Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fishing in Macuata

from w
Problems are obvious when the fishermen of Mali and other places in Macuata have to go out into the deep sea to catch fish. Before these species were near the coast.  Why are the fish stocks diminishing?  Here's what is written in today's Fiji Times.

Group identifies fish species

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, October 25, 2014
FISHERMEN within the qoliqoli Cokovata of Mali, Dreketi, Sasa and Macuata recently identified 21 fish species that have diminished from their fishing grounds.
Speaking during an exercise organised by WWF Pacific at Naduri Village in Macuata, Naduri fisherman Abel Tawalagi Foster said local fish such as the bici (sweetlip), kanace (dwarf mullet), tevulu (blubber sweetlip), and karakarawa (blue parrotfish) were being fished out in the open seas.
Mr Foster said in the past these fish were commonly found within the shallow waters of their fishing grounds.
"Now people have to spend approximately $260 on fuel to catch these fishes out in the open sea," he said.
"Sometimes it is really hard to catch these fishes as they have become scarce in our fishing grounds.
"Fish like the bici and qalatoka are only caught in small sizes now compared to the big sizes of the same fish species that our ancestors used to catch in the past."
Mali fisherman Seru Moce shared the same sentiments telling workshop participants they had noticed the disappearance of local fish species from their fishing grounds too.
"This is sad since people continue to fish without recognising the effects of their actions on the marine species that we often take for granted," he said.
"We all thank WWF Pacific for taking the initiative to enlighten us on the fact that fish stocks can crash if they get over-fished and there are measures that can be taken to prevent this."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Babasiga family in Geelong

from w
This evening Jordan, our grandson celebrated the end of Year Twelve at Geelong High School at a function at the Italian Social Club. The Year Twelve students all dressed formally and were accompanied by their close relatives. Jordan went with George and Bale, and here are some photos just before they left for the dinner. And Andrew didn't go as he's too young and in Year Ten. Congratulations Jordan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Best wishes for Diwali

from w
It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness…
An occasion to celebrate Victory over defeat,  Light over darkness,  Awareness over Ignorance, An Occasion to Celebrate Life …. May this auspicious occasion light up your life with Happiness, Joy and Peace.
Happy Diwali

From Fiji Sun

Methodist School Joins Festivity  October 23 by Ana Sovaraki, SUVA

Teachers of Ballantine Memorial School (BMS) came together yesterday to celebrate Diwali at the school in Delainavesi, Lami. Principal Mereoni Motukiliu said this was part of promoting racial harmony and multiculturalism in the school.
“We have quite a number of Hindu teachers here in the school so we decided to have this in the school so we could enjoy Diwali with them and show them that we appreciate them and we appreciate Diwali,” Ms Motukiliu said. “We iTaukei teachers decided to wear sarees and salwar kameez as a sign of our appreciation and significance that we too enjoy this time of the year as well.”
She said she has always stressed to the students and teachers of the school the importance of living in peace and harmony. “So for us it is not only about saying but it’s the doing that’s really important. This way the students see that we are practicing what we preach,” Ms Motukiliu said.
The school’s head of language department, Rajinesh Lingam, said they were really grateful for the kind gesture.
“This is a Methodist school and they have a lot of religious events at the school that we attend and it’s good to see that they’ve appreciated us and host this for us,” Mr Lingam said.

He said when school resumes on Friday they would be distributing sweets to the teachers and students at the school.V

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A few complaints about Labasa town

from w
In today's Fiji Times (Monday) the writer lists several problems with Labasa and what needs to be done.

'Changes' for Labasa

Pardeep Lal
Monday, October 20, 2014
LABASA Town is the main town on the island of Vanua Levu and is situated at the estuary of the Labasa River. It serves people of three provinces (Bua, Macuata and Cakaudrove). The town has great potential to become an economically much vibrant town. Being a town that has experienced peripheral sub -urban growth in the last decade, activities have since then increased in the town.
Peak days are usually busy and the following problems are encountered by urban commuters and public.
* Lack of parking space. The number of vehicles in Labasa has significantly increased but parking space has remained the same! It is impossible to find parking space in town. Supermarket parking spaces are also limited.
* Busy supermarkets. Most supermarkets have few check-out counters and long lines are common. Loud music is a nuisance in some supermarkets. The concept of shopping in a quiet environment is not experienced by shoppers in supermarkets in Labasa. Supermarkets need to improve on their service delivery by setting up more check-out counters. They need to have express counters as well.
* Unavailability of bus service after 5pm. Most bus services cease around 5pm. If bus services are available until 8pm and supermarkets and businesses are open for extended hours, it will have many benefits. More growth opportunities will be created and business will flourish in the North. It will also reduce overcrowding of supermarkets and reduce parking problems in town during the day.
* Overcrowded bus stand. It is a risk to people who cross between busses to reach the market or town. The development of the market area looks promising, however, the town must consider an alternative location for the bus stand as a matter of priority. The pollution from busses is a huge health risk while congestion is unbearable. Commuters need a safer bus stand area.
* Crossing lights and crossing locations. The non-functioning of the only crossing light in the main street further causes traffic jams. People need to be educated on rules for crossing. Pedestrians have been seen jumping onto the road at zebra crossings without any due regard to traffic. Many people do not understand zebra crossings mean you may cross only when the road is clear. The police and the Land Transport Authority must mount education programs on this aspect for the general safety of pedestrians.
* Moreover, the back road is under-utilised except during peak hours. Town must improve the back road and direct all heavy traffic (trucks, tractors, cane lorries etc.) through it to avoid congestion on the main street.
Urban population growth for Labasa is a key indicator that justifies the call for improvement of urban services. Bureau of Statistics figures show the combined urban population in the North was 19,409 in 1986. This figure leaped to 30,051 within 10 years (1996) which is a 55 per cent increase.
A large number of people from rural areas have shifted to peri-urban areas. The demand thus is on improved roads, reliable water and transport service, better housing and greener environment.
With Government's plan to develop the North further, mechanisms need to be put in place to sustain growth. Labasa must not go through the same problems and obstacles (squatter settlements, pollution, congestion, urban unemployment, overcrowding, urban flooding etc) other cities and towns (including Suva) have gone through.
Labasa Town must also work on extending its boundary. This will have long-term benefits for the town and its people. It must not be left to operate in its existing town boundary forever. Growth in the peripheral areas is indicating the town must grow outward. Many urban centres have been successful in solving urban problems such as overcrowding, congestion etc. by decentralisation of services.
Urban problems are associated with urban growth. While such problems indicate growth, the sensible approach will be to ensure sound urban planning which can only come about through better understanding of urban geomorphology.
* Pardeep Lal is a lecturer in ethics and governance at the Fiji National University's School of Social Sciences at its Labasa campus. The views expressed are his and not of this newspaper. He can be contacted on

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pacific Islanders in protest at Newcastle

from w
I hadn't seen this story in any papers I read but a friend alerted me to the story and it's in the Guardian. There are Fijians included in the protest.

Pacific Islanders blockade Newcastle coal port to protest rising sea levels

Pacific Climate Warriors’ group aims to draw attention to climate change and protest Australia’s commitment to coal
Pacific protest
Protestors from 12 Pacific Island nations in traditional vessels join activists in an attempt to block vessels from leaving the coal port of Newcastle on Friday. Police try to clear a path through the protestors for the Rhine from Cypress. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
A group of Pacific Islanders joined an environmental protest blockading the Newcastle coal port on Friday, disrupting shipping traffic by paddling canoes across the harbour mouth.
Members of the Pacific Climate Warriors action group traveled from nations including the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to draw attention to the effects of climate change on their island nations, and to protest Australia’s continuing commitment to coal.
The Newcastle port is the world’s largest coal handling facility. An annual flotilla blockade has been held for several years, but this was the first time protesters were joined by the group from the Pacific Islands.
Fijian protester George Nacewa had earlier told Guardian Australia the effects of climate change were “really evident back at home with coastal erosion and in terms of sea-level rise”.
“To date there has been the relocation of two villages, they’ve moved further inland,” he said. “That’s Fiji alone, and the other Pacific islands are more affected because most of them are just atolls.”
“We lose our cultural identity and we lose our land, because we identify ourselves with the land and the ocean,” he said.
On Friday morning the 30 men and women were joined by a few hundred others on Horseshoe beach at Newcastle, as well as a police presence on land and water.
After a procession of several canoes shipped from Vanuatu, Fiji and other islands, and a Polynesian war dance, the traditional vessels took to the water. There were laughs and cheers from the crowd and police when two men tipped and then sank their canoe almost immediately. Then the leader of an outrigger canoe with “Tai Tokelau” painted on the side, shouted for others to “bring the kayaks” and dozens went in on their plastic watercraft.
“If we get to stop a coal ship, then all the better,” Nacewa told Guardian Australia after returning to shore. “But at the end of the day we are here to highlight the impact of climate change. All these islanders in their costumes – they live the realities of climate change.”
MilaƱ Loeak, from the Marshall Islands told Guardian Australia the climate warriors were joining the protest to tell people their stories in the hope more would join them in their fight.
“Just last week we had a king tide that affected some homes in the villages,” said the 26-year-old, adding that droughts and floodings were frequent.
Tiny coral atolls, the Marshall Islands are “especially” vulnerable to sea level rises, she said. “It’s something very personal to me, especially seeing it first hand and seeing family members and relatives and friends and their families have to leave their homes and find new places to stay.”
Kayakers were not permitted to go beyond yellow markers just a short distance offshore, but almost immediately a large number paddled past them into the middle of the waterway.
Within half an hour, the bulk carrier, Rhine, appeared, being pulled out of the port by tugs. Protesters quickly formed a blockade, hampered on one side by police boats. Police officers used boats to push the light watercraft back, and took jetskis around canoes to create wake and spray. The 225-metre vessel was delayed for a short time until police cleared the way.
One 47-year-old kayaker, Donna Bartlett, claimed a police officer on a jetski made contact with her bright orange kayak, knocking it against another and dislocating her finger. She said jetskis on either side of a group were sending protesters in opposite directions, causing chaos.
“The jetskis come, trying to get us unbalanced,” she said. “I’m scared today but I know the stakes.”
Zana Kobayashi, 25, from Newcastle, said she’d joined the protest because the federal government “doesn’t seem to be doing anything to address concerns [about climate change].”
Kobayashi, who was in a double kayak, said police on the water confiscated their paddles and towed them out of the way of the ship. When protesters began returning to shore, another officer towed them in. She said there were “a few aggressive characters” among the police officers.
Inspector Steve Laksa told Guardian Australia several people were detained and brought to shore, but none were facing charges. In going past the yellow markers, protesters “put other persons at risk and in danger”, Laksa said.
He was unaware of reports about police jetskis hitting Bartlett’s kayak, but said: “Police were on the waterway to ensure the safety of the protesters and persons on the waterway illegally, and were asking them and giving certain directions to move back to shore.
“The information I’ve been provided and what I’ve seen for myself is that the police have given directions to the protesters and set a line to the yellow markers.
“We were concerned there were a number of protesters with children that were entering into the waterway, in the path of a large ship. We had some serious concerns and had given directions for them to move back.”
And here are some other pictures:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fifty years and more since Ordination

from w
Today we had a gathering of about eighteen ministers and some partners at Belmont Uniting Church to remember ordination forty or fifty years ago.  Peceli was the fifty year minister, yet not the oldest there. It was an opportunity to meet with people we've known over the years - though we only knew less than half of them, to reflect on the journey so far, have a delicious meal together.  Peceli wrote up some notes and gave out to some of the men and women there.  This is what he wrote:

Fifty years since Ordination  1964 to 2014

Thank you for the invitation today to share with others who were ordained forty or fifty years ago. A question I ask is why I have survived when most of my colleagues have passed away.  I am 78 which is regarded as elderly in Fiji.  When we look back to the years since our Ordination we give thanks to God for the opportunities, and I am grateful for the experiences in Fiji and also in Australia and for my wife Wendy and family.

I started very young in the ministry going to a Bible School when I was sixteen and I turned 21 while I was in the theological college in Davuilevu Fiji.  The old system then in the Methodist church was to have three years study and three years practical work before ordination.  The Principal at that time was Rev Tippett and another teacher was Rev Cyril Germon. 

A few things I learnt early in life – was that once you have been ordained you are marked for life.   Also it was a time of following a leader, people who become a mentor to us. Like Rev Setareki Tuilovoni, Rev Setareki Rika.  They noticed that I knew the Fiji Hindi language so that I would be able to work amongst the Fiji Indian community at some stage.  I worked in a mountain village in Navosa then was sent to the Indian Division to Lautoka.   My induction was not in a church but out of doors at the main Lautoka football ground to a mix of all kinds of people. Wendy and I married about that time.  After working in other places our family moved to Australia and we were in Hopetoun  when the Uniting Church was formed.  It was unusual then to have Pacific Island ministers in Victoria. In the Mallee I learnt more about the Australian way of life and I took up golf which was a great way of meeting  the men who were not always in the Sunday church and then they started coming to worship possibly to talk to me about my wins at golf.

I  am grateful for the time I spent with Aboriginal people in the Mallee  and was at that time involved in meeting with in Swan Hill, Robinvale and Mildura and the Berriwillock wheat scheme funded some of my travelling. One thing is about the stump jump plough.  Some people are rather tough like mallee roots  left in a field. Instead of crashing into them, the stump jump plough gently rides over them.  I think this is how we can manage our lives so that we don’t get offended and hurt by those who reject the Christian faith.

In Geelong East our family developed – the boys at Geelong High School, their footie, their tennis and Deakin for George. Wendy was on-campus at Deakin and I was closer to Melbourne to visit the Fijian congregation at that time in Richmond. At the Ormond Rd church the congregation were brave to have me as  minister for nine years.  My preaching was never brilliant but I did my best. One woman often commented positively. One day I asked her – ‘Hey Doreen, how did  it go today?’  She answered, ‘Fine of course, but actually I didn’t bring my hearing aids today.’  The good relationship with some of our Geelong East and St Andrews members has continued until today. 

Retirement  is not letting go for a minister. We wanted to remain in Geelong so bought a house at 13 Boundary Rd. I found volunteer tasks to do such as Donation in Kind, some study at Monash, some locum ministry connecting with churches, and playing golf.  These days I’ve slowed down due to health matters but still go most Sundays to Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church to support a small Fijian group there. In Geelong we have a strong Fijian network with many young couples. We call our group the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club.  Last week we celebrated Fiji Day for about 30 people in our back yard with traditional food such as cooked in an underground oven. And at present we have a household of twelve at weekends, so retirement is not dull.  Wendy and I thank God for the  long journey.

Peceli Soqovata Ratawa

October 2014.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fiji fusion music

from w
An article in today's Fiji Times about an attempt to create fusion music in Fiiji - that is using both lali (Fjian) and tabla and harmonium (Indian) was in a presentation in Nadi. The writer said this is quite new. Actually it's been done before several times including a concert many years ago at Grammar School in Suva when a boy played the lali as a girl danced in the traditonal Indian way. I have it on tape. Beautiful as they gradually adapted the rhythm and hand movements to the beats.  Good luck to the teachers at the Namaka campus for their music program.
Here's today's story.

Music integration

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, October 16, 2014
IN what could only be described as rhythmically impossible — students and tutors from the Fiji National University dared to defy the musical norm by fusing traditional Hindi and iTaukei instruments in an attempt to create a new genre of music.
The music fusion concert was part of the inaugural International Food Festival which continues this week at the Namaka campus.
Renowned Indian classical singer Dr Soma Ghosh dazzled the audience with her command of the iTaukei language by singing a song composed by local faculty members.
Dr Ghosh — protege of legendary Indian musician the late Bismillah Khan — is working with FNU's music school to create a new sound by combining Indian instruments such as the tabla and harmonium with iTaukei instruments such as the lali.