Fijian charcoal company legacy lives on at Pasifika Festival

A small Fijian family charcoal supplies business will product test its new packaging at Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ’s Pacific Business Market at Pasifika Festival.The new packaging is the next step for Makala Natural Lumpwood Charcoal to enter New Zealand’s export market after attending the Path to Market workshop in Fiji.

PTI NZ attracted more than 300 hundred companies to its Path to Market workshops in 2017.  The workshops are an important step towards understanding the New Zealand export market.  It is the first stage of a structured process for Pacific exporters or potential exporters.

Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand PTI NZ met Rusiate Charcoal supplies during a Path to Market Workshop in Fiji hosted by Ian Furlong and PTI Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade.

The workshops are a series of seminars that help potential exporters understand the New Zealand market.

Makala Natural Lumpwood charcoal is the brand name used by Fiji’s Rusiate Charcoal supplies.  The barbecue charcoal is in high demand locally in Fiji used daily for cooking.  Although they started by producing industrial grade charcoal which is sold internationally, they also added barbeque charcoal of which will be showcased at Pacific Business Market.

Makala Natural charcoal is made from untreated hardwood timber off-cuts bought from the nearby timber sawmills and processed into charcoal cubes.

Ms Vunisei, a USP science graduate will be part of Fiji’s Path to Market delegation of seven companies showcasing at the Pacific Business Market at Pasifika Festival.

For company Makala Natural Lumpwood charcoal representative Emele Vunisei, attending this year’s Pasifika Festival will be bittersweet.

Her father and company founder, the late Rusiate Rawaidranu (53) sadly passed away last Thursday, 22 February in Fiji from a kidney condition.  It was a condition he lived with for 24 years since being diagnosed in 1994.

But the legacy lives on from the late Mr Rawaidranu who founded Rusiate Charcoals Supplies business in 2009.  His children, Emele and her two brothers and four sisters some of whom also work in the family business.

It’s a family affair with Emele’s 27-year-old brother Vonivate, a Bachelor of Science graduate himself, helping his late father run the business.

As a student, Vonivate researched the mass production of charcoal without the age-old method of wood burning in open pits.  It was a process he ran past his late father.

The business first started charcoal production in a place close-by to their family village.

In time, with higher demand they leased land from the local Mataqali to expand the business.

The process of producing charcoal involved scientific methods.  The long burning charcoal is done through open-air burning that takes place only when weather permits under supervision resulting in local daily deliveries.

After finding the most efficient methods to make charcoal, production times have reduced from one day producing 10 bags to half a day producing 60 bags.  They now also employ 16 core staff down from 26-27 in the early days.

Not only popular amongst locals, some travellers are known to pick up a bag on a stopover.

For more information email PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong at

Previous Post

Indulge in funky Fijian jewellery at Pasifika!

Next Post

Nama Fiji to launch innovative packaging at Pasifika

  • Keep informed

    Subscribe to Pacific Trade’s newsletter and keep up to date with our news and views.