joining ADF’”.
Kutini will move to Newcastle Army Base this Sunday for another five months training.
Emily said she and her family couldn’t wait to see Kutini, now an Australian soldier.
“We the family can’t wait to see him also his girlfriend Alexander and closed friends here in Melbourne Khosta and Jack also waiting to see Kutini.”