Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama today pays tribute to a great leader, mentor and friend, Brigadier (Ret‘d) Ian Thorpe of the Royal New Zealand Army who passed away in Tarawera last weekend.
Brigadier Ian Thorpe was a career military man whom at 17 commenced his military studies at the Royal Military College in Duntroon Australia of which he was commissioned as a Lieutenant before furthering his studies at the British Staff College and the British Joint Services Staff College in England.
Brigadier Ian Thorpe was appointed Commander of the New Zealand Forces in Vietnam in 1964 to 1966. His initial involvement with the Fiji Army was during the Malayan Emergency Campaign in 1954 to 1956 when he was on secondment as a Lieutenant to the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment.
Upon his retirement from the New Zealand Army in 1979, Brigadier Thorpe was then seconded to the Royal Fiji Military Forces and appointed Commander on 23 February 1979. Before relinquishing his appointment in October 1982, Brigadier Thorpe successfully planned and put together a contingent to serve under the Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe Truce Supervision Force. Despite numerous obstacles, he was also successful in training and deploying a battalion on March 1982 to serve under the Multinational Force Observers in the Sinai Peninsula. His visionary leadership saw him take special interest in middle rank officers to ensure that they are battle tested to take over the reins at the end of his tenure.
According to Prime Minister Bainimarama “Brigadier Ian Thorpe brought with him a level of professionalism that helped groom leaders within the RFMF ranks in its early days. He was a man motivated by a deep sense of duty to country and honour among comrades.”
His re-engagement under contract to the Royal Fiji Military Forces in March 1990 led to his appointment as commandant of the Officers Training School in Vatuwaqa. “He was a strategist, a critical thinker, who knows what needs to be done and how to do it.” Prime Minister Bainimarama added. Brigadier Ian Thorpe is survived by his wife Patricia, his three children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.