Biographical entry: Funifaka, Philip Solodia (1938 - )



Philip Solodia Funifaka was born on Auru Island in Lau Lagoon, Malaita, in 1938. His first schooling was at Takwa Catholic Primary School, after which he attended St. Joseph's Catholic School at Tenaru, in Honiara. After five years of secondary schooling at Chanel College in Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, he studied for the priesthood at Divinity College in Rabaul (1961-1964), reaching Form VI standard, and at the Marist Fathers' scholasticate in Sydney, Australia. He taught for one year, but left before ordination to return home in mid-1967. He taught for a short time at the Tangarare Catholic School.

In 1968, Funifaka joined the public service and was promoted to Labour Inspector in 1969. In 1970 he attended a four-month course on Labour Administration in the U.K. On his way home he was attached for a short period to the Ministry of Labour in Suva, Fiji. In 1971, he opened the first labour office in the Western District, and in 1972 he was posted to Honiara as Wages and Labour Inspector, conciliating industrial disputes. While in Honiara, he was elected President of the Civil Servants' Association and of the Marist Club. He was also a member of the Jaycees.

In 1973, Funifaka stood successfully for the seat of Lau and Mbaelelea in the Governing Council (q.v.). He became Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Localisation Committee. He travelled to Malaysia and Japan and represented the Solomon Islands Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in London in 1973.

Funifaka was embittered at being the only Governing Council Minister not to receive a portfolio in the 1974 Legislative Council (q.v.), and assumed the role of Leader of the Opposition until he was invited to cross the floor and become Minister for Works and Public Utilities on 14 November 1974. In 1975, he attended constitutional talks in London. He lost his Lau-Mbaelelea seat in 1976 and worked in the offices of the Secretary for the Public Service before he became Commissioner for Labour in the Ministry for Foreign Trade, Industry and Labour in February of 1977. At that time he was married with four children. Funifaka was fluent in English and had a good sense of humour, but his colleagues probably feared him a little for his high abilities. (NS 6 July 1973; Melanesian Nius, 2 Feb. 1977; 'Constitutional Talks in United Kingdom on British Solomon Islands, Pacific Dependent Territories', FCO 32/1260 HPS 1/18, pt. A, British National Archives)